blue sky shining over

Month: November, 2014

ashal emmanuel’s adoption | part 3

we were welcomed into the agency by robert and ginger, and ushered into an office with a large table. robert explained that we would go through the paperwork first, and our baby’s foster parents would bring him a little bit later. apparently it is usually best to get the paperwork out of the way before the baby shows up, because the parents tend to be just a little distracted after that.

at this point, we received more legal information about the adoption. while most of the loose ends had been tied by the agency, there was still a matter involving ash’s alleged birth father, and a very slight chance that he could sue for custody. robert reassured us that the process was highly unlikely for all sorts of legal reasons, and we felt reassured.

sky ashal 160

the mood in the room was an awkward combination of businesslike and jovial. lots of nervous laughter and halting grins, shaky signatures and shallow breaths.

sky ashal 161at some point, we learned that the baby, along with the foster parents, was here. we managed to continue to concentrate on paperwork and legal whatnots, until ginger came in and explained that, because a birth father had come into the waiting room, the baby could not stay there any longer. we weren’t finished, but could they please bring him in now?

before we could halt our shaking breath or do more than squeeze our hands together, a middle aged couple appeared, carrying a tiny carseat.

it is impossible to describe what we saw in that car seat.

the tiniest, scrawniest little limbs; piles of straight black hair; wrinkled, peeling skin; and those giant black eyes, wide open and peering at us. he was the most beautiful little lizard i had ever seen.

i had worried that, since he was almost 2 weeks old, he wouldn’t be tiny any more. i didn’t need to – the child was barely over 6lbs when we met him. he was the size of a 5lb dumbbell; people, he was tiny.

he looked around with his huge baby lizard eyes and started to fuss, and then suddenly the foster father was holding this tiny fussing thing and handing it to me, saying something about swaddling it (huh?), and giving it a bottle. my hands were shaking and i couldn’t believe they were going to let me hold it, and right now, and don’t they know that i have no idea how to hold this thing, and suddenly i couldn’t talk because i was crying so hard.

when i say crying, i don’t mean “a few emotional tears.” all the pain and loss and ambiguity welled up in my throat at once, the body memory of a year before, and my nose swelled and throat sobbed and i could barely say the sentence that i knew i had to say.

i haven’t held a baby since my son was stillborn a year ago.

nobody responded, and i wondered if i had said the wrong thing. the baby lizard, though, sucked away at his bottle and stared at me with those amazing eyes. maybe he understood.

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we finally settled in, and i fed him in silence while joel started back up on the paperwork with robert. i don’t remember much of this part, except the total otherworldliness of holding this child, my child, and not believing that any of it was real.

who becomes a mother in a random office in florida, by way of a total stranger handing you a baby, a bottle, some papers, and their best wishes? “surreal” doesn’t even begin to describe it.sky ashal 164 sky ashal 166

at some point the baby’s diaper needed to be changed. i panicked a bit and looked at joel; i hadn’t changed a newborn’s diaper, like, ever … at least he had experience from his mother-baby clinical in nursing school. he accepted the responsibility with confidence.sky ashal 168 sky ashal 170 sky ashal 177 sky ashal 179

after the diaper change, it was joel’s turn to hold while i signed. little did we realize then, that the baby in our arms would not be able to be set down (including when asleep) for the next 7 months.sky ashal 184 sky ashal 185

somehow, through the blur, things were accomplished, and it was soon time to leave. they showed us how to strap the baby into the car seat, and our hearts broke as he started to cry, tiny thing that he was.

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and, just like that, we left.

with a baby.

we stopped at whole foods on the drive back to our hotel, and as i carried his sleeping smallness through the store, one woman stopped us to tell us how lucky we were.

she had no idea.

futility

i could share my feelings about the injustice of the grand jury decision not to indict darrell wilson, but others have already done that.

i could detail the facts about mike brown’s killing, but others have already done that. and anyway, aren’t we all consuming a version of the facts from a news source we trust, and thus having our opinion shaped by it?

i could explain what was wrong with the grand jury in this case, but justice antonin scalia has already done that.

i could ask why the prosecutor in this case acted more like the defense, but others have already done that.

i could complain about the shoddy investigation and inconsistent evidence, but others have already done that.

i could shout for a federal investigation, but others are already doing that.

i could try to tell other white people about what it’s like to be black in our society, but others have already done that. and besides, i’m not black.

i could rant about the reasons why white people have such a hard time understanding the black perspective on fergusen, but others have already done that.

i could attempt to explain the pervasiveness and relevance of white privilege, but others have already done that. and really, if you don’t believe in white privilege it’s not like i’m going to change your mind. and if you do believe in white privilege, then you already have a basic understanding of it.

i could share why i believe that race issues, and how much we care about them, are inextricably tied to our understanding of the gospel, but others have already done that.

i could ask why it’s so hard for followers of jesus to believe and empathize with the oppressed, but others have already done that.

i could manufacture an opinion on fault and innocence, but i wasn’t there.

i could speak as the mother of a black son, or as the mother of a dead son, because both are relevant, but what would i say?

i could tell you what it was like to stand with hundreds of protesters at the justice rally in portland yesterday, but i could never convey the power of the simmering frustration and righteous anger that undulated through the crowd; how joel and aida and i were energized and confirmed by it, and how my little black son, the empath, was overwhelmed by it, clinging to my shoulders and eventually starting to wail, and so we had to leave that place. that place, where the signs said “black lives matter,” because the little black life that we are responsible for was scared.

i could tell you how frustrating it was to have an idea for a picture, a picture that would speak a thousand words, and to try to get that picture with a squirmy toddler and a wailing infant and a proxy photographer because i need to help bring change, darnit! but i should probably just show you the picture instead.

i could spend hours writing each of these things, but what would it change?

just one more voice.

just one more drop in the bucket.

just one more person, trying to convince the system that racism still exists, that listening to oppressed voices is essential,
and that black lives matter.

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ashal emmanuel’s adoption story | part 2

wednesday

when we were told on tuesday morning that we wouldn’t be able to meet our son until thursday afternoon, i was devastated. we had already missed the first week and a half of his life – his birth, coming home from the hospital, the time after birth when the baby’s face changes so much, first bottle, transition from meconium to normal poop, loss of his umbilical cord … so many missed milestones in only a week and a half. this tiny baby already had a history in which we, his parents, had no part, and i ached to envelope him into the love of his forever family and never let go. each hour felt like an eternity of separation from our baby.

but really, it wasn’t that much time. the rest of tuesday and wednesday were spent notifying friends and family, getting our legal and financial ducks in a row, updating my drivers license, meeting with our doctor to discuss the adoption (required by the agency), packing to leave, and freaking out. (mostly the latter.)

wednesday morning we tackled the boxes of baby things, untouched since being hurriedly packed up after sky’s birth. we had thrown clothes and accessories into boxes, barely looking at them, and that morning was marked with tears of ambivalence as we sorted through precious artifacts, selecting a few to bring. our friend anne, another adoptive mom, brought lunch, a baby outfit, and an encouraging presence.

somehow, by late wednesday, everything was packed and ready, and our friends jared and joi took us to the airport.

phone transfer feb 2013 004

leaving for florida with a never-used carseat.
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robert, our florida contact, texted us on wednesday night …phone transfer feb 2013 009

our one job on the plane was to come up with a name for the baby, which we did in between calming episodes of seinfeld. the conversations pretty much went,
“i don’t know, do you?”
“i dunno.”
“do you like my name suggestion?”
“maybe.”
“let’s watch another seinfeld.”

phone transfer feb 2013 010phone transfer feb 2013 014phone transfer feb 2013 011during our layover in phoenix, i managed to use the internet access to find a list of popular haitian boy names, in which we found ash’s middle name. by the end of our flight we had a tentative name for our baby: ashal (ah-SHAWL) emmanuel.

thursday

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somewhere in the southeastern united states the sun rose, and it was thursday. the day we had awaited for 4 days since learning about our baby, 12 days since he was born, 8 months since we began the adoption process, 12 months since we lost sky … 8 years of waiting for a child.

i was convinced that the plane would crash before the universe would actually allow us to become parents, but despite my dire predictions we landed safely in ft. lauderdale.

dazed after a night of no sleep, we checked into our hotel, hoping for a nap and a shower. for various complaint-worthy reasons that i will not waste space complaining about here, these things did not happen. and so, exhausted and slightly dirty, we left our hotel to complete a few last minute errands before our early afternoon appointment.

phone transfer feb 2013 004 (2)joel, looking like a crazy person, shows off our purchases outside walmart.

sky ashal 149installing the carseat in the walmart parking lot.

sky ashal 154i was far too antsy to sit still, so i took bad pictures of strange birds while joel installed the carseat. i have a clear memory of the birdsong being much louder than i’m accustomed to. perhaps miami birds are particularly strident.sky ashal 157after the eternity that was thursday morning, we finally arrived at the agency in north miami.
sky ashal 158(the white car is our rental.)

the sun was too bright. the birds were too loud. our hands were shaking and our voices querelous. we were about to have a baby.

ashal emmanuel’s adoption story | part 1

monday

12/17/2012  12:55pm

Hi Joel & Lani,
Please call me when you can.

Thanks!
Gayle

and so it began.

45 minutes earlier, we had received an email from the very same gayle at christian family adoptions, informing us that things had been slow at the agency lately, and could she please send our profile to yet another partner agency in the south?

2 days earlier, we had finished our mourning rituals for the anniversary of sky gabriel’s death and birth. those posts, which are important for setting the stage for this story, are here: one, two, three, four, and five.

9 days earlier, baby boy P was born, 6lbs 8oz, to a young woman in florida who chose to seek adoption for her son.

joel, at work at the time, received the email first, and by the time i had my phone in hand he was already on the phone with gayle. he called me immediately afterward and passed on the news … there’s a baby in florida born a week ago; he is of haitian and african american descent; he’s in a foster home; relinquishments are all signed; he has been substance exposed, but we don’t know how much; he seems calm and healthy; do we want him?

that’s it.
that was all the information.

“um … i guess … i don’t see why not. do you?”
“no.”
“how sure is it?”
“i think it’s pretty sure.”
“i guess i’ll call gayle back and tell her yes?”
“…”

we were both in shock. i stumbled out of our room into the kitchen, where two of our housemates were chatting. wide-eyed, i managed to say, to myself as much as to them, “i think we’re parents,” and receive several enthusiastic hugs before catching my breath.

the florida agency required that we receive certain documents to review before they would accept our “yes,” and it looked unlikely that we would receive them that business day. we finished the day with an assurance that we would receive the documents tomorrow, and this 9 second video, which i showed to everyone who entered our house, preceded by “want to see our baby?!?”

i’m not sure how we managed to sleep that night, but somehow we did, and monday came to a close.

tuesday

the whole week up until we left for florida felt like a big sleepover party at our house. it was almost christmas, and in addition to our regular housemates we had former housemates and friends visiting and staying over most nights. tuesday morning we awoke to several girls sleeping in the living room, a busy day, the promise of another email – this time from florida, and snow!

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months earlier, i had scheduled this day to have sky’s footprints tattooed on my feet. i decided to go through with it despite all the excitement, and throughout the morning, as i was having this done, we were communicating with the agency in florida. it is impossible to put words to the range of emotion bound up in this experience. it was a rite of passage, an archway from the desert into the land of abundance.

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there are a number of reasons i chose to memorialize sky in this way.

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it is representative of my binding commitment to live with the constant reminder of death, because that which is limited is precious.

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it proclaims that another human dwelt here and left his mark on my heart and flesh; a small person spent all the days of his life within the universe of my body.

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these prints are a reminder that every step i take brings me one step closer to being with sky, and as the lines of his footprints fade into the lines of my feet, the day when we will be together becomes clearer. at the time, each line of sky’s baby foot branded onto mine brought us seconds closer to certainty with the little baby in florida, too.

sky ashal 123joel, waiting for the procedure to memorialize our first son; waiting for the email to accept our second son. seconds stretched to infinity during those moments of pain and anticipation.

sky ashal 128finally we received the email. it contained precious little information about this baby boy P, but at that point we already knew what our decision would be. joel left to fax our consenting signatures, and i stayed, voluntarily trapped on a stretcher at the apex of memory and hope, of pain and joy, of loss and gain.

sky ashal 132IMAG0176i will never regret the choice to engage fully in grief while simultaneously choosing to leap into the wild uncertainty of new relationship. this was one of life’s mountaintop moments. crystal clarity and bitter cold and triumph and hardship all mixed together in profound ambivalence.

it hurt so good.

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12-18-2012  12:26pm
From: Gayle
To: me; lanimaria

Hi Joel & Lani,

Here is all the info that is available at this time.  Please let me know if you would like to go forward and accept the referral of this baby.

12-26-2012  12:32pm
From: me
To: Gayle; lanimaria

Yes Gayle we would

to be continued …

livin’ the rainbow life

after sky died and was born, i crocheted a rainbow baby blanket. for a long time after i finished it lay folded in a box, because i had no use for a baby blanket. the rainbow represented hope, represented belief in the future, represented my unborn rainbow children.

these days, the blanket again lies folded in a box. my rainbow children are getting older, and a newborn sized crochet blanket is of less use to them.

a rainbow is the product of a magical alchemy of sky tears and sun rays and a perfect angle. it is precious because it is ephemeral and untamed. it is elusive; holding the rainbow is the stuff of fantasy. a rainbow is wild. a rainbow is fleeting.

but what happens after you catch a rainbow? or two?

no longer elusive, but clinging. no longer fleeting, but ever present. the rainbows in my arms are solid and muscular and loud, their alchemy immediate and often smelly.

rainbows with head colds.
IMG_0881 rainbows with bad days.IMG_0884
rainbows that poop and scream and don’t sleep.

on many days the brilliant colors mush and fade into a muddy brown, the color of old food and dirty diapers and dirt and cups of coffee. the hours stretch and morph into forevers, and the clock creeps as i pack more parenting into 5 minute segments than i would have thought possible. days are both too long and not long enough, but never exactly the right length. the nights are busy, full of nursing and pacing and rocking and not-resting. joel has even taken to using his pedometer app during the nights, a techie’s attempt to validate that third cup of coffee the next morning.

the days have no beginning and no end; life is no longer cyclical, but an endless stretch of intense neediness.

i wrote a blog post about living with rainbows long before i had one. it said, among other things, this:

some say a baby isn’t all that. a baby is long nights no sex weird smells sore nipples and sacrifice but it’s worth it in the end.

i say no. a baby is a rainbow.

they say you don’t know what it’s like. they say wait until you’re a mother and you’ll see. they say you’ll be tired, you’ll want a break. they say you have no idea.

i say watch me. watch me make my rainbow. watch me conquer the choking clouds of fear to live at peace with my rainbow. watch me bring forth my rainbow in pain and joy. and watch me thank God and hope and heaven every morning for my rainbow, made more precious by the tears of pain in which it is conceived. i may have no idea what it is like to live with a baby, but i know what is like to die with a baby. and one whose motherhood has died with her baby may not know the trials of living with a baby … but i know without a doubt that i will embrace the rain with my rainbow.

some days i get really angry at the childless woman who wrote that. losing a baby is hard, but having babies is hard too – a more complicated kind of hard. she had no idea.

but other days … choking with fear, tears of exhaustion in my eyes, arms too weary to shield myself from the rain … i accept her mandate.

because rainbow babies, like rainbows themselves, are impermanent. i feel this acutely as we prepare to recognize aida’s 1st birthday, ash’s 2nd birthday, and sky’s 3rd birthday. this is a season of many reminders, celebrations, and commemorations for our rainbow family: the births of all of our children, sky’s death, ash’s relinquishment and adoption … all take place within the space of a few short weeks, along with thanksgiving and christmas. ashal and aida’s seemingly endless babyhood is suddenly punctuated with little exclamation points, reminders to notice the beautiful colors and beautiful moments of today. already, my little rainbows are beginning to fly away from me with toddling wings. they will no longer be rainbow babies; they will be rainbow toddlers. it is a different sort of impermanence than that of my sky baby; it stretches deceptively into the horizon. and yet, little by little, the horizon moves closer as they fly away.

it wracks the emotions to jump from birthdays to death days to separation days to togetherness days, and so in the next few weeks we will hold on to our little rainbows, still ours for now, and cry, or laugh, or simply sit in an endless moment that, all too soon, will end.

during this season of remembering i’m hoping to record and share both ash’s adoption story and aida’s birth story, starting with ash’s adoption. i’ll post the first part of that story in the next few days.

story

let me tell you a story.

it’s a sad story, and that’s what’s wrong with it.

once upon a time, we lost a baby. it was the hardest thing to go through, and we felt like we wouldn’t survive. we told ourselves, “this is awful. it’s ok that this is awful. nothing will ever be this hard again.”

then, we adopted a baby. the baby had some challenges, and was not an easy baby to parent. i failed at breastfeeding the baby, and he struggled to thrive on formula. joel got a new job and had to work many more hours, far away. then, we got pregnant. i was horribly sick for 5 months, and could barely take care of the challenging baby while joel was gone. when he was home, i laid in bed and threw up. every day. we told ourselves, “this is awful. it’s ok that this is awful. nothing will ever be this hard again.”

it got worse.

we were hurt, and lost community. i experienced severe mental and physical health challenges toward the end of the pregnancy, which caused me to bomb out of my home business taking pictures. i had angry clients, a baby with delays and challenges, and a rough pregnancy. financial problems welled up around this time, and we landed in debt faster than we even realized. we told ourselves, “this is awful. it’s ok that this is awful. we’ll make it through. nothing will ever be this hard again.”

the baby was born after a terrifying few weeks of complications. she didn’t gain weight, and had to see doctors several times every week. ash had bad eczema, bad tummy problems, bad anxiety, bad insomnia, delays. i was hospitalized with mastitis. joel got in trouble for taking too many sick days, and we added piles of medical debt to our significant financial problems. we were sleep deprived and lonely and struggling, and told ourselves, “this is awful. this is really awful. somehow, we’ll make it through. nothing will ever be this hard again.”

it started, bit by bit, to get easier.

we found good professionals to help ash. though aida still struggled to gain weight and ended up at the doctor many times, her health problems grew less severe and eventually went away. i went through some awful medication trials that caused horrible side effects, but i slowly started finding medications to treat my health problems and began to function better. joel switched from orthopedics to his dream job, the emergency department. ash slept the tiniest bit better. we stopped adding debt.

but we had no script for this, and so we continued to tell ourselves, “this is awful. this is really hard,” because we didn’t know what else to say.

life had been so hard for so long that we forgot how to tell a story with nuance, with peaks and valleys, with ambiguity. oh yes, we enjoyed happy moments with our children, and bursts of hope here and there, but mostly we wondered why we still felt like we were barely surviving, even though life had changed.

and then, a lightbulb moment.

we’re telling ourselves the wrong story.

here’s another story.

once upon a time, we lost a baby. it was awful, but we are grateful that we had 9 months with him, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. we grew strong, together and apart, and developed empathy, maturity, and open-mindedness through the pain.

a rainbow baby came into our lives, and though he has challenges, he bonded to us and never ceases to be brave, curious, empathetic, and lively. joel finally got hired as a nurse after years of training, and in a few short months was working in his dream position. we got pregnant, and the baby was alive and mostly healthy. my myriad of pregnancy problems were treated by an amazing medical team comprised of crunchy midwives and high-risk obstetricians, all of whom were compassionate and wonderful.

just when i was almost overwhelmed with mental and physical health challenges, joel found me the most amazing practitioner, who has changed my life. though financial problems threatened to overwhelm us, we were never without a job, a home, and food on the table.

the baby was born, and though she had a hard time gaining weight, we were surrounded by a team of health professionals who truly cared about her. when i landed in the hospital with severe mastitis, friends pumped milk for her and we were able to keep her on breast milk even while my supply tanked and her weight stalled. a close-knit group of friends and family surrounded us, and we slowly began to rebuild.

ever since this lightbulb moment, we’re trying to write a new script. it goes something like this:

“we are strong. our children are wonderful. we may not understand how god works, but we believe that god is with us. life is hard, but good. we will never experience these moments again, and so we will cherish even the hard ones. our story is beautiful. our story is beautiful. our story is hard, but beautiful.”

but, you know, rewriting mental scripts is really freaking hard. how often we deviate into well worn channels of exeptionalism and self-pity! the line between acknowledging hard times with honesty, and perpetuating them with, dare i say it – a bad attitude – is razor thin. we’re working hard, every day, to choose a good script. a kinder script. a love-filled script.

my hope for our family, and for yours, is that the story we tell ourselves is the one that pushes us toward the best life possible.

we are strong. life is hard, but good.
our story, mine and yours, is beautiful.

Roberts Family-188

fall

(this is a very raw grief journey post, the sort that i’ll probably regret publishing in the morning. you’ve been warned.)

i loved fall.

the rainbow leaves crunching.
the sharp bite in the air, the sharp clarity of fall light.
cooling rain on the sunburnt earth.
the skies resting into a comfortable grey after exerting such an energetic blue for so long.
enough dark to let the world sleep, let each person’s light twinkle separately after the ubiquitous communal blaze of summer.

the promise of thanksgiving and christmas, of warm cinnamon-scented firelit family togetherness.

my autumn reverie was a glorious, 4 month celebration, from september through december, like a multi-course meal with each dish more decadent than the last. culminating in all the nostalgia and beauty of christmas, with my birthday the day after for dessert.

in the fall of 2011, my greatest fear was that my son would be born after christmas.

i’m not exaggerating. i really really wanted him to be born before christmas.

(actually, that’s not quite true. i nursed a secret daydream about him joyfully entering the world at sunrise on christmas morning. in my mind, the sun’s rays would slip softly through the window of the birth center just as he was born, and we would spend christmas morning celebrating him. that daydream, whimsical and ridiculous as it is, brought more moments of happy daydreaming than i care to admit.)

i just couldn’t endure the thought that he would be born after christmas. it seemed so anticlimactic, so lame. i wanted to share christmas with him, not to sit around on christmas day a million weeks pregnant, answering invasive questions about “progress.” he was to be part of the celebration, part of the season, the piece de resistance in the multi-course smorgasbord of holiday decadence.

my cheeks burn hot with shame now, as i admit that. the ugly naivety.

i hate fall.

the leaves die and let go, exposing the harsh lines of the trees.
the scales fell like leaves from my eyes, the scales that protected me from the harsh lines of reality.
darkness comes, suffocating the earth.

through the summer, gardens grow heavy with beautiful, tangible food.
that summer, my imagination grew a mirage world, shimmering with heat and light and softness and cherub.

and then the dark came.

each leaf holds a hope, a piece of my soul grown in soft rain and bright light.
they fall off of me, leaving my mind bare of dreams, bare of energy, a naked tree skeleton unprepared to weather winter’s storms.

as the land is harvested, so it is is done to me.
my resilience is harvested, and i cannot grow more until spring.

jack o’lanterns haunt the colorless night; their bright lights bring little comfort.
they mock the sun and burn the fingers of my summer dreams.
they cackle.

and how appropriate that in the midst of the season of death, we welcome the darkness with a celebration of all that is horrifying,
a celebration that messes with our sense of reality with costumes and the strange supernatural, replacing the summer’s mirage with a more sinister pretend.

in this sinister pretend-world of fall, terror haunts the in-between moments.
every in-between moment with my living children.

“don’t do that, you’ll poke your eye out.”
and suddenly, i see it.

“don’t stand in the bath.”
the terror.

“don’t run with that stick.”
dear god, no.

because the bare branches of my mind know. they know that fall brings death. fall brings darkness. fall brings suffocation. fall brings evil. fall kills children.

this is the first autumn in 4 years that isn’t bringing a child into our family, and for some reason, the part of my brain that does the thinking before i can think believes that it will take one away, because it did once already.

i’ve forgotten how to be normal this time of year.
i’ve forgotten how to love fall.

because this,
this is what trauma and grief do.

after the best thing is taken away, grief battles to take the rest away with it. trauma grief steals moments of joy and perverts them into terror. the poem of rest becomes a poem of death, because grief. always, because grief. grief took fall, and all those holidays and the multi-course meal of beauty and decadence, and holds them hostage behind walls of terror.

i miss fall.

halloween activism

i’m not a big halloween fan.

when i was growing up, church kids of the 90s frequently skipped trick-or-treating. instead, churches put on elaborate “harvest parties,” with costume contests, games, treats, prizes, and more candy per kid than i’ve ever seen a trick-or-treater haul home. let me tell you, these parties were fun! they blew trick-or-treating, with it’s repetition and exposure to weather, out of sight.

though i was probably in my teens before i realized that most kids don’t dress up as bible characters or pilgrims for halloween. but i digress.

back to not being a halloween fan, i prefer holidays whose decorations don’t give me nightmares. i prefer holidays with an emphasis on good food, not dime-sized slave-labor snickers bars. and i definitely prefer holiday traditions that don’t require me to spend inordinate amounts of time in the freezing, dark outdoors, unless i’m caroling. (hm, halloween caroling could be fun …)

so i’ve struggled with what to do for halloween now that we have kids. i’m not going to drag them around in the cold, just so we can haul in a bag of anaphylactic shock bars (for ash), or vomit bars (for aida). this year, with ash’s all day testing on halloween, i didn’t even think about it until approximately 3:30pm, at which time i realized that at the very least, the babies needed to dress up! not having costumes was temporarily a problem, until i decided to turn them into little soapboxes for my activism. (i know, i should feel guilty … next year they can be disney characters if they want.)

so, enjoy a tiny dose of post-halloween activist inspiration, courtesy of the small humans in this house.

baby bell hooks.

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beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.
~ bell hooks

and baby nicholas kristof.
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in the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. in the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. we believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world.
~ nicholas kristof

happy halloween, friends!