(Beatrix had refused to wash the “beautiful butterfly” off of her face the night before…)
We were at a party with friends over the weekend when my friend, Eve, mentioned that Mabel looked cold. (She had a bit of bare leg showing between her pants and her socks and Eve is a member of The Cold Baby Police.) I quickly remedied the situation by adding a pair of wool pants under her outfit along with a hat and sweater. I’m so happy to be able to start pulling out all the woollies (details on all at the end of the post)!
The party was a welcome distraction for us because we learned on Friday that our dear Ms. Nell had died, suddenly and unexpectedly. I kept the information to myself until Saturday, needing to process it on my own before telling the girls. I can’t tell you how much I dreaded that conversation with them. It’s really, really hard to tell your children that someone they love has died, and it seems that I have had to do it too many times. The last time we visited Ms. Nell it was with a new baby for her to meet (Mabel!) and bouquets of flowers from all my younger children. I’m so thankful that we ended on that note, her knowing she was loved by us. Reminding my girls of that didn’t do much to ease their grief, though. Beatrix spent time wandering the backyard after I told her, crying and periodically looking up to the sky, mouthing words that only she could hear. She wanted to be alone with her sadness, and it broke my heart. Larkspur keeps saying that she can’t believe we can’t visit her anymore, and I agree. Death never becomes commonplace or easy to accept. But I’m grateful for the relationships we have in our community, the friends who are our family. The more people you love, the more you open yourself up to hurt, but the love always outweighs the grief.
I stopped at our farmer’s market on Friday, shortly after learning of Ms. Nell’s death. An older woman who works there, who hadn’t yet met Mabel, immediately asked if she could hold her when I got out of the van. I happily handed her over, and, oh my goodness, I’ve never seen someone love on a baby that doesn’t belong to them so completely and unabashedly. She would lift Mabel into the air and Mabel would look down at her, smiling big. Then she would pull her down into her chest, hug her tight, and smother her in kisses. Mabel loved every second of it. The woman, whose name I can’t believe I’ve never asked for, told me, “We never had children. By the time we thought we could afford them, it was too late. I always thought if I had a baby of my own, I’d kiss it to death.” She didn’t seem bitter or sad though, just more than happy to love on Mabel, and I was grateful to be able to share her, if only for a few minutes.
When I got home that evening, I had an email from my mom with the subject line, “Beautiful you,” waiting for me in my inbox. She found this photo of the two of us from 1979 in an album at her sister’s, (my Aunt Genie’s), house. She had never seen it before, and neither had I. I don’t know why, but I dissolved into tears seeing it, and I wasn’t even sure if I was happy or sad. Maybe it was just another expression of the passing of time, but more than that I think it was a reminder of love and life. So many things to ponder lately…the joy that babies bring, the sadness over the death of a beloved elderly friend. All the life that happens in between, both the good and the painful. We soldier on, thankful for every minute.
p.s. Knits: Mabel’s hat was knit by Tania, and her Ravelry notes are here. My notes on her yellow sweater are here. Karen’s notes on her pink and white sweater are here. My yellow barn sweater notes are here. Not a knit, but Mabel’s bib was purchased here.