Wednesday, August 5, 2009
we called by paternal grandmother, mawmaw. she had the whitest hair, liked to sit outside and watch the world around her, loved college football and always had a glass of milk punch.
mawmaw passed away when i was a freshman in college. and over the last 18 years my relationship with her has taken a different turn. what i mean is that in the years since she has been gone, i dream about her. these dreams are so vivid and real and when i wake i can recall every little detail. i often have to tell myself, that it was just a dream, she isn't alive anymore. and more often than not, she appears when i am struggling with life or facing some difficult decision. the challenge then becomes what is she trying to tell me?
since cooper died, i have only dreamt about her once and this bothers me. because it is now that i could use her guidance and strength. but i think it is too painful, too close to home for her to try to bring me comfort, so that is why she stays away. you see, my beloved grandmother knows this journey i am on too well. her first daughter, the one i am named after, was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 5 and died shortly there after. what i know about my name sake is sketchy at best, based mostly on anecdotal stories that my father has told me over the years. the way his family dealt with her death is nothing like the way my precious husband and i are processing the loss of cooper. my grandparents locked their grief up in a box and put it on the shelf. they took down pictures, packed away her things and never spoke of her. my grandfather even changed his birthday because that was the day she died. the way they processed their grief had consequences on the family dynamic that are still present today.
my grandparents adopted a girl, marion,who i now recognize as the replacement baby. she was never good enough and could never live up to her older sister. she made poor choice after poor choice, and i am quite certain it was because she felt as if she didn't belong. and then my aunt molly came along and i believe she was the grace and healing that my grandmother had been searching for since lucinda's death. molly was 16 when i was born and she and i have always been very close. my parents often say that my behavior and mannerisms are so much like hers,that we could be sisters instead of aunt and niece.
in the weeks after cooper died my precious husband and i spent a lot of time talking about my family history and how the death of lucinda changed my family forever. i knew that, for us, we needed to grieve in a different way. and we have worked very hard to do just that, to live in the present no matter how difficult it may be and to embrace our grief, rather than locking it away in a box. for me, this was the only way to survive, if i would have followed my grandparents path, i am certain the pain would have been to much for me to bear.
i have been thinking alot about my grandmother lately, and how i wish that she were alive, i have so many questions to ask her. my mother recently told me that mawmaw was upset that they named me lucinda, i guess she was superstitious. i wonder if it was hard for her to call me by name? did she see "her" lucinda every time she looked at me? did her heart break every time she heard my name? i have never seen a picture of my namesake, and while i look just like my mother, i do have some features that don't resemble my mother or my father. do i look like her?
i wonder if my grandmother some how knew the heartache that comes with losing a child would be my path? did she think that by naming me something else that she could have prevented me from knowing this kind of loss? and what does this mean for my future children and their children? will they follow in my footsteps on this path of heartbreak and loss?
i wonder if mawmaw always loved hummingbirds or was it lucinda's death that caused her to watch them so faithfully out the kitchen window? did lucinda visit the hummingbird feeder, the way coopers visits the lavender in the afternoon?
i wonder if she would tell me what she would have done differently in those weeks, months and years after lucinda died? does she have regrets on how she dealt with her loss? what would she say about how i am processing and moving through coopers death? would she disagree or would she be proud of the work we have done?
i have so many questions for her. oh, how i wish she would visit me, just to let me know that she is there, watching me on this journey. there are so many things about that time in her life that i will never know. but there are a few things that i do know, that she loved me firecely, that she was waiting for cooper with open arms, and that she will watch over him as if he were her own until i see him again.