Ma P’tite Maman,
I was so scared to sit down and write something- scared that much like whenever I try and tell a joke, I would forget the most important parts...the indispensable details that makes it all come together. Then I remembered that you are the one who always, without fail, gets my jokes- even if we have to make up a new punchline because I’ve completely forgotten it. In fact, I’d say that’s what we did more often than not…made up our own punchlines in the beautifully challenging story of life that we always found a way of turning into a joke. Together, we found the joy and most definitely the humor in everything we could…and while not everyone got our special brand of silliness, or not all the time at least, those moments and the lesson of it all, are some of the greatest gifts we could have ever given each other.
I feel so lucky, Maman, so lucky for and so very proud of (as I know you were) how close we are. We created a truly unique mother daughter relationship that was the envy of most every mother and daughter we knew. And we worked hard at maintaining that relationship by respecting the hell out of each other for who each of us was. It wasn’t always easy, but wow was it worth it! I am so honored that through this closeness, I got the opportunity to really get to know who you were…not just as my mother, but also as the inspiring force of nature that you were.
I can hear you now, as clear as a bell, protesting with your completely genuine modesty, that I’m going a bit overboard, and I want to tell you that I honestly am not…that these are my true feelings, that you do inspire me, that I hope to one day become just a fraction of the woman you were. You wouldn’t accept a compliment in life, so now I’m embarrassing you in death by making you accept some pretty deeply felt ones in front of all your family and friends.
You taught me long before the heartbreaks of death and cancer appeared on the scene the true meaning of strength and courage, and reinforced these lessons with every challenge that you greeted with dignity and grace and yes, a truly liberating silliness that enabled you to melt every heart that came near you. You taught me that the process of self-discovery is never over, and that it never should be. In the last 10 years, I watched you bloom and grow into yourself in ways that you admitted you never thought possible…I watched with such awe and pride as you found and claimed your voice and power as a woman! I cried to know all that your path to these moments contained and felt so honored that you were sharing your incredible journey with me.
LIVE LIFE FIERCELY!
This was your battle cry after [my brother] died, and I can still see you, fist in the air, imparting your considerable strength and spunk to the world…and most importantly to your daughter, at a time when I desperately needed it. And now, it comes back to me again, at a time when I need it most…here you are in my head, fist in the air and spunk intact…unstoppable even in death! (Death has not met such stubbornness yet!) Encouraging me to now take up the torch and continue what you began as I start on my journey as a mother, my arms laden with the many beautiful gifts you have given me over the years.
I am devastated that you are no longer here in the physical realm…that you will never physically hold your grandson in your arms and sing him the French songs we sang together my whole life or hear him call you Mimi. But I know and trust you are with us (I just ask that you send some really super obvious signs every once in a while so that I don’t forget this) and that your grandson will be connected to you by many invisible threads that extend far beyond a mere name.
Yes, Maman, after 9 months of you calling him Baby N, you’ll have to get used to a new name involving a J instead of an N…but I think you’ll agree that’s exactly as it should be.
We love you,
Synge and Baby J