The Alarms

My Pepe died yesterday.

And, I’m sad and it’s complicated because my father’s father and I didn’t really know each other – and still, it’s undeniable that the gift of me, and my sister, and our sons are forever a part of the gift of him.

About a year and a half ago, on the second floor of our home, I assembled a humble alter.  A sacred everyday place to center and connect, and be reminded of the lasting presence of loved ones who’ve passed.

After putting my son to bed last night, I passed my alter and saw the picture of Meme. Pepe’s mother, Ada.  I cried.  Pepe came into this world as Ada’s boy.  Just as Briggs came in as mine and Kenny’s.

I lit the candle next to her picture and whispered:

For your son.

Then, as Briggs slept and the candle burned, I joined Ken outside to help clear out the near foot of snow that had accumulated in our drive, and on our cars throughout the day.

Twenty minutes into shoveling and scraping, I heard faint beeps.  At first, I ignored them as far of nothingness.  Then, remembering the candle, I ran.

Before even reaching the door, I knew it was our fire alarm.  Over and over, louder and louder.  As soon as I reached the stairs, I could see the smoke, and the flame from this one little candle roaring out of control.

I cracked the window at the top of the stairs and flew into our bedroom (where our son had fallen asleep), fully expecting Briggs to be in a full on panic.

He wasn’t.

The wild winter winds quickly silenced the incessant alarm, and after dolling out a few more kisses to my still peacefully dozing boy,  I suddenly knew exactly how I would honor Pepe.

I will listen to the alarms.  When they are sounding and begging for my attention, I will go.  I will answer.  And I will be grateful for the warning.

Then, I quietly blew out the flame feeling a bit more protected than I had just twenty minutes before.


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