Monday, September 9, 2013

Shadows and Light

   Over this past month my babies have become, once again and more than ever, less babies and more young women. Now sixteen and eighteen, they are both squarely in a chapter of transition away from girlhood. Happily, I must admit, they seem ready for it all to progress.

   When I stop and dwell on it for very long, the plain facts of this part of life overwhelm me with grief. Had someone told me five years ago that we would still be enduring this now, I might not have been able to bear it. If you ask Handsome, he would say certainly not. Instead, life came at us, as it thankfully does for everyone, just one day and one moment at a time. And our joys have far outnumbered even our deepest sorrows.
"If only you could make now last forever."  Frank said on one of those nights while they lay on their backs watching a huge half-moon roar up out of the dark shoulders of the mountain. Frank was eleven and not by nature a philosopher. They had all lain still, thinking about this for a while. Somewhere, a long way off, a coyote called. "I guess that's all forever is," his father replied. "Just one long trail of nows. And I guess all you can do is try and live one now at a time without getting too worked up about the last now or the next now." 
   In fact, the miracle here, even ahead of the biggest ones for which we still pray, the most sublime grace we enjoy... Is that in the exact space of that dark thought of grief over this temporary separation, perhaps just a half a heartbeat after it, we feel so much intense joy and see so much blinding, dazzling light that not gobbling up life is the unnatural thing. Love is all around us and between us, still. The plain facts of life that would have us crumble in pain instead become the debris. That's how powerful Love is.

   My girls are such beautiful creatures, in every way. One is an artist and one a writer, both stunningly talented and skilled beyond their years. One loves music and running; the other loves cooking and books. Both are easy friends and loyal ones. Both are so loving, so fierce and wonderful in their own myriad ways. And both love animals, which is why Handsome and I started this place almost six years ago.
Two creeks ran through the Booker brothers' land, and they gave the ranch its name, the Double Divide. They flowed from adjacent folds of the mountain front and in their first half mile they looked like twins. The ridge that ran between them here was low, at one point almost low enough for them to meet, but then it rose sharply in an interlocking chain of rugged bluffs, shouldering the creeks apart. Forced thus to seek their separate ways, they now became quite different.
   Although they surely do not realize it, my girls are with me constantly. They are in my thoughts so steadily that despite their physical absence I feel them strongly all over the farm. I feel their shadows, of course, as all mothers do... The memory of their terrifyingly small, vulnerable bodies, all elbows and skull, inside my young belly. Their trusting mouths nursing. Their sweet velvet cheeks, flushed from the sun or clean from a vanilla scented bubble bath, pressing against my face for cuddles. Long, skinny arms squeezing me hard at bedtime, begging for "just one more chapter Momma?" And then those basketball legs that wore tights and ruffled socks to church, uniform skirts to school, and jeans on our weekend trips to Alan's Buffalo Mountain. So yes, of course their shadows linger and warm up the peripherals here. For this Handsome and I are so thankful.

This was taken November, 2006. The girls are so fun here, so healthy and free spirited.
We were at Alan's Buffalo Mountain, where we spent so much time before we bought our own place.
The girls were "riding" the two stubbornest donkey ever to NOT walk the face of this earth.

This is 2002. We were all at GW Exotic Animal Refuge, where we visited frequently,
and on this day we got lucky enough to bottle feed some brand spankin' new tiger cubs.
The girls were just little sweet cubs themselves.

Pretty sisters having fun at a summertime track meet, 2009.
I clearly remember thinking on this day that they seemed so grown and yet so tender still. 
I felt a little fear of them, alternating with perfect union, just the three of us under the bleachers.

   But their futures are with me, too. And those ideas are what meander excitedly through my imagination like strands of light. Dispelling the darkness that keeps trying to close in on us. Already we see evidence that prayers are being answered, and of course we know that believing in those answers is the evidence we really need, first of all. Celebrating the gift in advance is what makes it so sweet.

"But you see Annie, where there's pain, there's still feeling and where there's feeling there's hope." He fixed the last cable. "There you go." He turned to face her and they looked each other in the eye. "Thanks" said Annie quietly. "Ma'am, it's my pleasure, Don't let her turn you away."  

   Thank you for your birthday wishes for my girls! I have nothing but good things to report for either of them and only the best hopes and dreams for them of course. Thank you for your prayers along the way; we really are okay, and I continue to trust and believe that they are, too. Thank you for your encouragement and wise words, those of you who have been brave enough to offer it when needed. 

   Life is good, no matter what. Love is powerful. Prayer works, even if it takes much MUCH longer than you expect. Cultivate your joy and trust Him.

Happiest Birthdays Ever to My Sweet Girls,
My Shadows and My Light

The three quotes mentioned above were taken from The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. The parallels and echoes to my own life were uncanny.


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