Monday, May 25, 2009

Let It Linger

I suppose Spring could only be considered to linger if its climate extends into summer. It's not summer yet. But unlike other years, I'm not wishing Spring away.

Although the past couple of months have been fraught with emotion on many levels--from my blissful marriage to Ian (aka Best Guy Ever), to the death of my friend and former paramour Patrick, from the sweetness of preschool's Mother's Day Tea to the contentment of long, lazy afternoons in the backyard with friends, family, my boys. Even the past few weeks were spent with me and my friend Mary fighting the City of New Haven to make space for our sons in their rightful Kindergarten on the corner of our block. Now? Victory. They're in. We made enough noise, and they're in. We won the battle, but the New Haven Board of Education has a war--and a mess--on its hands. Unfortunately it's nothing new. But Mary and I were happy to take the fight to the next, more public level.

Through all of it, the messy, but happy past few months, many things have remained constant. I've spent as much time in the garden as possible. My children are an endless source of joy and wonder. I keep finding new and cool crafty ideas that go way beyond the sewing machine. And I've continued to enjoy what feels like a bonus round of a relationship with my grandmother. Grandma was diagnosed with liver cancer--liver cancer!!--just two years ago this August. Her initial prognosis was dire, but she managed to beat the odds. The fact that we celebrated her 80th birthday in late April is, to me, nothing short of a miracle. A true blessing.

We all give our time here a lot of lip service. "Seize the day!", "You only live once!", and "Life is short!" are familiar cliches. I'm grateful to have had this extra time with Grandma. I'm grateful to have had extra time with all of the people in my life. And I thank God every day that I always told Patrick exactly how much his friendship meant to me before his untimely death last April. The irony that his wake was the same day as Grandma's 80th birthday was not lost on me.

But there is one person to whom I wish I could have said goodbye. Rose, the grandmother of my closest and oldest friend, Renee, passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Her death was not unexpected. It was not tragic in the sense that she had lived a long, full life and was prepared to die in the end. But I never got to tell Rose how comfortable she always made me feel--how I loved her cooking, her pizza gain, her broad smile, her cute little laugh, the way she used to lightheartedly roll her eyes at the jokes of her husband Pete, who died seven years ago. Rose was adorable--and little! She was the only adult I knew who was shorter than me. Her home was impeccable and welcoming, and she seemed to know an awful lot about what it takes to make a life--and a household--stay on track. Not that she ever said as much. The answers were instead in the details, in the purposeful and thorough way in which she regarded her role as wife, mother and grandmother.

I hadn't seen Rose in a while--no fault of anyone's but mine. I wish I had taken a few minutes out of my life the past few years to just pop in and say hello. Just five minutes. I could have spared that for the woman who had nothing but an open heart and an open kitchen for me for so many years. When Renee told me that Rose was sick and that things weren't looking good for her, I wrongly assumed (breaking my own rule to never assume anything) that I would have a few extra days to visit her and say goodbye. God has other plans--as usual, right?--and Renee called this morning with the news that her grandmother passed away close to midnight last night.

So...seize the day. You only live once, and life is short. Make the most of it, be kind to others, be kind to yourself, and tell people that you love them. This Thursday I will find myself, again, at funeral services for a loved one. I will find myself again at All Saints Cemetery. I will say goodbye to Rose. I will stop by Patrick's grave and say hello. And later I will come home to my two beautiful boys and loving husband, ready to give them some extra hugs and kisses that have become regular fare around here. Nothing wrong with that.

Let Spring linger. Let Summer linger, too.

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