Ellinor, Grace, and giving thanks

Today I held Katie’s baby in my arms, little girl Ellinor with tiny hands and feet, completely beautiful. Just sitting with her I felt my whole body relax, I felt the magic that surrounds the beginning of a new life. It’s so incredible when you look around at the people you’ve shared your life with, and then you look at this five day old baby and think of all the things this little person will face, how little has happened in her universe yet. Who will she be? I think of the worlds that will emerge out of her and how the world will change for her…We get to witness the very start of that. The blank slate of time and chance and choice. I felt honored, in a way I have never experienced before. There is something truly holy about that time that is difficult to describe.

I heard them give their thanks too as they sat down for dinner, and Doug, my friends dad, said that he was grateful to be alive for the birth of his granddaughter, and he hoped to make it to hear her say “grandpa.” A truly beautiful and touching thing to hear a man hope for. Such a simple desire, the utterance of your name from a new creature. Imagine falling in love before the object of your affection can tell themselves apart from you.

As they sat down to dinner and I sat with Ellinor in my arms, sleeping, I felt so happy to get to be a part of this family’s life, and Ellinor’s future. Sharing community for so long with a person changes the way you see their family. When Frederik and Katie got married, Frederik became my brother, we spent time getting to know each other, because we knew we were sharing a lifetime together too. I suppose that makes Ellinor my niece…I certainly felt a strong sense of duty and love towards her … I felt a responsibility to provide for her… not thoughts, but gut feelings. She is the new family in our life. Crazy to think about literally creating a family out of your bodies, love, food from the earth and desire for kinship and connection.

My parents dog Grace is an incredible creature, and she is truly graceful. You can see it in her eyes even when she has just eviscerated a pregnant opossum. Her big beautiful melancholy brown eyes, the way with the slightest motion she can scare other dogs into submission all the while never appearing anything other than sweet, dainty, loving and patient. Though Grace is a ruthless killer, we call her a princess. I love her wildness. This morning she climbed a tree in the backyard and contemplated ambushing the neighbors yard… but then calmly came down as though face-first tree scaling were second nature. I have seen Grace both napping all day like a cat and roaming the perimeter of the backyard at night, leaving small animals on our doorstep as though to apologize for not coming in when we asked her to, and to let us know that she was otherwise occupied…

Tonight we had Thanksgiving dinner at my aunts house, and it was a small group of us, our family of 10 plus Megan’s partner Jason. We always go around the table and say what we are thankful for, somehow I got skipped and ended up going last which turned out to be good. I started talking about what my life has been like lately and I decided not to hold my tears. Through all the shit I’ve been through in the last couple months, and its been a lot for me, in some ways I have the greatest gift of all to be grateful for, something that I’ve been longing for all my life, and something that I know what to do with, another blessing. So I just let them know, I feel broken down. I feel humbled. I am hurt, and hurting, and I still feel so fucking grateful and blessed that it overwhelms me, when I’m not overwhelmed by the struggle to keep my head up. And what I am now most grateful for of all is that my family could hear that and just be with it. We’ve all been struggling so much lately that it felt as though everyone at the table got it and felt it too. Aunt Kelly and my mom shed some tears with me, and Jason and my Grandpa tell me to keep my head up, Megan looks at me with eyes that love, Lhasa looks at me with eyes that know and that feel some relief in sharing pain, and they tell me to keep going. We’ve all been through it, and recently too. But nobody tried to make me feel better, or show me the lining, they knew I’d find that on my own. Seeing the good from where you sit doesn’t ever completely mitigate the darkness you are in. I feel both incredibly blessed and hurt in my heart. And sometimes I feel free and like life is nothing but sweet, and sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. It’s all true, and valid, and real. And my family was just with me, and I was with them, and we ate, and talked, and laughed, and had dessert, and life went on. But how rich it was to sit in the company of those people and share myself with them so fully, the people who held me when I was Elly’s age and who 27 years ago saw my life spreading out before my tiny half closed eyes. Through all the struggle that we face I think people really get to know each other in a different way. Somehow our table was different this year, the drinks more hard earned, the love more fought for, the connections between us strengthened by virtue of our striving. It was such a great thanksgiving, and I…feel….so. blessed.

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