03/26/2012 02:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Pancake Ballet: Spring, Beethoven and Honoring Grandma

I haven't written about grief in a while. It just hasn't been in my consciousness as much, or maybe I was pushing it away. Mostly grief has felt like it has been masked as disappointment, not getting what I want, and the future that I think "should" be here and hasn't come yet.

It's been a winter of career almosts, of expectations and hopes dashed a bit, of getting back up a lot. I hate that actressy crap. Always leads me to the "how dare I" guilt: cancer, famine, national disasters. I should just feel so lucky. Blessed. But loss is loss. and lately it has been leaving me feeling like a seedling aching to blossom but instead pushing against hundreds of pounds of dirt above me, and a few feet of snow for good measure.

But... Spring has sprung. And with the shift in the weather, the daffodil blossoms, the window box we planted yesterday, comes magical renewed hope. And memories.

This morning my daughter insisted on wearing her tutu. She's not usually clothes-obsessed so I easily conceded, rule number one of living with a 3-year-old: PICK YOUR BATTLES. But I did have to add this T-shirt for good measure:


My husband had woken up in the middle of the night mumbling about pancakes (I kid you not), and I was determined to make him a sugar/yeast/gluten-free version. He's on the "clear-sinuses-through-allergy-season-hallelujah-it's-a-miracle" diet. Don't ask. So, Liv and I got to concocting something fun. I put on some Beethoven. Liv kept going back and forth between wanting to measure, pour, and stir with me, and running to the rug, her chosen stage, to dance. As I watched her, I took a breath and really took in a magical moment of everything that's right in the world. Of dreams come true. Of BE HERE NOW.

And then the next Beethoven movement came on and I was thrown back to waking up at my Grandma Norma's house in the Berkshires. Classical music was always playing there, but this song she herself would play on the piano. Her smile... her smell... Who needs a time machine?

I thought about the fact that my little ballerina (Who for the record also happens to love dancing to "Price Tag" by Jessie J, but that was yesterday morning making oatmeal) was in my belly at my grandma's funeral. I was 37.5 weeks along, about to pop any day. Norma knew she was a great-grandmother-to-be, though we didn't know if what we called "the chili pepper" in my belly would be a she or he. It didn't matter, Gram was over the moon. At her funeral, the new life in my belly brought such hope to everyone. Cycles of life, winter into spring. Just like today.

I shared grandma's piano memories with my pancake-eating dancer.

We took some time to honor, to remember, to breathe into it.

It felt good.

Renewing. Simple. Easy.

It felt like spring.

For more by Alysia Reiner, click here.

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