Donna Smaldone
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Monday / March 28 / 2011

Everybody wants to see another birthday, but death is mandatory

Death is the one thing we’re certain awaits, no matter our beliefs, upbringing, health habits or how ‘good’ we’ve been. It’s unavoidable. Mandatory, if you will. And yet the level of shock and despondency that accompanies death almost always throws us off our game. It doesn’t matter if someone dies when they’re 3, 27 or 93. Grief is overpowering.

My friend Amy learned that her grandmother passed away at 5:30 this morning. Amy’s husband refers to his wife as a “less concentrated version” of her grandmother. I love that! I know she does, too. I imagine the coming days and weeks will be filled with cherished memories, shared sentiments and a sense of pride as her grandmother lives on through her.

Sharing this heartache with Amy, I am reminded of my own grandmother, who similarly, lives on through me, the “less concentrated” version (just ask my Mom!) Estelle Marie Buczkowski Kokoski was born on the ninth of May in 1904. She lived so vivaciously and without apology, one could say she devoured life. I want to live like that.

My mother and I were by Grandma’s side, holding her hand and singing to her when she took her last breath on the 20th of January in 1998. She was 93. As I shared in my recent post about Tina, when you share someone’s final moments, something births in your soul that connects you to that person in a very intimate way. Forever.

We are souls, linked together in a deeply profound way. But we like the tangible. The touch, the hug, the voice on the other end of the phone. We take the tangible for granted. We shouldn’t but we do. It’s comforting… like a worn, familiar blanket. That’s why we feel so helpless when it’s taken away.

I love how The Finn Brothers say it in their song Edible Flowers: “Everybody wants the same thing. To see another birthday.”

Indeed. My birthday is this Saturday and I for one, hope to lose some water in this less concentrated version.

6 responses to “Everybody wants to see another birthday, but death is mandatory”

  1. Skip Smaldone says:

    I love the way that you write, the way that you think and feel, the more and more beautiful person you become birthday after birthday. And I love that you included one of my all time favorite songs!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you, my Love. I am me in large part because of you. Thank you for being my biggest fan. I’m so glad Grandma got to know and love you!! xo

  2. Amy says:

    It was so good to read this today. Grandmas are full of inspiration and there are ways I am like her that I am sure I don’t even realize yet.

    I hope that you have a wonderful birthday and thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers.

    A

  3. Donna Smaldone says:

    The love you have for your Grandma is inspirational, Amy… or shall I say, “gung-ho”!? And the love she had for your Grandfather is simply beautiful. Love, hugs, prayers and warm thoughts to you, friend. And as your Grandma would cross-stitch…”When God closes a door he opens a wiindow.” xo

  4. Debbie says:

    Love you, Sissy. Beautiful… I know Grandma was glad to have you there at her side. You were so special to her. <3

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