Bits & Pieces Love & Words


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Bits & Pieces

I get to watch their growth and development firsthand. As readers, as writers, as fellow human beings. One great disadvantage is not being a daily part of their lives or having as much impact as a classroom teacher.

I try to maximize the joy of student learning in the moments I do have with them, for I am on the periphery of their academic life. He was in first grade then, having come from another country. He was tiny, he knew no English, and his frustration was immense. So, on my first day back, here he is, getting off the bus, smiling, making a beeline.

I thank him.

He grins, hugs me, and heads off to class, uncharacteristically shy. So we write when we have something to say, when the need to express this something outweighs the chore of getting it on the page. It brings to mind vacation. Beaches, ocean, sand. Living, loving, luxuriating. As they did it this summer when my husband landed in the hospital twice for a collective nineteen days and two heart surgeries. There was no time to think of the sun or even a chance to see it deep in the fluorescent-lit maze of tiled corridors and rooms.

No taste of salt on the ocean breeze—oh, and salt is taboo from now on. Savoring life converged to a pinpoint, a prayer, many prayers, for staying alive, every day an uncharted vista with its own unfamiliar seas and long, long shores of loose, uncertain sands. But he is home at last, convalescing.


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I grapple with new regimens—dressing wounds left by chest tubes, administering medications, a different diet, slow, slow walks in the driveway. Extra doses of patience. New priorities. The word traction comes to mind. We are on solid ground. We are moving forward, bit by little bit. Perhaps that particular word returns to mind from childhood. My mother suffered with several health issues, one being injury and surgeries on her back. Her convalescence involved sitting in a chair beside a bedroom door with a rope-like contraption thrown over the door itself and a cup in the dangling loop for her chin.

Each day she was to tighten this rope and sit in the chair for a given amount of time to stretch and align her spine. It was called traction. I love words, their shades and nuances, so once traction got hung in my mind I kept spinning it to see its colors and facets. Traction as a foothold, as aligning, as momentum. Grabbing hold, finding a place of solidity, setting things in motion, in the right direction. I can say that my adventure this summer gave me new spiritual depth and traction. And when I wrap myself in such metaphor I tend to see what else this blanket enfolds.

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Bit | Definition of Bit by Lexico

Perhaps it should. But perhaps not. They never will if all the sands keep shifting, if things are not aligned or set in motion in the right direction. The lesson of my summer was restarting. Once during CPR which fractured his sternum and once after bypass grafts.

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The surgeon repaired his heart and his fractures. Healing is underway. We have new priorities. Life is restarted, with new traction. Why should it be any different for our schools, for our children? It is time to restart, to find a place of traction in shifting systems, opinions, policies, and priorities, and do what needs to be done for their sakes.

Too much is at stake. It took a medical team—several, in fact— to save my husband this summer. And so it will be a collective effort to meet the needs of children on their educational journey. We shall seek and find solid ground. We shall move forward together, bit by little bit. To me the story is the same, no matter how you slice it or apply it.

This is life. It all begins and ends with the heart. Start where you have landed and find your traction. Ray of light. CC BY.

bits and pieces

Hotter than I expect after a week ensconced deep in the techno-bowels of the hospital. The netherworld. A parallel universe of tiny details and proportions. Hold my arm, take your time across the sidewalk. I know every step hurts. Maybe the wait will not be long and we can go home.


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He can rest. Two women behind the counter, working on computers. The woman on the left reminds me of someone but the one on the right is asking a question.

lit bits and pieces | Snippets of learning and life

My husband. He was released from the hospital two days ago. We were told to follow up with his regular doctor within seven days, thanks for getting us in. This woman on the right nods her head. Her hair is very black, long, pulled back. Our chairs face the TV. El Paso. A woman seated across the room by the windows, sunlight streaming in around her, looks at us: When will it stop.

C lear, emphatic voice. I know who she reminds me of, now. Queen Latifah. Same face and eyes, shoulder-length hair. Less celebrity-ish but exuding confidence. She continues: This country. The girl next to the woman in the waiting room shifts in her seat. Must be her daughter. Pretty girl, hair in a soft bob of loose curls.

Hard to say how old. Sixteen, seventeen? We just shoot each other. My birth certificate says Caucasian. Mitochondrial Eve. We all bruise the same. I listen, heartsick. My Grannie, who took me to a store to buy a doll when I was really little. When I picked a black doll, she bought it for me. In the late s.

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Thank God. The front door opens. A man enters. Like an NFL player. Gripped in his big brown hand is a clear plastic jug of water; it gleams in a shaft of sunlight and I think Water of Life as another door from the medical side opens and a small man, black hair in a man bun, comes into the waiting area to greet him with a Spanish accent.

They embrace each other and my mind is too weary anymore to wonder why, what the story is. I just marvel. This is how the world should be, like it is in this room, right now.

Bits & Pieces Love & Words Bits & Pieces Love & Words
Bits & Pieces Love & Words Bits & Pieces Love & Words
Bits & Pieces Love & Words Bits & Pieces Love & Words
Bits & Pieces Love & Words Bits & Pieces Love & Words
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