13 April 2012

The big and the small.

Dear Mom,

Last night, on my way home from work, I thought about what we'd talk about if we could (Rise, Mother, rise! We are under April skies and I need our nighttimes back. It is lonely walking home without you). I started writing these letters to you when death crept closer, when we were in the delicate waltz. Now that Death has gone riding, the things I want to talk to you about are small. I got new lipstick on Monday, I think you'd like it. My kitchen floor is sticky - should I use ammonia to clean it? Yes, I know, never mix ammonia with bleach. The girlfriend is just so tired. Let's go get a manicure, Mom.

Today is my birthday, Friday the 13th, just like the day I was born. You were 25 when I was born, you worked as a secretary at McGraw Hill, you were married to my father, you lived on the East Side and I was your first born, Leigh Michelle. Your father, Papa Leonard, died 2 years before I was born, but before he died he liked to have lunch with you at the McGraw Hill commissary, and he teased you gently, his last-born, Blanche Susan, his only daughter, and it made you so mad - you wanted him to take you seriously. I know Papa Leonard, I never met Papa Leonard, one day our children will know you, too. You named me after Papa Leonard, and one day, I will hope I will have the joy, and the sadness, of naming someone Blanche, the third Blanche in our family.

So let's talk about small things, Mom. Tell me the story about Aunt Bernice being annoyed, on April 13, 1979 - she had to take a taxi (or the subway, or the train, I can't remember?) home because she was having lunch with Nana Hannah when you went into labor, and tell me how Uncle Dickie missed his chance to ride shotgun in the Hebrew School carpool because Nana Hannah gave birth to you (she was 40, Papa Leonard was 50!) the week it was her turn to drive and he was so mad. I think he still is mad, the wonderful kind of mad that you can only be at someone you really, really love.

I woke up early this morning and I lay still in bed in the quiet. And then I read my emails and I had an email telling me that I won a contest for a fancy pair of pajamas. Mom, I knew I was going to win, just like I new I was going to win that coffee table, just like I knew, all winterlong, that you were going to die soon after my wedding. I was right. If you are very still, and listen very close, you will know, and I know, Mom, that we love being cozy, that being tucked in bed is our favorite place to be, and I know, Mom, that the silk pajamas I won are really a birthday gift from you.

Thank you, Mom, for giving me life, for giving me a beautiful life. Thank you, Mom, for the big and the small.

Your first-born,
Leigh Michelle


Jennifer Shingelo said...

Dear Leigh,
Happy Birthday...I am incredibly moved by your heartwrending (is that a word?) journey through the grieving process. Your mother must have been beyond special.
I look forward to reading more...

Kelly said...

Leigh, Happy Birthday, and I hope there's some happiness in your day. Today is the 5-year anniversary of my dad's death and it too was a Friday the 13th. Not that I was very aware of dates and such at the time.

My own grief surfaces in the most surprising times and ways. I want to say its easier, but its only different.

Michael Batnick said...

You are so amazing Leigh, happy birthday from one of the 2 greatest gifts Mom gave you, your little brother Michael, who loves you more than you can imagine.

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