Today’s guest post comes from Kirsten LaBlanc of Eating Neon Yogurt. After she shared with me this sweet slice of her life, I had the pleasure of meeting Kirsten in an impromptu Google+ Hangout, and she is even more delightful in person. I’m happy to introduce you to her and her lovely writing here. –Tamára
(I’ve had several requests to chat about writing, so I’ll be hosting a Google+ Hangout in the next few weeks. If you’re interested, keep an eye out for details to come soon! You can send your writerly questions to tamaraoutloud @ gmail .com with “Writers’ Chat” in the subject line.)
I watched the clouds roll in. They were the color of wet concrete: heavy and hard and outlined in white. The thunder grumbled low. Gramma came in from the kitchen.
“What have you decided, Mija?” Gramma dried her hands on the dishtowel. “Going to school?” She studied the clouds with me.
“I haven’t decided,” I sighed. “Yes, I guess so. I just hope the storm doesn’t beat the bus.”
I was 19 and a student at a nearby college, still afraid of lightning and old enough to know better. It seemed that everyone knew. Mom would chide me when a storm would come in and I would start pacing. “Stop it!” she would demand. She would become angry when I couldn’t stop.
Gramma seemed to understand me better– she never asked me to stop. She always called me“Mija,” and it took me 14 years to discover mija was Spanish for my daughter. As a small child, I thought mija was part of my name.
“Mija, my daddy always told me to pray when a storm came in.” She put down her towel. “Do like this.” A crucifix magically appeared in her hand and she held it high in front of her facing the clouds. “Make the sign of the cross.” She slowly lowered it and then moved it across to form the shape. Gramma was transformed from a frail, hunched form into a powerful and wise holy … figure… a younger soul. I was no longer afraid.
I am 40 years old now and, though I’ve left the Catholic Church of my childhood, I have inherited Gramma’s strength through her and her faith. I have found my comfort in the loving embrace of an accepting God. I watch my own daughter. As the storms come in, she runs to the window and seems to challenge what I was once afraid of. “Mama! The rain is coming!”
“Yes, Mija. The rain is coming. Are you watching it?” I take a breath and join her at the window. “What do you think?”
“I go outside and play?” She pulls at the door.
“No. I don’t think so. I think the storm will be a bit… much.” I avoid the term scary. I don’t want to inflict my own childhood terror on her. “Let’s watch from here.”
“Mama, why does it rain?”
I fumble for words and try to form the puzzle in my head before I speak. “Well,” I say, “God gives us the rain to water the plants and flowers.”
“Why?” (I always expect at least two why’s per explanation.)
“Because flowers are beautiful and plants give us food to eat and they would die without water.”
“No, Mama!” She turns to face me raising her small hand and shaking her finger at me. “That’s not why.” Mija runs to the closet and pulls down her raincoat. “God gives us rain for puddles to jump in!”
Good point. _______________________________________________________
Kirsten is a writer, mommy, and a woman trying to have it all or as much of it as possible. She is currently working on a book about the place her mother’s Hispanic ancestors have in American history. Kirsten blogs at Eating Neon Yogurt, exploring motherhood, faith, and her quest to shave her head for children’s cancer research. When Kirsten isn’t writing, she loves to cook, read and chase her 3-year-old daughter.