Posted by: alegra22 | May 31, 2011

shadow of flight

Everything I have to say right now feels too honest. On Sunday night, I began to prepare for the arrival of Dan and the children. I  brushed my hair, put on mascara, lip gloss and changed out of my old kick-around clothes into newer, cleaner, kick-around clothes. I sprayed my favorite perfume in front of me, waited a second for the scent to spread, and then I ran through it. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized I was preparing not just for my husband, but my children. I want their memories to be filled with floral musk and soft hair and the flash of silver hanging from their mother’s wrists and ears. When I am wearing sweatpants, I want them to remember the flowers I stuck in my hair. When I am tired, I want them to remember that without warning, I would jump up from the couch and spin them through the air.

I keep badgering myself to write about something other than my love for my children. I feel like I should come up with a crazy anecdote, an irreverent thought to fill the page. But I can’t bring myself to perform what’s not spring-loaded in my body. These are the truths moving through my mind – my family. I committed to writing every day because I want my children to know their history through my eyes. Moments pass in front of me and I want to catch each one by the wing, allowing the shadow of its flight to fall across the page just long enough for me to trace it before I let it go. There are too many of them. I am left standing, mesmerized by the patterns as they move through my days.

Whether it’s coming home from school or from a Hamilton trip, Zaviera is almost always the first one to knock on the door and Sunday night was no different. She pounded the thick glass, rattled the door knob, joyfully demanding, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! It’s me!” I opened the door, waiting for that moment when I see her face light up. I never take this moment for granted. When one of my children transforms in my presence, I am stunned. I can see it – every thought, desire, drive, other than “my mommy, my home, my love” drops from them as they charge toward my arms. I hoard that moment, wrap it up carefully to be sure that it is preserved for a later date when famine might fall on me. I am afraid to consume it, absorb it, allow it to wash over me.

Zaviera pounced, her hair falling in her face, her arms clutching my neck, her legs around my waist. She pressed her body into my mine as if she couldn’t get close enough to me and whispered, “Oh mommy, I  missed you so much.” She squeezed me tighter and I didn’t know what to do, her love was too big to hide away in the back of my mind, it was a wave rearing up in front of me and crashing down, claiming me before I could catch my breath and close my eyes.

The other night I dreamt of a woman diving deep into the ocean. She was strong-limbed, flowing hair, fearless. As she kicked for the surface, she dragged hundreds of surfboards after her. She held their leashes between her teeth. The surfboards twirled in the shifting light like flower petals. As she broke the surface, the surfboards were caught up in a giant wave, they were thrust through the lip of the wave into the air like spears. I thought, “to be that free, that strong, that brave.” I continued to dream of being led to sacred waters where giant beasts with antlers and lion-like bodies swam. I cried because the beauty was overwhelming. The creatures broke the surface and came charging at me until I bowed before one of them. He was untamed, responding with aggression to anything but a gentle spirit. I bowed and he bowed and then he playfully tossed me around, nudging me, until he was sure I had surrendered. He curled his fierce body around mine and I rested.

I woke up knowing I had been in the presence of God. I had been transformed by that pawing, giant beast who came charging out of holy waters to playfully wrestle me down to the ground and teach me to receive a simple truth. Unconditional love.

A small body jumping up into my arms. The sound of footsteps padding through the dark, one of my children searching for me, relieved when they find that I am right where I always am. A husband who leaves protein bars hidden around the house for me to find. A friend who writes, “Alegra, it’s me. I see you. You can say whatever you want to me and I hear your truest voice.”

These are the lost surfboards, my vehicles of flight, I retrieve day after day between my teeth. I break the surface as the wave crests, I watch what was once broken and lost arching through the air, full of color, spears casting their shadows across the dark waters of my past.

So once again, this is what I am compelled to write about. I want my children to know this: I found God’s love in their eyes. I experienced grace in their laughter. I was given freedom in a hug.

I didn’t expect any of this. I jumped into motherhood holding my breath, closing my eyes, and bracing for the moment my body impacted. I’ve been flying ever since.



  1. What beautiful and powerful imagery. This is so moving….

    • You should probably tell me this over skype… 😉

  2. Amazing…! And I would venture to say to you, you are “that free, that strong, that brave.” I have always seen it; you have always lived with this passion and grace and dynamism. And your writing shines and sparkles from a place deep below the waters, then rises into the air to glimmer in the sunlight~at the “meeting place of Heaven and Earth, the meeting of the waters” to quote a passage from the Runes by Ralph Blum. Beautiful…. 🙂

    • I love that: “meeting place of Heaven and Earth, the meeting of the waters”
      Thank you my beautiful friend

  3. I love you, Alegra Clarke.

    • Right back at you Ms. Wiley

  4. alegra, that was beautiful. you continue to blow me away. i have no idea why it still takes me by surprise. maybe it’s because you just keep getting better and better.

    • (((hugs))) Love you.

  5. Such beautiful writing. Some day when your children are old enough to read your writing, they are going to realize just how loved they were and that is the most a child could ever ask for, let alone dream of or imagine. They will not only have the memory of your floral scent or flowing soft hair, but these beautiful words to envelop them through whatever distance or time that separates you from them when they grow older.

    • Jen, I hope so…xxxx

  6. wow. just wow. if the whole world could love like you….or maybe even more: if the whole world could feel love like yours…..

    • I haven’t responded back to this because it touched me so much, I just wanted to take it in. Thank you.

  7. Every day my children grow older, and my fear grows stronger, that I will lose these moments of the most profound love I have ever experienced. They are teens and they pull away, and I tug back and I see the child that they once were, and the adult that they are trying to become and I let loose. I feel a thud in my heart, that will grow stronger as they grow older, and I don’t know how I will ever let them go, live on their own, move away… It is so hard, but your moments always bring me back to those earlier, carefree days. Cherish them, as your words prove, that you do. Keep writing for all us moms whose children are growing up, and taking our hearts with them.

  8. Oh Lisa, I know this fear even now…I had to sit with your words for a day before I could respond. You have just summarized what I find to be the most bittersweet, terrifying part of parenthood (other than the pure, unspeakable fear of losing them physically): it is only as parents that we fall in love and lose, over and over again…I hold Joaquin in my arms and mourn the day that one day, in the near future, he will be a man and I will never again be able to hold him and comfort him like I do tonight. It is a constant celebration and letting go and it wracks my heart daily. It forces me to be present with my children because otherwise, I can’t handle this constant rush of time pulling us forward and forward and forward…

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