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Entries in Ezra (64)

Wednesday
Jun192013

Death in Summer

The geese at the lake are aggressive at this time of year.  They hiss and squawk at the dog and me when we run by in the morning, warning us not to come any closer.  Downy little goslings toddle in line behind their fearful mamas.

A June Friday night calls us to the lake on our bikes, three in a row.  Will rides the funny swing bike he just found on Craigslist, the one Ezra giggles at and calls the wiggly bike.  Ezra just proudly sized up to his Big Bike, 16 inches of rolling speed demon, and I ride the beach cruiser gifted to me last year.  Every time I ride it - often this time of year - I think of Jackie in her new life on the West coast, and Dylan, gone too soon.

Freedom hangs in the lake air on Friday evening.  No cars to avoid on the bike path.  The smoke from the nearby wildfires has cleared in the summer breeze.  Swings that go higher on demand, 'til your stomach drops out, your hair blows back, and you squeal.  The weight of another week lifts away in the clear golden light.

On the ride home toward dinner and a date with the DVD player we stop under a tree.  I notice first the several geese nervously shifting their weight back and forth, huddling near their goslings.  One goose honks plaintively, hovering over a baby convulsing on the ground.  Will and I urge Ezra onward, but he can't be pulled away.

Ez, let's go!

Rooted.

I don't want to get a first-hand look at life and death on Friday night at the park, but I guess that's what's happening.  I park my bike and go crouch by him.  From here I can see the baby gosling's intestines in the dirt, the plaintive mother goose and the baby's last twitches.

Why does that baby have a hole in him? Ezra wants to know.

I think an animal got his mouth on him, I say, probably a dog.  You know how animals have predators?  Well I think one hurt that baby goose.

The mama goose honks and squawks.

Why is that big bird doing that?

That's the mama and she's so sad because her baby got hurt, I say and the baby's twitching slows.   That's what mamas do.  If you ever got hurt I would cry and cry and I wouldn't be able to go on, I add, before realizing I don't want him to identify too closely with the disemboweled chick.  But I won't let anything happen to you.  I silently pray that this is true.  Let's extend for a while longer the fiction that mamas have the power to protect our children from pain.

Isn't there a doctor that can fix the hole in him?

Ummm, I don't know of any goose doctor.

Why can't Daddy fix him?

Daddy's really good at a lot of things, but I don't think he knows how to fix that goose, I say.

The goose is still.

Ezra is quiet for a minute and then asks, When it dies, is it dead forever?

Exhale.  Yes.

Why?

Because that's how it works when you die, I say, wondering if this is really true.  I am mystified by this last breath, this single moment that is the fulcrum between being and no longer being, the tipping point from which there is no return.  You can be so alive and then... not, with barely a warning.

Sit down, my friend Chuck said when he called me four years ago.  Dylan died last night.  And suddenly I couldn't breathe.

My brother's friend went dirt biking in the desert last weekend and never came home.  Search crews found his bike, wrecked, and followed his footprints for a mile.  They found his body lying peacefully, hand on his heart, his brilliant blue eyes open to the vast sky.  He was so alive, and then he wasn't, his last breath scoured by the hot desert winds.

Ezra watches the still bird at the foot of the tree carefully.  The honking has died down too.

Do you want to say a little blessing for him?

We are both puzzled about how this works, but I try.

Great Spirit, I offer, please help guide this baby goose through the transition.  Please help him find a place with lots of water and no dogs and no pain, forever.

Somehow it is enough for Ezra and we get back on our bikes.  The evening caresses us on the rest of the ride home.  It is the perfect night to be alive.

Thursday
May022013

Freedom Rider

This happened this week.  Sunday morning Ezra said I want my bike.

And when I brought it out, he said I want to take the training wheels off.  So I got a wrench.

We removed two extra wheels, and Ezra grew wings.

Last night Ezra asked me what is "independent"?

I think he already knows.

Thursday
Apr252013

Cousin Mayhem

There's a special kind of bond between cousins that can, apparently, only be expressed by playing iPad games side-by-side.

Or unleashing mayhem on your grandmother.


Monday
Oct012012

Fountain of Youth

Ezra, 4th birthdayDear Ezra,

You turned four around the time that I started to notice that I'm going to turn 40.  Not tomorrow, but one day, and sooner than I'd like.  Everyone says 40s are the new blah blah blah, and I'm sure they're right, but nobody says 40s are young. Nobody says oh I was 45 and beautiful and carefree.  This is the sort of pointless script that's been running through my head lately, when I am not either crushingly busy or fastidiously quieting my mind.  Which is still enough of the time to be noticeable.

A friend told me that four-year-olds are obsessed with death.  I hadn't noticed until we watched March of the Penguins together and you asked me why did the baby penguin diiiiiiiiiiiie? for days on end.  Since then you have specialized in threat assessment.  Nearly every day you mentally follow one risk or another through to its logical conclusion, invariably some form of if you (fill in the blank) could you get dead?  To which I reply, yes, if you (swallow glass) (jump from a high place) (play with fire) you could die.  In my head I also note and if you (eat too much bacon) (don't take your fish oil) or, you know, (just keep waking up every day).  Apparently we are both preoccupied with mortality.

My godmother sent me a primer on Buddhism and you'll never guess what example the author uses, right there in the first chapter, to illustrate the basic concept of attachment.  Our attachment to our body.  Our vanity.  Our fetishization of youth.  In other words, I am a textbook case.  The Dalai Lama thinks I am a cliche.

I was hoping to justify my fixation as maintenance, like haircuts and eyebrow waxes.  Harmless.  I could harvest your knock-knock jokes and inject them into my laugh lines.  Emulsify your imagination, and smooth it over my age spots.  Collect the eyelashes you shed and let an obsessive-compulsive aesthetician glue them onto my own, one by one, the world's most luxurious extensions.

Is it creepy to fetishize your own child's youth?  I hope not.  I wouldn't really steal one moment from you, one innocent query, sweet boy.  Witnessing your curiosity as you piece the world together is one of my chief joys.  I would rather (go gray) (sag) (wrinkle) (learn to meditate) than rob you of a thing.  After all, if everything goes well, I'll have a long, long time to get progressively wrinklier, saggier, grayer (and hopefully more detached) before I get dead.

All my love,

Mama

Friday
Aug172012

Visual Jazz

There was an invitation to the studio, permission to choose whatever colors drew him and to slap them on acrylic with the beautiful unselfconsciousness of an almost-four-year old.

I could learn something from you, Chris said to Ezra.

Unselfconsciousness.

I witness it every day, unselfconsciousness being one of the primary gifts of early childhood, but damn if I can imagine how to embody it.

For Ezra there was the thrill of spray paint and color and tools.  He was reserved but alert, as he tends to be.

For me there was the pleasure of pulling back the curtain on something unusual and special,

of receiving kindness from a new friend,

of watching a kind of visual jazz unfold in front of me.