Friday, April 27, 2018

Stevie,

I am late with this post, to make up for it I have been busy posting things here on the blog today.  I wrote a poem, not a very good one but my heart was all in.  I found a draft I wrote maybe a month ago and decided not to be afraid and pushed the "publish" button before I changed my mind.

The boys and I went to the cemetery on the 19th.  I brought yellow tulips and red Iceland poppies.  Dad went earlier in the day and brought fruit.  Elliott picked out a little cactus in a white ceramic cup, it made me smile, he never met you but he feels like he knows you and the cactus was perfect.

It was a pretty day, the grass was green the view of Mt.Diablo was breathtaking.  There is a big hill in the distance that you can see just beyond the big oak tree, it has a little house tucked away in it, it looks like heaven, I told myself, one day I want to live there.  I would buy a telescope, one of those big brass ones you might find in a light house.  Everyday I would make sure your body was safe, I would watch the deer graze around you, know when it was time to swap out faded flowers...

It's spring again and the one pink tulip that keeps arriving every spring since you died showed up with four siblings; You, Aly, Noah, Claire, Elliott.   I find meaning in odd things.  I built a brick pizza oven all by myself, if you were here I think you would love it, actually would have been your idea before mine.  The gardens are doing their thing, I'm not planting too much this year just keeping it simple, tomatoes, basil, all the herbs, tomatillo, a couple peppers. 

I miss you most in the spring.

I am making art again, pulled out the clay and dusted off the kiln, I have a lot of projects that distract me and a lot of distractions that keep me from projects.  It's just busy, school is almost out, your brother is graduating and Elliott will start Kindergarten in the fall...how did this happen?

If you walked in the door right now we would lay on the grass under this warm sun, I would make you all your favorite things to eat, we would take off our shoes and never put them back on, we would drain the bank account and go to Spain and Italy and France, and Thailand (because you would want to).  We would just bring a backpack and a jacket.  We would live on fruit and art, pizza, pasta, chocolate crepes, books, sleep on beaches and in parks and in hotels made out of stone and wood. 

Noah could sing for money, I would wash our clothes in hotel sinks and dry them on balconies.  We would stay up late look at the stars, laugh, cry, and sleep when we just couldn't keep our eyes open anymore.

I wish you could tell me what heaven is like...

We miss you so much sweet girl, so very much.

This is going to be a magical year, I know it.  Stay close.

I love you

mama


Eleven

eleven in the morning
eleven
eleven
eleven years
since I kissed those lips
since I heard your voice
since I smelled your hair
since I held your hand
eleven
the song I use to sing
to wake you up
it was awful
it worked
eleven
I sing it sometimes
to see if I can wake you up now
bring you home
or maybe just so you can hear it
where ever you are
and know I am still here
eleven years later
in the same room
the moon coming in through the window
the pink tulips in the garden
the cherry tree gone
died when you left
eleven
I can't even imagine
how the time has gone by
how I have lived without you
how I can't seem to find you
eleven in the morning
eleven
eleven
when I kissed you good bye
for the very last time
when your last breath left
those beautiful lips
when touched your head
bald and soft
when I let go of your hand
still warm, still mine
eleven

Dark

I have been keeping this blog since September of 2007, the year my daughter died.  I started writing right before her birthday, the first one without her here.  I was doing my best to find ways to breath and live, to love and be present for my son and daughter who were hurting and were afraid I was going to disappear.  I was swimming underwater looking for the place I could come up for air.

There were a lot of reasons for writing, for me its like meditation, a prayer, a secret friend.  Writing here also feels like keeping record, making sure it all stays real and she isn't forgotten, none of this is..   I may have also secretly thought that someone else would find this blog by accident, someone who needed it.

I have written mostly about missing my daughter, about how the earth keeps turning, the sun comes up and goes down and what we do in between.  I don't write it all, I can't but I offer a glimpse I think.

I have written about my broken heart, written little letters to Stevie, updates about life...

-not sure that I have written about the dark-side, not really.

Not as honestly as I should have.

When this death thing happens and mother loses her daughter, something breaks, its a fracture in your soul.  It can't be repaired, you don't try because there is something sacred in that broken place, it has to be seen, felt, remembered, honored.  You might be able to use string and tape to hold the rest of you and your life together if you are lucky but this tear in you is a part of you forever.

I am still me,  not the same me, that person left with my daughter.  I sent that me off to be a ghost in the place Stevie is now.  The me that is here is a different kind of ghost.  There are dishes to be washed, piles of laundry to be folded, kids to take to school, bills to pay, put a stamp on, and take to the post office.  Meals need to be planned, shopped for, and cooked, gardens need to be planted, cars to be repaired, dentist appointments to keep...I have purchased three vacuum cleaners, a washer and dryer, two refrigerators and a two stoves.    I just got a new car,  put in new kitchen cabinets, opened and closed a business, had a child, laid a bamboo floor, built a porch, I buried two parents, a grandmother, an uncle and a best friend.  I have been to three therapist, visited Paris and Italy, cried on a beach in Hawaii where I lived when I was two.  I gained 50 pounds, lost 40 pounds, and I contemplated killing myself several times.

Life does go on after loss but not always.

It took three therapists to convince me I was strong, exceptionally strong, and one man to convince me I wasn't.

It took a little boy with big blue eyes and a heart bigger than the universe to save me, and baby with dimples in his shoulders to convince me I deserved saving.

There have been a lot of tears, and I don't mean the kind that roll down your cheeks when you watch a sad movie I mean the kind of tears that dry up before you are done crying because there are just no more tears left, but still it hurts.

When Stevie left I had all her medications including oral chemo in a zip lock bag in her closet.  That bag was my escape hatch.  My plan was to make sure she was honored and buried properly, make sure Noah and Aly had what they needed, make sure the bills were paid we were not in debt, the house was clean, things repaired that needed repairing.  I would wait to be alone, lay in Stevie's bed, take the pills and go to sleep, hopefully wake up where she was.

That is really hard to read and it was even harder to write.

I didn't want her to be alone.  I didn't want to be here without her.  It was that simple.

Everyday I was distracted by something that had to get done before I left.

Every night Noah snuggled up in Stevie's bed with me and held my hand and told me beautiful stories, told me he loved me.  He was afraid I was slipping away and he was holding on to me, he never let go, he waited for me to feel love again, to trust it, and he wasn't letting go until it happened.

There would be so many days that I just couldn't imagine living through.  I felt very alone.  My relationship with my husband had long since crumbled and he was grieving in his way, I was grieving in mine.  We both stayed distracted but there was fall out and ugly nights fighting.  I needed something he could not give me, a reason to believe that things were going to get better and be ok, someone to keep me safe, someone to walk through this hell next to me.   Instead he said hurtful things and made me feel like a failure for not putting my energy into him, for not melting into him and making him the center of my life, for not being needy in the right way, not making sure his needs were met,  and not trying repairing our relationship so he could heal.  I couldn't I didn't feel anything anymore except sad and alone I guess.

A year after Stevie left I woke up feeling something that I hadn't felt in a long time, a calling.  I am not religious, and it wasn't God, it was a child.  I had this "feeling" with all of my kids, I knew it was time for my child to come home.  It isn't something that's easy to describe.  Some people call it "brooding" ( I was already an older mom when I had Noah)  most women my age were beginning to go through menopause, counting down the days until kids are off to college, but I heard a call  It wasn't practical, it was odd timing but it was strong and could not be ignored.

I focussed a lot of my energy on the prospect of having a baby, I thought about it,  worried about it, tried to talk myself out of it, but it was bigger and stronger than me.  Part of me thought I could bring Stevie back...Like I said I am not a religious person but I had always had a strong personal relationship with my God, for me that "God" was always so much bigger than any organized religion would let it be.  After Stevie died I was really angry at a God who would let a child suffer and die like that and I questioned everything I ever believed.  Some mornings I woke up with clarity and some nights I went to bed feeling very lost and alone.  Now I felt like I was being asked to do something that was going to push me hard again, force me to show up strong, I was afraid but I was also filled with hope and love.

It was even more difficult than I thought it would be.  I was blessed (or cursed) with some crazy genetics that had me ovulating regularly and in possession of decent supply of eggs that should have been dwindled away.  The doctors I went to explained that statistically a natural pregnancy shouldn't happen and woudn't without medical and technical intervention, they recommended IVF, not something my insurance would pay for or that we had the resources for.

Steve was sure I had lost my mind but when he found out the odds of it working (terrible, something like a 2% chance)  he relaxed, played the good-guy and showed up in a nice way which surprised me. He thought that this could be a way for him and I to find a way to re-connect.  He would look like the awesome husband willing to give his wife what she needed but the odds of it actually happening meant there be no baby so it was a win-win.  He would reveal this to me later and it would actually cause more damage to an already very fragile situation. 

I would be using a cryo-sperm donor because my husband had a vasectomy (something he chose to do against my wishes when Noah was 6 weeks old) so that further decreased my odds a lot.  Choosing a sperm donor from a catalog is surreal. I wasn't looking for a designer baby but I did want a donor that did not have a family history of Cancer or any serious genetic diseases.  I tried to choose a donor that physically might be a match so my kids would look related but  physical appearance wasn't high on my priority list.  Every month I went in, collected my sample and had a doctor introduce it into my uterus.  There is a long process that is hit and miss leading up to this appointment that involves charts and tests and injections.    My husband went for my first IUI and he does get points for that no matter what his motives were.  That day felt like some kind of creepy dream, it felt wrong on so many levels.   I spent a year in tears, every month a negative result but I  was just more determined with the next cycle,  I wasn't giving up.

I learned about embryo donation.  It felt like the heavens opening up, I just had to find a clinic and a doctor that could help me, and I did, it wasn't easy.  This is where my husband got angry and bailed.

I  took a break, decided to find a really good therapist to convince me I was acting irrationally, to point out all the things I wasn't seeing or that I was ignoring, to tell me I had some kind of post loss mental illness, to give me medication.    What I discovered was that I was going through something very common for women after the loss of a child, it was a biological need, I was taking care of my heart and mind in a very natural way.

I moved forward on my own, when I felt sure, when I understood that hope is as healing if not more healing that anything else.  My heart wanted to believe that good things could still happen, that I could open a window for Stevie if she wanted to try this all again, that I wasn't crazy because I needed to love like that again. After months of  insurance craziness, injections, scans, long drives, a waiting list, tears and frustration...

 I became pregnant.

 I threw away the zip lock bag of chemo and medications after I hit my second trimester.

Halfway through my pregnancy we discovered through an ultrasound that my little girl did not have kidneys and she was dying.  She had no amniotic fluid so she was being crushed by the weight of my body.  I chose to deliver her early.  After 12 hours of hard labor (in the same hospital where Stevie died) with a fever of 105 caused by a rare reaction to the drug they used to induced me, with  my body packed in ice, I delivered her.

I spent all day and night in labor and delivery alone.  I needed to do this by myself.  I didn't want to put anyone else through more pain.  My husband could not be available for me the way I needed so I had to take care of myself.

I felt that broken place inside me open a little more it went deeper and farther now.  I felt like I would be swallowed up and I was.

When I held little Claire in my hands all I could see was her beauty, she was perfection to me and I felt like this had to happen, she needed a mama to love her for 19 weeks, I needed to learn something and we both showed up for each other.   I also felt like I understood, really understood that things happen for reasons that I will never understand, can never explain and that I was part of a thing already set in motion, God wasn't punishing anyone, and that I was not a the child of God I was God, and  I was Stevie and Claire, and sunlight and an ocean.  I was a tiny star in a vast universe, I was a blood cell, I was a thought, a dream, the electrical impulse that sends pain or pleasure from one part of a body to the next, the energy in every lightning bolt, I was a grain of sand, a planet, I was everything, I was so small you couldn't see me with a microscope and too big too see at the same time.   A fever of 105 will do this to you.  I won't ever forget it.

I was split wide open with loss but also with understanding.

I kissed her little feet and her head the size of a lemon, inhaled her and thanked her, told her I loved her.  Then the most unexpected thing happened.  I knew I wasn't done, that I had to endure this to get to the next place and my child was coming, I just had to do this first.  I wasn't afraid.

Someone told me after I came home from the hospital that the universe was telling me "No" and I had to listen.  My reply was,  "The universe is simply asking me how badly I want this, miracles take participation and I am all in".

At the same mortuary where Stevie's body was taken to from the Hospital in April,  I sat in a parking lot once again, a tiny box of ashes in my hands.  My husband explained that  I didn't lose a child, I lost a pregnancy and all though that was loss, it wasn't the same thing.  He told me if I tried again he would leave me.

Back to therapy.

I made the decision to try again.  It wasn't a secret plan, I hid nothing, I just did it alone.  I knew that he would leave and I was fine with that.  I think he thought the threat would frighten me, it always had in the past but not this time.  My marriage may be over but I made a promise to this child and I intended to keep it.

Same embryos and on Claire's original due date I was in the hospital, draped, bladder full, tests done, waiting as the embryologist asked me my full name and birth date.  The nurse scanned my abdomen, the reproductive endocrinologist gently saying kind things to me as he placed the embryo's into my uterus.

I was given five embryos from an anonymous donor.  The first two resulted in Claire.  After consulting with a genetic councilor we determined that what had happened was a fluke or genetic and they couldn't tell me which.  The fact that none of the other babies born from these embryos died this way gave hope it was a fluke and most likely would not happen again but there was no guarantee.

A month before transfer I panicked and asked for different embryos, but the night before I felt sick about it.  I promised those little cell clusters that I would give them a chance if they wanted it, told them I would love them and give them a warm place to grow.  I know, I know, it sounds crazy but they were my embryos, my responsibility.

On transfer day I asked about the embryos I was getting.  The nurse told me " the same the same embryos, yours"   It seems the note that was suppose to go on my chart never got there so no new embryos were found for me.  I smiled, it felt right, my journey was with these little guys.

I took myself to lunch after the procedure, then went to work, then home and waited, pregnancy tests all came back negative day after day.  I tried to cancel my clinic blood draw, I didn't want them to to tell me I wasn't pregnant, it would hurt more.  They told me they couldn't withdraw the progesterone until they documented a negative pregnancy test so I drove out to the hospital on a winter day, through the tunnel, through the neighborhood with the beautiful craftsmen houses I loved, to Stevie's favorite city.  I had given up, not in an awful way, I had just accepted that I did the best I could do and that at some point I had to be done.  That day was my done day, I knew I would be ok.  I gave it all I had, worked hard, showed up, pushed, fought, cried, begged, prayed, used up all my resources.

That afternoon about 3-4 o'clock I went to the restroom, my last pregnancy test was on the counter.  I used it thinking "this is the last time I will ever have to do this".  I was just about to toss it in the trash when I though I noticed the faintest shade of pink, the kind of pink they might call blush, the kind of pink that you almost imagine... then the phone rang.  I had an HCG of 8.  I was technically pregnant but that number should have been a whole lot higher.

The nurses at this point knew me well.  They hurt for me when I lost Claire and I told them this was my last try.  They knew about Stevie and they were rooting for me.  The nurse who gave me the number 8 said, "its 8, don't give up, not yet it's still early".

Every two day I made the long drive  for another blood test, I watched the numbers double and triple. At six weeks a scan showed a very tiny pregnancy, I wasn't out of the woods yet but there was a heartbeat.  Every week that little heart got stronger and my baby got bigger and I knew I was right where I needed to be.

My pregnancy should have been beautiful and it was because I was happy but at home things were hard.  My husband was angry, he went out of his way to let me know this daily.  He called me selfish, he told me my friends were not really supportive that they felt pity, he told me I should be embarrassed.  He kept my pregnancy a secret from everyone he knew including his family.  I wouldn't let him crush me but it did create way too much stress, more than I needed.  I did my best to find ways to be away from him and alone so I could sing and talk to my baby like I did with my older kids.

Some days I asked the universe why it all had to be so hard, why it couldn't be just a little easier, and on other days I asked the universe what I did to deserve such amazing children, why it chose me to trust with such extraordinary humans and I said thank you a million times.

Half way through my pregnancy I took myself to the perinatologist.  Noah ordered a brother, I simply hoped for two kidneys, even one kidney...I got a little boy with two beautiful kidneys.  Noah got a blue cupcake.

On the 19th of September after the sky turned pink, in the same hospital I lost Stevie and Claire, a month before my due date,  I gave birth to my baby.

Steve was there to support the kids but not for me, he slept through my labor that went on all night.  A failed epidural meant a painful delivery and cement leg.  My little guy was early, small, healthy, but needed to go to the nursery for four hours.  I was a fall risk so I couldn't go.  Steve was the only one who could go because legally he was the babies "father".

Ironically he bonded with that little guy and has loved him deeply since.

Was that happily ever after?  No.

The dark and twisty still finds me.  I am brought to my knees while doing dishes.  I have to pull my car over to the side of the road to sob and scream.  I go for walks early in the morning unable to breathe as the sky changes color.  There are days I still can't make sense of any of it.  Everyday I miss her and I live in that abyss that was created when she left.

But I live in layers.  I have My sons who make me so incredibly happy, I have Aly who had become not just my daughter but my friend and we have become a lot more close.   I have friends who never felt sorry for me more than they felt in awe of my strength and bravery and its a struggle to allow myself to believe that sometimes.

My husband never left, he was never going to leave but he is the kind of man who needs a wife that would be afraid he would, he is the kind of person who needs to feel that kind of power over another person and I found a way to not be that person anymore.

I don't love him.  I care about him as the father of my children and we have a long history together but that is all.  There are days he gets it but most days he pretends that things are the same as they always were and sometimes they feel that way and I don't like it.

We share this house but we don't share a life together, not really, and we never really have.  I am lonely and missing having a "person" to be a grown old with, to talk and share and be happy with, someone I can trust, someone I can lean on and tell secrets to.  I ache to be with someone that I feel an equal, loving and romantic connection with.

That tear in my soul is still there, but I have filled it with gold like a kintsugi bowl.  That rip in me is treasured because it means I loved that much, was loved that much, nothing else can rip you open like that.

Time goes by like it will and I just live the day, do the best I can, honor pain, welcome joy, and love my kids.  Eleven years its hard to believe, hard to wrap myself around.  But here I am and it isn't as dark as it was eleven years ago.










Monday, January 15, 2018

2018

Stevie,

It is January, winter, cold, and we are home.

This is a new year.  I didn't make a list of resolutions because every year it's mostly a list of things I didn't do, couldn't do, didn't feel brave or strong enough to do, or hate myself for not doing.  This year I am giving myself a break and just trying to love on myself for the things I did do and the things I might make happen, can make happen, or will just happen because good happens.

Your brother came in fifth and the show is over.  It was all very strange and surreal living in that pretend bubble with him for six months.  I lost "real" and it was exciting, scary, and a little embarrassing sometimes.  The magic for him was when he got to sing with Bastille, he loves those guys and they are some really awesome humans and gifted musicians.  He was happy to go home, he left with no car, no trophy, no record deal, no big fat check.  He was fine with that, he just wanted to go home.

In about five days we find out if the record company will keep him, we are guessing they are not or else they would have contacted us.  That is good news in a way.  I was hoping a smaller label might pick him up, but thats me, not him.  He is happy to make music he loves on his own terms, make music video's with friends, have full creative control and see what the universe does with all that.  He trusts himself, he believes in what he does, he is content, he just knows what should happen will happen and he is ok with what ever that looks like.  How did I make this boy?  He is everything I am not; calm, sure, trusting, driven, happy, and he just really believes everything is going to be ok and work out.   I could learn a lot from that boy.

Aly and dad made beer yesterday,  well dad made beer, he geeked out talked a lot about temperatures and acidity, gravity, yeast...Aly drank beer.   Your baby brother came in after many hours of brewing, boring talk, things soaking and steeping, and opened the spout at the bottom of what ever that things is the beer goes into to ferment and half the beer ended up on the kitchen floor.  It was messy, stinky, sticky, and it took me an hour to clean up while he sat in the naughty chair.  It's a story we can tell, its kinda funny.

I have been feeling like a crap mom.  I am falling short of my own expectations.  I don't have super high standards, basically I like to keep you all alive and healthy, make sure you eat some good food, provide you with a warm and safe home,  do activities, get you to school, keep you clean and dressed, listen your dreams, try to help you make them happen if I can.  I try not to get too mad, demanding, weird (sorry that seems to be my big fail) take you fun places, read you stories make you cake.

This baby came late in life, he is all alone in this house with giant people, he is treasured and loved and we adore him but he doesn't have all of me all of the time like he should.  I have never been a mama who likes to play pretend, throw a football, have a sword fight, play a board game.  I am just not a playful person and that sucks for a little who needs that.  I want to be that for him but I just show up myself and he is so different then the three of you.  He has a very strong personality, he needs a lot of activity, he has so much energy.  I get the happies when I think about who he is because I know it will serve him well in his life, all the energy and building, and making and curiosity, oh and the stubborn, he is even more stubborn than you were Stevie!  I just wish I could be more, do more.

I have been having a lot of flashbacks.  Tiny bits of memory from this time when you were here and it was cold and we bought the red car and moved to Atherton for Chemo and radiation at Stanford.  I remember listening to Jacks Mannequin and The postal service, struggling with that wheel chair, trying to keep you warm and here...but you kept slipping away no matter how hard you fought.  I hate that time.  I want to erase it and just bring you home and start all over from the beginning.  I would do so many things different, so many, the list is long.

19 years of you is not enough.

I made the decision that dad and I should get a divorce.  It isn't new news, and really Stevie I don't even know why we even got married again.  It was a practical move for financial reasons it wasn't about love or hope or any of those things it is suppose to be about.  If he accidentally reads this he will be mad.  He doesn't want me blogging about this stuff.  In his mind people are reading this and its an invasion of his privacy.  No one reads this.  I have been blogging for ten or eleven years now, I have always been honest and truthful.  I don't hide anything, I don't edit, I don't change anything.  This is just a very raw account of life after you left your body.

The statistics show that losing a child is usually the end of a marriage.  There are strong marriages that are made stronger by loss but I think that might be rare.  I think you have to have a very solid foundation, a strong relationship, deep love and respect in order to survive and heal together as a couple.  Dad and I...well its always been string and tape.

Dad and I got married because we had Aly, and that almost didn't happen.  I tried to do the right thing but I am not sure if it was, not for my heart.  I think the five of you (and I include Claire because she was my child if even for 19 weeks) were the only good things that have come out of these 33 years of marriage.

I married a man I didn't share goals and values with, who didn't want kids, who I didn't have a lot in common with.  I tried really hard to be a good wife because I thought the universe was asking me to do the right thing, I thought he would be a good man and good husband.  I was 18...

I don't think anyone should get married until they are at least 30.  You don't know who you are until then.  You need time to let your brain develop fully, to find your passion, to go to school, to work hard, to build a nest, to see yourself as whole person.

I grew up...when I became an adult I had two daughters, a house payment, too much responsibility and too many dreams for myself that I didn't know how to make happen so I gave up on them mostly.  I was also very lonely in a way I can't describe.

I soldiered on, I made mistakes, I tried harder.

No matter how hard I tried I could never get it right, I blamed myself a lot, I cried too much.  Mostly I just showed up my worse self.

When I turned 50 something changed inside me, I realized that I now had a limited amount of time (if I was lucky) to do the things I wanted to do (outside of being a mother) my long list was still long and the world considered me "old" already and I just didn't want to keep going around in circles and getting no where, I didn't have the time to do that anymore.

I don't want to wake up every day sad and lonely and angry and resentful.

I have had a lot of therapy and I know who I am I just haven't figured out how to like, honor,  and respect that person.  A therapist can tell you that you need to, they can show you how you might do it but  at the end of the day you have to do it.   I will be 53 this year and this is the year that happens.

I spent the last three years trying to see if I could find a way to reach dad, make him see me, know me, understand me as a person.  I tried to see if there was anything left of our marriage, if anything could be repaired or at the very least changed.

I examined this thing we have been doing with a giant magnifying glass, I replayed our life  (about a million times) through my own eyes as honestly as I could.  What I found were patterns, circles, cycles, and sadness for me.

Right now I am just mad at him.  It isn't his fault, he is who he is and he isn't a bad person.  I just woke up and realized he just isn't someone I like, that doesn't mean he is not likable it just means that this thing I have been holding onto isn't worth holding onto anymore and I am ready to let it go.

He isn't getting any younger but there is still time for him to find someone to love him the way he needs to be loved, he needs a lot of love.

I am not making resolutions but I am going to make a mental list of things I hope for, things I wish.  I will make the list in my mind then breath it into an imaginary balloon, tie a knot in it and let it float way up high, get lost out in the everywhere then pop.  What every finds me will be blessings.

Always first on my list is you.  I want to find you, for you to find me, in any way we can.  I need moments with your energy, it keeps me hopeful and strong.  I had a reading with a channel, very odd experience.  I met her through a chance meeting with that girl you and I met 14 years ago at Big Lots.  The two of you had feeding tubes and damaged vocal chords.  She had been in a car accident you had brain cancer.  She was super positive, sure she was going to be ok and life was going to be great and she spread all that all over you.  14 years later standing in line at Target we recognize each other, it was Christmas eve.  I felt you there.  She felt you there.

She invited me to this meditation group and the women leading it gave me a reading...it was beautiful.  I don't know if it was you she was channeling but I could feel her heart reaching out to me, she was trying to give me something, it felt like love.

The rest of my list is just me promising to love myself better and doing things that make me feel whole and good.

Make lots of art, read, go for long walks to pretty places, nurture my friendships and make more friends.  I want to be open for good stuff to find me.

Feel free to come to me in a dream and give me some lottery numbers!

I dream of my own house in a neighborhood where there are a lot of kids for your brother to play with.  I want him to have a best friend that lives next door, who lives at our house on summer days.  I want to live in a community that I fit well in, like minded people.

I have ten more pounds to lose but I trust that if I eat well, go for nice walks and stay active that I will shed it if that is what my body needs.

I hope to spend more quality time with the baby, make some good childhood memories for him to hang onto.

I would like to be in love.  It doesn't have to be with a man or person...I want to wake up in love with my life, my work, my kids, a good book, a great project...

It's January my love, the beginning of the year, that red car is getting old and I will replace it this year I think.  That house in Atherton now full of daughter in laws, son in laws, grand babies.  Time is a funny thing...

I love you miss Stevie, you are still here, I feel it, I am going to make you pretty proud this year.

(Photography by Joe Pippen, January 19, 2018 sunrise)






Saturday, December 9, 2017

Change

This has been a year of great change.  I knew it would be, I felt it coming I just never knew what changes or how they would effect me, this family, our lives.

I lost the weight, almost all of it.  I feel good, I feel like "me" I am not in love with my body but I am learning to love it, respect it, and take care of it.  It has been the beautiful vehicle that I have traveled in for the last 52 years, it has carried all of you safely and delivered you into this world, into my life.  It has walked me down roads, I have floated on lakes and on oceans, I have felt rain fall on my face, I have climbed trees and mountains, been touched with love and anger and love again.  I laid next to you on the last day of your life this body pressed close to yours my lips on your bald head, your last breaths on my cheeks.  I will honor this body the rest of my life, it took me this long to understand all this but here I am.

Your baby brother.  He is a person in the world, brave sometimes, strong all the time, and always on the move exploring, learning, climbing, jumping, falling, and coming in for the big hug.  You would love him so much Stevie.  If you sent him here to me thank you, he is perfect, perfect for us and he and dad are best friends, the most unlikely of best friends but they love each other so much.  Maybe all this was so dad could feel this kind of love again, maybe he didn't know how much he needed it.

I have had to face a lot of fears and phobias and I wish I could say that they are no longer fears of phobias but that wouldn't be true all I am is a little more brave but I like that, I will take that and run. life is all about growth and change and that means doing things you never thought you could like hike up and down the side of a steep cliff  praying to all the gods just so you could spend the day on the most beautiful beach with your kids and watch the sunset.  It's saying the things  out loud that have been holding you down and hurting your heart out just so you can feel heard and let them go.  It's getting into an airplane over and over and not crying or losing sleep because even if it went down  you realized finally that your life is good and who you are and what you did here was enough.  Its saying good bye to your father in a cold hospital and becoming an orphan and not being afraid of being alone because you never were.

Today I sit in an artists tent at the Universal lot, on the set of a very successful TV show with your brother.  He is waiting to do a stage rehearsal.  He is calm and quiet, fighting a cold, losing his voice because he has been here singing since June.  40,000 people auditioned for this show, hundreds of people told him he needed to try, again and again he said "I am not a competition singer, this isn't for me" then last spring they called him.

We were camping, I thought the call was a practical joke, after a lot of goofing around and after I embarrassed myself  I realized it was real, they were serious, and they were inviting him to come and do the show.  He wasn't sure he wanted to, we talked him into it, I think he did it for me, not out of love but because he was tired of me nagging him.  I had a good argument, he had a good argument but I laid down the mom card at the end,  he pulled the good son card, because thats who he is as we packed our bags for LaLa land.

It has been a long journey, your brother has been through so much, learned a lot and he has grown into a young man that I am so very proud of (I was always proud but now I have a million more reasons).   Oh Stevie, I know you have been close by the whole time, I feel you.  He gets all the credit for the hard work but I know you are there smiling.  He never took your place, no one ever will, he in his own way is taking you with him.  He is stubborn like you, looks like you, and he has big dreams like you, he is your brother but he is also himself.

He stayed while others left, he never expected any of this and he has fans (that is so weird to say) people love him, love his music, his art, his look, his face, his voice.   I don't think he quite understands what has just happened, all he can think about is getting back home and into the studio so he can record the album he wrote before this all started.  This has been a wild ride and its exciting but he wants to make his own music, its like an itch you can't scratch, being really hungry, or waiting for the plane to land so you can see the person you love.

People make art for him, I think he loves that most, he treasures it.   What I like most about him is that like you he believes what he believes, its strong, he is sure, and he is good, his heart is so good.

Will he win this thing?  Not sure.  My prediction (for what it is worth) is he won't.  Not sure the prize is worth the price but he has done very well, better than he thought he would.  He is here with competition singers who have made a life out of this, who have accomplished a lot, some are older, some have been training a long time, some are very driven and have a strategy, and some want this so bad that they have sacrificed much to be here.   He is humbled to be able to sing and hang out with them, to learn and share with them, these are his people, if nothing else came out of this I think those friendships were worth it alone.

There is a girl here who seems so familiar to me, dad said the same thing.  We can't explain it, from the very beginning we have been drawn to her like she is family,  I like everything about her.   She feels like she could be one of my kids, I want to protect her and feed her and make her wear a sweater when it is cold outside.  It is so strange.  I wonder if once in a while we meet people that we knew before in another time, on another time line and some part of us remembers...

I know television isn't Noah's thing, music is but this has been really positive, it doesn't mean its been easy or things have gone his way all of the time or some of the time but people try and they have been good to him, good to us and they honored Noah's request not to use your memory as a gimmick to sell him.  I just love that nine million people know who you are, that you are still real.  Sweet pea, I won't forget and the world will never ever be the same without you, after ten years you are still here, still a part of our lives, your body is buried, it died, but you did not, sometimes I beg God to let me talk to you just for a minute, bargain with the universe to give me something to let me know you are ok...but if I take a deep breath and feel all the blessings, look at all the love and good that has come our way...I know, I just know.

You live in us and around us, when I can let myself feel and believe that I am not afraid of anything and I am sure all things are possible.  I haven't stopped dreaming, I am so not done here yet, I plan on making you very proud puddin'

Don't be too far away,

Love you bunny,
mama



Thursday, September 14, 2017

and the dream of horses...


My god woman, I feel you all around me so much, it is both subtle and strong.  This song, the computer in your closet, that little box of things you saved...

I think its because its September and your birthday will be here soon... maybe its just that I miss you so much, maybe it's because big changes are coming, I feel it, I am part of it, I am excited and afraid and that is usually when I reach for your hand.

Oh my love, I  miss you so very much, there are no words to describe it.  I live on the surface of it, if I dive in I will be destroyed.  I am getting use to loving you this way but it doesn't make it hurt any less, mostly because I don't have a choice.

You would be 30 this year.  In a way it feels impossible to imagine you thirty but in a way you were always a little 30 year old librarian... I need you here so I can tease you, tweeze your eyebrows, give you a ponytail, go for a long drive to a beach and collect stuff.   I need to hear your voice, talk about your favorite books, bake a cake, go to the farmers market, sew something.

Visit me baby, I need you to wake me up and tell me you are ok and that I we will have plenty of time sometime, somewhere, somewhere else to catch up, talk long in to the endless night, laugh, and you can tell me all about it, everything, show me your heaven.

Your brother sang this song for you at your service. He was only little, but he needed to sing for you, to say good bye with music.   Your funeral was simple, your casket was a beautiful brown wood, sanded smooth and left natural.  Lizzie arranged a million yellow tulips, we all gathered at the old church in town, don't worry we covered all the crosses, no religion, no talk of hell, or God, no pretending, no insincerity.  I gave your eulogy.   It was a little bit angry, I was mad at all the people who showed up, all the people who cried and said they would miss you but never took the time to know you.  Angry at the treatment that was suppose to save you , that killed you.  I was mad at me for not fixing it, for not being able to take the cancer from your body and willing into my own instead.  Mad that I was so tire that night, and fell asleep.   I was heartbroken, and just broken, I had moments of grace and moments of wanting to die because I didn't want you to be alone where ever you were, and I didn't want to be here without you.

The grieving never ends, it just changes into some kind of pain you can almost bear if you hide it, if you distract yourself, if you fill up your days, if you find little boys to fall in love with, and their big brothers to be so proud of.  If you tell yourself that you are here to do important work and one day the girl you love so much will come and take you home.

Stay close buttercup, I need this, it hurts, it makes me cry but its only because you are too far away.  I need to remember, I need to believe you are here in your way and trying to touch me through the veil.

You have been taking good care of us my love.

Give Aunty Sarah a big hug and a kiss for me.  Take good care of Claire.  I will see you soon sweet pea.

Mama

Monday, August 7, 2017

Apricots


August.

We didn't have as many apricots... it amazes me every year that the apricot tree is still there.  So many years ago when you were sick, it was sick and I almost cut it down, then I put my hands on it, I could feel the life in it, and I said (out loud because I am a little crazy like that)  as long as there is one green leaf left I won't cut you down, lets get you better.  The tree became symbolic and it thrived, and you did too...then you were gone... and still it stands, it healed itself, it is old and crooked, we lost a huge part of it last year but all these years later there are not only green leaves but fruit.  Not sure what it is symbolic of anymore.

The garden was good this year, you would have loved it; giant zucchinis, long deep purple japanese eggplant, four different kinds of tomato,  lots of aromatic basil, lemon thyme, sage, oregano.  I planted peppers but nothing yet, I made bread and butter pickles out of the cucumbers (there were so many) and the strawberries were new (hula pink berries) they were the only thing that didn't do very well in the heat this year.  The swiss chard dominates and I have yet to cook it, it has been there since we moved here it just keeps popping up.  We had so many beautiful nectarines but no figs, dad accidentally over pruned my tree.  The asian pears are heavy and falling to the ground where Elliott plays with sand and trucks and we are going to have so many pomegranates this year.

This garden is all you lovey,  your eden, I imagine you walking around, filling up a basket...

Your little brother loves fruit just as much as you, he would live on just fruit if we let him, not sure why we don't.

Noah is having a magical summer, he is traveling and singing and having so many great experiences. He is using a stage name, and gets on airplanes, he is becoming a man...how is this happening, I am not ready.  Stevie he shaves and has a girlfriend, he is tall and beautiful, his voice is deep and sounds like water moving over river rocks, far away thunder, rain, love, tears, everything.

He writes songs that make you feel, he is brave and tender, he takes you with him where ever he goes.

Aly is Aly, she remains gentle and fragile.  She is an artist but she doesn't dream, she is lost I think. She works, she pays the bills, she comes home on Sundays to do laundry, have coffee with dad, make us laugh.  She hikes and runs in the sun, she bikes down long winding paths. Her heart is sad she feels alone.  She has an adorable apartment, an awful room mate.  I think she needs a change.  If I had a magic wand there would be a boyfriend who adores the real her, there would be a job that she really loves, there would be more art in her life...maybe a stand up gig on the weekends...

I worry about her sometimes.

She is with your brother this month, staying close to him while he is away from home, protecting him, making sure he eats and sleeps... he is only 17.

She takes care of us Stevie.

Your little brother starts school this fall, and this will be Noah's last year of high school.  Two big milestones, its so surreal.

(Dad doesn't like me to talk about him in these posts, so I wont.)

I am losing the weight.  It has been more than weight it has been me holding on to things I need to let go.  I eat when I am upset, I bake when I am sad, I cook when I am lonely.   I am ready to let it go to breath better, feel better, be "me".  I have been hiding and not living.  My blood sugar went up and I was told that I was pre-diabetic, my cholesterol climbed and after 50 that isn't a good thing.  I found myself experiencing aches and pains that were mostly a product of a body carrying around more than it should.

My father once told me to "set it down, just set all that down and walk away, no need to carry it all".
It was a long,long, time ago, and he was listening to me talk and he felt it, felt me carrying too much, he called it a "sack of old rocks".  He was right but I couldn't hear him.

I remember things and hold onto people,  I carry tears in my pockets, I tie stories to my heart.  I am a hoarder of memories , I think it all has to be saved so I fill up journals with everyday tasks and events, resurrect the past, turn it around and upside down and make sure I have explored every bit of it.  I write down my thoughts because I am afraid someday those books will be the only thing that will keep me real, keep you real, all of this real.

Sometime in June I decided to ask for help, I didn't want end up in a bed or on a couch, never leaving the house, eating because I needed to feel loved and cared for, eating because I didn't know how to make the changes I wanted, eating because I felt alone or afraid. By medical standards I was obese, my BMI was 30.  If you looked at me you would think that I was just a 50 something year old woman who looked like every other 50 something year old woman at target wearing yoga pants and a big t-shirt going down the cookie isle.

I had just recently visited Aunt Sarah who was living in Bend with a her tribe of women friends, she had a lover that flew in from Seattle to have great sex, beautiful dinners, and long early morning runs with her. She looked better than ever, she had her dream business,  was living someplace beautiful, hip, and full of people who loved her.  She was in a happy place running marathons, triathalons, she had a big puppy.   Luke and Corey were grown up and doing what they loved, she had divorced her past in a graceful way and was living her own life, she was glowing top to bottom.

She was also diagnosed with stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the intestines.

I was there because she was giving herself a life party (a funeral of sorts) it was happy and sad and beautiful.  I spent the weekend with her, met her friends, shared late night snuggles in her big bed, talked, and just loved her.  When I left I did so without saying good bye.  I snuck out to the car that was going to the airport, I was in the back seat, window rolled half way down, she ran out to the drive way yelled for me, I yelled back "I love you, I will see you later"  she cried, put her hands to her mouth and I cried, I knew I would never see her again.

I didn't.  She died in July.

She was my family, my sister, for 32 years of my life.  She was someone I loved but she also drove me crazy.  She was a supporter.  That was her role in life to support and to inspire, to push you a little, to challenge you, to motivate you to do a little more, give a little more, follow your dreams.  She never took "No" for an answer, she ignored road blocks, she broke rules, she crossed the line, she spoke her mind (elegantly).  Everything was a mountain she was willing to climb and if  you were with her you were expected to go for the ride.  She asked a lot, she gave a lot, she loved a lot.

She was there when you died, she held me up, she took charge, she made everything happen that needed to happen.  I am forever grateful.

Her death was beautiful, as if she orchestrated it. I am going to miss her so much.  My promise to her is to live "My Best Life" and to use the tools and gifts she left me.

I haven't done all the things I wanted to do, I still have dreams, I don't have a tribe, my kids are still little and need me...

So I have to take better care of myself.  I have to put down what I don't need, what doesn't help me, what keeps me from moving forward.  I am starting with all this fat, and all this wasted time sitting in this house feeling sorry for myself.  I have a little who needs a mama that can run, ride a bike, swim, play and stick around for another 20-30 years.

On July 5th I started a diet, well not a diet really, I made a change.  I am changing my relationship with food.  It is not a form of entertainment, it is not my escape hatch, it is not my feel good drug, it is not my coping mechanism.  It is nourishment.

I have 40 pounds to lose.  I need to get my blood sugar down, my cholesterol down, I need to move my body more.  I don't care about being thin, I don't care about the size of me jeans.  I care about my heart.  I care about having more energy to do what I love.  I care about having a healthy body.  I care about being happy and enjoying the rest of my life.

I am walking again, just 30 minutes a day.  I eat three meals and a two snacks and I eat what my body needs not what my emotions crave.  It isn't easy, it hurts, I have cried, I am "hungry" but I know that what I am hungry for is not food, it is something else.

This will take as long as it takes.  I am addicted to sugar, flour, butter.  I am a junkie, these things are my drug of choice.  I don't know how to have just a little.  I can't change that relationship and it isn't good for me so I have to set it down, walk away.

I can't imagine a life without those three things but for five weeks I have managed and when I let them go I lost 12 pounds.  I still have a long way to go but I am on the road that leads to my goal.

Every pound I lose feels like a heavy rock left by the roadside, a pound of sad, of alone, of fear, of doubt, of frustration, of anger.  It isn't easy, this is more than losing weight.  I am visualizing this weight loss being the catalyst for a lot of change.  I have learned that I can't change other people the only power I have is to make my own changes.   I am starting here with me, being physically healthy will lead to better emotional health, I am getting stronger and expect to continue to get stronger in many more ways.  I am taking control of my life.

I am still afraid, I still want cake, a soft blanket, a crappy Netflix binge.  I also want to go for a hike through the forest with Elliott, be a better role model for Aly, show Noah that I am strong and he doesn't have to worry about me anymore.

Its August, I will be 52 this year.  This is my year of change, good change.

Maybe that Apricot tree is still standing there for me, maybe I know inside my heart what it is symbolic of.

I love you Stevie.  Every once in a while when I least expect it you show up and I am surrounded by you, it is subtle and beautiful.  I hope you found Aunt Sarah when she arrived, I know she was looking out for you, she was going to to tell you how much we love you.  Show her around, have fun and I will see the two of you later.