Saturday, May 26, 2012

Live Your Dash

Last night Ian and I entertained Ever with this bizarre hilarity for a little bit and then she was asleep on my breast and Ian and I watched Herzog's documentary Into The Abyss and Ian fell asleep and I sat in the dark room with Herzog's gentle accented voice asking questions and fell in love with the truth of the warden who said ' and once you are all up in there in your life, you do watch the birds ' and told us the story of Live Your Dash: The dash is the line on your tombstone between the day you are born and the day you die. That's it. That's all you get, that's your life right there, that dash, how are you living it?

The warden has a trembling stumbling voice and bright clear eyes and a slightly chubby face that trembled and turned a wildflower shade of pink as he recounted how many death row inmates he helped strap down, ' over 125 '.  He quit, lost his pension and quit, because he couldn't do it anymore. ' No one has the right to take a life '. That's what he came out of that job with. His dash and his new life, as he said.

Everything is only once, I live in that neurotic's energized awareness of this truth, and with my babies this is hyper-so. Never again will I get to watch Ever be 17 months and learn to love and trust and see the world, never again will I so completely and totally  be able to tell her how to interpret what she is seeing and hearing and experiencing of the world. Never again will the very essence of how she lives her life be forming, raw and pink and red and tremulous and beautiful and utterly and completely poignant for it's totality of innocence and openness. We are given this gift in our children, the gift to be stewards of the making of their brains and souls and bodies. We are watching a supernova be born, we are watching something as breathtaking and fragile and combustible and miraculous and beautiful as a star being born in the few first years of our children's lives. I absolutely believe in that. It has shaped my decisions since I had Dakota at 19.  ' to hold stardust in our hands ' we do, we do. When Ever is watching two people talk, and their voices raise, and one person shakes his hands and his wedding ring slides around his finger, and Ever looks at me, and I respond with a measured voice and gentle eyes and say ' They are fighting, yes. It is OK. They are angry. They have loud voices, but it will be OK. You are with Mommy right now. ' She is learning so many things. This repeated experience allows her to hear anger and not feel immediately terrified or upset, to observe what she is seeing and look for signs of concern. By my reaction she slowly learns that human beings do argue and get angry. She is learning that she is safe with me. She is learning that when she communicates, with her raised eyebrows and expression of concern and maybe a vocalization or hand gesture, that she will be understood and responded to with compassion, and this in turn teaches her how to respond to others.

I watch people talk and move and live and I think how deeply moving it is that we do. I watch Into The Abyss and mourn the death of spirit in human beings. When you see it begin to go, or that it is gone, it is an 'endless aching void'

Ever is lying on the bed next to me. She is asleep. Later Ian, Ever, Lola and I will go down to the store and print out flyers for my childcare. I am getting licensed in the next few days. Dakota is on the East Coast with my mom for ten days, with family, on the seashore. I miss him already. West Coast, sweetie, if you are reading this, I love you- and West Coast.
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