We’re on a break over at piperism. We’re sleeping in, splashing in pools, gorging on library books, and traveling. We’ll be back soon. With even more laughs. Promise.
Piper and Piper’s Keeper
This morning at breakfast, Sissy, Daddy, and I told stories of baby Piper.
We told her how she liked to sit in a doll stroller and make us push her in endless loops around our house in Illinois. If we stopped, she’d simply point her finger in the direction she wanted to go and grunt. We obeyed.
We told that she did the Ting-A-Ling Silly Circus clown dance 4 million times. One of our hands was the buzzer she had to hit to do her silly dance again.
We told her that she didn’t talk much because the three of us were there to anticipate her every need. Why speak with this kind of service?
“We’re your biggest fans, Piper. The three of us adore you,” I said.
“Make that four,” Piper said, “I am a big fan of mine, too”
When Piper grows up I want her to be like Katie. This is Katie.
Photo by Grant Ross.
Katie is fierce and strong. She’s beautiful and kind. She’s the most positive woman I’ve ever known. She’s grateful and gracious. She is beloved. And Katie may die very soon.
I met Katie in childbirth class when I was pregnant with Sissy, Piper’s older sister. Katie’s laugh and her smile drew me in. She was hopeful for a natural birth. She was sure her plan would work. Katie went into labor first. When her son Will was born, we went to visit them in the hospital. I stood teetering nine months pregnant, waiting for my turn. Katie grabbed my hand and said, “Take the meds! Take everything they’ll give you!” And we laughed and laughed at the control we thought we’d have over birth and life and death.
Katie’s laughter and light are contagious. Her heart is huge. She was the friend Piper’s dad needed when he needed a friend the most. Piper’s dad, Joe, and Katie were stay at home parents together for a year after Sissy and Will were born. They were in the trenches together, navigating library story hours, bottles, diapers, and growth charts. Katie invited Joe into a circle of moms that didn’t really want to have a dad around. That’s what Katie does. She reaches out. She brings you in. They braved their mutual diagnosis together, Katie with cancer and Joe with multiple sclerosis, with babies on their hips. And they took care of each other’s babies when doctor’s appointments and treatments and life got in the way.
Last year, after a roller coaster ride with cancer, Katie and her husband came to visit. Katie wanted to see D.C. before her next round of chemo. She wanted to walk around the monuments and visit the White House. Katie loves her country and God. She wanted to see us, too. So we spent a glorious night together eating, laughing, and loving maybe for the last time.
Yesterday, Katie’s husband, who has been writing about their battle to save Katie’s life, asked us simply to pray for peace. He feels like the luckiest guy in the world to have had the chance to love Katie this long. You should read about Katie’s Story here.
If I could hope for anything for my daughters, for Piper and Sissy, and for Katie’s kids, Will and Jessica, it would be that they have Katie’s courage and capacity for love and laughter, that they are brave and bold, and that they find strength, friendship, and peace along their path.
When Piper walks to the park, she skips and dances. She frolics under cherry blossoms. She makes up songs and sings them loudly. She keeps her eye on me to make sure I’m following.
If she meets a dog along the way, she looks back for my permission. I look to the owner to see if we know them and to the dog for a sign of friendliness. If I nod, Piper crouches low and holds out her hand. She holds her body still. As much as a Piper can, anyway; stillness is not her default setting.
Meeting a dog on the way to the park is Piper’s favorite thing in the whole world. Suddenly, she’s not on a walk to the park. Piper is petting a dog.
A Piper is always on a journey. She often forgets her destination. There are cherry blossoms and dogs and songs. Maybe there is a park on the other end of the path. Maybe not, but a Piper is sure there will be an adventure.
Piper has decided what she’d like to do with her life. Those of you who know her animal loving ways won’t be surprised much. Piper’s never met a four-legged stranger.
This morning while I was braiding her hair, Piper asked, “Mom, what would you do if you had a lot of money?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Seems like we have most of what we need. Maybe help other people?” It was 6:02 a.m. and I hadn’t had coffee. Forgive me for neglecting a teachable moment.
“I’d open a mall just for dogs. Then I could let them go to the doggie spa all day. There would be parks for playing and fresh water bowls everywhere. In fact, I’d hire one person just to go around cleaning and refilling water bowls.”
“And what would you do at the mall, Piper?”
“Oh, I’d cure cancer. Nobody deserves cancer but especially not dogs. I’d have my own lab with a big window so I could watch the dogs play while I worked. Then they’d bring in the sick ones and I’d make them better.”
This seems entirely appropriate today.
1. Isn’t it great, Mom, that I got sick on a Saturday? You don’t have to cancel anything. You’re welcome.
2. Why doesn’t my body have enough skills to fight a little ole fever? Geez.
3. Uh oh. Time for a zebra pack. (Z-pak antibiotic)
4. More orange spice tea, please. Wait. Did you put in extra honey? Mmm. You’re such a good mom. Wait. Are you trying to cover up some medicine with that yummy honey?
5. What if I wake up a cheetah? Wouldn’t that be cool? I’d be a nice cheetah, though. I wouldn’t hurt you, Mom. Question! Do cheetahs get sick?
6. Pharmacies shouldn’t have candy. Candy doesn’t make you feel better. Toys make you feel better. Pharmacies should give away toys with medicine. Just like Old McDonalds.
7. Can you stick that thing that beeps in my armpit again? I’ve got an itch in there.
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If you don’t feel well today, give Piper a call. She will pat your hand and extend her sympathies. She’ll even develop her own phantom ailments to empathize with yours.
This morning I mentioned a headache and Piper said, “My eyebrow hurt once too. It did. Not now. But once. I remember it well.”