Happy 30th Birthday, Bunny.

April 1, 2010

So it’s April 1st once again and time to celebrate the occasion of your birth and the rich tapestry that is your life.

Near the Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy (May, 2007)

As today approached, I thought about ways to  honor you. Maybe a big bouquet of beautiful spring flowers for the kitchen table. Certainly a call to Clay, and maybe to Grandma.

I planned to go to work today and pretty much stick to my routine. With the exception of spending some time walking in the Boston Common and the Garden, where I would have come upon the statue of George Washington astride his horse. That’s where you were sworn in to the Army as a lieutenant on May 12, 2003. It was a warm spring evening, and we celebrated at a great Italian restaurant on Charles Street afterward.

(The Big Apple Circus is back in town. Remember when we went together about this time in 2008, just before you went to Peru? On the same visit, you and I and Diana went to a Sox game at Fenway. The Yankees are coming for the season opener this Sunday. I know you’re not a baseball fan, but we all had fun together, and you did enjoy a big fat sausage with grilled onions and peppers. Maybe I should get some tickets. And a napkin.)

By last night, though, I was having second thoughts about my plan. Especially after a chat with Clay. He had (brilliantly) asked his group of surviving brothers and sisters what they did on their sib’s first birthday after death, and their responses inspired me to reach a little higher than “business as usual”.

About 2:00 am I awoke from some powerful dreams, thought about you for a couple of hours (mostly happy and wistful stuff, but some real regrets, too), and went downstairs for a workout. That usually helps me think more clearly, and that’s when I realized I needed to start the day not responding to email but rather to your gentle spirit.

We spoke and I cried while grinding out crunches. I sang to you, and you urged me to not be so worried about my back as I prepared for push ups. (My goal has been 50 since I watched you do that at one of your martial arts graduations, but 40 is the best I’ve managed in all the years since.)

I wish there had been more time to get to know you better, Mariah. That scarcity is chalked up to nature. And I wish I’d used the time I did have to get to know you better. For that, I am responsible. If only I had learned how to text sooner. 🙂

Normally, I’d be thinking about what to give you on your special day. This year I’m thinking about what you’ve given me. An appreciation for sincere humility, dignity, grace, and generosity. A reminder of the importance of action when the time is ripe and of patience when it is not. Awareness deep in my soul of how amazing, mysterious, and lovely are the great events of birth and death and all that comes before and after. And awe and gratitude for each moment of life and light and love that lies between.

Happy Birthday, Mariah. You are truly a miracle. I love you to pieces.

– Dad

P.S. Here’s part of a note I received last night from your step-sister, Nicole. It was hand-written on beautiful paper.

Dear Mark,

This is a piece of stationery that Mariah created and gave to me in a set for Christmas many years ago. The set also included bookmarks and small note paper. I’m so glad I still have some left; now I have a bit of connection to the adolescent Mariah (I think she was probably about 12 when she made this.).

She was always so inventive, with a special way of blending creativity and practicality. She used her talents to come up with things that were imaginative and beautiful, and often with a useful purpose as well.

I will never forget watching her walk away from the last time Sarah and I saw her before her trip to Peru. She was wearing a summer dress and the warm afternoon sunlight was shining on her as she walked to her car with a bold, direct, confident bounce in her step.

She did so many amazing things with her life, including her feats in recovery. I feel lucky to have been a part of her family and to have watched her grow up from a little girl into such a proud, accomplished, intelligent and creative woman.

Love, Coli

**************************************************************

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUDE,  from CLAY

I went to the local shopping mart and got three pink balloons with helium today. One popped, which was ok, cuz I was left with two by the time I biked down to the river with a note attached to the balloons. I said my prayer, cried my tears, and let the balloons go and lay in the grass watching until they turned into one balloon… and then it looked like a star way up there… and then I couldn’t see anything but sky.  I want to extend my gratitude to the other sibling survivors who graciously lent their suggestions and experiences with honoring their lost brothers and sisters.  This suggestion of balloons and a note was simple and meaningful, which suits Mariah.  I spent the rest of the afternoon walking my dog, Sky, by the river and blowing bubbles. The spring is bittersweet indeed. God bless the survivors.   Happy Birthday my beloved Bunny.  I struggle everyday to let you go.

Love and Light,

Clay

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3 Responses to “Happy 30th Birthday, Bunny.”

  1. Leah said

    Mark and Clay, thank you once again for sharing on the blog. I thought of Mariah often today, and my grandfather who also shared today as his birthday, and know that they both know that I love and miss them.

    Leah

  2. Coli said

    Mark and Clay, each of your entries moved me to tears. It is overwhelmingly beautiful and heart-breaking to get a glimpse of the powerful and loving ways that each of you are finding connections to Mariah. And there is no doubt that her love is finding its way to you as well. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts today. My heart goes out to each of you. Love, Coli

  3. Kim said

    After leaving a post on the June entry, I couldn’t leave without posting one here. My birthday is April 10, an Aries, as your beloved Mariah was, born on April 1…there is a poem I have always identified with. I hope you are not offended by it, I do not mean any harm. The blog often spoke of Mariah’s never overcoming her self-doubting; I have also struggled with this so often, along with a feeling of darkness, even when light and love of family is all around. With great gifts come great doubts,even with a loving and protecting family surrounding a person.
    -Kim

    Poem:
    To what purpose, April, do you return again?
    Beauty is not enough.
    You can no longer quiet me with the redness
    Of little leaves opening stickily.
    I know what I know.
    The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
    The spikes of the crocus.
    The smell of the earth is good.
    It is apparent that there is no death.
    But what does that signify?
    Not only under ground are the brains of men
    Eaten by maggots.
    Life in itself
    Is nothing,
    An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
    It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
    April
    Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

    Edna St. Vincent Millay

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