The Day Before Forever

Tomorrow is Mum’s funeral mass, so I suppose that makes today “Funeral Mass Eve.” I can think of better Eves.  I bought a new dress because my typical “go to funeral” outfit is more of a summer outfit.  Jimmy brought home his new suit, purchased months ago. The day he bought it, when Mum was still sick,  he commented to me, “I hope that my first time wearing it is not at a funeral.”  We went to the mall on Tuesday and bought Daniel a pair of nice black pants and a button-down white shirt with which he’ll wear a black sweater vest.

Jimmy’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew arrived in town late last night.  My mother-in-law picked up Mum’s ashes yesterday.  We placed the obituary and ordered flowers for the church. This is really happening.

My household is a little blue.  We adults feel it acutely and even Daniel seems to feel it.  He has been subdued this week and very close to tears if we thwart his wishes.  Some of that is being a two-year-old but some of it is internalizing the sad, tense atmosphere around him I think.

We have had a few conversations with him about how Mum is in heaven, but I don’t know how much he understands.  He’s 2!  How do you talk to a toddler about death in any meaningful, comprehensive way? He’s very sensitive to sad faces right now, so we are very concerned about how he will do tomorrow at the mass when he sees a lot of sad faces.  I’m going prepared to take him out if needed.  He was so loved by Mum and we want him to be there, but she would be the first to tell us to take care of him and not let him be distressed.

Tomorrow’s funeral mass makes her death official. In some ways it seems like we’ve been hiding out this week, but tomorrow will be extremely real.

Earlier this week when we were tucking in Daniel, he said, “Mum is happy.”

Out of the mouth of babes hopefully.

Au Revoir, Madame

Mum and her great-grandsons on Christmas 2011

Jimmy’s grandmother passed away at 9:15 pm this evening.  We are extremely sad, yet relieved that she is no longer suffering.  Though she was petite, she had a force of will and personality that was much bigger than she was.  Mercedes – Mum – grew up in French Algeria and endured World War II, moving to the United States well after war had ended.

I was intimidated when I met her, this tiny woman.  She was fiercely loved by her family & she had strong opinions.  Until last year, she wore skirts and high heels and was a fashion plate.  We joked that she cleaned house in stilettos. It was high praise that she thought I was a good cook, and I was thrilled that she said I took excellent care of her grandson, Jimmy, and great-grandson, Daniel.

She was devoutly Catholic, yet when we revealed our infertility to the family, she immediately offered money to help us have a child through whatever means we decided.  Though very religious, she had very modern sensibilities and had no qualms with new-fangled scientific methods of achieving children.  She happily attended a baby shower at which our surrogate was present.

Over the last two and a half years, it was so very sweet to see how much she loved Daniel. She came to see him every day and rode with my mother-in-law to drop him off every afternoon.  After our many years of infertility, we had worried about whether Jimmy’s grandparents would have the opportunity to know at the very least that we had a child.  We are thankful for the years that Jimmy’s grandparents have had with Daniel.  Mum called him her “bandito” and thought he was awesome.

We’ve been trying to gently talk to Daniel about Mum being in the hospital and having “sickies.”  He hasn’t seen her since late December, yet how do you prepare a 2.5 year old for this situation?  Or do you?

This post is a lot more scattered than I would like, but maybe that’s ok.

Eighty-nine years ago today, Mum entered this world.  And eighty-nine years later, she left it.

Au revoir, madame.  Nous t’aimons et joyeaux anniversaire.