Meet the McNeil Family

Meet the McNeil Family

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Letter to Waverly

Wavey Mae,

I have been avoiding sitting down to write this letter. It has been easier to busy myself with details to make this day as special as possible. I want each flower and word to be a reflection of your beauty. But the to do list has been finished and all that awaits a checkmark of completion is this letter.

My sadness has been ever present, but an overwhelming sense of pride keeps brightening up the darkness. Reminders of your impact on the world are everywhere. In your short twelve years on this earth, you have inspired love and kindness.

I am so very proud of the way you lived and died. You have borne your suffering with such profound grace. You had a joyful spirit in the midst of excruciating pain.

I miss your crooked smile. I miss twirling your pigtails between my fingers. I miss the softness of your hands in mine. I miss seeing your soulful eyes in my rearview mirror.

Your name means “from the quaking aspen tree meadow”.

When we named you, we knew that aspens were remarkable trees. But it seems to take a whole life to allow a name's meaning to emerge, and we see now, more clearly, how perfectly you were named, Waverly.

Aspens are so unique as trees that it may be better not to think of them as trees at all, at least not in the way we think of a lone oak or an autumn-inflamed maple. Aspens grow in groves because they grow from a single root structure of a parent tree. The root structure is extensive and strong, and often is the oldest part of the grove. These roots bear the trunks that grow above ground, and the roots are capable of withstanding great hardship like fires because of their hidden depth and breadth. All the "trees" that grow up from this single root are like a living family, or a family tree, connected vitally to each other.

We couldn't see when we named you how much you, in your far too short, and at times hard and quaking life, would connect us to each other, powerfully and vitally. Your life drew us together, called us up from our depths to new heights of kindness and love, light and strength. We see better now that we are connected in a love that is stronger than death. Your strengths were often so hidden in and to this world, but they were there, Waverly.

We will walk among the aspens of this world, my daughter; we will listen to the rustle of their leaves. We will recall what lies beneath, and look up into the great, calling-forth Light. A poet named Mary describes what I mean best.

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When I Am Among The Trees by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

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My dear you have shone brightly.

I love you. I love you. I love you.
Mommy

2 comments:

Carrie said...

Thank you so much for posting your and Matt's tributes to Waverly Mae. I was thinking of you so much this last weekend and am grateful to experience the service in this small way. Thank you! I have been also thinking of Oliver during these past few weeks. How is he? With love and grief, Carrie

Kristin said...

Just beautiful. I was thinking of you all on this very difficult day. Again, I am so sorry for you all. What a beautiful spirit she is.