Sunday, November 7, 2010


Lydia asked, "Do you think that we could have a normal Christmas? Joao has never seen us as a normal family."
She's right. Her husband entered our lives after we were already in crisis. He proposed to our daughter during his second visit to our home. I think he knew that Lydia would want her family around her to celebrate the engagement...and he had to talk to Joel before he asked Lydia. That was in February of last year.
He had been to our home the Thanksgiving before. On Thanksgiving morning, Maura and I ran to pick them up at the airport, hurried to drop them off at home where they could sleep, and rushed to MD Anderson for chemo. Maura felt pretty good around Thanksgiving. When it came time to go around the table that evening and tell what we were thankful for, it was pretty unanimous:
We were thankful for Maura.
Even Maura was thankful for Maura.
For being there.
Because we knew how close we had come to losing her.
There were lots of tears. Joao's a quiet guy. I can only imagine what must have been going through his head.
He proposed to Lydia during his next visit the following February, in the parking lot in front of the Dollar Store, next to the grocery store where Joel had sent them on an imaginary errand to get a pecan pie. (It will make a good story for their kids.) Joel had cooked up that excuse to give Joao an opportunity to ask Lydia in private because she and Maura had been glued to each other since Lydia's arrival.
We toasted with champagne that Joao had confidently packed in his suitcase, and we connected with Danielle, who was still in Chicago, by phone and by camera. More tears, but happy ones. Wedding plans were made.
Three months later, Maura died.
Joel and I escaped to Mexico last Thanksgiving. We did not celebrate Christmas, either. Grief consumed our family last year and this year. And my dear son-in-law tried to console his bride, feeling at sixes and sevens in the way that those who have never grieved feel because, of course, how can they know? How can anyone possibly know until having joined this wretched club?
This year, neither of the girls will be here for Thanksgiving and Joel will be working, so I think we'll skip this one, too.
But we have plans for Christmas. Yes. We will celebrate Christmas...the religious and the traditional. Low key, for sure, but there will be a Tree. And we will be together. And we will do the normal things that we do during the Christmas season like cook our family's traditional Christmas foods. And play games. And sit around talking for hours, and go to church, and read the Christmas story before we open presents, and have Christmas breakfast casserole. And sing Christmas carols. and enjoy each other's company. There will be one major difference, apart from Maura's obvious absence: This past Friday, I rented a beach house for when the girls and Joao are here because we moved to a tiny, one-bedroom condo in May and don't have the four-bedroom-room-enough-for-a-soccer-team house that we've always had. We needed room for everyone to sleep and move around without tripping over each other. It will be cold (for Texas) and probably rainy, but it will be big enough for all of us plus a tree and any visitors. It's so cute! It is perfectly decorated with sea creatures. A large bas relief of a mermaid graces one wall and a framed mermaid poster hangs on another. They both reminded me of Maura--not an uncommon phenomenon--because of their beauty and flowing, long, blond hair. Appropriately enough, the house is called The Mermaid. After getting off the phone with the realtor, I felt enormous satisfaction in knowing that the family would be together in a nice place for Christmas. I thought Maura would have approved of my choice of houses, too. She would have liked the location, the beach, the decor, everything. Yes, I feel good about this.
The next day, I received a video from Matt. He and Kara had released some of Maura's ashes at a beach in Busan, South Korea in September, but I didn't know about it until I saw the video. Here is the short video:

1 comment:

Lydia Medeiros said...

The play I just did, about Maura, was done with songs from the Little Mermaid. Our favorite all time disney movie. I hope to get the video soon so you can see what I mean. Mermaids always make me think of Maura.