I initially met The Empress when she left her first thoughtful comment on my blog this past summer. I was immediately struck by her kindness. I promptly visited her blog and realized that she’s incredibly funny. As I continued to read her words, I learned that she is also both strong and tender.
I was at brunch recently with a group of lovely bloggy friends and at one point during our meal, the conversation turned to The Empress. It was as though a collective happy sigh came over the group when her name came up. Words like supportive, kind, funny, generous, loving, encouraging, and amazing floated about the table. The Empress is truly a hug personified.
The story that she has written for Small Moments Mondays is a precious gift. When I first read it, I felt guilty about accepting it and was tempted to encourage her hold onto it, to keep it close and post it on her own blog.
This post is that special.
Ultimately, I trusted that she truly believed that she had found a good home for her story and for that I am incredibly honored.
Thank you, Empress. I am so grateful for your generosity and friendship. Much love to you.
The Reach of a Small Moment – by The Empress
De la Sierra Morena
Cielito Lindo, vienen bajando
Un par do ojitos negros
Cielito lindo, de contrabando
From the Sierra Mountains
My beautiful sky, they come down
A pair of blackest eyes
Pretty little heaven, which I cannot have
I am sitting cross legged on the carpeted floor, playing with the doll my Spanish grandmother has bought me. She is sitting behind me, singing softly while she slowly runs a wide toothed comb, that she every now and then dips into a mason jar of rhubarb water, through my jungle of curly almost black hair. She sings this song to me every time she combs my hair. Always, so patiently, she works her way through the mat of hair on my head. The song above, if you’ve never heard it, has a sweet, slow, lulling melody.
The intention of the rhubarb water, boiled down to a thick juice made out of what she grows in her garden, is to give highlights to my hair. “Now, when you go outside to play in the sun, your hair will turn into Shirley Temple rings,” I hear her promise me in Spanish. She is taking the smallest sections of my hair, wetting it with the rhubarb water, and then curling it around her little finger. When she is done, I do look like a latin Shirley Temple.
She asks me with her soft, slow voice to please help her up, if it’s not too much trouble, from where she has been sitting. My grandmother speaks to me with the utmost of manners, always. I am only 4, but she makes me feel as if she is part of a court of ladies that tend to me. My grandmother walks me to the mirror in the front hallway, and stands behind me while she has me look at myself. “Those dark eyes, you have such beautiful dark eyes. And the most wonderful laugh. You are like a little doll, you are a munequita.” I smile shyly back at myself. She makes me believe her.
There is peace at my grandmother’s hand, and in her arms. She embraces me and I am lost to everything that is the ugly mess around me. Everything that happens outside of her arms is gone in that moment of being in her embrace. I want to stay between those arms, with my head buried and my eyes closed, and my ears covered, all inside her arms.
As I am writing this morning, about these small moments in our lives, I can see from the distance of years, the power a moment contains. The morning retold above occurred in 1965, 2 years before my father would have committed suicide on Thanksgiving Day, when I was in the first grade. The morning above occurred on a day when my clinically depressed mother would have spent another usual day of not looking at us, not making eye contact with us, not speaking to us.
The power of the small moment that my grandmother created for me, without her knowing, has carried me to this day. I still feel how she had me convinced that even though there were 6 of us born to my mother, it was me, who was the special one. It was me who was the most loved one.
She had the gift of making you feel like you were the only one that mattered.
When she passed away, my siblings and I had to laugh as one by one, at her funeral, we each confided to one another, “You know, I was her favorite.” Fools, I knew deep down it was me who was loved the most by her.
I found the song above, “Cielito Lindo,” on YouTube this morning, and played it. I can be so slow sometimes, I should have known. I had to click on the red X in the top right corner after only the second verse. I couldn’t listen to more, the emotion brought on by hearing that melody with those lyrics was so strong that the tightening in my throat literally became physically painful.
Did my grandmother know she created this small moment? I don’t know. Did she know that from this morning in 1965, I’d be writing of that same moment in 2010, 45 years later?
Would she have known the reach of a small moment?
This makes me stop and think and look at my children, with eye contact, and with words heard, and with words returned, with full burying embraces, I want to give my children moments that will reach to the year 2050 and beyond.
And don’t miss Yield to It, a post that speaks to all of the small moments in our lives.