Ain’t it Funny

I should be losing. my. mind.

Homeschooling four kids ages 2, 4, 6 and 8 with governor stay-at-home orders.  No access to outside enrichment including the aquarium, playgrounds, or museums.  No playdates.

But ain’t it funny?

I lost my mind a long time ago!

Ha!

Take that coronavirus!

I gave up on the illusion of control back when I had my second.

I surrendered to the life-unexpected when my third arrived.

And I hit rock bottom when our fourth surprised us with a chronic, rare syndrome.

I should be losing. my. mind.

But ain’t it funny?

I embraced chaos a long way back.

And thanks to that,

I’m having the time. of. my. life.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

New Waters

Oh, my.

New waters.

And yet haven’t we been here before?

I see it in my youngest as her brain explodes with new information.  New vocabulary.  New abilities.  New resolve to not ever do once she once did.

Our desire to be in control is ever fervent.

And yet ever not fully ours to control.

We are humbled,

as much as we allow ourselves to be.

As. Much. As. We. Allow. Ourselves. To. Be.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

 

Identity

Around the circle we went.

Name, address, kids’ names and ages and finally, career.

I was anxious and excited for my friends to share with one another what I already knew about each of them.

And yet felt wholly unprepared when asked to answer the question myself.

Career?

I spent the first part of my childhood dreaming of becoming a teacher.  It evolved to aspirations of becoming a National Geographic Photographer and later, a writer.  But all along, the desire of becoming a mother and staying at home to tend to them was as constant as the ocean currents.

I taught fourth grade throughout my pregnancy and am writing now.  I’ve never become a National Geographic Photographer, but I’ve taken some pretty striking photos over the years.

So why do I feel embarrassed to report my dream status?  Stay-at-home-mother.

I suppose it all comes down to identity.

How do we define ourself?

What are we proud to report and what do we have left to achieve?

Who are you or perhaps more importantly,

who do you have yet to become?

It’s your identity.

And it’s yours to create.

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Chapters

Today, I discovered a college friend of mine passed away, suddenly, of complications from the flu.

I am shocked.

Death from flu is supposed to happen to newborns, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, not a healthy mom of two young boys.

Or, so I thought.

She and her husband, whom she had dated since her early teens, were my college neighbors.  I took a cruise with her, and two other girlfriends, to Mexico in our senior year.  It was a momentous occasion for me.  The time after an abusive relationship.  A new beginning.  A rebirth.  And she was a part of it.

I haven’t spoken to her in years and yet, it feels like yesterday.

Why is that?

I searched through old photos and realized,

our lifetime is one big story.

And you cannot possibly have the same ending without each and every chapter.

So often, others have wondered why I hang on to letters, photos, and contacts.

And the answer is, because I never want to forget.

Without it, my story would never be the same.

Pam, thank you for the memories. You were an important chapter in my life and you will never be forgotten.

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In Loving Memory of Pamela Leon

 

Time

I see you.

Creeping on in, like a child scared of the dark.

You might think I’d be surprised.

But I’ve been expecting you all along.

I saw you first, on my piano teacher’s hands.

And asked, with pride, if my hand would look like that one day, too.

You see, I thought those hands meant experience.

And I desperately wanted that.

So here, I am.

With just a little experience.

And a long way to go.

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Captured by Katie McCracken

Wish it Away

Anyone who has been faced with a chronic illness or disability can relate . . .

You pray.

You hope.

You beg.

You wish it away.

You bargain.

You break.

You resign to recognize there are so many others who wish the same. . .

For it to go away.

Until the sickening realization that it may not.

It may for some, but not you.

For you, it stays.

And you wonder- why me?

You look to God, you look to your family and friends and you know,

it’s your burden to bear.

So what are you going to do with it?

We weep. We mourn. We lament.

And then. . .

And then. . . .

we rise.

We rise again.

And again.

And we wish it away again every day.

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Camille Vaughan

 

Confession

9 Months.  That is how long I had hidden it from him.

But out like a thief, it came.

My confession.

It’s been 20 years since Columbine but not a day has passed, since before I even had children, that I worried about sending my child to school.

On Friday, the used-to-be-unthinkable happened right down the road from us.

Down the road as in, on our way to school.

As in, my 5 year-old asking why the police-car lights are still flashing 3 days in a row.

12 innocents murdered for no reason other than they. were. there.

My instinct is to protect her innocence. My gut tells me to instruct her where to hide.

Why, in the literal F* H*, is this even a consideration?

He told me that everyone at work knew someone who had died.

I confessed I’ve never said goodbye to Aurora before school without considering it to be the last time.

Why?

Why?

Why?

Why?

 

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Step

It was late.

It was far away.

It was foreign- something we “used to do”.

It had been a longggggg 10 days prior, complete with travel and a funeral.

There were a multitude of reasons why we could raincheck this date . . . but we didn’t.

We ate at a sushi spot one minute from home and when we still had 45 minutes until the main act came on stage, we decided to “pre-game” with my 87 year-old father who lived close-by.

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It. was. the best.

It’s been 7 years since my husband and I have had a conversation with my dad without children nearby.  And it’s been nearly that long since we’ve gone to a live show together.

There we stood with a crowd of others that, I pointed out, had at least one thing in common with us- an adoration for this band.

Lord Huron began with a song I frequently listen to as I write “Love Like Ghosts” and immediately I was catapulted into my writing space.

 

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My face lit like the sun itself so I stretched out my arms and danced.

I had taken a step- into the unfamiliar, into the faraway- but I was home.

We sang, we danced, we remembered what it felt like to step into our space and realized, it was worth the distance.

 

The End & It’s Beginning

They see opportunity, I see the end of an era.

They see a new purpose, I see the memories.

I’ve never been a big fan of thrift stores, yard or estate sales, but it wasn’t until today, when my elderly neighbor’s estate sale went “live” that I understood why.

I don’t see a record player, I hear the music it played over the decades.

I don’t see a dresser, I see the clothes it housed for birthdays, beach days, and every days.

They see dishes, I see Thanksgiving dinner.

They see a chair, I see the person who used to sit in it.

To many, they are just things.

To me, they are a story.

Of a life lived.

Of a past, now gone.

Of a future, without these things.

Perhaps this isn’t their end.

It’s just a new beginning.

 

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