Posted by: alegra22 | July 11, 2011

precious things

Every evening, tide reaches its maximum in our house and then begins to withdraw, leaving behind all of the things tumbled along in the shorebreak of my children: A striped sock with a fish face for the toes and gills along the achilles heel. A coral pink comb that Joaquin uses to brush his hair and make his sister laugh. An image torn from a magazine, the paper gnawed at the edges and cast to the floor. The hat Dan always wears crooked despite the way it disturbs my need for symmetry. Pencil shavings scattered across the grey carpet in Sol’s room, an armless ninja, an elbow pad, a dragon drawn in red ink and carefully cut free from the binder paper.

I gather in my fists Zaviera’s sketches – stick figures sprouting wild hair, giant smiles, and open arms. Even static, they appear to tumble across the page, over the edge, and scamper away, joyful bare-assed little fairies ready to kiss the world into vivid color. I pause on Joaquin’s gumboots, his winter jacket – in my mind his laughter is sunlight chasing the night sky, a lavender fire spreading toward the stars.

There will always be things left behind. A hair band in the corner. Plastic popsicle holders I keep tossing back into the drawer but never use. When my personal high tide is rising in my body, my hormones causing me to survey my home like a force of nature hell-bent on cleansing, I imagine sweeping my arm across all of the surfaces, everything left out, unmatched, orphaned, tumbling into a black rubbish bag.

Last night as I moved along the tideline, I felt the rhythm of my family in each item, like a seashell carrying the ocean’s roar. I was grateful for each worn item, even the ones that I threw away. My friend Ellyn gave me a story over dinner – an email written by one of the Japan Tsunami survivors. She wrote about how they’d lost everything and were living in simple, temporary structures: one room, one toilet, one stove. They lived from bowl of rice to bowl of rice. They’d lost everything material and everything manufactured: ambitions, status, priorities.

What she’d gained was an awareness of how we need one another. The blessing of a warm body, a family, a community, a night sky unobscured. She’d never felt so close to God.

The last few weeks I’ve been feeling the building tension of a new set of deadline in our life: What if Dan doesn’t get the job…what if I don’t pass my masters…what if…what if…

In response, I’ve been dreaming of my children and husband. Night after night they are taken from me. In one dream, a woman holds a blunt knife to my belly, just under my ribs, when I attempt to take Joaquin and Zaviera from her. She tells me she has carved babies out from pregnant women. There is nothing I can say to convince her to let my children go. I’m not afraid of the pain, I’m only afraid that if she carves into me, I will be unable to fight for my children. The message in these dreams is always the same.

I wake up this morning tangled up in my children. Joaquin is stroking my hair. Zaviera has my arm wrapped around her waist, her spine curved along my abdomen. Sol sits up, sensing something has changed. “Mommy?” he whispers.

I reach out over Joaquin to grab Sol’s hand. “Good morning, sweetheart.” He had a difficult night last night and I’m glad he’s found his way into the bed. Joaquin bats Sol’s hand away, laughing. Sol scrambles off the edge, stands up, and reaches his arms out to Joaquin. “Come here,” he croons. “Time to get up!”

Joaquin stands and wraps his arms around Sol’s neck. Zaviera lifts my arm and rolls off the bed. I watch my three children trail out the door together. Big brother carrying little brother. Sister carrying her kitty.

The message is that in this moment, we are all alive. There is nothing to fear in tomorrow.

This love, this family, they are a miracle to me.

These are my precious things. My night sky full of God.



  1. Sigh. I could envision it all. You painted such a beautiful picture of your family and made a great point in the end. I liked the phrase, “My night sky full of God.” Beautiful.

    • Thank you Nikole

  2. I really like the comparison here with the tide and I guess that could apply to a lot of things in life, especially using the term ebb and flow. Everything comes in waves and currents. Is the title inspired by the Tori Amos song?

    • Not directly inspired, but Amos is always somewhere at the periphery of my mind! 🙂

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