Wednesday, September 24, 2008


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 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?


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,

Thursday, September 11, 2008


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.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

little girls with great big eyes...

I am trying so hard to remember the dream I had last night. I know that I was at my neighbors house, it was bright, there were yellow walls and it was infused with light. She was there and she had dark hair and tanned skin that was firm and young. She looked like she was in her fifties. She was happy and animated and I couldn't believe it.

I ran home to tell everyone that Mable was home and the house was beautiful, when we all got there Earl was there too. I didn't see him but I knew he was there. Somewhere in all the excitement there was Stevie. I can't remember exactly how or why but she was there and I was so happy, and I mean so, so, so happy. I just kept saying "Oh my God it's you, oh Stevie, oh Stevie" I kept hugging her and kissing her over and over.

In real life the house down the street is dark now, the once well manicured mature garden is a mess of little white wire borders that make no sense and random flowers planted in no order.
An East Indian Family moved in a couple years ago after Mable and Earl died. They are nice enough but I miss the neighbors who would sit outside and tell us all about the neighborhood when it was new. Mable told me some of the most beautiful stories about love and family that now live inside me as if they were my own stories.

I remember in the dream talking to Mable who looked more like pictures of my Mother-in-law who I never met. She was telling me that she kept getting younger but she was taking her time she wanted it all to last a long time.

I awoke this morning trying so desperately to access my mental magnifying glass so I can zoom in on the Stevie part. I know Aly was there and I know everyone was watching as I just gobbled Stevie up like I was a woman dying of thirst in a desert and she was a single drop of water that fell from the sky.

Noah got up for school, the house started buzzing and there is always so much to get done. While Noah was brushing his teeth I decided to pick up some things in my studio (a spit in the ocean) to make a path for myself. On the floor there was a pad of paper. I remember buying it a very long time ago for Noah. I have no idea why it was in my studio and why it was were it was but I picked it up ready to throw it out and on the preprinted cover is a small child's hand drawing a picture for his mom and he has written "I Love You" on it.

I opened the tablet, which has about four sheets of wrinkled paper left in it and on the first page there is a drawing of three little girls with great big eyes. They have long skinny legs and fly-away hair. One is holding an apple, one is holding flowers. They are delicate pencil sketches Stevie did. I don't know when she did them but there they are and my heart is so full.

She keeps trying to find me, to tell me she is here.

Stevie ,

I hear you, I am right here sweetness, where I have always been and I am listening. It will be your birthday this month, if you were in your body you would be 21. If you were here in your body we would drink champagne from a straw out of the pink Sophia's you were saving for a special occasion. They would probably taste like vinegar now but we wouldn't care. TT would want to take you to some seedy casino, Aly would want to take you to an equally seedy club.

Why is it when a child turns 21 the goal is always to offer them vices. It is like saying welcome to being an adult pick your poison, your old enough to start ruining your life.

I would take you to the forest, to big basin. I would pack a big picnic full of your favorites and we would collect moss, and rocks. I would take you shopping at an old bookstore and let you fill the car up with novels. At night we would drive to the beach and watch the phosphorescent waves crash and stare up at the big fat moon. We would have a late dinner and I would buy you the most incredible gourmet feast.

We would drive home listening to your music, and you would fall asleep, and I would be the luckiest mom in the whole world.

Thank you for the three little girls, you know what they mean to me, three is a magic number.

I love you too.