Thursday, September 18, 2008

How do you prepare for this?

How do you prepare yourself for this?
For this kind of loss, this kind of grief?
You've known for months, quite a few months
that this could be the way things would play out.
Yet how can you possibly prepare for this?

Mourning a boy is not the same as mourning a man.
The face, the smooth skinned face of a boy.
The freckled, and not yet stubbly face of just a boy.

Baseball, swimming, surrounded by teammates.
Running, goofing, clowning for the camera.
Wheelchair, tired, pale, so thin.
Smiling with Jeter
Loving the Yankees
Losing the fight
Losing the grip.

And he's gone.

And as a mother, how do you do this hard thing?
As a father, how do you stand there?
Brothers, sisters, Gammy, Pop-pop
Aunts and cousins and uncles and friends.

We must accept that which we don't understand.
We saw this tornado coming
We felt the earth begin to tremble
But we were not prepared for this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Bad News/Good News Kind of Day

My neighbor called to tell me that her grandson has died.

He was 13 and was diagnosed with bone cancer last year. We were hopeful for so long and then about six weeks ago they sent him home saying there was nothing more to be done for him.

We've known the family for years, we used to go to the same church, bought our house from R's other grandmother, there have just been a lot of connections between the two families over the years. His grandparents are the best neighbors you could ever want, and we feel a kinship with their family.

For 16 months now I've been wearing a blue wristband to remind myself to pray for him. I guess now I'll wear it a bit longer to remind myself to pray for his family. As a mom I cannot imagine how his mother is handling the death of the sixth of her seven children. And then there are the other children. Each one has to figure out how to deal with this loss. Someone once said that the hardest thing for kids who lose a sibling isn't the death of their sister or brother. The hardest thing is dealing with the change in and effective loss of their parents.

So if you think of it, please pray for this family.
And hug your own children, delight in them, cherish their quirky ways and don't undervalue their good health. It can all pass by like a vapor.

Now for the good news, and it is the best kind of news!

A half hour after hearing that R had died I got an email from my old friend Mark. He announced that his wife gave birth to a healthy (and very beautiful) baby boy on Sunday! I am so excited for them because I knew they'd been trying but I haven't spoken to Mark in awhile and I didn't even know she was pregnant. So that's a great surprise!!
Both Mark and his wife are professional singers. And I mean they are "Wow, what an amazing voice, how do you do that?" kind of singers. Another friend said to me: "So how long til we get to hear this kid sing?" He's got great genes, singing or not.

So congratulations M and M, enjoy that little dumpling!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Beautiful, Horrific Day

I originally posted this two years ago. I am posting it again because it still sums up my feelings about this day in history. Hug your babies, tell people you love them, tell them again. Look intently into the eyes of those who mean the most to you. Listen to their laughter and keep it close to your heart. Look for the holy in the commonplace.

There are so many memories of that day. It was an extraordinarily beautiful fall day. We had no idea how it would end.

I read the paper while drinking my coffee. I thought that the biggest news of the day was that the Bishop had Alzheimer's Disease. My husband called me and said to turn on the tv because a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.
It all happened in a blur after that. I just stood there, transfixed in front of the tv set. I called a couple of friends to make sure they watched too, but I just stood there, staring. It was so confusing at first, I remember wondering how on earth they would be able to reconnect the top and bottom of the first tower that was hit. I wondered how a pilot could go so off course as to run into a skyscraper. And then I heard one of the newscasters suggest that it was an act of terror.
How could that happen?
And the rest went by in a blur. I was standing there watching in live time when the second plane flew in and hit the other tower. I was standing there when they collapsed. It was amazing that the sky was so blue that day, the sun so bright and suddenly there was a blizzard-like dust falling from the sky. People ran away, crying, covered in debris.

I live in a bedroom community in NJ. My husband commutes to the city every day. We were all deeply, personally affected by the murders that took place on September 11, 2001. I am thankful that I didn't personally know anyone who died, but that doesn't even matter to me because I feel as though I knew many of them. Todd and Lisa Beamer attended the church that several of my friends attend. The husband of a woman who attended my MOPS group was killed. I went to pick my husband up at the commuter parking lot and there were just so many extra cars there for days and days. How many of those cars belonged to victims, I'll never know, but I can imagine.

I think that those of us who live in NY, NJ, PA, Southern CT, and the DC area share a sadly unique bond. For weeks afterwards (it felt like months) the daily newspapers listed the names of those whose remains had been found, or of those who were still unaccounted for. We turned on the tv and every newscast featured some poor, tortured soul holding up a wedding or graduation picture of their missing loved one. I particularly remember a man whose wife had died, leaving him with a 6 month old baby. He had a freezer full of her breast milk, so at least she could continue to nourish her baby after she had died.

And so I sobbed off and on all morning today. I listened to the reading of the names at the Ground Zero Memorial Service because I need to hear their names. Each one of those people meant the world to someone, they must be acknowledged.

This is still so fresh for many, many of us. But no matter how long I live, I dare not allow myself to forget. I watch the coverage and let myself grieve because I want to remember how personal and how all consuming the sadness was.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Art for Food

Here's a neat idea destined to warm the cockles of the most hardened heart. A group of artisans is auctioning off a whole slew of really beautiful creations and all proceeds go to feed the poor. Call it what you will: early Christmas shopping, benevolence, a break from this infernal campaign, however you frame it, it's a good thing. Just another way to add to the beauty.