Moona (Sasha and Kendra)

In the 3+ years we've had to live without our wonderful Magnolia, we've
established traditions to keep her alive in our family.  Each night at dinner, we light our Magnolia candle and say "For Magnolia," making sure there's always a place at
our family dinner table for her, and that we're continuing to speak her name.
(For our traditional Sunday waffle brunches, which Magnolia loved, Delphinium began a tradition of lighting the candle and saying, "For Magnolia, who loved waffos.")  After going around the table at dinner to share something we're each grateful for, we leave space for any of us to also share a Magnolia memory or thought; nowadays, these are often about ways that Azalea's infancy and toddlerhood bring up memories of things that Magnolia did or said.

A family tradition that has changed to honor Magnolia's absence is
moonkissing.  Since early in our falling in love, whichever one of us notices
the moon first says, "Pardon me, do you know where the moon is?" after which
the other one finds the moon and we kiss.  Delphinium became a part of this
tradition at age 2, and Magnolia was just beginning to join in the kissing
before she died.  Since Magnolia's death, the two of us and Delphinium have each
kissed each other and then blown a kiss to Magnolia towards the moon. 

We keep photos of Magnolia all around our home, and photo books filled with
that previous family of four are in our living room, where we pick them up
frequently.  While cooking, folding laundry or playing with Delphinium and
Azalea, there are many times when our eyes fall on Magnolia's image and we're
filled with sadness and memory and the sense of her importance in our family.

Lately, Azalea has joined into all of these ways of keeping Magnolia present
in our family.  It began at the dinner table.  Two months ago, we were taken
aback when we lit the candle and said, "For Magnolia," and Azalea said,
"Moona."  As she continued from night to night, it became clear that she was
really joining us in saying her sister's name before beginning family dinner.

Next, she began to name Magnolia in all of the pictures around the house, and
to ask for the photo books so that we could look at and name her sister.
Magnolia joined the constellation of her family as she happily pointed and
named "Mama," "Papa," "Dada" (Delphinium), and "Moona."  Walking through the
house, she was pleased to point up to a picture on a shelf or on the
refrigerator and want to show us "Moona."

Now, "Moona" has become one of her favorite conversation topics.  At times
when we're not expecting it, she just says "Moona" to begin a conversation
with us.  And she has enthusiastically joined in our moonkissing, blowing
kisses to Magnolia not only when she sees the moon but at many other times
when she's walking outside, and making sure that we follow her lead.

The lock screen on Kendra’s phone is a picture of Magnolia.  Azalea often picks up the phone, turns it on and looks at Magnolia, then “answers” the phone and says, “Hi, Moona!”  At other times she insists that a stuffed animal or a toy belongs to Moona: “Moona book” or “Moona bear.”   

While neither of us has ever found much comfort in pondering the metaphysics of death or imagining Magnolia’s soul in heaven, we both wonder about Azalea’s new relationship with her sister and really like to imagine her discovering that she has a toddler playmate in her sister.  We don’t know what she knows or sees or feels or understands about Magnolia, except that her sister seems very present for her. 

And we like to imagine the impossible, that they actually interact, that they play together and that Azalea has a real relationship with her sister. 

1 comment:

  1. Before Leo was born, I lost a baby in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. I started dreaming about owls, almost every night. I read that in some shamanic beliefs, owls were messengers to see you through dark times. While I was heavily pregnant with Eleanor, Leo looked at me quizzically one day and announced, "Mommy, there an owl on your shoulder."

    Similar to you, I've not been one to find comfort in imagining heaven or an afterlife for the baby that didn't get to be born, but that moment was so powerful. It made me wonder about the interaction of Leo and his older sister that we never got to meet,