I am in London waiting for our connecting flight to Delhi. Holy shit is it harder to travel with a small child when you are sad and anxious. In the hours leading up to our departure, I was begging Partner to call it off and proclaimed multiple times that I did not want to go. Partner is supportive and understanding, but I can tell he is starting to lose patience. He is super excited for our Little One to meet his grandparents; I want that for her as well. However, the ache for my own grandparents is more intense as we prepare for that visit.
My grandparents have been on my mind a lot lately. I have done this trip to India many times and one of my favorite parts of going to India was getting see my Nana ji and Nani Ji (maternal grandparents). My mom's family is much smaller than my dad's, so Madras felt like such as escape after the chaos of Delhi. I was so excited to have adventures with them. Even though I did not know exactly what was going to happen, I knew that there would be great stories to tell.
After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother seemed to shrink. I remember wishing on many occasions for her to be braver. I begged her so intensely to come to our wedding. She refused because she was too scared to travel. When my aunt was sick years before, she, my mom, and her other sister begged my grandmother to come. She again said that she was afraid. I wanted her to be with us during these life changing events. I did not understand why she could not get past her fear.
Now that I am facing my own fear, I can understand how easy it is to remain stuck in a place that feels both safe and stifling. Even though I am scared, I am glad that I am going to face and deal with the empty space left by her passing. Even though I am jealous of Partner, I am so excited that the Little One gets to meet and spend time with great grandparents.
Most of all, I am thankful for the trip for what it is forcing me to remember. I adored my maternal grandparents, most especially my grandfather. He was larger than life to me. I always felt safe around him and knew that things would be okay if he were holding my hand. I wanted to see more of him. While my parents do not live in the same state as us, I am glad that they are only a flight away. They (and my father-in-law) are traveling with us. During the first leg of the flight, the Little One was restless and not able to fall asleep. My father took her and a few minutes later they were both sleeping. When I looked over, they were both holding on to each other tightly. Even though my daughter will not get to meet my grandparents, I am so glad that she has a special bond with her grandparents.
A line of Mary Oliver's has been floating through my brain: "Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"
About a week ago, I found out that my uncle had passed away. He had been sick for a little while and I did not know him very well. As I was trying to recall stories about him to tell Partner, I just kept remembering being scared of him or trying not to get in trouble when he was around. However, this uncle is only a few years older than my father. I think of him, my dad, and my dad's younger brother as a unit. He is also the first of my father's siblings to die.
Ever since my grandmother passed away, I cannot help thinking about how we are getting closer to death. I feel scared and worried about coping with more loss. Partner told me that I am just about the age his mother was when she died. I became a parent much later than she did, but I have been worrying more about what would happen to my daughter if I died. She is 15 months old and these months have made such an impression on me. It is so strange that a period of time which is so transformative and significant for both us will not be something she remembers. A few months ago, I met a woman whose mother passed away when she was only a year old. She said that she does not remember her mother at all. The story broke my heart at the time and with all the recent tragedy I keep returning to it.
My anxiety has increased a lot. We are going to India with the Little One in a littel over a week. We have done a lot of planning and preparation. We are traveling with a grandparent entourage. I know from traveling a fair amount that flexibility is important and that a good part of alleviating stress is to know that the unexpected will occur. This time I find myself obessing and worrying over a thousand small details; I am having a hard time prioritizing what to focus upon. I feel nervous about one of us getting sick or hurt. I know that part of my actions are fueled by an intense grief and sorrow that we are not going to see my grandmother. I expect to cry when I meet my cousin whose father passed away. My eyes will certainly fill as I see her daughters, one who is only a few months younger than my Little One, and think about my own father interacting with his grandchild.
2012 has been a transformative year and I am sorry that it is ending on such a tough note for me. I feel broken with sorrow and worry right now. I have never had such a hard time managing grief. Here's hoping 2013 will bring more healing and happiness.
Partner and I were invited to a Tio party at E and J's place a few weeks ago. Getting out of the house with the Little One is quite the logistical project. I feel like we travel with so much more stuff now. As we were walking into the party, I noted that we had a car seat with a baby, diaper bag, and our gifts. During the party, we discovered (or actually were reminded) that is a hard to socialize with a curious little person around. She wanted to get into everything. Partner and I spent a lot of the night trying to keep her out of trouble and entertained.
In spite of the challenges of managing the Little One, I had a fantastic time! Partner and I were amazed that she was the big girl at the party. There were two little babies who were born just about a year after her. I still think of her as so small, but she seemed like a little giant compared to the new kids. During the party, we participated in some Tio traditions.
In J's family, each member would take a turn hitting the Tio log while singing a song. That person would then discuss with another family member how the year went and what they hoped to accomplish or do in the coming year. After conversing, the person would then present to the rest of the family who would then give feedback. After the sharing, a present would appear under the Tio log.
I was excited to participate as Partner and I have not been able to attend previous parties. I was trying to think about what I would say while holding a squirming baby who was getting restless. Partner went first from our little family. When he came back, the first thing he said was, "These two ladies are the most marvelous parts of my life" with tears in his eyes. He and I love each other very much and parenting with him is truly a privilege, but we do not usually make such grand statements in front of a crowd. He said some other nice things about our daughter, his work, and finished off by a wish for me to find a fulfilling job in the new year.
The Little One and I went next. I do not remember much about what I said except that I did mention how co-parenting with Partner has given me a chance to fall in love with him again. I am sure that the details of the party will fade. The Little One will grow and (hopefully) attend more Tio parties where she will be an active participant. One thing I will never forget is how at the end of our first full year as parents, Partner and I both said, "I love you" out loud to each other and remembered how lucky we are to have each other.