Ava

Ava is a rock. She takes things in stride where her sister is all over the map. If she is upset, it means something is up.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had too many reasons to write about Ava and what she’s been through with her seizures. Yet, seizures are the furthest thing from defining her.

This is a year of parenting milestones. Anna turned 16 and now Ava turns 13, and we are head first into the teenage years.

Ava is the smart kid without much common sense. She’ll pick up on something five minutes after the conversation because she’s been thinking about her own thing. She makes honor roll effortlessly and organizes herself in ways her sister (and her father) may never figure out.

This year the younger sister by three years grew taller than the older. They like to stand next to each other and have people guess who is older. The guess is usually Ava.

She endures and carries on. Ava has taken more pills over the past two and a half years than I have taken in 45. She’s had to worry about things she can’t understand or control. And yet, while in the hospital for a month, her biggest complaint during that stretch was not being allowed to have a soda while she was in intensive care.

Ava finds humor in simple things. She laughs easily and often. She isn’t that worried about what other people think and doesn’t seem to need to be surrounded by friends all the time. She is nearly impossible to get out of bed in the morning or off the couch.

I love remembering her packing the 96-pack of Crayola crayons in her backpack so she was sure to have the right color to draw with. I love that when doctors said she probably wouldn’t be ready to play field hockey after getting out of the hospital, that Ava was named the team MVP for the season and was a force on the field. I love that she already knows the key things she wants to do when she visits Ocean City this summer, including her annual tradition of getting hair wraps.

Ava surprises me frequently. Her thoughts come out of left field. She has taught me more about taking life as it comes and about perseverance than I could have imagined. She taught me about prayer and about gratitude and about carpe’ing the diem.

When Ava was born, I remember thinking she and her sister will be 13 and 16 at the same time. Formidable parenting patience required.

I look at her attitude. I look at her humor and personality. I look at her quirkiness and kindness. And I know that she will live life on her own terms and at her own pace. But she’ll probably need someone to wake her up in the mornings 🙂

 

Saturday Prayer

I have not sat still well today. Solitude’s double-edged sword had me pacing, caged.

I walked Harper across town to the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry and back in the morning. I cut grass, which brings on thinking for me. I read and wrote for a book review article coming due. Changed lightbulbs. Sitting in the yard, I had to move.

I hop on my bike and cruise through town, riding down to the shoreline at the park. I pull Gary Snyder’s “Turtle Island” from my pocket, in all its underlined, written in, and dog-eared grace.

I close my eyes with my face in the sun. An evening breeze brushes my ears and hair.

The waves are sharing an embrace and a conversation with the shoreline; sitting in silence, it is all I can hear–a soundtrack no less extraordinary for being commonplace.

I bend my head in prayer to listen. Language doesn’t need words to speak. No, that’s not it. God doesn’t need words to speak to those who listen.

I leaf through Snyder, who offers a “Prayer for the Great Family:”

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
      holding or releasing; streaming through all
      our bodies salty seas
                          in our minds so be it

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
      trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
      bears and snakes sleep–he who wakes us–
                           in our minds so be it

I don’t properly write in my pocket notebook very often, opting for a bigger one where my mind stretches more. But the pocket notebook made the bike ride, and as I scrawl these thoughts together, I see words bleeding through from the next page.

2016 Ava rehab words

They are Ava’s from the rehab hospital last year. She was working on getting her words back with a therapist–she couldn’t find the right words to say, to answer, but she could write them down. Today being a year since the seizure that landed her there, it doesn’t seem a coincidence to have her words find me here.

I close now wet eyes again to listen to the river. And God.

Riding my bike through town, life goes on. People are happy eating, walking, biking. There are kids playing in the sand and ankle deep in the water at the Strand.

Almost home, I turn up Jack’s Point Rd., and an Eastern Bluebird flies across the road in front of me, into a vacant lot. I have only seen a handful of bluebirds in town and I smile. If you read birds, happiness must be nearby.

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