Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Maria, first grade, August 29, 2011

This photograph arrived in an email today, from a parent at Maria's school. Marianne... she's Noah's mom. Maria and Noah were first grade classmates. Pictures, like this, were used to make Christmas ornaments... er... probably "holiday" ornaments, but who are we kidding? In our home it's Christmas. Wasn't she sweet to send it to me?

I don't know which is making me more sentimental... seeing Maria, as she was a year ago, still only six years old, and new to her school, or the kindness of Marianne's email.

Maria fell at school. It was one of those ground vibrating, knee on concrete falls that you're sure will throb forever. Marianne was at a our side in a moment, asking if we could use some ice. She sent Noah and his friend, Trevor, to the office for an ice pack. She said it was a chance for them to practice chivalry. I think they've had a lot of practice, because they were back with ice, fast, and equally quick to ask if she was okay, whether she needed anything else? And Marianne offered a nice balance of sympathy and encouragement. Not too doting, but concerned. And then, this evening, the email arrived... how is sweet Maria's knee? And the photograph to cheer us up.

Marianne has been one of those people who appears, smiling, a familiar face at school, one I keep meaning to become better acquainted with. She's volunteering, or dashing in, she seems to know me, but I keep failing to fully engage, because... well, because life! I know it's about near impossible to be friends with every nice school parent, with every room-mom, but I would like to say, for the record: Marianne seems like someone well worth knowing.

In fact, I find I am surrounded by many friends, many people well worth knowing, and I feel neglectful and semi-absent. It makes me feel sorry, regretful. I have been tackling a string of health issues, some crazier than others, all of them a bit too consuming. And, it's not as though I have ever been particularly stellar in my correspondence, in staying active in the lives of all my friends, but oh-my-this-month I have felt keenly aware of how much I appreciate, and miss, and admire, and need my friends... near and far... some of whom have lately given me a great deal to feel thankful for, with their extra measures of support, kind words, caring, and Viking armor!

It cannot be too late to reflect on some Thanks Giving, right? My children are growing, and thriving. They have given me joy beyond measure, and some small scares, too, though nothing intentional. Things are good right now, and I am thankful. My husband is more dear, more a friend, more a partner than ever before, and that's saying a lot. I am so very thankful to feel this in love, this hopeful. Our schools, and circles of support, continue to reveal themselves to me, as good, inspiring, full of people who are friends I am just beginning to know. I am thankful for this feeling of community.

In the midst of challenges, setbacks, not mine alone, I find that the littlest kindnesses, the lights that glow, the hand that reaches out to hold my own, the strength of spirit in some that share, again, and again... I do not know how, but even the smallest signs of beauty are somehow sustaining everything. It may feel tenuous, it is sometimes painful, but here we are, moving forward.

I see you. Friends. I am praying with you, and feeling thankful for the community we share.


Miriam said...

The beautiful community that surrounds you is there because of how much thought and care and creativity and kindness YOU contribute to it. I am sorry to hear about your health challenges - here's hoping a big from all of us here at Mucky Boots goes a little way to helping you feel better.

ArtyZen said...

That moment of unexpected kindness, comradeship and humanity that goes a step further than the usual - it's deeply touching. You speak here as one on the receiving end but know this, the words you share in your blog often have the same effect on me as Marianne's action had on you.
It is the most beautiful photograph.
Thank you. Axxx

Sylvia said...

Miriam and Annie have eloquently said what I feel, too. There's a reason you are in my "top sites," and today's lovely picture of Maria was a joy to see as I turned on my computer.

judy in ky said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the health concerns; those can really sap a person's spirit. Thank goodness for family and friends. You do so much and expect so much from yourself, I hope you are taking some time to relax.

Jenny said...

Thinking of you Natalie and hoping all those health concerns are resolved and dismissed.

warren said...

She's beautiful! You have such a lovely family!