Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I loved that her name meant "I love." Jaime. J'aime. Because she did.
She was a vibrant child. Intense. Curious. A full head of curly hair that seemed to have a mind of its own, just like the rest of her. Her features were an exotic mixture of her Portuguese/Azorean mother and her father who was German and French Canadian with some rumor of Native American.
Stunningly, strikingly beautiful.
She was, as they say in the South, a willful child. I can still see her at two and a half years old, hand on hip, mouth drawn into a pencil thin line, her brows furrowed, her little foot stamping the floor and she's saying, "No."
You knew that this was something beyond "the terrible two's". There was no doubt that she meant it. At two and a half.
She loved Disney movies, but she couldn't watch "Bambi". Or, "Dumbo." I don't think she ever watched either movie to the end. Too sad. She loved "Pinocchio" and, of course, "Cinderella" and "Snow White." But she also loved "Pete's Dragon." Knew all the words to all the songs - even "Passamashloddy".
As a child and even as a young adult, she loved, "Somewhere Out There" from 'An American Tale'. Sometimes, we used to sing it to each other. On the phone. Before she went to bed. During those Terrible Years of The Custody Battle. I still can't hear that song without being instantly transported back in time. And dissolved into tears.
As she grew she became an intelligent, creative, and passionate young woman. When her dark eyes flared, you knew to stay out of her way. When she laughed, her whole body laughed with her. She cared deeply about suffering in any form, but had a special place in her heart for animals.
The Roman Catholic Church of her husband's faith became her spiritual sanctuary. She loved to go to mass, and did so several times a week, but she sometimes just stopped in at the church around the corner from her home to say a prayer and light a candle. That small act of hope also brought comfort and solace to her often troubled soul.
And, she loved to cook. One of the last presents I gave her was two cookbooks. The last conversation we had was about the spaghetti sauce she was making. From scratch. She was going to serve it with penne pasta. The recipe called for red wine which, she said, she was enjoying as she cooked, even though she had been told by her doctor not to drink any alcohol.
"It's just a glass," she said, with an annoyance that could have easily turned into a flash of her anger, "which I'm sipping." I could see her hand on her hip, her mouth pencil thin, her brows furrowed, her foot stomping.
Then she laughed and said, "How can you cook Italian if you don't drink wine?" Then, she laughed some more, "Or, French? Or, Chinese? Or Indian? Or, Portuguese . . . . .?" Then, she laughed some more.
That was the day before she died.
She had been feeling ill. Her energy level was "at zero to minus five," she said. She hated the new medication she was on. "I really think I'd be better off without it," she said.
She died five years ago. Today.
I'd like to think she's better off. My faith tells me she is.
I miss her more, today, than I did the day I got the call from her husband, telling me that she had died.
It's not supposed to be like this, you know? Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. It's all terribly wrong. Which, in some perverse way, only adds to the grief.
It helps to imagine her somewhere celestial. Somewhere very beautiful. "Somewhere Out There." She has rescued another small animal who is sitting happily nearby. The music she loved most - Stevie Nicks, KISS, Heart, George Michael, Anything MoTown - is playing in the background. LOUD. She's cooking up something delicious, and she's enjoying a large glass - or two - of red wine.
And, laughing. Intensely. Passionately. Freely.
Later on today, when I get home from work, I'm going to have a glass of red wine and raise it in her honor.
She'd like that, I think.
I'll definitely be saying a prayer that, someday, "we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there."
But first, I'll cry.
Because I love.