Friday, July 8, 2011


July 7, 2011

Hi Andrea,

Vacations.  Without the alarm waking me in the morning I lose track of what day of the week it is.  There are no deadlines, except those I put on myself.  There are no obligations, except the ones I create.  This vacation, I have decided to just be wherever I am in the moment.  I let the days caress me, put their arms around me, accept the offerings of blessing that I find.

Lisa took care of Sadie while Steve and I went to Montana to visit with his sister.  I know this is an extra burden on her with the baby Annalise and Tanner and Alicia.  But she and the kids love Sadie, and Sadie loves them. 

This morning, I went to Albertson’s to pick up the ingredients for your favorite—what I always called a Farmer’s Omelet.  Frozen country hash browns, brown and serve sausage links, eggs and cheese.  I wanted to make it for Lisa and the kids.  In Idaho, I had picked up some huckleberry scone mix and huckleberry jam as a thank you gift. I wanted to make the scones for them also.

Sadie was ecstatic to see me.  She woo woo wooed, her form of talking, trying to fill me in on what she did while I was away.  I acted like I understood.  And in a way I did.  She missed me and I missed her.

Annalise is getting so big.  The last time I saw her was Mother’s Day.  She is 5 months old now.  She smiles easily at me and shows me she has discovered she can make sounds.  My heart rearranges itself around her.  In the space it creates, there are echoes of you.    

I remember when you first discovered your voice.  Erin, your dad and I were all out for a drive on a sunny April afternoon on Vashon Island.  From the back seat came your first vocalization of sound.  You were delighted to hear the noise you could make with your tiny vocal chords.   You had learned to consciously tighten your throat to create sounds with your sweet milky breath. 

Over the following months you learned to moderate the flow of air across vocal chords—to contract and relax muscles.  To make vibrations of air across vocal cords vibrate at higher and lower frequencies, refining the sounds you created until they formed to create your first words. 

I made your dad pull over to the side of the road so I could take you out of your car seat.  I mimicked the sound you made.  You laughed.  I mimicked you again.  You watched my mouth. I watched you.  Baby legs, creased, fleshy plump kicked at the air in delight.  You made a different sound, listened to yourself, smiled and began to experiment with the sounds and pitches you discovered you could make—arranging them, then rearranging.

Those first pitches you created, to my mother’s ears, they were a symphony of melodic sounds.  I mimicked you, you mimicked me.  Your sister watched intently.  I wonder now if she was young enough then, to remember these same moments with her when she was a baby.  Or was she wishing she were you in that moment, when you and I made that first verbal connection--a mother and her child’s communication that exists before words form.

I miss all of you, but that communication, it is what I miss the most.

A morning at Lisa’s. Making breakfast, cooking with Alicia and Tanner.  Watching Lisa as she works at her kitchen table creating a lesson plan to teach reading to grade schoolers. Annalise in her lap, absorbing sights, smells and sounds around her.  Teaching Alicia how to flour her hands when she works with sticky dough as we make huckleberry scones together, having her help me navigate the cupboards to find bowls, frying pans, cookie sheets, cooling racks.  Handing a spatula off to Tanner, showing him when to turn hash browns, how to have patience, let them crisp.

These connections that we make.  The communications.  Some are easier than others.  The more someone wants to take from you, expects from you, the more complicated it becomes.  Layers upon layers build up--create potential for avalanches, slides that obliterate the landscape.

Here, this morning, nothing is expected of me.  Nothing is asked or demanded of me.  My presence here, my vibrations and sounds blended with those of my niece and her children, my creation of food I once made for you, my observation and absorption of these tiny, flowering- in-slow-motion moments of time on this day, is a vacation in itself.