Candles

Maggie and I were in Paris last week.

I gave a two day Swift training and MC’d the third edition of the wonderful dotSwift conference.

Kim and I loved to go to Paris. We went two years ago when I spoke at the first conference and last year when I returned to present training and MC the second one. We love the folks who run the conference, we love the city, and most of all we loved being there together.

It was a hard trip.

It would have been harder without Maggie. She’s easy to travel with, independent, and also enjoys many of the same things I enjoy. Like her mom, Maggie saved the things she knew I wouldn’t care for for the days when she was on her own.

In her passion for things, in her evaluation of others, in her commentary on our trip, Maggie is so much her mother.

We landed Sunday morning, dropped our bags at the hotel and took the Metro to the Picasso museum. We stopped on the way and had lunch at a cafe Kim and I had eaten at the year before.

It’s hard.

I didn’t want to just take Maggie to places her parents had been – but this place was good and convenient. Just down the street from the museum.

We spent a few hours in the museum. I was amazed at how different it was then last time. I checked my phone for pictures I’d taken. Pictures that were no longer on the walls. They rotate through their large collection and refresh what’s on display, I think, yearly.

Maggie and I walked to the Metro and took it to Sacre Coeur.

We planned to have dinner at a Crepe place that Kim and I loved – one that served buckwheat crepes cooked perfectly and presented beautifully.

In the meantime we walked the streets of Monmartre up to the church at the top of the hill.

It was a hazy day. Not the clearest view of Paris from up there. Maggie would get some great pictures a week later, the night before we left.

We had a list of people to buy presents for on our trip and a list of people to light candles for.

Maggie had sat at our dining room table and asked me for names and written them down.

Five dead. Catholics who would appreciate a candle being lit for them at this church of the Sacred Heart.

When I later looked at the list there were six candles to light for the dead. Below the other names Maggie had written “Democracy”. I know. She is so much my daughter.

It always interested Kim and me that both our daughters had so much of each of us as part of them – yet they each seemed to have chosen different parts.

We entered the church during a service. Neither of us practicing Catholics. Both of us quiet and respectful. We edged past people standing next to signs asking them not to film the service holding their phones and recording the service.

We walked around to the shrine and I left Maggie to get change from the gift shop. I headed back.

I’d watched Kim light candles since we were married.

For the last ten years I’d stood next to her while she lit candles for Elena.

Maggie lit five candles and said prayers for each.

She lit candles for the husband and child of a friend and co-worker of Kim’s.

She lit a candle for Danny.

Danny.

Danny was the brother of the wife of Kim’s uncle. Though that’s true, that implies more distance between them than there was.

Kim’s uncle Peter was halfway between her age and her mom’s. She remembers going to watch his high school games. She remembers when he first dated Mary Kay. Kim had a really close relationship with Mary Kay. They spoke without nonsense and Kim just loved Peter and Mary Kay’s kids..

Kim had become close with Mary Kay’s siblings and their families. It took me a while to figure out who was related to whom because Kim seemed related to all of them.

There was something special about Kim and Danny. They were each very fond of each other and always looked out for each other. Kim loved when we would see Danny at Peter and Mary Kay’s house.

He welcomed me like family from the first time I met him. He was one of those guys that you just feel comfortable around immediately.

Kim and Danny were partners at Peter and Mary Kay’s wedding. They were about the same age. They both died last year.

Danny died a year ago just before Kim and I left for Paris.

This year in Paris Maggie lit a candle for Danny.

Watching Kim light candles for Elena was gut-wrenchingly hard. Sharing that moment with her. Standing near. So sad. So hard.

That said, nothing

nothing

absolutely nothing

can prepare you for that moment when you watch your daughter light candles for her dead mother and for her dead sister.

Nothing.

Published in: on February 2, 2017 at 7:41 am  Comments (2)