Contribute a Verse

I keep seeing the Apple “Contribute a Verse” commercial when we watch TV in the evenings. Snuggled into my corner of the couch, half-paying attention to what’s on the screen and mostly-playing Candy Crush, when the man starts speaking, I always look up. I stare at the screen, and my heart somewhere in my throat.

And I listen. I listen hard.

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Every time it comes on, I pause. I watch the beautiful scenes and listen to the deep voice and I wonder, each and every time the voice asks me at the end: What will your verse be? What will my verse be?


I don’t write much poetry anymore. My middle school self got caught up in a love affair with the verse, with writing both rhyming and free poetry. The poetry phase lasted through high school. I remember writing one about a wife who died of a broken heart after her husband died in a plane crash; I can probably blame Alanis for that particular (bad) piece of poetry.

Sometimes my head — and my heart — think in verse. When I’m out for a run, sometimes my brain falls into beat with my feet and the words come out in a unique rhythm; I forget them before I get back to the house to write them down, get them out. I know I still have a tendency toward poetry, but my guard won’t let down enough to let me play with the words, with the lines.

Still, I wonder what my contribution to the verse will be. Is it this blog, the words that I have shared for years? Is it my parenting, the eventual sending out of two boys into this big world? Is it my marriage? Is it my journey as a birth mother? Is it my work? My photography? My anxiety? My depression? My joy? My love? My compassion? My fears? My connections?


All of these things… they exist as part of my contribution to the verse of this life. All of your things — every last one of them — are part of your verse. Together, we are writing the story that will someday be the history. As mind-blowing as that sounds, it makes me want to do more, be better, stand taller, laugh louder, love deeper so that my personal verse will tell the story of a woman who wanted nothing more than to love and be loved.



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52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Lasting Memory



Part of my excitement about our 60 hour whirlwind trip the North Carolina coast revolved around the beach. We vacation in Emerald Isle every summer, an island that falls right between my aunt and uncle’s house and my cousin’s house. My big plan involved swinging down onto the island as we headed to the baby shower.

I remember the first time I visited the beach during the winter months. I must have been a young teenager as my brother and cousin stand out in my memory as relatively short and vaguely annoying. I don’t know why we found ourselves in North Carolina that winter or why my maternal grandmother was with us. Those details pale in comparison to being on the beach. In winter.

The sun shone brightly that day, so bright that it hurt my eyes. Squinting, I stood staring at my beloved ocean as the waves lapped the shore. My brother and cousin ran around; I chased them and their squeals disappeared into the space where the sounds of the ocean and air envelope everything. I pulled the sleeves of my mom’s purple sweatshirt jacket around myself; she gave up her jacket for me when I complained that I felt cold. Motherhood. As I stood there on that winter afternoon, sand blowing into the folds in my jeans, my heart filled with a love that has only grown for that place every year since.

I wanted to share that moment with my sons, to have them experience the beauty of the beach in winter. I wanted the two of them to have their own sunny, standing on the beach, life-defining moment.

Things didn’t go quite as planned. Because parenthood. And Mother Nature.

LittleBrother fell asleep on the way to the beach. Instead of the sun shining, big clouds hung low over the waves. Thanks to the Polar Vortex of DOOM, the temperature never made it past 30 degrees. Still, I drove all this way to provide my children with a lasting memory, and good golly, we would achieve a lasting memory! I forced my grumpy, whiny, cold children out of their warm car seats. I made one of them climb back inside the car to retrieve his Hobbes tiger because in my grand master plan of creating lasting memories, Hobbes totally made an appearance.


As the wind blew, pelting us with sand, I marched my children out to the end of the closest boardwalk, told them to turn around, and implored them to please, oh please smile. Quickly. I played it up. Big time. “Isn’t this great! The beach! IN WINTER! Who goes to the beach in winter?!”

Crazy people moms who get a grand master plan of creating lasting memories, that’s who. My kids seemed to register the craziness of the moment. While LittleBrother hurried back down the boardwalk, Hobbes’ tail dragging behind him, BigBrother took another look around him. I felt a flicker of hope, that as he looked around, surely he would create a lasting memory. He would look back on this cold, cloudy, windy day and realize the effort I put forth to provide such a moment.

He squinted his eyes to shield them from oncoming grains of sand and exhaled. “It looks the same as always.”

He Meant Amazingly Beautiful, Obviously

Deflated, I shuffled us back to the warm, waiting car, turned it on and headed off to go about the rest of our day. It occurred to me later that the whole outing, while not picture perfect, definitely ranked up there on the list of lasting memories. Humorous, didn’t-go-as-planned, let’s-not-do-that-again lasting memories, but lasting memories all the same.