I am fifteen this week. I’m over six foot one. My first completed varsity touchdown pass is in the books. I am kind. So very kind, and respectful, and deliberate about everything I am.
I am thirteen. I love football and choir equally. I’m sensitive but so crazy-confident about my own place in the world that really not much can shake me.
I am eight. I’m beautiful and creative and funny. I’m full of love. You can’t contain it or stop it or figure it out – all that is me, already.
It’s the anniversary of my motherhood on Friday, and it makes me all these things. It began on October 17, 1999, and sometimes I’m pretty sure that is when I began. It’s not my identity, being a mother. It’s just a moment on my timeline that shaped me more than any before or since. It’s the thing outside of me that fills my cup the most, every day, always.
Have I told you I work for the founding school of osteopathy? It’s a fascinating philosophy. I attended a seminar about it today and was struck by how eastern it seems for something that was founded in rural Missouri – all that connection between our body, our mind, and our spirit. The seminar was given by Jason Haxton but was titled “According to Dr. Still”, the founder of this particular practice of medicine. I love seminars like this at work, when the day-to-day of penciling in meetings and creating spreadsheets and keeping websites up-to-date becomes the big picture of how we began and who we are and how to look up and see, for goodness sake, what we are part of.
Dr. Still believed in several principles for life and health. Eat well, for instance; food is simply fuel. Take a walk every single day. Get outside, where things always make more sense. And believe.
“Are you quitting me?” he asked a typhoid patient once. Are you giving up? The patient answered, no. Dr. Still aligned the patient’s body, in the methods of osteopathy, and the patient lived.
Did you know the Chinese die at a very steady and predictable rate all year long until just before the Chinese New Year when the rate drops dramatically? It doubles after the New Year. The predicted number of people die, plus all those who refused to go during a holiday, who hung on to see the miracle happen again, the start of new things, the gathering of those they love. You see? Dr. Still would say, You have a say in it. You can decide if you want it, and that matters. Believing just might make a difference in how long you stay.
He wasn’t in the business of stopping death. Death is a part of this journey that is our life here. He was in the business of making the journey as beautiful and full of health as possible. He loved the journey. He considered abortion as brutal and unkind as the killing of a thought. It doesn’t kill the soul, he said. We are souls in the beginning and we are souls in the end. But this part is so good. It does so much for us, the human experience, if we let it.
Is that why I’m still here? Did I decide this? I give massive credit to medicine, I do. And I don’t believe that everyone gone too soon is gone because they did not want it enough. But if I have any say at all… If after the eating and the walking, there is more to say, I will say it until I have no breath left to do so.
I want it.
I want it.
I want it.
Happy Birthday to my first one.
Happy Anniversary to us all.
Thank you , Valinda, for the beautiful pictures of my boys of fall.