Saturday, January 14, 2012
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, September 26, 2010
you will recognize moments in your life when one memory of an event neatly lies upon another in the future. I know what you are thinking... shouldn't that say one moment in the present neatly lies upon a moment in the past? No. The reason is that even as an event is taking place, something inside of you snaps to attention and recognizes something about what is occurring here is significant. These are the moments in your life where the string of beads you are subconsciously collecting make a sudden turn and overlap. Tonight Peter Knowles is on my mind. Specifically, I am thinking about a conversation we had some seven years ago when he was home in Naples having just arrived back from Africa. He was smiling, brilliantly beaming, that red hankerchief knotted at his throat. His white hair was longer than usual and his already dark tanned skin was even darker from the African sun. Always animated, that day he was levitating. As usual, I was struggling to hear his words beyond his beautiful accent. With Peter, I had to FOCUS. He was talking about one of our favorite topics. Sliding back into Naples after having returned from the Third World. It's one hell of a bumpy slide. He was talking about his truck in Africa. How he had to run along side it making various manuevers to get it started. He is actively making these efforts to start the truck here on my store's sales floor minus the truck, and we are gathering some stares from my other clients. I am giggling with this man I love so dearly. Then, all of a sudden, he looks at me hard and says, "Kristin, I despise my car here in Naples. I cannot stand to look at it. What it means. Kristin, I miss my battered truck. I miss Africa." Now, I happen to know he drives a black Mercedes. I understand him immediately. We just stand there looking at one another until I ask the obvious question of when his next flight back home to Africa is. It is six months in the future. I feel that old familiar silent prayer being offered up to God... "Please, just let him live that long. To see his beloved Africa again." It is like he knows my heart and he smiles. With that, he hugs me, and is off. I have strung another bead on my figuritive necklace. That day, I smile at the bumper sticker on my new Land Rover that says in black and white letters, "You are not what you own." And I know it to be true.
Fast forward seven years later to just a few days ago. My beloved friend Peter has passed away. At this moment he is not even in my mind's radar. Jason and I are sitting in a dealership with two squirming children trying our best to go over a final document of financing. It is somewhere in this moment I realize that I do not really care about this car... I can take it or leave it. I think this is because I now drive a minivan that we paid less for in total than even one payment on the Rover. I like this van, and in this moment, I am shocked by this reality. I do not worry about this van, the spilled drinks, the dirt tracked both in and out by the children. Something odd happens as Jason looks at me, and we both look at our cheerful new salesperson friend and kindly thank him for his time as we GET UP AND WALK OUT saying we'll think about it. We drive off in our van with both kids probably wondering what the heck THAT was all about. The beads have now overlapped on my necklace.
That necklace figuritively rests around the mirror of our new ten year old four wheel drive that sits out front in our driveway. I'd give anything to know where Peter's truck is bouncing along in Africa right about now.
Peter Knowles was a man who had a soul brighter than anyone I have ever met. His work with small communities at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro was beautiful- teaching families to farm and providing safe water sources. One of the bad things about moving away from an area is that you never know when that last hug will be your last. Such was the case with Peter. I hugged him in the spring of 2007 and said a little prayer for his safe return to Kili, and he was gone six months later. My heart is heavy with the news and he is sorely missed. I will always remember his excitement at the Naples Drum Circle- I think it made his heart feel closer to Africa when he was home in Naples
Monday, January 18, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
It was early, about seven am, and I was expecting Daddy and the Minister around nine. Ordering breakfast seemed so trivial that morning but I knew that I had to eat something. It just seemed so unimportant. I found myself lying there in that hospital bed and though emotionally I felt a wreck, physically I felt fine. I had had enough of hospital beds. So I wheeled breakfast over to the window next to a chair. A few bites were all I could manage. All the time you were still lying in your blanket in my lap. Pushing breakfast aside, I then turned the chair around to look out of the window. It looked chilly- November chilly. Grey. Rainy. The clock was moving forward and there was nothing I could do to stop it. After the Baptism I would walk out of the hospital and never see or hold you again, at least not in this lifetime. And I was crushed by this. How could I just leave you there? How on Earth was I going to do this? I stood up and leaned against the window sill. I moved your blanket just a bit so that your face was exposed to what little light there was under the clouds. I asked for help. All of my Grandparents are gone from this Earth. All four. Not one lived to meet my children whom I know would have given them so much joy. I looked out and thought about all the things I had talked about with this little body here in my arms over the last hours. Promises I had made. One was that I would do my best not to live in sorrow. That I would Mother Wren and Dane in a spirit that also honored Nathaniel. That they would know they have a brother in Heaven. That when things got bad, and I was feeling sad, that I would look for him in the Sun and in the Moon. That I would know, in my heart, that he was with my Grandparents, looking down on us. Nathaniel's face was literally a glow. It happened quickly, the clouds had parted, the sun shown in the window upon us, and then disappeared once again. I stood there as if transfixed. Nearly two hours had passed because just a few seconds later the Minister walked in , and then Daddy. And then the nurse who had been there with me most of the previous day. We stood hand in hand after I laid you in your little bassinet as the Minister read the story of the First Baptism. We all cried. I had placed a picture of Wren and Dane together at your feet. I had wanted them to be there too. The Minister told the story of how Jesus had told all of the people at the Baptism that children were some of the most important people of God. He asked them to recognize this and I thought to myself how my children mean the absolute world to me. The nurse knew my difficulty and asked if we were ready. The three of us walked you down to the little room where your pictures had been taken and the nurse showed me where to place the bassinet. I saw the two faces of my living children in the photograph at your feet and kissed your sweet little face one last time. Wren and Dane's picture traveled with you on your journey and that picture is part of your ashes. Hardly a day goes by that I do not lay a hand on your box just to feel you near. I feel your spirit in everything I do with Wren and Dane. It's as if Wren can read my mind when she says "Let's draw Nathaniel a picture." And, of course, I say "Yes, Wren, let's."
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I am so very grateful for the courage I was given to make the choice that Monday in November to bring you forth naturally. I desperately want to know what happened to you, and needed to see your beautiful little face and hold you in my arms. I was afraid- so afraid I would not be up to being strong and facing my grief for your loss. I needn't have worried. From the moment I went into labor and delivery, I knew it should be this way and no other. Most importantly, I was selfish. I wanted more than anything else to have stolen moments with you that we could only have in this way. I was so aware of the fact that I was caught between two worlds. Your life had gone out within my body perhaps weeks ago. Though I knew your soul could no longer be found within my body, your body was my Earthly connection to you. When they found my cervix to be en tact I was again happy to have been granted a few more precious hours to carry you within my womb. Daddy and I rested with you knowing the long emotional hours that lay ahead of us. I placed my hands over my belly most of those hours just trying to memorize and feel your presence. I knew only too quickly the time would come for us to be separated and I just wasn't ready for you to leave me physically. Being pregnant with two small children in our house isn't the same as being pregnant with your first- or even second. Time flies much too quickly and it is difficult to be aware of every detail- and in a lot of ways, I resented, or more accurately lamented, this truth. In so many ways, I knew you would be my last time to carry a baby and I so wanted to relish every moment. The reality is that you struggle to get through the day- but you do because you know that incomprehensible prize of joy is waiting at the end. All the while you worry that you are taking too much on, you remember to eat healthy, and you cradle your belly at those precious times of rest when you can be alone with your thoughts of the new little person growing inside of you. You worry about the economy, the state of the world, the state of your house- and then you realize all you have to do is love and care for this little one, and that, my son, is so easy.
When the doctor gave me the medicine to start my contractions I was so sad. I was still so excited to see you but this was happening in a way that I had never imagined it ever would and I was struggling with that truth. As I was trying to come to terms with your leaving my body four months too soon, I was well aware of the next phase of my grief and that was having to give your precious little body away. I prayed for some time to calmly sit with you inside me before my contractions began and we were so graciously given that time. It gave me the courage to shun the epidural. I wanted to experience this birth to the fullest I possibly could- even the pain. When I recognized the contractions, I began to summon up the strength to do the most difficult thing I have ever done. Whatever time has been stolen from our future, I wanted to have these hours with you- in the only way that was given to us. When the pain began to get really hard to handle, they gave me something that took off the edge. By some miracle, it wore off before the last three or four violent contractions. A short time of peace then occurred and one of intense clarity. My waters ran forth, and I felt your little body drop into position. And then, there you were.