The day should begin like this. Every single day. Of course, it’s April, which, according to the cliche, brings showers, indicating gray skies. Still, such an April is rare here in our part of the South.
Breakfast each day should be leisurely enough to include play.
If it’s raisin bread on the menu, there should be plenty of time to load a truck with raisin bread and unload it.
Again, and again, and again.
Of course, the same goes for Cheerios, should that appear on the menu.
And there should be enough time after breakfast to play with trucks in the warm morning sun wearing your favorite shirt.
The Big Picture at boston.com recently commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide in which the Hutu killed over a million Tutsi and Hutu sympathizers. A couple of images were particularly striking, but it was the stories (or perhaps story?) behind them that really moved me.
A study in contrasts: a man’s left hand and a woman’s handless arm. The caption provided details:
Emmanuel Ndayisaba, left, and Alice Mukarurinda, recount their experiences of the Rwandan genocide at Alice’s house in Nyamata, Rwanda Wednesday, March 26, 2014. She lost her baby daughter and her right hand to a manic killing spree. He wielded the machete that took both. Yet today, despite coming from opposite sides of an unspeakable shared past, Alice Mukarurinda and Emmanuel Ndayisaba are friends. She is the treasurer and he the vice president of a group that builds simple brick houses for genocide survivors. They live near each other and shop at the same market. Their story of ethnic violence, extreme guilt and, to some degree, reconciliation is the story of Rwanda today. The Rwandan government is still accused by human rights groups of holding an iron grip on power, stifling dissent and killing political opponents. But even critics give President Paul Kagame credit for leading the country toward a peace that seemed all but impossible two decades ago. (Photo by Ben Curtis)
How could they become friends after something so unspeakable? I was at a loss until I saw the next picture.
Mukarurinda Alise, 43, lost all her family members during mass killings in the 1994 genocide, but says she is now living with the man who hacked her wrist off. Alise forgave the man who she says went to the same school as her, after he came back and begged for forgiveness after serving time in jail for his crimes during a three-month killing spree in 1994 They are now married and living in Nyamata. (Photo by Noor Khamis)
It’s one thing to reconcile with someone who did this; it’s quite another to marry him. Then I looked closely at the names:
It’s the same person, and according to most accounts, she and her attacker are only friends. The thought that she could marry the man — inconceivable.
The forgiveness itself is difficult to understand. I try to imagine how the dynamics in such a friendship must work, and I can’t. I can’t even understand how Mukarurinda could consider forgiving the man who hacked off her hand and killed her child.
What is the nature of forgiveness then? What does it mean to forgive? At a party in southern Poland more than ten years, I had a long conversation with someone about this, and we came to the conclusion that it means not to forget, for that’s impossible, but merely not to hold it against the person, not to assume that the person will do it again — indeed, to trust that the individual won’t do it or anything similar again. Yet Ndayisaba himself admits that he feels such an atrocity could happen again. Would he be on the right side this time? Would he defend Mukarurinda this time instead of attacking her? That, I suppose, is exactly what Mukarurinda is counting on when she says she forgives Ndayisaba .
The Girl had an idea: record herself reading a story. Unfortunately, her little Leap Frog system wasn’t the highest quality, and she had no way to support the camera while she filmed.
Tata, of course, saved the day.
The day started in L’s room. The Boy loves being with his big sister, and she’s matured to the point that we know she’s not going to do anything crazy — too crazy — with the Boy, so I left them upstairs to their own devices while I finished some grading, but the laughter and sounds of an impending mess drew me up the stairs.
Of course the kitten had her own entertainment. The Girl talked the family into a cat tower: that term doesn’t do it any justice at all. What we have, in fact, is a sort of feline Burj Khalifa. But she likes it, and the Girl likes that fact, and today, they were both thoroughly entertained,
though for different reasons.
We ended the morning, the Boy down for his nap, with the Girl recording a story. For whom? For you, of course.
But I never took the time today to transfer it from camera, so perhaps tomorrow?
A bright blue sky this morning, with the small, new leaves providing contrast, made it a morning full of bleary-eyed promise. That makes it sound like I really didn’t know what we would be doing during the day, that it was just promising. I knew exactly what I would be doing; K knew precisely what she’d be doing. I had a pile of mulch, a never-ending gift, that I was determined to spread through the entire universe (so it seemed I’d have to do to get rid of ten yards of mulch — ten yards! What was I thinking?)
We got an early start: with the Boy waking at seven in the morning, we were eating breakfast by half-past, and I was out taking care of a couple of small projects before tackling the mulch.
Still, with the morning sun giving the kitchen a golden glow, it was hard not to get excited about the morning. Right — whom am I kidding? We could have all used more sleep, all but the Boy.
Still, that blue sky, that warmth. I am lucky: all of my work in K’s and my division of labor is outside work. K stays inside, cleaning, cooking, helping L with her Polish lessons. So I really couldn’t complain this morning: blue sky, good coffee, work outside. Besides, my exhaustion was all my fault, staying up too late yet again on Friday night.
In the afternoon, Nana and Papa came over to help out. Papa sat with the Boy on the couch for who knows now long, playing cars, sometimes struggling to decipher the words that K, L, and I so easily understand.
We’ll make a video of it at some point, then find ourselves surprised in a couple of years when, watching old videos, we can’t understand him ourselves.
I learned riding a road bike in the mountains of southern Poland that there’s a simple trick to making it to the top of a hill: don’t stop pedaling. That of course sounds a bit axiomatic, painfully obvious even, but the simple truth of momentum is that, as long as you keep pedaling, as long as you keep that cog rotating, you have a little momentum from the last rotation to help with the next. True, it starts to become almost a token momentum, and that’s when the temptation to stop is most overwhelming. The legs burn and ache; the heart feels like it’s about to explode; the vessels in the temple pulsate with almost frantic rapidity. But as long as you don’t stop, you’ve got something to build on. Once you stop, it’s almost all over, especially if it’s a steep climb and a hundred kilometers stretch out behind you.
So too with daily writing. One day off becomes two, and threatens to become three — and you can only write about the threat. I had two entries in mind; I was just too lazy to get the pictures off the camera. Maybe later — back-posting counts if you say it does.
You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.