I just spent the weekend with my first baby, the splendid and sassy Savannah. We walked all over the Missouri Botanical Garden in nearly identical Birkenstock sandals. We drank giant steins of Heffewiezen under a 95-degree, afternoon sun, and we ate too many tortilla chips and not all of our tacos at a late dinner in historic Soulard. We laughed, we caught up on the details of each other’s daily lives, and we giggled a lot and cried a little when we reminisced about Mack. It was as close to happy as I have been since my last weekend visit with Savannah. And then her car disappeared down Washington Avenue, and the Illinois license plate faded away from my view. Then the sorrow moved back in, pushing out the sunshine and snapping me back to my lonely and gloomy, missing-Mack mood. The kind of mood that hangs on sometimes for hours after a weekend guest departs or after I return home from a trip to see family or friends. The mood that reminds me how desperately I miss my second baby.
This is the life of a grieving mother. This is the emotional truth of losing a child. For me, successful living in the moment comes with a price at the end that is frequently difficult to pay. Time does not heal this wound, no matter what they say; and so I must breathe in as deeply as possible during my live-in-the-moment successes and endure as best as I can the painful aftermath that always follows. Mack’s absence is the reason for my sorrow, but Mack is also the one who guides me through these terrible transitions, as well. Drawing strength from her humor through most all of my missing-Mack moods has been the key to my survival, and it is especially true after the positive effects of a magical diversion, like a visit with Savannah, fade away. To help alleviate my sorrow at these times, I always look at pictures of my funny girl. Mack’s face making faces has a curious power. I used to badger her to smile for pictures rather than to make a goofy face, but now it is those goofy faces that provide me strength to find my way to the next live-in-the-moment opportunity.
Oh, that face! How can that face ever fail to make me smile?
Mack’s continuing power to soothe my heart, to bring a smile to my lips, and to make me laugh when I am at the lowest of low is a guiding force in my life. Mack speaks to me through her goofy grin and silly faces in photos. She whispers love and advice in my ear and plants happy memories and thoughts in my brain. She tugs at my arm to be strong, and she continually reminds me to laugh. I have come to think of these moments when Mack touches my spirit as memos from Mack. The contents of my Mack memos have become a sort of life mantra for me. Sometimes they come in the form of humorous one-liners, and sometimes they are lengthier essays with depth and with heart. Mack’s great character, her unflappable good cheer, her unique wit, and her incomparable wisdom for a person who had so little time give substance and style to all of her memos. Mack’s memos connect with my heart all the way across the great physical divide that now exists between us. Mack’s memos inspire and instruct me, and only recently have I come to fully understand their purpose and their power. Now I want to bundle up my precious memos and periodically share them in the pages of this blog. There is sound advice, much inspirational grace, and innumerable funny messages for good living within them.
And here to get it started is…
Mack Memo #1: Make a face. Make a silly face, people. Stick out your tongue. Cross your eyes. Wrinkle your nose. Suck in your lips. Use your face to make yourself or somebody else laugh. Making a face will make all the serious go away. It will make you feel better…at least for a while. Trust me. It will. And a goofy face might also save a life.