The end of 2010 has been very difficult for our family. At the beginning of November, Mateo’s grandfather, Brian’s father, died after being burned in a house fire. Brian, Mateo, and I flew to North Carolina to be with him during his last days and to make final arrangements. Mateo was an angel, providing much-needed solace and joy to his father during one of the hardest times in his life.
Then, on December 10, my 22-year-old niece Michel was murdered. I cannot imagine how I would have coped had it not been for him. Seeing his smile, hearing his laugh, knowing that he needed me — it has kept me going while my heart is aching terribly. At the same time, being a mother now I know how my sister, Michel’s mother, must be suffering and it makes the grief all the more painful. I am glad that I have Mateo though, grateful that my mother’s love for him helps me to understand the mother’s grief my sister is feeling, though I know I can never fully feel her pain and hope above all else that I will never have to.
Michel is holding Mateo when he was two months old in the picture on the left. It’s not a great picture of her because she was so nervous about holding him, afraid she would hurt him or drop him. (My Nana sits next to them — Mateo is her nineteenth great-grandchild. She now has twenty-one.) I am so sad that Mateo won’t get to know Michel. I have so many memories of playing with her and helping to take care of her when she was a baby and a little girl. Like all of my nieces and nephews, she prepared me for being a mother someday. I was so looking forward to seeing her at Christmas and at Mateo’s first birthday party. I miss her.