Lily, Sarah, Grace & Janet
My daughter, Edith, with Marianne's granddaughter, Sofia.
Tomorrow school starts again here in Santiago de Compostela, after a long holiday break. Christmas, New Year's and Three Kings Day have come and gone. Back to the bus stop.
My son was less than thrilled about doing his math homework today - 5 pages, put off until the last day.
I am feeling unexcited about the prospect of coding 26 interviews over the next month.
Oh, silly Javier. Silly me.
I am thankful to my friend Jill who posted a link on Facebook to a blog that shared the eulogy delivered on Thursday by a CT woman who lost her three young children and both her parents in a fire accident on Christmas Eve. Her thoughts and reflections on her children's lives are wonderful and worth reading.
Indeed, as my friend Janyce says, it's not what we have to do, it's what we get to do.
Today, I got to be woken up by the sound of my son's feet pounding up the stairs. I got to make him french toast and do the dishes. I got to smell Edie's perfume as she brushed by me on her way out the door. I got to criticize my ever-patient and tolerant husband. I got to hang the clothes up to dry. I got to go running. I got to vacuum behind the couch and shave my armpits.
There were two pieces of the mother's eulogy that really resonated with me.
First, she told stories about her girls. She said,
"I want to remember my girls out loud to fight for them never to be forgotten."
This sentiment captures much of my own world view and speaks to my interest in qualitative research. Everyone has a story to tell. These stories need to be told, recorded and honored. Out loud.
My aunt Janet died in a drowning accident when she was 2 years old. Since her death, the only story about Janet that has survived is the story of how she died. Stories about Janet's life are never spoken out loud, at least I have never heard them. But I also haven't really asked. Growing up, I figured Janet was never discussed because she died so young that she had no personality, no anecdotes. It took only a quick glimpse into my newborn daughter's eyes to know how wrong I had been about that.
Everyone has a story that can teach, inspire and inform us.
Second, the mother called on us to honor her daughters' lives by carrying forth their legacy of love. Specifically, to show love through service:
"Find a way to help each other every day."
Why not? This idea that we're all in this together, so why not lend a hand. The prisoner's fate is deeply entwined with our own. Her son goes to school with your child. Her father works in your building. She may be
next month. Why not help each other out?
As it turned out, Janet's legacy in my family has been one of love. Through her death and a series of other unexpected events, Marianne, the woman who was caring for Janet when she died, became one of my grandmother's best friends. Marianne's son is like a brother to me. When her granddaughter came to visit us several years ago, she was instantly family. And so in her short life, Janet created a love that has already lasted for generations, just as Lily, Sarah and Grace's mom has suggested is possible.
So, these are my hopes for 2012. Listen for people's stories. Be nice and help out. Sing like Lily. Remember people's names, like Sarah. Be fearless like Grace.
Tomorrow I get to code my data and I can't wait. I might even start right now.