The simultaneous passing of her grandmothers offered a pregnant woman a deeper understanding of life, love, and the divine path of our maternal DNA
My maternal grandmother died a month before my first child was born. A week later, our family’s former babysitter, a surrogate grandmother who helped raise me, passed away. I attended their funerals that summer, my belly swollen with new life. Fellow mourners looked at me with eyes wet with sadness — and then smiled as they gazed at my belly.
Two months earlier both of these women attended my baby shower. They sat next to one another, catching up on family news, talking old lady stuff, and asking each other, “Can you believe Lizzy is having a baby?” None of us knew that in two months they would have both passed — one from a massive stroke, the other from a fast-raging cancer.
Yes, they were both in their eighties. Yes, they lived beautiful, full lives. But no matter how a person’s story ends — it’s always shocking.
It’s always so deeply sad. It’s always so… final.
I was able to say goodbye to both of them as they lay dying in their respective hospital beds. Balanced there on the edge — between the imminent new life in my belly and the imminent deaths of these two powerful female forces — I took it all in.
I breathed in their legacies. I breathed in my dreams for my baby. I breathed in my emerging role as a mother, and the powerful breath filled the air, connecting the generations. I wished they didn’t have to go. But I was profoundly grateful that a part of them would live on in my children — and that they were able to celebrate the next generation even in their final days.
One meaningful experience made it all so clear. At my grandmother’s hospital, a sweet baby lullaby played over the loudspeaker every time a mother in the labor and delivery ward gave birth. Several times a day, as our family gathered to say our goodbyes, the sound of new life chimed.
At the end, there was a whole world of new beginnings. At the beginning, a reminder of the end.
I wasn’t able to let myself wallow in my grief at that time because I was about to experience my own, profound life passage. And I knew, watching my grandmothers’ descendants gather to mourn these amazing women, that a child — miraculous, unique, unyielding, and wild — was the greatest gift we could leave behind. I knew that this child would carry my legacy — and my mother’s and my grandmothers’ — into the future.
In the midst of setting up the nursery and registering for the right stroller and taking a birth class and timing my contractions came the most poignant of all reminders. This was it. This was what life was all about. It’s not about what you can take with you when you go or what you leave behind.
Life is about the real, vibrant love that creates and nurtures and pours itself onward into the future.
It’s a love that we and our mothers and our grandmothers quite literally carried within our bodies. It’s a powerful love — cellular and cosmic — that forever carries on.
You may also enjoy reading Life After Death: Healing Grief, Redefined by Sarah Nannen