When I was in high school, I'll admit that there were two albums I bought almost exclusively for the jacket art: Madonna's Like a Virgin and Whitney Houston (self-titled, pictured). It was nice to see last weekend that Madonna is still rockin' out. But today Whitney Houston died. Her life was troubled, but my lasting impression of her is from my youth: she was beautiful and her voice was incredible. Listening and watching her sing "The Greatest Love of All" is candy for the eyes and ears. It is hard to know that she had such a difficult life (especially when it all seemed so promising) and more troubling to learn that she is dead; life is so fleeting and impermanent.
My feeling of sorrow about Whitney adds to some other feelings I have been harboring recently. Usually when I report in these bytes, I am fairly positive. I like to think that is generally my nature and certainly this year has given me ample opportunity for positive experience. But even when everything is great--a year-long vacation, time with the kids, being away from it all--there are low points. Yesterday I was feeling a low. It was a good day: we skied in the morning, had dinner together, and went to services for Tu B'Shvat (the Jewish new year for trees). But Eli was frustrated by his day on the snow because he was snowboarding for the first time and it wasn't easy; Juliana was feeling down about her work; Sophia and Grace were tired; the kids scored lower on a math assessment than they would have liked.
When things don't go right and you are the "events organizer" and teacher, you feel--and often are--responsible. Sometimes you are blamed directly. I am always concerned about everyone's fun and academic progress. I want it to be right and am thoughtful and intentional about making it so. But yesterday it suddenly was wrong and I was to blame: How could I have taken them away from their schools and friends? And I'm not teaching math right!
I want my family to experience enjoyment and enrichment. It is hard when those experiences aren't appreciated; it feels thankless sometimes. Yesterday was an example of that. When things go wrong and it isn't about me, it still often ends up feeling that way.
The good news is, today Anne and Adam came to visit. We were honored that they made the trip here with their three young ones. What is more, they were able to settle in for the afternoon and we all had a nice time. I know I felt better for the visit.
This year has been so special on so many levels (even when there is melancholy) as we have come to better know and experience this place and each other. But I miss the support, love, fun, perspective and normalcy of regular proximity to our people in the Bay Area.