Sunday, November 13, 2016

Three years... Dear Nanny

Today marks three years since my Nanny, my grandma, my person, the original Dixie moved on to whatever comes after this life. Three years since I had to tell her it was time to go- that I had to go teach and she had to go be with Poppy and Aunt Lil. Three years since I held her hand for the last time and heard her tell me she loves me and to "just be happy dear." Three years since my best friends in the world wrapped their arms around me when I thought I would fall to pieces.

God I miss her so much. I miss her every day.

I can't even begin to recap what has transpired these past three years- can't even begin to write her a note to send out into the universe to catch her up on my life. Would she even believe it if I could?

I knew her death was transforming for her but I could never have imagined how it would transform me. Walking through those last moments of her life so closely with her, she taught me- taught me about being strong, taught me about loving the hell out of the people around me, taught me about connecting into my spirituality, taught me about being true to myself, taught me even more about the unbelievable love and strength of my family.

Dear Nanny,

I miss you- I feel like shouting that at the top of my lungs but the grief makes it hard for sound to come out. I miss you.

I hate and love that every day makes it feel like you are simultaneously slipping further from my memory and yet somehow you are also becoming so much more a part of who I am.

I'm writing more. You always said I should be a writer. I think the events of my life have forced the words from me and been at times the only tangible thread keeping me from floating off this earth.

Nanny, I'm divorced now- it was insanely painful. I even had to give up the pugs. That was unimaginable to me the last time we were together and frankly at each step along the way. A twist in the road I never could have seen coming but even on the days I wake up and wonder why I completely dismantled my life, I see that each step was a step aligned with my heart and my integrity and that I got here by just trying to do the next right thing.

It isn't where I thought I'd end up but I think that's okay.

I got that tenure track job I always wanted and this week will have my last teaching observation before being granted tenure! Seriously an academic tenure track job in the same area my ex-wife and I wanted to live and that was perfect for the babies we thought we would have- we were all ready to go right before you got sick. So grateful we never did get pregnant.

Yup- no wife, no puppies, no babies, but I do have the job! Of course it was touch and go there for a bit with our entire faculty going on strike last year and a board and president of the college so contested we are now starting over completely- new president, board, Vice President of instruction. You would have enjoyed watching the union at work fighting for a college they believed in.  Oh and I did get offered that dream job last year- tenure track at my alma mater- everything I thought I wanted except for not a living wage for that area and I turned it down. Who could have predicted that one either- but my heart called and you taught me how to listen.

I think you'd be proud of me Nanny. I think you would delight in how I inspire and show up for my students. How less and less I want to hide from them because I'm nervous I don't know enough and more and more the person I am is evident in all aspects of my life- how I am no longer trying to be professorial but just trying to be who I am and teach what I have learned while learning with them. My students inspire me Nan. You'd be entertained and amazed by them.

I fell in love again after the divorce. I didn't think that was possible - I loved her and her puppy fiercely. She broke my heart. And now I've learned I can survive that too and I don't regret one minute I spent loving her. The dust is still settling on that one. I guess I just keep praying my person will find me- please feel free to give them a nudge my way.

I had another knee surgery- a total knee replacement at 34 years old. It was hell- I will never forget seeing mom's face so horrified to see her kid in pain that the doctors couldn't control. It was a long hard road back but it really did transform me. I skied again and even learned to snowboard! I even got to ski with dad and all of your great grandkids! Yup there's another one we never saw coming. Last Christmas we were all together in Tahoe- God did we miss you! You would have loved the chaos and fun and craziness of the band all together. But I know you were there.

I need another knee surgery now. Another ligament is torn and it is a complicated surgery because of the knee replacement and having had 7 previous surgeries. I'm scared. I've been in pain since last spring and that has taken me down another rabbit hole of messy confusion. But I'm doing my best to just keep moving forward- what else is there to do and thank god pot is legal in Washington or i don't think i could survive this pain.

Oh and I did finally get my name on a research grant- I am the Co-PI (principal investigator) of a National Science Foundation grant! There was a 90% rejection rate when we applied but we were awarded funding. Finally- my name on the grant- ready to step forward into even more leadership at the site!!! That was an achievement hard earned and so sweet. The high of it lasted a month until violence in El Salvador erupted and we realized we could not go back. My entire research program, what I have been working for since the beginning of my graduate career, is now marked with a giant sign reading "do not enter!" My second home on this earth now a place I can't go and my worries are amplified for my friends there.

We got to work in Costa Rica instead- you'd love that i got to go to the NASA/ university of Alabama Huntsville facility to analyze satellite imagery with one of the world's best! Now that was an inspiring place - I wished I could have had Dad there with me to talk with such big thinkers- I think he would have loved it.  I get to go back in a few months- though these days I'm not sure where my research is taking me. We found ancient footpaths in Costa Rica and a house this past summer and we be back in the field this coming summer. I wonder if this will be the end of my field research but honestly don't know. I think the loss of Ceren research has left me uncertain of what direction to go next. But I will be giving a lecture at the University of Washington in the spring- can you imagine? Me the kid who dropped out of college! So I know enough to say- who's to know and to just keep showing up.

Oh and this last week I cast my vote for the first woman president of the United States. I wore your mom's pearls that day and your ring that I always wear and white for suffragettes. She didn't win. Donald Trump- ya that guy- ya he did. The election was horrific mixes is sexism, rape culture, homophobia, transphobia, racism, xenophobia, and ableism run a muck. Honestly I don't think any of us could even process the vile and horrific things said on our TVs, radios, and even more so from our fellow citizens. The country has erupted in hate but also activism... People are rising up and declaring they will not tolerate such hate and injustice. I'm rising up Nanny. I'm not censoring and quieting my voice in the same ways. I am not sure what the people in my life make if it, but mostly I'm not sure I care. My voice is powerful and loud and I'm using it in the name of love, peace, and equity. I'll be at a rally for inclusion today using my voice. I hope I make you proud. And you should see how amazing your great-grandkids are doing, and your grandkids, and your kids. They are all growing so much and making this world a better place everyday. I know how proud you would be of all of them!

So things have not been dull these past three years and those are just the major events (though honestly I'm probably forgetting a few along the way). I know you know already about the losses- Uncle Billy, Kenzie's baby Faith, Katie's Sam and Rachel.... So many losses. Happy additions too- Errin and Jeff's Ashe, Galen and Chelsie's Aliena, my cousins' babies.. Billy's, Jame's, Kenz's, new family, and new friends and colleagues and students.  So goes life...the ever coming and going of those we love.

You would love how my family- biological and chosen- have rallied around me every step I have taken. My divorce party was a blast and I am grateful beyond words to my community who have held me steady in the wake of losing you and so much in the years since- My community who have continued steering me on in the direction of my own soul.

I miss you Nanny. I wish I could see you, talk to you, cry and laugh with you, know what your experiences have been these past three years- know what form you are in these days. But for today it is enough to send my words out into the abyss of the Internet hoping they can find you through my heart.

I love you my beautiful grandmother. Thank you for being so much a part of who I am and for always encouraging me to follow my dreams and my heart. I am Nan- it is taking all my courage but I am listening and following and could never have imagined where it has taken me, which hopefully means I cannot imagine what might come next.

Missing you today and always,
Your Christine - the next generation of Dixie


  1. Chris

    So much I want to say but most important I want you to know how much I love You and how proud I am to see you stand up for what you believe.

    Love Dad

    1. I love you Dad. This means so much!
      You and mom inspire me to be the biggest force of good in the world I can possible become!
      Love you!