Birthdays are weird. They hold the most vulnerable, hidden, hardest parts and the most lovable, shining ones. Birthdays make a mess of nostalgia, secret disappointments, big wishes, and raw mortality. Something about hoping for more than ordinariness feels like a set up. You dream beautiful dreams and then you get rained out or your kid gets sick... sometimes, life is just like that. Then a beloved surprises you with flowers, or a long distance visit. Life is like that too. Or maybe it's that my birthday is sister to Autumn, the often emotional turning towards the dark, swampy, rich harvests and shedding skins. Or maybe it's that my birthday is my grandmother's, so no birthday is ever celebrated without loss.
This past year has been one of the sweetest, and one of the hardest of my life. I have blossomed into myself as a mama, partner, guide, and friend. I have learned more about how deeply I grieve, and in turn touched a deeper love. I have held great faith, protected my optimism, and opened the door again and again to hope. I have felt scared and alone, in this time of the "broken village". I work really f*ing hard, on a lot of levels. I am SO grateful for my life.
It's been a hard year, and a wonderful year. I haven't checked in about my son for a while, well, because it's really vulnerable. Last January he got sick, then we got food poisoning, then in February he developed a cross eye. (Potentially all related or unrelated) By April it transformed into an extremely rare eye condition called Cyclic Esotropia. Short story is his left eye switches from being totally normal, to crossed, every 24 hours. So every other day he's totally fine. And every other day, he's got a cross eye.
The process has been filled with love, struggle, and mystery...
Though I adored tender and silly moments with these incredible women, and swimming naked in a cold river on a true Summer day, my favorite part of the whole adventure was the soundscape of the Appalachian mountains at night. Something about the wet heat, the stars, the woods and creek, and the overpowering symphony of nocturnal singers - it was like retreating to a safe rainforest. I remembered my first conversation with my now husband, when he told me his greatest passion was "listening" (swoon!) and about his interest in finding places in this world where one could listen to an uninterrupted soundscape. It was sweet to remember our "beginning", worlds away.
Departing and still upon return, I find myself in close quarters with grief. Grief about how over-full life is. Grief about finally committing to weaning, of that rushed airport morning being his last "num num" for the rest of his life. Grief about everyone I love aging, and time passing. Grief about how much precious time has been lost to fear, worry, managing. Grief about violence on all levels and the state of the world. I wished to leave all that grief behind, then in classic "Emily" style found myself holding space for others to grieve. Though I left those mountains feeling so, so blessed, I still left with grief close by, like an overly friendly shadow always by my side.
I am lucky enough to...
EMILY FROST is an artist and mentor working with youth and families in the Bay Area. She is the founder of LOVE YOUR NATURE, a movement devoted to girls and women awakening to their inherent wisdom, power, and purpose.