Of Crusts and Crying; Little Angels showered in love.
Photo: Little 5 year old Oliver and 3 year old Sadie enjoy looking at a ladybug outside of The Nelson Gallery's expansive lawn....Kansas City, Missouri
I should be so lucky to be faced now with the insignificant pain of writers block when so many in my family are enduring true pain, true loss and true sorrow.
Winds of change have swept into my family. Sometimes they blow to topple and knock down for a bit and other times…..other times those winds…sweep away.
There are times on my voyage that remind me of the day of the passing of my grandmother. I was 8 I believe and a phone call sounded from inside the house (I was playing outside with my dog Blacky)…a sound I normally never hear. I mean I’m outside, the phone inside.
But in this day I heard it. Like a siren. At the very same moment, Blacky looked at me, solemnly and he had calmed down to the point of near “sleepy-dog-ness”. This was a Labrador, a wild one at that. Blacky was never sleepy.
So strange was his demeanor…that I sat down on the very edge of my “terraza” and began to pet him. Normally this would throw Blacky into spasms of delight. Not this day.
On this day he was preparing to tell me something.
I heard my mother say “Ayyy, la pobre!” And I looked into Blacky’s eyes and they were saying; “it will be OK” (not easy mind you, but OK.
My Grandma passed away. It would be the first time I would see my father cry. Mommies cry, and I had seen my mommy cry lots of times. But loss is loss and fathers and sons are not exempt from its power.
Last week as I crossed the last few miles of Missouri and headed to the Kansas Border….strong winds were blowing east. I was walking west.
So strong were they that for five days my face had not seen the sun. Covered up I was minus my glasses peering out, as the rest of my body built up sweat from no less than 12 layers of clothing head to toe (4 layers on legs, 4 around my upper body, two on my head and face and even two pairs of gloves).
With the windchill, the temperature read 20 degrees on one particular day. On that day gusts were being clocked at 40 miles and hour. Mostly I was walking against a steady wind at 30!
My plan was to do 7 days of this. But on the 5th day, the spirit of the crossing was diminishing. The winds were not slowing down. I had had a lovely, epic, challenging time…but it was time to stop.
I listen to inner voices when to stop and when to start. Consequently I start and stop a lot. On this day, Saturday, there was something that was telling me, it was time to break.
As the sun set, the family that was to pluck me from out on the cold that day… called to tell me to turn around. I did. And at that moment, round 5 something, the moon was in eclipse. A sight that could be seen the world over.
An event, like my Blacky settling down, like the winds that inexplicably blew for 5 days straight….that rarely takes place!
Just one hour later, the call would come from Miami….a call that would stop time,…it was my sister…telling me of another event taking place that rarely happens, is never hoped upon and is without understanding.
Our cousin….three year old Alyssa… was in a coma.
In the middle of my five day crossing into the state of Kansas I had been connected thru a friend to a family I had never met that would take me in and shuttle me around on two of the windiest days.
They have two precious kids; one a vivacious 5 year old boy named Oliver and a remarkably pudgy-cute-as-can-be 3 year old girl named Sadie.
Little Sadie has this infectious laugh that rolls for minutes. Until it blows up into a massive guffaw..that defies the little lungs it is emanating from.
She wore two high pig tails and a mess of colorful clothing, striped leggings and plastic beads and toted around a small green “blankie” as well as a doll named La-Fonda!
As word came in about the pain and panic setting in at Miami Children’s hospital…my mind went blank until I arrived at their door and Sadie was there transfixed to a cartoon…she turned and smiled.
It was all I could do to keep my composure.
The next day was a total anomaly. Sunny, warm. I even had the chance to eat outside on the porch. One layer. No wind. A strange peace had descended.
I ate my grilled cheese sandwich across from Sadie who was dipping hers in her tomato soup…mimicking her brother Oliver. Only Sadie had trimmed triangles without the crust and Oliver had his in long rectangles.
A few minutes earlier, I saw Sadie quizzically eye my sandwich which still had the side crust intact. As if to say; “I thought all sandwiches were neatly trimmed like mine!”
Small children can simultaneously be the greatest source of happiness and sadness.
Their happiness and victory in anything they do brings us the ultimate in filling our “joy” cup and overflowing our emotions to the point of feeling like we are walking on air.
Their sadness (over anything…blankies included) and defeat in anything they do, has us promising to do anything it takes to bring back that smile.
In either case, the parents have an active roll in their learning. They (both Alyssa and Sadie) could experience sadness and happiness because they know the extremes of both. To know sadness and loss you must know happiness, to know happiness and victory you must know sadness.
As you can imagine most three year olds cry almost violently when they cant get what they want. I say most because some, sadly don’t get that love. And that is indeed more horrific than anything that could ever be inflicted upon an innocent child.
And there in lies the only truth that matters.
Alyssa and Sadie are and will always be fortunate and in loving hands because we know that they experienced that unequivocal and unconditional love and are still very much in a world of innocence and clouds.
One is puzzled about a triangled grilled cheese sandwich that still hasn’t been relieved of its side-crusts, the other one now looks down from the heavens at a father and mother and wonder why they cry.
From their standpoints….they cannot understand a reality with crusts and crying. What they don’t know or cant understand is that a world without crust and crying can only be protected, delivered and prepared by loving parents.
Alyssa was loved without a shadow of a doubt. She knew only happiness and love and knew her two loving parents.
Many of us, as hard as it may seem to some….aren’t as fortunate or as with life, they are exposed to things even parents cant protect us from.
With love (my dear little cousin)…Cesar Alex
I have asked a friend who is the president of The Native Plant Society to procure a rare little slow growing, but strong little tree with its nickname “The Tree of Life”. It is a native of south florida and can be found in the Caribbean. It is called Lignumvitae. It is on the threatened and endangered list and so each time it is planted is a small victory and I think a fitting little memorial that when the time is right we can plant somewhere in Alyssa’s honor.
Cesar Becerra, Columbia, Missouri