Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 days before Christmas

My mother called me this morning. Let me repeat that for added emphasis: my mother called me this morning. Shortly after 8, my phone rang and I automatically knew that it was bad news. No one calls me that early. Her strained voice further gave her away: something was most definitely wrong. I thought instantly of my grandmother and griped my stomach with my free hand, having felt my heart drop there, in anticipation. It was not my grandmother. My oldest female cousin's husband passed away on Monday night of what appears to be heart failure. He was only in his late 30s - early 40s. He and my cousin had a baby almost a year ago. I wasn't very close to him and have never been especially close to that cousin, mostly because of our age difference and distance, but the news is still shocking and distressing to me. My cousin is incredibly smart and nerdy and found an equally as smart and nerdy companion in her husband. They married about 4 years ago while I was in college. I remember my brother and I sat at their table at another cousin's wedding a few years ago and got to know the both of them better, bantering back and forth about literature and sports. I was surprised when they decided to have a child since she was never one for kids and it sounded like they had decided to abstain shortly after getting married. I guess the ticking clock made them both a little nervous and realize that it was now or never for the baby train. On the way down to Florida to visit his parents this summer, they stopped in Richmond to say hi. I met them at the capitol for a half hour or so and got to see their baby boy for the first time. He was the sweetest, happiest baby and was showered with love from both of his parents. I feel awful for both my cousin and their baby. To have such a short time with someone you love is a tragedy.

It was hard to listen to my mom cry on the phone to me since she so rarely shows her true emotions. Something really moving has to happen in order for her to cry in front of anyone. She got to see them over Thanksgiving (I missed them by one day), so she relayed how happy he had been holding his baby and how she'll always remember him that way. She discussed details and logistics with me, voiced her worries. After apologizing for having to share bad news, telling me she'll keep me updated on the memorial service, wishing me a good day at work, she started to wrap up the conversation. When I realized she was going to say goodbye without telling me what I most needed to hear, I stopped her mid-farewell and told her, "I love you, Mom," with a quivering voice.

She started crying again and choked out, "I love you too, Sarah."

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