Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Falling into place...


It is Sunday, the sun is out but the air is cool and crisp and tastes like winter is coming. It is a good day.

I got an email from a woman who is willing to give us embryos. We spoke with her some time ago but they chose another family who also lost a daughter, That family is now pregnant (and I wish them happy healthy babies)...and there are still embryos remaining. If we want them they are willing to gift them to us.

I have been holding my breath since I read the email.

I told Steve and after a long talk that lasted most of the night and some of the morning we decided we would go for it. He is worried about his age, worried about money, worried about everything there is to worry about. He knows this is what I really want and that I am very sure. He loves me and wants me to have this chance. He will continue to worry but I think it is what we do as parents. We worry so much because we want so much for our children. We know that in a blink of an eye everything can change, we need to be their hero, protector, teacher, friend.

Steve was 41 when Noah was born and his father was 43 when his younger brother was born. I think it will be fine. We have enough of everything...when we had the girls we had nothing and we did just fine. I know this will be good for our family, it will help us heal, love is a powerful thing. I know, know, know this will be good for me, for so many reasons.

We are older now than we were when the girls were born but we also own a home and business, we are smarter, stronger, wiser, we have worked out all the bugs, we understand kids, know what to expect and don't sweat the small stuff anymore.

We have also been married for twenty five years and there are days I would like to run away from home but bake instead. We are both active, work hard, we are healthy and my genetics promise me a 100 years if I look both ways before I cross the street.

These embryos are not a sure thing, they have hurdles to jump and so do I. They have to survive the thawing process, my body has to be prepared. They have to implant and my body has to embrace them. They have to continue to grow and my body has to nourish them.

My prayer is that it all turns out like it should.

I asked for one good thing and good is raining all over me today.

I thank these donors with all my heart. I am not sure if they know how much this gift means to me and how they are changing lives and building families. I asked the universe for a chance, and with thier help I am getting it.

So cross your fingers and toes for us, send up a prayer if you are so inclined, good thoughts are welcome too.

Now I am going to get my little guy outside we have a new RC helocopter to fly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Emily


I opened my email tonight, from T a short note "I just read on PBT that Emily passed away".

My heart sank.

When Stevie was diagnosed a joined a support group for parents that were caring for children who had brain tumors. It isn't a club anyone wants to belong to and when I first joined I could not believe I was a member really. I would sit there and cry feeling so sad for these families and all they and their children were forced to endure.

One night I reached out, it isn't easy for me to do that, I like to feel strong and in control even when I know I'm not. I would rather hug someone than to be hugged.

I remember going to the movies back then and there was a St.Judes spot they ran before the film. I cried, my sister felt terrible for me, I turned to her and said "I just don't know how these people do it" She reminded me that I was doing it and it hit me, "Oh my God we are one of those families, my kid has cancer, I am a cancer mom, this may not go well"

I made many friends on that list, what usually happens though is that when a child transitions to the next world that parent also transitions to the next part of their life and we lose track of them when they do. Then just as fast another parent posts, terrified, a million questions, needing someone to hold them up because they can't sleep or eat or figure out what to do next.

We were all falling apart but we somehow managed to hold each other together, I don't know how, love is a powerful thing.

I soon became a moderator and met two amazing people who remain in my heart to this day. They still keep this list running, making sure there is always someone to greet a new parent, they offer advice, resources and will call you at the hospital at two in the morning if they think you are melting down and Melt down I did.

When it was Stevie's turn to transition I left the list.

Teresa and Julie would not let me go. They kept me, held on to me and saved me. They were like a tag team without even knowing it. These two women who didn't even know my first name just an ID on a computer screen reached out and made sure that I knew I was loved and I was not alone.

Tulips arrived over and over I still have no idea how they found them. T made a book out of my posts, wrote me every morning and became my guardian angel. Julie wrote me posts, called me and kept me in a place that felt as normal as possible, kept me human. She made me laugh, she shared her life with me, she supported me with cards and flowers and little gifts that touched my heart.

It has been three years.

Julies daughter Emily has left for pink skies.

I want to wrap her in my friendship, give her back what she has given me. Tonight I will light a candle and say a prayer that Emily is being welcomed home by all the people who love her and have been waiting so long for her return. I will say a prayer for Julie and her breaking heart.

Julie my sweet friend I love you so, I am here...this is a new club, like the one before no one wants to belong to it, but once again we are bonded, strengthened and healed by the very thing that has broken us.

You are not alone, you are loved and your sweet girl has broken free from that cocoon and can finally spread her wings...her task here complete. They are everywhere my friend, everywhere.

Gabriell

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Everywhere...


Rain is starting to fall, tiny drops that lead to big fat ones that lead to puddles and shiny roads. Fall is here Stevie, one of our favorites. If you were here you would make me buy you yarn so you could start knitting hats and scarves for Christmas. You would be so happy because Pumpkin Lattes would be available at the coffee shops and we could start baking treats in the kitchen.

I bought ugly pumpkins this year the kind that have warts and greeny stripes. I'm not sure how we will carve them but like most years we might not even get around to it and they will stay on the porch for Thanksgiving. Remember when Sarah use to paint them gold for Christmas? I loved that.

November is almost here and with it come the memories...it's like that now everything reminds me of something we did, we should be doing, I wish we could do again or I wish never happened. My life is a series of little events (some big ones) all linked together by a chain I can't see but feel deep inside.

Dad now thinks a baby might be a good idea after all the tears, all the roadblocks he put up, all the arguments...he shut down the factory, sent everyone home now he wants to turn the lights back on and save the day. It is too late. He doesn't understand how these things work and it makes me mad, sad, frustrated. He has no concept of time or urgency, to him everything and everyone stands frozen until he decides what he wants and when he wants it. I think he is just afraid I will really leave now that there is nothing left for me to stay for. He can't see I left a long time ago.

I really thought you could come home and if you couldn't maybe you would send someone I needed, that would need me. You know how my heart works, I need to be needed.

I crave family it is what my heart was made for, even my body was created for it. At 45 I can still have a baby, nothing has changed, it has always been easy for me, I have always loved being a mom. I am not sure what I am if I am not. There are other facets but being a mom is the on big shiny one in the middle, on top, most important, all the rest on the sides support it, bring light, help it to shine brighter.

Someone suggested foster care and I love the idea of being that person but I also know I could not let a child I love go. I don't know how to love a child just a little, it's selfish so maybe the job isn't for me, my heart can't do anymore breaking and letting go. I need something to hold onto for a little while.

The store is still here and today I sit quietly at my desk looking out at the rain, watching the cars pass by, drinking tea and thinking about you and how you are hidden all over it. On days like today I can imagine your spirit floating around the shelves, moving in and out of little cupboards and doors like Tinkerbell. You would love the gumballs and flying monkeys, the big orange chair and the funky jewelry. You would want me to order more candy and gifts made by geeks...I wish this was enough but it isn't.

Where are you?

When I got in today a customer had left a gift for me, a small box wrapped in orange ribbon, inside it a lovely necklace she made. She came in a couple weeks ago and we talked, she listened more than I did and I gave her a copy of Pink Sky. She is a writer of children's book who is hiding in corporate America. I wanted to encourage her to follow her passion.

Her story was bigger than I knew and she shared the book with someone she loves who lost a daughter...

The necklace had little floating letters on a chain that said "Everywhere" and on the clasp was a single pink bead.

I needed something good to happen and she made my day. I am overwhelmed with the kindness of people sometimes. She wanted to thank me...she has no idea what a gift it is for me to be able to talk about you, to let one more person know you, know your name, to keep you real.

You were in my dreams last night, you whispered "mom" and I was watching you make a little tunic out of green fabric with pink embroidery, it was simple and sweet and very you. In my dream I wished I paid more attention to every single thing you did. I didn't know how important it all was and how it would be all I had left...those memories.

I would give anything to time travel, even if it was only for a minute, just to touch you, kiss your cheeks, listen to your voice.

I love you so much bunny, so very much...it is so hard to not be near you.

Please be in Heaven, please be waiting for me.

Mama

Friday, October 1, 2010

This is a blog about living with loss...well I guess it's about a lot of things and maybe nothing really...

I woke up this morning realizing that I am not me anymore. I don't even look like me. I have days where life seems almost normal but not my normal, like I skipped over into a parallel universe and I am living a life that is almost exactly like mine but not really. I would have liked to stay where Stevie never died but I guess this me would still be here in this hurting place.

For me everything broke when Stevie left. It started cracking when she was diagnosed but I was able to hold us together with hope and make-a-wish trips, I was able to pretend for both of us, for all of us that we just needed this journey to bring us closer to something bigger and at the end of the road would be a healthy kid who endured this gigantic thing and someday it would be her story to tell. I never let myself truly believe that I would be sitting in front of a computer writing my story, well her story, our story.

For those of you who have not lost a child...

I understand that losing a pet, a friend, a grandparent or even an aging parent is difficult, painful and has it's own process, but losing a child is a different animal. I am not saying my grief is more than yours, if you have ever lost someone you love grief is grief but again this breaking is something different it has to do with the order of things, it's primal, it goes against what we are made out of as mothers.

Unfortunately I know a lot of mothers who have a lost a child who have also lost a husband, parent, and or best friend and they say that the loss of a child feels like your own death.

Forgive the drama but anyone who is a parent has had the scary dreams, the worries, the emergency room visits what I am going through is the thing you fear most. We are designed to protect and love our children it is so much a part of who we are that we can not really separate ourselves from them completely even when they have children of thier own.

When your child dies a part of you dies. For some people all of you dies, life is too unbearable. I understand that level of pain, all of us who have lost a child do. If you havn't I am betting that it isn't too hard to imagine.

My point is that life breaks when the your child takes her last breath, you break, and I am not sure you ever really recover from that, I think it's permanant. I know a woman who I connected with when Stevie was having radiation, her 8 year old son did not survive treatment and I watched her die, her skin changed color, her eyes her voice and the way she walked. She lost her ability to dream, to hope, to want anything, her will was destroyed. She now has chronic pain, does not leave the house unless she has to and has become invisable in her home.

There is a spectrum to this as there is with all things, I am broken but I endure because I am designed to. That does not mean I don't crash and burn, I think it's what saves me. I honor my grief. That is hard for some people to understand, they think OK you lost a kid but you have the rest of your life to live, you have other children at some point you get over it and get back to business. They grow tired of this new you that isn't as much fun, that doesn't laugh at the old jokes, that might not find the little things important anymore. You have joined a club they would never want to pay the dues to join. They need you to be you, thier friend but you have changed in a way that they can not understand.

I had an event at my store, it was big and wild and it was a great distraction but I found it hard to be there 100%. I had dinner out with wonderful and interesting people but I felt the need to fade into the background when my default is to be front and center.

Is this growth? Is this new me going to be a better me, a stronger and more certain me or am I turning into my own kind of ghost?

It is all about changes, I have shed my old self and new skin is growing, I am turning into a different person. I am excited and frightened. This new me will have to be strong because I will always carry my daughter inside me, every memory, every morning, every whispered secret, the smell of her, all of her.

I want the old me back, I want my daughter back, I want to time travel back to a place where cancer had not knocked down the door. What I have is this and I am learning to live with broken, learning to accept change, trying very very hard to understand that my grief will always be a part of me but it does not have to be all of me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Golden


When the girls were little they made up something called a Golden Birthday, not sure if they originated the concept but they discovered it and introduced me to it. This is when your age and birth day match...For some reason this is a magical reason to celebrate extra big and they use to plan how they were going to do it. Stevie had no idea back then that she would not live to see her golden birthday, or maybe she did but knew they would honor it in heaven.

Today my girl would be 23, this is her golden year, her golden earth birthday.

Happy Birthday Stevie. If you were here, sleeping in your bed I would be up like I am now writing in my journal, remembering the day you were born, telling you how much I love you, how proud of you I am and how wonderful my life is because I get to share it with you.

I would bake a cake while you were still asleep so that when the sun came up it would smell like chocolate. I would bake a vegan cake, get the recipe from Teresa, decorate it with daisies and stick 23 little pink candles on top of it. I would cover your bed with rose petals so you would wake up like a princess. I would make you a bubble bath, stack a pile of new books all wrapped in shiny paper next to the tub for you to discover. I would stick the towels in the dryer so they would be nice and warm when you got out.


We would spend the day doing what ever you want, maybe take a last minute flight to Tahiti or Thailand. We would lay on beaches, eat beautiful things. I would make you a crown out of seashells, I would rub your feet with oil, I would wrap you in my love and never let anything bad happen to you.

We would watch the sky turn pink then find a concert under this big fat full moon, We would take a long boat ride under a sky of stars. We wouldn't sleep until the sky turned gold, the sun came up and the first day of Autumn turned into the second day.

I love you so much sweet girl.

This morning I got up and lit candles, one on the front porch for you to see from heaven, and one in the living room next to the picture of you in a white t-shirt that we took when we thought everything was going to be OK. Your hair was blond, cut into a bob, you still had a little girls body, but the eyes of a very old soul: so blue they were almost white, long dark lashes...sometimes when you looked at me I could feel the answers to everything.

Today I will cry...because I miss you so much, because I wish you were here, because I tried to have a baby so I could bring you back and it didn't work, because I can't kiss your cheeks, because it feels so unfair and so wrong that you are not sleeping in that big bed waiting to start the day.

I will go to the cemetery and bring you new flowers. Today I chose red Iceland poppies, yellow Dalia's, creme crepe myrtle, and a deep purple flower I don't know the name of. It is beautiful at Oakmont, so many people go there to walk because it is so lovely, I think you would love knowing that is were your body is. You are at the top of the hill in one of the newest gardens, next to the dry river bed. There are oak trees, lavender, purple and red bell flowers, roses, that long English grass carefully planted in tufts.

I will bring a blanket, and I lay next to you, I talk, cry, sing terribly. I will carefully arrange your flowers and apologize that they are made out of silk. The deer will eat the fresh ones and all that will be left are dried stems, and the silk stay pretty and colorful until the next time I come.

I spoke to a psychic that said that I didn't have to go there, that you are with me all the time. I hope you're not with me all the time, how terribly boring for you. I do wish that once in a while you curl up next to me in your bed and dream with me, or you sit next to me on the sofa and hold my hand while we watch something cheesy on television. I imagine sometimes that you hold onto my arm like you use to while I walk down 4Th street or cruise the isles at the bookstore.

Where are you Golden girl? What are you doing in heaven today? The sun is getting ready to come up here, and the moon is still big and full in the sky, is it enough magic to bring you home, just for a second so we can give you birthday kisses?

Stevie it is so hard to be here without you. I try so hard to believe in all the things my heart tells me to but I am so damn human, and it hurts.

I remember your last birthday, the Thai place in Benicia, family, big cake, the espresso machine I paid too much for but the smile on your face was so worth it. I have a photo of you from that day, you were so beautiful, drinking a tall Thai tea, laughing and being silly with your sister. I didn't know that would be the last birthday, I just didn't know.

*************************************************************************************

I stopped writing to go outside and watch the sun come up. I wrapped myself in a furry pink blanket we always took to the hospital with us. I stood outside my feet bare in the cold wet grass, my heart heavy with emotion. I watched the sun rise slowly over the foothills to my right as the full moon began to sink behind the foothills to my left. For a little while they both hung in a bruise colored sky surrounded by wispy pink clouds. I searched the universe for a message, searched my soul for a way to forgive God for this moment that was so beautiful and painful at the same time.

I am here on this planet; wet grass, a sun that is a clock, a moon that makes promises, in a body that has a broken heart and restless soul that aches. Where is my girl?

I keep searching, I keep waiting, I keep praying that this all has meaning and one day I will understand it.

Today is your birthday sweet. I would give you anything, anything at all. I wish I could give you my body for the day. You could come home and eat cake, read your old books, talk to your brother and sister, play scrabble, drink coffee, ride a bike, run in the grass, go to the beach. Even if it meant I would miss the whole thing because I would be asleep somewhere deep inside myself. Just knowing you were here and got to do your favorite things...

I am guessing heaven is a whole lot more exciting...

God I wish you were here, just for a moment.

A million kisses bunny, a million kisses best girl, I love you, I love you, I love you...

Happy Golden Birthday,

Mama

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's summer...


It is the middle of summer and the stars are falling; a meteor shower just in time for Aly's birthday. It was 25 years ago those stars brought me this girl, this mystery this first child of mine.

She was born at 5:26 in the morning, I had been in labor all night, turning inside out with the pain and the fear that I did not know what do with. The experience was bigger than me, bigger than anything I had known. Then right before the sun came up she was here and everything was different, I was no longer a child, I was a mother.

Aly was a surprise, one I was not ready for but never an accident or a mistake. It is my belief she arrived just when she was suppose to. I was terrified and young but always sure.

For nine months my body stretched and changed. I vomited everyday for 41 weeks, and was always mesmerized by the baby mermaid living inside of me swimming and swimming all night, singing a song that only I could hear. I dreamed she would be born with long hair, I dreamed that she fell out of the sky and landed in a bath full of bubbles, I dreamed she could speak and had teeth.

When she finally arrived she was warm and wet, bigger than I imagined and she was real, a head of curly auburn hair, lips like a favorite kiss, and a boo-boo face when she cried that she still has.

I was overwhelmed but in love. Someone switched on the next part of my life and the gears and levers began to turn. I knew what to do instinctively: how to nurse her, bath her, dress her, hold her. I never hesitated, I went without sleep just so I could watch her breath, and every morning felt like Christmas morning, she was a gift waiting for me to discover.

Now she is a woman with long legs, big brown eyes, and a laugh that is contagious. She can be moody and mean and every day I wish we were closer. She is a person separate of me, having experiences that don't include me. She doesn't tell me her secrets, we have never been that mother and daughter but I can still comfort her when she is sick, I can be the person she calls when everything falls apart and I am happy to be that mama.

I am proud of her. I don't tell her that because I have always felt like I needed to push her to do just a little bit better. I know her better than anyone, I know what she is made out of, what she is capable of and I know why she won't move forward when she should. As much as she wants to be her own person, as much as she tried to grow up early, she is our baby and she needs to be here surrounded by people she can trust, wrapped in a love she can not destroy no matter how hard she tries.

She was the woman that was with me when Stevie died, we bathed her and kept her safe while she made her transition, the three of us, three women bonded by love, blood, and sorrow. It was always the three of us, me and my girls...

Long ago we would cuddle up in a big bed while the snow fell outside and crept into the old wooden windows to freeze our eyelashes. We kept each other warm and shared dreams. She and her sister taught me about fairies, magic, and how real love survives anything that stupidity, anger and fear can throw your way. We rescued ugly Christmas trees, ate oatmeal for dinner and bought thick socks with colorful stripes.

Without these two girls I would not be the person I am today, without Aly I would not have survived the loss of Stevie. She is private about her grief, once in a while she leaks a little, get's mad and goes back to being private. I understand it, I wish I could fix it but this belongs to her.

She doesn't believe she was there for her sister but she was, she was always Stevie's friend and protector. No one knew Stevie better than Aly, and no one loved Aly more than Stevie.

Today she is 25, She woke up with a hang-over from a night out with friends eating sushi and slamming saki-bombs, a very different 25 than mine. She does all the things I never did, she isn't afraid of anything, she knows how to live big, laugh at everything that is funny (and sometimes not) and experience everything.

It will be a quiet day with a celebration dinner tonight, I miss birthday cakes and barbies wrapped in shiny paper. What we have now is different but I love watching her smile, I love listening to her tell a story about someone at work getting "Jelly-Boxed", and I love knowing she is my daughter.

Happy birthday Aly, thank you for being my family, my daughter and for living a life on your terms.

You are You.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sleep


It has been a long day. I am sleepy and the sun is still up, if I were a napper I would be sleeping on the couch in the sun room where there is a late afternoon patch of sun keeping it warm. I can't seem to nap, it makes me grouchy my body isn't sure what to do with sleep that isn't quite sleep, it doesn't understand light, sleep and waking up to get through the last part of the day.

What I do is push through the day with that heavy feeling you get in dreams where it feels like you have legs made of sand. I will eat to stay awake and ask myself over and over "is it 9:30 yet?" That is another small problem I have, I won't go to bed before that time no matter how tired I am. I am afraid going to sleep early will become a habit and I will start eating dinner at 4:00 with the seniors at Denny's, wake up at some ungodly hour to pee and make tea, sit in the dark alone, listen to the radio...Oh so not attractive to me.

So I will torture myself, stay awake, eat some chocolate, watch something horrid on television like "The Bad Girls Club" or hulu old episodes of Glee (which is actually one of my favorite secret crush TV shows).

Sleep, sleep, sleep...

I had a few VIP visitors at the store today, special guests that really made my day. In-law-cousins who live up in Olympia (who I was too afraid to drop in on when Noah and I went up last month). They were at the end of their long road-trip-vacation we got lucky and were able to share a meal and talk. Neil and Jamie are so nice, so comfortable. They are the kind of people you feel like you have known forever. They have a 15 year old son who reminds me of someone I can't name, he has an adorable Peck face and is a super witty guy. Teenagers can be a drag, all those hormones and moody stuff, he is different, a super nice boy, smart, interesting...I hope Noah is as sweet when he is his age.

Jamie is married to Steve's cousin she is a mom, she knows all the right things to say, she hugs just right and if I were in labor or having a bad day she would be the person I would like holding my hand, she has that "everything will be all right" vibe. I dig it, everyone should know someone just like her, I am a lucky girl.

I am missing Stevie. I always miss her but today I really-really miss her. I wrote her a note on the shower door in the steam asking her what she is doing, telling her I miss her and love her and I scribbled a million XXOO XXOO XXOO's

There is a Jason Mraz song called "Sleeping to Dream" it has been playing in my mind all day.

It has been a wonderful day, renewed family connections, plenty of Noah time, a great day at the store, a long ride on the Yamaha, and tonight a nice long sleep where I will dream of girl who stole a horse.


(Jason Mraz's song, Sleeping to Dream About You)

And I
I'm dreaming of sleeping next to you and feeling like a lost little boy in a brand new town
I'm counting my sheep and each one that passes is another dream to ashes
And they all fall down.

And as I lay me down tonight
I close my eyes
What, what a beautiful sight

[Chorus:]
Sleeping to dream about you
And I'm so damn tired
Of having to live without you
But I don't mind
Sleeping to dream about you and I'm so tired

I found myself in the riches
Your eyes, your lips, your hair and you were everywhere out there
I woke up in the ditches, I hit the light and I thought you might be here
But you were nowhere
Oh you were nowhere at home

And as I lay me back to sleep
Lord this love I pray, that I can keep

[Repeat Chorus]

It's just a little a lullaby to keep myself from crying myself to sleep at night
Oh just a lullabye to keep from crying myself to sleep
Oh just a, just oh, just a little lullabye,

Sleeping to dream about you
And I'm so damn tired
Of having to live without you
And I'm so tired

[Repeat Chorus]

Well I'm so, I'm tired
I'm falling, I'm so tired, I'm so tired

Monday, July 19, 2010

Georgia calls...


I had a reading with Georgia O'Connor today. If I wasn't sceptical, if I wasn't so afraid of being gullible, if I didn't worry about everyone thinking I was a nut-job for paying a psychic to tell my daughter is in heaven then it would have been a really good reading.

I love the paranormal how could I not when I have a daughter who no longer has a body. I love the idea of people being psychic, I understand instinct and intuition and how powerful it is, ask my kids, I have eyes in the back of my head, ask my husband, I bust him a mile away when he is up to no good.

I explore the possibility of alien life, a quantum universe, and metaphysics blows my mind. I have a crushes on a nerdy physicists and all the theories they bring to the table, all ways they explain how the universe works and even if they are scientists they still believe in something bigger even if it is just a universe full of more universes.

Today I was a weeping mother on the other end of a telephone conversation with a woman who claims she can see past the veil. It was out-of-body, there were too many emotions and feelings and fears.

I was excited, embarrassed, hopeful, and cautious. I tapped the top of Noah's cell phone, I picked at little lint balls on the bed, and I contemplated painting my toenails while I waited for the 1:oo call to come in. I was at ease the moment I picked up the ringing phone and she said my name. She was feeding her baby and talking to my daughter and the things she told me started giving me hope. I thought maybe I slipped up somewhere and she googled me and I was chumped.

I wrote down everything she said, I cried, I wondered, I tried to convince myself for just one moment I was actually on the phone to the other side and Stevie was talking to me. I couldn't ask questions, all I could do was listen, I didn't want it to stop, I couldn't get enough. I wanted her to tell me things no one else knew but she didn't. We are all humans and mothers who lose children all share the same pain, we do the same things, we have the same worries and needs.

I remembered to get a new email account, to use my maiden name, to have her call a phone different than my own. I paid with my fathers credit card. My sister later pointed out that the phone I used was a phone I paid for and even though it was Noah's I came up on caller ID. Damn...I will never be a secret spy.

She said a few things that could be googled like Stevie's name, the reference to her brain, the rain, and sipping a drink from a coconut. She also said a few things that confused me, they felt like things my grandmother would say (according to the psychic my grandmother, grandfather, and father in law where all there ready to communicate). Some of the things she told me were things that were important to me but I did not expect her to bring up. I chalked a few of those up to common things that come up for the grieving.

She was kind, she was soothing, she did her best to let me know I was loved, not alone, and that I would be with my daughter again, who by the way was happy where she was. It is more than some therapists have to offer, the price is similar the results are better, I vote psychic.

Was it real? I don't know. I have a lot to digest, too much to think about. If it isn't and I believe it I really don't lose a thing. If I refuse the comfort then I miss an opportunity for healing.

She didn't try to sell me another session or sell me a potion to get rid of a curse. She actually told me that my daughter thought it was ridiculous for me to be talking to a psychic when we had been communicating so well without one. She told me things I knew but needed to hear like: My daughter loved and missed me, that she was happy, that I was her best friend, that every time I asked if it was her, it was. If my little tape player worked better, if Noah's speaking phone was a little more powerful I would have recorded all of it and played it over and over before bed.

I am still processing all of this, I will take what I need and neatly store the rest away in a safe place. Even though I am skeptical I have an open mind, even though I am curious I am not gullible, it was a good reading, a very good reading.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Turtle


I'm coming back to my girl by July...

-andrew mcmahon


It's July, we have had a couple hot days but for the most part it has been a mild summer. I am guessing the heat will arrive late when school starts and Noah wants to wear his new jeans and a sweater to school, I will force him to wear shorts and he will think I am mean.

We had my aunts 70th birthday here last week, it was nice, not sure how she felt about it, it was a surprise and she seemed a little overwhelmed. Her Colorado kids, grand kids, and great-grandson arrived and surprised her a couple days before the party and we had one of her best friends from third grade here. We gave a her a computer, made a video of her life, and bought a big cake with bright blue flowers all over it.

My aunt is a planner, a little OCD and likes to hold the pencil if you know what I mean. I didn't think about that when I planned this gig, I just knew that she would thing no one remembered and I wanted her to feel very remembered, make her queen for the day. I think we blew her mind, and stressed her out but all in all I think she felt the love.

I found a little houseboat on craigslist. I am always looking but have never ever found anything that we could afford. This one popped up and I jumped on it. The price was right and I really expected it to be scary when I drove to Oakley to look at it. I was surprised that even though it got big prizes for being funky it was a good boat; the engine is in good shape, it has been well taken care of and it was just the right size for us (28ft).

It sits in the Delta, not my favorite place but the property where we will be renting the slip is very nice, pretty, green, quiet. The boat has faux wood panelling on the inside, a terrible green carpet, a golden harvest stove and dusty old seat cushions. It smells like...a cabin. We went out last week and removed all the old stuff and put in new stuff like aqua dishes, cups, floating silverware, new pots and pans, pillows and blankets. We dusted and cleared out cobwebs, washed it down, and did a little happy dance on the dime sized deck.

It is cute in an old boat way I think we will have some good times on it. Noah is a good age. I wish Stevie was here, oh she would have loved this thing and I think she helped me find it. If she was here she and I would be decorating it and escaping to it every chance we got. She wouldn't let me change a thing, she would want to roll with the retro. We would buy party lights, fuzzy gnomes, find a record player and blow up furniture.

I talked to her before bed and said, "Stevie a boat needs a name, I want you to choose it, tell me what to name it, but I won't name it Freakin-Unicorn" I woke up the next morning and "Turtle" popped into my head. I know it isn't "me" because I would not have chosen "Turtle" The other night I was thinking that it was a silly name for a boat and wondering if I had lost my mind (again). A couple hours later I was watching "Never been kissed" with Noah. This is a silly movie the girls liked, Drew Barrymore who plays a sweet geek, in the movie she has the cutest apartment and a pet turtle. Stevie popped into my head and I said out loud "all right Turtle it is" I realise I have lost my mind and our boat will be named "Turtle".

This is my last month trying to have a baby. I am not even sure if I am going to go through with it. The universe has been telling me no, and maybe I have to listen. I am bummed about it, feel like I need to give it one more shot, then let it go. I will be 45 in August and I promised myself I wouldn't try after that age.

Stevie, I tried...

Thank you for helping me find the boat, the name, and I know you will be with us on the water. You always loved the water, it calmed you. As a baby you had no fear, loved, loved, loved to swim. I hear you when I can stop being sad long enough to listen. Stay close love, I need you.

Come to me in my dreams and show me your heaven, tell me secrets, let me know that you are still you.

I love you so.

Mama

Monday, May 31, 2010



It is May, the roses are all blooming, fading and making more buds, there is a pretty rose bush by the back window of the sun room that I planted after Stevie that is an odd shade of pink and lavender blended together, she would have loved it. I wonder if it was her kiss from where ever she is that made it explode with big fat flowers this year?

I took a week off, a week away, disappeared to Washington State to be with my boy, my thoughts, one of my best friends and old memories of a little house on an island where it rains all the time.

Last Thursday I decided for no particular reason to load up the car, the kid and my CD player and make the long drive down I5 past Lake Shasta, through Oregon and into Olympia where I spent four years with my girls. It was here we learned how to drive in the snow, how to pull ourselves out of the snow we slid into, how to fish, live in the rain, appreciate a sunny day, a hot bath, a good fire, make friends and be happy without the things we thought we needed before.

It was a difficult time financially, it was a lonely time, and a time of change for us but in the end the three of us (me, Aly, and Stevie) agree that it was a perfect time and we would not have changed a second of the time we spent there.

I took Noah to Steamboat Island where we lived where there is an oyster beach with a harbor, park and water for as far as the eye can see. I took Noah to our pic-nic tree, the beach the girls played at, the dock we crabbed off of and the house we once lived in. I wanted him to be a part of our history, it was hard having him there and Stevie being gone. She would have loved to show him her old fairy hang-outs, the little holes in logs she use to leave treats for them, the best flowers to make fairy dresses out of the crack in the wall down at the beach were she and Aly use to hide stuff and see if it would still be there after the tide went back out.

It was drizzly and cold, everything was so green, the water and sky so gray. I didn't cry until we left, it felt like a loose end, a place I needed to visit and remember, almost like she asked me to come. I did the right thing but it wasn't easy, remembering is so hard but it is also life-saving.

Stevie learned to ride her bike there from house to beach, and had the most terrible fall, a scar on her thigh marked the day forever. She went to fast down the hill and fell, the handle bar gouged her leg and she rode home bleeding the whole way. She was a trooper and proud to have made it home, down the hill, on her own.

Noah took it all in, I was glad he was with me, it made sense in a way I can not explain.

One of my very best friends welcomed me home, fed me, made sure I had a place to stay, shared her little boys with me and reminded me how kind and giving people are, how distance does not affect love.

It was a good trip. I needed the time and space, I needed to think, to cry, to drive until I couldn't stay awake. I needed hotels, swimming pools, gas stations, long roads, and the pink sky and sun setting behind MT. Shasta. It was a small adventure but just the right size for the two of us, three counting Stevie, she was with me, I know it.

I am tired.

I think I am entering another stage in this process or repeating one. My emotions are all over the place, change is coming and it isn't the change I want but the universe laughs at my plans once again.

I have to trust, have faith, surrender, it isn't easy.

I drove all those miles, now I am home, a new journey is begining, I wonder where it will take me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

525600

She still counts the minutes that I am not here... -Andrew McMahon

Three is a magic number, it doesn't feel magical today even though I keep looking up at the sky, over my shoulder, and into mirrors hoping that heaven will break a rule and let me see my daughter one more time. Three years, how could that be? It was like yesterday that it was her sitting here at this computer playing a marathon game of Literati eating a bowl of nuts and a pile of grapes. She would leave the bowl and the stems for me to pick up and I would act like I was pissed but I really wouldn't be. It wasn't that long ago that we were at a bookstore looking for something she had not read yet, at Target looking for the perfect T to wear to a concert or in Berkeley at Sweet Dreams wandering around touching everything. Now here I am at this computer alone and if feels like a million years since I've heard her voice or smelled her skin.

Today is the day I am allowed to have a full blown pity party. Today I get to count years, months, minutes...525600

There are a few red tulips up in the garden, stragglers, and the lilac so much of it I love the way it smells, it is a female smell; warm, like home. The Trees all have their clothes back on and the apple blossoms arrived just as the pear blossoms blew away. The cherry tree is gone, Stevie's tree, the one that did not make cherries until the year she died, the one I bought her as a present after radiation therapy. She wanted to be able to see cherry blossoms from her window.

I should plant a garden but I can't seem to do it, to put myself out there, invest in any more hope. I will, I always do and since Stevie left it has been mostly half hearted, a habit, an act of caring when I am still so mad at God. My little vegan isn't here to graze my veggie beds stealing the fattest tomato's the second they became ripe. She refused to get her hands dirty but you never knew a child who loved produce as much as she did.

The seasons change and I watch it all happen. Time moves the way it will, it does not stop, it will not turn back. I am not like time...I am forced to move with it but I dare it to stop me from remembering. If I were smarter I would find a way to move backwards through it and find the exact moment I could have done one thing different and saved her life.

Today is a day for tears...

I can't seem to bring her back and I tell myself it must be because she is so happy where she is, that she has long since forgotten this little house and these people she shared a short life with. In some other place she is reunited with people she has known before time who missed her even more than I ever could (not sure how that is possible) and they surround her with the most complete kind of love, a bigger love than I can't remember but I must have known.
My girl.

I survive, I am here, and she is somewhere...too far away.

This is fucked. I know ugly words make me look ugly, that is what I tell the kids but this thing I feel is kinda ugly and the word fits, there isn't another in this language I know.

Today I will take Noah to the orthodontist and let her torture his poor little mouth so that one day he will have a Hollywood smile to go with his black guitar and his beautiful voice. Then I will go to the cemetery and sleep on my cowboy blanket over the place my daughters body is buried. I will talk, sing, cry and wait for magic to happen. Three is a magic number.
video

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Orion makes his way across the sky


Oh and here comes spring...The lilac is in full bloom and it's scent fills the yard, the lone pink tulip is here and brought two little sisters so now there are three. I am not sure why but it made me cry. The daffs and red tulips have finished and the roses are beginning. All the trees have leaves and the fig has tight little baby buds just waiting to get enough sun to turn into grown-ups.

My yard is it's own little universe. When we first moved here I tended it like I was it's mother and it needed me. I planted dreams, ideas, and nurtured growth. It was a simple yard with low maintenance shrubbery, a couple rose bushes and a big lawn. Over the years it has seen a pond (which we covered when Noah was born) A huge veggie garden (Which is now a small garden bed) new trees (because I love fruit trees not because we actually have room for them) Two small buildings (garden sheds converted into an office and a studio) and a little hot tub (which turned into a very big hot tub). The shrubs are long gone, the lawn is much smaller, the trees are much bigger and I just put up a little awning to keep the afternoon sun from beating us to death in the summer.

Steve tells everyone I am Sarah Winchester because I have taken our small yard in suburbia and turned it upside down every spring. For me life is about moving, changing, growing, evolving. We now have gardeners who mow the lawn and kill the weeds, and the yard no longer requires a mother it knows how to take care of itself. It has become my invention, a history of our life here.

Spring is a time of new beginings, when everything wakes up and blooms, buds, and lives. It is a bittersweet time for me because it now marks the end of my daughters life here but maybe somewhere it marks a different kind of beginning something so awesome and breathtaking even my imagination can not conceive of it.

For those of you who have asked for a baby update I guess this is as good a time as any to report that there isn't much news. I do have a family that has contacted me regarding embryo adoption. They have (adorable)twin girls that resulted from IVF and there are seven embryos remaining. I am just waiting to hear from them in regards to a final decision. They have many parents to choose from and they need to make a choice based on what they feel is best for their family. They would like an open adoption so that the children can know each other. I think it's a great idea. This process is about building families, and there are so many wonderful ways to do that.

To be honest I had just about given up. Steve and I had a melt down while we were going through the clinics donation program and I started feeling like maybe I was pushing something to happen that wasn't meant to happen, that maybe the universe was telling me to just let it go. It has always been my opinion that if you have to use force it is a sign to just be still.

So I stopped. I cancelled appointments and I decided to be still. I cried, I contemplated, I questioned, I meditated, and I made a plan to not have a plan. Two days later I got an email from two families who were interested in us.

The other family is wonderful and all the embryos they have are girls (extra terrific) all four embryos have been genetically tested and they are preparing for the birth of thier son. It feels like they have a very long list to choose from and although I am on that list it still feels like a long shot.

To be honest it was a blessing just to be chosen at at all. There are so many families waiting and so few donors, those emails made me feel like the universe does have it's own plan. I am not sure where all this will lead but I am full of hope and I am sure it will take me where I need to be.

For right now this moment is about watching the stars in the night sky, following Orion as he makes his way to a place where I can no longer see him, watching the moon through her phases, waiting for the morning glory to climb the fence, listening to the new birds sing the same songs they always have.

This life of mine, of all of ours is filled with such magic and wonder, it is bigger than standing in line at Starbucks, getting to work on time, trying to decide what to make for dinner. It has a rhythm, promises, and heartbreak. There are beginnings and endings and we live in between them. There is a time embrace life, to fight for it, to let it go and a time to just be still and experience it happening all around us.

Stevie, I am still here buttercup, still waiting and listening, still your mom, still your buddy, still in love with what ever it is you have become. Thank you for being my girl, my heart, my spring.

Friday, February 26, 2010

So I keep trying...


For those of you who have asked here is the skinny on the baby stuff...

So far no luck doing things in this strange-ill-timed way with donors and the local Obstetrician. The insurance company continues to say no to IVF unless I can prove I have unexplained infertility.

Do I give up? Heck no. When I started this I was so sure I could do this easily that I promised Steve I would only try once. I didn't want to be one of those desperate women who took all the equity out of their house to buy a donor egg and put themselves through years and years of injections and heartbreak. I told myself "Hey, if it is meant to happen then the fertility gods will drop a big fat baby in my lap, if not I move on, I am a big girl for goodness sake."

Instead the universe has chosen to teach me a little lesson about what it feels like to walk in anther's moccasins. If I had equity in my house I would have used it without a second thought. If I had a savings account with lots of zero's it would be gone. Do I feel silly and desperate? No. I feel like there is a child out there who is waiting for me to figure this out.

Unless you have ever been in this moment it's hard to understand. Some of my friends who have kids, that are mostly grown up can't wait for them to be off to college so they can get back to a life that feels a little bit less like a circus. The friends I have who do not have children by choice think this is animal instinct and what I need is a good vacation or the loan of someone elses screaming baby with colic to cure me. The friends I have with small children look at me with eyes that say, "you have got to be kidding?" I get it, I have had days like that too.

Some women are designed to be mothers some know it and some don't. I am not a great mom, I give my kids chocolate cake for breakfast, pancakes for dinner and let them run around naked all day. I kinda like kiddie chaos, especially in the backyard in the summer, or Christmas morning, or even late at night when everyone wants to wiggle and have one more story, one more story, one more story. I am perfect in my imperfection, we all are, Some women embrace it, some fight it, and some women have to fight long and hard for it.

There is a laundry list of the comments people make, and I have made them too. I am here to tell you that wanting and waiting for a child is big, it isn't like wanting a big wedding, or a better house. This is deep, it consumes you, it feels like a mission, it feels like an obstacle (obstetrical) course the universe made just for you to figure out how badly you want this and what you are willing to endure for it.

A houseplant, puppy, or the loan of a neighbors child won't cure or satisfy this longing, this need, this knowing. Adoption is not as easy as it sounds and just for the record adopting a special needs child or doing foster care takes a special person, deserves a special person, that is it's own journey, it isn't what you do when you have run out of options.

So here I am...

I found a clinic that offers embryo donation. I know, I know, it sounds sci-fi and creeps you out a little but it is actually a beautiful gift. Here is how it works...

A couple who can not have a child without assisted reproductive therapy (ART) has IVF. IVF is when all the magic happens outside the body rather than inside. A woman's eggs (or donor eggs if she does not have her own) are mixed up in a petri dish with the sperm from the partner (or a donor if he does not make his own sperm or she does not have a partner) and embryo's are created.

I know you are visualizing tiny little babies floating around in a laboratory. These are not quite baby's yet but more like baby seeds. They are cells that have just begun to divide, they are baby hope. Because this process is so very expensive, and painful (to the woman) they make as many embryo's as they can to give her a really good chance.

If she does not get pregnant there will be some frozen embryo's waiting for her to try again. If she does get pregnant she can store her remaining embryo's for another pregnancy later on. When she is done building her family she can choose to donate her remaining embryo's to science, let them expire, or she can offer them to another family.

Many families pay to keep these cells in cryopreservation because they are not sure what do or what the options are.

There are several pro-life Christian organizations who are on a mission to save these "babies" and God bless them. The problem is that they are becoming the middle men in what should be a donation and turning it into a formal adoption. The great part of this is that Christian families are able to connect with other Christian families and get matched in a way that makes them happy. The not so great part of this is that there is a lot of expense generated in this process, and more hoops to jump through than a person should have to. It excludes recipient families that do not have the 11,000-18,000 dollars to make this happen.

Then there are clinics that lay out the options very clearly to their patients and if the family chooses to donate then embryo's are kept at the fertility clinic and a true donation to another family happens through the clinic. It isn't warm and fuzzy with phone calls and photos, it is clinical, but it is simple and there are no middle men with hands held out for large sums of money, no giant hoops.

There are over 400,000 embryo's in storage. Many of those would be donated to families if there was more education about this option and if more of these stories were told.

There is a website called Miracles Waiting that offers a forum for donating families and hopeful parents to connect on their own. I think it's a happy middle ground. It's a well screened and monitored community, a small fee is involved but it is mostly to weed out people who would try to do harm, or not serious.

So I am waiting for an embryo. I know this may be a difficult solution for many people but the way I see it conception is it's own little world, we can't control it, the universe will give us the child that is meant for us. Biology offers a connection but not much else. I love the idea of adopting a child I get to give birth to, how beautiful is that?

I don't know why a woman as fertile as I have been has been led down this path, I don't know if a baby will be at the end of all of this but I do know I am changed by this process, I have grown in so many ways.

To my new friends who have been working so hard, waited so long, and have endured so much thank you for being my teachers, my support and guiding me so well, you have offered light...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Gram...


My Grandmother passed away this morning, early before the sun came up...

I was up because I had gone to bed early the night before, I meditated and prayed for her passing. She had lost consciousness the night before and I was wishing her transition would be peaceful and she would not have to linger in a place of hearing and feeling but not being able to communicate.

I got to spend time with her and got to tell her I loved her. I am not sad, I am grateful.

My gram lived a long life and many of the years of her life were spent caring for me and my siblings because our parents could not. She wasn't warm and cuddly, she was strong and good. We could depend on her to come and rescue us in the middle of the night from a sleep over we were not ready for, to get us to a doctor when we were sick, to make sure we always had something to eat and a safe person to call when we were afraid.

My gram was my mothers care-taker, my mother never quite got that, still doesn't. Gram spent her whole life worrying about and taking care of her. Without my gram my mother wouldn't have survived. My mother has always dealt with mental illness and drug addiction, gram never judged her and was always took her side. It is sad that her life was spent giving to her and there are times I have been angry about how much sacrifice that was but my gram knew how to love unconditionally.

My gram did not shower us with gifts, she didn't kiss us good night or tell us she loved us. She didn't braid our hair or take us to Sunday tea, she didn't make us dresses, fuss over us or own a brag book. My gram was not our cushion, she was our protector and our rock.

What gram gave me was good advice, she taught me cook, garden, honor family, work hard, play cards, fish, and showed me how to make something beautiful from almost nothing at all. She told me stories that would last my whole life.

She believed in simple things like a good meal, a night sky, the sound of the ocean, that a long drive could clear your head, and a good nights sleep could be found in a comfy chair with a book on your lap. A party was not a party without lots of food and music, the best place for a party was under the big tree in her yard. A pic-nic table could be made from an old door and comfort could be found at the kitchen table. Family first...always.

At Stevie's funeral my gram took my hands in her delicate brown hands that looked like leathery road map, looked at me with her magnified mosquito eyes and said, "It should have been me, I am ready to go, it should have been me" She told me she loved me very much. She never had to say it before because I always knew she loved me but hearing it on that day split me down the middle. The unfairness was obvious but as it turned out my gram still needed to be here and losing Stevie tought me how to care for my gram in her last days. She lit a candle everyday for the last three years for my daughter.

Before Stevie died she had a dream that my grandmothers house was beautiful, filled with light and vases of baby pink roses. Stevie said that in her dream they were preparing for a birthday party and Stevie's job was to find my grandmothers baby and bring it to the party. She searched and searched and finally found it under a big tree.

I believe that at five this morning (on my grandfathers birthday) there was a house full of pink roses and healing light, guests waiting anxiously for the arrival of the birthday girl, and my daughter holding the baby my grandmother lost in childbirth so many years ago. The nurse said the last thing gram did was reach her hands out to embrace someone.

Happy Birthday gram, thank you, and I love you too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Train of thought


It is late January, we have had some stormy skies, some beautiful clouds, not enough rain (even though it feels like we have had plenty), and winter nights that feel like winter.

The moon looked like a little boat last night, I imagined children rowing it through the sky, a sea of stars.

In December we went on a family vacation, to Mexico on a big boat that was loud and a little too much like Las Vegas and Disneyland had a bastard ship child and we were on it for seven days.

Aly got sea-sick then got better with the help of a patch only to get food poisoning from the fish she ate in Puerto Villarta. She was a puking machine but seemed very happy with the weight loss when we got home. She did well considering she doesn't like our little dysfunctional family much, but she slapped on a happy face for a trip to Mexico she didn't have to pay for.

I pulled a muscle in my back trying to help an elderly woman up out of a sun lounger. Her husband was about a hundred and I did that thing I do and threw myself at a situation I think needs me. My lifting skills are good but she started feeling dizzy and refused to sit back down so I supported her in a position that was not in my best interest. She broke my heart, she was crying because she felt helpless not being able to get up, it reminded me of Stevie and I didn't want them to have to get the kind of help that would require effort and attention. Once we got her up and stable they were happy, it made me feel good but I was in some horrible pain.

My period started before I could get too excited about the slim possibility that I might actually be pregnant so I had to trek through the harbor district in a Mexican city to a Walmart for Tampons. I didn't realize it was Christmas eve in a mostly Catholic country and the store was jam packed with people. I traveled to avoid the Christmas shopping and there I was in the middle of it.

What a crazy scene; ready-to-eat chickens in plastic containers, holiday wrapping paper, underwear, and pool toys all in the same isle of the store. It took me a little while to find tampons who knew to look for tampons on DVD's and car parts isle?

Everyone was coughing, it was a phlegm-fest. I thought, "Crap swine flu central, my goose is cooked for sure" Right on cue I was sneezed on by a little girl in the seat of a shopping cart who had a rattly chest and more hair than I have ever seen on such a small person. My left arm was covered with sneezy goo and I wanted to cry.

I wasn't leaving without finding antibacterial wipes but after ten or fifteen minutes I gave up the fight and surrendered to my fate...I was going to get sick. Three days later it began and I coughed, sneezed, got a fever and felt like hell. If you are going to be sick a cruise ship is a good place to do it (if you don't care about all the people you are infecting) You have room service, a doctor downstairs, someone washes all your towels, makes your bed and leaves you chocolate on your pillow...not bad.

Noah had fun and made a couple friends who live not too far from us (small world) he ate pizza, swam, got to wear a tie to dinner and danced a little. Steve was a little disappointed that I wasn't interested in being a cruise-ship couple but he did what he always does and takes off to find his own fun. There was comedy and a karaoke bar who could ask for anything more?

I know I sound like Debbie-downer and I don't mean to, it had it's super great moments, it was so nice not to have to deal with the sadness that this holiday brings, I mean we were missing Stevie but our environment was so different that we almost got to pretend it wasn't Christmas. We had some beautiful meals, listened to some upbeat rock n roll music played by a family band from the Philippines. They were good but I died laughing when the mama was belting Tina Turners "Whats love got to do with it" She had the voice but she hadn't worked out the English all the way "It is only da prill of boy meeting grill, opposit attract...it's only pisical" I loved it.

Then there was the chocolate extravaganza...back hurting, fever, leprosy couldn't keep me away, heaven, heaven, heaven. I had a pot of melting chocolate cake every night for dinner, brought it with me to the cabin and ate it in bed.

Noah and Steve body surfed and did a little snorkeling, Aly and I drank margaritas in dirty plastic cups from a beach vendor and bought cheap sunglasses from a man who had twenty hats stacked on his head. We all got nice and tanned, ate way too much food, and felt like a bunch of boneless chickens after a couple days. Not sure we are "Cruise" people but it was a nice trip for all the right reasons.

It's 2010 hard to believe how time just keeps doing it's thing. I have a long list of resolutions that challenge me to be stronger, more focused, more compassionate, helpful, and brave. I keep telling myself this will be the year I hit the gym and lose all this weight but after about three trips to the gym I decided I needed a break and headed on over to the bakery for a tea and a chocolate cupcake, after that I am like a junkie and it's been a down hill sugar high for me.

I've been sad, very sad. I miss Stevie and this baby thing isn't working. I have to make a plan to stop trying but it's hard. The bottom line is I'm not getting any younger, the insurance company won't pay for treatment, and I don't have a spare 26 thousand dollars to pay for IVF. Maybe it wasn't meant to be, maybe I needed this process for personal growth, maybe I just needed to try.

Yesterday on my way home from work there was an enormous pink cloud floating in a grey sky ready to burst. The cloud was shaped like a wobbly heart and reminded me of my girl. I told her I loved her too...why can't a cloud like that be enough?

When I went to put gas in my car I bought a lottery ticket, the jackpot was 105 million dollars. I don't need that much money but a little of it would be nice. As Fiest says in 1234, "Money can't buy you back the love that you had then" I know this to be true but it can offer me a little freedom.

The first thing I would do is a build a stable at Camp Okizu, it would be simple but beautiful and I would buy the camp four strong, gentle horses. I would call the stable "Stevie and the dream of horses" There would be an endowment to keep it running and keep the horses happy. Stevie would like that...

Then I would travel to Thailand and bury a pair of Stevie's chucks in the sand, light incense at a temple and walk for days, just walk and walk until it all there was was the ocean. Then off to Egypt to see the pyramids, Portugal to see the birthplace of my Great-Grandmother, and then to Italy to eat, sculpt, paint, and fall in love with my life.

I would keep my car, my house, and my red Dansko's. All the kids in my family would have money for college. Noah would get a voice coach, Aly would go to art school. Steve could quit his job, I would give him half the money to do what ever he wanted.

I would buy all the kids at Noah's school ice cream on a hot day.

I would go to Haiti and bring medicine, food and building supplies.

I would adopt a child.

Well my train of thought has just slowed at the station and I need to get off here and face the real world where people wear sweatshirts that say "Human-kind be both" and remind me that I have so much farther to go.