When the Planet Shifts



Before we married, Jim promised me we would have five boys.

Because I was very young, somewhat gullible, and only took college laboratory courses because I had to (notwithstanding my lack of scientific skills), I believed him.

We had two boys in under two years. Promising start.

On a windswept January day the following year we had a few extra hours on our hands: my scheduled delivery had been moved to make way for an emergency one.  (I did not prove much more successful in the childbirth department than I had in the hard sciences.)

We took our toddlers to breakfast at a riverside restaurant where I managed–just barely–to slide my mid-section behind a sturdy stationary pine table where the boys laughed and gave us sticky kisses before we dropped them off to play with friends–and Winston, the venerable bulldog.

Jim had only sisters and I had only brothers, and despite having some experience growing up as a girl I never felt equipped when among girl friends to understand how that is, or should be, done.  I assumed that we would have a third son by mid-day; he let on to me that he thought we’d be bringing home a Holly or Fiona.

We stopped at a nearly empty restaurant near the hospital and Jim had something to eat; I was not allowed to partake before surgery.

The owner looked at me and smiled, “When are you due?”

I glanced at Jim’s watch.  “He should be here at 12:42,” I said.

She gave me a hug.

Then the two (almost three) of us went to the seashore,  and walked hand-in-hand down a snow crystal-glazed path to the ocean. A few hours later, beautiful Emma arrived, not with a howl but with a thoughtful, piercing and curious gaze from the second her enormous eyes adjusted to what we then knew as light.


The Wings of an Angel, the Wings of a Dove


Emma was a teenager when her father died. She is in such important ways like him, the man who taught her to love finches.

As sunset gathered on her birthday this winter I felt compelled to turn my steering wheel off course and drive back to that seashore spot, where layered gold and orange clouds settled in one spot to form unmistakable wings so bright they lingered as an after-image even when the sky turned gray and only the smudged plum outline of a single bird soared over the sea.


morefall15 244



About Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She also is an adjunct professor at a law school on the banks of the Charles and loves that dirty water, as she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2021 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.
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12 Responses to When the Planet Shifts

  1. mishedup says:

    those moments…..
    what a sweet memory , thank you for sharing it.

  2. Leya says:

    Precious memories…and you write them well. Thank you.

  3. Allan G. Smorra says:

    You are so good at recounting the feelings behind your memories. The winged cloud photo is outstanding, Stephanie.

  4. DeniseGlennon says:

    So beautiful, Steph.

  5. de Wets Wild says:

    What a lovely memory.

  6. Caitlin says:

    Gorgeously written.

  7. scillagrace says:

    Those mystical moments when you are swept into the course of life, opening eyes, surprising beginnings. There is so much more than we will ever grasp, but to feel at any rate a participant is truly grand! Thank you for this beautiful post. I know the feeling! (My Emily was born while I was watching the end of the Gulf War on CNN. She was just shy of 17 when my Jim died.)

  8. Dalo 2013 says:

    You write so well ~ the memories and those incredible photographs. Beautiful post.

  9. Marie Keates says:

    What a beautiful memory. My father died when I was nine and my memories of him are dim and hazy, just snippets really. I’m glad your children got to know their father better than I knew mine,

  10. Stephanie says:

    Reblogged this on Love in the Spaces and commented:

    My daughters are both on another continent today, celebrating my elder daughter’s birthday together. Last year’s birthday sunset sky swirled into an enormous bird. I had forgotten that another birthday post, “In the Beginning,” described different facets of the same day. As with all our children, her dad saw her first and so I first visualized her through his words.

  11. ann says:

    Thank you for revisiting these wonderful entries that are a pleasure to read about your family memories and photographs, love to all the family.

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