My heart learned much this year.
Mid January last year Alan returned once again to Saskatchewan. Some time during that January, that time of -25 plus the wind chill, exploring back alleys, walking the shoreline of Old Wives Lake, we knew. Cold be damned. Home was together.
Sometime during the slow hours of this past December break, on holiday at my parents’ family home, we were sharing our take-aways, the treasures we gleaned from the past year.
There were many beautiful nuggets in 2018. My daughter, Jessy Lee, found a grounding, a sense of solid footing in herself, in her studies, in braving to dream life beyond university, and to understanding her world as her own.
Jessy Lee and I had the courage to move. We had Alan here too, but the decision began December 27, 2017, with a frozen pipe, much coffee, and time together laughing, sorting boxes of memories 17 years deep.
Following my thesis defense, and recovery from major surgery, I dove into my teaching with renewed passion, kindness, and authenticity. I served students, saw a few dear ones graduate, and lived alongside a few others as they returned for another term. I am proud of my work. I am proud of our students. I am forever reminded of the beauty of teaching when my work is honoured.
Alan and I bought a home. Though I learned neither of us are fence builders, we will likely always encourage random mass tree planting, and we are strong. We have grown together through our first months in our home, our marriage, together through house fire, immigration, spitting llamas.
In 2018 Alan and I were married. But my one thing. The thing, isn’t marrying Alan.
My takeaway is how I feel so well, so okay being with him. He allows my independence to soar. I found myself stumbling for words over the December break, trying to explain the feeling to mom, to Alan, and to Jessy Lee. Dad was snoring in the back room.
Mom pushed backed in her chair, took a sip of her diet pop, and said she knew exactly what I meant.
“He supports you.”
“That’s how it was with your father and me.”
Beside me, I felt Jessy Lee smile. I met Alan’s eyes, and we smiled too.
Some understanding don’t get bigger.
You know that line, it takes a village to raise a child? Well, I thrive on knowing I’m needed. Doing good work. Loved.
Not only being supported, but feeling supported is a beautiful gift. Knowing it, is my take-away.
I’ve often written about the deep and unwavering love my parents have for each other. I think this was a part of my graduate work. I think this is a part of Jessy Lee’s studies too. I think this will always be. ~The sort of way that neither of them sees or understands a world without the other.
I think too, this is how it is with Jessy Lee and me. Though Alan and I hugged her safely back onto a return flight to UBC tonight, a hug that she and I understood for the first time had no return date. She is away. Off to soar, different continent, another degree, another journey, rooted in all that makes her a Brown-Eyed-Girl, my girl. In the same way she came home this past summer, to make me buy a dress, to help pack boxes, and move the endless mounds of dirt. ~The sort of way that neither of us sees or understands a world without the other.
Knowing support is my take-away.
The other day Alan and I were on our way home from a day in the Glory of Grasslands National Park. A day photo trekking, buffalo hoping, light chasing, and a day of play in our universe. He turned to me and asked, “Will you grow old with me?”
How were this man and I so gifted to have found a weaving of our lives?
I am so safe here. Here with Alan.
No. We aren’t my parents. But I understand entirely what mom means. ~The sort of way that neither of us sees or understands a world without the other. We are us. #AlanandCori We are excited about our todays. Our small adventures near home. Our trees. Our Tuesdays travelling into Regina, journeys that will become much more, much different, and open such educational conversational planning joys. For now, our Julys. And our tomorrow dreams: Teaching grand babies to overnight backpack, love snakes, and reading and writing. And love dogs. Our moments shared between mountain and prairie. And soon, soon, our magic year away… writing. And always. Following our Brown-Eyed-Girl.
I am forever in awe how alike the two of them seem to be. Both eye-ball deep in their laptops, writing, reading, mocking. Oh. How beautifully our family fits. We fit.
Sometimes I pause, lost in knowing that a year has gone by since my sister chose not to be in my life, in Jessy Lee’s life, that she does not know Alan, our joy, Jessy Lee’s beauty. I get lost in the slipping of moments that we can not reclaim: our wedding, moments with dad, celebrations with Jessy Lee, knowing that our whole family will never be together again. Grief and loss are such a long tricky friends.
And Alan. Sipping coffee with me the other morning. Looking out over the 17 fruit trees nestled under snow, and the 40 others snoozing alongside. “I so am excited about planting the wild flower seeds.”
“Want to have a campfire tonight?”
My girl is happy. Through writing, she too has made peace with the losses in her world. And she is supported too. She has found family in sister-friends in Brynn & Kathryn. She adores Alan, and loves the ways we love each other. And I love that Jessy Lee has traveled to the west coast only to fall more in love with the storied past of these prairies.
Sometimes, I just watch her. Tall and calm. She oozes beauty. And kindness. Like Light, living. Albert would be so proud. I am. I am so proud.
Maybe none if this makes sense.
Days before I married Alan, both Karen, a dear friend, & Jessy Lee threatened me, “Don’t you run.”
They love me with Alan. Love me loving Alan. I was single for nearly two decades. Fiercely independent. And not that marriage scared me, but dependence horrified me. And this home, this swirl of comfort and love and joy here with my family, Alan, & Jessy Lee and our Felix dog is a light I have never known.
A glint. Our universe.
Knowing support is my take-away.