Lily’s Sharks and Boxes

April 8, 2011 | By admin | Filed in: Uncategorized.

My daughter, Erin Kate, has posted a beautiful note about her daughter (and my granddaughter) on her Facebook site recently. Here it is:

“…the almost-seven lillian james has been surprising me with intuitive and quirky insights as of late. i have been making a point of asking her questions, as she seems to be in the habit of answering honestly and immediately in full sentences. while putting her to bed tonight, i asked her “lillian, what’s in your heart?” she was a little unsure of what i was getting at (not surprising) and asked me to “go first.” this is a question i think about or ask every day and i was prepared to rattle off family members, places that i’ve lived, and things i’ve cared deeply about that i carry in my heart. she responded “i have everyone in my heart.” i pushed her a bit and asked if she had all the people in the world. she said that she did, that she had not only all the people of the world, but all things like “sharks and boxes.” it was at this point that i found it hard to keep a straight face, but kept my composure as she continued, “only sweet things, mom. not naughty things.”

she drifted off to sleep while i held her and contemplated her comical response delivered with such sincerity. i know she loves sharks. she has no fear of them and watches shark shows whenever she gets the chance. her favorite tee-shirt is the one we bought in south africa with a picture of a toothy great white. the boxes she was keeping in her heart were puzzling to me, though. until i realized that this child has helped me take apart, stamp, put back together, stack, empty out, and restack 900 tiny jewelry boxes in the past 6 months. she has become my helpful shadow. aware of my emotions, my opinions, and my values.

i hesitate to put deeper meaning to her answer, but i do hope that the sharks in her heart are symbolic of the travel and adventure she has experienced and grown to love. and that maybe, just maybe, the boxes are the adventure she experiences in her own backyard. the adventure of creating art and relationship. working side by side with me, the woman who carried her for 40 weeks and 2 days and prayed for her for years before we met.

i’ve struggled for years to put words to the depth of my emotion/devotion for my mother, her orphaned mother, the sister who died too young, and the sisters i never had. for the daughter i have and hopefully the daughters yet to come. i keep creating, trying to honor these women, wearing old photos of marian and marnie around my neck. fearing my daughter won’t love me the way i adore my mother: in that painful, aching, overwhelming, beautiful, and life-defining way.

in part, my modern locket was born out of this writer’s block. curating tiny meaningful collections to be worn close to my heart seems to work better than my words in this season of silenced song. and the process of helping other women create collections to express what their words fail to say. it eases my mind.

so, tonight, i might just have to make the first shark and boxes necklace known to man. to commemorate this moment in time with almost-seven lillian and her sweet sweet heart that carries the world.”

-erin kate duininck

After reading this, I remembered a song I wrote the year Erin Kate was born. I sang it in a few churches, but the one I remember the best is the arrangement I sang with the Woodbury United Methodist choir under the direction of Erin’s grandfather Stan Parrish, in the early 1980’s. I’ve updated the second verse to include Lily (the love for one girl) and I am reminded again of the self-understanding I have gained over the last few years…that the song in our family continues back in time and forward into the hope of the future.

Great love from Heaven (©flyertunes 1980)

If you could shake (If you could shake)
Great love from heaven (Great love from heaven)
And catch it as (And catch it as)
It did fall (As It did fall)
Still you would not have (Still you would not have)
The love for one man (The love for one man)
That Jesus had (That Jesus had)
For us all.

If you could shake (If you could shake)
Great love from heaven (Great love from heaven)
And catch it as (And catch it as)
It did fall (As It did fall)
Still you would not have (No you would not have)
The love for one girl (The love for one girl)
That Jesus has (Yes, Jesus loves us)
Loves us all.

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