Friday, September 17, 2010

A Slap in the Life

Sometimes our lives just move along merrily without hills or valleys. It may even seem mundane and we take it for granted that we'll have a tomorrow. Why wouldn't we? Then, SLAP...right in the cheek of life,  we find ourselves holding a hand up to our slapped life to check how much we're hurt, or soothe, or protect it from it happening again, so soon. Each minute of our hours, our days are worth something to someone, even if we don't see it. The effect we have on not only our family and immediate friends, but acquaintances, co-workers, our favorite barista, or the clerks at QFC is long reaching like tentacles spread out to the farthest reach, we collect people as our years go by.

I was 'slapped' last weekend. A former student, a wonderful young man in his prime, wanted to take his own life and yes, he completed the task. Little did he know the effect this had on his school, former schools, past teachers, current teachers, friends, buddies, brothers and sisters of friends, parents of friends, neighbors, his community, and of course, the amazing family he left behind.

Unfortunately, we lose loved ones to accidents and illness which while sorrowful, we have some understanding, but rarely do we truly discern the taking of one's own life. A selfish act to be sure. Yes, the darkness can seem like the invisible black hole that sucks in anything within it's radius, never to be seen again, and yet, there can be light. Feeble and wavering, but someone, always there is someone,  holding a torch letting a pinpoint of hope, of possibility, of truth out wanting to penetrate the shield.

Is it really the end of life that's desired? Or is it a longing for rest, peace from inner chaos, a sabbatical from the choices we've made, an opportunity for a do-over? Is it a hole in our hearts that just won't heal?

Perhaps I feel more than slapped. Perhaps I needed to be. Am I giving my all to relationships around me? Am I paying enough attention? Do I try to reach out to make someone else's day a bit better? Do I need to pray more attentively for those in my life? Do I need to listen to what's not being said? Perhaps. Maybe I feel this way because this was a young man on the precipice of his future lacking knowledge of available opportunities he could have reached for or knowing how much he mattered.

Everyone matters. Everyone. I can't take for granted that everyone knows this. Perhaps this is the lesson I need to push forward in my life make sure those in my life, near or far, know they matter.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gramma Loses Time in Class

Today Annie and Josh brought Ali to room 17 at North Bend Elementary. My classroom. Her first day in school. I introduced them all to my class who 'oohed' and 'ahhed' over Ali. A proper response. They will all pass fourth grade!

An interesting thing happened in class.  As I held my little grand-baby time seemed to stop. As I stared at her all peripheral noise was gone. No one else was in my sight lines. Just her.  I could see her faint little eyebrows, the few eyelashes she has, the perfect bow of her lip, and the hint of red-blond highlights in the tips of her hair. The perfect canvas of her skin. I was hyper-focused on Ali. I'm not sure how many seconds or minutes passed. I"m not sure I care, but is this normal? The 21 kids in my class could have made a giant pig pile or all ran out screaming and I'm not sure I would have noticed. Don't tell my principal!

Just before I led them up to lunch, one darling little boy asked if Ali was a girl or boy. Out loud, and with a smile on my face,  I asked him if he noticed the totally pink outfit Ali was wearing. I'm sure he didn't notice it was Juicy Couture! Now while it's true that not all baby girls wear pink and some wear blue, few boy babies are dressed in pink with frills on their fanny! He laughed too when he realized what he asked!

I didn't want my lunch time to end (what teacher does?).  I did shove some food into my mouth while Ali ate too, but I really wanted to just continue being Gramma. But, poof, I had to turn back into Mrs. Billington. Dang it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amazing Ali

I've done and seen some interesting things in my life. I've walked on the Great Wall of China, stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon at sunset, stayed at a Buddhist monastery, sat in front of the famous Torii Gates at Miyajima Island, zip lined in Mexico, and been to seven states to watch my son in baseball, but August 28, beat all. I participated, helped, saw, and became speechless as my daughter Annie, gave birth to her daughter Alice Blyth Dumond.

Josh called us about 5ish August 27 to say Annie was in labor. About time! We zipped over to find Annie, Josh, and Jordan timing contractions. Annie leaned on all of us during contractions or we rubbed her thighs to relieve pressure, we walked the neighborhood, and finally went to the hospital. A three car caravan to Evergreen, we got Annie settled in with a wonderful nurse, Shirley, and began the sit and wait game. We laughed, cried, visited with friends and family, and loved each other.

Annie was so beautiful! In the jacuzzi tub she let the warm water soothe her aches, or standing, naked, she would sway back and forth through pain turning her focus inward to breathe through contractions, her skin glowing and pink. Later, Ed and Annie leaned into each other and touched foreheads as her epidural was administered. It sounds crazy, but it was an amazing moment as he held her tenderly; epidural buddies. Josh was right by Annie the whole time and if she couldn't see him, she yelled, "Where's Dumond? I have to see Dumond!"

I got to hold Annie's legs as she pushed and cheer her on. I saw baby Ali's  head as it crowned full of goop and meconium and it was incredible, amazing! Baby Ali was a messy little cone head, but to me a gift. As Ali was placed on Annie's chest, my heart stopped for a minute.  Baby Ali is Josh and Annie's, but loved by so many! I think mostly by me. I am the gramma. I already love this little peach of a girl so much with her black hair in back and cul-de-sac in front, her quivering little lip when she's about to cry, and her strong little neck muscles that have her holding up her little head just like her mama did.

Annie gave her dad and I the biggest gift ever. She and Josh invited us to be a part of the birth. Annie pushed Ali out at 1:30 am when she and Josh's lives changed forever. 

To watch Annie give birth was a gift, but to watch her become a mama is beyond words. I so love my girls.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Students, Babies, and more...

Sometimes there is too much going on in my head I can't seem to focus! For example: School. With my classroom being a mess until two weeks before school started and not entirely complete until the first day, I felt unorganized. I am one who needs my surroundings together before I can plan for the kids first days. Then I didn't have computer access until the day before school started and of course the printer didn't work. UG! Craziness. I was also up to my ears in technology classes, which were good if I had something to work on in class!
Then, the best wrinkle of all...Annie went into labor on Aug 27. She hasn't blogged her story and since it is hers, I'll wait. Suffice to say, her baby, my new grandbaby Ali born on August 28, just two days before school started, is perfect! I am in love with Ali and I am love watching my daughter love her baby.