Hearing Mama’s Voice

A few days ago, our Princess came in from playing with her first love, Sugar Ray.  He is the kitten we took in when he was three weeks old.  Something had hurt him badly, but with bottle feedings and good medicine, a great doctor and lots of TLC, he grew to be the massive lovable guy he is now at almost eighteen months.

When she came in the back door, she was crying.  What on earth?  She came straight to me, wrapped her arms around me and sobbed, “I miss Maemae.”

Oh no.

This has happened a handful of times since February, and when it does, it is hard.  Our Princess is usually so full of joy and light.  This makes the tears especially painful to see.

I just held on to her and rubbed her back and told her that Maemae loves her and is still with us.  I don’t know what else to do.  I told her it’s okay to cry and that she can still talk to Maemae.  I am trying so hard to let her know it is okay to grieve–in whatever way she needs to.

I asked her what brought it on.

“I was just talking to Sugar and telling him how much I love him and how much he has helped me when I was sad.  And then I started thinking about Maemae.  I miss her so much.”  The tears began falling again.

Today I sent her to pick up her room.  She is a love and very creative.  She’s our resident animal caretaker of cats and puppies and even some frogs and skinks outside.  She got my ability to read anywhere, anytime and shut out all other distractions.  But she also inherited my lack of being able to focus and organize and keep things in place.  So we have to work a little harder at it. She came out of her room a little while later crying.  I figured she was upset about having to clean or that her brother had done something to frustrate her.  But no.

“Mama, I miss Maemae so much. So so much.”

There must be something in the air, because several of us have had a harder week than usual this week.  I don’t know.  Again, I just held her and gave her permission to cry.  It’s all I can think of.  And usually as she quiets down, I find something to make her laugh.  I so need to hear her laugh.

I don’t know how to heal her little heart.  I don’t know how to make her okay because this is NOT okay.  We lost Mama way too soon, and we didn’t get to have conversations that we had scripted in our heads would happen when she came out of sedation or when the vent was removed.  Never happened.  We never even got to celebrate her birthday because of littles being sick on the day, and she went into the hospital two days later.  It’s hard and it hurts and this is one more thing I cannot fix.  I can only hold her as she cries and dry her tears that are falling onto my shoulder, all the while wondering why I have yet to feel my own.

But this is what I do know.

Mama is with us.  Always.

It is a very thin veil that separates us.

Life and death.

She is still with us.

A new book by one of our favorites, Mo Willems.
A new book by one of our favorites, Mo Willems.

Today the littles and I found a copy of an Elephant and Piggie book at a clearance price at the getting place.  We were so excited.  We LOVE Elephant and Piggie.  The cashier asked us who the book was for, and I replied with indignation, “It’s for ME!”  The cashier laughed, and I did too, mostly because he thought I was kidding.

On the way to the car, Princess asked if she could read it.  “Sure,” I said, “but will you please read it aloud?”

She began the sweet short story, as I focused on getting out of the parking lot and into the steady flow of traffic.  I missed a critical plot point, so have no fear.  I won’t blow the story for you, no spoilers here, so you can get your own copy and read it.  But what I can tell you is that I heard my Mama’s voice.  Princess has been listening to her Maemae read books to her since she was eight months old, when we moved back from Japan, and she met her grandmother for the first time in person.  She has been mesmerized ever since.  I think her favorite one to hear was “Little Red Cowboy Hat.” (Another great book, by the way.) Mama had a way of animating with voices that was second to NO ONE.  I can still hear her hippo chewing gum from “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?”  It was awesome.

The newest character to join Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems.
The newest character to join Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems.

And today, my sweet one used a voice to introduce this character and it blew me away.  It was the very voice I am sure Mama would have used.  It was big and booming and downright fabulous to tell you the truth.  It caught my attention as I merged into traffic.  I asked her to tell me the story again.  It was amazing how much she reminded me of Mama.

So tonight as she was crying, I told her that.  That she has a part of Mama, one of the most special parts, deep inside of her.  And that when she read that story today it came out and made us all smile and remember.  And that is about the best thing we can do when we love someone and miss them.  Carry them with us and celebrate their lives in how we live and what we do.  And continue to share the love they gave us with other folks.  That right there.  Isn’t that just what life should be all about anyway?

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