Monday, October 20, 2008

Looking Back

My Grandma Eleanor passed away earlier this year when Joaquin was about 6 weeks old. I had a very special relationship with my Grandma. She helped raise me as a child when my mom was working as a nurse to put my dad through law school. We even lived with Grandma for the first 3 years of my life in a house just down the street from where I currently live.

I remember getting a phone call from my mom a few days after Joaquin was born, those early morning calls that are always dreaded, that Grandma wasn't doing very well and was in the hospital in Truckee. I knew the moment I got that call that I was going to drive up there with Joaquin to make sure she had a chance to meet him. He was only a few days old but I wanted to see her immediately. Fortunately, Hector was home from work for the week so he stayed with Diego and Mateo so I could go with Joaquin and the rest of my family to see Grandma without the distraction of two little boys running around the hospital.

She had had a rough night so we weren't sure how lucid she would be when we saw her. Fortunately, on the drive up to Truckee, we heard that she was stable and would probably be released back home later that evening so I was able to relax a bit. I had taken special care to dress Joaquin in the softest powder blue baby gown and cap with a matching blanket. He looked angelic. I remembered the first time I introduced Diego to Grandma and had made the mistake of dressing him in jeans and a Stanford sweatshirt.....I never heard the end of it! "Babies don't belong in jeans!" she used to tell me. It was part of her dry Irish humor. I wasn't going to make that mistake again.

I was so eager to see Grandma but mostly for her to meet Joaquin. When I entered the room, she was very surprised to see us and then was a little upset I had brought the baby to the ER where all the "germs" are...."He should be home in bed!" she told me. There was my Irish Grandma. But she immediately softened when she saw him and it was such a special moment when I was able to introduce him to her.

I carefully laid him in her arms, careful not to put too much weight on her, but still allowing her to feel his body in her arms. I don't remember all the exact word she said because I was lost in the moment but I do remember one thing very vividly. She said something about him being beautiful and perfect. She stressed how amazing it was that these little babies turn out so perfect, how rare it is that anything is wrong. I remember agreeing with her as we both just stared and smiled at the baby.

My grandmother lost a baby shortly after birth and she never ever talked about it. My dad had told me a few years ago. I do know that Grandma wanted to see her baby again and talked about him when she was close to passing. I'm sure her comment to me about how rare it is that anything is wrong had a lot to do with her loss. I have to imagine that whenever she saw a healthy baby, she saw a miracle. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child, the pain she must have carried silently with her. I know she loved her grandchildren and her great grandchildren and that we all were a source of pure joy and healing for her.

How I wish I could talk to my grandma now. She passed away a few weeks later. She never knew about Joaquin's diagnosis. I want to talk to her and tell her about it and hear her say to me again that he is perfect and that nothing is wrong. I miss her. I now know just how close to crossing paths their souls were. The full circle of life....Joaquin coming into this world and Grandma leaving us. They had a moment together and I'm so grateful. Her words stay with me. He is perfect and there is nothing wrong with him.

Thank you Grandma. I love you.


Cleo said...

Jennifer, I totally agree, Joaquin is a perfect and beautiful baby!!!. I think your grandmother's spirit is with you, watching over her Joaquin and all her dearly loved family ~

Cheri said...

Jen, I am so glad you were able to enjoy such a close relationship with your grandmother. If she were here, she would indeed reiterate her words of how perfect Joaquin is!! I imagine her at peace, reconnected with the son she lost.

My grandmother on my mom's side was also named Eleanor as was my husband's grandmother...If we are ever blessed with a little girl we have decided to name her "Ellie" which is short for Eleanor in honor of both of them.

We hope she would inherit the same kindness and wisdom that they bold did your grandmother as well!!

Jennifer said...

What a poignant post.
We are all perfectly imperfect and that's the magic of being alive.