Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From time to time

(Those of you who still visit, thank you. Thank you for your comments and your clicks. I need to tell you about the Cub and about the anniversary, and I will. But I have to say this first.)

A died on a Tuesday, the last Tuesday in January. In 2007, that was January 30th. This year, the last Tuesday in January was the 29th. Two weeks ago today. A year has 52 weeks, give or take. So it was (52 x 6) + 2 = 314 weeks ago that my son died.

The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

That's from the Constitution. Article II, Section 3, as you undoubtedly heard or read in the last couple of days, if you've had electricity and had a news source on for any length of time. Even with the Pope news, and the storm news, and the madman in LA news, I am sure someone somewhere has quoted to you the Constitutional authority of what is about to transpire in the Washington, DC in mere hours. I will watch it, as I watch every one of these, whether delivered by the guy I voted for or not.

It takes conviction to deliver a speech like that well. It takes preparation and planning, but it also takes a backbone. But tonight, it is possible that the person with the strongest backbone in the room will be one of the 25 guests of the First Lady. Though, I imagine, to her, that backbone might feel more like a pulsating column of raw pain and anguish.

I heard her voice before I even knew her name, though not before I knew her daughter's name. “You don’t how hard this really is,” Cleopatra Cowley said out of my radio this weekend. “And those of you that do know how hard this is, I am sorry.”

I heard her in the way we sometimes hear each other, in the way where I could've finished her sentence. Ms. Cowley was on my radio because 312 weeks after my son died, mere two weeks ago, someone mistook a bunch of teenagers seeking cover from a rainstorm for members of a rival gang and opened fire. Cleopatra Cowley's beautiful fifteen year old daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, was shot and killed.

Hadiya had performed at the inauguration just 8 days before, and she was killed barely a mile from the President's Chicago home, details that called national media's attention to one of what is likely to be many hundreds of murders in Chicago this year. The First Lady attended Hadiya's funeral, which is why my radio was covering it.

And today, just two weeks after her daughter's death, Cleopatra Cowley will sit with the First Lady for the speech. Could you do it? Two weeks out? Two weeks out I was barely able to follow a plot of a TV episode, let alone a speech. Could I really get dressed and put on makeup and walk into a room understanding that TV cameras would be there? I am not sure. But I think that even if I don't exactly grasp how she will do it, I have a good idea of why she is doing it.

Two weeks out, and for much time after, the thing that bothered me more than pretty much anything (except for the central fact of A being dead) was that nobody knew him. Nobody knew him and nobody needed to know. At the time I thought this to be a unique thing about babyloss-- that because others haven't met our babies, they can safely go about their business, unaffected by the world missing the light of our lives. Now I see it differently. Most people are not known to most of us, and so the passing of most people does not affect most of us. But when the pain is yours, you just might want everyone to suddenly realize that even if they didn't know it before, they too have been robbed by the death of your loved one, that their world, too, has been made smaller and poorer by the passing. Looking at Hadiya's smile, it is hard to disagree.

So presumptuous as it may be of me to think so, I think I understand the why of Cleopatra Cowley's evening. And, maybe, after all, I understand the how too. Perhaps it is another oldie but goodie of the grief experience-- one foot in front of the other, and try to remember to breathe.

Today is also Maddy's sixth birth day. Please stop by and remember with Tash.

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