Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Circle of Life

Death...and birth have been on my mind a lot lately.

I spent the weekend in Decorah, Iowa at the funeral of Olivia Schlee, my wife's last remaining grandparent; over the course of the last four years, Stephanie has lost all of her grandparents. With 8 kids, 22 grandkids and 35 great-grandkids, not to mention other family members and friends, hundreds of people were on hand to pay their final respects to this incredible woman.

I couldn't help but realize, at I stood beside the casket with my wife, that I have not yet had to face death. Not like this. Aside from the death of my father's father when I was too young to remember, I haven't lost any of my beloved grandparents. I do not yet know the pain of losing a family member so close and so dear to my heart. To be sure, I've lost wonderful great-aunts and uncles, but never those in my immediate circle. Oddly enough, almost all of those who've died in my life have been high school friends--three at last count. It's a sobering thing to reflect on the mortality of others which inevitably leads to musings on your own lack of invincibility.

But I couldn't dwell on death for too long. Life doesn't really let you. It insists on revealing a larger picture--one of death and rebirth. You see, less than 24 hours after Olivia Schlee was laid to rest, my sister-in-law went into labor. And this morning, I awoke to discover that I was the proud uncle of Aaliyah Megumi, a seven pound, four ounce baby girl born to my younger brother, Jonathan and his wife, Shino in Okinawa, Japan. I spoke to Jonathan this morning. He has not yet been able to get his mind around the enormity of the event (he is the first of us siblings to have a child) though I am sure his heart will produce some appropriate words soon enough.

The circle of life. From weeping comes rejoicing. In the midst of sorrow comes joy. From despair, hope is born.

Goodbye dear Olivia. You were loved by your family and friends beyond all reckoning.

Hello sweet Aaliyah. Our adoration of you is just beginning.

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Anonymous Matthew L. Delahunt said...

Dear Jon and Shino... my deepest and most sincere congratulations for the birth of your daughter, Aaliyah Megumi. I wish you only the best wishes for your future and the future of your family...

As for you, my dearest Brandon. Methinks that the tone of your last blog indicates the desire of a daughter of you own... I can't wait to see the pics of you, your wife, and your child in the not too distant, distant future (meaning within the next five years or so.)

I mourn the loss of your in-law, but I congratulate you on your wonderful life-affirming words.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Matthew L. Delahunt said...

Furthermore, I happen to love the photo you published of Jon's family. A wonderful juxtaposition of mother, father, and child. They are all different, yet all the same...

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

~more hugs all around, for the sorrowful and for the joyful. please send my happy congratulations to Jonathan!! I *love* the photo of him and his family. and I'm happy for you, too, having a niece now = )

also, enjoy your last couple weeks in CO (and safe travels, if we don't touch base before...)!

Daria : )

3:17 PM  
Anonymous bc said...


Your post about that is something that I always think about when I attend the funeral of someone old. There are all the youngsters there.

I remember in 1985 when my maternal grandfather died, my aunt and uncle (it was his dad who died) showed me at the viewing a very grainy image the baby (my future cousin) they were expecting.

Being the nerd that I was I recalled the line from ST 2 WoK “This death takes place in the shadow of new life.” Of course I didn’t say that out-loud.


11:41 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

That is totally touching, not that Stephanie or others would think so. Pedestian minds. :-)

11:42 AM  
Blogger Tanya said...

Your photo could not have captured the title more brilliantly...

12:36 PM  
Blogger Robin said...


congratulations on the birth of your niece. You may be about to discover something that I discovered 5 years ago, with the birth of mine. They may not be "our" kids, but that hard-wired, tribal, kinship is so strong it's astonishing. You will love her (and the others to come) with a ferocity that is still amazing to me. I hope, in spite of the physical distance between you, that you'll have a chance to enjoy her, as well. I miss mine always.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Eric Desormeaux said...

Please send Jon and Shino my heart felt congratulation on the birth of their daughter. There is NOTHING in the world like "Daddy's Girl". My daughter, Gillian, will be 8 in September and she has been and always shall be the light of my life. Nothing hardly else matters when you turn into a parent and you often find time for little else. (ie: finding time to write 20 page word essays on moving to another state, 10000 word reviews on movies, and diatribes against Jews, Charismatics, Republicans, and other non-tolerant peoples.) Jon is now joining my club where we blog about changing diapers and how to answer the question "Daddy, what's a penis?".

5:09 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Your description of a penis must be a very long and drawn out one (Is there a pun intended? You decide...), because you haven't touched your blog in a year. Come to think of it, neither has Jonathan. I think you both are a bit too preoccupied with penis' for your own good.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Ford said...

WOW Jon is a pop now? Holy cow! Shino you keep him in line and don't let him corrupt that child with his movie snob ways!!!! Congratulations you two!

4:12 AM  

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