|I do not know what Nana was showing Princess Commando, a rock? a flower? a speck of fairy dust? But, the little one was captivated.|
And, how do you observe the anniversary of the passing of a loved one? It is not the same as celebrating a birth day. There is a part of me that does not feel the need to commemorate the day she died. I would rather remember how she lived, anyway. I had quietly, privately said by good-bye long before the day her heart actually stopped beating.
She had Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is such a cruel bitch in that it steals the essence of your loved one and leaves you with the body- tricking you into believing that somehow, she is still in there somewhere. And there are glimpses- fleeting moments- a flickering of recognition in her eye. She had difficulty remembering names and associations. But, sometimes when she was greeted by someone who was familiar to her- she would graciously say, "Here is my friend. So nice to see you again." The last two years of her life were so very painful as we watched the vivacious and self assured matriarch of our family become a fragile, frightened impostor living in the shell that once housed my Nana's spirit. And even the shell began to to look unfamiliar as medicines and mini strokes made her petite frame swell and her eyes droop.
I had a moment the summer before she passed- months before she was hospitalized and physically failing- when I realized things would never be the same. It was warm and I was in the early months of my pregnancy with The Baby. I was resting on the couch in the front room trying to escape the heat when the unexpected scent of basil softly, warmly floated in through the front windows. Perhaps a neighbor had planted some; but, I had never caught the scent before and I haven't smelled it since. Basil always reminds me of my Nana. She had a garden when we were children where she grew concord grapes, raspberries (black and red), mint and basil. She always added fresh basil to our Sunday salad, which no one in our family has been able to replicate- probably because she mixed it with her hands. With the warmth of the fragrant basil wafting in, came a flood of emotions wringing my heart- forcing tears of mourning. A vision of Nana in the kitchen (talking with us as she prepared the Sunday meal with such ease and with such magnificent results) and then a vision of the kitchen empty, quiet, still. The image of the empty kitchen felt like death. As the sadness welled, I felt The Baby move, the beginning of her fluttering and flitting and I knew that somehow I must incorporate Emily (my great grandmother's name, my Nana's name, my mother's name) into the baby's name. She became Violet Emily- in honor of all of the great Emilys that came before her. It gave me a sense of peace in saying good bye.
Violet was born one week before Nana died. I do regret that Violet was not able to meet her. My mother said that she brought a picture of The Baby to the hospital and my Nana acknowledged her by saying, "Beautiful baby." Nana's sparkle is definitely evident in Violet- both of them love to dance. So, that is what we did tonight to observe this somber occasion. I scooped up The Baby in my arms and we danced.