Mojave in my Heart

From a not-so childlike beginning in New York City to my child inspired world here and now


birthday time

The weeks leading up to the birthday were busy, but good ones. There was family visiting, a trip to nyc for my brother’s wedding, a week up in the mountains (which was so wonderful and  spirit-filling as it always is), first grade blocks to complete, and more visiting family!

I experienced more nostalgia leading up to their birthday than previous years- something not too far off that I had to process, but couldn’t quite capture or touch. I don’t think I was projecting some substantial change from 6 to 7; I was sincerely feeling something deeper than years prior. I’ll take it was an auspicious sign, for the weeks leading up and since I have noticed a depth to both of the girls–they are changing in profound ways– in intellect, humor, emotions.  Arlene’s lightness while still there, seems to be changing– she’s had more emotional swings, very unlike her — to me it seems like she’s aware of not always feeling giggly and easy. Ada continues to ground herself in tasks and activity. She can draw for hours, write books and read on her own.  Then there’s the times two factor. The intensity of twins where I’m always feeling a little behind because from the beginning there’s been two infants, two toddlers, two little beings that are almost like one, but are not.

This year’s birthday party was more intimate. Perhaps the smaller party allowed some of these thoughts the space they needed as I didn’t have AS MUCH distraction. We had a beautiful tea party with girlfriends the evening of their birthday. I got to take in the party, talk with girls during their meal and tea, watch my girls’ happy faces. There’s nothing like a small party with good food, tea, sweets and friends.

Keeping up with traditions! Aunt Miss + Uncle John visited for their birthday, IHOP breakfast, books from Grandma Katie in heaven, a special gift (tea set), pin the tail on sweet Kinsey (this year she was colored wearing a fancy dress for the tea party), story telling at the party…This was the first year I didn’t make a red velvet cake nor TWO cakes!! I instead went for one elaborate cake that required a kitchen torch 🙂


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Happy birthday Ada and Arlene!


celebrating all soul’s day

It seemed ambitious to pull together our traditional all soul’s celebration after nearly a week up in the mountains, but it was exactly the grounding focus we/I needed. All but the trip to Safeway where I made my annual pilgrimage because I’ll be honest, Whole Foods does not carry the food my departed family ate. I really do not enjoy shopping to begin with, but Safeway challenges my psychological well-being. Self-checkout?!


We had hoped to spend time making a family tree, or starting one, but it will have to wait for next year. A + A loved getting our festivals box out and unfolding our picture banner and decorating our side table. We also spent a couple hours polishing beautiful, but tarnished silver, gifts from a friend from her late cousins, Tom + Marjorie. We talked a lot about family all day. Of course the who’s who conversation and whenever I could, I’d add an anecdote like my aunt liked to make baked ziti or the story my stepmother told me about making dolls with Spanish moss and old Coke bottles when she was a girl in rural, coastal South Carolina.

The girls are so curious about their family that has passed. I’m amazed at their interest, their sense of humor and  maturity as we reminisced about their lives. Stephen shared a lot more this year — we learned about his dad’s sisters and his mother’s brothers, bits of their lives and where they lived. Interestingly we’ve passed through western states where some of them lived (New Mexico and California), so it was nice to connect to those experiences.

Having always been a person intrigued by what this is all about and what does death mean…Losing my parents definitely propelled that pondering deeper. Regardless of how great or challenging (or absent for that matter) our relationships are to close family, their death is profound. I want the girls to remember and experience the ways the dead are with us here and now. These aren’t people to put away or a process to be hidden.

As someone said in a Quaker Meeting a couple years ago about the beautiful, but dying, falling leaves during autumn: to remember how in death, we go out in glory.

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