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I remember December 25, 1996. Kelsea was 24 days old. We put her next to us on the floor as we unwrapped Christmas presents, and suddenly couldn’t find her, because we’d accidentally covered her with wrapping paper (a.k.a., glee debris). We immediately uncovered her, and she was happy as a little clam the whole time. That was a lovely Christmas day, full of family (because family comes where the baby is), and fireplaces, and good brunch, and cuddling, and naps.

The next day, we went to the House Up Top, since we had a second house in Black Hawk at the time. I remember sitting in the big taupe faux suede recliner, holding my baby girl, and watching the news about JonBenet Ramsey. I’ll never forget that…my little girl in my arms, while hearing about another little girl, blonde and beautiful like my own, whose life was snatched away at age six. It chilled my heart and made me hold her a little tighter.

I worked in Boulder. I had gone to school there. I had lived on The Hill. I had walked by that house. Boulder, at the time, felt small and safe. I walked everywhere alone at night without a qualm. People who lived there at the time were still at that six degrees of separation level. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who knew someone…you get the picture. An acquaintance was the stepdaughter of the District Attorney. Everyone was hearbroken. Everyone had an opinion on the case. Everyone followed every development. Everyone thought the police were totally out of their league. This sort of thing never happened in Boulder.

As a new mother, I felt for the Ramseys. I had my own opinions about the case, still do to this day, best left unsaid except to my closest confidantes. The Ramsey’s sold the house, they moved away. The city changed the street number of the house, because once it sold, it still garnered so many looky-looers that the new owners couldn’t take it. It became an albatross in the real estate market. And the Patsy Ramsey died of her recurring cancer. John Ramsey started a new life, and good for him. Patsy and JonBenet are buried side by side in Georgia.

jonbenet_ramsey

JonBenet Ramsey, age 4 or 5-ish

I know it has been 20 years since this happened, an anniversary. But I am disgusted by the massive amount of attention that the media is taking in this case, starting last month, and no doubt continuing through the year’s end. Maybe it’s only been three shows and some new stories, but I feel they’ve been constantly repeated for weeks. It’s all about ratings, I guess. I know that a lot of people who are in Boulder now weren’t there then, but for those of us who were, having such pieces be promoted (I haven’t been able to watch them) dredges up sorrow and pain that it has taken years to settle uncomfortably with. Maybe even by writing this, I’m giving validity to those bringing up old wounds, but I had to say my piece.

None of these exposes and “new” investigations are going to identify her killer. Nothing will bring her back. I think it’s time that we all let JonBenet rest peacefully. Whoever killed her will have to live with her blood on their hands until their last breath. After 20 years, that is, I think, punishment enough. Let’s not punish her spirit, and the rest of us who live with the memories.

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Kelsea at age 4 or 5

 

 

 

Kelsea left for college early on Saturday morning. In my characteristic parenting style, when she and ex-Pat came to pick me up, I gave her what I thought was Immodium to calm her nervous stomach. It turned out to be a sleeping pill. Oops. But her stomach did calm down, and she was relaxed for the flight, and she now has another story about what her Mother did to her. Let’s see, there’s the finger guillotine incident, the asparagus incident, the Icy Hot incident, the smoke detector incident, the birds at the zoo incident, the numerous incidents at Camp Lejeune…I could go on and on. At least she will have some classic tales to tell her children, and she knows what NOT to do.

It is hard to watch your only child leave for college, a strange feeling, buying a one-way plane ticket and sending her off on her own. I know she’ll make her own mistakes, experiments, and have her own heartbreaks. I know she’s smart and level-headed, wiser than her years, and ready. That’s the thing. We spend our years with our children nurturing them, helping them discover themselves and their limits, and teaching them how to be independent. As my friend Beth put it, giving them their wings. That doesn’t make it any less heart-tugging to watch them fly away. I miss her. She misses me, which is nice to hear. We’ve got Skype set up so we can see each other’s faces, and I can see her in her now-natural habitat. Classes start on Thursday, and she gets to go throw with some Ultimate players that day as well. She’s talked to the fire department about starting training. She’s got it more together than I did at her age, and I’m so immensely proud of her. I can’t wait to see how she continues to grow and evolve. We are all beautiful works in progress.

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Bellingham, Washington.

Quote of the day: “Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.” —  Melissa Marr

Daily gratitudes:
Sunflowers
My chiropractor
The last day of summer (a bittersweet gratitude)
My little workhorse of an air conditioner
Soft pillows

Kelsea and I had a lovely weekend together in Steamboat Springs – one of our traditional mother-daughter trips, consisting of too-early morning risings for the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, breakfast, walks, rodeo, naps, explorations, and bad late-night television. We talked and talked. And I got a little weepy on my way home, as it will be hard for me when she goes to college. Rightly or wrongly, she’s one of my dearest friends as well as my daughter. I will miss her.

Twinsies1
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.” — Donald Miller

Daily gratitudes:
How much I laugh with my daughter
Music
Flocks of seagulls in strange places
Open roads
Social and philosophical discussions

My darling daughter starts her senior year in high school tomorrow. It’s a strange thing. I remember being her age so vividly, and now I am seeing it from my Mother’s perspective. Athough Kelsea is different than I was at 17. It is so hard to comprehend her leaving home in a year. Perhaps for me, since she has not been with me full-time since I left ex-Pat’s house, and since I have always worked so much, and therefore seen less of her than your average mom, it will be a little easier. But the closer we get to the day she leaves, the more that feels like an untruth. I am so grateful that I did not miss these last years with her – yes, that was an option when I was under the spell of deceit in my previous relationship. I would not trade where I am now in my life with her – and with MKL – for anything. Not for all the islands in the world.

As she looks to the West for her future, I see her future through the strands of my own memories. New friends, first loves, that sense of freedom and power that comes from being truly on your own for the first time. Philosophy discussions. Term papers. Dorm food. Calling Mom for instructions on laundry and cooking. Walking to class on cold wet mornings. Learning a new city. Finding your way.

And I see her past. Standing at the sliding glass doors with Tug, bobbing up and down as her Daddy came home. Feeding her in the bar sink at the beach house. Her wearing her little pumpkin suit on her first Halloween. Coaching her on her first word. Playing restaurant. Teaching her to ride a bike. White blonde hair in summer. Finger painting. Blowing bubbles. Bathtimes. Reading all the Harry Potter books together. Mother-Daughter trips. Cuddling in thunderstorms. Jumping waves. Hugging next to horizons of sunflowers and darkly phosphorescent seas.

A long time ago, there was a country song by Suzy Bogguss about a girl going off to college and how her mother felt. Even before I had a child, that song made me cry. When the time comes to pack up my girl and set her free for parts distant, I suspect I’ll be playing that song a lot. (And you may see a few more sentimental posts on this blog.)

I have always said that there is an invisible silken strand that connects a mother’s heart with her child’s – my heart with her heart. She spoke that back to me a few weeks ago, and I was surprised and moved that she had heard me say it, had remembered it, and felt it too. The first time I experienced the strength of the strand was when ex-Pat took her to a family reunion. She was five years old. I had to stay behind to work. I felt so strange the whole time they were gone. She and I missed each other, and the strand stretched all the way from her heart in California to mine in Colorado. Stretched fine and thin, but as strong as ever. Perhaps even stronger for the distance.

I will treasure the days until she leaves, rejoice with her when it’s time for her to go, and cherish the strength of the strand.

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Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” — Ayn Rand

Daily Gratitudes:
That I was glowing today
AAA
Always carrying a book with me
MKL
Clawfoot bathtubs

At Water’s Edge

When I am old
And feeling softly lost
Among the silver strands of hair
That stroke my face like slender reeds
At water’s edge

will you take my hand and draw me
through this tender abyss
captivating raptures as we weave our way
between the littered stars?

will you loosen the twigs
that tangle in the tresses of my spirit as it
drifts across the silent sound
coyly toying with the watchful herons?

will you hold me as I
ramble in and out of spatial palaces
and ramshackle rooms
built and filled with dreams and memories?

And
Will  you let me slip sylph-like
Into a permanent moonlight
Recalling the simple color of my eyes
When I am
Finally
old?

I have been working 2 or 3 jobs for the past 11 years.  I have gone back and forth between being okay with it, and feeling like it’s killing me.  Right now, I’m at two jobs…. and I’m over it.

I have been at my second job for 8 years.  For a long time, it was a labor of love.  But for the last year or so, I have been wanting to quit.  It kept me going when I was unemployed, so I was glad I didn’t quit before I got laid off.   It has been helpful in buying the house, and the extra income made little luxuries (like maybe plane tickets) possible.  Last year, when I thought we were going to go away this year, I was so relieved to think that I wouldn’t have to do the job for another year.  Well, as I’ve said before, life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.

These days, I feel like I’m just not doing a good job at this job.  I let things slide.  I got (another) lecture from my boss last night about it.  And these days, even though we’re friends, I feel like sometimes he’s judgemental of me in ways that I don’t need or agree with.

Then I think that maybe I still need that extra income.  The job has been really flexible from a time perspective, which another part-time job might not offer.  But I almost dread going to work. I am so aware that I’m not doing a good job that it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I keep thinking I just need to be more disciplined, more organized, more dedicated, but nothing seems to work to motivate me.

I don’t know what to do.  I would prefer to go out on a high note, like John Elway leaving the Broncos after two Super Bowl wins, but I think it’s too late for that.  I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it – and I don’t think that’s the problem.  It’s that I’m burned out and don’t want to do it anymore.  I love my full-time job.  The pay is decent.  I’m motivated to go to work, so it’s not like I don’t want to work.  The commute adds a lot of time and energy to my day, and if I didn’t have the second job hanging over my head, I would be okay with that. 

The bottom line is, I don’t want to do the job anymore, but I am scared to let it go – afraid I’ll need the extra money – and I don’t want to admit defeat.  I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it.

So what do I do, readers?  When is it time to let go?

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