Benjamin

The first Mother’s Day that Peggy lived with us, she came downstairs with a gift for Kim and told her that Kim was her american mother.

It meant so much to Kim.

Peggy was one of the Chinese teachers in Shaker. She’d been living with us for six months.

A week later while I was out of town, Peggy asked Kim if she could live with us the following year as well.

What could Kim say?

She was Peggy’s american mother.

Peggy and Kim spent time together talking – mainly when I travelled. Peggy’s own parents are about our age so we always felt parental and protective of her.

Peggy lived with us the following year and moved into her own apartment during the school year after that.

She was only a couple of blocks away but we didn’t see her very much.

Kim missed her.

Peggy would visit now and then and we’d sit and talk but it wasn’t the same.

We remembered her zooming by in the morning on her way to school. No time for breakfast – just a cup of coffee.

We remembered her coming back to take a nap before zooming to graduate school.

We remembered her cooking in the kitchen.

We remembered her in her room talking to her mother in China every day.

Peggy lived in Elena’s room – although the whole time Peggy lived there we called it Peggy’s room. Once Peggy moved to her own apartment we referred to it as Elena’s room again.

Peggy got married and she and her husband bought a house on the corner of our block.

Her parents and her grandmother would come from China for long visits. Although we didn’t see them often, we loved getting together with Peggy’s family. Just the nicest people.

A year and a half ago they sat with us in the hospital as Kim lay dying.

They were there for us like family.

Kim’s chinese daughter, her husband, and her parents.

After Elena died twelve years ago today, Kim would sometimes muse about the moments Elena never lived to see.

I think about last June when Elena’s class graduated from High School. ¬†Elena never lived to graduate from high school. Then again, she didn’t live to finish first grade.

And if she had lived? Kim wouldn’t have lived to see her daughter graduate from high school. Kim wouldn’t have lived to see Elena start the twelfth grade.

A little over a week ago I had the privilege of holding Benjamin in my arms.

Peggy and Eugene’s beautiful baby boy was born a week and a half ago.

They let me visit them in the hospital.

Peggy’s mother smiled and placed Benjamin in my arms.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I walked and rocked back and forth.

It was the same hospital where Kim had Elena almost nineteen years ago.

I brought Peggy the same flowers I had brought Kim almost nineteen years ago.

I held our chinese daughter’s son.

There aren’t many “Kim would have” moments that I can truly be sure of, but Kim would have loved meeting Benjamin. She would have been proud to have been his american grandmother.

I could just be projecting.

I handed Benjamin back to Peggy’s mother, sad that I wasn’t handing the baby to Peggy’s american mother, but just so, so happy.

There is just something so perfect about holding a baby.

It focuses me on this moment.

On this child.

On Benjamin.

 

Published in: on February 22, 2018 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

She Said “Yes”

Twenty-five years ago today I asked Kim to marry me.

She said, “yes”.

We never made a big fuss about Valentine’s Day. I didn’t choose today because it was supposed to be a romantic holiday – I chose it because Kim was so bad with dates that I figured she could remember this one.

January 25, 1992 was the first time we went out together.

July 25, 1992 was when we decided we would start dating.

Kim would later say that she avoided dating me because she knew if she dated me we would get married – and she wanted to marry someone with whom she shared her religion.

September, 1992 we went on a trip together to San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Lake Tahoe.

On Valentines Day, 1993 we were engaged.

Six months later, on August 8, 1993 we were married.

It’s not that we didn’t ever argue and it’s not that we weren’t ever moody or mean to each other, but our marriage was as perfect as a real marriage can be in real life.

We never fought about big things – it was always stupid things.

Towards the end, we were learning that if these were little things, why did we bother to fight about them. We weren’t quite there yet – but we were close.

We never really celebrated Valentine’s Day.

I got Kim flowers when if felt right – not just on a day when you were supposed to.

Valentine’s Day in our real marriage was affectionate but it was also about us standing in the kitchen in the morning, drinking coffee and eating some of the candy we had bought for the kids.

I loved touching Kim – just putting a hand on her.

The look she gave me depended on where I put my hand.

She’d roll her eyes and I’d tell her, “you’ll be sad the day I don’t reach out to touch you.”

She’d smile.

The Valentine’s Day before she died, Kim said, “I got us something.”

It was just a little something but it said that as we aged together there was still a spark that we would continue to enjoy.

There was all the promise of the rest of our lives together.

Our health was good enough to travel the world together. We had the time and means to enjoy the things we wanted. We loved to talk to each other or just be together quietly. We still reached for each other – just because.

Someone asked me this week if I was angry at Kim for dying.

No.

It wouldn’t have been her choice and it certainly wasn’t her fault.

The man asked if I’m angry at her for being in a convertible on that day in that place?

No.

I’m angry at the person who killed her. I’m not angry at Kim in any way.

I feel cheated.

The man nodded and said, “you were.”

It was the second time I said that to someone this week and the second time I heard that answer.

Twenty-five years ago today I asked Kim if she would spend the rest of her life with me.

She said, “yes.”

And she did.

Published in: on February 14, 2018 at 7:52 am  Leave a Comment