Around these parts, hair grows really fast.
The boys can go from clean cut to super shaggy in the blink in an eye.
And so, on a free evening, we pull out the step stool. My husband gets the hair trimming kit, complete with plasticy cape. The boys sit, one at a time, as their dad trims their hair down to something more even. Or, in LittleBrother’s case, something less sticky-uppy. His hair doesn’t get longer, exactly. It just gets taller. It seemingly grows straight up.
That’s why he often looks taller than BigBrother. Or, in this week’s picture, he looks taller because they’ve noticed how close they are in height and BigBrother decided to let his brother be taller in the picture.
I really like these two boys. So much.
Tomorrow marks our annual trek to Pittsburgh to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Back when we started doing this, we didn’t even know about the parade or the party in Market Square; we just needed a bit of alone time after our first son’s birth. As we found out about the fun things that took place, we made it a tradition.
The interesting thing is that we keep getting older but the crowd doesn’t. Last year, we headed back to our hotel room before nine o’clock in the evening because we’re old. Old or not, we love the chance to get away for a weekend in one of our favorite cities and pretend that maybe we’re not so old, drink some beer, laugh at people who drink too much beer, eat some good Pittsburgh food, and generally spend the weekend together. It’s our thing, and we love it.
I’m just hoping that someone drinks too much again this year and plants another epic photobomb into our life and our memories.
It’s been a rocky start to the new year in many ways.
I spent the cold, dark months, well, cold and dark. I shared my struggles here in light detail. Some of my closest people knew how deep the struggle went; how blinding the dark, how frigid the cold. I kept most at an arm’s length though; it’s hard to allow myself to be seen in those spaces. It’s even hard with those that I love and trust the most—maybe especially so.
The sun shines more these days.
It feels good to not dread waking up, to open my eyes and feel thankful for another day instead of full of self-loathing and all encompassing fear. It feels good to go for a run and lose myself in the beat of my footsteps, the rhythm of the music, the sound of spring birds returning to our area instead of getting lost inside my own anxiety-filled mind. It feels good to interact with people on real levels again instead of just trading niceties; I missed connecting so much.
It feels good to look in the mirror and see me again.
It’s not perfect, this place where I find myself today. In fact, today I sat at my desk in my office and felt overcome with the loss of my daughter, discouraged with how this grief will be with me for the rest of my days. Late last week, I didn’t cope properly with my anxiety and had a really bad night. I sometimes still have to take medication as needed to ward of panic attacks.
But I’ve stopped wanting to die and started wanting to live.
I’ve started seeing light instead of never-ending darkness. I’ve started to feel the warmth of living once again. I once again feel hope instead of despair, something instead of nothing. I’ll take those things, this start of something good. Yes, I will.
I struggle taking the boys to church on Sundays my husband works. It’s just so much easier when we’re both here to get things moving, to get us out the door on time, to get us in the pew and separate the boys so we can parent one-on-one during service. When he’s not here, we run late. I run out of patience before we get out the door. I struggle to answer the not-quite-whispered question of one child while helping the other kid follow along in the bulletin. In these moments, I keenly miss his presence; he balances out our family.
We went to church on Sunday, despite the hideous time change and the lack of husband. I’m glad we did.
The bell choir played.
I love our bell choir. I love the hum and the din of the bells. I love watching the ringers’ faces as they nail a particularly tricky page turn or hit the rhythm just perfectly. I love closing my eyes and letting the music wash over me, not just the beauty of the sound itself but the peace that I find in my faith.
The boys love the bells.
LittleBrother looked up at me with big eyes and not whispered, “Can I go sit at the end so I can see?”
I nodded, and off he scuttled to sit next to his brother. He still couldn’t see as the man who sits in front of us is a tall drink of water.
He looked at his brother and not whispered, “Would you let me sit on the end so I can see?”
Without hesitation, they switched. BigBrother then realized he couldn’t quite see either, so they smooshed together, ever so carefully. Smooshed together, pressed against the hard wooden end of the pew, they watched. Intently. They didn’t look away once. Neither brother pushed the other one away, complained about sharing space or air. They took in the music, they watched the faces, their faces alight with the joy that only music brings.
I forgot to watch the faces of the bell choir this week. I didn’t catch how carefully they pulled the bells into their bodies to silence the sound. I didn’t see who had the melody and who brought in a beautiful, deep harmony. I didn’t watch the director both direct and play; a magic feat that usually blows my mind!
Instead, I watched two little boys watch a bell choir play. Smooshed so close, together in only the way that siblings can be, their faces full of joy and awe and beauty and youth and love.
I’m so glad we went to church. Together.
The sun came out yesterday and stayed out all day. By the time the boys got home from school, the last blocks of snow and ice disappeared. The boys rushed through homework and headed outside to play while I finished up a conference call.
As I slipped on my shoes to go outside, I looked out the window to find LittleBrother drawing with sidewalk chalk while wearing his batting helmet.
I love little things like this—when they wear snorkels and capes or super hero masks and a cowboy hat. I love how he moved from wiffle ball to drawing without removing his hat, too caught up in play. I love when my children get to go outside and breathe fresh air.
“Mommy, look at my family picture I made! It’s my sister and my brother and daddy and me and you!”
I stood before his drawing of stick people, my breath caught somewhere in my throat. He drew his sister. I didn’t prompt him to do so; I never do when it comes to school assignments or even at home drawings. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I am always slammed to the ground with emotion when they choose to do so on their own. They are thinking of her even when I’m not actively fostering that connection. They love her as part of their family, as part of their own selves.
“Oh, Booey. This is the best family picture I’ve ever seen!”
And I meant it. I so meant it.