First Friday

January 10, 2014

Every first Friday of the month at Micah’s school parents are invited into their kid’s classroom for a project. Today’s was a timeline.

Micah and I scrambled mightily – ten minutes before school started – to dig up photos from every year of his life. Most came from an album we’d started for him as a toddler.

In his classroom Micah was glum about the whole thing.
Keeping on his new fingerless mittens, even for gluing.
Speaking too quietly to be heard in the din.
Something about the photos wasn’t right. He would not say what.

In the picture of when he was one, he was sitting on Oma’s lap. Seeing Mama’s face there, in the classroom crowded with kids and parents, was jarring. Was that his feeling, too – such a tender spot of ours so publicly exposed, even if no one there knows she no longer exists?

I’ve been trying to keep her alive to her grandsons in many ways:

  • We have an Oma candle that we light on the family table.
  • Both boys have Oma notebooks full of pictures of her with each boy through his life – starting when they were days old. Notebooks to which they’ve added their own art for her.
  • I baked some of Oma’s Christmas cookies from her recipes – Zimtsterne, Vanillekipferl and Wespennester (cinnamon stars, vanilla moons and wasps nests).
  • I always tell them when something I come across – The Wind in the Willows, our colorful plaid napkins, or a pair of socks – was a gift from her.

But all these are quiet, private, comfortable rituals.

Bringing her out into the open creates a fresh rawness.
There is a touch of the apparition about her image inside of Micah’s classroom. Did he bring a ghost? Because Micah is seeing something none of his friends are able to see in that picture: his first great grief.

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