Tuesday, October 26, 2010

36 Hours

We were going to watch Aladdin, this version I got from the UAE where he's a little orphan running through the streets. Flaco wanted to know what happened to his parents. I tried to dodge the question, but he persisted. I said that they passed away, and that this happens sometimes when someone is very, very old.
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Later he saw me praying and asked why. I said that a friend's little baby was very sick. He asked if that's why my cheeks had tears. I said yes. He looked at me and said "The baby already died, didn't she?" I hung my head. I said yes.
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Such loss is too much for me to understand. Not even mine to tell. I look at my tiny son, only weeks old, and my heart aches for them. Shortly after her death, her father wrote "We are so thankful for our 9 months and 36 hours with you. Glorify our Magnificent Jesus until I get there with you. 'Holy holy holy is the LORD God Almighty who was and is and is to come.'" My heart quakes within me; does yours not? Does it not?
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I have seen beauty. I have seen darkness try to swallow people whole, and I've seen them hold high the light of Christ; holding it high with shaking hands. Oh, glorify his name.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We've known each other three years, but it feels like a lifetime...

This boy is marvelous.
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I love how he looks out of the corners of his eyes, an impish little smile on his face, when he's feeling clever. I love how he always says "okay" with an accent. I love how he taps his head when he's overtired. I love how he dances (a strange mix of tango and breakdancing, on the kitchen floor: "Y mila!") I love that he wants to speak Wolof. I love that he wants the whole world to be yellow.
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I love that he asked for ceviche for his birthday meal just because it's a fancy food, even though he doesn't eat it. I love that he wanted orange cake with mango frosting. I love that he briefly reconsidered, asking instead for a horse-flavored cake. I love that he's him, just simply him and no one else.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

4+1-1≠4 (Aftermath)

Time Magazine ran an article the week of the census that started with the statement, "I still bear the mental scars of a question on a philosophy exam in college that left me whimpering at its wicked simplicity: 'Could the number two change its properties?' I'd been raised to think numbers were as close to reliable as anything could be, so clean and clear and immune to argument. Some are odd, some round, some lucky, but three will always be one less than four."
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I stopped there and looked through the magazine again. Surely there's got to be something else I haven't read yet... No? Oh, Nancy Gibbs. Here we go again.
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The existential melodrama of filling out a form for the bureau and all of the thoughts that correspond continued. I wanted to say Just because a professor asks a question doesn't mean the answer's complicated. A number is an adjective, simple as that. It describes something. Five doesn't equal five if you're talking about centimeters and miles; 15 soldiers are not equal to 15 lemon drops. It's not the number that's changing properties, but the unit that's changing. Please, Miss Gibbs, wrap it up, wrap it up*.
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Still, her article came to mind the other day. The other day being today, actually, sitting on the couch, feeding little Otto. Thinking about how every day, without fail, there were four of us**. My grandma Lola, Flaco, Loli, and me. And then we added one. Then suddenly lost one. And four is not at all the same as four.
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I'm a terrible cook now. My grandma, she had her own television show, on two channels. An apron and red lipstick, always an extra container of food for the cameramen. She watched every move I made in the kitchen like a hawk. A mostly-blind hawk, but a hawk nonetheless. Put a spoon in the pot! Si no, los frejoles no se ablandarán. Si lo hiciste? Metiste la cuchara? (Si si, ya la puse.) No la pusiste. Yo sé que eres necia. (Ay yay yay. Si, está ahí .) Mete otra. (Bueno, bueno. Ya.) And to her credit, she was right. There was no spoon. I am necia. I thought I knew so much.
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And yet now, things burn. I add comino to things that shouldn't have comino. I think she's laughing in Heaven.
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I don't have enough arms; Loli has to drink her milk standing. No one tells me about Obama's newest immigration speech, or what El Gordo thought about it. She's not here to tell me slightly off-color jokes (No cogiste el chiste? Si es chistoso, mija. Te lo cuento otra vez) or to talk about Alejandra Guzman's outfit. Or to tell me what they're saying about Ricky Martin. Or to remind me to wash my babies' hands. I miss kissing her cheeks and how she would grab my wrist to pull me closer. I miss her laugh and her eyes and her voice and her endless pomadas.
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And yet, there's Octavito. A surprise little 1. Adding some extra noise to what would have been a too-quiet house, growing and growing (ese niño si es Verdesoto, es comelonsísimo, que lindo), a crazy little hourglass showing how grief doesn't stop the push of time. He's full of life, full of possibilities, at the very beginning of it all. He gave us a fresh start. I thought this was too much at once -a new job, a move, a baby, a death- but it's kindness, all of it. Not a series of changes that left my babies jarred, but one big enormous everything change.
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It doesn't equal four, but it's good.


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*I would like very much for her to be hired by the Upper-class White Suburban Liberal Feminist Always-Poignant-Never-Funny Review and for that last page to belong to Stein. I ask for little. (Not that I have a problem with her point of view. I just get tired of her use of the word "we" - in that it invariably means rich and white and in doing so seems to presume that no one else exists. If she wrote for the Review, we would mean we and it would all be just fine.) This is a terrible footnote; I apologize. The next one is better.
**On a good day, there were five of us; my sweet mamita as well. Ocurrida like me. I loved seeing her not as a mother but as a daughter, fregandola a proposito, still traviesa. My grandma with her mock scorn doing little to cover her pride. Ay Monsita! she would say. Te digo que siempre ha sido asi.