She was 99.
From her home on farm land in central Illinois, she lived through two world wars (and an unfortunate number of other ones), a great depression, the birth of two daughters, the death of both daughters, the death of her husband and a lifetime of other things, a third of which might've brought any of us to our knees but didn't her.
As Grandma Kitty died, one of my many beloved cousins went into labor with her second baby.
By last night, her daughter had been born.
Looking back, I think that I've never experienced a birth or a death without being aware, sometimes keenly, of the counterbalance. I used to think it was some kind of wild coincidence, but now I realize life just works this way.
It is not that a new baby's birth means Grandma Kitty will be missed any less, or that the universal cycle of life makes Alexandra's new baby any less a singular miracle. It is just that the consciousness of both makes life as a whole not just survivable but exquisite, and somehow more sensical than it oftentimes appears to be.
So today, in keeping with my theme of gratitude this week, I'm feeling thankful for:
extended family and countless cousins...
the blessings of babies...
my grandmothers, who both had strong and vivid voices ahead of their time...
and my grandfathers, who both had love beyond measure for their wives and families.
I'm feeling thankful for rituals and ceremonies...
for photo albums and family stories...
for letters and emails and phone calls...
for planes, trains and automobiles.
I'm feeling thankful for my mom and dad and sister, my husband's mom and dad and sisters and brother,
my neice and nephews, my daughters.
I'm feeling thankful for the paths forged for me and the ones I've gotten to bush-whack through on my own.
I'm feeling thankful.
(To be continued...)