Nephew’s Birthday

Written by on October 20, 2007 in Conversations on the Healing Journey with 0 Comments

Today I went to my nephew’s birthday party. It’s been a while since I’ve been back to that area. I think the last time I went was his birthday the year my sister died, three years ago.

I wasn’t expecting the emotional reaction I got driving past the exit off 695, where 83 veers off and goes straight into Inner Harbor and Johns Hopkins. There was a pull in my heart as I made that curve to get on 695, a pull to stay in the right hand lane and go downtown instead.

It’s not that I wanted her to be sick back in the hospital…her suffering was more than anyone should have to go through, and I would not wish her back there for anything.

I just wanted to see her. I wanted to cry and might have had it not been for my little girl sitting in the front seat. But I could feel it, that space – not empty, but cavernous, nonetheless, full of sorrow, grieving opening wide.

When was the last time I fell into those depths? It comes up periodically, threatening to swallow me, but I always manage to sidestep it. A tear or two…maybe…if I’m alone, but quickly an errand or some other thing needing my attention spirits me away.

But the cavernous feeling threatens not to be sidestepped so easily today.

We finally come upon the off ramp to the main road. Left, goes to her house. Right to the park. I turn right. There’s a stoplight now. When did that go up?

“It’s been there a while, Mom. You must have not been here for a long time.”

Yes, it has been a long time. But it feels like just yesterday and like Vernice should be here waiting for me when I get out of my car.

“It’s about time,” I said. “This used to be a very dangerous intersection.”

We drive to the park. I pass a restaurant she and I ate at the summer before she died. The cavernous feeling grows wider.

I pass a bank, she needed to go to shortly before one of her last downward spirals. She was like Lazarus, coming back from the dead over and over again, each doctor thinking this was it, she would not make it this time. But she always did…until she didn’t.

I think I might get a headache.

We pull into the park. I get out and my brother-in-law greets me with a warm embrace. I step into the pavilion, and there on a column is a board with pictures of my sister and my nephew. Tears well up, but I will not let them escape my eyes.

My brother-in-law’s lady comes to greet me. She is gentle and kind. I speak with her a while. Explain how raw I feel. I speak to my brother-in-law briefly. The tears are escaping anyway. I say, “I need to go for a walk.”

And I do, but only a short one. The children are coming up the path. They bring me home to myself. Today is a day of celebration. I walk back with them.

The day goes well. There is a picture of my sister where her smile is absolutely radiant. It was taken before her cancer struck. She holds her son close to her. I ask if I can have a copy. My brother-in-law says of course. I can’t take my eyes off her smile.

Funny, how when she was on death’s door in the Berkshires, she said she needed to smile more. Her smiles were like deep rich wells of joy and subtle pools of kindness.

I get ready to leave, say my farewells and go to tell my little girl who is in the playground that I have to go. She asks, “Mom, are you okay?”

I say I’m feeling sensitive, and explain I’m missing my sister.

“Don’t feel sad, Mom. Maybe you don’t see her, but she’s here.”

I hold her to me, she’s right, and we walk to my car, arm in arm.

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About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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