One Wedding, Three Babies, and a Funeral

Circle of Life
(artwork by Amanda Dagg, found here)

Keep beckoning to me,
From behind that closed door,
The maiden, the mother, and the crone that’s grown old.
I hear your voice,
coming out of that hole.
I listen to you,
and I want some more.
I listen to you,
and I want some more.

She will always carry on.
Something is lost, something is found.
They will keep on speaking her name,
Some things changed, some stay the same.
~The Pretenders, Hymn to Her

That whole ‘circle of life’ thing is much on my mind these last few days. On Friday, I heard from my dear friend Janet that her father had died. He fought a long and courageous battle with cancer. Cancer won. Janet once told me that it didn’t seem fair that we, who both have young parents, should be going through this so soon. I agree wholeheartedly. When I first met Janet, we were going to school at the Junior College in my hometown, and she was living with her dad in a neighboring town. She seemed so worldly to me, having tested out of high school to model in San Francisco and London, after several years of ballet. She was now ready to settle down and do the school thing. I used to love to go to her house after school, watch dumb TV, and have grilled cheese sandwiches. Sometimes we’d go to our friend Katie’s house, because Katie had a pool. Janet’s dad would come home in the evening, and Janet would cook dinner. If I didn’t have to work that evening, I was always welcome to stay. She went on to Berkeley, I went on to SFState, and we vetted each others boyfriends, etc.  Her father was a kind and fairly quiet man, but always very strong and opinionated, always there for his daughters. I will always remember the look of love in his eyes when he shooed me and the other bridesmaids out of the room so he could have a private word with his daughter before he walked her down the aisle. She and her sister, and her step mom, will miss him terribly. He was a good man. I’ll go and pay my respects to him on Thursday at his funeral, and be there with my friend.

The day after I heard about Janet’s father, we went to Half Moon Bay to attend a wedding for some much younger friends, Ramzi and Katrina. I think they’re 27ish, which is the age Ted and I were when we married, 17 years ago. (I’ll give you a second while you add up and figure out my age. Done? Yes, I’m 44.) It was a lovely ceremony, though I did forget to turn off my phone, which rang right in the middle. Ooops. Ramzi is this tall, kinda goofy, laid back guy. He’s so mellow, just wants to relax and have a good time. He recently graduated with his Master’s Degree, and was hired as a school counselor in a neighboring town. A wonderful job for a man with a big heart. Katrina is a bundle of energy. She could not contain her joy or her energy during the ceremony, and looked like she was about to jump out of her skin. She’s always like that. She had a big happy smile on her face, and was bouncing up and down, sort of like maybe she had to go to the bathroom. It was a wonderful wedding, and a fun reception, though seeing all those young-uns doing their mid-20s dances made me miss my own friends from that time, and how we used to go out dancing and having fun. They’re all far away now, and besides, we’re at a different stage in our lives. The idea of leaving a reception before it ended back then would have been insane. Free booze? Dancing all night? Partying with your friends? What could be better? But we didn’t drink much, enjoyed a dance or two, and then came home to sleep in our own bed.

And the babies, the most joyous part of the circle of life. Cherry had her baby 3 1/2 months ago, and she’s growing so quickly, smiling and laughing and doing all of those terribly cute things that babies do. Oddly enough, it doesn’t make me want to have another baby. Just makes me want to hold Cherry’s baby, and look at old video of when Maya was a baby, and hold her tight now when she’ll let me. Tracy is now a mom, though separated from her babies by a few thousand miles, but only for a few more weeks. She and her husband are adopting two beautiful brothers from Ethiopia, one who will be 2 at the end of September, and one who is just a few weeks old than Cherry’s baby girl. Both Cherry and Tracy have wanted to be mothers for so long now, and it didn’t come easily to either of them. I’m SO thrilled that their dreams are coming true. I love my Maya so much, I cannot imagine the hurt of wanting a baby and not being able to have one. So now that they’re both moms, and Cherry is enjoying her time home with baby before work starts again, and Tracy is getting her house and her life ready for when they bring the boys home, I feel that they are blessed.

Having these three events so close together really brings home the beauty and the pain of life. Tracy’s father died just a week before my mom. Dorothy got married within 6 weeks of that. Then our blog friend Chrissy had her baby a few months later, which was scary because she was so premature, but it all turned out well and her baby is going on 2, and is healthy and strong and independent as can be. I remember when my mom died, we had two gatherings. My cousin brought her new baby to one of them, and holding her was a balm for my broken heart. It’s hard to cry when you’re holding a laughing, healthy, beautiful baby in your arms. My sister brought her new baby to the second gathering, and again, it was somehow comforting to have him to hold. I think it’s something about them not understanding the pain you’re going through at all, they just want to be held and fed and loved, and for some reason, it makes it easier to set your own pain aside for a few minutes.

I think I’ve lost control of this post. I don’t know how to end it, or what it is that I’m really trying to say. Except that my heart goes out to all of these friends, for so many reasons. In pain, in love, and in joy.

8 thoughts on “One Wedding, Three Babies, and a Funeral

  1. Sigh. I almost wish that Elton John hadn’t done the song for Disney’s “The Lion King” about the circle of life. Now it’s just a hokey sounding cliche instead of truth that it is. When I teach Native American Myths in my American Lit class, we deal first with Native American cultural beliefs, and the circle of life is a biggie. Invariably, this comes up, and 15-year old girls, besotted with Disney, break into the Lion King song instead of listening to what the Native Americans revered about the universe and nature.

    It’s all connection, and your post does express that, despite you thinking that you didn’t control its theme. As humans, we reach out for it instinctively as part of life. Endings, beginnings…they are all intertwined as we are with each other.

  2. That’s a lot of life going on. I’ll be visiting my Mom on Friday and will be giving her a big hug…because you just never know. And then I’ll be looking forward to Cherry birthday and holding that baby and seeing Lizzie’s kids frolicking around. Life is the good, the bad and the ugly, I’m going to choose to keep looking forward to the good!

  3. Sending hugs to you from Texas, Jules! Can you believe we’ve been friends for four years now?! It began when I was blogging about dating and marrying Brian and now we’re the parents of two! Not long now until they’ll be home! I can’t wait!

    Love you!

  4. My sister died of cancer on my 20th birthday. I think you probably already read the post I wrote about that. She’d given me gold oval locket engraved with my birth date for my 13th birthday. Seven years later when I was home from college celebrating my birthday with my parents, we got the call that she had died. Years later I’d conceive my son on that date, while wearing that oval gold locket–my own “circle” of life.

    Days after my father died, my brother and his wife had a son. Endings and beginnings. That baby was an infant when my mother died two months later, and he was at the funeral and passed from person to person afterwards as we all looked for a reason to smile…

    My husband and I both have lost our parents and most of our aunts and uncles. It’s sobering. It’s like the credits are scrolling and their names are disappearing off the top of the screen as ours rise and prepare to disappear too….

  5. I recently lost a close friend from years ago. We had seen each other twice in the last decade, and traded Christmas cards, but in high school journalism we were very close, so the news of her anuerysm was a very big surprise. Another close friend from college and moving to California just lost her husband. I tended to think of us as having decades left, but it reaffirms that you can’t take things for granted.

    In both instances there’s a surviving spouse I’m reaching out to. It’s all a big reminder not to take what you have for granted.

  6. Thank you for that. You’ve (in a good way, I hasten to add) made me feel a little ashamed of my feelings at the moment and I resolve to go away and spend a little time appreciating what I have.

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