Friday, July 8, 2011

Grief Observed

Yes, we're still here. Actually, we're here, there, & everywhere it seems. The end of May started a season of travel for our little family of three, and since then we've run the gamut of grief and celebration. My very dear grandfather passed away in May, I'm sure it would be nearly impossible to sum up everything surrounding the sadness of losing him and yet the assurance of his life everlasting. To be honest, the whole topic feels too tender and sacred to blog about publicly. Grandpa Bob was a remarkable man and his legacy lives on in a myriad of his family and friends.

Early June found us at a family reunion in Park Rapids, the same place we were at a year ago when Karis started crawling (it seems to be a habit to reference everything in relation to "a year ago when Karis was . . . "). Late June we were celebrating in Bismarck at a dear cousin's wedding, and last weekend Karis and I took our first "girly" vacation to see some of our very best friends in Indianapolis. The time together was supremely special, in ways I didn't even expect. Karis and her little friend "V" clicked right away and my friends and I fell right back into comfortable and companionable conversation for days straight. I'm still grieved that they live a plane ride away, but to see friends happily settled where they are meant to be launched me from denial to acceptance.

Grief is a topic I've been pondering a lot these last couple months, realizing that it really is such an ongoing part of life. Our days are filled with gains and losses, and I'm thankful that there is a word by which to frame our experiences. I recently read the following line in a book, the quote is a father speaking to his family after grieving the tragic loss of a family friend:

"There'll be deaths, births, marriages, fun, and sorrow . . . just meet 'em all fair and square. Face facts no matter how bad. Then, come what will, you'll be ready for everything. Pull yourselves together and just go on with your livin' like as always."

To be honest, we have so much to celebrate right now that any drama I create is contrived. Trevor is rounding a year at his "new" job, turning 30, and going to Panama on a missions trip (did I mention he had a "brother and friend birthday bash" here while I was away last weekend? From what I hear, everyone had a good time - Karis and I were thankful to be out of the way in IN!) 

Trevor and I are savoring the summer days of being outside with Karis, exploring, pointing out green trees and yellow flowers, watching her "whee" on the slide, tasting ice cream treats for the first time, learning how to use the "potty", listening to her vocabulary explode. Every day is gone in a blink, yet so full that I can't keep up with the changes. This week she is recalling our recent travels: "airplane. bye-bye. home", and friends "mimi, eeki, beh, ah-nie". She is obsessed with sitting on the potty (naked) and loves to read her book about baby shoes. She sometimes screams when we have to get dressed for the day and is often either needing to be in my lap or pushing me away. There is so much to learn about this little girl! Her very best friend is still "Dee", her name for the little boy that is here a few days a week. Dee's family have continued to be dear friends and confidants as we all experience first-time-parenting together.

Someone asked me recently if they thought my mind had atrophied since I started staying at home. My answer was no! I feel like I'm making a thousand little decisions a day, many on behalf of an innocent and somewhat helpless (yet very willful!) child. The topics to ponder, learn about and discuss are endless: discipline, routine, traditions, learning, faith, development, nutrition, activities . . . I am often overwhelmed with all I'd love to research and do. Karis and I start the day praying for our time to be used as it should, and that seems to be a good place to start. Every day is an adventure, there are always people from whom to learn and other people who need encouragement and blessing. I am constantly and humbly reminded that Karis is watching every move I make and that the best lessons will be taught by my example, not my words. That too can be overwhelming! She teaches me many things daily, and I thank God for her reminders to LIVE, have FUN, explore, be adventurous, laugh, give hugs. make eye contact, express how I'm really feeling.

It's only taken me about 5 days to compose this post! Maybe "talk" to you again before the year is over . . . ha! Today's full-disclosure-you-have-to-have-a-toddler-to-appreciate moment: Karis took her first "2" in the potty. Let me tell you, it was a BIG deal. She was actually kind of frightened and didn't seem to know what was going on, poor thing. I tried to convey how exciting it was and we made a big ceremony out of taking it to the "big potty" and I taught her how to flush it. She loved that! The fun reward was splashing her hands around in a tupperware full of water on the kitchen floor - she was in heaven. Oh if only I could guarantee lasting bliss over such simple things.

Here are some recent pictures . . . 

Father's Day

 K and V, such sweet friends

4th of July special treat - her very own smoothie at Caribou

K with her "brother Dee", rockin out at 8:30am. These two know how to party.