Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Especially for the babies of my friends and the friends of my parents

From V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Today, I packaged up several baby blankets to send to friends’ babies. While it is far from a traditionally pastel and bland baby greeting, as I write cards and addresses, as I tidy up edges and seams for these unknown little babies, I have the doomed prisoner Valerie’s letter from V for Vendetta running through my head as a sort of cheery promise and blessing to them:
It’s small and it’s fragile and it’s the only thing in the world that’s worth having. We must never lose it or sell it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. I don’t know who you are or whether you’re a man or a woman. I may never see you. I will never hug you or cry with you or get drunk with you. But I love you. I hope that you escape this place. I hope that the world turns and that things get better, and that one day people have roses again. I wish I could kiss you.”
I don’t know many of these new humans who are still discovering their fingers and toes. Some, it may be years and years before I meet them. They may never know me, or I them. Some, of course, are closer by and easier to be on friendly terms with.
But it doesn’t matter. I love them all, seen and unseen, hugged and unhugged. And I hope with every word I write and each daily decision of how to be in this world as terror and climate challenges ramp up and up, that these children will grow up with love and roses. And, if I have anything to do with it, they will.
With each new human my friends produce, I can more easily appreciate how lucky I and my family are to be loved by different generations of these non-blood aunts and uncles. When I hope that nothing devastating ever happens in the lives of all these new bright babies in my friends’ arms, I can imagine my own parents’ friends feeling the same towards my infant self and sisters. And, that when the troubles do come, it is these people who never wanted hurt to touch your life who will best cushion the sharp parts.
When my dad was first in the hospital, one of the only useful things I could think to do was to get in touch with my mom’s friends. As long as I live, I will be my parents’ child, so there is a sense that they are always more adult than I or my sisters. In trying to figure out anyway to help my mom, the best thing we could do was to call her friends.
And they showed up in force. With texts and emails and letters and visits and food and prayers and vacuum cleaners and hugs, these women and men swooped in with a ready willingness to be adults and do anything that could be done. Friends hold us up, so we can hold others, so we do not have to hold everything and everyone in only our two little hands.
Similarly, I was thrilled every time I walked into my dad’s hospital room and saw his friends visiting, saw their cards and notes and pictures and flowers. I have loved hearing their stories about my dad since then, have loved joking with them about all the ways in which he was irreverent, absurd, and wonderful.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as seeing other people love your best people. That is part of what I want to send to these babies—the promise to help take care of them and their parents when the going gets rough, a promise that nothing needs to be done fully alone.
This Thanksgiving, I have been cringing and snarling at the greeting card gratitudes of being thankful for health and family. That bare human minimum has been rocked for me. My family is like a smile missing a tooth and no one’s health can be taken fully for granted I have learned. But, alongside being terribly absorbed with what is missing, what is absent, I am grateful on a level deeper than grief for all those who are present, who love me and mine and who I love with the boundless ferocity that does make the world turn, makes things better, and bring roses again.
Thank you, friends. For everything.

(Rosebud found behind my house yesterday.)

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