Monday, June 8, 2009

it took a village

These are memories from Persephone's memorial service that resonated with me, in no particular order:

-Spending a private moment with Persephone beforehand. So painful, but I'm so glad I did it.

-Pamela admitting she was struggling, before the service, at which point I drove straight over and found her trembling in the shower. I just knew that if this woman wasn't going to try to be invincible, then I certainly didn't have to either. Holding it all in wasn't the point.

-Andrew crying very loudly in an embrace with a man I didn't recognize. It felt so natural to focus on Carmela, I was glad that everyone heard and absorbed his grief too.

-Misia's indescribable beauty.

-Always having a hand or two on me, not always knowing whose, and always having my hand on someone else.

-The freedom (I don't typically feel) to hug and be hugged. With no self-consciousness.

-The sight of Jacob, whose calm made the preparation possible for me. He was efficient and brilliant about the ambiance, naturally, and he knew just when to acknowledge the solemnity, just when to make me laugh, and how, and I never would have seen that beautiful baby had he not bravely gone first. I keep reading about what wonderful women we have in this group, and it's true, but I'm not sure I could have soldiered on yesterday had it not been for Jacob.

-Emma's eagerness to help clean the night before. xoxo

-Seeing people streaming into the yard, as I passed out Persephone's announcements. Face after face, each fortifying the group, and each giving me strength.

-Darbie mostly missing the service so she could watch the kids inside. Having been one of the three of us who went later to help Pam the day of the baby's delivery, and not being at the service so everyone else could, was an extraordinary sacrifice, and another example of the caliber of women we're talking about.

-Though Sam could not attend, she contributed food and supplies for the service, and she texted just before it began to say that the UU lit a candle in Persephone's name at their child dedication ceremony that morning. The night before, as I scrubbed down the stairs in preparation, and was almost too overcome with grief to go on, sopping wet, sobbing into my bowl of Murphy's Oil, Sam texted me the words of strength only Sam can, and literally kept me going, one step at a time. And those stairs shone! Thank you Sam, for all your help before, during, and after.

-Seeing Emily hug Carmela.

-Seeing Pamela hug Emily.

-Hugging Emily.

-That tiny casket. Somehow, the smaller the casket, the greater the loss.

-Carmela looking at her baby's casket, a sight I never want to see again.

-So many people holding hands.

-Getting to meet Karinda.

-Pamela composing herself long enough to stand right beside Carmela, after several people had spoken about loss and grief, and tell us all how incredibly hard Carmela worked to get her baby out. Pam said "We were screaming at her, screaming, and she just gave and gave, and gave even more than we asked, even when we asked for more than was possible." (Slight paraphrasing, but that's the gist.) Pamela's pride in Carmela was evident even through a lot of tears.

-In case anyone wondered, there were exactly 50 people in attendance.

-Megan courageously reading a pretty long piece about how she came to know Carmela, and then something Carmela recently posted about the significance of the names Artemisia and Persephone. Megan's voice was trembly but brave, and though she couldn't see her, Carmela was nodding while she spoke, clearly grateful to have that history included in the service. At one point I stood behind Megan and put my hands on her shoulders, encouraging her to keep reading, and later she told me she though I was Shawn, which was really embarrassing because when Carmela started to nod, I kissed Megan's head because I loved her so much for thinking of doing that for Carmela. Just tell me that's as far as it went okay Megan? Sorry Shawn!

-Susannah always having a hand on my shoulder, always by my side. Her support enabled me to not only endure the heft of this difficult day, but to hold others up as well and I am indebted to her. Now, let us channel this unity and strength to Keagan during his procedure tomorrow (Tuesday).

-Seeing Pam and Gabrielle fall into a natural embrace, crying so so hard, thinking only of that baby.

-Personally I appreciated that everyone and their pet enchilada tried Xanax for the first time yesterday. No shame, no hesitation, that's simply what it took.

-Making Carmela laugh pretty hard long after the service when I had herded the usual suspects into a corner and she joined us. Seeing her laugh restored a little bit of order to the world.

-The tomatoes Jacob brought.

-I am the world's ugliest crier, and I only felt 55% insecure about it. That says a lot about these people and how comfortable they make me feel.

-Laughing with the ladies in the living room, as well as Rustin, Andrew (who is decidedly not a lady), and Shawn, who was behind me the whole time, unbeknownst to me. A strange pattern emerging here with the Dunns. Even though they were all making fun of me, including Karen, and especially (drumroll...) Pamela! Well actually, Andrew, it was worth it to see Emily laugh so hard.

-Right before the service, as we were pinning on rose buds and silencing cell phones, everyone very naturally removed errant hairs off each others' dresses, asked to borrow some lipstick, passed around tissue. The focus was on the family, but this group wasted no time taking care of each other.

-Appreciating how beautiful Steve is, sitting on his dad's lap, knowing he is at least 15 years more mature than he.

-FINALLY sitting on the couch. Nothing ever felt so good. (Not even kissing Megan's head Shawn I promise!)

-The seamlessness with which this painful, necessary service flowed. Really.

-Seeing people work swiftly, knowing just what to do, in so many ways.

-Carmela getting a foot massage from a friend outside.

-Seeing Ivy laugh her little heart out at her silly, grateful, mama.

-Jennifer's rolls!

-A few hugs I surprisingly gave or received and how much they meant to me.

-The way the laughter quieted when the funeral director came to pick up Persephone. I never took my eyes off Ivy, but never took my heart off Carmela and Andrew.

-Discovering, at such an unlikely moment, and with a bright red face, that even women in their 30's who can pull off an event like this, holding each other up, and looking so sharp, think poop is that funny.

-The unbelievable outpouring and organization that took place to honour Persephone in such a meaningful way, and the astounding realization that it was all put together in two days. She touched us all, and her memorial also brought about some healing within the group, and I think that's a pretty powerful legacy for such a tiny girl. Her grandpa must have been right, she comes from a long line of powerful women. Sleep now, Baby Persephone. While I would rather have held you in my arms, I will always be holding you in my heart.


Anonymous said...

So beautiful, Chey. I wish I had been there to help.....

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


wavybrains said...

You beautifully captured the day.

I am also not a hugger. At. All. It was big huge deal to me, and I gave several hugs for the first time yesterday to women I care about dearly. And there were many more hugs that I wish I had been brave enough to cry.

I couldn't go back in the house after the service. I tried. I wanted to. I just couldn't. Never has food that beautiful looked less appealing to me.

It was beautiful, and it was terrible. And you were so much a part of it that I think you embodied all that was good and hopeful.

Thank you.

Mesina said...

For something that I know you all would rather have not had to endure (or should endure) that was beautifully captured. You all have made her time here, however short, so meaningful and perhaps her biggest gift to you all was showing you how precious she is, what power she holds to bring so many people together. You have me in tears here, you have been in my thoughts these past days and will continue to be. ♥

Hennifer said...

Thank you for posting that, and Emily too.

I'm so entirely sad that I arrived late and felt so disrespectful. And while it was obviously not the intention of the service I am sad to realize a few faces that go with names were around and I missed them :-)

My heart broke ridiculously when Andrew hugged and sobbed. There is just something about a father's tears that floor me.

I don't know how you did some of it, Emily either with little Persephone. I told Gabrielle that I could not have born to be there when they took that sweet baby away.

THE PHONES said...

Your description perfectly described the service.

Thanks for coming over today. I'm happy that we ended up having more talking instead of crying. You're welcome anytime. Thanks for listening