After Halia was born, her due date still loomed out there at the end of October, what seemed like an interminable four months away. I felt panicked about how I would get there until I thought of my Papa Nate, whose birthday was October 30. It was almost like I could see him there, waiting at the end of October, ready to hold my hand.
Halia was due on October 29, 2010, which meant that we announced our pregnancy with an apology to James' twin brother since his daughter's bat mitzvah was scheduled for October 30. As it all turned out, we were able to travel to Milwaukee for her bat mitzvah celebration after all. It was tough for me to travel on the due date and to spend the weekend being social, but it was also lovely to celebrate a happy occasion.
After services that Saturday, on what would have been Papa's 97th birthday, James and I went for a walk with one of his brothers and his wife on a Lake Michigan beach. Papa, who lived in Chicago, loved Lake Michigan. He swam in it during the summer and explored its dunes and shores year round. It was easy for me to picture Papa walking on that very beach with his distinctive stride, his hands clasped behind his back.
We walked along the beach, picking up smooth pebbles, listening to the waves crest and wash in and out. I was sad but I also felt a sense of liberation. A part of me was pregnant for the whole nine months, and there on that beach, I was able to let the phantom pregnancy go. I moved on to a new stage of my grief, a new understanding of my relationship to Halia, and the beginnings of thinking about a new pregnancy.
Here on the last day of this month of tracing the paths of my memories of Halia, once again I am feeling Papa Nate's influence. This year we celebrated his Centennial. All of his descendants have had fun remembering him together, and some of us gathered yesterday for our annual ice cream cone in his memory. He remains such a loving, steady presence for me, and I am so grateful that thoughts of him are always near at the end of October.
He and my other three grandparents were all so loving, and now I enjoy leaning into my memories of them. So often they bring a smile to my face, a feeling of warmth and an encompassing embrace. They taught me that death isn't always traumatic, that memories can bring great joy, that love remains strong. They help me to understand the meaning of Halia's name: in loving memory, and I hope to do it justice.
A note about the photo used in my "In loving memory" button: The clematis blossoms pictured here are from a plant that I purchased not long after I moved into my home in 2002. I wanted to get a clematis in memory of my Grandfather Webb who lovingly tended one with deep purple blossoms at his home. Late in in his life, he once asked me to help him pin the vine to the trellis on the side of his home. It was a painstaking process, one that he undertook with joy and dedication.
When I went to buy a clematis, I wanted to plant it along my front fence, and I decided it would be best to get two. I chose one in dark purple and one in pink. The purple one blooms about a month before the pink one, which blooms in mid-to-late June, right around Halia's birthday. And so it has come to be a little memorial to her.
And now it is time to bring this month to a close. I send my love and gratitude to you who have honored me and Halia by reading these posts.
Day 31 of 31, 28 Cheshvan 5774