I suddenly realized this week that I have neglected this blog. I started one for my Music Together business that distracted me for a while, but hopefully I will get back on track. Meanwhile, I would like to share this memoir with you. After raising two children, then 11 years later raising another, 11 year later I raised my granddaughter for many years. I guess I'm feeling a little nostalgic. I hope you enjoy this piece.
Tabitha Moon Cavanaugh (What an Amazing Christmas Gift)
What an amazing being … old beyond her years, yet ageless, she is self-confident and navigates her way through life with great aplomb. Born on Christmas Day into a challenging and tumultuous situation, filled with violence and separations, she and her dad ended up living in my house when she was around a year old. When her mom died 5 months later, she stayed with me while her dad floundered, trying to figure things out. During her first eight years of life, she lost her mother, grandfather and two great-grandparents who were all a big part of her life at that time. She was also abandoned by people on whom she had depended upon. And yet, she goes out and grabs up life. She is very self-assured, both an old soul and an innocent. She does not seem to worry about losing people. She takes it all in stride. But neither does she shrink back from new relationships. She seeks them out with people of all walks of life, all cultures, all religions, all ages, shapes, sizes and colors, and she is equally comfortable with and interested in every one of them.
When she was two-years old, I would sometimes eavesdrop on her, playing “Dead Mommy” with friends. “Let’s pretend we’re sisters and our mommy died, okay? It’s okay though, we’ll go live with our Nana.” Tears would stream down my cheeks as they acted out these elaborate scenes of finding out their mother had died, going to find Nana and living happily ever after punctuated by, “Cuz our mom died, right?” An acquaintance of mine at the time worked as a children’s therapist specializing in helping children deal with loss. She marveled at Tabitha’s ability to heal herself using the same therapy that other children often resisted. I guess instinctively she knew what to do. Her preschool teachers expressed concern but trusted my thinking and let her play her way. The other children seemed to like it, too.
However, all was not sunshine and roses. Many of us spent many hours holding her, keeping her safe from harm, encouraging her, reminding her of her goodness and of how loved she was while she screamed, cried and raged, kicking and hitting and then softening and snuggling in close, relaxed and restful. As she got older, maybe 4 or 5 years old, she would urge her friends, “Go ahead and cry it’ll make you feel better. I’ll sit here with you while you do.” And they would, and she would sit there loving them in that tender moment.
I remember looking into her eyes when she was minutes old and really seeing her in a way I had not done with other babies. She was ancient and full of wisdom. She was mostly reasonable as a baby and toddler. She was incredibly well-behaved and astute. When she was three, we went to a diner that had only Hispanic men bussing tables. One walked by us, and she said, “Hola, como estas?” The man turned and started speaking to us in Spanish. None of us spoke the language except to say “No habla Espanol.” She had learned the phrase from watching Dora and somehow surmised that he spoke that language. Everyone in the diner was amazed. They still ask about her there, if I go in without her. There are so many of those places of business where the workers ended up being like family because of her magnetic charm.
A few years ago, when my own mother was struck down so unexpectedly and died five months later, and I was devastated, Tabitha came to me, climbed up on my lap and said, “I know how hard it is to lose a mom, Nana. At least you remember your mom and were able to know her and do things with her.” As I wept, she sat there with her arms around my neck telling me that I would feel much better if I just let myself cry. Then we cried together.
Now she has gone with her dad and has a wonderful new life with him. It is the natural order of things, and I am happy for her and for me. She has a step-mom and a 5-year old brother. She is almost twelve years old and one hundred and twelve years old. She misses me, and I miss her. We video chat when we can, but she lives just far enough away to make frequent visits impossible. She still navigates life well in spite of any hardships that come her way. She is solidly in the world and learning how to stay safe and how to survive without compromising herself. A child of the moon, dancing in the sun, bathing in the rain and breathing fire, she is vibrant and alive. Watch her go!
Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!