To Keeping It All

Last year started out with a bang (or perhaps that was the sound of my front driver’s side tire hitting the curb in the Starbuck’s parking lot, which I thought was no big deal, which caused my tire to slowly leak during my hour-long FaceTime call with my mom, which caused me to be stranded when the call was over)! So from January I will keep the name Devin, the stranger who stopped to help me put the spare tire on my van and get me safely on my way home, the stranger I could’ve hugged but did not.

From February I’ll keep the chorus of mini-Elsas and Annas singing “Let it Go” at a Disney Princess concert I attended with my daughter.

From March I will keep the babble of the baptismal font, the holy water on the forehead of our pandemic baby, baptized at 21 months old on a Monday afternoon.

From April I’ll keep red dirt from Bryce Canyon National Park on my hiking boots, so fine and plentiful that it might be there when I’m 80. (Lord, let me still be hiking when I’m 80.)

I choose peels of laughter from May: children’s giggles rippling across the park on our last playdate with Vegas friends and my own almost-cackle muffled at a last dinner date with my friend Rebecca while we feasted on prawns and calamari.

From June I choose I-80, always eastward, ever flatter, taking me farther and closer to home in the same instant.

I’ll keep the crack and sizzle of fireworks in July, especially the glittery gold ones that shimmer as they fade away.

From August I’ll keep the squealing brakes of the yellow school bus, the curly shavings of number two pencils, the whole school supply section at Target.

September gave me ooey-gooey marshmallows melting on toddler fingers and s’mores made with peanut butter cups (because that is the superior way to make a s’more).

From October I choose leaves. Bags and bags of leaves, piles of leaves, leaves in your hair, leaves on the seat of your car, leaves stuck to the dog’s back.

From November I choose the finish line of the NYC Marathon, the way endings can be beautiful.

From December I will keep the twinkle of lights on the tree in the evening, Paul McCartney having a wonderful Christmastime, feet pounding up the stairs on Christmas morning, leftover cheesy potatoes for days. And I’ll keep the scrape of the shovel agains the pavement and the silence after a blizzard blankets the neighborhood in snow. And because December holds so much, a year holds so much (Did I forget something? Did we squeeze it all in? Did I do enough?) I’ll also keep the whir of the electric mixer, the puff of flour out of the silver bowl, the cyclops angel sugar cookie and her gingerbread friend. I’ll keep George Bailey splashing into a swimming pool and cracker crumbs on the counter after an early New Year’s Eve with friends.

But mostly I’ll keep cedar and spearmint face wash, the last thing I smell when my head hits the pillow on December 31. I’ll keep that kiss at midnight while wearing our orthodontic devices. I choose the way we crawl into bed next to one another, the way Saturday quietly becomes Sunday, the way the year silently shifts from one to another, the way we keep waking up and doing it all again. Because a day holds so much, a month holds so much, a year holds so much, a life holds so much. Cheers to keeping it all–an armful and more, as much as I can hold.

(Thank you, 2022. Hello, 2023.)

Looking for more stories about motherhood, military life, and finding beauty in sacred/ordinary moments? Subscribe to my newsletter, Late to the Party. Every couple of months, you’ll receive a short note from me, some personal recommendations, and a journal prompt.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Cheers!”

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