weigh heavy

I normally don't share writing from my journal, but this is an exception. My friend was senselessly murdered by strangers (and mere kids, at that) several years ago. It was in late summer, and so every year as the heat rises, so do memories of this friend. I can think only of him lately, so that's what I've been writing about, too.

For a group of kids in the southeast, this time of year begins to weigh heavy on us. We're not kids anymore, I suppose, but in my mind we will always be suspended in time, back to those days when we were young and foolish, and every day was an adventure we took on together. Some people would discount those days due to the haze of drugs and late nights that seemed to fuel the friendships we were forming. But through the years, as we moved past the drugs and the long summer days, our friendships grew with us, and outlasted the years of our youth. Today most all of us are still close. Trials have tested us, and some of our ties have loosened from the burdens of the years, but even if some of us are not as close, we would surely say we are inextricably linked, because we all had Brett. And we all lost him, too.

Most of the world never met him, but for those of us who called him friend and brother, we were changed by knowing him. Let me tell the rest of you out there about Brett Lanier. He was a fantastic musician. He wrote piles of songs - the music and the words. His lyrics were sharp with wit and heart-pricking emotion. Upstairs in his parents house, in a carpeted office room over the garage, Brett sat for hours, folded in an origami shape as he bent over his guitar until it came out right. He loved listening to music with the same ferocity as he loved creating it. He drove a green - almost turquoise - pickup truck and when he arrived at his destination would sometimes stay in the cab, listening intently, until the song ended. He had conversations about music - picking it apart to see what made it work so well. He contemplated meanings of ambiguous lyrics and pondered construction of bridge and chorus.

There was a lot more than the music that made him special, of course. He was kind and thoughtful - a great ally. He'd pick you up if you needed a ride, and always shared what was his with you. He would meet you for coffee and teach you what he knew about writing lyrics, even if you were half crazed on caffeine and nearly living at the diner. What I mean is, and I'm sure you know this to be true - it's impossible to capture him in words. As my memories slip and slither and I try to grasp just what it was that made him him, I can't.

As the summer ripens and we are all covered with sweat, and nostalgia hangs thick in the air, our minds turn to Brett. It was in the summer that we spent the length of our days together - an unstoppable gang of misfits, dirty hippies, and wandering souls. Wherever we went, our tribe took the shape of the place - anyone could see that we belonged to one another. And so now, in the summer, when we memorialize his unfair and untimely death, we mourn for the part of us that is missing. Our friend, our brother in spirit, lives on inside our hearts. We carry his legacy with our stories of his life, and together we can remember him wholly. He will always be our Brett, the kid we miss the most.


enjoy every drop

As summer rages on, things that have begun to grow are now taking off at a quick clip. Our time here in Tennessee is coming to a close. We are moving to Georgia in a few weeks, that's it! I can't quite believe it. I am looking forward to the change, and to living just one mile from my best friend; Jamie and I have not lived in the same city for nearly ten years. I'm excited to see how our time together unfolds, and I look forward to growing alongside her, once again close in proximity. I'm also a little scared of moving, to be honest. When we moved here I experienced a deep depression that was difficult to overcome. Counseling helped tremendously, and at least now I know that if I find myself in a dark place again, I can always seek help.  
This week we celebrated Evelyn's first birthday! I made a birthday banner, and completed it at 10pm the night before her big day. I love this little girl - it is fascinating to see her personality blossom. Mothering is so much harder than I ever imagined it would be, and its joy runs deep as well. I experience such moments of presence and wholeness, watching my baby pull to standing, or listening to Finn learn to craft sentences. It is incredible - the humanity, the learning, the growing, the trying, the frustration, sadness, and exaltation. These tiny beings experience it all so greatly, and they are wise teachers. I also find it humbling and enlightening to hear my words come back to me from my son's mouth. There are definitely some spots that I need to work on, I realized when I heard him say to his sister, "baby, that's terrible!"
Life is abundant now, in summer, and as a parent of young ones. Now is the time of rampant growth and uncontrollable yearning. I look forward to the times ahead, when the river won't rush quite so fast, but I'm also trying to enjoy every drop as it passes.

What's growing rampantly in your life? What are you enjoying?


what could have been

I must have jinxed myself on that last one - talking about writing. Shortly thereafter I took a too-long writing break. I am still trying to get out of that funk, and struggling terribly. I'm reading a great book, which you might think would be encouraging, but it scares me. How does the author do it? What were the steps? This book is so well-written that I fall into it effortlessly and stay submerged, living a double life, catching some air to cook food or tend to my children, but all the while longing to get back to the characters and the story.

I can only hope to one day write something that amazing!

Meanwhile, my life in this town is wrapping up as we prepare to move next month. We are moving just two hours away, into a big city. We have only lived here one year but I am reluctant to say goodbye to some wonderful friends. To think that our friendships are only just beginning - what could have been!

Of course I know it's no good to ruminate on the what-ifs. Instead, here's a look at the fun we've been having lately. Hiking, going downtown, and playing in our home.