Monday, January 15, 2007


"Hi Jane!"

I love hearing children saying this at the dojang. It'll be Matthew or Michele or Jimmy or Georgia standing there, ready to shake my hand, Tae Kwon Do-style. They always have a big smile for me and often have something to tell me, too. ("We're learning long division in school!" or "I slept over at my cousin's last night!")

Sometimes I come to the dojang carrying worries from the day--especially recently. Usually, I'm ready to leave them behind as I bow; other days it's harder.

Saturday was one of those days. Not only did I have class that day, we also had a TKD roller skating party that evening. After talking to the hospice people in the morning ("He's no longer responsive when we talk to him") I wasn't sure I had the physical or emotional energy for either, let alone both.

But I went. Robbie went, too, and when we arrived, those children's voices greeted me again--even before I entered the rink. "Wanna play tag?" asked Matthew as I got out there.

The teens cheered me, too, as they shouted their hellos to me and each other. I got to watch various pairings-off (roller skating is a great excuse for holding hands), which made me smile. Justin and a group of his high school friends goofed off, and when The Macarena began to play, Justin said "Jane, do you remember this?" --we did it together standing over by the coats.

They all reminded me of the joy of now, the comfort of the present moment.

When my mom died, just one week before Christmas, all of us in Cleveland wondered how we'd get through that holiday without her. But it was the children who pulled us through. Bill's girls gave us an excuse to celebrate (their birthdays) in the midst of mom's illness. Ellen's daughter arrived right after Mom died, and my boys did, too. Seeing them after an agonizing week traveling between sick parents in two hospitals brought me back to this world and its joys.

So we did Christmas 2006 for the children. That's what got us through that sad holiday. We took them swimming, tobogganning and skating. We wrapped gifts, and had a luxuriously drawn-out present-opening, on Christmas eve, just like we always did with Grandma and Mom.

If one thing will get me though this difficult season, it will be children, mine and others', keeping my grief balanced with hope.

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