Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Alysia's 4th Anniversary

My dear, darling daughter,

For your memorial lunch this year, we gathered this year at Shutter's On The Beach, in Santa Monica. Katherine, Ashley, and mom, Aliana and me, just a small group to remember you a day or so early. Though you know we will never forget you, we have to pick a day and this year it was the day after my birthday. It's tough always having those two things on top of each other, and adding to that Paramo's passing on May 1 means that the last week of April generally sucks. (Though the presents were nice. I ended up picking out most of my own presents this year, but I waited to open them until Saturday afternoon, even though I so wanted to start playing my new bass guitar. See, I have more patience than you!)

Shutter's is a pretty place, do you remember? We had lunch there, you, me, Mom, Ashley and Rae in like late 2008 and you were having some sort of snit and it was kind of a weird and not terribly fun time. So why did we choose it for your memorial lunch? Now, that's a story I think you'll like:

It was in early July of 2010, after you were gone, and Mom's and my anniversary had blown by without much notice, as we were too wrapped up in our emotions to pay attention. But we decided to have lunch at Shutter's, because Mom felt that she hadn't gotten to enjoy it when we had gone before. I made reservations, and then ordered flowers to be delivered to the restaurant, so we could have them during lunch. You know, the sort of romantic stuff both you and I love to do. I didn't tell Mom about the flowers; they were supposed to be a surprise. Well, the surprise was that they weren't there when we arrived, so I enlisted the help of the waitstaff to look for them, thinking that maybe they had been misdelivered. They looked everywhere to no avail, and the flower shop was completely clueless and unhelpful and offered to "redeliver them after 4 PM, because we're so busy". Yeah, like that'll help.  So, I was bummed, and explained to Joy about the missing flowers, and we ordered and sat and waited for our food, and cried.

(I have to tell you that after you died, and for about 2 years, every time we went out to eat by ourselves, we cried. It was one of the few places we could let down our guard and relax, because of not wanting to freak out Aliana with our emotions. So, by this time everyone at the restaurant knew the whole sad story, and were being wonderfully sympathetic. But I didn't and don't expect people to do more than commiserate, so what happened next blew me away.)

After the appetizer had been cleared, our waitress came up to the table, followed by the manager and about 4 other staff, with a large, square glass vase, filled with beautiful flowers, and placed them on our table. My jaw dropped a bit, and I asked if these were the flowers that I had ordered? No, they still hadn't arrived. Well, I said, then you must have found some extra flowers from catering for us? How sweet! But that wasn't it either. By this time I was totally confused, and asked, well, then where did they come from?

The smiles on the faces of the staff were ear to ear by this time. The manager said, "These were ordered for Mr Robert DeNiro, who is checking in later. We decided to give them to you, and get him some new ones, so that you can have flowers for your anniversary lunch." And that's how we ended up having lunch with Robert DeNiro's flowers.

Robert DeNiro's Flowers!

30 minutes later, the flowers I had ordered were delivered as well! 

Joined with Roses

So we ended up having a beautiful floral lunch, and cried on the waitresses and each other, and went home and grieved, but with a little less darkness.

Us, with flowers!

So, that's why we like Shutter's, and why we picked it for your lunch this year. We had fun talking with Ashley, who is doing really well (especially without Josh, ahem), and then walked to the Santa Monica Pier which has lots of memories for Aliana and Ashley, and the girls went on some rides, and then we walked back to the car, and headed home.

Katherine, Ashley and Aliana

It's been a weird, intense year. Aliana has had some significant challenges (and offered them to us, sweet child that she is), but has also become much more responsible for her emotions and her actions, which is tremendous. How can it be 4 years? It seems to have slipped by when we weren't looking; so much of the last years is a mist. We miss you so very much. It is tempting to sometimes think that if you were still here, you would solve Aliana's issues, sort of by magic. But we know better: you could just as easily have sided with her and reinforced some of her less-enjoyable traits! But we would trade it for you in a hot second, you know that, right?

I always look for some words to say at your memorial lunches, but often they don't appear until a few days or a week before. This year, it was the day before. William Allen White, eulogizing the passing of his 17-year-old daughter, Mary:

"A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous, energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn."

I hope and pray that your soul, your glowing, fervent soul, is shining upon some other dawn, filled with people for you to shower your special brand of impish, romantic love on. Be well, my dear. May we meet again some day.

You know who