For several years before my daughter was born– and the Mother’s day that turned out to be just days before she was born, Mother’s Day was a sad time for me with all the feelings of longing and loss that I felt during the years that I hoped to become a mother but hadn’t. But now it is the month of perhaps the most breathtaking changes of my life.
Two years after my daughter was born, almost to the day, my father died. Although he was very ill, he died very suddenly– unexpectedly and I was not at home where I had grown up and where he and my mother still lived; I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye either in person or on the phone.
On Monday I will mark my father’s yahrzeit– (anniversary of a death). This weekend right before the yahrzeit or the equivalent several days leading up to his yahrzeit, are always incredibly difficult for me. They are full of memories and feelings, many good and some very difficult, they are full of gratitude that he was my father, they are full of sadness at the permanence of his absence in our lives and the things I would like to do or say again with him, or at least one more time. The rest of the world goes on, but over these couple of days I feel strange and heartbroken inside–and I’ve still not quite found the right thing to do other than to plow forward (and sometimes yell at people for seemingly no reason– sadly the people at whom I yell are almost exclusively my partner and daughter. Yes, I admit it– that is what I do with my grief at times.)
In addition to mother’s day, my father’s yahrzeit, my daughter’s birthday and the anniversary of “the call”, May and then June hold a few other deeply significant dates for me. Both my partner and I have an almost video-like recollection of many things we did during the frenetic week between learning of my daughter’s birth and flying to her home state of Texas and bringing her into our family forever. Some of the things we did were deep and touching, some mundane and some hilarious. We talk and laugh, just the two of us, about many things that we did during that week. Everything about the week could have been forgettable except now will never be forgotten.
And then there is June 1st– the date we flew to Texas and met all seven pounds of our 12 day old daughter and fell in love with her and took her back to our hotel and began to know her and to help her know us and to try to get our bearings in a city far from home and in our new lives as parents. I know that my daughter was sad and scared on that day, though we were elated, and I know that many days to follow were not simply easy and joyful for her as they were for us. But it was our beginning.
And then there is June 8th, which is the day we said goodbye to Texas and brought her to this city, this block, and this apartment where she and we have lived ever since. And then nearly one year ago– on the very last day of May of 2009 , I believe, we had the remarkable meeting for the first time with my daughter’s beautiful younger brother, and his two very wonderful moms. We spent a single, very full day with them. With one opening game of chase and rough-housing and then lunch in a diner, a walk to a park and an unplanned average dinner at our dining room table, they became our family all at once on that day.
I have the luxury today of having the two people I love and live with every day– away camping with the Girl Scouts and I have the apartment all to myself. I am listening to beautiful music, studying Hebrew, writing, writing and fixing the simplest meals possible– because there is so much to take in, such fullness of heart and mind and memory in May.