Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Sometimes the flight from Washington to Long Beach is 5 hours and sometimes it is 5 1/2. Today was a solid 5 1/2 and stared early. Despite the anxiety-laden lead up to the flight, there were bits of grace all around: an empty seat next to me on a packed flight, lorna dune cookies, Silas's playing happily the entire time even without napping (though I may have nodded off a few times), my not throwing up, finally arriving on solid ground to an overcast, salty day.

I seem to be resurfacing, very slowly, in the land of the living. The baby I'm growing is apparently now the length of a fig and has been wreaking some serious havoc. Th0ugh queasiness still hit like clockwork this afternoon and I'm still eating Trader Joe's pizza as my primary food group, I felt hunger for the first time in weeks, I didn't cry or fall into a dark pit of despair once today and I muscled through a whole flight.

It is now about half an hour later and I should say that I ALMOST made it through the entire day without melting into an emotional puddle. Almost. I guess we are taking eensy-steps ...
I am hoping there really will be some kind of magic on the 12 week marker (which is also the first day of Hanukkah. Maybe I will celebrate with gratitude, a candle and my limited Hebrew - c/o Greenberg Shabbat dinners).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Kaia Joye came to California for a 36 hour visit (long story). On our one real day, we woke up early, as always, and made buckwheat blueberry pancakes with bananas. Yum. A bit later, we were up in my room "packing" for a 12 day trip to DC (i.e. lying on my bed talking), celebrating the fact that Silas, who had long since left us to play elsewhere, was such a responsible, easy, independent sort of baby. After quite sometime, KJ ventured downstairs to do something, and I immediately heard laughing. Never good. She had found Silas waddling away from the dining room table, the open jug of syrup with a spoon now sticking out of it, a plate with a freshly pooled with syrup, and a finger-smeared sticky tabletop. Here he is, sticky from toe to hair and quite pleased with himself (and a bit guilty)...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What If...

I love this. My friend Kak wrote it and sent it to me today:

i used to be afraid of the rain--i would fear the traffic (how would i make it to my class on time? would i be able to park?), what kind of shoes would i wear? would my feet be soaking all day? did the discomfort seem that intolerable? what kind of jacket? what if it was going to be a cold rain--did i have the right jacket? i was always buying coats and never felt like i had the right one--where would i put my umbrella (if i remembered it at all) when i got to my destination? would i then forget it on my way home? what if....WHAT IF
but now i am looking at my water-laden patio, my thoroughly happy soaking wet doggie,wet tail wagging away, my shoes wet, yes, and my hair frizzed to no tomorrow, the bottom of my jeans wet and dirty, and am reminded of the gifts God provides. this rain, this lushness, this grand sweep of nature, of rejuvenation, of persisting life.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Judson Levasheff's Memorial service was today. He died last Wednesday and was 2 years and 10 months old. A bright, shining, smiley, polite, sweet sweet little boy.

I have never been to a memorial service (or any service for that matter) that was so honest.

Throughout Judson's sickness, the past 5 months, Drake and Christina, his parents, have been praying with utter confidence for God to heal Jud's body. Their faith has been pushed and pulled and stretched and held to fire, but they've still prayed and still believed, and asked hundreds to pray with them.

For the first few months after Judson's diagnosis, I found myself praying for everything but Judson's healing. It was a rational decision, even theologically based. I knew that God could do anything, heal any person, perform a radical miracle, but I knew he probably wouldn't. So for that, my prayers would go something like "please heal Judson if that's part of your plan, but if you don't then... (the bulk of my prayer)"

For months I watched (and read about on their blog) Drake and Christina's faith, which was completely tangled up with excruciating pain, grief and questioning. Despite all the darkness that was filling their lives, their faith remained and seemed solid enough to in with my hand. And as the months went by, I found that I actually was holding it, looking at it, wondering. Slowly I began to ask whether I believed that God could heal Jud and wouldn't, or that I didn't believe he really could or that I didn't believe that our asking would change God, or that I was too scared to risk hoping for a miracle, for something that might or might not happen, was too scared to believe and to voice that belief out loud? It became clear that the truth lay in all of those things. And slowly, over a week or so in early September, despite myself, I found myself praying that Jud would "take up his mat and walk," and that for the first time, I could picture him well and believe he might be.

The pastor at the service today told us that he'd had a similar experience; he discovered that his seemingly-theological stance, like mine, was actually masking a weak belief, that he didn't want to be disappointed, didn't want anyone else to be disappointed, and that, in a foolish way, he felt that he needed to "protect God's reputation." How perfectly put. As if God needs us as front men -- read Job (Judson's favorite story) for a picture of a man who, against all we understand as reasonable, saw and knew God.

Throughout the service there were videos of Judson, so verbal, funny and expressive, photos and stories. Then, about halfway through the almost-2-hr service, a couple stood up, good family friends of the Levasheffs, and essentially said, Drake and Christina took a risk and believed that God would heal Judson's body. Not only that, they chose to make their hope public and to ask others, many of whom joined them, to pray for healing with them. Today, they are having to bury Judson rather than throw him a party for his healed body. This is not what they prayed for.

(a huge exclamation point shot off over my head in the audience because that is what I -- and probably so many others -- were reckoning with: how do you pray confidently for something, with belief that it will happen, and still know God is with us and loving us beyond all measure if our prayer isn't answered?).

I wish I had their words verbatim and also the words that Drake spoke after them, echoing the same concern, a lack of understanding, disappointment. Though I can't recall word-for-word, what struck me most, wasn't their phrasing, but the fact that in the face of bitter anguish, they each stood up and said, our prayer wasn't answered, but God is. I am reeling with questions, but I know I am reeling in the safest hands.

Monday, November 05, 2007


what IS xanthum gum?? It is in everything!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


For 80 hours straight, I have had a pounding headache. While I've had killer headaches before, migraines that have made me throw up included, I've never had such a relentless one. Today the pain has lessened, and I am drinking a cup of green tea in hopes of dulling it further (thanks Kir), but it lingers. So, fueled by ache, I've been thinking about pain: It's hard not to allow pain to change you. I have noticed this week that my face looks different -- more washed out, fewer smiles, my eyes seem weighed down; I have forgotten how to get dressed in any decent sort of way; it's taken me two hours to do a small shop at the grocery store; I've moved slowly, called no one and spent much of my time lying on the floor trying to convince Silas that we're having fun; I go to sleep at 8.

In some ways, though I've been in tears in the morning unsure of how I could possibly crawl through the day with a child in my charge, I have a kind of pain that people covet -- temporary. (An assumption, but the swollen glands seem evidence enough). Even so, I have felt deflated, defeated, and exhausted.

How do people bear their pain? Cindy, whose pain diagnosis is not only permanent but scheduled to increase exponentially. Christina, whose grief is so severe that it physical hurts as she watches her child degenerating before her eyes.

My skin is so thin -- what temperatures I can bear (the Santa Ana winds blew through with a vengeance last week and I, living without air conditioning, felt miserable), what amount of pain I can bear and still walk under, what grade of emotional discomfort or misunderstanding I can sit with -- that I wish (just a teeny bit) that I were living with Eli in Sierra Leone weathering the rainy season that gushes the roads to mud, the still humid heat that follows, the bucket showers and minnow-groundhog stew.

What are we made of when everything is stripped down?

(would I be scared to know the answer?)