Friday, February 21, 2014

a thinning of the veil: 11 things for 11 years


every february 21, i think about how i woke up leaking fluid on the 21st of february 2003. and how, when i called my perinatalogist he said, "get in the car. you're having a baby today." and how i took a shower, packed my bag and hopped in the car with christian & with one last thing to take care of: her name.  

I had a list saved on christian's palm pilot of a hundred names. i poured over it: when church was boring, when we were driving anywhere, when someone asked me about our naming plan.  i fretted. 

each name had qualities i liked, but not one of them sung to me.

(i even considered "diamanda," after diamanda galas.  who is rad.  and so is her name.)

and how i called my mom to tell her the delivery was imminent, and how christian said, while i was talking to my mom, while we were on the slushy late-winter i-15 "how about cecily anna?*"

and so i said to my mom, "christian says: how about cecily anna."

and how my mom said, "that name is so beautiful and perfect it almost makes me cry."

and how i could tell by her voice that she wasn't almost crying, but was actually crying.

and how all our emotions were just tender to the touch and so right there.  and how this delivery, we knew, was going to be emotional and piercing and uncertain, and how it felt, as we say in the mormon tradition, that the veil was thin.

it's hard to explain what that means, the thinning of the veil. basically it's something like close to death, but more than that. close to a knowledge of the other side, to those who have come before, and gone.  and to those spirits who are yet to come.

close to a kind of knowledge that you can almost, but never quite, grasp here in this earthly realm, as my people say.

it means that you are inhabiting a space that is not quite life and not quite death.  and it's mostly ineffable, and what i can tell you about it is this:  it's both scary and peaceful, both sad and joyful, both hopeful and despairing.

something important here is the bothness, the in between.  not opposing or contradictory states of being, but simultaneous.

i remember exactly how i felt then, so close to almost seeing through the veil, almost touching the other side, and i haven't felt this way before or since.  i can't tell you in words with anything close to exactness what i felt then, only that i did.


how hard it is to find the words to say how much i adore cecily! how special she is. (one of her nicknames is special. and & also sesame, & cee, & specialty. . . .)

and here are 11 things i love about her:

1)  her smile.  i think everyone who knows her agrees it's remarkable.  grandpa noel calls it a mona lisa smile.

2) her caramel-colored hair.  i love braiding and twisting and brushing it each morning, and i'm honored that she entrusts it to me.

3) her writing.  she tells the most fascinating stories.

4) her humor.  a lot of her stories come with illustrations, and every line of her drawings vibrates with character, humor, and wisdom.

5) the way she enjoys life.  she's so fun to hang out with, to do exciting things with, or to do nothing at all with.

6) her outfits.  i'm excited each and every morning to see what she'll wear to breakfast.

7) her fashion blog,

8) her sensitivity.  she always tries super hard to never hurt anyone's feelings.

9) her taste.  she has fantastic taste in music, movies, books, clothes, and food.

10) her run.  sounds weird, but she looks really cute running.  her run exudes great joy.

11) her affection.  she loves to hug, kiss, and cuddle.  she has silky cheeks and tiny soft hands.

* cecily came from our love of oscar wilde's play the importance of being earnest, from the character miss cecily cardew.  i also love that cecilia is the patron saint of music, and i love the sibilance of her name, the three syllables, the femininity of it, the lilt and the look.  i love the name a lot.

*anna  connects to my mother's middle name ann, and one of the most beautiful people i know, anna vinten-johansen burdak, a gorgeous singer who inspired us to write the first opera we had ever attempted, a girl's body at crepescule. she performed the lead, and was a co-founder of seattle experimental opera, more than twenty years ago.  she and i have recently begun a new project together.


  1. I love, love, love this post ....because I know and love Cecily and because it was beautiful. I also love another one of her nicknames, Cessy.