Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

With this apocalypse between them


How do I tell them that one day they may not speak?

That no matter how close as sisters and friends they may be with one another growing up, one day one of them may leave, to return but to never live here again, and how this will start an irreversible chain of events. Events that will propel the one who stayed into the cold vacuum of space where no one else can see; where no one else can know. Where black ice and rock will collect and grow...

Years will pass while the Mama and I love each of them proudly, marrying their hopes and realities to our own pasts, their futures, until one day the one who stayed will hit a wall at full speed, while the one who left will try to tear it down. Misunderstandings, mistrust and betrayals will then cause a rift in the entire family; the rubble of the wall too heavy to clear.

And at the same time, somewhere deep in space, all that black ice and rock will become something behemoth that one day falls back to earth. It will reenter the atmosphere close to the speed of light, under the cover of night, and lay waste in its wake, boiling oceans and cratering continents. Fires will burn uncontrollably for seemingly a millennia. The sky will be a perpetual ceiling of gray ash.

With this apocalypse between them, one day something may happen to the Mama and me, we may get sick, and there will have to be a coming together, a temporary reckoning in order to take care of family business.

We will tell them both, "She's your only sister."

And one will say, "That's not the way it works."

And the other will say, "I never did anything wrong."

And we will both say, "But she's your only sister, and we love you both."

And then the first one will say, "But blood does not trump the healing reciprocity of forgiveness. I can only do for me, not for both."

And I will think, you're right, it does not, and you can only do for you, as your sister can only do for her. Nor does any of this require a Hollywood ending where uplifting music will play and hugs and tears abound. But I know we will still love them both no matter what. 

In the shadowy distance, a green shoot will spring from a dry, blackened crater.

So how do I tell them all this some day?

And do I?


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oh our stars!

"Oh my stars!"

That's a new fun one I've got the girls saying and doing. I say the words with an animated face and put both hands atop my head.


"Oh my stars!"

Bea so sweet because her inflection and word emphasis changes each time she says the phrase.

"OH my stars!"

"Oh MY stars!"

"Oh my STARS!"

Then Bryce follows suit, not quite saying the words yet, but putting her hands on her head in synch with Bea's.

The Mama and I watch them and laugh, knowing these B's are our stars.

We'll keep reaching for them. No worries there.

IMG 1690DSCN2141

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Stainiest Years

Mustard Stain

"Ugh. Look -- a mustard stain and peanut butter oil smear on my pants. Dang it," said the Mama.

I smiled. "Honey, the stains have only just begun with these two." I tilted my head toward the backseat where Beatrice and Bryce sat snuggled in their car seats watching a movie.

The Mama shrugged. "Hey, I think these are the stainiest years."

"The stainiest years?"

"Yes, the stainiest years."

We both laughed. We were on our way to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for some Easter fish fun, but the "stainiest years" persisted for me like coffee spill in carpet padding that keeps seeping up month after month after month...

As parents of young children, many of us develop a visual eraser of sorts, one that scrubs away those new stains on the cabinets, the walls, the furniture, the bathtubs, the beds and the carpets. It's easier not to see them than to constantly clean them, especially when you're tired and still haven't completely cleaned off two-year-old hot chocolate stains from the dining room blinds.

But the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that the stainiest years for the B-hive have yet to come. The "stainiest" stains are the ones that come with the living years, the ones throughout childhood, teengage-land and adulthood.

There are the literal and minor yet pleasurable ones like the bacon grease stains on my San Jose State University sweatshirt I received when cooking breakfast for the family, or the bigger literal ones when the garage guest room carpet was rain soaked and stained because we neglected to clean the rain gutters (cleaned most of that up though).

Then there are those with much more visceral impact on our lives, the stainiest years that come and go. But mercy me do they always come, relentlessly and without apology. They can be a mix of joy and sorrow, although much of it we usually associate with the sorrow we experience in varying capacities through life, which we then try to erase with whatever measures at our disposal -- conscious and subconscious partitioning, therapy (of any kind) and drugs and/or alcohol. Hopefully there's also the self-awareness ability we learn and develop to assess, manage and adapt to the stainiest years.

The latter is one thing I've learned from the Mama as well as my parents. Unfortunately now the worst of stains are upon my parents, with my dad dying of cancer (since the radiations treatments didn't work), and my mom in the hospital yet again (being chronically ill for decades and for the rest of her life). I don't share this lightly; it's been an arduous journey for them both and we're working to provide them the best quality of life possible. However, their legacy of love and perseverance continues in them as well as in the lives in their five children, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, a myriad of other family and friends as well as an amazing church community where they live in Oregon.

Many of us want our worlds to be continually scrubbed clean, to be shiny and new, but our powerfully human stories move others from the stainiest years. We hope to teach our daughters to unfurl theirs on high, proudly and without regret.