I bought a roasted chicken from the supermarket on Friday. After two weeks of take out Chinese and Indian, frozen soup and stew, and salad, an actual cooked chicken was great. Yes, greasy, but we licked out fingers and grinned. And I ask myself, why haven’t I ever done this before? Tomorrow will make two weeks without a kitchen. When I tell friends who cook of my kitchen-less state, they sigh. The more they cook the more they sigh. I am so glad to see this reaction. I begin to think of myself as quite a wimp to miss my kitchen and its convenience so much. Of course, running upstairs every time I need water is probably good for my thighs. When I asked Julia yesterday what she would like to eat next week, she said salmon and steak. Ya’ think she is missing the kitchen too? I told her we would go out to eat at least one of those things next week.
Julia and I are having a quiet Sunday. We made a schedule and are doing through the items: cleaning (I washed dishes, folded clothes, and took out compost. Julia folded socks, put her clothes away, and collected garbage from waste paper baskets), coloring, math (we did a few pages in her favorite math workbook. Mostly addition. She is getting the simplest of problems. It is very exciting to see her work. She still uses some tangible way to add up numbers, like her fingers or pictures, but she has the concept. She also knows that zero plus a number is that number.), playmobil (I want to get her a new set for Christmas. Having a hard time deciding which one.), walk (A long walk around our bay), reading journal (Julia has been enjoying MArtina, the Beautiful Cockroach, by Carmen Deedy, for most of the week and I really want to see what she decides to draw to represent this book.),and a bath.
Talking to a few parents at last night’s party was good for me. I really have become far more protective of Julia this past year. I have isolated us. I have not reached out for play dates for Julia and have not taken her to that many big gatherings of kids. Part of this is because of the demands of her autism therapy. 20 hours a week takes up so much of our free time. And I also have the perception that she doesn’t measure up to the social abilities of her peers. But last night, I saw that there were some kids who take care of her a bit. And some kids, older and younger that play with her. There was even a parent who asked if Julia could come over to play with her daughter. And she called today to set up the play date. The little girl is a classmate of Julia’s. Last week, this child wrote a story for Julia and Julia drew a picture to give to her. So, just maybe I should look out of our shell a bit.
I went to my first chalice group meeting on Friday morning. I have no idea if other churches, other denomination have such groups. At my church, chalice groups range in size from about six to ten people. They share certain features: the lighting of a chalice; short readings at the beginning and end; a check-in by each member; and a covenant created by the members dealing with how the group will interact. Topics covered are varied. Some are spiritual, some ethical, and some reflect the personal interests of members. It is considered a good way to deepen connections at FUS. I have wanted to join a group for awhile, especially after the grief group that I went to last spring. Generally, I really like the people who are at FUS but it is a big church and for me, finding smaller groups to be a part of is key to feeling in community.
I joined a group based on the time that it meant. Okay, not a rich philosophical decision, but honestly if I need a babysitter to attend meetings, there is very little chance that I will be a regular attendee. I do it for PTO meetings but really nothing else. This chalice group meets one Friday a month at 9 in the morning. Probably because of the time, the group is made up of women who are older than me. I wonder if my wistful writing about the lack of a mother figure made this opportunity seem right. None of them is old enough to be my mother, but older sisters, aunts possibly. I enjoyed talking and listening. I did a bit of spilling my guts as I am sure most new comers do. I could see how I have changed in the last few months. Talking about David’s death has changed. It is now in the past. David is in the past. For the longest time, I was still saying “we” about everything. Like I always did. And then, I went through a phase in which I was very conscious about saying “I” even though I still meant “we.” Now, there are things, events, experiences, decisions, for which “I” is the natural and appropriate subject of the sentence. I am not happy about this, but it is not as searingly painful as it was a few months ago.
Next month’s topic is grief and mourning. No, not by my choice. But I did volunteer to read Joan Didion’s new book and to run the meeting. This is no big deal but I have to laugh at myself for an inability to keep my hand down when volunteers are asked for. I like this about myself. Really, I do, but I could have just enjoyed a few meetings before I thrust myself to the front of the line. Of course, the book, Blue Nights, will be released on November 1, and because I knew I will just swallow it whole, this is not a tough assignment. I am sure my biggest problem will be to figure out which passages to read or copy, and how to spark the discussion.
For our strong sitting this morning, Julia asked if she could sit in my lap. And so, she sat crossed-legged with my legs and arms around hers. Before we began, I explained that I usually meditate before she wakes up in the morning and on the weekends I miss this time. When I do strong sitting with her, I usually concentrate on her, but I explained that on weekends, I was going to do my own meditation. We would be together, but I would not correct or put my attention on her. And so, we meditated for 15 minutes and sat together. I felt the full force of her monkey body as she squirmed and shifted in my arms. Every so often and for minutes at a time, she rested her head against my arm and was very still. By the end of it, we were very much in sync and through out this day, we have held onto the feeling.