Friday, July 25, 2008

The river

My mom and I both have memory problems. She can't remember enough, and I remember too much. Phone numbers--all the way back to middle school. Dates? Easy. I remember when things happened, how they happened, who was there...Test me. Really. My closest friends here? I first talked to M in the basket aisle at Joanne Fabrics, where she was just checking out the selection because she likes to keep a stash on hand for gift baskets (she's organized like that!). R? I first watched her sketch during a sermon at church, then afterwards, on our way to our cars, the Beve introduced us. Beve was her daughter's counselor. R said, "Maybe we can get together sometime," and I answered flippantly, "Let's do lunch." We didn't have that lunch for another two years. And K was the children's ministry director--we talked in the hallway about 3rd grader SK's Sunday school teacher. She told me SK would love her, even if she was the only girl in a class of boys.

The point is I remember. So on a day such as this, a date with a history, the river goes back a long ways--about 23 years wide and deep as one young woman's life. See, today is E's birthday. And I remember the whole river of it: the birth-day, which I'd been waiting for, longing for, for not merely nine months, but especially the 3 extra weeks, particularly the 36 sweaty hours working to meet her. I remember her first birthday, on the patio of the college dorm where we lived. E, surrounded by friends and family, dipped her chubby fist into that chocolate cake and didn't come up until there was nothing but crumbs. I remember the little family parties, and the big ones with friends. Shoot, there are 23,000--23,000,000 memories in my head about her right this moment. Moms are the keepers of their children's lives in a way. All these events--her first day of pre-school, her first haircut (though that's actually memory for her Grammie, were she still alive to tell it--but I've gotten over it, really I have.), her first bus ride (I packed her a snack for the long ride home and she got in trouble for eating on the bus! And E--more than anything--hates getting in trouble!), her learning to play the clarinet, the piano, drive the car (wreck the car!), and all--ALL--those sports she played, from T-ball to basketball. It's a running film through my head--all the way to this last weekend when she and SK sang at D's wedding. What a moment to add to the river.

But what I know most is that through all those moments, E was herself. That's the river--that she is who she is in the midst of every experience. That's' what's in my head. Of course we all are, in a way. But she really was. See, there were no bumps in the road with E. If she'd had voice to speak on her birth-day, the tone would have been steady and calm. Glad to be here, certain of life. Yes, that's it--confident. Unfailingly confident, actually. Like the Beve. Her river just moves steadily through the hills and valleys without any tumultuous water. Seeing things from others' points of view, avoiding the waves of conflict. Me? Shoot, I'm a roller coaster in comparison. J & SK? Cut from my cloth--our boats are always rocking. But E, at 2, was managed by a pointed finger and a head nod. And E at 23, manages her own life exactly that way--trusting, believing, waiting. Making lists, being organized, doing the job.

I get overwhelmed by all the memories in my head at times. But then I think--there He is, the keeper of all our memories. The keeper of our lives. He gave me E, gave me her life to enjoy and remember. And He knows it--knows her, me, all of us--better than I do. Whether one remembers it well (like me), or not at all (like my mom), our lives are safely in His hands. Your life, E, your future is safely in His hands. It's the same river, after all. And that's a pretty good birthday gift--every year!

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