July 16, 2009

Princess

I’m not the kind of blogger to link to a lot of other miscellaneous things on my blog. I don’t post about a contest in order to get an extra entry. I don’t mention that you should go sign this petition or vote in that poll or read these ten blog posts.

But, on occasion, there are things worth sharing, things I would email to every one of you if I had all your email addresses, things I would send to my mom with a subject line like “This is so lovely.”

Raising a Princess Single-Handedly, written by Simon Van Booy for the New York Times, is one of those things.

It’s an article for the “Modern Love” column about raising his four-year-old daughter alone after the sudden death of his wife.

He talks about the night after his wife’s death, when his daughter asked to stay up late and watch “Sleeping Beauty.” I know all too well those feelings that come after the death of a family member, when life is both frighteningly normal and yet horrifyingly – and permanently – different. We have never again watched “The Tigger Movie” which Shepard watched the night he died. It still sits in the case in the video cabinet, partly played, never to be rewound from the spot it was last turned off, nearly nine years ago.

My father-in-law, Bart’s stepfather, lost his wife when his daughters were in elementary school and raised them alone until he married Bart’s mom. When Simon writes about learning to cook for his daughter, getting her ready for school, taking over all the kinds of things a mother would more likely be responsible for if she was present, I thought of my father-in-law and his two little girls, now adult women.

Sometimes an article hits a little too close to home. Sometimes it reminds you of things that are painful to remember, but that you want to be reminded of anyway.

16 comments:

  1. Wow. I didn't think I would be balling first thing in the morning. Thanks for posting that it was beyond sweet getting a glimpse into that man's relationship with his daughter.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I don't think I can read this article this morning. Maybe tomorrow...

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  3. Thanks for sharing. That's such a moving article.

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  4. That was really wonderful. Thank you.

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  5. Your post really touched me. Thank you.

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  6. That really was lovely. Thank you!

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  7. Thanks for sharing that beautiful story.

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  8. I almost cried just reading this post, and the topic doesn't even hit that close to home for me. I think I need to collect myself before I can read that article.

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  9. That was beautiful.

    I wish I could write like that

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  10. Oh, wow. I'm blinking back tears over here.

    Thanks for this.

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  11. Thanks Janssen. I really needed to read the part about letting her come close, but not too close. I find that, after having lost my own mother as a child, I sometimes think I keep my own children at a slight distance... subconsciously a way to protect them from the lifelong hurt I experienced. When I realize it, I want to invite them in closer. I want to be the kind of mom that would trust her child to throw an egg, trusting the parent to catch it--reveling in the experience and not so much worrying about the mess it might make. So much matters and so many things don't. Thanks for the inspiration to turn to those things that do.

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  12. P.S.
    I remember the night (of the day) my mom died, my dad slept out in the living room with us girls. He wanted to be close to us, let us know we would all be alright. We talked about lots of things--where we would go on a trip that summer (we turned down Europe for Disneyland). As an eight year old, I was mostly concerned about Christmas. It was my mom's holiday. I couldn't invision a Christmas without her. He said that Christmas would come around anyway, and he made it ok. He kept up traditions, the gingerbread houses that we still do as a family (extended beyond our three now) today, the sheet to hide all the goodies, the music. He did his best while he was our only parent. He cooked only a few things that I can remember: spaghetti out of penne with pepperoni, he grilled stuff, and we ate out a lot, but I remember him trying hard to learn to cook for us. As a parent now, I can't imagine doing all the roles of mother and father alone. But he did it. Just like this man with his princess. I am grateful to his sense of balance, playing games like Pente with me, accepting help (like for hairdo's) when needed, and for making it alright. It didn't have to be, but he made it alright.

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  13. Thanks for sharing this. It's beautiful.

    You are a beautiful person, Janssen.

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  14. I was in the St. Louis airport nearly three weeks ago and that section of the NY Times was on the seat next to me. I just happened upon it and have thought of it a few times since then. Thanks for the reminder. It was a great reminder how we need to savor the moments we have and keep sweet memories close.

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  15. Beautiful article, it made me a bit teary!

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  16. That was so sad and sweet and moving and beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing.

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