Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Baby's Bittersweet Journey in the Circle of Life

These are photographs that sat on my office desk some 28 years ago until I had the privilege 3 1/2 years later of leaving the practice of law to be a stay-at-home mom full-time. (Aren't those newborn hospital photos the absolute worst?)

In four short days, this precious bald-headed baby girl will stride purposefully down an aisle in a cathedral, dressed to kill, and with a death-grip on her daddy's arm, to change her name and her life.

I wish I had volumes of words of wisdom to share with her; guidance that my mother passed on to me on my wedding day. But my mother (and her mother) had already moved to heaven before my wedding day, so I had to wing it.

Plus, I don't remember a lot about my wedding day, except looking down that long, long aisle and wondering who that handsome man was standing there, grinning at me. (To be honest, he didn't grin much, because I had gotten a serious case of the inappropriate giggles the evening before at the rehearsal and he was afraid to set me off again!)

It turns out the handsome man was that fellow I had fallen in love with, and who would share a goodly number of years with me -- nearly 32 now -- through good times, scary times, funny times, and bad ones, too. The fellow who would give me that precious baby girl.

One of the scariest times we survived was nearly losing that precious baby to meningitis at eight months of age. She spent her very first Halloween on St. Vincent's pediatric floor, hooked up to an IV instead of a trick-or-treat bag. But our family was one of the lucky ones -- we got her out of the pediatric ICU and onto the regular floor in a week's time, and then we got to take her home with us another week later. We got to take her home, and she grew up happy and healthy, with only a residual, partial hearing loss as a consequence.

In four days, she and her precious fiance will exchange vows without one of their best friends and groomsman standing beside them. Last Thursday, he became one of the unlucky ones and left this Earth before they could say, "I do." Or, "goodbye."

How do you comfort a child for that loss during the week that should be among the very happiest of her life? How do you comfort a young man you've grown to love when he has to dress as a pallbearer a week before he dons his wedding tux?

As I had to wing it at my own wedding, I'm winging it today in the comfort department, too, relying on my faith and hers -- and the overwhelming love of their circle of friends. She and SIL2B#1 are trying to view this loss as part of the Circle of Life; their friend's spot in line at the altar will remain open, and his photos will sit in a place of honor at their rehearsal dinner. They will laugh and cry and celebrate life.

Then, the next day at her wedding, I'll wing it yet again as Pepper and I try to let her go. Only this time I'll be standing in the front, watching as he walks down the aisle toward me. And I'll probably wonder who that beautiful, poised young woman is; the one who is lightly grasping the crook of his arm, nearly floating beside him.

But, when she smiles at me -- that radiant smile only worn by a young bride -- I'll know who she is: she may be becoming someone's wife, and hopefully someday she'll become someone's mother, but she'll always, always be my first-born baby girl.

And she darn well better never forget that she's my baby!

Pics to come.


  1. Moogie, I don't know what to say. I'm truly speechless after reading this. Truly.

    Okay, I figured out something to say.

    Okay, I've typed four different thoughts, and deleted each one. Nothing seemed appropriate.

    I'm waiting for the pix.

  2. Well said, Moogie. I think a daughter's wedding day is much more bittersweet than a son's. I don't know what the Hell I'm talking about, really, having raised two boys and watched them await their brides at the altar... I have no girls. But my wedding experiences (both first and second hand) and my gut tells me I'm right.

    Good luck to your baby and her intended. Like Andy, I wanna see the pics!