Reading the passages from Babu’s 1935 diary has taught me the least about her. She felt the sting of unrequited love and crushing insecurity, she went to a double feature several times a week, she cared about her school work, and her tiffs with her friends were very short lived and her love for them enduring. I read mostly about things I had heard of, her wreak of an English teacher, her friend Zosh, her mother hand making her clothes and her closeness with her father. It’s eerie reading about things I know about, seeing things heading my way and I know some of the stories endings. It’s a validation, yup, this is her, the person I know her to be. Not much different at all. Yup, here are stories I’ve heard her tell me before and they are almost the same as she has told me, and here are many I never heard.
To be clear, yes, I’m learning about her through her journals, but it is not the most enlightening part of this journey, and neither is our conversations when I share them with her my only source of beautiful soul opening connections. It is in the way this process is causing us, all of us, to open, communicate in more frequent and different ways, and to spend more time together. Sometimes I fold laundry, drink a coffee, or write when I bring down passages for Babu. The process can take a long time and I settle in to lengthened time spent with her when involved in that process. My husband and I will talk as I’m transcribing in the living room and we relive her memories and try to fill in blanks. He is a great resource since he knows her so much better than I do. My sisters reach out to me as they read the blog and sometimes I can really hit them with the feels. Nicole opened my eyes with her comment about the Zosh passage and I had some thinking and some unassuming to do and finally some corrections to make. I wrote:
She was as stoic as stone. I expected something else at the time but here is Babu, processing a little, it seems.
I am thankful for Nicole’s comment on that post:
As she leaned over Zosh’s coffin, she kissed her fingers and placed them on her best friend’s cheek… “See you around toots.” In that moment, Babu was young again. I imagine her mind and heart traveled back through time to some happy moment… as if she was just saying goodnight to her friend after she walked home some warm summer evening.
Nicole went to the funeral with her. I did not. I believe I worked that day and I was not as ingrained here in her life at that time as I am now. Nicole in no way meant it this way but I was humbled by the fact that I do not know her as well as her family. They have been in her life for so much longer than I. My relationship, yes!, is important and we love each other dearly, but I have much I can learn from these conversations with people who have more experience with her in their lives. I wrongly called Babu stoic. She is wise and full of love and knew, as Nicole said, that this was a celebration of her friend’s life. Her moment with Zosh was as tender as their life’s friendship had been.
Babu is 98 and she has learned a lot in her life yet her heart is still wide open. She doesn’t need me to help her process her friend’s death with these passages, she knows how to do these things far better than I. I am learning, as always, from her.