Archive for January, 2017

Somewhere Inside the Rainbow

The sun came out for a little bit today.

But before the sun came out, it rained for forty years. During those forty years, much was lost. At times it was difficult to remember if there had ever been a light upon this earth. All we knew was darkness, and in that darkness we experienced anxiety and fear, bitterness and death, cold and suffering, sleeplessness and extreme fatigue, and sorrow upon heartbreak upon sorrow. At times it was difficult to remember the reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

Do we continue to get up every morning because of the hope that today might be the day that the light returns? Or because even in the darkness, there is living yet to live?

Chris goes to Texas tomorrow for a funeral of one of the finest women I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Her death was unexpected and we grieve along with her husband and family and many friends. We grieve for her magnificent smile, snuffed out so soon. We grieve for the many people that she obviously loved in such a admirable, selfless and unconditional manner. We grieve because of the rain that envelops us and chills us through (even though we are in a drought and desperately need the rain). We grieve with others who are sick and dying and others who have lost loved ones. Death seems to have swallowed us whole this last month.

I have grown old this last month. In my old age, I have mourned the loss of beauty and of youth and of freedom. In my old age, I have searched for myself and my God anew. In my old age, I have contemplated the meaning of life, and of love, and of death.

It is supposed to continue raining for the next four days. I will get up each morning and I will live within the darkness and I will build my fire and I will work. I will schedule meetings and schedule phone calls and schedule other peoples’ lives and manage other peoples’ money. And when I’m done with that, I’ll do dishes and maybe some laundry and cook food and try to keep the fire going.

And next week, the sun will come out again.

I’ll put on makeup and go for long walks on the beach and spend time with lovely people and worship the God who took death to the grave and rose victorious and put his bow in the sky as a sign that the waters shall no more destroy all flesh. I’ll take the medicine he gives me each week in his body and blood. I’ll dance when the music plays and I’ll sing all the lyrics wrong and I’ll continue to type my name “Keskue” instead of “Leslie” when my right hand gets one row off on the keyboard.

And I’ll see this guy, who lights up even the darkest day and is a gentle reminder of life and all the goodness that it has to offer. I’ll talk all googly at him, and I’ll help him find his thumb when he needs it because that’s what grandmas do. We just love and cuddle.

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And I’ll watch as my second grandchild grows inside this girl, while these two continue to grow in their love for one another in their new marriage.

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We heard the new little one’s heartbeat last week. There is life yet to live. Old age may just be the best age yet.

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How to New Year like it’s a Verb

Christmas by the fireOnce upon a time, in 2016, I became a builder of fires. I have lived in homes that had fireplaces before, but never were those fireplaces relied upon to prevent the extinction of the Linebarger family. They were always an extra little pretty thing to burn that would add to the atmosphere of the soft lights and soft music while we sat around and enjoyed the prettiness as well as one another’s company. No more. Now I live on the central coast of California where “mild” weather is enjoyed year-round. This means that not many homes have central heat/air. This means that when the temperature varies slightly from the mild and the daily highs drop from the mid-70’s to the mid-50’s, the inside of our house feels exactly like the outside. And let me tell you, 55 degrees inside a house where I sit for nine-plus hours, working at a desk and not moving a whole lot, does not feel mild. Most times I can’t feel my fingers or toes. And so we make use of our fireplace, which takes a LOT of maintenance. There’s the cleaning it out every morning before starting a new fire, there’s the gentle coaxing of the wood to catch, there’s the constant maintenance of keeping it at a comfortable level once it does catch, there’s the monitoring of the height of the flames so that our neighbors don’t call the fire department when the roof catches fire. It’s hard to look at spreadsheets and financial information all day long, while being constantly distracted by the stoking of the fire. And yet, if I don’t, I freeze.

And then, in 2017, on the tenth day of Christmas, an unexpected thing happened. We recently attended a wedding where my true love unexpectedly let loose. In our almost 25 years of marriage, I can never remember him ever dancing to fast songs at any other wedding EVER. Even before marriage, back in high school, we would go to school dances and he would dance the slow dances with me and then mysteriously disappear during the fun music. But a few weeks ago, he decided it was time to let loose and let loose he did. The only thing is that ever since that wedding (which is now being referred to as THE wedding), we in our house now get to hear stories over and over and over again about the amazing dance moves he brought out at THE wedding. And tonight we sat on our couch, the three of us that are left in our little tiny family, and we watched a tv special that included Bruno Mars. Two of us were talking about what a good dancer Bruno Mars is and how we wish we could make our bodies move like that. The other of us (who shall remain unnamed, but he honestly is my true love) scoffed at us and told us he was every bit as good of a dancer as Bruno Mars and that he can totally move his body like that and he’s had it in him all along and didn’t we see him at THE wedding? Somehow or another (I can’t remember how, exactly), this led to me getting up and showing him what dancing really was while belting out “let your body move to the music,” which led to him telling Alexa (yes, we are now a home with an Alexa as of the first day of Christmas) to play Vogue by Madonna. Which led to all hope being lost for continuing to sit on the couch.

And here I found myself, right here in 2017, after one of the hardest and most exhausting Decembers I can ever remembering having, turning my cold, cold living room with it’s beautiful but inadequate fire, into the place where you can get away. It’s called a dance floor, and here’s what it’s for…

At some point I noticed Grace with her phone in my face and I wasn’t really sure how long she’d been there and I threatened her within an inch of her life if that video ever ended up on the internet. At some point I heard the laughter of my husband going on and on. I love when he laughs in that laugh that is usually reserved only for watching Archie Bunker. I love when I am the one that inspires that laugh. At some point I actually started getting hot in my cold living room, for the first time in over a month and so I took the dance party for one out to the deck. And when the song switched to Express Yourself, I did just that, checking back in every once in awhile to dance circles around my fireplace before dancing back out the door to cool off again. And then I collapsed. And I laid there on my deck in the darkness of January 3rd. And I looked at the lights strung up overhead that were leftover from Sadie’s wedding last year. Dark now, but how beautiful they are when lit. And I looked at my wood pile, so beautiful as the labor of love that it represents from those who gave it to us, covered with a tarp to protect it from the impending rain. And I looked at the sky, filled with rain clouds, which make it seem as if stars have never existed. But I know they exist. I’ve seen them. They’re up there, right here in this universe with me, right here in 2017. And that’s amazing.

Happy 2017 to you. May the remaining two days of Christmas be filled with all the dance parties your hearts desire.

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