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Tonight when the girls took a walk with Sergio they sang the song again and he texted me the following dialogue...
Julia: Do you want to sing it again?
Julia: But it'll make Mema so happy in heaven!
And on top of all that sweetness, Julia also suggested that we sing Happy Birthday to Mema and we did. That felt really nice. I never expected my toddlers to help me grieve. I had assumed it'd be the other way around.
About 10 days before Mema passed away, we decided to go down to Oklahoma for a last visit, not knowing how much longer she'd have. When Sergio and I were debating when to go, he suggested that we go quickly urging "every moment is precious." He meant every remaining moment and he was right. But the truth is, every moment was already precious. I am beyond fortunate to have had Mema in my life.
I will forever be grateful that Sergio's spontaneous "let's just go to Oklahoma this weekend" suggestion overruled my penchant for scheduling things way in advance. We visited that last weekend in January; I spent an entire day simply being with Mema. I sat with her. I held her hand. I listened to her sing - so many hymns and all of them about Heaven. Every moment was precious.
On that Sunday we had to leave and that was the hard part. When we said good bye we knew it was Goodbye with a capital G. And even though we all knew that it was her time to go (even Mema knew it), it didn't mean my heart wasn't breaking. I stood on the threshold of that room, reluctant to put one foot in front of the other, to step out of that sacred space. What do you say when you know it's your last goodbye? We had had one final tea party that morning - the girls sharing their little cheerios with Mema. And when Mema starting saying "I'll meet you in the morning," which is a reference to Heaven, Julia piped up, "Mema! We won't be here in the morning! We're going home!" And we all let out a tearful chuckle.
That night when we got home we discovered we'd left the heat off in our house and the temperature in the house was 49 degrees. By bedtime it had only risen to 50. When I put the girls to sleep I told them that as they're falling asleep they should think about how much Mema loves them. Julia said, "I know how much Mema loves me. A lot a lot a lot a lot a lot a lot." Then I snuggled Julia and she felt cold so I asked if she wanted another blanket. She said, "maybe I want my quilt [which Mema made for her] because my quilt has Mema's powers in it. And if I sleep with it it will put Mema's powers into me and then I'll think, 'Oh yeah, that's what it was like at Honey and Papa's! I remember Mema!'" Yet again, my small child shows me the way.
Mema really was an example to us all and a treasure. And she did have powers you know - Mema the superhero, as Tyler put it. Given how frail Mema was there at the end, that notion is funny. But I think we all know it was truer than true. Her super power was love. No matter how frail she was at the end, she had a powerful pull on all of us.
That room where Mema died - it was the "sunroom" at my parents' house - was bathed in light and love and that was the image I carried with me back home as I waited for another 5 days before I got the news that she'd passed away peacefully early in the morning on February 6.
Last night I had some friends over, one of whom was celebrating her birthday, also on May 31. She requested a chocolate cake - so I made her a chocolate cake but I also made a big double batch of Berry Dumplings in honor of Mema's birthday. Now it occurs to me that that'll be a great way to celebrate Mema for years to come. She always did love celebrating and remembering with food.
A few days before Mema died my mom texted us all to say that Mema had woken from a dream and asked my mom if she wanted to eat pie with her. (Mema is generous with her pie even in her dreams.) We all texted back and forth imagining which pie she must have been enjoying in her dreams. Mama Taylor's chocolate pie, perhaps? Or Mema's pecan pie? Or her famous pumpkin streusel?
Wouldn't it be nice to sit down with Mema for pie just one more time?