Tuesday, June 2, 2015



Happy Belated Birthday! Sorry Sweetie, my mind kept getting in the way of my heart, then my heart would get in the way of my mind . . . and I don’t even know how I got through your special day. This has been the most difficult FIRST for me yet. Can I still call it your Birthday or should it now be your Birth Day? It has been two days of the ugly cry but experience has taught me that “this too shall pass”. I needed to just sit with my emotions, quiet my mind and reflect—my tools for finding my center. And yes, CRY, CRY, CRY! It's part of the healing.  It washes away some of the pain to make room for the moments of laughter. I felt numb. I could not remember your first birthday; what kind of cake I made for you. I remembered that your favorite birthday dinner was Chicken a la King, hold the pearl onions; stuffed into  Pepperidge Farm shells that have the tops that come off only to be put back onto the filled shells creating a little hat for decoration. Mashed potatoes. You became the King of making and perfecting mashed potatoes. Exactly what time were you born? I know it was after 10 am but EXACTLY what time? Was I starting to forget? That horrified me. No, that can never happen. My memories and time frames were all jumbled. So I decided to concentrate on the pulled pork I was making for Nikki's celebration of you. Focus I did, I pulled that pork so fine that I believe it became an unrecognizable dish. Corn bread next. How can I mess up cornbread? By putting in half the amount of eggs and liquids. Jalapenos. I'll just add jalapenos. Heat masks and cures anything. 

The weather—pouring. I just kept thinking that the rain drops were tears from Heaven and you were crying because you were sad you weren't with us. I know, crazy thinking. I can't make anything better for you anymore. I can’t comfort you. How can that be? I’m your Mother. It’s my job. It’s why you have a Birth Day. How could I have lost that responsibility? Forever 36. That’s the way it has to be.

When Dad and I arrived at your place and I saw the crowd of your friends, I couldn’t open my mouth for a friendly Hello. I was overwhelmed and sought refuge inside with the babies. Rocked Bear to sleep—one of my favorite things. Auntie Claire and Heidi stopped by. A surprise visit. The support from those who love us is so very comforting. They knew what I needed before I even did. We had a quiet visit, a quiet cry. I spent the entire afternoon indoors. Jaime and Reese were my afternoon companions. Oh! Matty, you should see that beautiful red-headed baby. She’s a little peanut and I can see Quinny in her. You have some amazing friends! The afternoon truly was a blur. My resolve was totally broken when Quinny gave me an Uncle Matty Bear Hug. Jaime had told her I might need one that day. Jaelyn followed suit. The little ones touch my soul. They love to comfort and they can do it so well. Cake cutting was next and sorry to say, I was unable to participate. Caught Nikki’s eye and said a silent goodbye . . . and then more numbness. I wonder if this is what a mollusk at high tide feels like. Covered and unable to dig yourself free. Sounds seem distant. Shifting of the sands, constant movement. An occurrence that happens twice daily always with a beginning and an end. The consistency of the event allowing for adjustment. Back home, I succumbed to grief and let sleep wash over me. It was truly a restless night. I could not make sense of anything. Thinking. Reflecting. If I had to sum up your life how would I do that? What could I say? What could you teach people by your example? What is your legacy? I’ve always been about learning the lesson in the experience so what could I take away from your Birth Day? Your life? Believe. Strength in vulnerability. Love, it all comes back to love. I think those are the lessons you were meant to teach.

BELIEVE. You have sent us so many signs. You have made believers out of more than a few. The picture—DaddyAngel was one of the first and came from Addy. A few days after your passing, Nikki was bathing her and cutting her fingernails. She was holding Nikki’s phone in one hand and playing with an app that allows her to find a picture in the phone’s photo gallery and place a head shot into a template. Jaelyn had always been the recipient up to this point with her cute little face and a monkey body. On this day Addy created DaddyAngel—her words! We thanked you for that sign. Saturday morning Nikki was planning an outing to the beach. While they were getting ready, Addy grabbed something out of the air and said “got him”.  Nikki asked her who she had caught and she answered “Daddy´ and kept her tiny fist clenched for 20 minutes. She put you in Nikki’s pocket and made the statement “I will never drop him” and off to the beach you went. You love making sand castles with that little girl. I also heard a story that you told Addy the beach belonged to her. She was a little upset when she saw other kids were playing in the sand (she’s a bit territorial) and told them that her DADDY said this beach was hers but she’d let them play on it. I can hear that Man Giggle Matty. So, BELIEVE that you are here with us in Spirit. You are part of our lives and always will be. Believe that there is joy in life. Believe and it will come to us.

VULNERABILITY. Such a double-edged sword. In the land of security it is considered a risk, a weakness. From an emotional standpoint it is also a risk but a true test of courage and strength because it threatens one’s self-perception, self-image, and one’s ego. You have to value intimacy in order to dig deep enough; peel away the layers of fear and expose your heart in all of its tenderness. You had such intimacy with your friends, your male friends. There was quite a bit of vulnerability exposed Sunday afternoon as storytelling began and the tears started to flow. You are so greatly missed. Nikki was a trooper wanting the day to be a celebration of your life. She tells me that after singing Happy Birthday and cutting the cake, she broke down. Completely. There are times when the tears have to flow. Nikki was well supported by your cadre of friends. She also gave them a wonderful gift—permission to grieve. We can do it alone and we can share in it as a group. Grieving is part of healing and tears are part of grieving. Tears are not a weakness. Tears of grief in a crowd are a display of vulnerability. They will pass and when they do they are a testament to the quantity and quality of love that people have for you. They are giving back what you gave to them. Intimacy, vulnerability, love. Not to be confused with your favorite line “don’t be a pussy”, which has nothing to do with vulnerability and more to do with pride.

LOVE. The bear hugs were your physical symbol of the love you had for people. Their language is that of intimacy. It said “you mean something to me”, “I value you”, “my heart touches your heart”, and “we are equals”. This is a lesson we can take from your life. Stop for a moment when greeting people. Feel the connection. We are one on a soul level. Let’s put a little warmth, kindness, compassion and empathy back into our earthly world by truly bringing LOVE to our hugs.

My prayer to you on your belated Birth Day. Please shower your family and friends with the gifts of faith, belief in our fellow man, emotional strength, vulnerability and an ability to love that transcends the warmth of the moment to a contagious act—a gift bestowed freely and frequently to many. We honor your Spirit by emulating your intimacy, your love, your “collection of people”, your BIG Bear Hugs.
Love you so much—forever.



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