Friday, November 30, 2007

Elevator music

I meditated this morning, a meditation a friend gave me yesterday. I tweaked it a little (a lot) because my mind likes to do that.

You are in the lobby of a beautiful hotel, like the Millennium Biltmore in Los Angeles. There is a bank of elevators with big gold doors with art-deco trim: raised lines and big circles. There are gilded naked ladies in the corners, eyes closed, heads bent with smooth wings that go on forever. I am all alone there, and it is very quiet. When you look up there is no ceiling only a sky the color of dusk with faint stars and a large heavy moon butter yellow.

On the wall next to the elevator there is only one button with an arrow pointing up. When pressed it lights up lavender and you can feel a release of energy into your fingertip that travels up your arm and into your chest. You are suddenly warm and relaxed as the energy hums and vibrates through your body. It is gentle and comforting. It pushes out all the red and brown and grey, it pushes out the black, all the black. You are left with onlty lavender, and you glow from the inside out.

When you are ready the doors open and there is the sound of tiny bells when they do. Inside it looks like any other elevator shiny with a rail to rest your hand on. The only thing missing are little numbered buttons to push. The doors close again only when you are ready.

You are lifted going up and up and up. When it feels like you can not possibly go up any farther you rise even more. It is smooth and you glide your body knows you have left the ground, it knows you are higher up than you have ever been. It isn't scary, it is comforting, you know when the doors open you will be in the most sacred of places, and you will be more safe than you ever imagined.

The elevator stops, there are bells again, and the sound of waves crashing in the distance, a heartbeat, the sound of slow even breathing and the doors slide quietly open like a whisper.

On the other side it is bright, like stepping out into a sunny day from a dark room and it almost hurts your eyes so you close them and let the light wrap around you like a blanket, as you remember and trust it you become a part of it and you can open your eyes easily.

Here you are, in this place that dreamed of you and made you, there are guides and angels to your left and right and there are loved ones here that stand in shadows and smile. You know you may not step out of the elevator but all the love and beauty finds it's way in to meet you, to hold you, to assure you.

It tell you to ask anything and you want to ask everything.

The answer is yes, yes, yes.

The answer is we are right here and you are OK. We are always with you, you are so loved and never alone.

You can ask and ask and ask.

The answers fill you. The is not mystery this is memory, a curtain in your heart has been lifted and for a moment you see everything, know everything and you are at peace. You are the trees, the wind, the sky, the oceans, the universe, you are every star, every moment, every breath.

Slowly the doors close and you rest. The elevator is gone, the lobby is gone, the hotel has disappeared and you are were you are, here. Resting, breathing gently in and out, traces of lavender in your veins, your mind light and floating in a soft cloudy sky.

When you wake you are well rested. Your body is a gift, your life is an assignment you must see through to the end because it took so many people and a miracle to bring you here.

Everything means something.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Melt Down

Not sure why today is what it is.

I dreamed I was being given a tour of a house made out of rose quartz. It was in a different country than the one I spend my waking life in but I knew this place and had been here over and over in my dreams. There are big houses all crowded on hill tops. A colorful crowded downtown, restaurants I have eaten in and neighborhoods wandered around in searching for what? I know this place, I learn more about it each time I visit but mostly I forget about it by morning. When I am dreaming I say to myself "Oh here we are at this place again" I am a little afraid but mostly intrigued.

This morning I woke up and I said, "Oh here I am again" and I wondered why it is I wake up here everyday in this country, in this hurting place, in this room with walls made out of trees a full moon outside my window.

I floated through the morning, me, but not me. I made muffins from a cheap box of mix, they smell good but taste fake. I did a load of Laundry, I swept my studio, I put the pile of bills in a basket and set them next to my purse to remind myself I need to pay them or something bad will surely happen. I wrote "December" on the dry-erase calender and wrote in all the appointments and reminders. I drove Noah to school.

I sat in my car while my boy ran for the playground, then sat a little longer watching my warm breath in the cold air and I thought, "why can't I just see her like I see my breath, what conditions would make it possible, couldn't God take my breath and spell her name?"

A woman walked by with a double stroller and a five year old. She was frazzled trying to get her son in the gate before the last bell, trying to push a monster jogger full of babies and things babies might need. She was so thin and looked tired. I think she was skinny by choice but tired because she was a mom. I started remembering when that was me. I was never skinny but I was worn out most days.

I started thinking about how taking care of Stevie at the end of her life was like living in reverse.

When you are pregnant there is something where there was once nothing. It feels like a dream. You wait and wait as this something grows and grows. You have no idea who is coming but you love this person more than you have loved anything or anyone. You dream about her, you buy her soft clothes to spend her first days in, you arrange your life so that there is plenty of room for her.

Labor begins, slow at first. It is painful but manageable, there are spaces to rest and breath, it is exciting and scary. Then the waves crash in on each other and you are surrounded by doctors and family and everyone is telling you what a good job you are doing as you push this person out into the world. She is real, and you can not imagine a time when she was not, life is so beautiful.

You buy a stroller and bibs, you change diapers, you don't sleep. You worry, you protect and you love with intensity that could make you fly. Everyday something new. It is expected that there will be a giggle, a tooth, a first step, solid food, birthdays, running, reading, dancing, singing. All in it's own time, but it all moves forward, always forward.

When your daughter gets sick and begins to die you bring in wheelchairs, piles of clean towels, pillows, medicines, machines. Everything goes away little by little until she can not speak or eat. Soon she is small and helpless curled up next to you in bed and you worry, try to protect her and love with an intensity that could kill you.

Soon you are in a hospital surrounded by doctors and family telling you that you did the best you could and you can not wrap you heart around the fact that she is gone.

The pain is intense wave upon wave crashing and crushing you. Then slowly there are spaces to breath and rest in-between. You choose soft clothes for her to be buried in. You go home where there is too much room and you wait for someone to tell you this is just a dream. You wait and wait and wait...

I watched that mom pushing that stroller and I could tell she needed a good-nights sleep, maybe a night out without a diaper bag. She is wondering if her life will always be like this. I wanted to get out of my car and tell her that this is the best part. I wanted to tell her to hold onto every second and thank God that you get to go forward everyday.

Instead I drove home crying, feeling sorry for myself and wishing that I could walk into the house, and know that Stevie was there, taking a shower or laying in bed reading a book. I wish I could take a day like that for granted.

Healing is a bitch.

I want to go to bed. I want to crank up the heater, put on pajamas and sleep for a hundred years. I want to wander around in strange countries, walk through houses made out of rose quartz, and wonder how the hell I got there and finally find what I am looking for.

I have a life to live here in this house, with this family and this pain. It is what I am given. Maybe there are some best parts left but I can not see them, the conditions are not quite right yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Last Thanksgiving...

This are photos from last year, the last Thanksgiving with Stevie.

David sent me this song this morning, he knows I am not celebrating but he thought the music was appropriate, I cried and cursed him, he knows just how to get inside my heart and head.>

Good Morning Stevie,

It is very early, the sky is still indigo and the stars are bright. There is frost on the grass now so when I went out to talk to you my feet got cold and wet. It is so still, so quiet and calm. If this were any other Thanksgiving I would be up peeling potato's, rubbing salt, olive oil and Rosemary into the skin of giant turkey. I would be cutting onions and chopping pecans, bacon and linguica would be in a bowl with breadcrumbs waiting to be turned into stuffing.

I would be stressed out, like I am every year you guys like to tease me, and know it just winds me up, I am a party psycho. I love to host, I get high from the drama and anticipation. The tables would have been set days ago a color scheme decided by you and I. We usually build it around the dishes we have the last two years I have finally had enough Blue Willow so we choose contrasting flowers and napkins. Last year it was big golden sunflowers and I put gold place cards on every ones plates. They had a butterfly on them and I wrote something I appreciated about each person on each card. I didn't know then how significant butterflies would become in five months or that it would be my last Thanksgiving with you.

There wold be tiny butter plates with those antique butter knives I found and some garage sale we went to, pretty bowls of cranberry sauce and baskets of rolls. It would be hours before everyone arrived but I will have had this feeling I was forgetting something; do I have enough bottled water? did I remember the whipping cream? will Safeway be open today in case I don't have enough butter or rolls? The house would smell like a holiday by noon, the air scented with a baking bird and apple Cinnamon candles burning on the tables. I didn't forget anything, except how to relax.

Your aunts and uncles, cousins and friends would arrive a car load at a time and then they would be upon us and our house would be full and noisy. My bed would be piled high with jackets and purses and it wouldn't be long before the toilet would overflow in the front bathroom, it happens every year doesn't it? Dad would start making coffee for the ladies who still drink coffee in the middle of the day. I would be telling the kids to watch out for dog poop on the lawn and to be careful on the trampoline. Uncle Ron would be wishing that I would let him turn the TV on so that he could avoid talking to anyone. Uncle Rich would be cracking us up, Kim and TT would be looking for a bottle opener. Gram would find a little corner to sit quietly and nibble on the linguica I high jacked for her off the turkey. Aunty Jerry would be unloading the ham and green bean casserole she brought all wrapped in paper and in USPS shipping boxes. She would sit on the little fainting couch and get anal about how to heat her dish back up.

The kids would all be jumping on the trampoline, getting sweaty and laughing. The big kids would be bouncing the little ones high up in the air. Dad would try to tell jokes no one got but he wouldn't notice. Aly would steal Anthony and they would drive off to get ice for me, taking a detour to smoke pot and make the day interesting instead of boring. I would be trying unsuccessfully to look calm and collected as I transferred food to dishes and set up the buffet.

By four we would all be sitting in the sun room, packed in, always more people than we planned on but we always fit. there was always one more plate, one more chair. Two days of cooking, two weeks of planning and in twenty minutes the meal seems to be over. We all sit around talking, telling stories, laughing. Dad, TT, and Aunty Jerry break out the cards for a little family poker. They clear off a table and break out the old cardboard poker chips on a blue glass jar that I have had forever. I never play, I can't seem to like poker, I am a sore looser so I set up the desert table and take people out to the studio for a tour. Uncle Jeff takes his guitar out and begins singing and strumming, he has become the background music for all our Holiday's his deep easy voice floating in and out of rooms and through the day.

The next day the house looks like a natural disaster but I clean it up and we start pulling out the Christmas stuff. We eat left overs while we try to figure out how the hell to put the damn tree together. We find the box of Italian glass ornaments you and I have been collecting, we move furniture, we build a fire. We relax and settle into the winter that is coming, it is a long weekend and we are so relaxed, it is the time we seem most like a normal family.

This year will be different. It has to be. This year I have to try and forget just a little, just for a little while. Your brother is so excited to spend the whole day at the movies with me. We have never done that before. Dad is torn. He knows that he made a decision based on all the wrong things and wants to take it back but it is too late. There is too much yucky energy now and I don't want him to come with us. He and Aly will have to follow through. They will have a good time.

I miss you. I miss your smile today most of all. I can not believe you are not in your room sleeping.

This day is just a day and it will be a good one. I have you here with me, in my heart, in my memory and maybe you are closer that I can imagine. I wish I knew.

You didn't even eat Turkey.

I am sending you so much love at this very moment...I love you sweet pea, so much, so very much.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Truth About...

I wish I didn't have to but maybe I meant to clarify why I am writing here.

Journal writing is like breathing for me. Twenty years of journal writing sit in big Rubbermaid boxes in my garage. I use these little books to keep time, to remember, to vent, to help myself understand things that feel overwhelming. I make shopping lists, write down nightmares and funny dreams, I draw pictures, I have even taken it out of my purse and let the kids scribble and play hang-man in it when we are someplace stuck waiting.

When Stevie got sick I found an online support group for parents of children who have brain cancer. It was creepy signing up but I was lost and terrified and I needed to connect with someone, anyone. I felt like we were floating in the ocean in a life raft, just Stevie and I. we were so alone.

This group of parents embraced me and helped me navigate. I grew stronger writing about my feelings, without the fear of judgement. There was no pity, we were all floating in the same rafts in the same sea. Alone we were so small but when we tied ourselves together we were bigger and stronger and there was so much hope.

I ended up being a moderator for this group and was active for six years. I hated it when someone new came on, it meant another child was sick but it also feels so incredible to reach out and tie them up to your boat. I left the day Stevie died. I did not want anyone there to be a part of the sadness, I didn't want to steal hope.

A couple months later I discovered this blog-thing.

It gives me the opportunity to continue writing with open honesty. It helps me heal and grow. I have made connections through this blog and that is a bonus I didn't expect.

My hope is that maybe someone who has lost someone, or who loves someone who is experiencing loss will find this blog and it will give them a little insight or help them not feel so alone.

I know myself, I am a survivor. I am almost certain this blog will be about surviving.

My husband...

He wishes he could comfort me. He wishes he could connect with me on a deep intimate level.

He read my blog.

I thought it would help him understand me better, know what I am feeling. This is the real me at the moment. It is not all of me but it is who I am right now and it is how I feel.

He told my daughter Aly that he feels I am using this blog to illicit sympathy.

That hurts.

I feel I had to write this post so that I could go on writing honestly without any road blocks or censorship.

This blog is not intended to illicit sympathy, but really how could it not. It is about a grieving mother who has lost her young daughter to cancer, you would have to be made out of titanium not to feel a little sad.

I don't want pity. I just want a place to write it all down so it does not make a bigger hole inside me. The connections are wonderful. The comments I am sent are kind and supportive and they fill me with such comfort.

I would never want this blog to hurt anyone in anyway.

The truth about me is that I am at my best when I can be the real me. When I write, the real me slides out so effortlessly.

Thank you, all of you who how found little ways to let me know I am not alone even now when my best friend in the world is so far away.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My poor journal is empty, it seems I do all my writing here instead. It is very different writing here. I have spell check, I don't need to hunt down a working pen or pencil that needs sharpening. I never run out of pages and my blog can't fall into the bathtub.

I am getting better at typing I think I can do a million words a minute and I don't even look at the keyboard anymore. Ahhhhh technology.

Noah is still sick, just barfed all over the bathroom floor, my shoes, the garbage can and a magazine, that's ok it was a PEOPLE someone left here. Poor little stick man. The pediatrician will be getting a call from me bright and early. I hope he knows what he is in for. I am not leaving without a full work up, scan, and IV for hydration. I am mean Mama now. We won't miss anything this time.

I have had a couple offers from the most loving, loving people to join me on Thanksgiving to hang-out, go the cemetery, go to the movies. I tell you I could just sit here and cry I am so touched.

( are so sweet)

I would love to take everyone up on the generous offers but then it would feel like Thanksgiving. If Noah is feeling better I think he and I are going to the movies and we may movie hop like bandits. I will smuggle in popcorn balls and juice boxes. Later we will get something very nontraditional to eat, most likely a Chinese restaurant as they seem to be the only ones open on a holiday.

If he is still feeling bad I am going to rent a bunch of On Demand movies and we can drink tea, eat toast and I can beat him at spit and speed (these are card games). I am the but he has nimble little fingers and slips cards in under mine then beats the pants off of me.

I am a sore looser.

I am fine with Aly and Steve going to my sisters house. They want to, they need to and it will be better for me, I can relax. Steve is trying to act like he is staying and pretending like he never in a million years ever intended on really going. The bottom line is that I shamed him. Aly has no shame, she wants turkey! I kinda respect that in some demented way. Steve hates to look like the asshole. What he doesn't understand is that if you have to be talked into doing the right thing then you have already been asshole stamped. He would be better off eating the damn turkey, watching football and falling asleep on the sofa.

I painted one table today, I should have taken pictures but I couldn't find the new package of batteries I know I just bought. If I know myself they are in a weird place. I think something might be wrong with me. I found a package of socks I bought then promptly lost in a bucket in the garage where we keep hammers, hacksaws and pliers. I have no idea how they got there please don't ask.

I had a sandwich today, one of my favorites from Eric's it has a pile of veggies in it with some wicked Dijon sauce. They put it on this super soft brown bread that gets totally soggy, it is heaven and it made me a little bit happy today. I ate it in my car while I listened to Spanish radio. I didn't even realize it just sounded nice, there was a really great guitar that made me feel very mellow. I also ate two bags of Ms.Vickie's BBQ chips but please do not tell anyone.

Well I got up so early I suppose I should cuddle up with my little guy who smells like cottage cheese. Maybe I will slay him in a game of cards before bed.

Tomorrow is the nineteenth again. Seven months. I don't know how to feel about that. I want to go Christmas shopping with her. I want to fill her stocking with strange things that make her smile. I want to read her Christmas list and search desperately for the obscure things she puts on it. She does it to prove there is a Santa, a game we started a long, long time ago. This year if she were here I would buy her a loom, a silk screening kit and one of the little handmade baby chicks I found on ETSY. They are way too cute, she would love them.

I never liked Christmas, my least favorite holiday of all but I would give a trillion dollars and all the days of my life to have one more with her.

I have been up since three...just couldn't sleep. Noah still has a bad tummy, he is losing weight. It must be some kind of bacteria. He doesn't want to go to the doctor and I don't blame him, I don't want to go either. It is creepy and sad and it seems they did nothing but make mistakes when they should have saved Stevie. I know he thinks the same thing.

I will give him one more day then we will have to brave the pediatrician with his stinky waiting room full of dripping and coughing kids. Please God let him be OK. I keep getting flash backs of Stevie at this age with tummy troubles...they should have known.

I went for a short walk in my socks and pajamas. I have not been outside this early in the morning in a very long time. It was so quiet and foggy. I love fog, I love to feel like a can truly touch and taste air. Have you ever tasted fog? No matter where you are it tastes the same sweet, cool and little like sulfer. There were no crows cawing, no traffic humming a all the windows in all the houses dark. I was the only one up and for a moment I couldn't tell if I was dreaming...I sorta wish I was.

I wrote, "Stevie is real" on my misty-dusty car window.

I walked up and down the block all alone pretending that I was the only one left on the planet.

I whispered, "Stevie are you here?"

Then a light on a timer went off across the street at the park. I know it is programmed to go off and back on again to save energy but I thought it was amazing that it went off at that exact moment. I beg for a sign, get one, then blow it off. I really don't want a sign, I want her. I want to know it is her, no doubts, no riddles. I want her to tell me "Yes, mom I am here"

I had a massage last night. A friend who does energy work rubbed my body with oil, kneaded my skin and soft muscles, placed her warm hands on my abdomen and said "your daughter is so present" Then she put her hands on my head and heart and for just a moment I believed her and thought I felt her in me and all around me, thought I heard "Mom I am here"

Why can't that be enough?

The woman who gave me the massage lost her sister at birth and her mother just a short time later. She was nine years old. Her mother did visit her when she was a child.

The tables are here and need to be painted but I can't get them into the house by myself, they are too heavy. No one is awake to help so I will have to wait for the sun to come up and for the sleeping to stir and rise, it would have been nice to paint them while everyone is sleeping.

Our Sunday mornings are so different now. They use to be noisy and chaotic. They use to be full of familiar sounds and smells. We would steal the Sunday paper from the school across the street, make a giant breakfast, stay in our pajamas a little longer, and try to find something to do together. On Sunday we always eat dinner at four and skipped lunch because our breakfast was so big.

Steve would usually work on the yard a small repairs, Noah would play out front with monster-boy Nicolas and Stevie and I would find a bookstore. Aly would go back to bed or take a long shower followed by much toe-nail painting, hair straightening and my-spacing.

Now Sunday is just Sunday. I have made a big breakfast or two but no one really has interest in it. Steve still works on things around the house, not that there is much to work on. We hired gardeners when Stevie was sick and they still come and do the things Steve would normally do. Noah still plays with Nicholas or plays tennis with Steve. We all kinda pick through day, making a sandwich or soup. Aly will get something to go from the pasta place, Noah will eat ten bowls of cereal. I will bake something I should not eat then give half of it to the neighbors so I don't keep eating it.

It is quiet.

How is it that Stevie's quiet presence made so much difference. How did one sweet girl leave such a big empty space?

Nothing is the same.

Is this how it is for everyone who loses someone they love?

I have an artist to see today, she is self taught and very organized. She paints when ever she can and has hired a Representative to take care of everything else. Smart girl. She has a good web-site and lot's of work. The work doesn't blow my mind but I love her conviction. She is creating what she wants and I am happy to step into her flow and be a part of making it happen.

My sweet friend Cinda is sending me some of her work for the gallery. I have two boxes trying to make their way to me and I am filled with silly anticipation. She is a collage artist and she has a brilliant sense of where things need to be. It is like she re-assembles how things should look or makes you think about the endless possibility of combinations. He packages smell like patchouli and it makes me smile. It is like having a little bit of her here when I open the box.

My life is good. I know that. I am grateful for each and every blessing, each and every friend and for all the love that finds me.

My life is also very sad so it is hard to remember that there is still so much good left.

I just lit a candle, I think I will use this quiet time waiting to meditate.


Surround and protect me, carry me when it is too hard take one more step. Fill me with knowing again, don't let me forget how to believe. I need it to make sense, I need answers. Hope is just word now, a word that does not work. I need a new one.

Help me heal but don't let me forget.

Help me heal but don't let me forget.

Help me heal but don't let me forget.

I need to know she is still real....

God bless the people in my life who have always been her for me and the ones who have just found me. Fill their lives with the love they so generously offer me. Help me to see what it is I am here to do and help me to understand what it is that will happen when my work is done.

I need so much.

God bless this "thing" you created, this giant universe and all the universes, this planet, these people and all the living things that dwell with them. God bless the Sun, the moon, the oceans, the forests and all the plants that grow to nurture us.

The Mayans believe that 2012 is a time of great change. It is not that far away. If the veil is to thin let me be the first to reach through and touch what is on the other side.

I will do what you will have me do but I need you to walk with me down this long dark path until I can find the morning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The sun came up early, or maybe I slept in late. I woke from a dream where I was in a busy hospital emergency room. I was bleeding and four months pregnant. I knew I was going to lose the baby but I was trying to hold on.

There were other dreams about our neighbors but the details have disappeared back into the place that dreams are made. I use to wake up and write them down in my journal but I don't anymore instead I creep out of bed while everyone is still sleeping and find something to do. Staying busy seems to be my drug of choice, it helps me stay out of the tender sad places.

Today two tables will be painted. The first will have a leafy green base, the top will be painted with houses, clouds, and so much color it will vibrate. The second will be all black and white, stripes and geometric shapes. My sister is giving them to me we seem to keep passing these tables back and forth, this time they will be in the gallery.

I am determined to live this day without tears. I will be productive and when the sadness creeps in I will fill my mind and heart with the image of my daughter at her happiest, her sweetest, not sick, not sad. I will repeat I love you, I love you, I love you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I have been working, working, working...

I re-designed Sawsans Gallery with a microscopic budget and some long nights cutting linoleum and painting walls. Artists are trickling in, it is taking shape. I have to admit it isn't what I dreamed it would look like but I think we did very well with what we had to work with.

We will be having an opening in December, I'm not ready.

I don't feel fit for the public. I feel like I woke up under a train and everyone can see how ripped apart I am. It is sweet when people try to be comforting but the pity is more than I can bear sometimes.

I have been trying to squeeze in art but I have been so busy putting this place together that I am spending less and less time in my studio. If I had my way I wouldn't do anything but art but I need to have a job just in case I am left alone to support Aly, Noah and I . Steve will try to do his best but I know from experience that women always see the shitty end of the stick when a marriage fails. I would love for once in my life to feel safe, comfortable, not in a hurry, and to never have to fight for every damn thing. I would love to never have to apologize for my true feelings and beliefs.

I know there is a Guru out there somewhere who would tell me I never did and I never have to, it is all a choice. I would tell him that sometimes choices come in some strange disguises.

It is quiet and dark in the house. The only light is coming from this monitor and the glowing street lamps that create shadows in the room. My little guy is ready for bed and Aly is out somewhere with her friends celebrating another Friday night.

I am very tired.


I miss you so much. I have been talking to you all day. Tonight when I went outside to stand in the grass and say good-night to you, I imagined your arm linked in mine, your head on my shoulder and I could almost smell your hair and hear your voice.

There was a woman reading magazines while I stood in line at Target today. She didn't look like you as much as she was your size and had your coloring. I squinted my eyes and pretended it was you standing there waiting impatiently for me to finish at the check-out so you could trick me in to stopping at Mr.Beans before we went home.

She looked up at me with blue eyes that couldn't come close to your blue, I wanted to say "Hey Stevie let's go home now" Instead I said "I think you dropped your keys" She looked down, picked them up, thanked me then walked away with a tiny hitch in her step, like yours.

She had no packages, she was with no-one, she was just standing there reading then she was gone. My heart did it's little skip a beat thing. What if it was you...

I am trying to live a life that would make you proud. I am trying to live with truth and integrity. I am trying to be good to myself. I am trying to be kind and forgiving. I am trying to let go of the stuff I use to hold on to.

Don't stop trying to find me, where ever you are. I am right here, where I have always been.

I love you so much, all of me.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The first of the holiday wars...

My sister called and said "I know you are not have Thanksgiving but I am cooking..."

Aly and Steve heard me talking to her and said "What we aren't having Thanksgiving? " Then they proceeded to let me know that they were taking Noah and going to my sisters house for Dinner.

Out of shock, hurt and confusion I said, "I guess I am the only one who is hurting this much, who doesn't feel like celebrating"

They yelled at me, I am selfish, I am denying my family Turkey and the comfort of family.

It bothers me that no one is concerned that I will be home alone with the memory of my daughters last day of being well. She had surgery last year the day after Thanksgiving, she was so afraid. Everyone was here and she was so afraid, she tried to be a good sport but she couldn't eat and she went into her room at the end of the night and cried. I was up with her all night. She knew it was the beginning of the end, and she was right in five months she would be dead.

How can I sit around a table in a holiday sweater and pass the gravy?

I will instead visit her body at the cemetery, spend an hour with her there, then I will invite her spirit to a movie, if I can find a place that is open. In the evening I will build a fire and talk to her about things we would have talked about if she was still here, like before, and I could hear her and see her.

My sister called back and apologized, she feels bad for stirring it up, she didn't intend to.

I am not sure what part of "I don't think I can survive the Holidays this year, it hurts too much, I just need to not be a part of it and heal" Is it too hard to understand.? My aunt J called wanting to talk about Christmas presents, why? Noah wants to be sure Santa will come, His school wants me to help with a Christmas party.

I didn't say "I don't want to celebrate but..."

I guess I am feeling hurt that they can not hear me, and do not understand. I guess I need to respect the fact that life goes on for them, that they do not have to stand still in this hurting place with me.

I want to tell myself to be stronger and not make such a big deal out of it, go with the program but I won't. Too many times in my life I have let myself feel like there was something wrong with me for feeling strongly about something. Too many times in my life I have had to fight for what I believed was right. Too many times I shut down and ignored my heart. I won't do it anymore.

I am going to take care of myself, my heart, my life. I will not celebrate this year, my daughter has died and a part of me has died. I have to heal so I can continue to live and if it means being home alone then I will be. This is not a time of celebration for me, this is a time of great sadness as it should be.

If I was the relative or friend and not the grieving mom I would respect that.

I know myself, I would show up with flowers, a pizza, a bottle of wine, a stupid movie and just be with that person. Just be there for them in anyway they needed without my own agenda, just available. If I couldn't do that I would send a card or a letter or make a phone call and say, "I am thinking of you, if you need me I am here"

I wouldn't push.

I don't know how Steve and Aly will be able to sit there and eat turkey but I won't judge them, they are were they are with this and there is no right or wrong way. I do wish they were here with me, but it has never been our way.

I will be with Stevie, holding a hand I can not see, talking to her hoping that she can hear me. I will cry and miss her and it is going to be hard but I can not imagine anything else right now.

It is hard to watch as the world keeps turning, as people fill shopping carts with cans of pumpkin, giant frozen birds and cranberries. It is hard to know that people will be sitting around a table giving thanks for all the blessings of the year, getting drunk, watching football and glad for the four day holiday from work.

There was a time when that was me, and somewhere out there was a mother mourning her child trying to be grateful for what she still had. Did I stop and worry, did I put my fork down and sit with her, did I remember her child? No I didn't.

So this is my year to be alone and I am fine with it. I won't have to apologize for my mood or my tears. I won't have to pretend.

I am not mad. I am not bitter. I am not a martyr. I just have a broken heart and I am trying to heal.

I will be giving thanks in my own way that Noah is healthy and Happy, that Aly has a job she likes and makes slow steps forward in her life as an adult. I am happy that Steve continues to support us, likes his job, has friends and outlets for his creativity. I am thankful for friends and family. I am grateful that I am stronger than I thought, that I do this thing everyday, that I havn't fallen apart. I am mostly thankful that I had 19 years with the most wonderful person I have ever known, that I was able to love and be loved by her. I am so honored to be her mother and her friend. I would take this pain, all of it and more to have that time. I would easily have given my life and taken her pain so that she could still be here.

I know my girl, if she were here she would be pissed if we killed a bird and ate it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Aunt Marina

You called tonight...crying, missing your boy.

I know this moment, this walking on glass, this big black hole in your heart, this wondering how the hell this could all be real.

It is real.


I don't know.

It hurts, it hurts so bad.

I would live with this pain forever if it meant I wouldn't have to lose anymore of her, not a memory, not the scent of her on her pillow, not the knowing that she is me and I am her.

It is a big ocean we are swimming in and the waves come...sometimes they knock us around and we have to catch our breath, sometimes the are so big that we are forced down to a cool quiet place. It is in that dark silence we think that air isn't all it's cracked up to be, and falling asleep where there is nothing is better than staying afloat hoping.

We are meant to survive so to the surface we rise and inhale more of this life.

You will find that some days the water will be calm, the waves rolling on distant shores. You can float easily staring at clouds, feeling the sun and imagine a dry firm place to plant your feet.

We are mothers...we were suppose to save them, we couldn't and now we are forced to do the most unnatural thing and save ourselves.

We don't do it on purpose, it just happens, day after hour, after minute, by breath.

I wish I knew how to do this better. I wish I had the words to mend your heart but I know there are no words, just time.

You told me over and over I was strong...I am not.

I cry, I beg, and I fight with God. I want her back.

God tells me no.

I don't believe in fairy tales or magic anymore.

I don't believe love conquers all.

I don't believe that God loves me like I thought he did. He has saved me from so many things just to bring me here, to my knees with my heart in my hands.

I do believe that there must be something...I just have to wait.

I do believe that I am needed, that I have work to do and that someday I will understand the love of this universe and the reason we exist, oh it better be good, really good.


Fall down and cry, unleash your soul.

Then sleep deep, wake in the morning and start the day again. Do the things Richard could not, live a life that would will make him smile where ever he is. It is all we have, this life.

Remember when they were curled up inside us, our secret, we knew them when no one else did. Everything we did we did for them and they didn't even know it. We ate good food, we sang to them, we dreamed of them, for them. We nurtured them and waited.

This is what we must do again...

This time they wait for us. It can not be rushed, there is growing to do.

I ask the universe tonight to bless you with a dream. I ask that while you sleep your boy comes to you in his perfection, he smiles and tells you he is OK now, he is home and he is loved. As he climbs the stairs he looks back at you slowly and you know, you just know.

Sweet Dreams Auntie...


Sunday, November 4, 2007

This morning I hosted a brunch for my family.

I wrote about them several weeks ago after my cousin Richards passing. It seems they found my blog and we all found the time to keep a promise to find a way to be together more often.

We are all so different as adults than we were as children. I can see bits and pieces that stir up memory but I am getting to know them all over again as grown-ups with new lives and new families.

I could have never guessed how we would all turn out. We are all good people. We are kind, strong, and loving, this is what is really connecting us, it is what always has.

My cousin Lisa is the the oldest, the funniest and the wisest. She had a job before we all did, kissed a boy, drove a car (her dads old station wagon) and had sex... I needed her to let me in on the mystery of it all. I was not the only one who was sure that I would forever weigh 87 pounds be breast-less, funny looking, and dorky. If she didn't fill me in I would never know. I would be destined to die a bony virgin never knowing what a blow-job was.

She picked me up once to take me to her house to spend the weekend. I loved it there with all her sisters. Her mom and dad worked weird hours and we were always sneaking off and getting into some kind of trouble. When Lisa would go to work we would pick the lock on her trunk and steal her cute tops and make-up. We use to show up at the mall where she worked and she would give us free cookies. Then we would go to Farrell's to dine and dash.

She was always nice, even when she was pissed. It was impossible not to like her, she was so positive, she knew how to take a crappy story and make it shine. She could also bullshit the pants off her parents and get us out of trouble.

I miss those summers learning how to use a tampon, how to put on eyeliner, and making midnight runs to Jack-in-the-box.

I miss watching all my cousins get ready to go out to the Disco in blue eye-shadow, wedgie heels and wrap around skirts. I was too young to go but they always promised me they would sneak me in someday. By the time I went through puberty and could pass for sixteen Disco was a bad word.

My Aunt was here today. She has changed so much over the years but she is still herself, the best parts of herself. She is a beautiful person with. She has lived many lives. I love it that she is so loved.

My cousins Rose and Carol are women now. They have grown-up children and real jobs. They are maternal, good, hard working and value family. We grew up scrappy little kids with runny noses, bare feet, and hair in those damn marbles on a rubber band. We slept all squished in the same bed skinny legs all tangled. We played together and went to the same schools sometimes. We also shared childhoods that could seem a little scary to most people.

I feel like they know me. They know the real me. We have scars in the same places. We survive.

I loved being in my sun room with these women and feeling the energy that is created by the strength of real women who live real lives, all different but all the the same.

Right now we are all trying to move through loss. I have lost my daughter, my cousins a brother and my aunt a son. This is the hardest part of life, knowing that it doesn't last forever and being here while the ones we love most, leave first.

I want to find comfort in the fact that we will be welcomed home by them, that they will be the first people we see when it is our turn, but somehow it isn't really a comfort at all and it seems so far away.

We have to stay here and keep living these lives with big holes in them. We have to pretend it is possible. We have to learn to forget without forgetting. We have to learn to love shadows where there once was a warm person who could make us smile. We have to learn to sit down at a table that has an extra chair.

We are enduring.

I am thankful tonight for family the way we can go our separate ways and find our way back again. I am thankful for a kind of love that is soft and forgiving and never fades completely away.

I am tired. So tired. Tonight I want to dream about being a kid again and riding on the handlebars of Richards bike, sitting in the back of uncle Wayne's wagon eating a triple scoop, playing Barbies with Rose and Carol, learning to do the hustle with Lisa, Tammy and Bridget, falling asleep next to Aunt Marina in the car.

Goodnight wonderful family.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

There seems to be a fine line between reality and something else without a name. There are names for what people perceive is outside reality but I think unless you are teetering on the precipice you can not truly understand that there is more than what we can imagine or assign a label to that is beyond what we know to be real.

I am forced to stand on the fragile edge. I am strong, I am intelligent but I have lost someone I love most to this vast mystery on the other side of all that I was taught to believe. I stand here on tip-toe looking out as far as I can see and it is like a desert with waves of heat rising, it is like and ocean with a horizon that goes on forever, it is like the sky and there are a million stars passed the last one I can see.

I reach out hoping that someone will grab my hand and pull me into it, explain it all, and send me home safely. I have gently and carefully moved a foot in but have pulled back afraid that going over alone would assure that I would be lost forever.

In my dreams it is different and I go where I go, no one is watching and I always find myself in my own bed in the morning. Last night I was in love with a dentist who looked like Ben Kingsley. He had a beautiful house by the ocean, and I was there with all of my family, they didn't know he was my lover. I wanted to tell them but I knew Steve would be upset even though he had a girlfriend, a British artist who hated me. I didn't want to hurt him but I needed to stay there with him or go back home with Steve and all that comes with it.

Last week I dreamed I was working in a hospital again, I could not find an instrument tray. The department responsible for processing sterile equipment was on strike and we had a woman who needed a c-section in our OR. She was prepped, we were scrubbed but we had no tools. I searched the whole hospital trying to put together what we would need. In my dream I recalled each and every item we would need; the mayo clamps, alice adairs, straights, scissors, the eleven blade, two retractors, lidocaine, syringes, cord clamp, saline, suction bulb and cannula, tubing, lap pads, towels, cauldering blade, grounding pad, needle holders, sutures, basins, and stapler for closing.

I found bits and pieces as I searched cupboards and raced through other departments but it was exhausting and everyone was waiting for me, I felt responsible. I woke up in a panic feeling like I needed to go back to sleep and finish finding the rest of it, I didn't want anything to happen to her baby.

I dream I can fly, breath under water, run with cement legs.

It all feels very real, being in love, the feeling of responsibility, the freedom of flight. Could it have been? Just for that moment? A different real?

I woke up this morning to find a grasshopper on my window screen and the same three red roses that bloom, die, then bloom again in the same place since she died. While I was staring out the window a flock of little blackbirds lifted from a tree somewhere and flew over everything. It all seemed choreographed and I wondered if it was planned for me, if it is always planned for us and we just forget to pay attention.

Yesterday I was listening to a book on tape. I bought them for Stevie when she was sick and couldn't read, I thought listening to it would give her some pleasure. She hated the readers voices, so I read to her instead.

I found the audio books while cleaning the other day and chose one randomly. I took it with me to listen to while I was painting the gallery walls. The story unfolded the mothers name was Gina and the son was Stevie. The father had passed away and they were at his grave-site. The narrator read off the date of his birth, then his death-April 19Th. I held my breath.

A woman came into the gallery a little later to have some old art framed. The paintings were by a man who lived in Japan in the seventies. I stopped what I was doing to look at her pieces. Sawsan told me they were called "Girl With Poppy" she explained that this man painted this girl, these flowers and horses. I almost fell to the floor. I flashed back to John Muir and the Red Poppies, Stevie would tell me they were her second favorite. One day I picked one and gave it to her in the car, it wilted by the time we got home. There are red Iceland poppies, yellow tulips, and white Shasta daisies on her grave now.

I felt like my daughter was trying to tell me she was there.

If I believe this would I be crossing the fine line?

If I believe every single thing is perfectly planned, the grasshopper, the birds, the story, the girl with poppies and ponies...Does that make me insane? Desperate? Am I placing more that my big toe into the unknown?

I think I might have to risk it. Maybe I need to let go of all the things I thought I believed and open myself up to believing something new. When I dream I do not question my sanity, I let myself live in that world, I trust it. Maybe I can see this life like a dream and just go with it, let all things be possible.

Who wrote:

Go to the edge
No, we will fall
Go to the edge
No, we will fall
He pushed them
and they flew...

I think I am ready to fly.

Maybe I can make a long rope from bedsheets so I can find my way home, maybe I can make paper wings and a compass necklace, Maybe I can hold my hand out as I leap and hope someone will catch me.

I believe in the stars I can not see, I believe that the ocean keeps going past the horizon and that someplace in the desert there is an oasis.

I believe my daughter is somewhere and the way to find her is to let go of the fear that she isn't.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fence post fire

It was Halloween last night. I sat out on a lawn chair in my front yard next to a big stinky fire I built in a fire bowl. John brought over a bunch of wood scraps from a job he did, we got the fire big and hot. Debbie and her sister dragged over canvas chairs and shared the fire as did a bunch of straggling parents with sugar high kids. Our front lawn was soon covered with little kids in costumes that were starting to fall apart and shiny candy wrappers blowing on the smoky breeze.

We talked about the earthquake we just had and how we were all shaken and jolted. We talked about old earthquakes and predicted earthquakes. We wondered how we were going to get our kids up for school and why November first wasn't always some kind of day-off. I figure the sugar hang-0ver isn't pretty you would think that the teachers would go on strike that day. I know what my day would be like with a child crabby kid itching like a junky for another piece of candy, can't imagine what it would be like locked in a room all day with twenty of them. God bless teachers.

It took a little longer to get dark this year with daylight savings time being pushed back. For the first time Noah had enough time to eat dinner and carve his pumpkin so that was a treat. He and Nicholas were out the door the very second the sky changed color. Steve and John took them out until the candy bags were too heavy for the kids to carry. Gluttons.

I tried not to cry, tried my best not to be a drag. A little Baily's and hot chocolate goes a long way on a dark night full of ghosts and goblins. Halloween was never one of Stevie's most favorites. She liked it well enough as a little kid but later on she sorta blew it off. It wasn't nostalgia as much as time being marked.

Time...I just can't get over it. You can't touch it or taste it, it is a memory, a wish or a dread. Time seems to goes fastest when you are most happy and creeps when you are waiting for something great to happen. It seems so drag slowest when you are saddest.

I remember Aly at two. Her head full of springy curls, her eyes big and brown. I dressed her in a white leotard and sequins tu-tu. She had silver and white wire wings, and a ribboned magic wand that she had no interest in. We were about to leave for a party when she decided to go out front and sit in a mud puddle and fill her pumpkin up with rocks and leaves. I was so pissed. I yelled at her. I took her in and washed her costume. I can't believe it, it was just mud. If it happened today I would have taken her to the party muddy, I would think it was appropriate, a play on the idea of angelic. What was I thinking back then? I had no idea that one day I would give a leg to be there in that moment again, maybe I would sit down right next to her and get muddy too, forget the party and cheap plastic pumpkin.

I remember the year I borrowed a sewing machine and spent a week making a Snow White dress for Aly. She wanted to be Snow White and the seven dwarbs and Anthony could be the handsome prince and Stevie could be a mouse. I made it happen with the help of cardboard, fabric, glue, glitter and many nights yelling at an old sewing machine. I sat on the kitchen floor cutting patterns from brown paper grocery bags and measuring the kids with a little fabric tape measure. They giggled and wiggled and Stevie ate the better half of a tube of gold glitter.

Stevie was still crawling around and looked adorable as a grey mouse with giant ears. Aly held on tight to her prince who hobbled around on a broken foot in a blue cast. Those were the days when they had no idea that you could trick-or-treat farther than your own block.

One year I made Noah an oompa-loompa. I soaked white felt pants in starch so they would stick out to the sides nice and pointy. He hated the green wig but loved the attention. Aly was a sexy blue fairy that year She was a teenager and was looking for a different kind of attention. I spent two weeks creating the most perfect Tinkerbell costume for Stevie. She had finished treatment and was painfully thin and pale. She wore a super blond wig cut in a pixie bob. I hand beaded a snug green dress with a leafy hem. I can't even remember how I managed the huge iridescent wings but I do remember sewing her slippers. She was so happy with that costume. The look on her face when she tried it on melted my heart. She felt beautiful, and looked like magic.


This Halloween I was void of that kind of creativity. The costume was a chore. The candy was just candy and I didn't carve a pumpkin. Instead I got tipsy, passed out generous amounts of treats and willed the night to pass.

Last night she came to me in my dreams. We were living someplace else and she had come home after being someplace I don't know. She was still sick but getting better. She could climb the stairs of this new house. I could hear her voice and we talked. The dream is fading from me fast, I wish I would have written it down when I woke up. I feel very happy to have had a little bit of time with her, even if it was strange and I can barely recall it.

It is still dark outside, the garbage truck just made his noisy pass by our house. It is quiet here now. I am sitting on Stevie's bed in her room, her sweet face staring at me from a photo I took of her last October. She is wearing a teal t-shirt and her room is still pink. She isn't smiling she is just looking at me it is an intense picture. The camera was new, she bought it herself with money she saved. It was a complex little thing and we were playing with it while trying to read the directions that came in four different languages none of them an English we could understand.

Her hair is shiny and long. It is deep auburn, the highlights so coppery. her eyes are Stevie blue, he only way to describe them. She got compliments on them where ever we went. Her lips are full and pink and her skin creamy and flawless. She was perfect. she is perfect. I wish I could crawl into that frame and kiss those cheeks, put that hair up in a high pony tail talk to her about anything.

When I was younger I use to think David Cassidy and Donny Osmond could see me. I had these huge posters in my room that I couldn't get undressed in front of. I wish my imagination was as silly now and I could believe that a tiny bit of her is stored in this photo and it was some portal for us, that if I spoke to it, she would speak back. Maybe that imagination is still intact.

It is time to get Noah up and ready for school, time for a new day to start, time, time, time.

Another Holiday without her. I got through it, but it didn't seem fair that I had to. I want her here with me like before. I want it to be her in this bed, the room littered with her clothes and books. I want her to sleep in late and hog all the hot water with her morning shower. I want to have lunch with her at the sushi place, drink Javatea, make plans and lists for Thanksgiving. I loved it when she made shopping lists while I drove. I loved to look her in the seat next to me deep in thought, sipping coffee, listening to some boy sing about things girls love to hear boys sing about.

This is the first year we won't be raiding the best candy out of Noah's bag. This is the first year we won't sit around with really good costume ideas for next year that we will forget by the time October rolls around again. This is my first year without her.

Happy Halloween sweet-potato, thank you for visiting me last night.