Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wake me up

Stevie,

Its November...this is when we found out the cancer was back and this time it would take you away from us.  You knew.  You were afraid, I was afraid, it all happened so fast, It was our last Thanksgiving.

This has been a sad couple weeks I have been missing you so very much.  There is just so much I wish you were here for.  I wish you knew Elliott, I wish you could listen to Noah sing, I wish you were sitting next to me helping me plan Thanksgiving dinner, we always did it together.

I wish so many things...

I love you Stevie.

Nothing is the same.

I stay busy, I am always busy, I can't be still, can't be without a project, a goal, something that needs doing.  If I am still or quiet I am flooded with the reality that you are not here anymore.  I still look for signs, I still keep the window open, seven cold winters that damn thing has been open, fly in and take me on an awfully big adventure already.  You don't come to me in dreams very often anymore, when you do it feels like a Christmas present.

I look for you everywhere and in everything and I find you over and over then you fade away again.

I have not been to the cemetery in a long time, I need to go, need to lay down on the grass above you, be close to your body, look up at the sky and talk to you.  There is a peace there, all those people, all that love.  I don't know why people are afraid of graveyards they are beautiful, sad, but there are so many stories there I can feel them when I go.  I wish each grave site had a book or a video and I could know those stories, instead I walk around pick up dead leaves, replace flowers, and read the dates on headstones.  The garden we buried you in was almost empty seven years ago now you are surrounded by so many people, do people look at your headstone read your dates, your name and wonder what happened to a 19 year old girl.  Maybe they think you were in a car accident or died in some tragic teenage way instead of how you did leave...cancer.

I try to imagine you as a grown up, in your own apartment, your own friends, me calling and bugging you all the time because I miss you, but you are busy with your life, work, school, friends, research, cooking, going to concerts...I am sad but happy too, the hope is that your children will outgrow you and be so happy that they don't "need" you anymore.  It's bittersweet.

I try to tell myself that is all this is, you are happy doing the next thing, you outgrew me, this life, your body and now you don't need me and that's OK.  I just wish I could pick up the phone and tell you something silly or listen to you tell me about all the things you are doing.

Your brother is a beautiful soul, he is trying so hard to make you proud, to do all the things you didn't get a chance to do, to make the most of his life, he is spectacular, he squeezes the hell out of my heart.

Aly moved out on her own, room mates (two guys who are slobs) it has been really hard for her, she wants to be here with us, she needs us, but I know she also needs to be out in the world at least for a little while so she can see what she is made out of.  I miss her.

Elliott is two, he is getting so sweet, I love this age when babies turn into little people.  He is a lot like you in so many ways.  He loves fruit, not a fan of meat, loves to nurse (yes, still)  he only likes soft clothes, he is smart and stubborn (just a little) and is my little Charley-horse (side-kick) just like you were.

Dad and I are the same, just a little more wrinkled and annoying.

I wish I was younger, I would like Elliott to have a sibling his age to grow up with but unless someone leaves a baby on my doorstep or asks me to adopt a two year old it seems he will grow up mostly as the baby of the family.

I smell you in your room once in a while, it is a scent that isn't anywhere else in the house or in the world, just in your room, next to your bed.  I love it when it happens but it also tears me in half.

I did a big family photo wall in the dining room, put up photos from happy times, it makes me feel like you are there with us, having family dinner, making some joke that is both witty and profound, making us laugh or groan.  Damn I miss your humor.

Come visit me tonight, wake me up, tell me about heaven, let me know you are OK.  Help me find that damn little pony, the white one with the pink tail from mothers day, Elliott played with it and I can't find it, show me where it is, make that our sign.

I love you sweet pea, so very, very much.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seven

video
Stevie,

It's April 18th.  I have been a wreck all week, my cells are remembering.  Today has been hard really hard and I can't explain it.  I can't breath.  I miss you so much.  I hate this.  I am allowed to feel sorry for myself once in a while, have a pity party, fall apart but it feels like weakness like I am stuck and I am not stuck.  I am sad and it has been too long, seven years, and today I realize, really understand it will be the rest of my life.  Is this what it is like to be in prison?  At least in prison you know the people you love are out there, you can call them, get visits, send them a letter.

This is my letter, will it make it's way to you on the other side?  Are you sitting next to me while I write this wondering why I am such a mushy pile of tears, not strong at all?  I am sorry.  I need to know you are somewhere, I need to talk to you. I see your face in pictures, watch you dance and laugh, hear your voice on video, it isn't enough.  I want to smell your hair, kiss your cheeks, touch your hand.  I want to go into your room, sit on your bed and talk about your day.  I want to take you shopping, watch your look at everything, find just the right thing, something I would have never chosen in a million years.

There are happy days sweetie, there really are, we have  holidays, and birthdays, and silly times.  We are alive and living and doing and surviving but it isn't the same without you, there is always someone missing.  It is hard to take a family photo, it's hard to explain when people ask how many kids I have.  I always include you but have to explain, and I have to deal with the pity and awkward moment,  I  smile and say "It's  ok" when it isn't but I am expected to pretend.

It would be nice if I could say, "I have five kids.  Two of my daughters died, one at 19 and one when she was born early.  My other three kids are alive, healthy and happy and that brings me great joy but everyday I live with loss and it sucks, it hurts and on some days it's unbearable.  I envy you, that you don't have to know this and I wouldn't wish it on you and I try to find beauty and gratitude and I count my blessings but sometimes I can't find God in my heart, sometimes I feel very alone in the world and I would give anything for it to be different to be able to say I have five Children three daughters, two sons and life is good".

I am sitting her in the sunroom, it looks different now, a new carpet, honeycomb blinds to keep the heat out in the summer, the old leather couch from Ikea is out here and all of Elliott's toys.  Remember when we had all of Noah's toys out here, it looked like a preschool...I am at the computer, a different one, and I am typing and crying and it feels good, I need to let it out.

Chantal re-occurred.  I am not sure what will happen but my fear is that she will die soon.  I am praying for something different.  I was once envious of David that he got to watch his daughter grow up, become a woman, live on her own, have boyfriends.  Now I am just painfully sad.  I pray that no matter what happens that she is not afraid.  If she transitions Stevie will you be there?

I remember this moment seven years ago, we were in that room at Muir, I could see the foothills and the tree's from the window, you hated the sun going down, and it disappeared into pink.   You were in so much pain, so afraid, I was so tired, I didn't know that was our last night ever.  I laid down next to you and we tried to sleep, 12 hours later you were gone.

I still have the shirt you were wearing.  Dad buried your little green slippers with the cherries on them in Thailand, on a beach.  We wanted a part of you there.  He also bought a little float covered in flowers, lit with candles and sent it floating out to sea.  I am sorry we never made it there while you were alive.

Forgive me Stevie for not doing more, for not being better, for not handling this with more grace.  It just never goes away.  The best I can do is stuff it down and live in the moment.  Then there are days like this when it just doesn't seem possible that the world just didn't stop the moment your heart did.

Tomorrow we will go to the cemetery.  I have your yellow tulips, some daisies and these obscene aqua colored flowers that are as big as my head.  When I found them I thought of you and had to have them, I am not sure how they will look out there but I don't care, I know if you could see them you would smile.

I am going to watch a video dad made of you tonight.  It is the one with you before the concert.  I love the way you look, your hair just out of the shower, long, auburn, wavy.  Your smile makes my heart swell, and your long fingers, beautiful hands and those eyes, I could see inside you through those eyes, all oceans, and dreams, and sweet things.

I am asking the same thing I always ask, "Are you out there, are you still you, are you happy, do you know how much I love and miss you, can you come home, just for a minute and tell me you are ok, that I will see your again?"

Oh Stevie thank you so much for being my girl.  Thank you for 19 years of loving and being loved by my favorite person.  Thank you for teaching me, forgiving me, getting me, and letting me be your mama.

Stay close, don't be too far away I miss you too much.




Monday, April 7, 2014

April

The weather turned and turned and now it is warm and the blossoms are falling from the fruit trees in the yard.  I put most of our garden in the beds dad built for me, four big squares frames by thick planks, filled with organic soil.  The plants are so small and fragile looking but I know as spring turns to summer the beds will be full and green and beautiful.

The pink tulip did not come up this year.

Your daffodils did.

April is a hard month.  Without warning the memories come back...that last days.  It is like my body has memory it know what April is, will always be and it goes into auto pilot.  I hate it but I embrace it too.  This is your time, it deserves to be honored, you deserve all my attention, and the pain is mixed with all the love.

Your brother is over 6 feet tall now, he is beautiful Stevie, you would be best friends.  He looks like you a little, he has your sense of style, he is a little stubborn too, in his own way.  Your sister is still living at home, she is grown up now but still needs to hold on to something here, any part of you she can, that is us, this house, these rooms.  Elliott is different, he is his own little person, like a little bulldog, he smells awesome, he is silly, and he loves
dandelions just like you.

I am getting wrinkly.  It happens, and its happening fast because I spent way too much of my youth in the sun before there was any such thing as sunscreen.  I am cooking again, making art, chasing Elliott around, still crazy, still me.

I miss you.

Everything keeps changing but some part of me is frozen in time because I can not let myself forget anything, I won't, it was too wonderful, even the shitty stuff.  I would give anything to go back for a day and just lay next to you while you read a fat book, to listen to your breath, to touch your cheek.

Don't be too far away, I need you close, I try to act tough but sweet girl I can not do this part by myself.

(Please God let there be a heaven, let my girl be there waiting for me, having fun, doing all the things she loves most, surrounded by people she loves who love her.  Let there be books and puppies, good coffee, music, soft clothes, big beds, full moons, and only falls and springs.)

I love you Stevie,

Mama

Friday, January 31, 2014

It's an ordinary day.  I woke up feeling better after having a cold then lying to the pharmacist that I was not sick so I could finally get a flu shot before it was too late, the result was feeling like absolute shit for 24 hours but today I am on the mend.

I am having a friend over  to bake so I thought it would be smart to maybe clean my neglected and for some reason always dirty kitchen.  Is it just me or do people who really use their kitchens just never have a clean kitchen?  I am not a pretty kitchen girl, I don't have a cookbook on an acrylic stand open to the same damn recipe everyday that I will never make but the photo is pretty, I don't have matching dishtowels perfectly folded over my oven handle, there isn't a vase of anything, and my cupboards are full of stuff I use often.  I am not a great cook but I do a lot of cooking, my stove always has a pot of something on it, my oven is scary, and I love my basket full of onions, garlic, lemons, and drying herbs from the garden.  The down side is that it usually looks like a bomb went off in here.

So today I decided to wipe the cupboards down, and mop the floor.  I mop like they do in Mexico and I use a wet soapy towel.  My feet have learned to move it around just the way I need it to, getting into the corners, putting more pressure in places that are little more grimy.  I love the way the warm water feels, and how the large towel seems to erase a weeks worth of foot prints, spills, drip, drops, and proof that I was there.

Today is an ordinary day and mopping up an ordinary chore but today something happened, and it happens when I least expect it, I fell apart.  I had my phone plugged into a speaker and I was playing a mix on Pandora.  Songs came, I sang, some where songs I knew some new to me.  Then "Somewhere over the Rainbow" by Iz began and I was transported to last days.

The first time I heard that song Stevie and I were in bed watching ER.  Dr. Greene was in Hawaii with his family dying from a brain tumor, his daughter put headphones on him as he lay sleeping and whispered, "I remember"  It was a baby song he sang to her, she wanted to let him know she knew he loved her and she loved him.  He left his body as the waves crashed outside his window, as the breeze carried Iz's beautiful melody out of the  television screen and into my heart, a heart that prayed that the girl next to me would always be next to me.  I squeezed her hand, we cried.

A few years later that song would play in the room she lay dying in and later at her funeral. Today it played in my kitchen and I couldn't breath.

I hold it together day in and day out.  I talk to my daughter on long walks, when I am afraid, when I just need to let her know I am thinking of her.  I visit her at the cemetery.  I dust her photo, kiss it and the smudge stays there until the next dusting.  I do these things and tell myself, "she never left, she is still here, you just can't touch her and see her".    But once in a while I am hit so hard and so unexpectedly that I am sure I will die from the grief.

I work through it, I sit down and cry.  I talk to her, I pray to what ever god might be interested, I tell myself that she is waiting, she is waiting, she is waiting, somewhere for me.

I sit here in tears, today is an ordinary day but it is also a hard day, my heart is hurting in unimaginable ways.  I am remembering things in snap shot and video clip;  Her bald head on a pillow, the way she tried to tell me she loved me, reading to her when she couldn't anymore, laying in the tub with her, the time she fell off her bike and cut her leg, her curled up nursing in my arms as a baby.  I don't want to forget any of it but it hurts to remember it, because she isn't here and I won't have anymore of anything...

It is almost seven years and you would thing some kind of magic would happen and faith would comfort me, time would erase all of this pain, I would accept this and that acceptance would move me from this place to the next, what ever that is.  It doesn't.

I am not stuck in my grief, I live my life, I find happy moments, I celebrated, I stay busy.  I do my best to keep my girl close but  also understand that where ever she is she has things she must do to.  That's how I do it, it isn't a cure it is a distraction.

Today will be an ordinary day, I will bake cupcakes, change diapers, pick Noah up from school, there will be homework, and dinner to make, laundry to fold, bills to pay but I will do it with a heavy heart, I will walk outside so my boys won't see my tears.  I will look at this baby of mine and thank the universe for him for the ten millionth time and pray that he stay safe and healthy.  I will look at Noah and see Stevie in him and think again how much she would have loved to know him now, he is just the kind of boy she thought was awesome.  I will try to forgive Aly for not loving me like Stevie did and forgive myself because I stopped loving Steve the way I use to.

When the sky turns pink I will ask one more time for God to allow Stevie to come to me and tell me she is OK, to finally allow my heart some peace.

Then I will wake up and it will be an ordinary day again.