How My Daughter Taught Me to Love Myth-Making

vivianToday my daughter would have been four years old. Though Vivian is no longer with us, we will celebrate her birthday this evening, lighting a candle, and in its glow, dine and sing and share her story. We’ll do all this in memory of her.

Her older brother, now seven, has a few memories and mementos. Her younger sister knows her only by our pictures, treasured keepsakes, and our words. My wife and I contemplate her life as best we can with what we have left to us.

This is our ritual, our tradition, our own little family myth-making. It is how we, in an ever new present, give meaning to a life lived in an ever more distant past. It’s how we bridge the distance. It’s how we devote ourselves to someone now with us only in memory.

Vivian breathed, cooed, and gave us one loud cry when she was first carried through the cold hospital air. Not what I’d usually call major life accomplishments, but they were hers and about all she did. My own achievements seem insignificantly small next to the movements of the planets and the stars. If I can think the world of anyone’s small steps, I can think the world of hers.

What is the meaning of her life? What is the meaning of my own? I’ve come to believe that these are not questions with answers “out there” discoverable only if I search long enough, but questions I am called to answer creatively in my own small way, responding to the past from where I happen to be in the present moment, making something new for the future.

Vivian won’t be present for her party, so we will have to make her present.

Tonight our little remembrance will be her resurrection.

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7 thoughts on “How My Daughter Taught Me to Love Myth-Making

  1. Vivien. This morning, I was doing some research to help name my next design, based on Oak Leaves, and I came across the name ‘Vivien.” She was Merlin’s love, also his student. She entrapped him in a tower/oak, malice or saving vary by the tale. She represents confidence, strength, and doors or passages from here to elsewhere.

    Thank you, Kyle. She lives in your heart, in your celebration. That’s a powerful thing, a loving thing. I lost sisters, one two years older, one two years younger, both living only a few days. I still celebrate their brief lives, and recognize the whole in my life growing up in a gaggle of boys, that might have been filled with things girl. We build our personal myths and our legends; they sustain us, comfort us, and with retelling, reveal new insight into our folly and our wisdom.

    A few drawn breaths, a single cry — those can be a life’s work. And worth celebrating.

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  2. Best to you and your family, Kyle.

    During a time where no one would question you turning inward — to yourself, to your family, to your faith — you have turned outward ever so to offer this to us. That you are able to give during a time in which I am sure there is great need for you and yours, is a testament to both the man that you are and the person that your daughter was and continues to be. Her ability to inspire and to live on through you is undeniable.

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