May 29, 2012 § 4 Comments
After my mom died, I took a trip to New York because Jeff had a photography show. At the opening, I was still in a fog. It was a happy occasion and I tried to smile, but I was still so deeply sad. I never was good at smiling on command. My friend Angie showed up with her beautiful baby, Caroline, who was maybe six months old. “Can I hold her?” I asked. Suddenly, it was the only thing in New York I wanted to do. “I brought her for you, “ Angie said. Holding that baby, her perfect skin, her toothless smile, I burst into tears– for once not because I was sad, but because I found something I couldn’t resist being happy about. It was a relief. My arms finally got tired and I gave Caroline to her father, but something had changed.
In November, I called my sister. “I want to do a marathon in Miami,” I said. “Why don’t you do the half?” “I can’t, she said. I’m pregnant.” This was the first truly happy news in my family in a long time. I checked in with her throughout the pregnancy. Everything was going well. When the due date neared, I checked in with her almost every day. “I wish Dad was here,” she said. “Me too,” I said. Dad was an OBGYN. We could always avoid going to the doctor, or figure out if we really needed to by calling him. He would slip into doctor mode, as if a switch had been flipped. He would speak to us in clinical terms and give an objective analysis of the problem. But now he was gone, so that left us to speculate about things on our own. My sister actually had to go to the doctor to confirm things.
Finally, the baby, Mimi, was born beautiful and healthy. I went to help my sister for a few days, to meet the baby, to help change diapers, to keep my six-year-old nephew occupied. These are things my mother might have done. When I met Mimi, I did not get an overwhelming desire to have another baby—reliving the nighttime feeding schedule confirmed that. Still, holding her calmed something in me, just like holding Caroline had. Her tiny feet, her distinct eyebrows, the face shaped somehow like my mother’s, her sweet smiles that were probably just gas–all of this focused my attention on the moment, on the possibilities for happiness for this sweet new person. My parents will never see Mimi, but she is a reminder of them too, proof that they will never truly disappear, and that there are still good things to come.