Friday, September 24, 2010

An Empty Space

The world is missing a mother this week. A mother of five whose twin daughters are in my daughter's fourth grade class. I didn't know her very well, but my heart is broken for her husband and children. Our paths did cross a few times. Nothing exciting. I just want to honor her memory.

Her girls were in Hannah's Girl Scout troop for a few months. I have a memory of one meeting when she was playfully daring me to volunteer for something. I remember feeling a rapport with her at that moment that made me think we may become friends. Sadly, that never happened.

During the time her girls were in the troop, she headed up the fall fundraiser. At the meeting on the night before the money had to be sent in, she told me one of our checks needed to be made out differently. I hadn't brought my checkbook, so I had to drive out to her house the next morning. I have to be honest and say that I was a little perturbed that she didn't call me prior to the meeting so I could have brought my checkbook with me that night. But now I have the memory of a little wooden bench outside her front door with her twins' names lovingly carved in it.

Then there was the time that Hannah came home from school with a uniform shirt that had their last name written on the tag. I contacted her about it, thinking Hannah must have gotten hers mixed up with one of the twins'. Her response was so laid back! She didn't think it was theirs and if it was, they wouldn't miss it, anyway, so go ahead and keep it. Oh, and she didn't even think they had Hannah's shirt, either.

The last time I saw her was right before school started, at the classroom visitation on August 20th - almost exactly one month before she died. We were joking about our children and she told me how she loved to quote Bill Cosby when he said, "The reason why we have five children is because we do not want six."

She was full of humor and ease. And she has left an empty space on this earth. May God comfort her loved ones now as only He can.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'll Go Get My Ball

My kids have a nifty little feature in their lunch boxes - a message board. It's where we can write each other funny notes or crucial information. Or they can draw on it during lunch time. Whatever. It's very casual.

I find it most ironic when Emma writes me a note asking me to wash off the message board. I know she means that it needs a deep cleaning which cannot be afforded by her handy-dandy erasing cloth. But still, I can't get by the irony.

When Hannah came home from school one day in her uniform and announced that her class had been awarded a "free dress" day, I asked her why. Apparently the assistant principal had done a spot check in her classroom to see if they were all dressed according to the proper uniform standards. I found it immensely amusing that the reward for being in uniform was to not have to be in uniform. I spent an entire five minutes of my life (which I will never get back) unsuccessfully attempting to explain the irony to her. Perhaps the most ironic thing about irony for me is that, for a massive portion of my days, there is nobody around to share in it with me. BUT I DIGRESS.

Back to the lunch boxes. I really look forward to what I'm going to see on Emma's message board. She is a 6-year-old 1st-grader and is doing that thing where she is learning to write by spelling things phonetically. It's so darn cute! And the translation fun is never-ending.

By far, my favorite message so far was a little trailer that came after one of her please-clean-my-board requests. I couldn't quite understand what it said, but it looked like this: "mmmm ol go get my bol."

At this juncture, what you must understand is that 1) we have a DVD player in our van, 2) my children do not tire of watching the same movie repeatedly (EVER), 3) when a movie has a funny quote, we will ALL (yes, I include myself in this) wear it out ad nauseum, and 4) one of the movies in our current circulation is "Bolt."

So when I questioned Emma for a translation of her writing, I do not exaggerate when I say that my husband and I burst out laughing at her response. She mimicked the laugh of Rhino the hamster ("mmmm") and said "I'll go get my ball!"

We never tire of giggling at this line. Frankly, Olivia will repeat it over and over again at the top of her lungs. Oddly enough, in the movie, Rhino almost whispers it. Or is that . . . ironic?

***Since this posting, Olivia has taken our favorite quote to a new level by mixing it up as "I'll go get my costume!" Isn't she clever? My 3-year-old is obviously a genius.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Let Them Forget

"Did something bad happen on September 11th?" My oldest daughter, Hannah, is almost 10 years old now. I hadn't yet explained to her the events of that day. It wasn't something I was anxious to share. I don't even want terrorists and hate and murder to exist in her world.

On September 11, 2001, Hannah was about six weeks shy of her first birthday. I was feeding her breakfast when my husband called to tell me about the plane hitting the first tower. When we all thought for a brief and innocent moment that it was some sort of weird accident. I turned on the TV in the living room and listened from the dining room, where I resumed my child's breakfast. And then I heard the words - a second plane had hit the other tower. My heart fell from my chest. And I continued feeding my baby her breakfast from Gerber jars. And people were dying.

So now she was asking. She wanted to know what happened while she was eating her baby food, blissfully unaware. A friend at school told her that a plane had crashed into a building. Yep. That's stripping it back down to its bare naked innocence. If only it were that simple. But I'm sure she was wondering why. And it was time that she knew.

We were on our way to her first Girl Scout meeting of the year. On our way to an activity where she learns to be a confident, good citizen and a contributing member of this society. And I have to tell her about those that wish to tear apart our very way of life and our very lives. But I didn't use those exact words with my still-nine-year-old. No, I chose my words very carefully. I gave her the facts and I tried to explain "why." The very question we have all been asking ourselves for the past 9 years. But I can explain the reasons without fully understanding or agreeing with them.

I tried to keep it simple. Even still, her attention was waning. I'm not sure she realized what was in the box she was opening. I'm pretty sure she silently wished she hadn't asked. But it is my duty to pass the baton of knowledge to her. She may have been here when it happened, but she has no memory of it. She can't remember. So not only is it my responsibility to never forget. It is my obligation to make sure she never forgets.