Friday, January 28, 2011

Comes With Love. A Fairly Easy Lesson.

If you do love someone, with every fiber of your being - whether it be a child or partner - there are things you owe yourself, and them, to do. Alan and I were somewhat prepared, yet many of the crucial issues we addressed in the 11th hour. I am grateful we did, but it was an uncomfortable, sobering scramble and not something you want to deal with when you're savoring a life.

This what I'm talking about:
Reconciling bank accounts.
Locating the life insurance policy / finding out if there's one through work - you never know.
Clarifying instructions regarding a DNR/DNI end of life care.
Consulting a lawyer if there will be remaining sperm/eggs/embryos if you did assisted reproduction.
Organ donation.
What you'd like for yourself re. burial/cremation.

Much to contemplate, all of it of dire importance.
Bottom line? Do it. You can handle it.

If you have a spouse, especially if you have a child, if you are employed - or not, get life insurance NOW. Do it. It is painless, you call an insurance broker, they do a brief review of your medical history, send someone to your home to do bloodwork and then they issue you a policy. It is easily implemented and takes less time than the usual procrastination.

Do your DNR/DNI form NOW. You can find basic ones on line, but they are state specific so make sure you find one for where you live (here). Spell out how you want your end of life care whether you're in an accident or struck ill or live until you're 102 like Lily's great grandfather. You owe it to your loved ones who will also be your caregivers to tell them whether or not you want to be on breathing tubes, kept alive if brain-dead, given enough pain-killer to be pain free, put in a hospice facility, taken care of - if possible - at home. Yes, these are heavy, terrifying issues to contemplate but trust me, you will be grateful there is no second guessing/hoping praying you're honoring someones wishes when you cannot communicate with them.

Wills also can be found on line and will need to be notarized. If there will be multiple beneficiaries or if it is going to be complicated, get a lawyer.

List - somewhere safe - all of your bank account numbers, passwords, policy numbers etc... in an place that a loved one knows about. If you find yourself in an untimely, dire situation, try as best you can to transfer or empty all cash bank accounts into the soon to be survivor's name. Name your beneficiaries on ALL of your accounts. Now. Here's the deal. When someone passes on, their accounts technically should be inaccessible and will become what's known as part of "the estate". It may be frozen if there is debt to pay, bills to negotiate, etc... If your loved one's finances are already in your name it allows you to protect some assets or at least have them readily available for immediate needs. Estates can be frozen for MONTHS. There will be bills to pay, funeral expenses, post-mortem taxes to prepare for your loved one, and you may not be psychologically/spiritually able to return to work. I wasn't.
And I was pregnant.
You may need all the financial help you can get.

Do it by February 14th. Is it a Hallmark card? No.
A deep way to show your love? Yes. (And you can do both. Woo hoo!)

When I look at Lily she is the embodiment of all of Alan's love and mine, combined. And everyday I consider her Alan's valentine to me.
She is well worth all of the planning above.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Dreamer

Dada come down.

She says waving Isadora Duncan style in the air above her. Not sure who or what gave her the idea he was up there. She often refers to people, alive, in the sky so perhaps it's her imagination at work.

Oh Lily, Dada can't come down.

Dada come visit.

Oh Lily, Dada can't come visit.

Dada come visit, soon!

Oh Lily, that's a very nice idea but he can't come visit Lily. Not soon.
Not ever.
I'm sorry my love. But Dada loves you soooo much.

And then I wonder if I should have said loved and I rephrase with the latter.
I have never said ever to her. It doesn't make sense at this age. But the questions and ideas are repeated often and I need to lay the groundwork for deeper conversations that sadly are not far off. I don't want to mislead my dreamer.
For that she is.
She has more and more wonderful thoughts and her imagination is wild at play. Yesterday she cooked and served me eight playdough pies in about five minutes. I was also fed rice (a rock), served multiple cups of tea and also cake.

Thankfully she moved on to other topics as she ate dinner and she remained all smiles. Her hands, greasy with pasta, are Alan's hands. Someday when she's a bit older I'll share that with her. She may not get to hold them in hers, but she'll know exactly what they looked like. Her fingers are tapered in the very same way. Narrow at the top, wide at the bottom.
Just like her dad's.

What is most beautiful about life with Lily is that she lives for the moment. She has recently begun to grasp the word "soon" (she also enjoys the expression "right n o w " - and she uses it often with requests for anything), but in general her world is up and down. In place. She lingers in the moment. She lives for the present and has no concerns or thoughts of the future. "We're in a rush" has no bearing on her, and I say that thankfully even though getting a jacket and shoes on and moving out the door can sometimes take seemingly forever. But she is so everpresent. And that is a gift for me as well. I worry constantly about the future and ruminate heavily on the past, so Lily is my anchor in the beauty of a day.

Such a difference she makes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

To Sleep...

Must be the time change. And teething. And travelling. The CA to NY transition. And congestion. This was a first but I am tired and my daughter-formerly-known-as-Lily must be overtired.

Last night's 90 minute Avoidance of Sleep Concerto:

Big Babyyyyyyyy! Big Babyyyyy!
Little Babyyyy! Little Babyyyyyy!
After 15 minutes, Mama concedes, tucks in babies.
Sleep Mama's Bedddddddddddddd!!!!
Mama's Bedddddddddd!
Pour glass of wine. 15 more minutes of drink and no peace.
Nose Runninggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg! Nose Running!!!!!!!
Enter Mama. Wipe Nose, remind sobbing babe how to do it herself. Convince her to lie down, round three.
Sit on couch. Drained. Tantrum eruption continues.
Mouse Painttttttttt!!! Mouse Paintttttttt! (new book) Read Mouse Painttttttt!
Bunny Honeyyyyyyyyyy (another book)
Sob. Hyperventilate. Another 15 minutes. Mama frozen on couch. Shell shocked.
Sleep on Mama's elbooooooooowwwwwwwww! Sleep On Mama's elbow!!!!!!!
Nightgown offffffffffff! 20 minutes of this.
Blood pressure rising.
Must be.
Re-enter mama. Unwind Lily t-shirt sleeve that that has somehow turned tourniquet. Plea. Come on sweet pea, please go to sleep Lily. Calm down. Everyone's sleeping.

Rattle off list of 40 friends and relatives and dogs who are sleeping.

Sobbing, hiccuping, shaking ensues.
Little baggggggggg... pointing to new mini mermaid just like her cousin's in mesh bag.
Mama caves in, gives it to her.

Mama exits. Furious. Exhausted. Fantasizes about going to the neighbor's or around the block for a few minutes. Gets cookies.
Ponders parenthood induced obesity while watching TV on mute.

End of rope. Desire to shake baby creeps in but is warded off. Another 15 of screaming, tears and reckless jumping trampoline style.

Mother-formerly-known-as-Mama steams back into room. Takes toys out of crib. Turns out nightlight. Tells daughter that she HAS TO SLEEP and that MAMA IS MAD AND SAD (quoting one of her newer books) AND VERY TIRED. Lily lies down, mama calms down, covers her with big blanket, sweeps her hair out of tears on cheeks, tells her she loves her soooo much. Kisses her, strokes back.

Mama Go. She says.

After all that.

Exit mama.

All is quiet. Wait 20 minutes. Creep in, climb into bed. Pray for sleep. Ask Alan for help. Pray for sleep for the night and all other nights.

Got it, at least last night.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year.

Lily and I just returned from our holiday pilgrimage to the Bay Area and though it wasn't restful I'm resigned to the non-restfulness until she waves me out of her dorm room in approximately 17 years.

But it was a sweet trip where we spent time with her beloved cousins who don't mind her touching their Bayblades and Zhou Zhou pets (and if they do they tell her gently), love to sit next to her during meals, enjoy brushing her hair even if she is running away simultaneously and trampling their artfully arranged train tracks while doing so. They share mermaids and squirt toys with her in the tub and give her a good dose of sibling love.

We wish they lived closer.

Lily also had quality time with her next door bud, Madeleine (Mad Dog), who is as gentle and demure as a kitten except when she is risk taking in reckless outbursts that lead to injury in unsuspecting moments. She also hung out with favorite doggies, jumped her way through puddles, enjoyed time with grandparents over dim sum and Blue Jay feedings and hung out with some big girls who have handed down an awesome baby with handy accouterments.

I got to hear live music (adult music that is) for the first time in close to three years. The anticipation of doing so has had me on edge - one of those hurdles in widow country that I was reticent to attempt. Thankfully it was Bluegrass so despite the often tragic themes and lonesome sounds, the upbeat strings kept me ... feelin' OK. It helped to have a dear friend by my side. And it felt good to be in an element that reminded me of times when things were alright.

Alan was with us in every raindrop, and twilight winter sky. Lily even looked up one day and said "Dada come down". The guilt still lingers, and my anxieties about being her only parent had unwelcome flare-ups at night. Another aspect of widowhood - when you're relishing in life you can't help but worry it will be snatched away. I'm sure it was heart wrenching for Alan as well, in fact I know so. He too had a hard time embracing happiness.

Quite a challenge these days.
Especially with Lily by my side.
The happiest of sun beams.

Last night in her sleep, "Cheers Jiji, Cheers Mama".

Lily is the perfect affirmation of life.
As were our happy family meals.
As was music with a good friend by my side.
And dinners with childhood and college friends who may as well be family.
As were the brisk days, and winter leaves lingering in fresh puddles.

Entering 2011 and it feels alright.