Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Sweet Carmen

Dear Olive,

I want to tell you just a little bit here, about your Godmother Carmen. You probably won't remember her, but you enjoyed being with her during the time you got to spend with her.

I loved Carmen, and her whole family, from the moment I met them. Some years later, she moved to Hawaii. She always wanted to be a Hawaiian princess, so why not? I would visit whenever I could, but I was so jealous of all the good times she was having out there without me, and I would of course tell her so, and she'd always remind me that she loved me. That's just how she was, you didn't need to pry love out of Carmen like you need to pry it out of some people.

Recently, she wanted a change of pace, and to get out of Hawaii for a bit. She asked if she could live with us, and it was a no brainer. I set her up in your room with you because it's the larger room, and I told her I just couldn't deal with bringing you in my room because you'd never go back to yours once she left. You got to sleep on an air mattress and you generously gave up your bed for Carmen, I was actually so happy you did not mind, you know you are quite the feisty one at times when your routine is interrupted. But you're also 3, so it's not like I was going to let you lounge around in a double bed when Carmen was here.

Pic Carmen took of you sleeping
Haha I want to write these funny things down while I remember them- Once, in the middle of the night a couple weeks after Carmen arrived, you came in my room and said very sleepily and very cautiously, "Something's making noise in my room!!!" I said, "Oh it's just Carmen, Olive, she's just snoring." And I put you back to bed. Sometimes you would even get up in the night and go in bed with her. Carmen said it was because she didn't want you to come wake me up all night, and I told her I felt bad and I was sorry you were doing that... but you know what? She said she liked it, and you reminded her of her baby Huggy Bear, her most beloved pup when you cuddled with her.

She'd help you into your frilly fancy princess dresses and even let you out of the house in them, lucky girl. I have a funny video she took of you in Soup Plantation while you were eating sprinkles off your fingers. She was cracking up and she said, "You have to look at the end." It's nothing thrilling, but I just wanted to save it. I have a few other funny videos, one where she was showing you Disney Princess songs on YouTube.

Every time you heard keys in the hallway you'd leap up and exclaim, "Carmen's back!! Is that Carmen??" and you just frankly adored her. Haha I was also laughing to myself that she had no issues telling you when you were being ridiculous, or to stop whining, right from the start. True family.

Carmen was one of those people who didn't have to pass away for you to suddenly remember all the good things about her. In fact, I don't think there is a person out there who knew her who didn't have the exact same loving things to say about her when she was with us here on earth, as they would after she left us.

She was joyful to be around, and she loved (almost) everyone. She always called me out when I was being mean to someone... If I didn't like what some girl was wearing she would inevitably say, "Awww, I think she's cute..." and so it would go- all. the. time.

Carmen said that I was a part of her. I knew it was true, I knew it was always there. But I didn't fully grasp that until recently...until it stops my breath short and my chest closes up. The person I am today, and have been for the past 15 years is directly correlated with her. I hope I can become a better person going forward in my life, when I think about the way she treated me, and others, so lovingly. I hope we can talk and tell stories about her love throughout your life, because the impression Carmen left on the world and the people in it is the way I should hope we leave it too, which will be hard to do. The world was a better place because she was in it. There really just is nobody else like her.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

3 months 'til 3

Dear Olive,

Tonight I was going through your clothes, packing away the things that have gotten too small. I do this a lot, it's nothing new. But for some reason tonight it felt so sad. There were all these clothes that used to look so huge, and now they look tiny. When did THAT happen?

There was a little pink fleece jacket we bought you once when we went out to SeaPort Village when you were a baby. We forgot to bring you a jacket and it was so cold, so of course I was grumbling that I had to buy an expensive San Diego touristy zip up for you. I bought it extra big so you'd get good use out of it. I tried it on you tonight, thinking it would still fit... hoping maybe. The sleeves did not even come close to reaching your wrists. Well, I guess that was quite a long time ago anyway. Away it went in the box.

There's so many other "baby" things you don't need anymore that I've been packing away too. The piano we were so exited to buy you that you don't play with now (until I put it in the closet of course.) Wasn't that just yesterday we stood in line on black friday for that thing? Tonight I turned your changing table into a normal dresser. I mean, it was always a dresser anyway, with a pad on top, but I thought to myself, "We really don't need this anymore, might as well put it away." The dresser looked so bare.

As I was going through the motions, I felt like you were gone, but you were right on the ground next to me playing. I guess in a way, all of what I remember you as so far, as a baby, is gone. What remains is something new, someone new, with new thoughts and words and expressions. I've always sort of felt that way about myself too. I look at baby pictures of me, and even many childhood ones, and I think, "Who was that person?" I don't remember her, I was never her... it's hard to imagine that little one year old toddling around was me. When I see baby pictures of myself I feel no connection to them at all, other than thinking how cute I looked of course. I mean, who doesn't think that way about their baby pictures? ;) But when I see them, I feel no closer to that person than I do any other stranger. I guess that's what happens to us all. You've left behind the baby you once were, in fact there's hardly any sign of her left.

There's less than three months left until you are three. Technically you won't even be considered a toddler anymore. I guess this is why I still enjoy that time at the end of the day that I've enjoyed since you were a tiny baby. Right before I put you to bed, you let me hold you as long as I want. You don't care about wriggling around, you don't even care about talking or making noise. You just be. You let me just hold you and just be. And it reminds me of the baby who used to do the same. I wonder how long you'll let me do this for. No matter how much I have to do once I leave your room, I try to stay in that moment, being with you.

Me as a flower girl. Me?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

You Is...

Dear Olive,

I just finished reading The Help, and finally realized what your Grandma Shelly was saying at night to you when she'd see you.

"You is smart... You is Beautiful... You is important."

 (UPDATE as I was laying around tonight thinking, I realized that's not even how it goes.... it's Kind, Smart, and Important. Oops)

It's from that book (now movie) and I thought it was really sweet how the nanny used to tell it to the girl every day until she repeated it back.

Lately at night we've been saying it after all our other rituals. First we read a book or two, depending on  how tired I am. Then you like to sing your songs, including You've Got A Friend in Me, Twinkle Twinkle, My Brown Eyed Girl, Reach for the Moon, and sometimes a few others. It's quite a routine we've gotten ourselves into.

Now you like to do the You is Smart.

However, I feel conflicted since You Is, is not the right grammar. I can't really explain that to you right now, and you are learning a lot, so I just decided to say "Olive is" or "You are" just to make myself feel better.

After we do Olive, we move on to LuLu.

"LuLu is smart... LuLu is beautiful... LuLu is important."

You like to move on to Mimi, Aunty Paz, Aunty Nay Nay, Aunty La La, Grandma Shelly, Uncle Brian, Poppykin, and so forth. Phew! Tonight you even went so far as to say The Purple Lady is smart, beautiful, and important. (She is the mean witch from The Little Mermaid.)

But I like it, and I hope it makes a difference someday. After ALL that is said and done, you like to do additional cuddling and then finally I put you in your bed. Sweet Dreams!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What Will You See?

Dear Olive,

I have so many drafts, so many blog posts for you I haven't published. They are all just starts, incomplete... but they are there all the same.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the state of the world. I mean, it's something I have grappled with for years, but there are even more things opening my eyes outside of the devastation that usually brings me down. I think about our future, what kind of security we will have to offer you, and most of all, what kind of world you will live to see.

I don't know how to deal with my feelings, they suffocate me from time to time, and I get overwhelmed and start to drown in the idea that we just blink an eye, and leave this earth behind. What am I contributing? What will be left for you?

But it never fails, that year after year, I come back to the same message that always re-grounds me. I put it up on my different blogs all the time, a reminder to myself and now to you.

It has come to me from different sources, but started with one college professor, Gary Oddou.

Technically, the class was about global business, but more so than that, it was about how to be open minded, look at problems from more than one angle, and how to see our own strengths and weaknesses. We were required to write journals every week, and in one of them I said:

"I want to make a difference in the world, but I just don't know how."

This was his response, scribbled in the margins-

"A difference in the world can happen quietly. A right word spoken here or there. A good example at the right time. These kinds of things aren't as visible as some but can be as or more impactful. Quiet exchanges between 2 people. That's where most of the good is done in the world."

And even though this was years ago, while I was trudging along in school, discouraged at how I was ever going to contribute anything to the world, I still come back to his advice, now almost a decade later.

Olive, when you don't feel like you are getting anywhere, just remember you can always grow where you are planted.