Abuela Claudia had simple pleasures
She sang the praises of things we ignore
Glass Coke bottles, bread crumbs, a sky full of stars
She cherished these things, she’d say: “Alabanza.”
I've had the song Alabanza from In the Heights singing on loop in my head all weekend. "Alabanza," as the song explains, means "raise this thing to God's face and sing praise to this."
I'm still waiting for the baby phone to ring. I used to hate this, when it was my job; the time between knowing it could be any day now and the day itself was tense and painful. I felt stifled and shut up and unable to devote myself to anything, knowing I might be interrupted any moment. But this time, it's a friend, and it doesn't feel like work because I love her.
Yesterday I made a list of reasons Baby S should have made it her birthday. Among other things, the list included "both the world and your family have had a relatively good day, and you don't know this yet, but good days are precious and rare and we want you to get as many as you can." It's early yet this morning, but I didn't wake up to immediate bad news today, either. Today might make a good birthday, too. Any time now, Baby S.
Her name, I've been told, will mean both "to hear" and "elevated, exalted, lofty." In my heart, it rhymes with alabanza. It means "raise this thing to the sky and sing praise to it." It means "notice and celebrate the beauty of ordinary things." It means "may you know in the centre of yourself that everyone is and must always be as beloved as you are. Help make it true."
I woke up this morning feeling tenderhearted, which always reminds me of other times I've felt tenderhearted. One of the memories that always pulls its way forward is from a day not long after I miscarried, when we were driving along the winding, hilly highway between G's parents' house and Lunenburg on an early summer trip to Nova Scotia. On that day, I was reminded of Aaron Freeman's advice: You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral. In particular, I thought of this passage:
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
It's a passage that has brought me comfort in a lot of difficult times, but as I was living in the loss of the whole idea of a person, it was a very important one to me. Many of my friends have had miscarriages, and it was comforting to think that the energy of those babies and the energy of my baby might be out there swirling around together, being missed and loved and incomplete. More babies and children and mothers and fathers and beloved pets and trees and grass have joined those energies in the years since that drive, there were many already there, and more will join them today and tomorrow and next week. But they're never gone, and you can even say that in a very physical, scientific, measurable way. Nothing leaves.
I think I get the same kind of comfort from alabanza. If we raise these things we love to the light, let the energy of all the other lives, all the other things, all the exploding stars and blades of grass and sparkling rivers swirl around them, there's so much love there. So much to be loved.
Raise this thing. Sing praise to it. Let it love and be loved.
[Monday, July 11, 2016]