Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

J'aime


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'm not.

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.

34 comments:

Elisabeth said...

With you in spirit and prayer, Elizabeth.

klady said...

((((Elizabeth))))

whiteycat4104 said...

Special prayers for you this day.

Suzer said...

This is beautiful, Elizabeth. Your words are pregnant with joy and sorrow, hope and loss. I'll be thinking of you today.

Karen H. said...

It amazes me that when there are no words, you find them and speak them in a voice so filled with love & pain that my heart simply breaks. Holding you in my heart & prayers.

IT said...

You made both me and BP cry....beautifully written.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, you know we both claim we don't cry but our eyes leak now and then.

Mine are leaking.

You said it yourself. We are a people pregnant with hope. Even when we feel loss.

Joanna Depue said...

Heartfelt prayers. Your expressive writing is a wonderful gift to us all.

Frair John said...

You are in my prayers today.

Caminante said...

And we had wine turned into Christ's blood at the noon eucharist so more than one of us shared in your glass of wine.

Kathryn said...

Prayers from here

John Kirkley said...

God bless you, Elizabeth, for your big heart and beautiful faith. I'm reminded of a line that Wendell Berry wrote to console a grieving friend: "grief gives the full measure of love, and it is somehow reassuring to learn, even by suffering, how large and powerful love is." May it be so.

Magdalene6127 said...

Thank you for sharing Jaime's story with us. May God walk beside you in the darkness of this grief.

JCF said...

{{{Hugs}}} and prayers for you, Ms Conroy, and all who loved/LOVE "J'aime"...

Paul said...

(((((((((((( Elizabeth ))))))))))))

Muthah+ said...

I never got to meet Jamie. But the woman you described resembles her mother quite a bit. I have seen that pencil line mouth saying no to injustice and stupidity for 30 years now. I have seen the light of those candles in her mother's eyes all these years too.

Thank you for sharing Jamie with us.

Czarina said...

Elizabeth, my heart is breaking for you, and yet, I hear the joy in ur voice from the memories u have of knowing, loving and being loved by such a gorgeous creature as Jaime! i'm thinking of u!!! xoxo

it's margaret said...

you are right --it turns the world upside down when a parent survives a child. we have a word for every type of bereavement except that one --widow, widower, orphan... but no word for a parent who has lost a child. we cannot even name it. it's a taboo place to be.

i think it should be somewhere in the alphabet between grief and hope.

God bless you, dear sister.

Karen said...

(((Elizabeth)))

Prayers for you today.

motheramelia said...

Prayers and thanks for your sharing a bit of her life with us.

Malcolm+ said...

You keep writing these things that make me cry. And you've done it again.

I can't imagine the grief.

Love and prayers.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Oh Elizabeth! It is my great hope that you and Jaime will "find one another in that big somewhere out there".

You loved. Jaime loved. Love never dies.

May God be with you, my dear friend.

susankay said...

Oh dear Elizabeth -- loving risks the most dreadful pain and loss. When my husband was going through 2 1/2 years of dieing of lung cancer, I took refuge in a women's therapy group. Most of us were dealing with loss either already experienced or pending. One very young woman said she never wanted to care that much because of the danger of terrible grief. The rest of us said: Oh yes, you should take the risk.

It's worth it but that doesn't make the knife-like pain any easier.

Prayers with you today -- and always -- because your pain will also be there even when, by the grace of God, it doesn't lessen that day's joy.

Brian R said...

May God Bless you today and always. I am sure Jamie is surrounded by Love.

Allie said...

Elizabeth, I cannot imagine what kind of pain you must feel. Prayers for you in this time of suffering and rememberance.

Joie said...

Tears for you -- and for my father who lost his middle daughter -- are falling on my keyboard. Thank you for sharing these memories of your beloved daughter.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks to each and every one of you for your kindness and generosity, your prayers and your hugs. And to Caminante for dedicating today's Eucharist in Jaime's name.

You can not know what a balm you have been for my soul.

Priscilla said...

A simple prayer offered in love.

Janet (thejanet) said...

I have no words, just love from my heart, it hurts so much for you, and celebrates with you the gift you had for a time. Thank you for the telling today.

ladiocese.LGBT said...

Prayers ascending from Pasadena

Erika Baker said...

I read this half an hour ago, I'm still crying and I still have no idea what to say. But at least I can send you all my love - you are an amazing woman, so full of love, passion and courage, a genuine inspiration. Thank you.

Riley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Riley said...

Ooops. Let me try that again.

So sorry I missed this yesterday.

My heart and prayers go out to you, Elizabeth as you grieve the loss of your daughter. There's no greater pain than the loss of a child. They're not supposed to go before you. But, I know she's smiling down on you today with much love for and pride in her Mom. She couldn't have asked for a more loving, caring or giving Mom than the one she had in you.

Warm hugs flowing your way, sweet lady.

Fran said...

Oh Elizabeth - I am so late to this but I wanted to leave you all my love and prayers. I cannot imagine this - my heart to you always.