My daughter saying farewell

My daughter saying farewell

I apologize if this image offends anyone. But I find it beautiful and I wanted to share.

My husband’s 94-year-old grandmother died last week after a long battle with cancer. For the first year-and-a-half she did well, a round of radiation with my mother-in-law as her live-in caregiver and nurse. After her birthday this year (July 4), she retired to her bed and did not leave her bedroom again.

With the help of hospice nurses, my mother-in-law cared for her as if she were a newborn baby. I wish I could say it was peaceful as her obituary claimed, but the last two weeks were not. I will spare the gruesome details and say only that I now understand how zombie legends started. Apparently, my grandmother-in-law’s heart kept going even when her body had begun serious decomposition.

Nana died at home. This was the third and final great-grandparent that my daughter had. The first passed away when she was five or so and we brought her to the viewing with one brief glance into the casket. The second followed a year or two later, and this time my daughter heard more about the choices that had to be made about end of life care and “pulling the plug.”

This time, my daughter, at nine, helped care for her dying great grandmother and attended the whole funeral– riding in the limo with her grandparents, attending the whole viewing and funeral, and even going graveside. (My daughter sat beside the grave with her grandparents and boisterously asked, “Are they going to drop her into that hole?” The pastor laughed.)

My mother-in-law had asked for three pink roses tucked into Nana’s hand– one for each of her three great-grandchildren (all girls, the other two are in their twenties). The funeral director knew Nana well and slipped a peppermint into her fingers as he remembered her always having a hard candy to share.

I found so much beauty in that day. The sun-drenched October day turned out perfect, sandwiched between cold, rainy days. My daughter did such sweet things, like helping her aunt arrange the blankets around Nana before they closed the casket.

But this photo summarizes it for me: My darling baby, kneeling before her great-grandmother for a farewell, using those quiet moments before the public calling hours. Yes, you can see the body, but it’s almost indistinguishable. Bathed in light with color from the flowers. It was a peaceful moment.

Photography: A Child Says Adieu (Nana’s funeral, 2013)

Feature/Health: Breastfeeding (2004)

I clearly remember leaving the office on my due date to visit the obstetrician. I had been 4 cm dilated and significantly effaced since my birthday, a good three weeks earlier. In the newsroom, at meetings and at interviews, my heavily pregnant self made people nervous. I asked my obstetrician when I should stop working. He looked at me and, once he recovered from the shock that I was still in the office, suggested I not return.

That was June 10. My daughter came into this world on June 23, thanks to some hearty doses of Pitocin to hurry her along. Any first-time parent will tell you, those first six-to-eight weeks are “baby boot camp,” grueling, exhausting and testing your limits. I can’t speak on second babies. I only had one.

As a good reporter, I tried to recycle some of my personal experience into copy. Plus, I learned a lot of information as a new parent that I never knew before, or perhaps thought about things I never thought about before I had a baby.

Breastfeeding was one of these topics. I felt like no one really talked about it. I was born premature and didn’t come out of the hospital for three months so my mother never breastfed. I felt lost and figured if I felt lost, so did others.

My editor allowed me to do a lengthy two-part series on breastfeeding. This is part one.

Breastfeeding, part 1

Breastfeeding, part 1

Breastfeeding, part 2

Breastfeeding, part 2