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August 2009

One Year Ago


This time last year I watched my family say good bye to Etiennette, our "Maw Maw".  I've been thinking about her all day, the way we do on anniversary dates.  We had spent the week at the beach.  Maw Maw and Paw Paw were anticipating their cruise, to celebrate the joy of their 59 years together, and although there was the ever present sadness that is part of my life without Shannon, we had a wonderful week together.

It's funny how time never slows, never stops, never recognizes the significance of our personal stories.

A year ago, Sarah Palin's life was different.  A year ago, Michael Jackson was battling his own demons, and our friend Bob was hoping his brain tumor was disappearing.  A year ago, Gannon and Gracie had only had to know the vaguest whispers of the feelings that flow into the cracks of broken hearts. 

A year ago, we got the phone call that Maw Maw had had a stroke.  We drove all day and most of the night to be in Alabama before the storm, before Maw Maw returned to Heaven.  In thinking back to that day, it is surreal the way all memories of loss seem to be, misty and gray and quiet in unnatural but totally familiar ways. 

This morning, I remembered how much love accompanied all of the angst that colors the miracle of families.  I have never seen love ... the tangible, unembarrassed , all out, all encompassing kind of love that was shared by my mother and father in law.  My heart softened and gained strength in the presence of that love, on that day, one year ago today, and I was forever changed.

In this moment as I remember and celebrate the life of my mother in law, Shannon's Maw Maw, Jules' Mom, I want to follow Shannon's example and share my daughter's delight in expressions of gratitude...

  • Thank you for teaching us to be fearless, especially when you drove.                                         
  • Thank you for sharing the secret of red nail polish.  
  • Thank you for trying to convince me that turkeys are not meant to be cooked in 'bags', but being gracious enough to eat some anyway.
  • Thank you for giving me your son. 
  • Thank you for forgiving my idiosyncrasies.
  • Thank you for sculpting yourself in the nude and being proud of every line and curve.
  • Thank you for wedding dresses and Raggedy Anns and beautiful bayou paintings.
  • Thank you for gumbo and shrimp glace'. 
  • Thank you for taking Shannon to Niagara Falls and Salem and Maine...and allowing her to fuss and cuss and loving her in spite of herself.
  • Thank you for saving the book she made for your anniversary, even though Katrina tried to drown it. 
  • Thank you for all of the trips you made to Virginia.
  • Thank you for dragging us kicking and screaming on every sight seeing adventure.
  • Thank you for showing me the strength of sorrow when Lee was sick, and returned to Heaven.
  • Thank you for allowing us to have Thanksgiving, Christmas and our Birthday Celebrations all in three days that year.  
  • Thank you for recognizing the warning signs of diabetes.   
  • Thank you for trusting me to find my way through my own grief when Shannon returned to Heaven. 
  • Thank you for secretly baptizing Shannon with my Mom... even though there was never any doubt that she was Heaven bound.   
  • Thank you for Camille and Lessie.  
  • Thank you for Paw, he's amazing. 
  • Thank you for hugging Shannon everyday for me until I can hug her myself.
  • Thank you for watching over us and smiling even when we get it wrong.

Oh and I'm sorry I found it necessary to correct the priest at your interment.  I know that you were probably trying to shussh me but Antoinette simply was not acceptable !


I didn't tell you enough when you were with us, but I love you Maw Maw, and I miss you.

Memories Never Grow Old

 Jules and Shannon

I found a tiny poem this morning.  Tucked under the clear plastic sheet of a very old, very cherished, three ring binder type of photo album.  You know the kind, they have sticky pages and clear plastic protective sheets.  My sister made a cover for it after Shannon "left", purple with Christmas Mooses and snow flake trim.

It's been a while since I held it and lingered on the pages. There's comfort in touching Shannon's photographs, smiling at the memories of her painting her face blue with eye shadow when she was two, or picking pumpkins with her cousins when they were so small and she was so patient...usually.  Pages of smirks and smiles and stories told over and over. Stories that never lose their charm, never fail to remind us of how much love and laughter tie us all together. 

The poem has no title, no fancy paper, blue ink on yellowing three by five index cards. The penmanship is very definitely my husband's, Shannon's Dad's.  I remember that he found the poem scribbled on a scrap of paper, rewrote it for Shannon and saved it.  I didn't remember the words... but as I read, my heart, my hands...I suppose my very cells remember the sight and sound and feel of my precious baby girl.  It's not the best poem ever written, but it was mine ... to her, and she still is, the best we will ever do!

"As I sit and watch you sleep,
I thank the Lord you do not weep,
For if you did we both might find
That Mommy's too can lose their mind.
My days are filled with so much cheer
And all because of you my dear.
I rush around from morn til night,
To keep your world all safe and bright.
From diaper pail to cereal mess...
Then your tiny 'bod' to dress.
The dishes are done with you on my hip
And I cross my fingers that I don't trip.
With you on one arm and clothes on the other,
I wonder if I'm ready to be a Mother.
Then you look at me with that beautiful grin
And I know with you my life did begin.

Nothing can ever mean as much
As those tiny hands and their innocent touch.
You love me for so very little reason
And I pray it'll grow with every season.
For you my dear are everything to me,
My joys, my fears, my reason to be.
Your Daddy and I ... with love brought you,
The bestest thing that we'll ever do!