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.