Rainy Afternoon Musings

It started pouring rain this afternoon, washing the air from the smoke of burning rice stubble. Down in the fields I can still see the fires burning, but we can't smell them anymore.

It's odd to have rain in cold season, and I'm reveling in it.

The two oldest kids are off to Bangkok with Aaron to renew their passports. The Girl cried pitifully all last night and all this morning as I helped her to dress and take her things out to our friend's truck, waiting to give them a ride to the bus station. She has done this for a year and a half, cried at every parting, preferred to stay home beside me, even if it means missing out on something fun. I didn't even finish writing her birthday letter last year, though I wrote many paragraphs and struggled over it, because we were in the thick of this anxiety she was going through, not even wanting to go on outings with Beema if I wasn't going, and I couldn't figure out how to talk about it.

I'm still not sure I understand. But she was fine within an hour of getting on the bus. I've learned not to talk to her on the phone during these separations. It makes her cry all over again. But she can have loads of fun if she manages to forget that her default mode is sad without mommy.

So Little and BamBam and I have been having a quiet day at home, preparing for the upcoming birthday celebrations this week. My hand hurts from cutting flowers out of paper egg cartons for decorations.

Candles, and tea, and a good book, always seem like an appropriate way to celebrate and savor a rainy day.

I love rain. Something about it makes me feel more alive, and more at home than other types of weather, except maybe snow storms. No snowstorms on the horizon here in Thailand, even though the middle east is getting freakish weather. It's a good thing actually. If it snowed here so many people would suffer.

I feel like I've forgotten how to blog. I have thoughts, that I plan to turn into posts, but days turn into weeks and I never seem to find the minutes I need to write those things down. Things happen slowly here, there are fewer ways to mark the flowing away of time under the bridge and so one doesn't notice how swiftly it is passing until there is something to watch that is carried along in it's current.

The year is almost over. How did that happen? That seems to have come up way too fast.

Life is good, life is full, time keeps slipping away, like the rain pouring off of my roof. But it will soften the earth where I'm wanting to plant some seeds, and help their growth.


Growing up

He’s only half awake, angry, because he wet the bed, and he doesn’t usually but he’s been sick, and he’s so eager to be a big kid this week.

I take him to the bathroom to shower off and he has to go potty first, sick tummies lead to many potty emergencies. “Mommy, go out!” He commands. He’s three and he doesn’t want my help in the bathroom anymore.

When all is done and cleaned up and I’m carrying him out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel I ask, “Do you want to come upstairs and sleep the rest of the night in mommy’s room?”

Last month his half asleep angry was because I took him to the downstairs bathroom and back to bed and he wanted to come upstairs and use my bathroom and go to sleep on the floor mat next to my bed.

“No! Me no want to weep in yours room mama. Me want to weep in my woom.”

“Are you sure?”

I’m not quite ready for this. Plus, his bed is wet and I am tired and I don’t really want to change sheets right now in the dark.

“Yes, me want to weep in my woom.”

So I leave him on the bottom step and walk upstairs to get clean bedding to change his bed. He starts crying by the time I reach the top of the stairs. I rush down, clean sheets in hand and he cries, “Me want you mama. Me want you.”

I am relieved. I’m proud of him for the ways he tries, and wants to grow up. And I’m relieved, because my little boy is still a little boy after all, and tonight he wants to be near me still.

I tuck him in bed next to mine and he drops to sleep in and instant. I roll over and stare at the sleeping face of his baby brother in the moonlight, and force myself to imagine him getting older, and kicking me out of the bathroom in a few short years.

This tiny little face with the chubby cheeks that lights up the instant he sees me will change, and grow, and want to be free of me so very soon.

I lay there with open eyes and watch him sleep for a very long time.



“I'm assuming you know what's happening with Mom but just in case you don't she's being admitted to the stroke ward at __hospital."

It’s the night before Thanksgiving, here in Thailand, I’m up prepping food for the next day. We’re having new friends over to celebrate with us, because when you’re from a big family, it doesn’t really feel like a celebration without lots of people in the house.

“I don’t know anything. I haven’t talked to her for a few weeks." I message back. "Did she have a stroke?”

She went to the hospital last night when she had a bad headache, blurred vision and her arm started twitching uncontrollably. They did a ct scan and discovered bleeding in her brain. Her heart stopped at some point and they did CPR. She was rushed to __hospital where AJ (our brother) met her at midnight last night. (He's working in town). Last update was they were managing the pain and waiting for a spot in the stroke ward. I'm going to see her as soon as I drop the girls off.”

There is nothing I can do. It’s the most excruciating thing. I forget to ask if she is conscious. I keep remembering my grandpa, her father, in the years after he had a stroke and the way he couldn’t talk anymore. I imagine my mom speaking gibberish like he did while trying to page through a book of pictures with near useless hands, the fingers bent back towards the wrists. I try to figure out how on earth I will keep in touch with my mom if she can’t talk anymore.

I season the chickens, and place them in the pan breast down, just like my mother, and my grandmother, and all of my aunties on my moms side of the family do. The men who married into the family sometimes asked why everyone roasts their birds that way. The answer is simple of course, and a family secret. If you cook a bird breast down, all the juices from the dark meat, and all the flavor from the stuffing, drip down onto the breast meat and make it really moist and delicious, instead of dry and tasteless, which is always a risk when cooked breast up.

“Hey,” I ask, several minutes later, “Is she conscious?”

“She was. I’ll update you when I get there.”

I start chopping onions for stuffing, my mom’s recipe for stuffing, with the onions and green apples sautéed in butter with sage. Planning Thanksgiving dinner here, so far away from everything familiar, I want flavors that take me back home. Now as I make my mom’s stuffing recipe my mind is imagining her in a hospital bed somewhere in Canada, lying still the way she does when she’s in pain, and speaking softly. It’s easy to imagine my mom in the hospital. I’ve seen her there a lot in recent years. She had surgery when we went to visit her for Christmas a few years ago while we were there. She had an allergic reaction the last time she came to visit me and I ended up driving her to the hospital while her throat slowly swelled shut.

I ask friends and family on facebook to pray for her. I can at least do that. The outpouring of love for me, and my mom, and our family over the next few days is amazing. I feel way less alone.

I finish as much as I can, unable to even think of sleep for a while and message my sister again before finally going to bed.

“Please send me a picture of her."

She looks exactly as I imagined she would, white hair splayed over the pillow, eyes closed. I had forgotten Ralph. My stepdad sitting next to her bed looks haunted and so, so worried.

Our friends ask if we want to cancel Thanksgiving dinner the next morning. I can’t even imagine it. Everything about this dinner feels like the only way that I am holding on to my mother right now. Every movement in the kitchen brings her to mind.

Instinctively I reach for life and wrap it around myself tightly. I know my mom would be saddened to hear that we turned inward, rejected joy and fellowship, in order to worry about her far, far away where our worry can do nothing. We pray for her, and we give thanks.

Thank you for the gifts we have.

Thank you that she is still alive to pray for.

Thank you for my brother and sister taking it in shifts to be with mom while I sit on the opposite side of the planet and eat stuffing and gravy with family and friends.

At one point, while thanking my sister for keeping me updated, and for being there with mom I tell her. “I question my life choices in moments like this, and think I should have made different ones that kept me near.”

But I know that is a foolish way to think. So I stop, and focus on the good things about being here.

Details trickle in. My sister and brother update the facebook thread.

“The head neurologist has seen her.

Her shoulder is dislocated. They need to set it before doing an MRI because when they laid her flat she was in so much pain she vomited.

The bleeding was a right parietal lobar intercranial hemorrhage. Apparently a weird place for a hemorrhage to occur so most likely not blood pressure related.

She's on her feet again! Just enough to get to the bathroom but yay! Still waiting for the MRI though.”

The news just keeps getting better. The reasons to give thanks increase every day.

I hadn't realized how much it means to me to be able to call my mom until that night when I imagined never being able to do it again. I hope to talk to her again soon.

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