Monday, December 22, 2008

April and December


I flew to Portland on Thursday night to be with Angela and say good-bye to Hadley. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it to the funeral but I knew I could board a plane so I took that step first.

The flight was delayed due to a storm that was coming in and when I finally arrived it was to a snowy and cold dark night. My cousin Ron picked me up in rented car and drove me to my hotel. I unpacked, found my bathing suit and went for a ten o'clock swim in a very warm indoor pool. It was the only thing to do that felt right. Water calms me.

I thought about what it must have been like for all the people finding their way to Dublin to be at Stevie's funeral. What were they thinking? Did they feel like I did? Did they swim and wonder how this all made any sense, why children died, how they were going to sit in a church and try not to hate God, what they were going to say to a mother who has just had her heart ripped out?

It sucked. I am terrible with words. When I am emotional words tumble out of me that are not mine. It is almost like a string has been pulled and random sentences and statements escape...remember those dolls? "I want to be your friend...tell me a story...let's play" That is exactly what happens to me. When I hurt the real me hides. My auto pilot is a stranger that takes over and bumbles.

The morning of the funeral I was on auto pilot. I felt it happen, a kind of numbness, a retreating behind a soft wall where the rest of me won't crumble. The church parking lot was white with snow and beautiful flakes were falling, falling, falling. I kept thinking, "Stevie made it rain, Hadley made it snow" My cousin pulled the car up close so we wouldn't have to trek through the cold and there is was a big hearse parked in front of the church. My protective wall was suddenly useless and I was sucked back to a day in April.

I was moving back and forth between the parking lot and the church, carrying flowers and pictures. It was surreal, it felt like a party and I was just making it happen. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a shiny black hearse coming down the road and my mind said, "Oh how sad, those poor people" and I began to say a prayer I always say when I see a hearse, it is a blessing to the person who is going to heaven and a prayer of comfort for the family who is missing that person. Right in the middle of it I realized that it was pulling up to the church and the person that was in it was my daughter.

I collapsed, Matt came and held me up while I fell apart. Everything was suddenly bright and painfully real. There are moments that can not be handled, it is too much to believe, to have to believe, and a part of me died in then, I couldn't live there with that pain, without my daughter standing next me, instead of in a box cold and not breathing.

Matt held me until that part of me was gone and I was numb the rest of the day.

Now it is December and Spring is Replaced with Winter. The sun is not shining, I am not carrying tulips. Instead I am carrying a tiny crown I made for Hadley on a cold white day. This is the hearse that brought her to the church but it was also every hearse that has ever brought a child to a church. It was a symbol of death...A child gone and a mothers heart split in half.

I began to cry while a built a new protective wall, and my anger at God was fresh again.

It was a Christian service and I didn't bow my head to pray or sing any hymns. I shrunk a little inside myself when they began to sing "Jesus Loves me" It felt too ironic to be singing a Child's Sunday School song while and eight year old child lay in a casket, her little brothers sitting close by...

The people who spoke did it beautifully. Everyone who spoke did so with a heart full of love. You could feel the love in the church, the energy vibrated. Angela was beautiful, she was present for her boys, embraced each and every person and gave comfort. She sent her daughter to heaven with a most beautiful service. I was proud of her and in awe of how she had created this moment for her children, her family, her friends and her daughters memory.

There is something about Angela that is hard to explain. She is human and I have seen her mad, hurt, sad, and afraid but she has an inner strength and purpose that is bigger than what most people have. She is tall but she would have to be 100 feet taller to contain just a little of all the beauty and love she was sent here with.

Angela will never have an ordinary life. There is so much she is meant for, so much she will do. She has already been an incredible mother. You can tell a great mom by kind and loving children. What is next I do not know but I do know that it will not be ordinary or small. Angela is made out of great stuff, do big things stuff.

My auto pilot said all the wrong things to her but I was guessing she was in a little bit of auto pilot herself so maybe I will be forgiven.

I viewed Hadley's body after telling myself I would not. I hid out in the ladies lounge most of the time and when I thought the coast was clear I came out. The large crowd had eaten cookies and small sandwiches, spilled coffee and tears and they were out driving home in the snow wanting nothing more than to get home and hug the children they yelled at yesterday.

The church was empty and there she was...something pulled me in and the whole time I was telling it to let me go. The next thing I knew I was standing over a beautiful child in a brown velvet dress, her long lashes resting on her cheeks, her hair shiny, and her face calm.

I wanted her to wake up. If Jesus loves you than he can wake you up and we can finish the rest of those cookies and take you home. We can call it a Christmas miracle and throw these damn stinky carnations in the garbage.

I knew Jesus wasn't going to give me my daughter back but damn it he could do this, look at her she is too beautiful to be dead, I waited for the miracle, waited to take Hadley's hand and help her out of that bed no child should have to lay in.

It didn't happen, and I didn't cry because I knew that she didn't need that body anymore, she left it for better things. I knew that she was here for as long as she needed to be and she did exactly what she was suppose to do. When I said, "Sweet Dreams Hadley" I felt my anger at God lift just a little.

Now I am home and I have hugged and kissed Noah so many times that he thinks there is something wrong and I won't tell him. I said to him, "I love you Noah, and I am just glad you are here with me on this leg of my journey, I don't know how I would have been able to survive without your sweet face and all your love" He said "I love you too mom, what did you get me for Christmas" I told him, "Oh know I was suppose to get you a Christmas present?"

I dreamed about Stevie last night. She was sleeping in the top bunk in a room that she and Aly shared when they were little. I could hear her breathing and I panicked, she wasn't wearing her Bipap, when did she stop wearing it? When I went into the room again to check on her she was laying there with her bipap on. Instead of relief I felt sick. I knew it was a dream, and I heard her tell me something I can't remember but I do remember telling my dream self, "Let this go, this isn't her anymore, don't keep her like this" I wasn't sad to let it go, it was just a dream, and it wasn't her, just a memory of a sad time when she couldn't breath on her own. A time when machines, tubes, wires and medications were keeping her alive.

We are going to Yosemite for Christmas. We leave Christmas eve. We will drive in the snow to a small Cabin where we will try to run away from Christmas past. The memories of Stevie's last Christmas still hurt too much. We need to make a new memory and it can't be anything like any other.

I didn't want to go because I kept thinking what if Christmas is one of those times that the veil opens and our loved ones on the other side get to be with us. Stevie will come home and we will be gone, she will be alone.

I know it sounds silly but I am leaving her a big note on the kitchen counter that will tell her where we will be and how to find us.

Now I have to get dressed and start this day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Angela and Hadley


I am at work...the sky is dark blue and it is biting cold outside. I should be making my way back home but I need just a few more minutes here in my little shop where it smells like cookies and everything is so beautiful.


Outside the world is real, cold ,and feels a little cruel today.


I got a phone call Saturday morning and the person on the other end was letting me know that Hadley left her body...I shut down inside. I couldn't cry, I was too mad to cry. I knew it was coming but I didn't want to believe it. I thought this family had given enough, I guess not.


Angela is somewhere out there making arrangements, receiving flowers and tearful phone calls. There is a little dress to pick out, relatives and meals arriving. All this is happening while a storm literally rages outside her house, freezing the roads and covering everything in snow.


I know this moment she is in. People are buzzing around, phones keep ringing, kids need to be fed, mortuary details need to be finalized. While your heart is breaking your body goes into auto pilot and you just keep doing. It isn't unlike a wedding only instead of adding a person to a family you are letting one go.


Although I remember this time all the details are gone. I can't remember most of the funeral or the days following. I couldn't tell you who was there or how I got dressed. I do remember crashing and burning after everyone went home. When they left they took all the mess, the noise, and the chaos with them but they also took the love and support. I was left alone in a quiet house without my best friend, my baby girl. All I had were pictures, shoes, and an empty bed. I wanted to die. I knew I wouldn't have to commit suicide because my heart would surely fail all by itself. I couldn't imagine surviving this kind of pain, it didn't seem possible.


If I had a magic wand I would take those days away from Angela so she wouldn't have to work through them and replace them with warm days sleeping on a beach, with Hadley alive, well and happy running on the shore.


Mother God, Father God, I don't understand this.


Please surround our sweet Mama Angela with your love, help heal her heart, let her move through these days deep in faith and a knowing that her girl is in the heaven she came from where there are no brain tumors, hospitals, and sad days.


Stevie if you can hear me thank you for trying to tell me you were waiting for Hadley. TT told me that she spoke with you in a dream the night before and you were so beautiful and happy, I can see you in my mind standing next to Hadley's bed telling her "Hadley wake up it is time to go, the helicopter is waiting, we are going to heaven" I can see her hopping up out of bed, full of energy, free of a sick body and a sleeping room. I can see you her take your hand, the both of you are strong and beautiful and as promised there is a wonderful helicopter that takes you both into the light.


Angela...you are a strong woman and there is so much for you to do. You have been feeling a pull for so long, there is something very big an important waiting for you to do. Your heart is broken and there is an empty space in your soul, your home, and your family but there is more... so much more to do. This next part of your life that needs living.


You are here for a reason and a reason and a reason...there is so much more work but there is also so much more love, growth, experience and accomplishment. You were made for great things, beautiful things, it is all waiting for you.


Deep breaths, grace will guide you through this next week. Lean on your angels, your friends and your family to help move you through the next years. We are here, we love you, and we are so damn proud of you.


You are made out of love, you are love, you are loved.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chanks...


When Noah was little he use to say "Chanks mom" and I would say your welcome he would also answer "Yesh" when I offered him a cookie. My favorite was "Oh I a nishey-boy" and he is still the nicest boy I know.

We went to Jeff and Sarah's for Chanksgiving. We were going to have a pic-nic but the weather was a little iffy so we decided to do an indoor casual dinner. We used paper plates, ate huge pots of homeade soup (Lizzies Butternut-apple rocks me upside down) pie, sandwiches, a huge Sarah salad and played board games. Later we went for a night hike along the water and enjoyed the view of the bridge. Noah thought the bridge lights were christmas decorations.

I thought is would be terribly sad but it wasn't.

Early Thanksgiving morning before everyone woke up I decided to head out to the cemetery to bring Stevie a terrible little Christmas tree decorated with glittery bulbs, pink bows, and silver snow flakes. I chose a tree she could see from heaven.

When I got there the gates were locked, that was unusual as it's a sunup to sundown park. I waited about an hour, watched the cars line up, watched people get mad and leave then decided to lock my car and head up the hill on foot.

I squeezed my sausage self and my silly tree through the side of the gate and huffed and puffed myself up the hill for about a mile. I had to sit and rest because I was panting so hard I thought I would faint. I then decided to take a short cut up the muddy hillside instead of continuing on the paved road. This is were it get's funny. Stevie I hope you enjoyed this.

I am out of shape and a little middle-age-over-weight. I was bundled in a down vest and big sweater, and carrying this dingle-dangly Christmas tree while trying to scale a pretty steep and muddy hillside. Half way up I looked down and decided I had made a big mistake. I started to panic and slid about ten feet down, I could have prevented it but I wouldn't let go of the shiny tree. Just as I am trying to right myself and grab at snowflakes that had flown off the tree during the slide several cars whiz by.

It seems that while I was struggling up hill someone opened the gate and the passers by got a good look at me, my muddy but, my red face, hanging on to a poor oleaner bush with rescued snowflakes between my teeth.

I made it up the hill only to find the short cut was not what I thought it was and I still had another hill to climb, this time I chose to walk the road.

I arrived at Stevie's grave a mess. I had lost my hair clip so my hair was a giant curly fright, the top of the tree was bent, I had glitter on my face from the snowflakes I had in my mouth, I was wet, muddy, sweaty, and all I could do was colapse on the grass and laugh.

I brought a pocket full of Stawberries for Stevie and the deer to my surprise they were not smushed at all, and I ate one. I then righted the tree, dumped the old flowers and had a good cry with my girl.

The sky was cloudy, moody, and grey. There were birds and big black crows and me all alone on a cemetery hill with a shiny tree and a view of nothing but a broken heart. I wished she would appear but she didn't. I wished God would sit next to me and explain it all to me but he didn't. I wished that someone would arrive with a warm blanket, a cup of tea and tell me it was all a bad dream but they didn't. So I sat there still and quiet, I prayed, I talked to Stevie then I began walking back to my car.

On the way back I took in the green of the trees, the gold grass that was going to sleep for the winter, the red berries that are suppose to make birds drunk and kids sick if you eat them. I watched little squirrels dart back and forth across the road, leaves fall, and cars drive slowly by. It was peaceful in a way I can not explain. Then there was a great noise, and from every direction big black crows came, they flew into a group of trees just up ahead and the noise increased. Soon I was under a tree full of black crows all talking madly at the same time. It was music only crows understand. It felt important so I stood there and listened for a few minutes, as soon as I walked away it stopped almost like a switch was turned off.

Chanks...

Monday, November 24, 2008

What is real?


I got up early this morning, it was still dark and the morning a little a colder than yesterday. I waited for the sun to come up somewhere...I live in a suburb so I know when the sun is coming up because I can see the horizon change from dark to grey to gold to sky blue. What I can't see is the sun rising from one place, like over a mountain or out of the ocean.

There is a creepy moment before the colors change, the same moment happen just before dark. Stevie hated the end of the day, I never understood why, I do now, even though I crave it sometimes.

I need to be up early like this, my mind is most clear and it's as quiet as the day will be. This morning I kept thinking about illusions and how quantum physics shows us that nothing is solid, that there is more empty space in between than there is anything else. I touched things like a stone Noah collected from our property in Oroville, the edge of Stevie's furry pink blanket, the one I took to the hospital with us. I touched the skin on the back of my hand to see if I could really touch and feel at the same time. It all felt very solid to me.

I closed my eyes and tried to release my need to believe that everything I could see with my eyes and touch with my fingers were "real" What if I let go and tried to see without my eyes and feel without my fingertips, what if I tried to "know" instead of "believe".

What I felt was the smooth sweep of memory where nothing is solid it is just the dancing of time, some of it exactly as it happened and some of it added to or subtracted from depending on how I wanted to remember it.

I tried to listen to music by remembering music and Jenny Lewis started singing "Handle me with Care". I tried to taste the seven cookies I ate yesterday and I easily remembered the butter and the crunchy sugar crystals. I remembered the way Noah's hair smelled yesterday while he was sleeping, the way the hot water felt in my bath last night and a hundred cold mornings that I sat on the porch crying as the last of Stevie's night candle burned.

What if this life we live moment by moment is a memory that plays in a loop? What if it has all happened before? What if we have long since left these bodies and this planet we created and we are accessing time? What if real isn't real at all? What if like memory we can shift and change parts so that they appear a little more pleasant or a lot more horrible than they actually were?

I thought about this for a moment and I decided to take a very hurtful moment and change it. I remembered a night in the hospital when I called Sarah and told her I was going to put Stevie in the car and leave, get us on a plane to someplace beautiful and run away from hospitals, cancer, tears and pain.

In the memory I had we stayed and she never got better. In the new memory I found a wheel chair and sat her in it. I told her what we were going to do and she gave me her most wicked smile. I disconnected her IV line but took the pole with us so the nurses wouldn't be suspicious. I put her slippers on her feet and covered her in a pink fuzzy blanket. I grabbed my purse and we headed down to the lobby. I used my cell phone to call a cab. I used my credit card at the airport to get us two tickets to Tahiti. At the gift shop I bought us sweatshirts, baseball caps and plenty of things to read.

The plane ride was long but we slept most of the time. We read the rest of the time and before we knew it we were landing in Popiette. The puddle jumper took us to the cluster of bungalow's that sit on the water.

I filled up the big claw foot with warm soapy water and let Stevie relax. We then climbed into the big bed under the thatched roof and ceiling fans and slept. No alarms, no machines, no lights and constantly opening doors, no bad news, just sleep.

The next morning we swam in the lagoon as the sun snuck up on us. The water was warm and turquoise blue. We laughed and laughed because we did it, we escaped. We needed to creep out of the water before everyone woke up because we were naked. We sat on the deck in fat towels wondering if it was too early to find breakfast.

We exchanged our sweatshirts for tourist clothing that we bought at the gift shops and we arrived at our breakfast destination wearing tank tops and sarongs. We flip-flopped to our table in new sandals that needed breaking in. Our hair was still wet but we pulled it back in pony tails.

Our days and nights were spent walking the beaches, swimming in the lagoons, eating, reading under the shade of big umbrella's while we drank fizzy water and blended fruit drinks. Soon time stopped, we forgot what day it was or long it had been since the time before.

It worked. The old memory was gone (well faded to another part of my brain) and this new memory had taken it's place. I could really see Stevie in a beach chair, a book on her lap, big sunglasses telling me that she was hungry and wanted to rent bikes and find someplace new for lunch. I was wearing a baseball cap and could feel the sunburn on my shoulders. I wanted to fall asleep for a little while but the idea of a bike ride sounded better, I got excited.

If you can see it in your mind, feel it in your heart isn't that real? Did I just change our life in some parallel universe. Did she die in a big bed over blue water instead of a stinky hospital connected to tubes and wires. I believe she did.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Relationships and grieving

Things have been going well. Tangerine is official, I have hours and customers, vendors and book keeping, events and marketing. I also have bills and stress but I expected that and so far both have been more than manageable.

I love working and keeping busy. I am not a lay-down-and-let-the-day-go-by kinda girl. I think we all have days when we don't feel good or we are just a little burnt out and our bodies and minds kinda take a little 24 our vacation or maybe just a 15 minute nap. I indulge in this practice but I find that if I am quiet and still for too long my emotions come to the surface and I slip into a sad dark place where missing my girl is more than I can bear.

I know someone who thinks that because I am able to stay busy, have goals, work hard means that I am healed up and ready to take on the work of repairing relationships and becoming a more giving person on an intimate level.

Wrong.

Working hard is not intimacy, it isn't personal, it's work, a distraction. I think it's healthy and necessary. This person went back to work a week after Stevie left because it was easier to look at a computer screen full of numbers than it was to be in a house where her shoes were still in the hallway and her books piled high waiting for her. I understand that.

I didn't have a job to go to, I didn't have an escape hatch, so I tore out the kitchen, moved my studio, cleaned the house, wrote a book, started a business.

I don't move through pain easily. I don't forgive easily. I can't seem to forget easily. What I can do is give myself a project a goal and put myself there in that working place, where I feel I have purpose.

I have a dear friend who I love who lost her child the same year I did. She was in a very healthy, wonderful marriage before her daughter left so her relationship comforted her. Not unlike me she poured herself into work, a major move, and tennis. This didn't keep the tears away, it didn't soften the blow, and it didn't fix everything but it helped her move through unbearable days.

My marriage was in deep trouble before Stevie left. I did not find comfort in it because for me it was something that needed fixing or leaving and I didn't have the energy to do either one.

Most marriages don't survive this kind of loss so I am trying not to beat myself up over this struggle. When I give it too much thought I get lost in it, there is no right thing to do. This family can not handle one more big upheaval but I am not in any shape to repair something that has broken for such a long time.

I can fix a sink, build a wall, lay a floor but only because it doesn't ask anything of my heart.

A therapist might have a whole other take on this and I can't say for sure because I am not one. For me grief is very personal. It has a flow like anything else but there are variations in personality, temperament, and mental stability. There are situations in families, relationships and finances. There are so many factors that will effect how the story unfolds.

The death of a child is unlike the death of a pet, a parent, even a spouse. Pain is pain but the death of a child is soul deep. It goes against the order of nature. Women are maternal by design, our hormones support our heightened instinct. When I gave birth to all three of my children I felt the flood of it. It isn't a subtle thing it's a tsunami. It is so over whelming that you actually react to it with tears.

I remember looking at my new baby thinking how fine my life was before this child, how ordinary. Then this little bundle of heat, milk breath and soft skin arrives and I just know that I will never be the same and I can't understand how I lived a whole life without this very vital part of myself.

Ask any mother of a new born and they will tell you that they are changed forever. You are suddenly not "You" anymore. Your instinct to protect your child over-rides your instinct to survive. This bond is formed and it's stronger than any kind of love you have ever experienced before.

You are in protection overdrive. There is no way to fight it, you are on a mission and it is one that never ends, that love never goes away or changes.

When you loose a child something inside you breaks. The worst fear you can imagine has been realized and you are undone.

If you have other children you go into auto pilot, at least I did. You may be broken but you still have a mission. It isn't easy because you are without one of your engines but you learn to navigate with the one you have. Mother nature has a way of helping you along, she gives you extra fuel, the right winds, and a soft place to land.

Marriages...

I don't know what it is like to be able to make it work after a loss like this. I only know one person who is doing well and that is because she started off doing well. Her and her husband were blindsided by their daughters illness but they were united and helped her together, they comforted each other from the beginning because they had a strong foundation of trust and respect. Her husband is not the biological father of her children but he takes his role as their father very seriously he loves them with his whole heart. For him these children are a gift and a part of the woman he loves most. I think his intense love and caring for her children bonded them and is helping them survive through loss.

It feels like he situation is the best possible scenario. I don't think mine is the worst because I know women who have had it much harder. I know one woman whose husband of 25 years left her for a younger woman. In the middle of her trying to come to terms with her husband leaving and her whole life changing she unexpectedly loses her 21 year old son.

Another woman I know lost her son in a car accident and a year later her husband leaves her. He had been having an affair for twelve years but blamed her because he felt she was not comforting him enough in his time of loss.

My husband is a good guy. He loved our daughter and he has always provided for us. I have been a good mom, and I have always been ground crew not as visible, not bringing in the big bucks, but necessary.

We have struggled for so many years to hold this family together. I am not sure we are going to make it. I am not strong enough, my heart is broken, I can't find the will to do what he wants, to help him, to make him happy, to make him feel loved or wanted enough.

My needs are basic, I need to eat, be able to pay the bills, sleep and work. I have found ways to survive, I comfort myself by giving to myself. I cry, I write, I surround myself with people who can give to me without asking anything back. People who understand that right now I need this and they are happy to help me in anyway. They call, send emails, invite me to lunch, listen to me cry. They never say "now it's my turn" They know me, they know that as I slowly heal I will slowly become more giving. They know that I would do the same for them.

Working, taking care of Noah and keeping the house running is about all I can do right now. I feel OK with that. I am actually very proud of myself. I know I stumble and fall but I am not laying in that bed waiting to die like I thought I would.

I can't speak for my husband but I know he needs something, has always needed something that I just don't know how to give him. We grieve differently and I can't change this, I can't race through it, and I can't be someone else. He expects me to farther along in this process, he expects me to fix our relationship. I can't.

I expect him to grieve like me, to feel what I feel, I can't imagine anything else.

He is making decisions and struggling. Part of me wants to tell him to sit tight and wait this out but I can't. I am in no shape to make promises or demands. He wants to be in a loving relationship, he wants to move past all this, he needs...he needs.

I am just me.

The First Edit...

This morning I did something I have never done and I edited a post. My agreement with myself was that this blog would be for me and I would write honestly, openly, and not be afraid of pushing "Publish" because of what someone else would think.

It was hard to start blogging because it is a public forum. The odds of anyone finding this blog and reading it are pretty small but it feels very public when you begin. I knew what kind of person I am and I knew that I would write, re-write and finally delete because it wasn't perfect. I decided instead to give myself permission for this not to be perfect for it to just be what it is.

This is where I go to write. I love doing it because it comforts me, it connects me with myself. For me writing is very healing, it's my therapy.

We live our lives editing all the time, there has to be one place you don't have to do that, for me it was here. I wanted this to be my journey.

Last night someone who I thought never read my posts did and found two sentences in a post I wrote hurtful. I didn't write them to be hurtful actually writing them helped me diffuse some anger so that I could get through the day. I didn't write an untruth but it upset this person enough to confront me about it. So the post has been edited, the sentences deleted.

I won't do it again. I have also asked that person to stop reading my blog.

I feel like this blog suddenly doesn't have the integrity it once did. In the future I will leave out names of people if the story is not positive but the story will still be honest. In real life we have names, here maybe not.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Redecorating my life...


My good friend Sawsan and I have decided to dedicate 100 days to improving our lives by living our lives with intent, focusing on what we want, and manifesting joy.

We will be doing this "thing" until February 17th 2009. It is an experiment, a promise, an adventure and a hopeful journey.

We had to choose three wishes for ourselves. As women we want to ask for the health and happiness of our children, feed the world, end wars, eliminate cellulite and hot flashes. The deal is we would give that to the universe to work on and for this moment focus on us. If we can manifest joy into our lives then we can offer it to others and be part of a never ending chain of joy-givers. If we are happy, healthy, and strong we can be better tools for the universe to use to create change.

It was not easy choosing the three things. I felt like I had let the genie out of the bottle and I didn't want to screw it up. I had to tell myself over and over, " first these three things, then three more, the universe is abundant and this genie never gets tired of helping you create an amazing life."

My three wishes are this:

My first wish is to have contact with Stevie, real contact, something that I can feel and keep inside me for the rest of my days here. I want the universe to help me find her and allow us lift the veil for a moment and tell each other we are OK.

I wish to know where she is and to know that one day I will be with her again. I want to ask her three questions and know that it is she that is giving me the answers.

My second wish is for my business to be successful. This one is a hard one to ask for, it goes against something inside me that tells me this is greed. I have taken a couple deep breaths and given myself permission to ask for this. I work hard and I deserve to be successful. I am asking for ten paying customers a day. I want to pay off the business debt in a year, have money to keep purchasing art, and have money to save.

I want to be able to support myself should I ever need to. I want to know that I can do something well. I would like to contribute to my family financially.

My last wish is for my health. I would rather be where Stevie is but I am here. If I have to be here and grow old I plan to do it in a healthy body. I would like to lose enough weight to be heart healthy (about 15 pounds) I wish to desire physical activity, to have that feeling athletes have in the morning. I want to take long walks, hike, ride my bike and dance. I am asking the universe to help me find the time and motivation. I see myself in a healthy, fit and strong body.

All this in 100 days? Yes. Why not?

I am only in the first week of this and I already feel a subtle shift. I feel good I know I can do this. The only work I have had to do so far is open myself up to this and allow it to happen. I know the universe has it's own time table and I can be patient while we tweak things and get me ready for this new adventure.

My sister and I love each other. We have been friends to each other, we have parented each other and we have been fight-like-dogs-pulling-hair sisters. It hurts that we can't get along for very long periods of time. I find myself irritated by her, inpatient, judgemental and sometimes just mean.

I have always been hard on her, but never harder on her than I am on myself.

We are at a point in our relationship were we have a hard time just having a telephone conversation. Last night we got into a big disagreement and she decided to tell me off and blame me for things she has no right blaming me for. I did my best to tell myself that she is angry and frustrated and needs someone to download all over. I can be that person but not quietly or easily.

I hung-up on her when the negativity and anger started hurting. I went to bed very upset and woke up with an idea.

I took out my journal and wrote about it all, the ugliest thoughts and all the frustration. I felt like I was taking out the garbage and getting rid of all those rotten yucky feelings. I then made a long list of things I felt responsible for and asked for forgiveness, and gave it to myself.

I then made a list of three wishes for her. I know that it is not for me to wish for other people, those wishes belong to them but I did it as a loving act, a desire to voice what I most wanted for her. My wishes were all about happiness and love.

Then I let it go. It was easier than I thought.

I wondered why this happened when I was so trying to attract positive energy into my life that I had this painful conflict. I didn't feel defeated just curious.

The answer came to me easily. I could see a messy house full of old worn out things piled high and cluttering every nook and cranny. Things I did not need, things that did not work, things that caused me pain and sadness.

I could see a big truck pulling up with new things, wonderful things but there was no room for them in this house full of cobwebs and history. I could then see the truck pulling away after leaving a little note on my door saying they would come back again when I was ready.

I had to find a way to let this thing go with my sister, and there are other things I have to learn to let go. I have to clear all this out so that I can start from scratch with well lit rooms that are clean and swept. I need to be able to see out of the windows and open the door. I need white walls and open spaces so that I can redecorate my life.

There will be more hard times in the next 100 days but I will try to see them as opportunities.

I am ready for a new me. That does not mean that I leave behind the old me but I will only pack up the best parts of her. I want to travel light, I want to be grow, learn and heal.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cricket

Some of you have heard this story but it is worth telling again.

Last week the dogs were scheduled to be spayed. As much as I think it would be sweet to have a house full of puppies and let Noah see the miracles mother nature has to offer I also knew it would be horribly irresponsible to let it happen. They should have had the surgery a long time ago but I haven't been able to make it happen.

I have actually given full responsibility of the dogs to Steve, Noah and Aly. This seems to be the one place I can delegate easily. I use to be such a dog-lover. I was raised with dogs, slept with them, slept with their fleas and took a dog with me where ever I went. When I had kids it changed and all that maternal energy went to them. After Stevie left her body I had a hard time giving any of myself, I was pretty empty and the thought of loving anyone or anything hurt.

I am now back to being the mommy because Noah makes it easy. Aly doesn't want a mom. Steve wants me to give to him what I gave to Stevie but he doesn't understand that what I gave to her she took with her when she left.

So there sit these horribly cute dogs and I feel nothing but pity for them because I know they need to be cuddled and loved and I just don't have it to give.

Steve is not much of a multi-tasker at home. He decided out of the blue that he would make the spaying arrangements. I wanted to step in for about a second then just let it go.

He had arranged for the surgery a month ahead of time but had obligations the morning of the surgery and sorta expected me to fix it, to step in and take over and I didn't. He made the plan and he would have to cancel or make it happen. This is not how we do things historically. What usually happens is I take over and bitch and complain the whole time.

This time Steve was stuck with two very skittish dogs on leashes connected to harnesses he put on them upside down. He got them in the car and tied one dogs leash to the front seat and the other in the back. If it were me I would have put the crates in the car, put them in the crates and taken them safely to the vet. Then I would have put something warm and soft in the crates for them so the trip home would be comfortable. He is not me and I let him do his thing.

About 20 minutes later Steve calls Aly's cell, not mine, hers. All I can hear is her saying "No Dad, no, she never does that she is always good in the car" then tears then running around the house frantically. I am trying to get her to tell me what is going on but she is hysterical and I can't understand her.

I call Steve and he tells me that when he got to the vet he untied Bicha and went around the other side of the car to get Cricket out but she wasn't there all that was there was a leash and empty collar hanging out of the window. He swears he has no idea how or when it happened.
I tell him that there is no way she is alive, and Noah walks in just as I say it, now he is hysterical.

Steve stays at the vet and admits Bicha, Aly calls work and gets in her truck to go look for Cricket. I grab a blanket thinking I will have to scrape a dead dog off the side of the road and wrap her in it. Noah and I get into the car and go looking for her. I tell Noah that the odds that we will find her alive don't look good but I need him to try and communicate with her. I tell him dogs can hear kids and he needs to tell her to stay were she is, not to be afraid that we are coming. He takes this task very seriously and begins chanting which is irritating but better than crying.

I follow Steve's path. It is morning and there are a lot of cars on the road. I check my speed and I am going about 40mph. and thinking how the hell could a dog survive hanging from a car window until she falls out of her leash, drop onto the road at this speed then miss being hit by a car if she survives the fall. I was praying Noah would not see her, my plan was to pull over gently at least a hundred feet from her and wrap her in the blanket.

Twenty minutes go by and still no dog.

Aly calls my cell and yells "Mom some guy said he thinks there was a white dog running toward the bart station and I think I could see Cricket running really fast through the field there" I tell her I am on my way and I make a U-turn and head to the bart station. Part of me is excited and another part of me thinks Aly is just seeing what she wants to and it was most likely a bird or a rabbit.

Noah and I drive around and around the station, the parking lot, and the fields, nothing. We meet up with Aly for a minute and keep looking. I hit a dead end literally and think to myself we need to just go home. I turn to Noah who is still chanting for Cricket to stay put and not be afraid, and tell him we have to go home. I tell him that if she is alive someone will find her and bring her to the animal shelter and they will call us.

As I round turn the car around and head out I see a fence leading from the field to bart and a small white dog sitting patiently waiting.

Noah jumps out and picks her up, and brings her into the car. I check her out top to bottom looking in her ears for blood and fluid, her ribs for tender spots, her limbs for broken bones, her eyes and her abdomen. Aside from a scrape under her doggy-lip she is untouched by any harm, perfect, fine and worn out. She curls up on the blanket I brought and enjoys the ride home.

If she can survive, I can survive. It is shitty she went through all of that to teach me something when I can' even manage to give her a few tender moments a day.

I still delegate the dog stuff because I know it is best for the dogs and for me, for right now but I have a new tenderness I didn't have before, a respect for all beings and how we share this planet with them. Cricket is not here by accident.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Falling in Love...

http://www.auntjudysattic.com/solid_perfume/fallinginloveth.jpg

I was at Tangerine yesterday. It was a quiet day but I had so many little things to do. At about four I was dragging. I someones bounced check to deal with, some restocking and cramps. I wanted to close early and go home but I stuck it out.

Mairead and Allison showed up just then, happy, young, smelling pretty and full of energy. They were like a breath of fresh air. They came in to shop, talk, and me a tiny black bag from Sephora, they both had funny little smiles on.

These two girls have been so good to me and I wasn't always the nicest person to them. When they were younger I use to give Alli a hard time. She and Aly would always be up to something and needing a ride to a show, Berkeley, Rasputin, wanting to take Bart to the city and give me a heart attack, stay up late and cook, come home from a show stoned, and generally drive me insane.

Mairead was sweet, she would come over and hang-out with Stevie once in a while and talk about her make-up fetish, designer bags, how she had to straighten her hair before she could curl it. She is a crack up and a little glam-girl.

I played the role of grumpy mom.

Now Stevie is gone and Aly is in her own world.

Allison and Mairead still come over, still email me and have found a way to comfort me while I am hurting so much and missing my girl. I don't know why they do it but they do and it is so beautiful.

It seems they read my post about running out of "Falling in Love" and not being able to find it anymore. It is just a bottle of perfume but it felt like I was losing another part of Stevie.

These two sisters who love to shop got online and found were the perfume might be and then went to several stores until they found and actual bottle.

When I opened the little bag they brought me that was what was inside.

They also brought me a song by The Plain White T's called 1234...They told me I would cry and I did. It is such a pretty song, and Stevie would have loved it.

If she could whisper into their ears she would have told them to bring me the perfume and the song and they would.

They would have it even if she didn't.

I like to believe it was three of them there yesterday.

Thank you girls...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I had a dream of a baby last night. Not sure if it was because I was thinking of babies or because I asked the universe to give me a sign.

I raised my brother and sister, then became a mom at 19. I have been taking care of kids my whole life. I always dreamed of having a house that was full of kids. We would all sleep in a great big bed and eat at a really long table. I would make stacks of pancakes on Sunday and platters of spaghetti for dinner. I imagined we would live on a boat and Christmas would be spent someplace snowy. We would have a big fire and kids in footie pajamas that tried to stay awake for Santa.

Steve and I started dating when I was 18 and he knew about this big family dream. He took it upon himself to fill me in on the realities of a big family, coming from one himself. There were six kids in his family. His mother was married to his father when she was 19, he was in his thirties. Steve is also older than I am.

I think he really thought he could talk me out of a big family, or any family for that matter. He was one of those kids who just didn't get enough of what he needed. His parents were both alcoholics and his mother had many issues around mental health. Both his parents died when he was young. Although I could see that the difficult times growing up for him were not due to having a big family but a big family that had more than it's share of struggles. Had he been an only child with the same two parents life would have still been difficult.

Steve wanted what his parents wanted but didn't know how to get. He wanted a great job, travel, adventures and freedom. He wanted to make art, write, act, and have a swanky apartment full of great stereo equipment. He wanted just enough of everything and not have to worry that that's all there would ever be.

I became pregnant by accident but I never questioned that it was what was suppose to happen. Steve reacted badly. I was determined and he figured out slowly that maternal instincts make Superman look like a wimp. We lived in a crappy one bedroom apartment, Steve was finishing school, I was taking my first college course.

From outside it seemed like we were doomed but I knew it would be OK.

I think all of his worries and doubts disappeared when he held Aly for the first time. He was madly in love with her and she with him. They are still very close.

When Aly was getting close to two I decided we needed to have another baby. Steve decided I was crazy. His argument was that we lived in a crappy one bedroom apartment. I did research on financing a first home and found a loan program that was perfect for us. Three months later we were in our first house and Stevie growing inside of me.

Steve was sure another child would ruin us but each child brought such happiness and good luck. He had a hard time seeing that. He had a harder time dealing with the attention the kids demanded of me and how I happily moved toward them and drifted from him. Our relationship changed drastically. I went from being a silly teenage girl who followed him where ever he wanted to go to a mom of two daughters who demanded we stay home and enjoy our babies. He wanted to be out and I wanted to be in.

I was young but I knew it was going to go fast, that we only had a small amount of time with them as babies. I stayed home with them instead of returning to work which gave us new financial worries. The pressure to provide and trade dreams for reality was hard on Steve. He still wanted all the things he did before but he is a responsible guy and knew he had a family to care for first.

We were so young.

I wanted those dream babies and we fought about it over and over. I never was able to convince him.

We would separate when Stevie was four. We couldn't agree on what was important. When I turned 27 I had a little bit of a melt down.

Two years later we reconciled, agreeing to put our family back together again. The baby argument began right away. Steve held strong for almost five years. In 1998 he got his dream job with the opportunity to travel all around the world. The kids were older so there was less demand on him to be home. He took the job and I had Noah.

It seemed perfect at the time. Then Stevie got sick.

Steve and I have always had an agreement. The house and kids were me. My job was to cook, clean, do laundry, shop, pay the bills, take care of the kids, school work, doctors appointments etc. His job was to work hard and take out the garbage.

I consider myself a feminist so part of me resented the traditional roles sometimes, especially when I didn't get enough sleep or had literally gone weeks without leaving the house. I hated asking him for help it made me feel like a failure. If I asked, and if he was available he would help.

I had dreams too. I thought I could do it all, and would do it all. It was much harder work than I thought. There were friends who had bigger houses, vacations and nannies. There were friends who had careers and parties. There were friends who wondered what the hell I did all day. I felt small sometimes. I missed the world outside.

At night when the girls were cuddled up in bed with me smelling like soap, milk and flowers I would feel like a shit for wanting anything more than that moment with them.

Although I had moments of self pity I also had moments of knowing that my turn would come. Maybe this was what I was meant to do and that could be enough. Being a parent is such hard work it is messy and heartbreaking but nothing, and I mean nothing feeds your soul like being a mother.

When Noah came...It was like he pulled us together. He is the glue in our family. I can not say enough how heaven-sent that boy is. Steve fought long and hard and he was sure that having a child would make our lives crumble...but he loves that boy with all his heart. We didn't crumble, Noah made us strong for what was to come.

Steve has now achieved all his dreams. He has jumped out of a plane, hang-glided, bungee jumped, swung from trapeze. He has traveled all around the world. He has a great job that pays him well. He owns a nice house. He has performed in theatres, has been in several independent films and is in a long-running commercial. His life is his, and he gets up every morning to play tennis (his favorite thing to do) has friends, watches football, eats meat (even though I would prefer us to be vegetarian) and sings with his friends and brothers.

I have been the person who has been behind the scenes, with the kids, creating a place for him to come home to. I am not perfect and I can be temperamental, moody and demanding. I am not the ideal wife, at times I am a terrible wife. If you asked Steve I think he would say that he wished I loved him better.

After Stevie died I stopped liking him. I think it was all too much and I could not handle his need and I resented his moving on so quickly. He is healthier than me in that way. He doesn't drag around old hurts and sad moments. He lets them go and moves onto the next. He has some kind of pain amnesia that I don't seem to have. It keeps him from getting stuck and being depressed.

I was learning to accept that three kids and the life we had was what the universe chose for me. It didn't mean that I gave up wanting a big family but I was getting older and Steve had a vasectomy so I didn't have a whole lot of choice. I could fill up that empty place in the nest with a career, maybe I would get to travel now or I could write a book.

I knew my family would not get bigger, but I didn't think it would get smaller. A dying child is never part of a life you dream for yourself, worse it is never what you dream for them.

Now I am trying hard to accept that this is my reality, what the universe has planned for me.

Now a baby is creeping in again. I admit I fantasize and pray that I can have Stevie back and that may be my main motivation. I have read that women who lose a child are usually pregnant inside a year. They are not trying to replace that child but the giant hole the loss of a child leaves is unbearable and a baby gives you hope and reason.

I try to explain to Steve that I am a woman like any other woman and this need is natural and normal. I am trying to honor it, I may not act on it but it deserves thinking about.

He is the same person he has always been and has the same arguments. He told me he would leave us if I tried to have a baby. He tells me that I am tired of parenting, burned out, that I need to move on. I think he is trying to punish me. He wants to be the person who gives me hope and reason and it hurts him that I am choosing a child that doesn't even exist over him.

I am not burned out, I am grieving the loss of a child. I am not the same me I was before because I feel broken. I still work hard. My heart, soul and body ache. I am trying to survive this.

There are ways to have a baby, even at my age, even without him. It wouldn't be responsible to do it perhaps but it would be even more wrong to let him try to frighten me. Every time I try to live the best life for me he threatens to leave. Maybe he should.

He loves me, the way he knows how to. He wishes that I would love him that same way but I don't. For me love is pure emotion, it is an environment, it is who and what we are in this moment. It is every second we have ever been. Love is pure and it needs and uncontaminated environment to grow. Love can't live where resentment, control, anger and fear does. Love is not sex, love is not need, love can not be demanded, or paid for. Love is not something you can talk yourself into.

For me I need love to feel passion, energy, peace, creativity, and strength.

Children understand it, they bring it with them and they teach it to us. Unconditional love heals like nothing else can.

I want a baby for some of the most important reasons and for some of all the wrong reasons. This decision should be mine, without fear, without guilt, without a price.

I feel like I am standing high on a mountain, at the very edge. I am all alone and there is something so important in this moment for me. It will take great faith to take the next step forward or back.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I dreamed we moved into a big house with many rooms. There was even a closet in a long hallway with a mop-sink in it! My bedroom had brown wallpaper with tiny little bunnies on it. I wasn't sure about it because they were bunnies and it was brown but the was something about it that was pretty. In a drawer I found pictures of that very room over time, and every owner had some kind of bunny wallpaper.

I asked you what room you wanted and you took me far away from mine and showed me a little room at the end of the house. I said, "You will be too far away from me I won't be able to hear you if you need me" You looked at me in confusion and I could hear you thinking, "I won't need you silly mom"

There was an old grampa who lived in the house, I guess he belonged to us, or came with the house I don't know but I like him. He looked like Vincent Price and had a Austrian accent.

Why do I dream the things I do?

In the dream you were there and I but I never did really see you, just knew it was you.

The opening was yesterday and it went well. So many friends came, it felt good to be supported. Everyone liked the shop. Your brother put on one of Sawsan's framing aprons and sold candy to his friends. TT rang everyone's purchases up and I floated around the shop talking to everyone. It felt unreal, like a dream.

I was so busy that I didn't have time to be sad or to even talk to you. Maybe that was best. Were you there Stevie, did you like it?

The Jennings bought us a huge Chinese dinner after closing. Shoshana looks so much like you and I find that comforting but I have stopped seeing you now that I know her, I see her and I like her. She seems so damn sad but I think she is an amazing person who doesn't know quite how amazing she is.

Aly didn't show, she can be so mean. I don't know why she is the way she is. I try so hard to like her and connect and it doesn't work. Her arrested development keeps me from liking her most days. I want so much for her like: a good school were she could learn to do what she is passionate about, great job she loves to wake up to, friends who inspire her, comfort her and love her. Someday I wish for her to meet a really great guy to be loved by.

What she wants is to be supported indefinately, freedom to do what she wants, when she wants without any consequence, a nose job, a boob job, more shoes, more jeans, a new car and money to fall from the sky.

I wish for her to be independent, happy, adventurous, loved, fulfilled. She wishes to be Paris Hilton.

Stevie how did this happen?

You and Noah are so grounded and smart. She is smart too but she pretends to be stupid so no one will expect anything from her. She hates me because I expect more and I can see through her silly game. I wonder when she will give in and grow up.

Your brother is going to sing a Jason Moraz song for the whole school. It is the song about words that you loved, the lyrics are in your scrap book from graduation. He heard the song on Dad's radio and loved it. He sings it so well.

My only complaint about the little man is that he can be stinky. You and Aly were never stinky. He is like a sweaty little puppy. He would go weeks without soap and water if we let him.

He loves to wear skinny jeans and those t-shirts you and I bought him a long time ago. They are way too small but he will not let me throw them away. He still has your Format robot T that you gave him for Christmas. Remember how it use to fit him like a night-shirt? Well, it now fits him like a regular shirt, the kid must grow while he is sleeping. When he wakes up his pants are always too short.

He is so much like you. I know he is not you, and he does not replace you, but he is definitely your little brother.

My "Falling in Love" Philosophy perfume is almost gone. I don't think they make it anymore. It reminds me of the way you smell. It also reminds me of your funeral, I sprayed it all over me so I wouldn't smell anything else, I just wanted you. You and I bought it at the Stanford Shopping Center when you were having treatment at Stanford. You wanted to go there all the time, you loved it, loved the shops...loved perfume, lotion, bubble bath and lip balms. We bought so much and I still have it all. I keep the Satsuma put away in a sealed box. I come undone if I smell it.

I miss you so much. How can a person be so lonely in a world of so many people. I am a very loved person and I am grateful but it isn't the same. My best friend in the whole world, my favorite person is not here like before. It sucks.

If you were here in your body you would be watching the Simpson's with Dad, Aly and Noah and I would be walking by the living room saying "Why do you guys watch that show is so mean and so full of sarcasm" The four of you would ignore me and I would keep putting away laundry and sneaking cookies.

You would be having fruit, eating it out of a little bowl. You would have some fat green grapes, an orange and maybe some cashiews. You would leave the bowl out, the peels in a napkin and a glass of something on the table. You would leave your shoes by the couch...The next day I would complain that you always leave a nest for me to pick up. I never minded Stevie, I loved your nests.

You would stay up late tonight and beat some old guys who think they are brilliant at Literati while you listened to MP3's. I would come out at about midnight and see you hunched over in this very chair humming and creating high point words.

Some nights I would stand there and look at you. I would wonder if you were happy. I know you enjoyed playing word games and listening to music. I know you loved to stay up late and have the house to yourself but were you happy?

I was happy to have you in my life, I was always madly in love with you, I still am. I always knew how lucky I was, I never questioned it. I also believed that my love could keep you here. Maybe it did but not forever.

Well my sweetest girl I am a tired mama. I got up very early this morning and all I want to do is lay in your bed and count sheep.

Sweet dreams honey-bunny, don't be too far away,
XXXXXXXXXXXOOOOOOOOOOO
mommy

Thursday, October 16, 2008


and here I am...

The moon was huge last night. I walked all the way to the dog park and up the hill to look at, to feel closer to you.

I also drove to the cemetery on my way home from Oakland. For the first time it didn't feel comforting or good, it felt out of place and unreal. You shouldn't be there and I shouldn't be going there. We should be here at home planning for the opening on Saturday. You should be drinking a latte and bugging me to take you shopping so you will have something to wear.

This morning you should be sleeping late because that is what you do, then you should take a long shower and get the bathroom all steamy and messy. You should leave the blow-dryer out and your clothes all over the floor. I should be yelling at you to turn the music down and hurry up if you are coming to the store with me, we need groceries.

At the store you should be buying things you have never tried before, things I know you won't like and cost too much but I know how happy it makes you to try new things, discover new flavors.

Then we will go to Bev-Mo and buy a case of Pink Champagne because we both think it's pretty. At lunch time we will grab some Thai and talk. I will look at you and think "My God you are beautiful" but what I'll say is, "Stevie I think you are from outer-space" and you will smile because you know what that means. You know that I think you are unique, special, too wonderful to be human. You know that I am so proud of you, so blessed to be your mommy, and I love it that you are smarter than me and care about so many things that other people just don't get.

These are not secrets, I tell you all the time but there are different ways to say it and over Thai food and a tall milky tea "You are from outer-space" is what you say. You always got me, we could speak without all the words in-between. I thought that after you left it would be the same.

The shop opens on Saturday and I want to believe you will be there, standing right next to me saying, "Oh Mom, it is so pretty, I love it" but I won't be able to hear the words instead I will have to search for something else.

I called TT on the way home from Oakmont and told her I couldn't do it anymore, that I didn't want to be here without you. I meant it. I do it though day after day. I have to I guess, that doesn't mean I am happy about it but it is what I must do. The choice doesn't feel like mine.

I got up really early this morning and stood out on the lawn. It was cold and the grass was wet from the sprinklers but the sky was so clear and perfect. The moon was bright and high and close to the three sisters in the sky. Tom and Cindy have put there house up for sale and I wonder if it is because they are afraid to live next door to a crazy lady who stands outside in the dark in nothing but a T-shirt and her nine year old bathrobe, talking to the sky and crying.

I think I might be tempted to move.

I tell you over and over how much I miss you, and love you. I think you must be sick of it but if you are you will have to find a way to tell me. I want to be were you are, I don't want you to be alone and I don't want to be here without you. In this world full of people I feel lost and alone without you.

If I have to stay maybe you can come back. I will find a donor and have a baby. I will be one of those mom's who looks like a gram. When you turn 21 this time I will be...old. I can take you in a backpack to the shop. You will grow up surrounded by cute things and eat candy for breakfast.

I don't know what it is like to be without a body. I don't remember it. If there is a God you are happy now and busy. They have good cold-pressed, free-trade coffee, organic fruit and showers that never get cold. You can sleep as long as you want and travel to places that only you know exist. You never have to be sick, condition your hair, or worry about losing a few pounds.

I see you on a bike riding down a beach where the sand is firm and the waves are all foamy. You hair is long and auburn and wild in the wind. You are laughing and riding fast, barefoot and wearing your old cable knit sweater.

This is what should be, me on the beach watching you, and you so happy, so very happy.

Mama 0

Monday, October 6, 2008

Little Cakes...


When I take a shower in the morning I write you little messages on the steamy glass of the shower walls. I started doing it because it was so hard to be in the shower with your collection of soaps and shampoos. I would cover myself with your cotton candy soap and write you love letters in the steam. I write simple lines about the little things that are happening at home and how much we miss you. I fantasize that the words some how find you. Maybe there is a parallel world were you never got sick, or I did instead and the words appear to you when you take a shower and they comfort you.

This morning I wrote to you about the little cakes I made out of clay, no bigger that a quarter, complete with frosting, berries, tiny nuts and leaves. They remind me of you, something you would hold in your hand that would make you smile. You must have put the idea in my mind while I was sleeping because I woke up with a need to make them.

The shop is opening soon, on the 18th. I can't believe I am doing this, I feel ill prepared. What do I know about retail? Some days I wake up wondering what the hell I am doing and then I think I feel you telling me, " Relax mom, breath, it's happening, and it will be OK"

This little store is something you and I have talked about. I hope I am doing it right. Oh Stevie I wish you were here in your body helping me, shopping with me, talking me through this. I can see you sitting at the little wooden table concentrating on a catalog or telling me how much pink is too much pink.

I am trying so hard to get Aly to be a part of this but she thinks it's stupid, a waste of time and money. She still doesn't like me, I am not sure she ever will. I miss having a daughter who wants to be with me, who loves the things I love, who is my friend and my keeper of secrets. Tell me you are still that person, just without a body of skin and cells.

I am calling the shop Tangerine. It came to me so easily, from the Format song I loved that I stole from you..."alas you are my tangerine, my pussycat my trampoline"

I had a dream about Andrew last night, that he was here for an event and I was telling him all about you and he loved the story and wanted to know everything...then I kissed him. Sorry but he is so very cute. I am not sure if he is so adorable because he is or if it is simply that you found him adorable and I can see what you did. Sorry I kissed him (more that once) it is wicked but it was a dream, how can I possibly be responsible for what I do when I am dreaming?

I promise not to kiss anymore of your rock star boyfriends.

Sweet girl, what am I going to do without your chubby cheeks and cuteness? I am trying to be happy with this new you, this mystery, this in the air, my heart, my mind you. I can love you in any form but it is frustrating for me. I want to touch you, hear your voice, buy you clothes, hear your music come from your room while you are trying to find your shoes and put your hair up in an elastic.

This new you is so ethereal. I am never sure, never.

I have so much to do today, the days are busy as they should be. Your brother is such a comfort to me. He does not replace you but he loves me so completely. He understands this, how I don't know. He came for a reason, maybe it was to save me, to give me a reason to stay and not follow you.

There is not a day that goes by that you are not part of in some way. I am holding you close puddin' so close. Stay with me when you can but not if it keeps you from heaven.

I love you, I love you, I love you,
mama

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weddings, Beaches and Blankets


My niece Braina was married on Saturday. The wedding was in southern California so we loaded up the car with pillows, bottled water, books on tape, luggage and began the long drive.

I think this is the first "family" trip we have gone on since Stevie left. It was very sad not having her there...the empty space was big. Aly got car sick as usual, Noah fidgeted, Steve drove and I found places to pull over and eat.

We stopped at the windmill and had Anderson's split pea soup for breakfast, yes they serve it as part of your breakfast and it's actually good, and I don't even like peas. We stuffed ourselves full of pancakes, omelets, buttered toast and hot chocolate then got back in the car for naps. Steve plugged into his IPOD and sang to himself for a couple hours.

The hotel was beautiful, a small resort in a very unlikely place. Our room opened up to the beach and we took advantage of the sand and water before our suitcases were unpacked. Noah was smacked by wave and "ate shit like a pro" according to Aly. He got a little mangled so I took him to the pool while Aly and Steve body surfed for a while.

Jeff and Sarah were checked in and having a coctail by the pool so we hung out with them until dinner. Dave brought Lisa and Mahina over for dinner and we all watched the debates. It was a groovy evening. My SIL Lisa is such a beautiful person, my favorite McMoyler sibling. She is everything her brothers are not. It is nice to be around her feminine, smart, and funny energy. He daughter Mahina took my breath away. I met her for the first time that evening but I felt like she had been a part of my heart and my life forever.

I felt connected to her in a very important way, there was something about spending time with her that comforted me. She completes a circle, a female circle that I can not explain. She is not just physically beautiful but gentle, kind and has an inner strength that you know is hidden deep inside her. She feels like family to me, and I know I have known her before.

The wedding was on a big green lawn in front of a harbor full of sail boats. There was a big paddle boat waiting for us after the ceremony and it slowly took us around the bay in circles while we danced, ate dinner and cake, and drank (a little too much).

Aly taught Noah how to dance to a slow song and I can still see his chubby little sticky fingers holding onto her dress at her waste while he looked up at her with the sweetest grin. She had her hand on his little shoulder and was looking down at him like mother looks at a child. She tells me she will never have children, she doesn't think she is mama-material but she is. She loves that boy with her whole heart.

Noah is late for school so this post is a little rushed, I am leaving out good parts but I promise I will get back to them on another day.

I wanted to be sure I wrote about the package that arrived last night. There was no card but I knew who it was from. My childhood friend owns a blanket company...it had to be her because inside this package was the most beautiful blanket. It was a woven portrait of Stevie, the night of the concert in her gold sweater. It is the picture where she looks like a grown-up, a picture that I only found after she was gone.

How Monica made it happen I still do not know but what a precious gift. It took my breath away, over and over again. Some part of me believes that Stevie and Monica had some kind of communication. Thank you Mona, you have found a way over miles and years to touch my heart.

Noah needs me to get him to school, I will post more later.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yesterday


I was in bed last night, it was dark and warm, a little too warm, and I was thinking that I should get up and write, talk about the day and tell my girl happy birthday. I fell asleep instead.

I was so tired from all the crying, and I did a ton of it. God and I had it out again.

The cemetery was so sunny, flowers at the graves so bright and pretty. The view there is incredible. It is hard to believe that is a place of such great sadness and all those pretty flowers mark a life, someone who is loved and missed.

I brought fall flowers; Japanese paper lanterns in orange, deep red Dalia's, blue cabbage roses, sunflowers in yellow and brown, creamy hydrangea, and pussy-willow. They were all silk but somehow they looked pretty enough to be real. On her marker I left fresh flowers from our garden, the last of the yellow glads, pink roses, lavender, purple rosemary, red bells... I also left the apples, grapes and Asian pears from the back yard.

I figure the deer will come and eat the fruit and flowers like they always do and I love the idea of a mama deer and her fawn nibbling peacefully near my girl.

I brought one of the pink cans of Sophia and toasted Stevie, I then poured the rest of the can over her grave. The sun was burning down on the grass and it began to smell sweet and fruity.
I sat with her like I always do while confused bees hovered and darted.

There is a boy with her exact birthday buried just across from her. I visit with her "neighbors" and tend their graves. I pull weeds, tidy up, and place the flowers from the previous month on a grave that is empty. Yesterday his grandparents were there and I spoke with them. They were beautiful, tearful and so sweet. They told me that he took his own life. A strong healthy boy with a scholarship, a quarter back on his college football team. He had a girl friend and was so loved that over a thousand people showed up for his funeral. He left no note. They still do not understand why he did it, he never seemed unhappy.

My heart understands pain and confusion, but I felt very angry. I kept it to myself. They asked how my girl passed and I told them that cancer took her body, that she wanted so much to live but it was too aggressive.

In my mind I said, "Matthiew you selfish little shit, you had everything and all you wanted to do was die, she had nothing, just pain and more pain and all she wanted was to live"

It is a terrible thing to think about someones child but I did.

Sarah called to tell me she was thinking about me and told me she spent the weekend in New York at a funeral for a cousin who killed himself at 23, I was angry all over again.

Anger is not going to bring her back or make me feel better but there it is like an ugly sore, I cover with a band-aid. I just have a hard time trying to make sense out of it. My heart tells me it is not for me to make sense out of, and my brain tells me that this is a bullshit scam.

I came home to yellow tulips...Teresa sent them. How she found them I will never know. They made me sob, they brought me to my knees. It was bitter sweet. Teresa understands this thing inside me. She has not lost a child but she loves me so my loss is her loss. She knows how deep this goes and she knows how to keep me from sinking but always honors my grief. It is good to know someone who is not afraid of your pain.

The tulips are in a blue milk glass vase that Julie sent me last year.

I am so worn out. Good things are happening and I am staying busy and working hard but there is something in me that is just worn thin and is having a hard time figuring out why I keep on keeping on. I would like to say it is because I am strong and determined, that Stevie got her strength and determination from me but the reality is that I am genetically designed to survive.

I have survived child abuse, two mentally ill parents, poverty, rape, and now this. I would relive the ugliest and most pain full parts of my life a million times if I could just have her back.

What I get instead is a heart that keeps beating, that keeps loving, and that keeps hoping.

I am a good person, but I am a broken person, but one that keeps moving forward.

I release the darkest things here but I live in the light, I have to, there is no other choice, to do anything else would not honor the life she fought so hard for.

We leave for Los Angeles. My niece Braina is getting married. I do not know how these kids grew up so fast. This is the first big family event for us. We have not traveled as a family since Stevie...it will be weird not having her in the car knitting and torturing Noah. We are not complete but we will all go and celebrate.

The wedding is on Noah's birthday so we are taking him to an amusement park the next day. He is pretty happy about it. Aly is strangely happy to be going, she usually hates doing anything with us. We are trying, all of us.

We will be on a boat for the reception that should be beautiful. Davie and Stevie have to be there, I cant imagine a heaven that would not let them. I will be looking for them everywhere.

Monday, September 22, 2008

21 and...


Some days go by, I wish I was famous
Or maybe religious, so I could go to heaven
Just like you
I can have a big house, complain about taxes
Payoff my ex'es, ain't that living
No one makes fun of me, cause I can't stand up for myself and I cross my legs like a girl

Woah, 21 and invincible
Woah, can't wait to screw this up
And woah, 21 and invincible
I'm in power for the hour
Guess today's gonna blow us away

I've got a girlfriend
She tells me she needs me
And she loves me
We'll probably get married
Oh no, and everyone will bit their tongues so hard they'll bleed

When mom hears this song
She'll tell me I'm crazy
And she'll say to me
"Son you're much too fun, go have some fun don't waste your youth like I did"

And woah, 21 and invincible
Woah, can't wait to screw this up
And woah, 21 and invincible
I'm in power for the hour
I guess today's gonna blow us away

And it's been autumn since the day that I met you
If I had bottomed, I'd crawl out alone
And I don't wish you know the secrets of summer at all

And woah, 21 and invincible
Woah, can't wait to screw this up
And woah, 21 and invincible
I'm in power for the hour
I guess today's gonna blow us away

This is a song Stevie loved...Andrews music. We went to the Fillmore in the city and watched him sing this when his hair was growing back and he was loving life and his fans. He deserved every bit of that energy those girls were pouring out to him.

My girl leaned against a pillar and sang every word, she was shy as hell but she loved a room full of sweaty people when live music was playing. I bought her a black sweatshirt that night. It was a zip up with a little silk screened "Jacks Mannequin" on it. I teased her, told her it was for me but she new I was lying.

I wear it now because it reminds me of that groovy night with my best girl, she was so happy.

Tomorrow would be her 21st birthday...

I will go to the cemetery alone. I just need to be close to her, to the body I loved so much.

On my 21st birthday I went to my aunts house, my family was there, my cousin made me a cake. Aly was still in diapers and the one she was wearing had failed and both of us were in ruined clothes. Steve and I had a big fight because I wanted to go home, he couldn't understand why it didn't feel like 21 I felt like 41. I had leaky boobs, smelled like poo and instead of a college keg party I was eating cake and cob salad while everyone watched TV.

Stevie would be born September 23rd, the year I turned 23. I can't believe I was a mother to two tiny kids when I was that young. Aly is 23 now...a puppy and a job is a challenge for her, I can't imagine babies, a mortgage and a difficult to please husband.

Would I change any of it?

Yes.

I would have waited until I was older, until we had more money, until I was an adult. I would have worn my seat belt the day we were in the car accident. I would have made them do an MRI when she was seven. I would have said no to radiation. I would have never yelled at the girls, even when I was on my period and they wall papered the bathroom with maxi-pads. I would have just ripped one off the wall to use and admired the beauty of the moment.

Would it have made a difference?

I don't know, but maybe in a parallel universe somewhere is a much happier me with two daughters just going through puberty, that are healthy and happy. Maybe that other me is relaxed and never loses her temper or worries about how well the dishwasher is working or how crappy school lunches are. Noah is still eight and has a mom that doesn't cry at night when everyone is in bed and Stevie picks on him for being a boy and being gross and loud.

In that other universe we live in a different house, one that has stairs and a real swimming pool. I run in the morning and come home to make big breakfasts for the kids before school. Stevie is well so she isn't as shy, she has more friends so she needs less of me. She and Aly are still at that stage where they are best friends, just like before, I am just the mom, the "her" in their before bed talks. I feel left out but I have no idea how beautiful that is.

Stevie never died, she went to college instead.

On her 21st birthday we had a big party and I baked an obscene cake and hired a garage band to play in our backyard under a tent. She and her friends got filthy drunk on cheap beer and all slept in sleeping bags on the floor.

I would love to live there, in that universe but I live here, someone has to, and I can't imagine breaking the other me's heart.

She is here, she has to be, I can't stop thinking about her. That black crow who called to me every morning, and seemed to follow me everywhere the first months is back. She is sitting right where she did before and she called to me this morning. I told her to tell Stevie I love her so much and that I didn't forget.

Sometimes this still doesn't feel real.

Don't pinch me, I want to believe it is a dream and I am going to wake up to Stevie yelling because Aly borrowed her silver flip flops and her Hula perfume. Noah will want cereal, Steve will be playing tennis and the terrible dream I had will stick with me most of the morning but it fades so quickly that I forget all about it by dinner.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The day you were born...


I remember how afraid I was, it was dark outside and the room was so bright. I remember how I couldn't really connect with what was happening. It happened so fast and there you were...

Dad and I went to the hospital alone, I never let anyone come when I had a baby, it's so intimate and private and I was selfish with the experience. The contractions came and went and I thought I had a long time, I was actually comfortable. It seems it went from" we are going to have a baby sometime soon" to "we are going to have a baby now" in a matter of minutes.

You were two weeks late but you came when you were ready, waiting for no one else to be ready.

I sat there thinking "Oh God I am never doing this again" You were such a big baby and you were in such a hurry all of the sudden. I yelled at the doctor, told him to give me drugs and he smiled and said, "this baby is coming now" I believe I dropped the f-bomb and pushed.

I could feel everything opening up against my will, skin burning from all the stretching. I had a moment when I wanted it all to stop, I didn't want to release you into this world of people and time, I wanted you to be all mine just for a little while longer.

A couple pushes I tried to fight and instinct told me I had to let go, so I did. I reached down and there you were warm, wet, heavy and pissed.

Oh you sweet girl, my sweet and most favorite person in the world. My heart was all yours.

It still is.

I fell in love with Aly and Noah when they were born, it was a strong intense thing, so natural, so primitive.

You frightened me with your strength and your knowing eyes. I could hear you talking to me, I could feel you telling me that this wasn't forever and this would all be hard work. You told me you needed me, and you never stopped telling me, I needed you too.

I still do.

The love I felt for you was deep and it consumed me, it literally took my breath away. I held onto you so tightly. I made you promise me you would never leave, that you would always be my baby and until the day you left you promise you would.

I promised you that if you died, I would too but I didn't keep that promise, I never knew it would be a choice, I just assumed my heart would stop, and it wouldn't.

The moon is so big tonight, and I feel you so close, but not close enough. For some reason your birth keeps playing in my head, so does the day you left.

They are both the same.

Your birthday is coming...

Do you stay 19 forever?

It is hard to imagine that someday Noah will be older than you, that new bands will form that you will never love, that Jodi Piccult will keep writing books you will never read. I will grow old without knowing what your babies would look like, without sharing anymore secrets with you.

I am tired tonight. I am tired of trying to believe, tired of saving "signs" in a note book to prove something to myself. I am tired of missing you and I want you back, this is too hard. Time is not magic, it doesn't make this go away it just makes all the real stuff seem far away.

Where are you and why aren't you here with me?

I am so lonely for your voice, for you presence in this house, for your books, and you music, for you sitting next to me in the car, or you holding onto me while we walk. No one can take your place, no one comes close. No one is you.

One day, that is all I want just one day with you. You wouldn't have to give away God's secrets, you could just be here where I can touch you, kiss your cheeks and know you are OK. I would memorize it and make it last. I just want to know you are somewhere.

You can stay 19 and I will grow old but I have to know.

My love, my love, my sweet lovey-girl,

I love you so much bunny,
mama

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September...


I can't believe it is September.

I woke up this morning with vivid memories of the eleventh. It was 2001 and Stevie and I got up very early. She had radiation at John Muir scheduled that day. She didn't know that Steve and TT had taken the day off and at home everyone would be waiting with balloons. It was her last day of radiation and she was puffed up like a steroid balloon. She had been so brave through it all, and it was scary.

She was saying good-bye to the techs she that had adopted her. She was the youngest patient and they had seen her everyday for six weeks, she kinda grew on them, she was glad to never see them again.

The waiting room was somber, the ride home was quiet, the air seemed to be humming quietly. We came home to balloons and the television showing a plane smashing into the twin towers. We went from celebrating to jaw dropping disbelief in a matter of seconds.

We cancelled our drive to the city and our plans for Joe's Crab Shack and the pier. We sat at home instead and watched it all happen again and again. The town seemed to shut down.

Stevie had her Make-a-Wish trip planned for that week, in New York, we called and cancelled it.

We ordered Chinese and huddled. I remember writing to my online support group that it felt like the whole world had a brain tumor.

Today those families gather to remember the loved ones lost, that terrible day, and the insanity of that time. They stand where it all happened, cry and wonder what it would be like if they could turn back time and change one little thing.

All around them the world moves, vibrates, and hums. Life continues, new babies are born, there are new people doing those old jobs in different buildings now.

I understand this pain, it is collective. Loss is a consciousness I belong to now and even though it seems that the whole world has forgotten there are those of us who stand completely still in this moment remembering.

For me it isn't about flags, wars and revenge. It is simply learning to live with a change in reality, empty spaces, and the knowing that nothing is solid or permanent, shit happens...

Good happens too.