365 Days of Earrings

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Longest Day

Thursday, July 14th was perhaps the longest day of my life. I wore (briefly) these wooden airplane earrings that I bought long ago when I taught a transportation unit to Kindergartners. I set my alarm for 4 AM in Paris, France as I lay down at 10 PM to sleep. The sweeping light of the Eiffel Tower filled the sky and the sound of fireworks echoed from building to building. I could see their lights reflecting off the windows across the street. I don't know when I drifted off to sleep, but I know I awoke at 3:12 and didn't sleep again. What if the alarm didn't go off?

A taxi drove us to Charles de Gaulle Airport, where I snapped this photo in the gaudily decorated ladies restroom before boarding our 8 AM flight to Keflavik Airport near Reykjavik, Iceland where we had a 7 hour layover. Many people nap and achieve restful sleep. I rest my head patiently hoping for sleep. If I nap, I awake cranky and exhausted.

We boarded our flight home to Dulles Airport at 5 PM Iceland time, reached Dulles at 7 PM Washington, DC time, and arrived home in Paris, VA at 9 PM. That's 2 AM in Paris France.

That was a long day. But as I wondered whether I might have been the longest I'd ever been awake, I realized that 25 years ago, on July 14 and 15, I was awake far longer.

In 1986, I went into labor early in the morning on July 14. I awoke feeling my first labor pains at 5 AM. I stayed up all night that night, timing my contractions and hoping they were doing their job as I walked and leaned and walked some more. My daughter Käthe finally arrived at 10:59 on the evening of July 15. I stayed up a few more hours, enjoying her, before finally falling into a restful sleep. 42 hours of labor, maybe 45 hours awake. 

On her 25th birthday, we shared a chocolate on chocolate cake, as we have every birthday that we've been together since 1986. I chose this pair of earrings that Käthe made for me a few years ago. Both Käthe and I were wearing the same shade of aqua.

I bent a candle to make a swing to hold the earrings. My long-suffering family put up with my earring photo shoot in the middle of a birthday celebration.

I'd just sat with Käthe and her dad looking at photographs of the vacation that Käthe and her husband Jim took on their vacation in Alaska. How I admire this daughter of mine whose love of adventure takes her hiking steep slopes and kayaking across windy bays to camp on a barren beach. 

 As a baby, she loved to climb--bookshelves, her high chair, staircases that were meant to be climbed and barriers that were not. Long before she could walk or talk, she was scaling heights.

I spent many hours shadowing my climbing girl, there to catch her if she slipped, or to swirl her away with a cuddle when her destination seemed too treacherous. As soon as she was able she tackled tree climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing.

For her birthday this year, I bought her a climbing rope. She and Jim love rock climbing, and look forward to adventuring on rock faces together. In my heart, I will always be there, to catch or cuddle my climbing girl.

1 comment:

Käthe said...

oh man, tears came to my eyes. i'll never think of the climbing rope the same way. i hope you had a safe drive today! love you, love you.