Saturday, May 21, 2011

Turtles, Teens, and other oddities of Nature

File this one under: random notes at 1 am.

I love this turtle.

For the past week we've been turtle sitting for friends of ours who are on vacation. The turtles name is Corneilius Talmadge, but we call him Corny.. or, The Turtle. Last year we had him for three weeks.. this year, we've had a sparse week with my little shelled friend. I'm going to be devastated when his owners retrieve him! Each morning he greets me with swimming strokes and chomps on food sticks taken ever so delicately from my hand. By noon he is perched on his rock, head held proudly, surveying his domain. At some point in the day, I will catch him harassing his tank mate, a slow and stately catfish. And at another point, I'll bust out laughing as I walk by his tank and find him propped like an abandoned car, both right fins tucked in, listing on his rim. Corny, when you move back to Maine, remember me? And come visit again soon. I'll miss you.
Teens are not for the faint of heart. They will scare you, daily. Sometimes with death defying stunts. Sometimes with decisions that are so poor you want to give them food stamps. Sometimes with logic that is terrifying because it is right. The eyes of the un-jaded see lots of things that we have immuned ourselves to.
And sometimes they will scare you because you see in them an honesty, a purity and a determination that you know you have lost. And you will look at them and say "I was like that once, and now I'm not. How did that happen? And if I'm not them? Who am I?" And that, my friends, is the abyss looking in to you.
I'm blessed with two amazing young adults in my life, and as much as they drive me crazy, they keep me sane.
Death happens.
This week has been filled with death for me. That sounds awful, right? But it's not, always, awful.
There was a little boy this week, last Saturday, who passed away from too much medicine. His mother, terrified and not in her right mind, left him under a tree, covered by a blanket in Southern Maine. I don't know how he died, or why she gave him the medicine. I don't know if she meant to kill him, or if she thought twice about the dosage, or why she didn't just call the EMTs. He died, and twice that day, I drove by him, not even knowing he was there. Drove by on my way to and from a play date with friends and a total of 6 boys of our own, aged 11 months to 13 years.

Someone I know is dying of cancer. Someone I've known a long, long time. Someone who wrote me letters when I was a scared single mother in Georgia, someone who makes me laugh, and who I can pick up a conversation with after weeks, months, years of not seeing each other. She's younger than me, barely. She doesn't have kids, which is a blessing. There's no rhyme or reason to her death, it just is. I knew it was coming weeks ago, but she didn't want to admit it so I didn't either. I thought about taking the kids to see her, but why? They barely know her, and I doubt she'd want them to see her so sick. I'll go, though. I'll bring the cards she sent me 14 years ago, and pictures from a few years before that. And I'll tell her it's ok. And that I love her, and that I'll miss her. But mostly, that it's ok.

And then tonight, two little deaths.

I talked to my niece for hours today. She is an amazing young woman, and I'm proud to be in her circle of trust. And I miss the days when the biggest decision she had to make was whether or not to ride her scooter while carrying a sword. (she did. She lived through it.) Not a little girl anymore.

On my way to drop off my niece, I stopped to pick up my son. I found him holed up in an office, above the pub I frequent. Tonight was MAGICK night, and he was playing card games until curfew. When I got there he was sitting around a table, kicked back in a chair. Everyone in the room was at least 3 years older than him. As I entered, one player looked at me suspiciously, ready to throw me out. I pointed at my son. "He's mine." I said. "Time to go."
Tris gathered his things. The defensive young man relaxed. "You're taking him home?" he asked.
"Yep." I said.
"Good." said the player. "He kicked my ass, and I want to rethink my strategy before I play him again.

And there's my little boy, hanging out with the big kids. Doing the right thing, being smart, having fun. Not a little boy anymore.

So, gone are the days when these two young people were little kids. When they ran through the grocery store head butting peoples shopping carts, flapping their arms and yelling "Look out! We're Buffalo Chickens!"

And here are the days of their first jobs, and how to spend the money. Of leaving behind friends that are bad for you and carrying through the friends that love you best, no matter how far apart you grow.

When I was the same age the kids are now, I met my friend who is dying for the first time.
A thousand dreams, a million years, several lifetimes ago, and yesterday.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

This post is so beautiful. I'd like to say more about it, but I don't have adequate vocabulary, so I'll leave it at that: So. Beautiful.