I know that it’s not normal to hear a beautiful song, and then instinctively wonder — to really consider — whether it would be perfect for my baby’s funeral.
But, I’m her mom. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make Carly’s life as extraordinary as she is; every moment she’s on earth, her legacy, her impact, her experience. I give myself permission to indulge all the way up to the spoiled line, hovering just below the threshold to allow for maximum appreciation and enjoyment. There is no rule book for us, and I’m navigating the best I can. She’s ‘growing’ so quickly; time exponentially accelerating with each drop down the hourglass. We still must do chores and pay taxes – things that do not directly bring us joy, but when done, allow for joy to happen. My mind is ‘always on’ working like a DSP, running a prioritization model, overlaid with a Lifetime Value model while keeping in mind that the pipeline must be robust with planning and forethought, otherwise Carly’s tentpole memory makers will be few and far between.
I walk a tightrope; on my right, ‘making the most of every day’ (like right now; not just pretty signs, mugs or shirts from Life is Good and procrastinating to a rhetorical date.) On my left, there’s the planning, and the optimization, and the strategy — all of which are needed at least on some level, in order to achieve the life I want for her. And the life I want for me.
According to Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the year of the Dog, which means it will be a year of Action! And that’s exactly what is planned for this year. Forgive me while I draw on Chinese numerology for another moment – I realized that Carly and I both are born in the year of the Tiger. And I think how accurate that must be as my soon-to-be-8-year-old, daughter, Carly and I share such similar spirits and mindsets. We agree on nearly everything. And here is what we’d like to accomplish in 2018:
We will spend more time with those we love.
And we will savor it. I’ll balance capturing the moment for replay when I need it with truly being present and taking in the sight, smell, sound, and feel of each moment.
We will continue to spread love and kindness, and make a concerted effort to gracefully avoid any obstacles to the above.
We will also lobby for work and school to start at 10:00 am*
*if successful, we promise to spend at least half of our incremental free-time cuddling, or dancing… or anything else that allows our beating hearts to be side by side. I’m in love with her. And she is in love with life. And that is enough for today.
Although we will never stop working toward and praying for a cure, we will not be oblivious of reality; accepting only proven limitations and allow for revisions as much as possible. In short, we will balance the work of establishing and maintaining love, bliss and peace with the act of enjoying that love, bliss and peace.
Disclaimer: I’m OCD. And ADD. Probably slightly neurotic but also an idealist whose self-love is on a year over year boon. The past two years, a mental and emotional journey of reflection and strategy. The good news is that I caught it in time. But I digress…
So, yes, sometimes, my subconscious stops me mid-movement, notes marching into my mind single file with a message for the tippy top in charge. And so I pause, conceding the mindspace to receive the message of the song.
One by one, shutting down the other windows in my mind’s browser, I concentrate on the song more decidedly, closing my eyes and coaxing relaxation to come. One degree per pregnant moment, I back into my mind’s slot machine cherries evidently deeming this song a jackpot: hearing // feeling // vision
Thumbing through the dusty feelings in my mind, I pull one out: poignant. Yes. The sounds of heartbreak, love, and profound sadness. And I imagine this song playing at Carly’s funeral. And I immediately know that it would be perfect.
The sound is my old church choir…. The major chords and harmonies seem like a sample from “May the lord bless you and keep you.” Aha. I love, love, love that hymn. Concluding every Methodist service under Rev Duvall along with: Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below! Praise God ye Heavenly host. …” And, I hear my Grandfather’s raspy humming beside me in the pew. Yep. I love it.
The words of the song begin to reveal themselves, a line up behind two-way glass, and I realize that the lyrics are a loving goodbye with a promise for reunion.
Oh my god.
How will I do it?
How will I send my baby on without me? She’s too young to navigate these places by herself. I need to be preparing her, quizzing her on landmarks, organizing sitters and care for her. I don’t want her to be lonely or scared. I don’t want her to be by herself.
But I don’t want to squander the time we have here, together. What is the balance? Is there one? Again, I long for the parenting guide book to show me how to prepare us both.
Let’s put the song on a list. Is there an appropriate digital or social platform for planning a funeral while savoring each moment?
Her service has to be extraordinary. Life-size canvases everywhere, my joyous little girl. Her spirit always shining through the defective, wrinkly body that she was given. Tracks on loop containing her shrieks of laughter. Recordings of favorite bedtime books. Buckets of slime. Hand written pages of hilarity focused on the key topics of any young girl – school and poop. I need to document all of it. I want to remember it all. Every moment.
Do I start a Pinterest board? A Spotify playlist?
A whiteboard or sticky note seem woefully inadequate.
How do I begin to plan for this?