Goodbyes and Hellos.

My parents leave tomorrow morning.  One might expect me to write, “It seems like only yesterday they arrived.”  But it doesn’t.  Truthfully, I can barely remember their arrival six days ago.  It’s as if I’ve been living in a heady fog the past week.  What I do know is that their presence has been instrumental in allowing me to do what needed to be done.  Indeed, since their arrival we have prepared for and undertaken the largest of our three moves, cleaned our home, supervised carpet cleaning, donated (more) goods to Amvets, appraised our vehicle, ensured we will have health insurance abroad, paid bills, canceled and made reservations for lodging and rental cars, prepared meals, laundered clothes, etc. But those tasks are simple to complete, requiring only time and attention.

We asked for my parents’ help after we learned that I would be alone with our daughter and our dog for our final move.  My parents first met Blue the day after he was adopted, arriving at my apartment with necessities for any puppy–nail clippers and a bottle of Nature’s Miracle.   As he grew, they provided him a temporary home after I was partially immobilized by a herniated cervical disc and graciously watched my sister’s elderly dog so she could care for Blue while I traveled–domestically and abroad–for work for six weeks.  My parents graciously agreed to help, scheduling their arrival for the day after my Husband’s departure and their departure the day before his return.  As with many best laid plans, life happened.  A week before their arrival, Blue departed for the East Coast and [S] and I were alone together in a nearly empty home.

This past week, my parents have undertaken the difficult work of ensuring [S] remains safe (healthy) and secure (happy) throughout this period of transition during which she’s been separated from her father, her dog and most of her belongings.  My parents have walked with her, played with her, read to her, eaten with her, sung to her, laughed with her, chased her, held her, hugged her, changed her, and snuggled with her.  They have allowed me the time to make phone calls, speak to movers, and instruct cleaners.  And they have given me time each morning to get ready to face the day.  It is exhausting work, as anyone who has minded a toddler knows.

I am indebted to them for their generosity.  They have given freely of their time.  And they have given freely of themselves.  I am honored that they made the cross-country trip to help care for our family.  And I am grateful that my parents were understanding and tolerant of my limited patience, sharp tones and annoyed sighs throughout the week.  I know–as do they–that I can be hard work on the best of days.

Together this week, we not only celebrated Father’s day, but we also celebrated my Father’s birthday.  As we did so I couldn’t help but notice that there was no pomp and circumstance regarding the day.  Rather, as I sat at the car dealership awaiting our appraisal, I asked, “How old are you, Dad?”  He responded with an age that was one year older than I believed him to be.  A moment later I replied, “Happy Birthday.”  He smiled.

This is my parents’ third visit to San Diego.  They have worked hard on each visit.  Their first visit was shortly after the birth of our daughter and we were frantically searching for a new home.  They watched [S] as we viewed apartments and even accompanied us to various properties.  The second visit was when my Husband was away on business; they helped tend to [S] and care for Blue.  As long as I’ve known them, my parents have worked through any circumstances presented, regardless of the magnitude of challenge or the number of curveballs thrown.  They taught me to do the same.

Today, I managed a few moments to consider those changeups pitched in my life.   As I did so, I acknowledged that I am uniquely prepared to handle whatever comes my way.  Growing up, I watched my parents ride out the choppy waves of life and make it to shore unscathed.  And as an adult they counseled me to keep going–to do what I needed to do to move forward.

I believe it fitting that I am able to experience calm during a period of utter chaos in my life with my parents at my side.  For they taught me how to manage–how to persevere–regardless of circumstances.

Saying goodbye to my parents will be difficult.  But as my Father reminded me this evening, we’ve already done it once earlier this year, when we thought we were saying our final farewells stateside.  And my Mother toasted to New Beginnings over a glass of wine.  While their words remained unspoken, I heard the message in my heart, “Keep going, Kimberly.  Keep going.”

#GreatestGiftEver.

A Father’s Day to Remember

FullSizeRender(42)

My husband is a Father.  In the mornings before leaving for work, he feeds our daughter breakfast before he prepares his own meal.  After work, he oftentimes takes her for a walk while dinner is being prepared and gets her ready for bed while the kitchen is being cleaned.  And on the weekends he morphs into Super Dad.  He runs errands with her, he feeds her, and, if the occasion warrants, he naps with her.

Children of all ages know–and thrive off of–love.  And [S] knows her father’s love.  Her favorite word is Dada.  And she lights up when she hears him arrive home after a long day of work.  Indeed, in our now former home, the opening of our garage door in the evening set off a predictable chain of events.  Blue barked and whimpered with excitement, spurring [S] to look towards the garage entrance softly chanting, “Da-da, Da-da, Da-da.”  A heartwarming tableau to be certain.

This Father’s Day, my husband’s work necessitates his being away from his family.  And the result is palpable.  [S] is fussy and I am cranky.  They say the best thing a man can do for his children is to be a good husband to his wife.  And Russell is the personification of a good husband–loving and caring, kind and thoughtful.  His absence magnifies his no-holds-bar approach to fatherhood.  [S] misses his dramatic diaper changes and his unique culinary concoctions; she misses his arms that hold her and his voice that soothes her.  As do I.

But this Father’s Day has also been a gift to me, of sorts.  Indeed, this Father’s Day I am able to spend the day with my Father.  I’m able to watch him nurture his granddaughter as he nurtured me.  Perhaps what is most telling about our relationship is that, nearly 25 years past the age of majority, I still find myself asking him for his thoughts, his advice and his insight on many, many matters.

On several occasions during his visit, my Father has mentioned a sign hanging on the office door of my professor brother, stating, “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they do.”  It is the close corollary to Robert Fulghum’s, “Don’t worry that your children never listen; worry that they are always watching you.” The greatest gift my Father gave me was being a good husband to my Mother.  Indeed, growing up my Father was present, active and interested in my life, just as he is now.

As I watch my Husband teach, nurture and interact with [S], I am assured of his future legacy.  He will have modeled unadulterated love–for both his wife and his daughter.  A gift to her; a gift to me.  He is a Father in the truest sense of the word.

Happy Father’s Day, Russell.

Happy Father’s Day,  Father.

Thank you.

Save American Lives.

Another national tragedy.  More lives lost to senseless gun violence.  Those who believe the ownership of guns should remain unfettered will proffer that the gun didn’t kill, the gunman killed.  Lone wolf theories will negate the need for gun control legislation.  The shooter’s mental health will be trumpeted as the reason for the shooting, not his access to a firearm.  And no doubt some will suggest parishioners carry firearms into houses of worship because only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.  But those people miss the point.

If you understand the need for reasonable restrictions on firearms, act.  Call or write your congressional representative or Senator and let them know your support for appropriate and timely legislation.

Sayonara San Diego!

Us at Cabrillo National Monument
Us at Cabrillo National Monument

When I looked at my calendar the other morning, I noted that it is officially the beginning of the end.  We are past mid-month, closer to leaving the United States than not.  Since we learned of our impending departure from the city, my Husband and I play the “What will you miss about San Diego?” game at random.  We might be on a family walk, in the car or sitting on our couch when the query arises.  For me, the answer is simple:  the weather. I will miss the city’s cooling marine layer in the mornings and its warming sunny blue skies in the afternoon.  I will miss the low humidity–and the corresponding lack of mosquitoes– in the summer.  I will miss winters cool enough to warrant a fire in our fireplace, but warm enough to need only a sweater and sleeveless fleece outside.

But the beauty of San Diego’s weather is deeper than surface temperatures.  The city’s year-round temperate temperatures allows nature to beckon at whim.  Hardly a day passes rendering San Diego’s beaches unwalkable, its ocean unswimable, or its trails unhikable.  My Husband and I took our first proper hike together up to Sterling Pond in Stowe, Vermont, but it was here I caught the hiking bug.  We hiked on my birthday (Mount Woodson); we hiked on his birthday (Iron Mountain); we hiked with Blue (Cowles Mountain); we hiked with Sophie (Torrey Pines State Reserve); and we hiked with visitors (whatever suited their desire).

It is here I accomplished a longstanding goal of mine, in large part, because of the weather.  I trained for, and completed, my first 5k.  My trainer–my Husband–took me on runs all over the city.  We ran around Lake Miramar; we trained trail running at Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve; we ran to the Sorrento Valley post office; and, we ran around Fiesta Island.  And in our downtime we walked the city’s beaches and piers.

San Diego’s weather also enriched our dining experiences.  Fresh local ingredients graced our plates year-round and we had our choice of outdoor farmers’ markets at which to shop.  Handpicking heirloom tomatoes and finding perfectly ripened strawberries inspires healthier eating and innovative recipes.  And, yes, since living here we eat at–and enjoy eating at–vegan restaurants.  Dining al fresco is a multisensory experience, indulging our palates amid the city’s natural aesthetic. Indeed, the tuna I ate at George’s was second to the locale of the meal.  And I seek out local restaurants based upon their view of the Pacific just because I can.

In Cayman, I walked the beach almost every day, soaking in the beauty of the Island with each step.  It was calming, meditative and quite hot at times.  As I prepare myself for another tropical destination, I am mindful of the heat and humidity accompanying the beckoning pristine blue waters.  I know there are many things I won’t miss about America’s Finest City–being far from family, small parking spaces, bad Chinese food–but I know I will never be the same after living here.  And I know that a part of me will always yearn for the cooling breezes and the warming sun of San Diego.

The Week When Time Stood Still

love-never-fails

It’s been a week.  To be truthful, it’s only been six days.  But it seems like a lifetime ago.  One week ago I wrapped my arms around my husband as we awaited the movers’ arrival.   One week ago I heard the reassuring jingle of Blue’s collar throughout our home.  One week ago I placed [S] in her highchair to feed her breakfast and in her crib to go to sleep.

Since the departure of my husband and our dog, [S] and I have been trying to find ways to fill the massive void.  She cries.  And I try using anything and everything to distract her from the stark realization that her life as been upended temporarily.  She grabs my socks; I play sock puppet.  She wants to eat standing up; I go with it.  But at night, when she is the most tired, my magic fails.  For it is my husband who typically changes her last diaper of the day, bathes her, reads to her, and gives her a bottle.  [S] and I have a similar routine until after she finishes her milk.  Then I put her down, drowsy but awake, and she lays there for a few minutes until she begins crying as loud as possible.  Yes, I have white noise in the background.  (Yes, that is why I can’t use  my phone in the evenings.)  Yes, the room is dark.  She is full, clean and sleepy.

She’s sleeping in a Pack n Play that is hard no matter how many quilted sheets and blankets I layer.  Her room has been stripped of her favorite hanging butterfly mobile and the silly painting of a blue dog.  And no matter what I do, I am not her father.  So I sit on one of our rigid dining room chairs and hold her chest-to-chest.  She turns her head side to side and rests.  I put her down.  And the situation is repeated.  Some nights, only one more time; other nights more times than I care to remember.  She is seeking comfort.  And in that moment, that is all I want to give her.  Use my body, I think, as she tosses and turns to get comfortable.  Listen to the calming rhythm of my heartbeat. Feel the warmth of my body against yours.  Know the strength of the arms that hold you.

As for me, this week has been incredibly long.  But it’s also been immensely insightful.  My brother and his two sons drove more than 10 hours to collect Blue.  Upon returning home, my sister-in-law has sent us daily updates, videos and pictures of Blue in his new digs.  A friend in Greenwich has rang or texted me each day this week inquiring how our girls staycation is faring.  My dear friend from childhood threatened to fly out for the weekend to keep me company.  My husband’s mother and sister have been ringing to see how I’m holding up given Blue’s departure and Russell’s absence.  A longtime friend in Cayman wrote wanting to know how we were doing.  My parents arrive tomorrow to help with our next and final move.  And today, in response to learning of sad and disappointing news, my girlfriend from law school left a message saying, in part, “I’m concerned because you’re alone.”

It’s true. [S] and I are here alone.  And it has been a long and emotional week.  But I’ve never felt more warmth and comfort from afar.

Thank you.

#lovewins.