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Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Emmett

Dear Emmett,

I can't stop staring into your perfect little face. The photos your thoughtful daddy has sent show you mostly with your eyes clamped shut, resting after your turbulent entry into this world. Be prepared for your exhausted and battered mommy to bring that up occasionally throughout your life to remind you both what it takes to bring a child into the light, long after memory of that pain and suffering has dulled.

When Daddy manages to capture you with your eyes open, I search for you behind the dark blue irises that many babies share. Your face even resembles what I remember of all of my little ones, your essential you-ness still not fully stamped upon your features. I have prayed for you to be healthy and happy, of course, but mostly I have prayed for you to be strong in the face of the harshness of this world and to be of service to humanity, to find that special niche where Emmett's gifts can shine. You are already blessed with strong, competent and loving parents as well as a host of extended family members who are besotted even though most of us have only met you through the images on our computer screens.

The day you were born I was surprised how little I felt beyond the extreme relief that Mommy had weathered the ordeal. I had been nervous just before and during her labour, an anxiety I never felt facing my own four labours and deliveries. But she is my baby and those protective maternal instincts never go away it seems. I was joyous, of course, that you had arrived but it wasn't until the next day, when your little face appeared before me through the wonders of technology, that I fell hopelessly and absolutely in love, a deep ache overwhelming me and a sadness that I cannot be right there to hold you in my arms. A friend, a fellow-grandmother, told me one day that being a grandparent is the best. I think I am getting a glimmer of what that feeling is and an understanding of my own parents' deep love of my children, a love that confirmed their love for us, their own offspring. It is a connection that is forged between the generations when a grandchild arrives, an unspoken bond of love and trust, even appreciation as the new parent suddenly sees the world through her own parents' eyes.

I will meet you in the flesh one day, God willing. In the meantime I have a very important job taking care of your grandfather whose name you now bear within your own. He needs as much care as you do, my love; he has entered his second childhood and needs constant love and attention. You have just arrived in this world; he is preparing to depart. Leaving him to the care of others is as difficult for me as was leaving your mommy and her siblings when they were little.

I hope you can know him one day but I fear he may be gone before you can love him yourself. I will be looking for him in you, looking for his kindness, his loyalty, his humour, his passion. The old Michael would have been misty-eyed on hearing of your arrival and would have scooped you up in his strong arms and held you to his chest, pacing and singing Daddy-lullabies from his treasure trove of music: Stan Rogers, Bruce Springsteen, Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seger. Many of the songs your parents might have had to ban, their subject matter questionable.

He would have loved you fiercely and mightily, little Emmett. I like to think his soul is connected to yours and will watch over you for eternity.

*Janis Rozentals, "Mother and Child" 1904


  1. This made me cry it was so amazingly touching. Thanks, Claire. You know you've got the chops as a writer when you can bring me to tears which I know was probably not your intent! Thank you for a beautiful piece!

  2. Claire your amazing words are very touching. I can say being a grandmother aka Nannie is a joy above all others. My prayers are with you that yes you will hold this bundle of joy and experience love like no other.