September 21, 2010

Paul and Rosalind on their wedding day

Today I have been thinking of my friend Paul.  He died nearly 3 years ago and he was one of those people who really stays with you.  He dramatically impacted every life he touched because he lived big.  He was full of life, and even in his death somehow, there has been newness and revelation.

His widow is one of my dearest friends in the world.  To me, she is a kindred spirit.  We speak the same language and have an easy relationship.  She has been left with the enormous task of raising their three children, all of whom reflect Paul’s generosity and liveliness!  And she is doing an astounding job–full of courage and honesty.  I know Paul is proud.

One of my favorite things about Paul was his commitment to his friends.  I came into his life as a friend of his wife and he immediately embraced me as his friend, too.  Like me, his wife Roz (Rosalind) is not too good about returning phone calls.  Its one of the things that I love about her, since I share the same fault.  But whenever I left her a message, Paul would call me back!  When I would walk into their home he would inevitably draw me into deep conversation within the first few minutes I was there, probing my mind about whatever topic was fresh on his.  Mostly, though, he asked me about my dating life.  He REALLY wanted me to get married.

One day, early in our friendship, I was hanging out at their house, and in response to, like, thirty questions he fired at me about my love life I launched into this story about a co-worker of mine.  She had gone shopping with her husband and bought these high heeled shoes, even though her husband didn’t want her to since he was shorter then she.  Something about that really peeved me because, to me, a marraige is about doing what you can to please one another.  And I hadn’t had a lot of that type of love in my life, so maybe I didn’t know what I’m talking about, but I felt like if I was lucky enough to have some amazing guy love me that way I would want to please him.  You know, dress in a way that he liked, etc.  Since I’d been single for so long I had been able to do and think and dress however I wanted, but I didn’t think (and I still don’t) that it would be that hard for me to change because  I would be so grateful that someone cared!  To me there is a really clear line between a man ordering you around and one who is requesting that you make choices that make him happy.  Anyway, when I started on this rant Paul was lying down on the couch and by the end of my shpeel he was sitting up staring at me with his mouth hanging open! He was totally amazed that I would think this way.  He thought of me as tough and independent and self-sufficiant and something about this story showed him another side of me.  In a way, I felt that his heart went out to me and he understood me on a deeper level than most people I knew.

The last time I saw Paul was a few days before he passed.  He was in hospice care and I knew I going there to say goodbye to him.  I went into his room feeling like I was going to break in half, I was so sad.  But in talking to him my spirits were lifted more than I could have thought possible.  Paul had that power.  He was talking about heaven and was clearly ready to move on.  At the end of our visit I told him that I would see him again in heaven and he smiled and closed his eyes.  I walked to the door and he shouted after me,

“And bring your husband!”

I’ll Stand By You

May 11, 2010

When I was in college–long before I became a mother–I started nannying for a great family in NYC.  My charge, Justine, was just 10 months old when I started watching her, and we became very close over the few years I saw her almost daily.  In fact, she and her mom both wrote letters of recommendation for my India dossier when I adopted Rahul. (And Justine is just finishing her freshman year in COLLEGE!)

Anyway, one day when Justine was about 3 or 4 years old, I took her to the playground.  And as I sat watching her climb the monkey bars, I noticed another little girl eyeing Justine’s hand.  It was right where she wanted to step and instead of asking Justine to move her hand I saw her make the decision to step right on the offending hand!  Her eyes narrowed as she put all of her weight on her foot and twisted it back and forth, smushing my little friend’s hand.  Justine turned her head toward me and her eyes filled with tears and before I knew it I had leapt off the bench and was snatching Justine off the playground, scolding the hand smusher and racing out of the park.  I had no idea what had just taken over my body, but it was a strange, strong force I have come to know as Maternal Protection.

Of course, I have experienced it many times with my son, and I have often been frightened at its strength.  It completely takes over your body and you feel as though you could actually cause major damage to someone.  I suppose it is an instinct placed in our bodies to protect our young.  And on Mother’s Day this year I found myself really moved to understand that God, as our mother (as well as our father) feels this same fierce Maternal Protection over us.  There is something extremely comforting and profound in that for me–making me feel both safe and humbled that I get to share in this divine quality.

So I’m giving you fair warning.  Do not mess with my kid.

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