I held them, each, in my arms, before the cord was even cut.
They were impossibly perfect and miraculous (as all babies are) and no matter how many of them pop into this world it never stops blowing your mind;
that this, tiny, squirmy, helpless creature, will in a very short time, be running and swimming and singing and reading and drawing snowmen and making you laugh.
And then, before you know it, it zooms away in a dingy to look for snakes or shoots and kills a large pelagic fish-seventy feet under water.
They will come home, jabbering like monkeys about adventures that you weren't even there for .
And you did not tie their shoes or make them breakfast that day-they did it themselves.
And you will look up at the Clouds and say "How can this be?".
And the Clouds will pull their beards and shrug their sad shoulders and shake their heads.
It confounds them, too.
I was making meatloaf (something I am still needed for), when Kai finally ran out of gas- he was telling us about the fish he shot this morning and had been talking for four hours straight.
He stopped, mid sentence, stuffed an entire box of crackers in his mouth, downed a quart of milk, stood up, stretched his baby giraffe limbs and announced he needed a nap.
Then, flopped off into his cabin.
Hunter was already in her bunk, listening to music and writing private things in her diary.
She was mad at everybody-nobody had any idea why.
"I need this to slow down..." I said, mincing vegetables.
"What?" Jon was finishing up the dishes from lunch.
It had been a busy day so far...
Up before sunrise to 'rouse the kids-It's Kai's job, to flake the anchor chain whenever we raise the hook.
Jon pulled up the chain and I drove us out of the lovely cove we had spent the night in.
The weather was calm and the seas were flat- a perfect day to dive a sea mound with Manta.
Jon had just recently shot his first yellowtail and Kai was eager to try for one.
I was not thrilled by the idea but Kai kept after us, rehearsing with Jon everything that he would do, if he were lucky enough to get a shot at one and everything he would do in case something went awry.
He promised me not to shoot anything too big.
He promised Jon he wouldn't lose his gun.
Hunter and I had snorkeled the reef near the mound the other day-
There were sea caves and underwater mazes of weather-worn rock to swim through.
We discovered schools of juvenile parrot fish and were on a treasure hunt for the elusive Blue Benny.
We found sea urchins and Hunter dove down with her little knife after one.
Our Ama diver expertly cut it open and fed it to the swirling schools of angelfish and brightly colored wrasses.
The current had been strong and would be again today- so we chose not to snorkel while the others dove, opting instead to bake a gingerbread cake.
Already, Pura Vida is festooned with homemade Christmas decorations.
Snowflakes and snowmen and candy canes colored on construction paper.
We put on Christmas music and laid on deck in the sunshine watching the boys suit up.
Jon filled the scuba tanks that Terry and Dawn have been lending us and Kai went to get Jon's big speargun.
"Don't worry, mom. " he said, grinning at me.
An hour later as the cake was coming out of the oven, I could see the two dingies out on the reef.
The dive was over.
Hunter and I stood on deck watching them.
"There not coming back, yet..." said Hunter.
"They're talking about the dive." I told her.
Surfacing after a dive is when you finally get to talk about everything that happened down there.
When you dive, you all get to experience things and as soon as the regulators come out of your mouth, it's a flood of chatter as you compare all that you saw and felt.
I went below to turn the cake out of the pan.
I was anxious but I had counted two heads in our dingy- and that's all I cared about, really.
"Here they come!" squealed Hunter, from up top.
At sixty yards, I could see the grin on Kai's face.
He got one.
Everyone came home full of stories of the great hunt.
Terry had one, Jon two, Kai the biggest of all.
We ate warm gingerbread cake and listened to fish tales, then we weighed anchor and motored back to the calm cove for another night.
There were Horse running wild on the beach at sunset.
We would row ashore later, that night, and watch a prize fight on television at the beachside bar.
(We cheered and whooped with all the Mexicans as Marquez knocked Paquiau out).
The kids and Jon wrestled on the beach and everyone came home tired and happy with piles of sand in their pockets and ears.
It had been a wonderful, amazing day but now here I was, flooded with emotion, maniacally chopping onions.
"What is it, hon?" Jon asked.
"This!" I shook my head and wiped my flooding eyes with my sleeve.
"The, the... hunting, the night dives, the having of diaries and high heels, the...."
I was only vaguely aware that I was hammering away on the cutting board.
Jon dried his hands and hung the towel over the stove and sat down on the settee.
"We can't slow it down, babe. It's only going to go even faster from now on...."
He turned and looked at me.
"Don't cry" he said.
"I'm not. " I wailed. "It's...these Mexican onions! "
"Yeah. They get you every time." Jon said.
He came over to give me a hug.
Not at all. It's the opposite.
It's all so amazing and just so apparent, suddenly, that life is whizzing by...
And there's nothing I can do to stop it.
This is why the Clouds were so understanding.
They see the whole sad, beautiful picture from where they are.
I finish making the meal and put it in the oven.
Then I begin the task of making room in our freezer...
Jon and Kai have shot pounds of fish.
We will have Yellowtail in every conceivable form for the next few days.
Nana is coming soon and the boys are thrilled to have to hunt for FIVE now.
I will need a bigger freezer soon.
I hear Hunter and Kai giggling in their bunks.
Jon is on deck, looking at the stars.
Maybe, I can't make it stop...
But I can make every meatloaf count.