Monday, September 23, 2013


I woke up early this morning thinking about you remembering our first hours together and our last.  I wrote in my journal and cried for all the moments I can not get back and all the memories we will never make.  I waited for you to come and tell me you were ok but no ghost found me.

Your brothers are wrapped around my heart keeping me busy, giving me a reason to wake up, smile, hope, and keep dreaming, it still hurts but they make it easier.  You would love the young man Noah has become and you would squeeze Elliott and kiss his big fat cheeks.  Oh sweet girl how we miss you.

Where are you pumpkin, please tell me there is a heaven so I can hold onto the promise that I will get to be with you again someday.  I love the dreamy idea that when you left your body your burst into stardust and became rain and waterfalls, petals on flowers, snowflakes, a blade of grass a tear, Elliott...but heaven, I want to believe you are still you, having fun, waiting, watching and I am still your mama.

Happy birthday to you sweet girl, my heart, you are so loved, so very loved.

We will go to the cemetery tonight, bring you flowers, cake, an apple from our tree.  We will pull up to the place where your body is and it will still feel like a dream, we will tidy up and cry, look at the view of the mountains, tell you we love you and go home.  I won't imagine you there in the ground, in a box, a person I can no longer touch or talk to.  I will keep looking up and telling myself "She just graduated before us, that is all, she is just where we are all going, saving us a place, smiling at how silly it all is really".

Today I kissed Elliott while he was sleeping and remembered kissing you as a baby, your big cheeks, the way you always smelled like fruit and flowers, and breast milk.  I loved the way you smelled, even after you left your body you smelled like oranges and love.  What I would give to simply touch your hand or hear your voice one more time.

I hope there is a celebration in heaven, even if birthdays are no longer important I know you love parties.  I hope you planned one with a great chocolate cake, creamy colored flowers, a big lawn with soft blankets and a cool band, a sky full of stars...

I am here bunny right were I have always been, I won't forget, I will never forget.

Thank you for 19 years with the smartest, bestest, funniest, lovliest, stubbornest, geekiest girl in the universe.

Still your mama buttercup,


Friday, September 20, 2013

Toms, boys, change and morning...

I took Elliott to buy his first pair of shoes on his birthday.  We had done the whole cake and party the Sunday before and it was fun.  I made yards of bunting in pic-nic colors, I frosted a baby blue cake, we had finger food, friends, swimming and piles of presents.  Yesterday was our day just me and the mouse.  I woke up early and watched his birth video, we took a long bubble bath, we went to the mall and bought Toms, ate chocolate cake and pasta for dinner and went to bed early.

Elliott is just starting to walk, taking those wobbly steps that start with one or two and double every couple days.  He loves learning to walk and I can't wait until he can run, I will have to chase him for a kiss but he is the kinda kid who needs to run in the grass, chase birds, climb trees.  My son has boy energy and it makes me love him just a little bit more, he is himself.

Noah has boy energy but he is zen, he is Ying-Yang, he is balanced, his masculine and feminine are aligned and it is beautiful.  He is tall and graceful, he sings and dances but he also loves to kick a ball and ride a bike.  He isn't competitive or aggressive, he is soft and kind and easy to get along with, I love that so very much.

My two boys, so very different.  I hope I can keep up with Elliott he is a boy on the move.  Noah did his time on the sports field, he enjoyed baseball, soccer, tennis, but his love and passion is for music and theater.  Elliott may be an athlete, he is built like one already.  Noah was kisses and cuddles and Elliott is a man of action.

I took him to Nordstrom to find a baby shoe for new walking feet and it seems his feet are way too big for those cute soft soled shoes.  I just can't see him in a clunky runner yet, his feet are still chubby and tender.  He would prefer to be barefoot forever, naked too but winter will be here before we know it and he will need to be use to shoes on his feet.

I decided on a pair of Toms.  They are a simple well made shoe with a semi-soft sole.  They are also a one for one shoe meaning for every pair purchased a pair is donated, I like that.  So for Elliott's birthday he got a cool pair of navy blue Toms and so did another kid.  I put them on him and he very quickly pulled them off and tried to eat them.

Noah's birthday is just around the corner.  He will be 14 and I told him he just hit the age where I think we are done with the big themed birthdays.  He likes expensive gifts and doing both just isn't in the budget or totally appropriate.  I told him we will have a big "16" but this year it will be a family dinner out with a couple friends, cake and presents.  He seemed Ok with it.  I got him a Penny board which is really a little kids sized retro skateboard that once cost 20 bucks but is now 100 bucks.  I also bought him some new jeans and a couple T's from his favorite place.

I wish Stevie was here, she would have loved to plan Elliott's party and she would have picked the Tom's too.  For her birthday we would have gone out to eat in Berkeley maybe the city.  She would have asked for some obscure gift that was hard to find.   I miss that kid, I can't believe she would be 26 this year.  I try to imagine what kind of music she would be listening to, what books she would be reading, would she still wear her hair in a pony tail?  What kind of glasses would she wear, would she go ultra geeky or would she do something a little more feminine?  What I would give to stay up late and talk in bed, watch her face scrunch up when she laughs, fall asleep to the sound of her voice.

This is my life, it is a good life really.  Noah is pure sunshine even as a moody teenager he brightens up my day.  Elliott is demanding, silly, smells like heaven and melts my heart with his giggles and gap between his teeth.  Aly...we struggle but she is figuring it out, slowly and not easily but everyday a tiny step forward and back and forward again.  I will never have with Aly what I had with Stevie, Aly is too angry, but she is herself and I am learning to love what is and has always been great about her.  She is smart and funny, gentle and good.

Steve and I try, we are a family and we do our best but we are very different people.  We do our best to be good to each other but there is an ocean...

I have days when I need a great big change, I want to sell this house and move far away, maybe another country.  I want to start over, build a new life in a new place and run away from the past, the things that are broken, the things that hurt.  This little house I never liked, this city I live in that is an ill-fit, landing here by accident well now it's home.  I never thought this is what "home" would look like for me.  Noah loves it here and it's a good place to raise Elliott.  I can't imagine anyone sleeping in Stevie's room or cutting down the fruit trees I planted.  The senior center is walking distance, I might appreciate that someday.

I wish to live in a community that values what I do, be surrounded by people who have similar interests, someone who I can swap gardening tips with, other artists to kick around ideas and share dinner with.  Families we can grill and take long walks with, a best friend just down the street.  This is a good place to live, it's safe.  It isn't pretty, my neighbors let their kids ride dirt bikes up and down the street all day, no one really knows each other, sports are a big deal, church is another, both of these I have no interest in.  I never fit in, I tried and try but it is always effort.

I am feeling a little sorry for myself this morning...I feel a need for change, a need to own my life and the direction it is going a little more.  There is an age when people get stuck and I don't want to get stuck here.  Don't get me wrong I love being a mom and the thought that one day there will no longer be children in my house terrifies me.  What I think I mean is I don't want to get stuck in this "me"  I want to keep growing, keep learning, reaching, exploring, there is so much I want to do, I feel like I am running out of time and this might be it, this might be the house I die in, these will be the clothes I always wear, this will be my hairstyle, and these will be the only stories I have.

I don't want to get stale and crusty, I need an adventure.  I want to be an amazing mom to Noah and Elliott, I don't want to be a person they will have to worry and care for.  I want to be an interesting person, I never want to be that ghosty-dusty Grandmother no one really wants to visit.  I think the boys and I may need to start saving for a vacation.

The sun is up, Elliott and Noah will be awake soon, I better leave the comfort of this warm bed and this computer and stop writing about change and adventure and start making it happen.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A year

Its early morning and I am up before everyone else, even the sun.  The house is quiet and dark and it's a warm morning.  We slept without blankets, windows wide open, the sound of traffic, crickets, someones dog barking.  I like waking up early it feels like I am in on some kind of secret, I get to experience the day before anyone else.

I was laying in bed thinking about September, a month of birthdays for us.  Elliott will be one this month, his party is on Sunday, how can a year have gone by so quickly?  I remember waking up early one morning on a day not unlike this one with a feeling I could not ignore, the need to be a mother again.

A year after Stevie died, when the grieving became less a shock and more a part of my life, I decided that I needed to try and have a baby.  There were all the concerns and red flags; Steve didn't want anymore children, he had a vasectomy, we were in an ugly place in our relationship, my heart was broken, I had a new business, Noah was keeping me busy, I was in my 40's....

I knew I would do this thing, it has happened before.  My rational brain can protest all it wants  but my heart has made a decision.  I didn't know how I would make it happen I just trusted it would.  I had no idea that it would be a long difficult journey and that I would have to go through much pain and heartache, that I would suffer loss again, that I would be pushed to my physical and emotional limits.  Even had I known I would have still done it.

Here we are.

It was worth it, it was all worth it.

He was born on the 19th.  I told Stevie if she was coming home she would need to be born on her birthday so I would know it was her.  Elliott was born on the day Stevie died instead...19 is a magic number, it is Stevie's number.  I think it was her telling me, "Now it's a day for celebration, I am right here, be happy mom, just be happy"  She could not come home but she sent this little man, told him we had a trampoline, ate cake for breakfast, spent our summers on a stinky houseboat, that we were loud and opinionated, told him we had a big Christmas even though mom says she hates Christmas.  She told him our house was full of music, bad magic tricks, family gatherings and dancing in the living room.

I sometimes look at him and wonder if he is Stevie but even if he was he is Elliott now, this is a new life, a new body, all new experiences.  If Stevie came back she would want to start over.  Elliott is all boy, Stevie was a girl, loved being a girl.  He has big hands, a cleft in his chin, he is strong, big Pond colored eyes.  He is stubborn like she was, has the same cheeks but that is the only similarity I can find.

Elliott is not an easy baby, he makes me work for it.  He is stingy with his kisses, he nurses like a wild boy, he wants to drive the car, be up high, he wants to pick up heavy stuff, he loves gears and gadgets, he loves to be outside and once he starts walking (he is almost there) I am in trouble, he will be a kid on the move.

He is himself and I love getting to know him.

I imagined a little girl with Stevie's eyes and she would get to do all the things that Stevie didn't get the chance to.  We would start from the beginning and I would be the perfect mom and she would have days filled with bike rides, roller skates, camping trips, she would learn to ski, I would fill her room with new books, a down comforter, a night light...

Instead there is this man baby with little muscles who can move tables and pick up heavy rocks, a little super hero.  We sleep in Stevie's bed he kicks all the covers off and bites when he nurses at night.  He wakes up early demanding milk and starts the day off climbing things.  Naked he looks like a baby gorilla.

God I love that boy.

Thank you Stevie he is perfect.

This month I will celebrate Elliott's first birthday with a house full of friends and family and a pic-nic themed party.  Then we will remember Stevie and go to visit her, bring flowers and cake and I will try to imagine her being 26...then it will be Noah's 14th birthday, a trip to the ice skating rink with a handful of friends, pizza, and birthday cake.

Time is moving so quickly.

The sun is up now and my little hercules is stirring.  It is time to start the day.

Monday, August 5, 2013


It's four in the morning, I can't sleep.  the house is quiet full of my sleeping family and visiting relatives.    In a few hours I will make a big breakfast for everyone and the day will start, plans will be made,  a summer day will begin.

It is dark in this room there is a soft glow from the computer screen so I can see the baby curled up lost in his milky slumber all cheeks and big hands.  He fills me up that little boy of mine, I love him so very much.  I knew he would bring me comfort but I could have never imagined how much he would squeeze my heart and change my life.

It has been a Stevie week.  I wake up with her songs in my head and I play them because it feels like I should, it's how we communicate.  The closer I feel her the heavier my heart is but I embrace that ache because it's what I have.  I feel a shift, I feel like she is bringing me closer to something and I want to be open to her even if it hurts.

It has been six years since she left, her birthday is fast approaching and there is always this "feeling" when touchstone days are just up ahead, it's like returning...

The song that has been stuck in my head this week has been "When She Loved Me" and I have played it over and over.

When somebody love me,
Everything was beautiful
Every hour we spent together lives within my heart
And when she was sad,
I was there to dry her tears
And when she was happy

so was I
When she loved me

Through the summer and the fall

We had each other that was all
Just she and I together

like it was meant to be

And when she was lonely,
I was there to comfort her

And I knew she loved me

So the years went by

I stayed the same
But she began to drift away
I was left alone

Still I waited for the day
When she would say

I will always love you...

 Lonley and forgotten
I never thought she'd look my way
She smiled at me and held my hand just like she used to do
Like she loved me

When she loved me

When somebody loved me 
Everything was beautiful
Every hour we spent together 
lives within my heart

When she loved me

I am mother who is missing her daughter, it is that simple.  This is difficult in all its stages and there is no one place you arrive and say "Ok I am fine now, I can move on" You simply live because you must and you find great love, happiness, and meaningful things to do but nothing is ever like it should be, there is always a missing piece, a longing, an ache, a need for answers.

There are moments when a sense of peace finds you, it blows through you like a warm breeze, you sigh and for just a moment you whisper "Ok, I am Ok, I get it" then it fades, it's gone then you go back to the dishes, you plant your garden, you cry in the shower, you kiss a baby and you think love and loss are the same intense thing to fully embrace one you must embrace the other.

After six years I am still waiting for her.  I have this fantasy that she will wake me up at four in the morning.  I will open my eyes and she will be sitting on this bed smiling, her voice soft, only I will hear it, no lips just our minds speaking to each other.  She will answer all my questions and I will be able to finally let go...I will exhale I will know she is where she is most happy and all the things I thought I needed to tell her she will already know.  

Until then I look for pink skies, I play her songs, I sleep in her bed, I touch her books, I stay busy, I kiss Elliott and Noah one extra time for her, I try to be Aly's friend because if Stevie were here she would do the same.  I hold this family together because I need for us to be a shining light she can find when she needs us, I can't stand to think of us scattered.

I wake up at this hour that is almost morning but still night, this in-between place, I wait...

Monday, July 22, 2013

A mid-summer nights dream

It 's mid-summer, the nights are warm, the days are long and we have been going to bed later and later.   I woke up very early this morning from a dream about the world breaking apart, collapsing, loud and heavy, and I did everything I could to avoid falling beams and debris.  Then there was a big hole where reality once was and I discovered we were merely a world under another world, two buildings sharing a ceiling and a floor.

It was still dark in my room as I made my way to the hall, hit the night light, found the toilet and peed.  I sat there shaking off the dream tired but knowing I would not find sleep again.  I checked the baby, covered him with a soft blanket he would just kick off, found my journal, grabbed a quilt from the sofa and headed out to the front porch.  I was sleep walking, or it felt like it when I sat down and looked up to find a sky turning from indigo to the most beautiful pink where the sun was just beginning to rise.

A pink sky like that makes my heart beat differently, I catch my breath, i throat aches.  I needed to put my feet in the grass, be connected to the earth talk to my girl in case she woke me and moved me out here to see this beautiful sky painting of hers.  Tears fell and not caring what anyone else thought I spoke to her out loud, in my night shirt and bare feet, "Stevie if you woke me for this thank you lovey, thank you for the pink I needed that baby, I love you so much, I miss you so much."

I have spent the day not doing much of anything: a load of laundry,  baked a peasant pie out of left over blueberries, nectarines, and a french pastry crust made with butter.  I have picked up around the house, nursed and comforted Elliott after he fell of the couch while playing with Aly.  He took a dive faster than she could catch him, it was awful and I will watch and worry all day that he broke something or has brain damage.  I folded some towels, answered some emails, moved some money into our checking account because we are overdrawn.

I have a long list of things that need doing, places that I have to go but I can't seem to get up and out.  I am still in my night clothes, I am eating pie, I am enjoying this strange pale grey sky and this July warm day.  I am feeling blessed, feeling like I need to nest.  I can't explain it.  I will honor what ever this is and just be in this moment where a baby is asleep on my lap, my boy has a day off and is enjoying not having to be at a rehearsal or show.  Aly is home and she is being nice.   Someone is grilling and the scent is coming in through my open windows.

I am thinking about that dream.  What if that is all this is, a big building of sorts and even thought it feels like a world is only a room.  There is another one upstairs, and downstairs and next door...what an awesome thought.

I watched the Truman show on Netflix a couple weeks ago, there is this moment where he is sailing on a vast ocean looking for answers and he runs into a wall painted like the sky, and in a moment his entire world is a television studio and everything seems so small.  I find that powerful.  If you think of it that way you kinda feel bigger, and the things you thought were important before are just props, and everyone is in this thing with you, its a game thats all it is.  I find comfort in that.

I want to tear down the wall that seperates me from Stevie, I want to flip the board like I use to when I still played monopoly before everyone realized I was a sore loser and stopped inviting me to play.  I want to say "Oh, I see now
, wow that was pretty convincing, I am all done, let's eat."  Mystery over and there Stevie would be smiling, and Claire would be a grown up, I would know her face, and all my relatives would have a big table set and there would be candles and laughter and stories.

Today I will just have to play this game, drown myself in a pink sky, hold onto the dream of a crashing world, kiss Elliott's toes, make spaghetti for dinner and be in this moment, it's what I have and sitting here relaxed, filled with love and hope, I realize it isn't so bad, it's actually kinda wonderful.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


A new baby in our house...Ok I will admit I had this romantic idea that he would be this sweet bundle of love and cuddles and birdies would help me hang my laundry, I would tidy up while he giggled and coo'd in his cradle, I would wear him in a sling while I planted my garden and painted in my studio...


Babies are a lot of work (if you are 19 or 47) they are just a 24 hour a day job.  It happens to be the best job in the world, it is difficult and messy and somedays you forget who you are but there is nothing that has filled me up so much, made me feel as important, whole, good as waking up to a little milk-dud with fuzzy hair and a warm diaper, I am just one of those women.  I love to be pregnant even though I am usually throwing up the whole nine months.  I love breastfeeding, even though it limits what I can do and where I can go.  I love watching my babies sleep, even when they are thirteen and have hairy legs and are 6 feet tall.

Today was the same day as yesterday and there might be some subtle variation but I expect tomorrow will be the same as today.  For those of you who wonder what a stay-at-home mom does on a typical day here ya go.

I get up at 6am,  It is my personal internal alarm clock that wakes me.  I use to wake at 5am before the baby to write but I am a little bit sleepier because I get up at 3 and 5 to nurse the baby.

I begin by picking up last nights mess.  I am the first to bed at night so the house gets tossed about while I am sleeping.  I will pick up shoes, dishes, a towel, homework, an empty popcorn bowl, a book, a game, a jacket or two, car keys, etc.  I fold the sofa blanket, put the pillows back, throw a load of laundry in and try to unload the dishwasher.

At 7am I wake up Noah and change Elliott's diaper, he is usually awake by 6:45, usually smiling, wet, and in need of some serious good morning cuddles.  I tell him how handsome he is, that we are going to have an awesome day, I kiss his cheeks and feet, read him a story and then we get into the kitchen.  I put him in his chair and give him treats to nibble on (cereal, banana's, mango) while I make Noah's lunch and finish the dishes.

Insert:  I have not dressed or brushed my teeth yet.

Steve drives Noah to school after a little game of "do you have your homework, your lunch, your gym shoes?"

At 9am Steve goes to work and I nurse the mouse, he takes a 10 minute morning nap which isn't really a nap but a little fake-out, he needs to be held while he fills his tummy with milk, he wants to close his eyes while I kiss his hands and count his toes, it is his sweet time.

9:10 am  I put him in his bouncy seat outside so I can water the garden and pull some weeds, if he is in a good mood I might hang some laundry.  Then we come in and I let him play on his matt while I clean up the breakfast/lunch making mess.  There are always more chores to do than I can get to so I try and do one big thing a day like wipe down the cupboards, clean out the frig, change the sheets on the beds, clean the bathrooms, that kind of thing.  I don't always get it done but I try.

By 10:00 he is ready for a nap, not a long one but a short morning nap, more nursing, fussing playing, wiggling, then he is out for a good 20 minutes.  He wants to be held, if I put him down he will wake up and be grouchy.  I usually have my laptop next to me so I will answer emails, pay bills, check in with facebook (it is almost like being around people) and read a little news if I have time.

10:30 we play on his matt, do tricks, read stories, change his diaper, I take him from room to room and pick up where I can.  We might sit out on the grass and watch cars go by, I trim his nails, fold clothes, feed him lunch (cereal, fruit, steamed veggies, pasta) he nibbles, doesn't eat much but loves to make a big mess, I let him, it's how he learns, he is a little explorer and it's a messy job.  I try to eat with him, I am usually rushed and eat crappy carbs or left overs, I eat too much because I skipped breakfast, and because I am sorta just eating without thinking, trying to keep it easy for myself.

I give him a bath, I might get in the tub with him and wash my hair, he loves this, I do too.  I like to lay in a tub full of super hot water, some lavender, a good book, get all drowsy...a bath with a 7 month old is not the same.   His bath is 5 inches of barely warm enough water and often more floaty toys than water.  He will splash and babble, I will lather him up with baby soap sing him silly songs.  I get out first, then pop him out.  I drip and freeze while I get him dried off and dressed before he gets chilled.  He usually cries through this process because he hates to get dressed and he is ready for nursing and a nap and does not want to be bothered with diapers, t-shirts that need to be snapped and legs that need to be shoved into baby yoga pants.

12:00 nurse the baby then down for the big nap.  He will sleep about an hour but I need to nurse him until he is good and traveled to dreamland or he will wake up and be crabby.  That usually gives me about 30 minutes to get dressed, brush my teeth, and throw a load of laundry in and maybe tackle a chore.

1:00 we go to the store for groceries, to the bank, get the car smogged, drop off stuff at goodwill, go to the post office, the hardware store, get new tires, get the car washed, stuff like that, what ever needs doing.

We have to pick Noah up from school at 3pm,  two days a week we have a carpool so the car is full of other teenagers who come to our house to do homework, eat dinner with us, then I take them to rehearsals.  In exchange Noah gets a ride home from rehearsals two days a week.  On the other days we come home, Noah does homework before rehearsals, I make dinner, Elliott will sit in his chair or play with toys or fuss and cry, usually all of the above.  He hates the car so it is pure torture for him all the way up and back, usually a whole lot of crying.

Back at home I nurse Elliott, he falls asleep for about 20 minutes, he wants to be held.  I might read or write in my journal with him on my lap.  Steve is home, he has tennis, or work, or watches sports, he might do a chore, take a nap, eat dinner.  Elliott will hang out with Steve for about 30 minutes, they will play, he loves Steve.

I usually take him to the park at 7pm because the sun is just going down, it is still a little warm out, there are kids at the park, it is the time I use to go walking before the baby, I like that time of night.  I take him to the baby swing, let him look around, watch kids, then we go home.

By 8:30 he is washed up, pajamas on and nursing again.  He nurses a lot, it is good for him and I don't mind it's just time consuming not a lot of multi-tasking can happen.

Noah comes home, finishes homework and everyone else in in bed by 10pm.

Each day so like the other they all seem to blend into one long, long, long day until months have gone by and you don't know how.  There are days when everything is upside down because so many other things have to get squeezed in.

Right now I am trying to get the house organized (because I didn't do it before the baby came, thought I had another 4 weeks).  I am trying to close my business and move my studio ( didn't think I was closing before Elliott came, thought he would go to work with me).  We have to baby proof, replace our garden beds, cut down and replant a big tree, build a fence around the pool, we had to some wiring and wall repair in the living room that lead to painting a wall, moving furniture.  We had Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, my mothers illness and death.  Noah has had four plays and a dozen performances, school functions, dentist appointments, dances.  Elliott had two hospitalizations, well baby exams, we had whooping cough.

It has been busy, scary, fun, exhausting, good.

Tonight I am up late because I want to record this, remember this.  Someday I will wish I could do this again, be sad that I can't and I want to remember how hard it was, how lonely and bored I got, but most I want to remember that I had this and I did it well and it was really wonderful.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Extra wrinkles

I knew going in that I would get questions, funny looks, maybe someone would wonder if I was the mama or the gran.  I told myself I would handle it with grace and humor, never be hurt by it, and always be kind.  So far I am doing a pretty damn good job.

I took Elliott to lunch today, just the two of us, we shared brown rice topped with stir fried veggies and tofu.  I let him have sips of my green tea and he shared all his teething toys with me.  I am in love with this boy.

What is it like to be the mama of a 7 month old when you yourself are 47?  Pretty friggin' fantastic.  I won't lie part of me knew I was too old to be having a baby, not because I felt "old" but because I knew old was coming, and it is a train you can not stop.

My grandmother was 46 when I was born.  I have an old black and white photo of her holding me out in front of her barn-house on San Fernando Street, her hair was still thick and black, she was short and stocky, big breasted, shiny face and a long nose like mine.  She held me less like a precious package and more like a loaf of bread, didn't want to squeeze me too hard by knew she couldn't break me.  She is smiling in the picture, so am I.  I am bald and fair skinned, small, happy, comfortable in her arms.

My gram was my gram and to me she was always "old"mostly  because I had a young mom, just 19 years older than me and my aunts and uncles were young so were my cousins.  Looking back now I see that she wasn't old at all and what I would do to go back and time and have a good talk with her at that age...

I wonder if Elliott will see me as old?  Will he be resentful that I won't be pretty and perky, that I will have long given up trying to look like a 30 year old?  Will he be creeped out by the grey hair that is taking over, by the extra wrinkles around my eyes and around my mouth?  Will I be menopause crazy, hormonal and weepy instead of Premenstral crazy, hormonal and weepy, is there a difference?  Poor guy.

Will I hit some wall people hit and start forgetting where I put things, tell the same stories over and over, wear ugly shoes, say things like "thats a fine how-do-you-do"  Will he be embarrassed?  God I hope not.  Will I start falling apart, getting sick, need to wear pajamas in the day time?  Will the house smell like soup and over ripe bananas, will I offer his friends stale cookies, will I wear glasses that make my eyes look even bigger than they already are?

These are things I can't know, what I do know is that today he is an infant that just started saying me, to the dog, to Steve, and to the fish at the pediatricians office, it is still the most beautiful word in the world to me.  He is happy, I am happy.  I go to bed when he does and we wake up before the sun, lay in bed and nurse, I tell him sleepy stories about what kind of magical day we are going to have.  We will find an elephant in the back yard, grow a cupcake tree, throw all the shoes in the house away, buy a rocket ship and go to mars and eat puffy rice snacks.

I don't regret this choice, not today, not when I have this boy in my arms and he fills me up with hope and love and dreams for him.  I look forward to each new day and what new thing it will bring; sitting up without a pillow, tasting avocado, touching my face while he nurses, watching little birds in our tree fly down and drink from our fountain.

What is it like to be an old mama?  Like it was being a young one only better.  When you are young you are distracted, time doesn't mean as much to you because it seems like you will always have more of it than you need.  Today I know there is never enough time, and children can die of cancer, and there can't be anymore babies, and someday this will all be over and feel like a blink of an eye, so I hold onto every precious moment, I don't let my day go easily, I am grateful for everyone of them and make them last, savor the way it unfolds.

Now that my mom is gone I feel like time is moving faster for me.  She died young, in my family women live forever it seems, we don't age well but we spend a long time being old mean and ugly.  I can't die in my 60's Elliott will still need me, I can't get sick or be too mean or ugly because it won't be fair to him.

I don't worry about fitting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, how I will schedule in the gym, a pedicure or some well earned "me" time.  I think about keeping my body strong, my mind young and maybe in a couple years getting my eyes done so they won't get lost behind the saggy lids I am sure to inherit from my father.  I stress out about saving for college, having life insurance, keeping my heart healthy.

It is easy to love this little boy, to get lost playing with him for hours.  It is easy to breastfeed, to know when to introduce solid foods, where to  look for a first tooth.  I don't worry about when he will crawl or walk, he will do it when he is ready.  I don't wonder when he pooped last, his body knows what to do.  I know what to do for a cold, a diaper rash, colic.  He falls asleep when he is tired, and he wakes up when he isn't anymore.  I wear him, he sleeps next to me, and I don't care what anyone calls it or thinks about it, I am way over that.  I have learned to trust my instincts.

The hard part is being afraid that one day he will look at me and ask me why I am so old, why I waited so long, that he will be hurting because I am gone and he still needs a mom.  I hate thinking that someday he will have to take care of me.

Most days I just enjoy this, I have no regrets, and some part of me feels like it is all going to be just fine.

I love this part of life, it's hard work, but it completes me and it doesn't matter how old I am.

Monday, April 29, 2013


My mom left her body last night.  My dad called my sister because it was the only number he could find.  My sister tried to call me but I didn't have my phone, I was at a party surrounded by lovely women and children, a baby on my lap.  I am sure if my mother looked for me as she was ascending she would have smiled to see me there happy and having a great time.

I am sad.  I really didn't think I would be.  I know that sounds terrible but I disconnected from her so many years ago, I made her a person in the background someone who had to be carefully watched and dealt with, someone you couldn't trust, someone who might do the wrong thing, someone you had to invite because it was the right thing to do.  I did it because she hurt me, hurt people I loved.

My mother was an interesting person and people loved her, she was loved.  She chose a family of friends, my father, a lifestyle that could not include me or my children.  She wanted it all, felt she deserved it but I wouldn't let her have it, wouldn't life in her world.  It really was not a punishment just a choice on my part and a relief to her sometimes.  What I needed from her was not something she had to give and being with me made that too clear to both of us.

She had a good heart, she loved me the best way she could, she wanted to be a part of my family, she wanted and needed me to remember how hard she tried when she was young to be a mother.  I remember, I know she loved us, I know she did the best she could.

I am not missing a "mother" today because I have not had one for a long time.  I am sad because it was such a hard life for her, it was a painful journey and she held on so tight to it anyway.  She was a strong woman in so many ways, it never made sense.

She deserved a better daughter, there are things I did not do that I should have and things I said I wish I could take back.  She made me strong, I would have to be strong in this life but it also made me hard.

I waited for her to visit last night, she promised she would.  It didn't happen.

She laid in her bed looking like someone I did not recognize.  I wanted to say she looked peaceful but she didn't, she looked like she fought it to the end, thats just the way she did things.  I pray that my grandmother came to get her and she is reunited with the people who loved her.

There are things to thank her for; introducing me to the paranormal, teaching me to sew and cook, giving us silly celebrations, staying up with me when I was sick, making me that scarecrow costume in 2nd grade, filling our house with music, terrible haircuts and handmade dresses, buying me crayons, teaching me to read when I was four, telling me that I may be an ugly duckling but one day I would be a swan.

Rest in Peace mama, then wake up and do this again, I know you loved life, and I think you could rock it in a healthy body with a healthy mind.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wooden Chest

My childhood lives in a wooden chest in my house, bits of paper all piled up, stacked in no order just random snapshots taken on different cameras over a blurry time line.  My early years are all black and white, when photo's were a one shot deal, you had to peel off some kind of film after a certain amount of time, they are all fading to soft grey as a tiny me sits between my parents on old wooden steps in front of an army owned  house on a base in Kansas.  Then they slowly turn to color with pretty white borders as my sister enters the picture, an apartment building in Hawaii, my grandmother in a big blue dress, she has come to help my mother who is sick, has a blood clot in her leg from birth control pills she forgets to take and smoking cigarettes one after the other.

My brother follows my sister after several miscarriages, and alien abduction, and my fathers discharge from the army, the photos are all yellows and browns, there is ironed hair, long side burns, and mustaches where eyeliner and greased back hair use to be. We all have home made shaggy hair cuts, sun tans, and our little house on Guadalupe Parkway is full of ashtrays and spider plants in macrame hangers, bookcases made out of cinderblocks and wood planks, we play hand-me-down Masterpiece and Yatzee on  handmade rag rug my mother made.

Our teenage years are not as well documented, we are seen in a series of photos taken with stolen or borrowed cameras, 110 film, grainy, rounded edges, Poloroid with a thick pocket of processing fluid at the bottom, glimpses of a holidays, a birthday, a trip to the beach.  We are in houses and apartments, things are falling apart but we smile we don't know anything different, looking back only the three of us understand what all that stuff in the background represents, what it it triggers in us now that we are grown up.

I found most of these photos several years ago in a closet in a fourplex we all once lived in.  It was my least favorite place, too many bad memories, it was the end of my childhood, it was the last place I lived with my family, I left there to begin my own family at the age of 18, my sister and brother stayed behind a couple more years then left to start lives of their own.  We forgot the photos until my mother was arrested, I went back for them, it is all I wanted from that place, proof.

The picture taking changes when it is my camera, well Steve's camera, one he bought in college for a class.  We take photos of vacations, my growing belly the births of our children.  Slowly we take photos of everything else, with new cameras, hundreds and hundreds of pictures that fill the rest of that wooden chest.  I took photos of my babies asleep, of them staring out windows, I dressed them up in costumes and snapped them being fairies and bunnies.  Steve recorded events, he took a heavy camera with us where ever we went and would stop us to record a moment that was lost by the stopping but I am glad we can look back and remember it.

Tonight I visited my parents, the first time in over a year.  I don't do it because it is painful for me. I don't know how to be grateful or kind, I am still angry at them after all these years for being the wrong parents, for not returning me to my real parents.  I piled my kids in the car and my husband drove me out to San Jose where they still live so that I could say good-bye to them.  My mother is dying.

I didn't bring a camera to record this milestone, I just sat with her and said all the wrong things because it was scary, because I imagined this day a million times and never did I think I would be sad.  My parents once so young and strong, so damaged, bad-ass, law-breaking, drug-taking, were old and weak, and alone.  They surround themselves with pictures in old broken frames, of them young, of people who are no longer alive, their grandchildren that they barely know.

Tonight I flashed through our lives could see it all through the lens of a camera, and tonight I am not angry.  I see these people as people, I see myself in them, my children in them.  They are where my story begins like it or not.  This woman gave birth to me, this man went to a war in Vietnam because it was a job and he was 17 and I was a baby who needed to be fed.

I won't have a picture of my mother looking like a broken bird, or my father falling apart staying alive because he doesn't want her to be alone, doing all the things for her now he never could do before, both of them living out the last of their karma.  They are not old, only in their 60's but they have lived hard lives made harder by bad choices and mental illness.

My mother is cared for by strangers, hospice nurses that come and hold her hand because I can not, because we will not because those hands hurt us.  I made her the enemy because I had to be the mother.  I held my siblings close because I didn't want her to break them.  We shut them out of our lives because the lifestyle they lived could easily leak into better lives we were working hard to give ourselves.

I see tonight that none of it matters.

I told my mom to go, to let just let go and get the hell out of here.  It feels like she had done enough, lived through enough, caused enough pain, loved the best she could and I could not stand to see her suffer.  My sister like my dad are too afraid to let go and mad at me for giving up and giving in and they see me releasing her as unkind, as discarding her, what they do not understand is that I am afraid too.

I let Elliott touch my mothers hand and when he did I felt him say to her "You are only going where I just left, you will love it there"  Noah sang songs while he softly strummed his guitar, he was not afraid, he was kind and loving, he made us all cry.  My sister reached out past her fear and told my mother she loved her.  My dad cried, got mad at me, tried to take Noah into another room and introduce him to jazz and blues and share a little of himself, connect to my son through music.

One last good bye, and by the door a wedding photo, my Uncle Bill with slicked back black hair, my grandmother with a big corsage and lipstick, my mother young, in an up-do wearing pumps and a beautiful dress, her face is mine.

Friday, April 19, 2013



The sky is barely turning from night to morning but there seem to be a thousand birds chatting away in all the trees in our neighborhood, they woke me up, they know that today is the 19th, at least that is what it feels like.

I am remembering without effort your last day here with us in your body.  I usually slip easily into that memory, it is strong and vivid and it feels like pulling out stitches, this wound never heals, this broken place can not be repaired, it never will be but today I won't go there even though I have permission to, I won't, I can't.

There has to be a  new way to connect to you on this day, I need to find a way to celebrate instead of grieve,  I have to learn to honor you and I can not do that drowning in tears.  It's not fair to you that what hold close is the loss of you and not the beauty of the time you got to be here, all the smiles, and belly laughs, the tender late night talks, the sound of you moving through this house and your voice over the phone, your hand in mine as we drove to the next place.

You were and still are my person, my companion in this life.  I  believe we all get one true love and I was raised to believe the person who would capture my heart, save me, teach me, complete me would be a man, that romantic love was what I needed to be whole.  It isn't never was, it was you.  The love a mother feels for her child is the deepest place she will ever go, it is the highest mountain she will ever climb, it is the hardest work she will ever do, it is the easiest love she will ever experience.

When you and your sister and brothers were born something happened I can not explain it's like I fell open, parts of me were exposed, I was vulnerable, I could hide nothing.  I had to navigate differently in this world, feel things in a very different way.  All of you helped me grow, taught me life lessons that I could not have learned any other way.

When you were born I knew, I always knew...there was something different.  You were me, I was you but we our own worlds too.  You were aways so far ahead of me, you needed me, but I needed you more.  You were brave in all the places I was most afraid  You were always smarter and stronger, stubborn, and damn it you were always right and sometimes I hated that.  The thing I loved most was that you chose me, and let me love you and to this day I don't know why, you deserved so much more.

I loved waking up knowing you were in this world, I loved arguing with you, I loved sitting next to you and I loved it when you wanted me to go away at that concert in Berkeley.  I gave you space but I watched you from the balcony always protecting you but filled with pride as you swayed to the music, danced and fell in love with boys who played the piano like rock stars.

You filled my life with moments I want back, I want to live them over and over...

Where are you now Stevie?  I will make my way to the cemetery to be close to your body but where are you now?

Do you miss us like we miss you?  I pray that you are so happy, so busy, (maybe even living again in a new body) that you don't have time to miss us, we are a fuzzy memory.  I am selfish and sometimes I want to believe that you never left that you are here with us waiting and guiding us, and we will all go to heaven together.  Last year I thought maybe I could bring you home...

How can it be six years sweet girl?  I don't know how we got here, how we survived.  I am living in a world that doesn't know you.  You have a little brother who will never finger paint with you or play Guess Who.  You will never see the new kitchen, we have new Christmas decorations, and you never got to see Tangerine.  New cousins have been born, I have new friends you never got a chance to hate.  Ben brought back the Postal Service for a concert, Andrew got married after his cancer got it's ass kicked.  Our town looks different, new places to eat you would have loved.

People ask me how many kids I have...I say four ( I don't count Claire which feels wrong but she was never a child here on earth, only in my body and heart) then I have to try and explain that you are no longer here without making it sad, without seeming like I am trying to get sympathy, your death is not my calling card, being your mother is, and I am so grateful and proud.  I say I have a 27 year old my youngest daughter would be 25, my son is 13 and my baby boy is 7 months old.  I don't like to think of you as 25, in my heart you are 19, always 19.

Stevie I wish you were here, I wish you were in this bed, in this room, sleeping in until 10, I wish you had plans for the day that did not include me, that you were busy with your friends, school, work, a life you had created for yourself.  I would get a few minutes with you as you made coffee, cut up some fruit,  I would love to listen to you and your brother talk about music, you and your sister fight over who gets the shower first, watch you kiss Elliott (he would love your face).  I want to live in a world with you in it.

Today I will fight the memory of your last moments here and instead I will imagine that you are visiting from heaven and I will talk to you, share all the love I have for you, make you a part of this day in a good and positive way.

Baby girl my sweet little bunny, my friend, my daughter, my teacher, my heart, thank you, thank you for being in my life, for choosing me, for giving to me all you did, for sharing with me all your secrets, for loving me so well, for letting me love you and forgiving me when I did things wrong, for liking me anyway.

Thank you for 19 of the best years of my life...

Wait for us in heaven, be happy baby, be happy.

We are Ok Stevie, we are Ok.

I love you so very much,  "I Love you the whole world"


Monday, April 15, 2013


I am sitting on Stevie's bed which is the place Elliott and I share now, we have turned it into our little nursing nest.  This room still smells like Stevie but little by little it is changing.  There is a mobile of brightly colored baby dragons hanging from the ceiling, a wall shelf with red gnome, a firetruck and a little hand stitched monkey sitting next to a well worn teddy bear that we bought for Stevie who passed it to Noah who gave it to Elliott.  There are baby boy clothes hanging in the closet from little green hangers, two baskets filled with cardboard books, and a small crib in the corner filled with colorful toys and soft blankets.

This life of mine is morphing, all the familiar things are blending with new experiences that remind me of everything that came before.   I am paint mixing, tides moving in and out, time passing, a loop of memory that plays around and around.  I am seasons, cycles, time that is passing.

I am awake at two in the morning with a song playing in my head, a song I can not name but it belongs to Stevie.  I am remembering those last days because the sky is the same blue, the trees are full of leaves, the air smells the same as it did that April she left.

I have not been to the cemetery since, well it had to have been right before Elliott was born.  This is the longest I have gone and I feel it, it hurts, it feels like a broken promise.  The baby hates the car unless I am in the back with him, where he can see me, still he will only ride in that big car seat for a short amount of time.  That is my excuse.  The reality is that I am busy with a new baby, all of Noah's activities, life...

I ache to go and bring her new flowers, sit and talk, lay down on that thick grass under the sun and fall asleep in a forever sleeping place.  I am also afraid of it, afraid of falling down a rabbit hole where are that pain and memory is.  I love my girl and I wrap her around me like a blanket everyday of my life but I am so afraid of falling into a sad place I won't be able to get up from, my tough places have been softened by baby kisses wiggly toes.

April is hard, spring has all these beginnings, she went to sleep when everything was waking up, all her favorite things.

I am feeling sorry for myself this morning, sitting in the dark wondering what I could have done to save her, wishing I would have done a million things differently, said more, given more, been smarter, braver...wishing I could have been more for her.  I don't need to go to the cemetery, that rabbit hole has found me at two in the morning.

Noah and I were eating lunch outside yesterday and we both agreed that we wished there was a God, wished even more that there was a heaven.  We both didn't want to believe in a biblical God, someone that was too much like us, like a dad or a president.  We wished for a God that was more like stars and magic and love.

Since I am indulging myself in dark thoughts and self pity, since I am allowing myself to grieve I will say out loud that when Stevie left I needed to leave too.  I wished for my life to be over, I needed to be with her, I didn't want her to be alone and I couldn't imagine being her without her.  I feel differently now, not because I miss her less but because I feel needed here more.  I want to watch Noah grow up, I want to be a part of his life, I want to raise Elliott savor every milestone.  I want to be witness to Aly's life as it takes her by surprise and she falls in love and explores the world.  Now I fear how fast my life is moving, I fear that all this will end and there will be nothing, no Stevie, no heaven, just nothing and I find myself awake when I should be asleep checking on Noah, making sure the door is locked laying here listening to Elliott breath.

I count the years I should have left, wonder if my heart is strong enough, if my brain will stay wet and alive, conduct electricity like it should, if my cells are programed well and will keep reproducing at the rate they should for as long if not longer than the women before me.  Elliott needs a mama, and I am an older mama, 47 is not old but I will be 77 when he is 30 and 87 when he is 40 and I don't want to be falling apart I want to take care of my grandchildren on weekends, make sunday dinner, have Christmas morning at my house.

I miss Stevie and if I could believe with all the parts of me that believe and disbelieve things that she was waiting for me in heaven then I could sleep, and not worry.  If I could restore the faith I had when I was a kid in a God that had his hand on me, then I could breath deep and trust.  

It will be six years and still these moments when I can't accept that this has really happened, it's like I keep waiting for her to come home.  Last night I was nursing Elliott in the big chair in the living room.  Steve was working on taxes and making beer, Noah was in his room listening to Bruno Mars new CD, Aly was at work.   The lights were all on in the house, it was warm and cozy and I was flooded with nursing hormones touching Elliott's new hair when I heard a click and the front door gently opened.  Then I heard the whole house creak a little like it does some winter mornings.  My first thought was "Stevie is home"  I smiled.  Then I felt so very sad.  

Grief is tricky, you never know when it will swallow you.  You live with it everyday, it is a part of you,  but sometimes it is bigger than you are and you can't stuff it back into your pocket, you have to let it do what it does until it is ready to curl back up and be manageable again.

Next week I will go to the store and buy flowers, the fake ones, I will try to find something simple and sweet, I will include yellow tulips even though I feel like I need to bring something pink.  We will load up the car Steve, Noah, Elliott and I ( Aly refuses to go) with pic-nic stuff from Whole Foods, bring a blanket, some toys for the baby and take the long drive to Oakmont.  My heart will beat hard as we climb the hill that leads to the road the winds and winds to the place where Stevie's body is.  We will sit and talk and cry and I will tell Stevie about Elliott, he will play in the grass, he won't know where we are, he won't understand this place, he is a baby he is spring.

I will remark like I always do how pretty it is there, peaceful, the view breathtaking.  I will tidy up, replace old flowers with new, trace "Stevie-Christine McMoyler" with my finger.  I will tell her I am sorry it took so long to come back, I will tell her about the baby and the new fence, and the garden beds.  I will tell her the daffodils came up and only a few red tulips.  I will tell her that I found a whole tin full of satsuma soap she left and that I almost passed out when I opened it, that it reminded me of her and that last day.  I will tell her how much I love her and I will beg her to find a way to come home and tell me she is OK.  I will say I need more than the front door opening, it could have been the wind.  

I need to find a way to go back to sleep, it is going to be a busy day.  I have lunches to pack, a house to clean, a studio to move back home, and a baby boy who needs my every moment.   I need to find some peace before my house is awake, I want my boys to wake up to the smell of something sweet baking in the oven, old school music playing on the iPod, my smiling face and mushy kisses.

I am grateful for my life, even the parts that hurt.  I am sitting in this bed, in this room and it all seems so  tragic and beautiful.  It is all a circle really.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I am awake, not sure's four in the morning and there is no reason to be up but I can't sleep.  I went to see Wayne Dyer many years ago and I remember him saying that if spirit wakes you then you must listen and rise.  Here I am the house is dark and quiet everyone I love is fast asleep, dreaming...but  I am listening to what ever has me wide awake at this hour.

Elliott is next to me in Stevie's bed he is such a chub, what a beautiful baby, it still feels unreal, he is like a present every morning.  I still can't believe I am here in this moment with him, it was such a long journey.  I love learning about him, watching him become himself, find his hands, discover his voice, play with his toes.  He is silly, warm, sweet.  He's still so new but I feel like I have loved him forever.

Yesterday was Steve's birthday and we celebrated by going to the park across the street to play tennis and have a pic-nic brunch.  I still believe he chose this house because of the tennis courts!  He wishes we all loved the game as much as he does but we all gave it our best shot and were good sports as we lamely smashed the ball over the fence, into the net, and sometimes just missed it completely.  When we finished humiliating ourselves we ate big bagels from Noah's, smoked salmon, fruit, orange juice and cupcakes. After we ate Steve and Noah went back to the court and hit more balls while Elliott nursed and fell asleep on my lap while I sat under a big tree on a blanket,  Aly had to leave early to go to work but I was glad she joined us, it meant a lot to Steve to have us all together.

I felt so relaxed sitting there with Elliott both our bellies full, the sun warm, surrounded by long grass and dandelions, the sound of kids on the playground.  I felt connected to something bigger and it made me feel tiny but in the right place, like every moment of my life had led to this one, I seemed like I had been sitting there forever waiting to show up.  It's hard to explain and I feel it again as I sit here writing in the dark.

What if all this has happened before and we just live it over and over, we are in a life loop.  I am not sure what that would mean or why it would make any sense but what if this is all a memory, what if after we live our lives instead of heaven we just live in a memory loop?  What if we are simply stories, like books that sit on shelves that can be read over and over?  How cool and scary is that?

I am excited to see how this story continues to unfold.  I don't feel like I am almost 50 (in two years) or I don't feel what I thought I would feel at this age.  I don't think about wrinkle cream, sensible shoes or warm places I might want to retire.  I feel like I always have like I am just waiting to do the next thing, I don't relate to people my age, maybe I have arrested development, I am stuck at 30 is that possible?  Is it wrong?  Do we have to embrace aging?  Do we have to accept some kind of physical and mental decline? Is it selfish not too?  Is this a mid-life crisis?  I don't need a young boyfriend or a cool car, I don't need to find myself or have a face-lift, I simply don't want to believe that I have to slow down and start collecting aches and pains if I don't have them.

If I look in the mirror I still see myself, but a photo will shock me, I hate photos.

There was a wishing moon last night, and I wished to make contact with Stevie.  I was hoping she would find me at this silly hour, sit on my bed and we would talk.  I miss her so much.  

I closed the store.  It was the right thing to do.  I was never going to earn a living there, it was an art project, it was a place to heal and grow, it was an experience and it was time to let it go.  I am at peace with it but I had to go through a grieving process.  I am grateful that I will be home with Elliott, my studio will be here so I can still make art, write, play.  I don't feel like I failed although I am stuck with debt I will have to find a way to repay.  I found I am not a business woman but I am great at a lot of other things.

I want to write and illustrate another book, I want to make bowls made from clay, and I think I may be able to do that here while Elliott naps.  I am ready.

Noah is growing up so fast he is almost 6 feet tall at thirteen, how is that possible?   He is still so beautiful even with puberty face.  He is all long arms and legs, skinny, big smile that melts my heart and a deep voice I can't get use to.  He is made out of music, the way he moves, the way he expresses himself, his energy.  He is so frustrated that he has to learn to sing all over again, and again, each week his voice seems to change and it takes him to a new place only to be interrupted by evidence of more change.  He doesn't give up, he loves to sing, to play the guitar, to write songs.  I am so proud of him, I love him as a son I like him as a person.

Stevie's daffodils have just faded and the few tulips that are left are just getting ready to bloom.  We will need to put the new garden beds in soon.  We paid John to put up a deer/garden fence around the pool to keep Elliott safe, it is pretty, if a fence can be pretty, it feels good to know it is there and it will also keep the dogs from digging up everything we plant.  We have made so many changes to this house and the yard I can't even remember what it use to look like.  It is so funny that we had planned to live here a year and it has been 18 years, how did that happen, it went by so fast.  I never thought I would live in one place for so long, never thought it would be here.

Aly has decided on culinary school, not sure it 's a match, but I think it may be healing for her in many ways, it 's a connection to Stevie.  She is still struggling with independence, we don't help with that, we let her stay, we make it easy to stay, because we love her, because we all need to hold onto each other.  I want to see her out in the world, she needs to experience a life on her own but here we are.  She will find her way when she is ready.

It is now 5:46 and I am finally feeling a little tired, maybe I will meditate.  It was nice to write, even if it was only a train of thought.  Maybe we need to jump on that train at 4am just to see where it goes, just to take a look at where we are, what we have, what we miss, and what we might want to do next.

Thank you spirit for waking me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I guess you have to define "Mother"  what that means, what it means to you.

I had a biological mother, one who conceived me by accident, who gave birth to me without understanding what that would mean, who took care of me as a baby like a child does with a doll.  She adored me, I was hers, something no one could take away, I redefined her as a person, I made her a mother by being her child.

More children came and once we were no longer dolls we became bargaining tools.  She had all her children in her twenties and that was when she began to unravel.  According to my grandparents she was always the "different" kid, she just needed more.  She isn't unlike me or my daughters in many ways;  stubborn,  we need to feel like we belong but we want to belong as our individual selves, we think outside the box, we challenge mainstream thinking, we are opinionated, we are fragile in ways no one can see.  This Mother of mine was all these things but there was always something else, she was manipulative, she always looked at the world in her own way, and could never see it through the eyes of the people around her.  It was almost like she believed she was the only one that really existed and the rest of us just an illusion, part of a game she was playing.  She continued to unravel until we couldn't see her anymore.

At some point we dollies had to raise ourselves, we had to learn to see the world outside of our rooms and experience with her.  We had to become our own mothers and live in a world separate from her to survive.  Does this still make her our mother?

I gave birth to my own daughters and I had to learn how to parent by reading books, making mistakes and adopting mothers along the way so I could learn by watching them.  I parented most days by promising myself I would not make the same mistakes my parents did.  I always felt like I was wearing a skin coat made out of my biology and I had to find a way to shed it by doing things the right way.  It was difficult and I was young but I managed it wasn't always pretty.  I have had to invent my own style of parenting, it took me years to become a Mother, to me it was a title to be earned.

Later Noah would come, after years of waiting  I got the green light from Steve, things were falling into place for him and I managed to squeeze in a little and said, "what about me, my dreams?"  He never thought kids were something you waited for and dreamed about, built your future around.  They were an experience you got through if you had to, in some ways they were inevitable but you had to keep it simple, one or two, move through it, move on.  He loves his children but they are part of his life, not all of it.

After Noah was born Stevie would get cancer, everything would change.  Steve and I fell apart.  I became a different kind of mother, I had learned how to pull children from the mouths of alligators, lift cars off trapped babies, but here we were and I could not cure cancer, a brain tumor was bigger than me and I couldn't save her, I failed, did that still make me her mother?

My entire being fractured the moment I kissed her lips for the last time.  I broke into so many pieces, I unraveled.  I didn't come apart like my mother, I came apart so that I could come back together stronger.  I had to learn to take that pain and loss and turn it into something else.  I had no idea it was happening, I didn't know what to do or where I would end up.

I tore out our kitchen, I wrote a book, I threw away the art that I thought represented me, and I created a business.  I could only get through the day if I felt productive.  No matter how busy I stayed I still woke up with a big hole in my life, I had to open my eyes every day and remember Stevie was gone, it hurt to breath.

One morning I woke up and I knew that I needed to be a mother again.  I didn't need to have a baby to distract myself, I had enough distractions.  I didn't need to have a baby to forget  or replace Stevie, that would never happen.  I needed to do this because I am a mother.  I am a lot of things but that is what I am most, what I love and value most, it is what completes me.

Even though I was sure this is what I needed to do I battled with it.  My rational brain made a long list of why this was not the most rational thing to do; my marriage was hanging by thread, I was 43 years old, my husband had a vasectomy and did not want any more children, he was even older than me.  We did not have the resources for a traditional adoption, or IVF, we lived in a small house, there was recession happening and we didn't know if Steve would have a job in a week or a month.  I had a business and a little boy who needed more of me, and I was still grieving but...

There are things in my life I am sure of, it does not happen often but when it does, it does.  This was one of those times.  I knew I would not give up, I knew this would happen, I knew it would be process and I knew my heart would surely be broken in that process.

When I am sure, there is nothing I can do or anyone can say to stop this thing from happening.  It is a force bigger than me.  I was tired and I didn't know where I would get the strength in me to move through another journey this big, but I woke up every morning knowing I was on that path anyway.  There is a metephorical light that shines in me, ahead of me, and all around me.  This light helps me move through my doubts, it helps me find a way over hurdles and sometimes mountains.  I can never see it until much later, when I am looking back.

It would take four years and the loss of a baby to bring Elliott home.  It would have to be a super hero, I would endure pain, I would fight for this with all I had, risk my marriage, my home, my health for this. Here I am where I knew I would be, feeling what I knew I would feel, looking back I can not believe I got from there to here, I knew I would but I just can't believe I didn't give up.  I feel like someone else now.

I still wake up and say good morning to Stevie, the depth of that loss has not changed, I have.

I am an older mom, it isn't the best thing but it's something I can do, will do, and will do well.

Elliott is not a genetic child, meaning the cells that I needed to have a baby were donated to me.  I had to be gifted a blue print but I provided the building materials and the site.  He and I did all the hard work together.  He is a child of mine, there is no doubt about that.

I am not his mother because I gave birth to him, because he belongs to me, I am his mother because I belong to him, I have made a  promise.  All my children have been a gift to me, they belong to themselves but I get to travel with them, I get the honor of welcoming them and guiding them.  I am the kind of person who thinks this is the hardest job, but the best job a person could have.  I don't need much else to make my life seem important.

We will teach each other, it won't always be easy, there will be so many mistakes but hopefully no regrets.  We are a family.

I still want a big family, if I were a little younger I would do this again.  My dream as a child was to have six children, it seemed like a good number when I was seven and writing the story of my life.  In this story I was a Pediatrician, astronaught, and a mom to six kids.  I had a husband named Jack who had a job in a big office.  We lived in a house the same color as my grandmothers, pink, mission stucco, red tulips planted by the windows.

My house had a big back yard with a tire swing and apple trees.  I imagined the inside of my house would always smell like Thanksgiving.  It would be bright, big rooms, lots of toys, and fluffy beds that everyone could jump on.  My kitchen table would mostly be a fort for tea parties, and I would always have a jar full of homemade cookies.  I would never spank my kids and they would all know how to sing like in the sound of music.

I pictured myself as pretty, blonde, long hair, pink painted fingernails and frosty lipstick.  I would drive a baby blue car with white leather seats, I would smell like peppermint and flowers   I would have soft nightgowns and a big soft bed that all my kids would cuddle with me in, we would read stories, eat cookies and wouldn't care if there were crumbs in the sheets.

I am 47.  I have lost a daughter, a baby, and today I have three beautiful children who share my days with me.   I became an artist, I live in a green house, I bake cookies, we have grieved and celebrated inside these walls.  Some days I am not sure how long I will remain married.  My bed always had a baby in it, big or small,  we jump on furniture, tell stories and I have never spanked my kids.

I have a couple apple tree's, my wild auburn hair is turning grey, never found much use for lipstick and  I drive a red car.  I never got to ride in a rocket ship but I get to watch the stars from our hot tub on summer nights.  There are many things I am, many I am not but always I am a mom.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A thousand words...

Because I have a chubby baby on my lap who is not going to let me write because he wants to nurse, laugh, and cuddle, I decided a picture may be worth a thousand words...

Noah and Aly having Gelato in Italy.

Noah and I in the car, I just told him that I wouldn't give up.

Noah and friends in High school musical he was the lead heart throb...

                               Noah performing at the firehouse.

                                                 Aly, Noah, and Steve in Italy.

                                                                  Noah and Elliott...

                                          Newborn smiles...

                       Breast milk begins to fatten up the mouse.

                                                             After the bath with Noah.

                                                                  Mouse and Mama...

                                                  So we meet... Tears and a sigh of relief...

                                                             Noah and his besties.


                                                               Christmas tree day!

 Noah as the White Rabbit in Alice!

                                                                             A nap...

          Still trying to decide what color his eyes will be.

                                                                Elliott and his Papa.

                                                    Mr. Mouse

                                                           Noahs birthday drums.

                                                                My star for Claire.

                                               Noah backstage, he was the heart throb again in 13.

                                                    Little brother.