Returning to Seattle after the funeral I went to the beach to do a rose ceremony with the flowers I had brought back from New York. Normally I release the petals one by one with a prayer, but on this day, something different occurred and these are the photographs I was able to capture of the ceremony. Divine inspiration.
One Wednesday morning at 5 am I received an email from the President of the company, saying I needed to be in New York City by noon on Friday. And so, Wednesday I changed my plane ticket to fly out to my project in California that day instead of the next and then flew from California to New York on Thursday, arriving at 1:30 in the morning on Friday to pitch a new client project that same day.
I nailed the proposal, and as we were going down in the elevator we got the phone call, "We want you for this project."
"Damn, you nailed that proposal, Chloë."
My response, "We need to talk."
The truth was I was at the end of my rope.
There was no way I was taking on another project without losing myself, and everything I had worked so hard for..... all of it.
At the time when I got that email, something in me knew there was auspicious timing at work, and that's why I changed my plans at the drop of a hat, and flew across the country. But I wasn't thinking about work, I was thinking about my family. My great Aunt Pat, my Nana's sister, and like a second Nana to me, was having a birthday party that same weekend out on Long Island and I would be in NYC. She had been in the hospital that week, but was insistent that the party would go on saying she didn't want the next time the family got together to be someones funeral.
And so I spent the weekend in New York and got to attend the party and be with my family. (Insert later: reflecting on conversations that weekend, I kept telling everyone that I was going to quit my job and run off to Paris and marry my French Prince.... little did I know I would do just that less than 3 months later......)
I returned to Seattle late Sunday night, after a wonderful weekend, a birthday celebration, and a beautiful day spent walking the High Line and hanging in Central Park with my Aunt and Uncle.
Then the work week began again. This Wednesday, I got a different kind of call. "Nana is dying and you need to come back to New York." I booked my plane ticket that day and returned to New York, but she had passed the morning my plane had taken off, and when I landed I got the news. My parents were on their way from Virginia to meet the rest of the family in NY, and my Aunts would be picking me up from the airport, by the time I arrived back on Long Island, Nana was gone, and so was her full time caretaker, and my Aunts' house was quiet.
I would spend the next 4 days with my family.
I caught a glimpse of the master plan.
I was able to momentarily grasp how it ALL makes sense and comes together in this grand plan of life, love, grief, hardships, continuity, legacy. My Nana was a classy lady, raised ten children, survived her only husband by 30 years, lived to see her grandchildren have children, travel the world and worked until she was 80. She always drank her coffee from a cup and saucer, but knew what it was like to have to make sandwiches for ten children from one can of tuna.
In the end, even losing her mind and almost everything else to Alzheimer’s made sense too. Her condition necessitated that her children become democratic decisions makers, bonding over her care and the care of the estate. Each child contributing in the ways they knew best to do, Mike ran the real estate issues, Jim the maintenance, Rob brought food every Tuesday and boisterous humor, Maddie provided unconditional love and a home for Nana, while Debbie ran all the finances so that care could be seamless, Mary, Sara, & Patia were constant caregivers. I didn’t know that Nana implored not to be put in a nursing home, but she never was through the past 4 years, even when it required two full time caretakers. She was afraid of dying alone, and she did not. Her wish was to be received and waked at home in her living room.
Nana’s house, the house that everyone had been raised in, had been for sale for the past 4 years while she lived with my Aunts, and we had never received a serious offer. Our family home was being rented at the time.
There was a clause in the current tenant’s lease that indicated that if Nana passed they would be given notice to vacate the house, so that we could hold her wake in the house. And on Wednesday we gave notice to the tenants that the clause was about to be invoked. I've never heard of anything like this in my life. Saturday, the family arrived at the home, began doing yard work and cleaning the house to receive Nana and all her guests. We arranged the formal living room and thousands of funeral flowers with poster boards of Nana's family adventures and overseas travels. At 2 o'clock, the hearse arrived in the driveway and and her sons carried her casket in through the front door and past the grand staircase and the grandfather clock. We welcomed her home in true Nana fashion.
I doubt I’ll ever experience anything like that again in my lifetime. A police guard stood at the front door on Saturday and Sunday in honor of my Aunt Maddie's service, my Nana being a devout Catholic all of her life was to be buried on Monday at the family church. My Aunt Mary's Uncle, being a priest and a confidant of Nana's came to the house and sat with the family and held private prayer with us in the living room.
We all slept over, and on Sunday night I wanted to sleep on the couch in the living room with Nana before she left in the morning. I spent a long time holding her hand that night, and then I knew that, that wasn't Nana. She is a vibrant and feisty lady, the matriarch of our family. Instead, that night, I shared a bed with my Aunt Mary and my four cousins slept in the den next door.
The day of the funeral was the most amazing fall day, trees in full color, sunlight and blue skies, less than a week would pass before the destruction of Hurricane Sandy would come to New York.