We got through the week. Some weeks, that's sufficient. To watch my friend and her family go through this impossible process, it was a portrait in courage to see them walk up the aisle, arm in arm, holding together. The mass was beautiful. The attendance, astounding. There is cliché about how when you reach Heaven, you will be asked one question, "How many did you bring?" A packed church with people standing on the steps outside five steps deep on all three sides pouring in and pouring in and pouring in for a mass says something about the man being remembered. It's a good answer.
2. What Am I Doing?
Writing a lot of drafts that get saved and forgotten, that's what. Not everything that pops into my head is worth sharing, blogging sometimes forgets that little fact in favor of putting something on the page. The temptation with self publishing (blogging for example) is to ignore the little voice, too much information, and to listen to the nag, Put something there! Blogging can become like putting the obligatory vegetable on the plate that no one eats. You don't want writing to be so unappealing. You want these words to be like gems, sparkling, calling you to notice some cut of the world that otherwise would not be seen. So I'm writing more on paper, less on the computer. (Having 4 kids who need the machines does that too).
3. What am I working on?
I hope to write The Book of Penelope and make her into someone you care about in a deeper way than Helen demanded, and to flesh out the world of Ithaca in a way I kept Sparta and Rhodes at a distance. I hope to learn how to craft the scenes so you get the fuller picture of the rooms and the tables, the rocks and the trees, the meals and the air, the sky and the stupid dog that lives by the dock. I also hope by the time you leave on the ship at the end, you know the people of Ithaca the way you know your own home, having lived in it and seen it when it was pristine and when it was a pure mess and all the points in between and have both a sense of the place's people's promise and flaws.
4. What am I reading?
Sarah Reinhard recommended a book in her Catholic mom non obligatory book club and so far, she's batting 1000 so I thought I'd try the latest, Rock Bottom Blessings by Karen Beattie. It is very readable and at the same time, I can put it down and pick it up without being lost --something very necessary in a book for me with my scattered brain. Thus far, it is just a beautiful work.
5. What else are you up to? I'm praying the rosary, sometimes getting through all of it, sometimes not. I'm trying to keep the second oldest upbeat as she applies for colleges and manages all of her work, keep the sophomore communicating as she gets deeper into teenage life and drama club and homecoming and school, trying to get the 8th grader not to stress out as he applies for high school, manages the harder material of 8th grade, the spiritual work of preparing for confirmation and the hardest process of all, being 14 and growing up. There is in my opinion, no harder age to be. I'm also trying to keep the 11 year old jogging and working and staying organized, three things I stink at, the 9 year old from growing up too soon, the 7 year old from being frustrated with reading, the 6 year old from being embarrassed that she reads too well by comparison, the 5 year old to consider potty training and at the same time, not consider the bathroom a room to hang out in, and the 2 year old to understand just because she says "No." doesn't mean it's law. And then there's the laundry and sleep. Yeah...so nothing much out of the ordinary.
6. What are you thankful for? My friends. All of them. All the people I see in passing, but who smile, all the people I know from years past and in recent weeks, phone calls, families that greet us because they know one of the ten, families that we've known for years, moms who sit at a table in Gaithersburg and laugh with each other until everyone aches as though this is what we've always done, but we were just deciding to go get coffee to pass the time of a party, and it turned into something special. Date nights. Teachers who are more than teachers and always have been. Children who do dishes unasked, and those who give hugs unsolicited. The shy smile of a son that flowers into a full beam when pizza shows up. The full throated singing of three children after bedtime to a song on the radio, oblivious to the hour. Seventeen birds eating seed on the lawn and a yearling that ran away when I drove up. Bus drivers that smile and wave when they drive by and see me with my daughter waiting and waving. Brownies. Emails from friends that say something, and a two year old that screams with delight, "Look at the star!" and I realize, she's talking about the sun in the sky.
7. It's the weekend. We all need a bit of a kick off.