Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the year of living generously

i've mentioned many times how hard this last year has been. in some ways, the grief that we experience with little m not being able to hear has been trumped by the major family changes we are experiencing, and have been rocked by, in the past three months. i don't need to go into details since this is essentially a public forum, and i don't think it's fair for me to talk smack about my dad on here, even if he deserves it. 

i am used to living in earthquake country: the house we live on basically sits on a huge fault-line, and i hardly give it a second thought. of course, even if i am not thinking about it on a conscious level, these faults are still there, lying dormant under my day to day routine. the times these fault-lines have shifted even slightly has, to be honest, freaked me out. i don't like earthquakes. i have been known to jump under a table in a teeny little 4.0 earthquake. (hey, maybe that is just the first one, and another bigger one is to follow...)

most likely there will be a significant earthquake in the bay area in my lifetime - and it will have devastating effects. i kind of feel like my family has been in a massive earthquake. we didn't really realize that there were fault-lines crisscrossing our family, but that didn't change the fact that complete upheaval was brewing right below the surface; it also didn't change how much my siblings, my mom, and countless other friends and family members lives have been inalterably changed by the emotional "earthquake" that hit us a few months ago. (to be honest, it still feels like there are aftershocks on a daily basis.)

you know how every time there is a natural disaster these different people rise to the surface as heroes who save the kid stuck in the house, brave the elements to rescue a stranded family and so on? well, as i think back on the last year, i am humbled by the immense amount of grace, kindness, and generosity i have experienced by the people whose lives intersect my own. it is like you are these unsung rescue workers who have bailed my family and me out of a sinkhole. as i think about these moments of tenderness on your parts, it is impossible to go through each act of generosity and truly recognize it fully. i am pretty overwhelmed by the ways that people in my life have been thoughtful: free houses to stay at to get away from oakland-from sea ranch to tahoe to solvang to cloverdale, anonymous gift cards in the mail to my very favorite stores and coffee shops, meals aplenty after little m was born, thoughtful letters or poems, a brand new washer and dryer (who knew an appliance could bring such joy), hours of free babysitting (and in the beginning months, staying up all night with our newborn when little m would not sleep), gifts for little m left on our doorstep or arriving in the mail, good meals in your homes or in restaurants or bringing by takeout, even better conversations, sharing tears with us as we grieved m's deafness and then as we struggled seeing my extended family so damaged, washing my dishes, the selfless action of giving matt and i the gift of a superfancy foodie meal (hello, chez panisse) instead of a christmas gift to your own spouse, so many text messages, calls, and notes, even when i didn't have the energy to respond. even as i write this i am thinking of other ways that you dear friends have loved on us.

tomorrow is my birthday, and i enter a new year of life without a single doubt in my mind that i am known, loved, and supported. it is pretty humbling, and it encourages me to be generous as well. the fact that your generosity has meant so much to me in a season of pretty much crappiness has shaped who i am entering a new year. i hope i can live a life of generosity, kindness and grace myself. 

thank you.


  1. well written, hoping that we can pass on the generosity that we are experiencing

  2. F that Earthquake and everything that came along with it. I think it was at least a 10.0. Way larger than Loma Prieta.

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