Several members of my family have recently encountered some serious health concerns. I have therefore been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster; riding high with gratitude for each moment, but dipping down at times to that very basic, childish feeling when something we love is in danger of being taken: this is simply not fair.

For some reason, I grew up especially afraid of our human mortality. When I was 12, my CD player did some weird thing on the display panel. Something that looked like an ink splotch showed up where the numbers displayed the track – a splotch in a shape that looked a little like an island and a palm tree to my adolescent mind.

When my mom remarried and told me she was going to Hawaii for her honeymoon, I was convinced the palm tree ink splotch in my CD player’s display was some kind of omen that she would die on her trip (I mean, airplane rides over the whole goddamn ocean can’t be safe). I’d have to live with my dad, his wife, and stepchildren. My dad would try to help me with my ponytails, but girls at school would make fun of how bad they looked. I’d be forever uncool without my mom.

But she didn’t die. And I didn’t die either. Actually, I grew up with one set of great-grandparents, and another great grandma still around until I was in my early 20s. My parents’ parents are still with us today.

I have been lucky.

I was walking in my garden yesterday at dusk, picking up baseball gloves the kids left out, still sweaty from the three one-on-one soccer games I had played (one for each kid – you know, it’s gotta be fair), admiring the work we’ve accomplished on “La Petite Ferme,” when I started to think about life and death, and oddly, sustainability.

It’s a bummer that we have to think cognitively about sustainability, and that companies like Seventh Generation have to emblazon their mission on their label. The most important things I’ve learned about sustainability came from loving people who did good things, and I’m inspired to carry on their legacy; to teach others what they taught me about things that are understood somewhere cellular; in my marrow.

I love growing things because my grandparents showed me the beauty that came with getting their hands dirty. The Guzzetti family, who have taken in my lovely and crazy little tribe, have taught me another, beautiful view of family life – one of redemption. They’ve given me a place to go, where my liberal views, sailor’s mouth, and love for food are not only appreciated but shared, and our common bond is love for one another, along with the understanding that somehow we’re all beautiful and, simultaneously, fucked.

We may not last forever, but our imprint truly will. Even when our names are no longer remembered and our lives are tilled back into the ground. Love on.

Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com