Birthday Melancholy

February 11, 2007

Abby’s ninth (!!) birthday is a week from today. In the way of all things God-related, her birthday marks another special day: my late grandmother’s birthday. I remember my mom’s joy when we realized that my daughter would share a birthday with the Bemomma (my brother’s childhood name for my grandma, which stuck) Abby would know only through stories passed down to her. Luckily my mom is a great storyteller and has, I think, made her mother a very real figure to her granddaughter.

We are celebrating Abby’s family birthday this evening, because next Saturday night Abby is having her first slumber party with classmates and friends. And my mom will not be here tonight. She feels too crummy, and her doctor has warned her against both crowds and children because her immunities are so low. So it’s the right decision for her to stay home, much as she would like to be here. Abby understands about her Noma’s (another childhood name that stuck) cancer — she’s old enough to grasp that we need to do what’s best for my mom’s health. Sometimes I think that she grasps more than I know.

But I feel…sad…and anxious. I’m just a terrible limbo-person (and no, I don’t do very well at the limbo dance either). I hate not knowing whether or when she will “adjust” to this new medicine. I hate not knowing whether the medicine will properly work on the encroaching cancer. I hate that my mom’s quality of life is beholden to this damn medicine, which is also the very medicine that could preserve her life.

Mostly, selfishly perhaps, I hate that she won’t be here tonight. I can know it’s the right thing and still hate it, can’t I? I can’t help but worry, “But what if this is the last…” and it’s a line of thought, that though inevitable, is ultimately unproductive. Because for all I scour websites about multiple myeloma and struggle through research papers from the American Society of Hematology, the simple fact is this: I don’t know the future.

I just know that tonight is my daughter’s birthday party.

How I always wanted a daughter! I was a daughter close to her mother who had been a daughter close to her mother and so on back for generations. I knew that I had a unique history to give to a daughter. I had been given the precious gift of a wonderful example of motherhood that I could only try to match in mothering my daughter. I had a rich trove of stories from women in the family and examples of women strong against adversity and pain. I had funny stories too. All of this I could give to a daughter.

And then God blessed me with my dear Abby. And in Abigail Diane (her middle name, my mom’s first name), I see continuation, continuity, constancy. She is, sometimes metaphorically and sometime literally, what I clutch on a day like today. Not that I don’t love my sons more than life, but there is something in a daughter — in this daughter, born on that day in 1998 — with my mom’s brown eyes and her quirky sense of humor — that makes me see God’s fingerprint in a particular way.

I could say something schmaltzy and Hallmark-cardish like, “We live on through the generations past us.” or “You always carry the life of someone you love in your heart.” I may believe those things to a degree. But what I believe more, what I know, is that every act of love we imprint on the soul of another person is eternal. One such act brings about change, good change, God-change. The love of a parent for a child is perhaps the most sacred of all because this is the primary love relationship in the Godhead — it provides a means for us to most mimic the Creator. And God doesn’t keep track of all those generations in the Bible for His own amusement (I don’t think?). I think He’s telling us that it’s pretty darned important what we give to our children, what we receive from our parents.

And, God, I am so very blessed by both measures. I just wish my mom could come tonight.

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10 Responses to “Birthday Melancholy”

  1. Erica said

    I too am a daughter who is wicked-close with her Mommy, but … it doesn’t go back for generations. I’m so encouraged that you see this as something that can definitely go forward for generations. Now God has given me my dream girl whom I always wanted for the same reason, so I could experience my relationship with my Mom from the other end.

    I think it sucks sweaty goat balls that your Mom can’t be there tonight. I’m praying that she’ll come next year.

  2. Beth Koruna said

    Bless you for this sweet comment…and how much do I generally love your writing and in particular LOVE the phrase “sucks sweaty goat balls”? Often, Erica, you just nail it with the perfect perfect phrase! 😀

  3. erica said

    Yes, well, I stole that phrase from a mast head on dooce.com which she took from a commenter who was applying that phrase to her writing which, well, whomever he was, he should be beat solidly upside the head several times for being mean to Dooce because I love her and that’s that.

    This just seemed like such a perfect application of the phrase. I’m tickled pink that I got to use it.

    la la la

  4. Beth Koruna said

    LOVE Dooce. LOVE her. Wish I could use this blogging forum half as well as she does.

  5. lorie said

    Hey Beth! Haven’t been here for a while–I’ve been hibernating, which consists, for me, of lots of carbohydrates and very little brain activity. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I continue to pray for you both, as well as the rest of your family. This was a very sweet post–I hope Abby has a happy birthday, and that this year leads her around a better, brighter bend in the road.

  6. kate whitman said

    Beth,
    This is a beautiful post about Abby. Print her out a copy and save it for her when she is older or whenever appropriate to give to her. (next week?) Warts and all we do pass on a legacy. That could be a frightening reality, but actually it gives me hope, as we share those deep roots that that have anchored the souls of a women in our families. There is something beautiful and strong that transcends words in that legacy. Thank God for the deep rooted women in our lives.
    Kate

  7. kate whitman said

    you get typos with my posts- correction “anchored the souls of the women”
    Kate

  8. Are the souls of women anchored with sweaty goat balls? Just wondering. ‘Cause that would be weird.

  9. kjames said

    happy birthday (late) to abby!!!

  10. Marsha said

    Happy B-Day Abby, mine is 2/18 as well.

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