November 2019, you bring with you so many emotions.
Today, my baby celebrates 7 months on the outside. It brings me back to the day he was born. 7 months ago, my godmother came over for a quick visit. I love when she stops by. She’s a woman of grace, intelligence and beauty.
When she came by, I knew I’d be having my baby that day. I was overdue, partially dilated and very uncomfortable. I was waiting for a call from my midwives to move forward with the next steps. I was so ready to meet my new baby. A visit from my godmama on that day was just icing on the cake for me, an extra special moment shared between us.
While our visit was so lovely, she brought with her some sad news. My Oma, who had been ill for several years, was clearly declining. She didn’t have long left, but no one knew what that meant : days, weeks or months? I knew that once I had recovered enough to travel, I’d be making a trip to see my Oma with my new baby, her freshest great-grandson.
2 days after Alistair was born, my Oma died. I’m told it was peaceful. I’ll never know. I wish I had known that last time we spoke, the last visit we had together, that it would be our last one. Our last hug. Our last I love you.
My Oma was special. After Robert was born, she didn’t really know what to say. She wanted to comfort me, but she wasn’t sure how. She told me how ‘those people’ could do ‘great things’ and lead ‘normal lives’. None of that was said in a condescending way. She was so happy to tell me that she knew someone with Down Syndrome who led a happy and fulfilled life. She was trying to comfort me, and tell me not to put limits on our new baby boy. I could tell she was trying to carefully choose her words, not to offend or say the wrong thing. After all, she grew up in a time where people with Down Syndrome were given up for adoption, hidden away in institutions, and not spoken of. She knew our precious gift would be loved and shared with the world, but she didn’t have the vocabulary needed to express that.
Alistair’s birth story and Oma’s death will forever be linked. One a memory of the other. Each milestone in his life represents another day, month, and soon, year that Oma is not with us.
November adds another layer to the grief. Today, as I celebrate my baby being a part of our family for the past 7 months, I know it means that 7 months ago, Oma only had 2 more days with us. On Wednesday, the 7 month anniversary of Oma’s death, I will be celebrating Sullivan’s 2nd birthday. I wonder what her advice would be if I asked her how to be the best parent to this wild and loving boy? She met Sullivan and yet, even though we spent a morning together, I barely remember that visit. Sullivan did not sleep. He suffered from colic, and he was a baby who needed to be held. I was sleep deprived, and I didn’t know how to host my Oma that day. I wish I could remember that visit better. I hope she felt that I loved her and I was happy she was sitting with me.
As we celebrate milestone birthdays of our two youngest, I am reminded that Oma won’t be celebrating her birthday next week. The day will pass, and the hearts of those who knew her will mourn her.
I am grateful that I was able to know my Oma. That she took me to get my first pair of jelly shoes on our trip to Florida. I am grateful for the love she showered on me, for the kindness she imparted on me, and for the patience she showed me.
November 2019: You bring joy and sorrow all wrapped in one.