Monday, June 25, 2012

The Alan River

Father's Day came again.
It always does.
And Lily has been asking regularly about her dad.

She really wants to see him.

So on Father's Day we were able to make an early afternoon excursion aboard an old sloop on the Hudson River.

Built with purpose by Pete Seeger in the 60s to help spread love and appreciation of our Hudson River, to preserve its health and protect it from pollution.

So aboard we went, Lily and I, with an old friend and a new one.
It was special.
Lily has wanted to sail for a long time, so it was perfectly fitting that we should make an inaugural voyage together that Sunday.
She didn't know it was Father's Day, or maybe she did. I had no desire to advertise. But she knows her dad loved to sail and this outing was a perfect way to bring us closer to him.

It did.

It was a warm, still day. Alan would have been a bit frustrated by the light winds, but we moved gracefully through the water as musicians sang gentle shanties on the deck. Lily circled the boat many times, sat on a wooden box patting it to the music, eyed fish in a tank that had been caught safely for us to see, and enjoyed the potty on-board.

My favorite part was the two minutes of silence the crew requested, well after we were under way. Even Lily channeled her dad's stillness.
And as I squinted up to the top of this boats giant sail, I felt like it was an arrow to the sky, pointing straight up to her dad.
The lines, creaks, sways and breeze surrounded us with easy kindness.

It was the perfect place to be.
Water moves me.
And I think it did her.

Just yesterday on our return home from a different weekend road trip, as we merged along side the Hudson River, I pointed it out to Lily.

Because I love my daddy so much I think I will call it
The Alan River,
she said.

I love that idea Lily, I said.

Love that idea.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh Dear. Lifeline? Someone?

Did you and Daddy make me out of clay?

The question came as Lily was leaning casually against the bed, in her pjs.
Eyes open and expectant.

Oh! I said.
Good question Pumpkin.
We didn't.
Actually, Daddy and I made you out of lots of love.

Eyes unblinking.
Fixed stare.
Answer not good enough.
No comment from peanut gallery.

Wheels were turning, as were mine.
Oh dear. Not off the hook yet.

You know how your flower plant was a seed that was planted in the dirt and then it grew and grew and now has lots of flowers?

Nod. Stare unwavering.

Well... That's kind of how we made you! Kind of like a seed was planted and you grew until you were big enough to come out all by yourself.

Pause to see if I've succeeded in Reproduction for Three Year Olds 101.

She ponders. Imagining herself in dirt in her mom. Hmmm.
Not a good answer?

I am not sure how the conversation concluded. I was so concerned with my explanation that the rest is a blur.
I think we went on to talk about which of her friends were older and younger.
Any conversation change is welcome with the Big Life Questions.

But Lily's dad is mentioned frequently this season.
She misses him.
She wants to see him.

What would you say to him if you saw him, Pumpkin?
I would tell him I love him.
And then she bursts into an improvised song to him which is beautiful and blogworthy until it ends with "peepee and poopy".
Then she is all laughs.
She wonders frequently about when other dads she knows will die.
And she now is beginning to understand her world with a maturing mind.

Again, oh dear.

Her world is one where dads die.
I explain that most live until they're very very old.
But not William's dad? And Nikhil's?
Right, Pumpkin, William's dad and Nikhil's dads died when they were little babies, I say softly.
But most daddies don't.
Most daddies don't, I repeat.

Why must difficult life lessons begin so early?

I'll take love and clay, any day, over death.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

So Much Happens.

Tonight the daughter of dear friends became a bat mitzvah.
She grew so fast I felt so old I'm not sure how it all happened.
To think that just a few years ago she was perched on a grown up's knee, open eyes, amiable, soft, trusting, she was new to our world - Alan's and mine - and we admired her so.
And I remember her telling her dad early on that Alan seemed like an uncle to her.
He relished in hearing that.
Proud of his impression.

He was just here.
It seems.
Sometimes, that is.

When I caught a fleeting glimpse of him tonight, in a montage, it felt like yesterday we were wandering through that cornfield maze - Alan,Sam, Michael, Ava, and I.
We looked healthy.
Shadowed by near twilight sun.

But then I reflect on the fact that it was pre-Lily, pre-Jake, pre-Stella. We were all newly in love with the dream of creating more family.

And so it happened.

But not the way any of us had imagined - we are one person short of the happiest of dreams.
Actually, many people short;
There were others who also deserved to be there tonight.
To see this no-longer-child poised and present, on her own.

No knee needed.

The age of awkward beautiful, heavy on the beautiful,
just teetering on the cusp of adult life.
So close, near ready, but hopefully not too too soon.
Many must have been smiling down on her.
Oh so proud.

It is a wonder to watch the way things grow.

I am awestruck when I look at Lily these days,and I have fallen prey to every parental cliche.
They grow up so quickly.
Enjoy them at this age.
Savor these moments.
It all goes by so fast.

And so it does.

We visited a farm today.
Lily and a friend (donning a cape no less, another cohort with flair).
Pulled garlic stems, picked snow peas, collected eggs.
Learned that there are more things living in a fistful of soil than people on this planet.

Ahh life.

Origins before our eyes -
Ones that even a three year old can begin to contemplate.

Slow down, you move too fast.

I am amazed by how it,

Oh to be a parent.
The greatest, hardest job.
And joy.