I’m keeping watch on a mother orca, Tahlequah, who lost her calf shortly after birth. She is carrying her baby through the waters of the Pacific Northwest, swimming hundreds of miles already, balancing her on her head. Researchers are watching and worried for her safety as well.
They say members of her pod are helping her carry her baby with their mourning cries being recorded. I think this story is hitting particularly close to many of us who have lost the ones we love. We carry them in our hearts and minds, often misunderstood by others, leading us to neglect ourselves.
But there are also the people that help us carry the memory of our loved ones. Who mention them in conversations, who remember important dates and who tread carefully in conversation.
This weekend we celebrated Evie’s birthday. We invited too many and I worried about space, food and cost, but then shook it off and went with the more the merrier mindset. As I look through pictures of the weekend, I kept thinking what an awesome village we have. I’m not saying that everyone did the right thing at the right moment. It would be too difficult, with us not knowing what the right thing would be until the moment has passed, and the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing so scary (and to be honest, my feelings weren’t always rational, and my anger at times misplaced). But as a whole, we received so much support.
It was hard for me not to see Evie’s birthday as a win for everyone. We brought such sadness to other’s lives (obviously not intentionally, but I can’t help feeling it) that we needed to share our happiness as well. Like everyone deserved to be included. As happy as I was to see everyone, I hate that Evie’s birthday wasn’t just a celebration about her but these larger emotions attached. We can’t have a milestone without acknowledging the milestone we missed.
But I don’t want to only focus on that. The party was wonderful. Evie was a star. She was so good with everyone. It was funny, by the end she was tired and ready to go, so she kept waving goodbye to everyone. Like, get with it guys, read the room, it’s time to go home. Matt made her a pink smash cake which she was VERY delicate with.
Her birthday is Wednesday so we’re taking the day and going to make breakfast and go to the aquarium. I’m looking forward to a nice quiet day for us. She brings us such joy, I feel guilty being anything but grateful. And I am grateful. I really really am.
Image: DAVID ELLIFRIT/CENTER FOR WHALE RESEARCH VIA AP