March comes in like a lion, as they say, and out like a lamb. It brings with it the end of winter and the beginning of spring; the world marches through the death of winter and towards the rebirth of the spring. The cold, seemingly bleak and inescapable, breaks and from it come forth the buds of life, the flower of possibility, and possibly the seeds of wisdom.
The month of March has always been a heavy hitter. In my life it has held its share of birthdays, anniversaries, and deaths–and so, it would seem, in yours as well. Of paramount importance among those birthdays in march is yours. Your 4th birthday was on March 6th, 2014 and it was an event that your mother meticulously planned for probably the entirely of the year directly following your 3rd birthday. Two days before your birthday, however, Great-Grandma Sally passed away, sadly though not unexpectedly. She had been sick for sometime. March has brought on yet another example of life and death–the cold and the break.
It is amazing to watch the balance of your childhood and your maturity come into play, and as I watch you grow older I couldn’t be prouder of the way you handle yourself in new and emotionally charged situations. When your mother was first told that Grandma Sally had passed on, you were asleep. Later in the day, once you’d had time to soak in the conversations. You asked about Sally, you asked about getting old, you asked about being sick, you asked about dying. Each answer led you to another question and you thirsted to understand in the way a child does–with arms open to possibility and yearning for truths and absolutes.
As we waited for the funeral services to begin you wanted to say good-bye. You did so with all the heart and wisdom of a child; “I’m sorry” you said. Later at the shiva, you would start telling people that Grandma Sally was in your heart. “She’s in my heart now” you were telling people. And surely enough the next days rolled by and your 4th birthday came.
Now, when your birthday came we were in a shiva house–the venue for the mourning was our home so there were a lot of mixed emotions. You seemed to take all the extra attention in stride. In the end, it was probably for the best to have the shiva in our home, because even in the mourning of the Berman family’s loss, there was plenty of life and energy in the home. You and Ayla managed to provide sufficient distraction and reminder that not only does life go on, but it goes on for very good reasons. While your grandfather and his siblings mourned their loss, and you took on some burden of grief, it became clear to me that you have more than transitioned into the role of little boy; baby no more.
When your birthday party came soon after on Sunday, I watched with awe at the little boy, who not that long ago was a screaming baby in the NICU of Nassau Communities Hospital, or the baby screaming all night until he slept in our beds, or the toddler screaming for his Spider-Man toy that he couldn’t find right next to him. Instead what I found was a little boy who was having fun dressing up as a firefighter, playing with puzzles, and generally aging a grand time. I never get tired of the sophistication in your speech, in your interactions and kind, loving relationship with your sister (even when you are mean to her), or just the way that you persist.
When the family gathered after your party at the house for a combined continued mourning and celebration of your life there was a confluence moment as if the two most natural things in the world were somehow embodied in one exaltation–the cycle of life and death, with the full knowledge that, as your mom put it, “Grandma would have wanted it this way”. That life should not stop, nor should you be deprived of your anticipated day but neither should lives gone by be forgotten.
It was a bitter sweet week, as pain ended and pain began, and life anew was celebrated again. When Papa G and his brothers circled the block symbolizing the end of shiva the symbolism of the act was more than poignant. Everything comes full circle–it is a reason to celebrate, to mourn, to remember, and to push forward. Life is worth living while you have it, and worth celebrating if well approached. And, while mortalities are naturally and morbidly pondered in times such as these, I hope that when you’re 25 and I’m 50 you’ll have little experience with such things but will have as good a handle on it as you do right now at the age of 4.
PS- Your growing interest in video games, and your success at them makes my nerd heart swell. The fact that you are all about Mega Man X? Sweet.