Sunday, November 2, 2008

"El dia de los Muertos"

The day of the dead.

Being of Mexican descent, I am well familiar with this holiday. As a child, I don't remember celebrating it all that much, unless we were in Mexico. Sometimes our customs are washed away in an effort to assimilate into American culture. But, now as an adult, I really want to embrace this holiday, this day of celebration. After all it is a day of celebration, a celebration of life. It is a day of remembrance. A day to remember those who have died.

Last year, we went to the Arts Center here in town. There is an annual celebration, filled with exhibits, altars, crafts for the kids. We were there last year. And the year before, we were in Mexico during this time. Lil Jason was able to participate in all of the festivities. It's as though we were being primed for our own day of the dead. I've exposed him to death from the beginning. I never sugar coated death, I never told him the all too common phrases to describe death. I have no regrets about this. Death, the word in in itself is not a dirty word yet in this culture, we often find other terms to describe it. As if doing so, will make the pain less.

I've taken him to cemeteries, to visit our family. His great grandparents are buried in a beautiful, serene, quaint cemetery in Mexico. At times, I've asked myself if all this "death exposure" is healthy for him. I've concluded, it is. Death is a part of life. Death surrounds us. We can't escape it. We can try to pretend it will not happen, but I don't want this for him. I want him to know yes it happens, and yes it will happen again in our family. And yes, we continue to live. And we actually do survive. Death and life are intertwined. By confronting death we can learn to live and value life. Life is fragile, and by recognizing this we can learn to see the beauty of life.

The grief, the agonizing pain. It is still here, it is more controllable, but is still here. Quietly awaiting it's unleashing.

I went to Mass with Jason on Friday, 10/31. And when I looked over to the right of the altar there was a cloth scroll hanging from the wall, it had all of the names of the deceased for our parish this year. Ethan's name was there. I immediately felt that familiar pain. The sorrow, the grief. The scroll read, We remember in Prayer. It hurt, but it also was comforting to know that I am not the only one remembering my precious baby. Our pastor said that 7 of the 32 names on the scroll are of babies and stillborn babies. 7. It should not be.

Ethan should be here. Alive and kicking right now. But he's not, he's dead. He's buried in a cemetery.

I miss you so much Ethan. There are no words to describe it. Oh the agonizing pain. How can anyone go on living after their baby has died?

However, today I will remember, I will celebrate his life. He was alive for 32 wonderful weeks. He kicked, he moved, he reacted to my voice, to my touch. He reacted to music. He would move all over whenever I played Jennifer Lopez or my favorite Mexican singer, Juan Gabriel. He was alive. And I will remember and celebrate his life. He has touched my life and the life of many during his time here.

Ethan, Mommy misses you so much and I love you with all of my heart and being. We love you so much. Your big brother asks about you constantly. You are alive in our hearts. Sweet baby boy, Mommy and Daddy love you so much. We want to thank you for coming into our lives, even if it was only for a brief moment. The time we had with you, we will cherish forever.


Monica H said...

What a beautiful post and dedication to Ethan.

I'm glad you're back.

Ya Chun said...

big big ((hugs))

that is nice that your church recognizes the babies too

janis said...

Big, big ((hugs)) to you, mama.

And I think you are a great mom, and cultivating a noble attitude in your son. You are right on, Death is around us. This culture has a warped attitude about it.

32 weeks may be short to some, an eternity to others. I remember Ethan with you. xoxo