Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Birthdays and Sad Goodbyes

Today is my mother's birthday (and the culmination of Mia's eighth week- but more on that, tomorrow). With the craziness that is my life now, we both knew that we wouldn't be able to speak for long on the day of, or actually plan anything together, but I'd hoped to make a quick phone call and celebrate in a small but special way with her over the weekend.

Through the usual fog that surrounds me in the first several hours of the morning/early afternoon, I didn't even register what day it was. When I saw my mother's number show up on my cell phone, I remembered, but her tone and voice were not at all as I expected to hear them. She sounded tired, haggard. Like she'd been crying.

It turned out that my paternal grandfather passed away this morning, and she was calling to pass the sad news on to me. I have fond memories of the joyful, playful, giant of a man that he was in his younger days, back when visits were often and eagerly-anticipated. Having seen very little of him in my teenage and adult life, and finding it hard to relate the reality of the changed man that he was in his older age to the way that I saw him as a child, I am still struggling with the emotions that his death has set in flux within me.

I last saw him just shy of a year ago, an unexpected visit in tragic circumstances: the death of his son, my uncle, my father's brother. My family was blessed to enjoy a couple of lucid hours with him before our departure, in which he got a chance to see his great-grandchildren, Abby and Michael. Mia will sadly never have the same opportunity, now.

As we ended our brief phone call, my mother and I, I hesitated before finally pushing forward in my decision to wish her a happy birthday. It felt forced, and sounded foreign in the midst of our shared grief, but I didn't want to let it go unsaid. Having left things the way I did, though, it still feels like it was.

Tom and I wanted to do something special to make up for it, but we needed Abby's cooperation. She's a great little singer, but not so keen to do it on command. Over dinner, we talked her up on the notion of making a little video for Mima, and she seemed intrigued, but I knew it would be no easy task. Smart as she is, Abby still has a hard time understanding that videos must be made before they can be watched.

There were four attempts in all. The highlight of the first was Abby's amused expression and coy little murmur that, "Mommy can sing it," as I tried to whisper-sing/encourage in the background. In the second, she was more aggressive. "No! I don't want to sing it!" In the third, I tried to pique her interest with the forward-facing camera. She was definitely more involved that time, but only in the making of silly faces, while I did all of the singing.

I'd given up at that point, and begun to nurse Mia, when Abby declared that she was going to sing, after all. Of course, my one-handed, fumbling attempt at getting the camera out quickly interrupted Mia and set her crying, and it was at this point that Abby began. I still couldn't reach the record button right away, so getting a perfect video was an impossibility from the start, but I figured I'd go with it and see what happened.

The result was- well- amusing, at least. Here's to you, Mima. I hope that your birthday was as happy as it could have been.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, Grandpa. May you find eternal peace in the loving arms of God.


  1. I am sorry. It is always so heartbreaking to lose people we love and care about. Abby is precious like always.

  2. Deepest condolences for your loss.