August 30, 2011

Nightingale

Nightingale
Sing us a song
Of a love that once belonged
Nightingale
Tell me your tale
Was your journey far too long?

...
All the voices that are spinnin' around me
Trying to tell me what to say
Can I fly right behind you
And you can take me away

--Norah Jones


Today is my 34th birthday.  I had a lovely celebration with my husband, daughter, and in-laws over the weekend (because birthdays that fall on a Tuesday are hardly convenient for anyone who actually has a job).  I have a roof over my head, food, clothing, and shelter.  I wasn't anywhere near Hurricane Irene, and my house is air-conditioned--honestly, folks, there are times when I suspect I would find other necessities negotiable compared to that one!  My daughter is beautiful, vibrant, and the joy of my life.  My husband is a wonderful man whom I love devotedly and, strange as it seems to me at times, he makes it very clear that he feels the same way about me.  As if all that wasn't enough, I swore to myself that I would be published before age 33 ended, and though it didn't look exactly like I expected it to when I made the vow, it did happen.  In other words, I am a content woman, and my birthday is a happy time for me.

But it's also my first birthday since my mother died, and that just feels wildly unnatural.  She was one of the essential characters in the original drama, for heaven's sake!  On August 30 (of an undisclosed year), she was at Washington County Memorial Hospital giving birth to me.  My story starts with her, and it seems bizarre that's she's not here on the anniversary of our journey together.
Naturally, my story also started with my Dad, and I miss him deeply, as well, but let's face it, the old cliche is true--Dad's contribution to the process of my origins WAS relatively small compared to Mom's!  Somehow, the person who selflessly let you grow inside her body and leech off her resources for nine months is supposed to be there to commemorate finally getting to stop carrying you around on her person.

This post began with the lyrics of a Norah Jones song which I've had stuck in my head for a week.  When my parents were young and newly in love, Dad used to call Mom "Nightingale," because of her beautiful singing voice.  (I'm sure he would have continued saying there was a nightingale in his house, if he weren't also living with two little parrots who called their mother whatever their father called her, and he preferred that they learn to call her "Mommy.")  After I moved away to college, and then when I got married and set up house on my own, Mom used to telephone me every year on my birthday.  She was always a nocturnal creature, just as I am and so is my daughter after me, so she would call me at midnight and sing "Happy Birthday!" to me, live or into my voicemail box.  What a voice!  In her later years, the lupus and the drugs meant to slow its progress stripped her voice of much of its power, but in her prime she could shake the rafters and move the hardest cynic to tears.  Not many people sound good singing through a cell phone connection, but she managed it.  I miss you, Mom; thank you for everything.


In March of this year, the FDA approved the first drug ever devised to treat the causes of lupus.  They don't even know the ultimate cause yet, and this drug certainly isn't a cure, but it's a great leap forward compared to the nasty, harmful drugs lupus patients have had to rely on up to this point.  Find out more at the Lupus Foundation of America, and check out my Lupus Resources page.  Add one of my lupus awareness badges to your own blog or website.  This disease has ended too many lives; let's find a way to stop it.

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