Tuesday, December 24, 2013


How the end of a year pops up,
a burst of sun,
crisp air,
Four pm light at two in the afternoon,
the feeling of an approaching turn, near but not yet there.
It is a good end of year,
Lily and I in California,
taking in tall grass, rocks and sand.
She is busy dragging branches with her courtesy sisters
building fairy houses and straddling craggy rocks, anchored soundly,
hands positioned firmly on hips, shadows long
on undulating hills.

This is what I love about being
The air so fresh "it smells like Jamaica, mama"
she reports as she dashes to the neighbors house.
Where her West Best Friend waits with mirrored excitement,
and something within me softens, breathes with greater ease.
Relishes in a place where time seems gentler,
and urgency has no home.

Words have more breathing room, thoughts have space,
a high quiet reigns.

And today, watching the girls, chase waves, with such
Strong sun blasting over us all amid a gentle cool
I felt so at
with everything that's brought me to
So nice, to just watch.
Blank horizon to center my gaze,
just happiness observinging two girls
nowhere but the present.

When we reached the beach,
we passed a heron.
Still and strong yet featherlight in the breeze.
And when we left,
There it was,
Same spot, facing in another direction.

And as our afternoon came to a close
My dear old friend pointed me toward some words:
Your life, accept it just as it is,
Today. Now.

And though there is sadness
that ever-lingers beneath my days.
I kiss my life.


Thursday, November 28, 2013



Are not so far as we might have feared you would be -

Far away you are,
but do you know that you are celebrated
ever present
in so many
hearts and minds.

You come through in many ways.
Just the other night Lily said you helped her clean up her newly acquired
Rainbow Loom rubber bands,
carelessly strewn on the floor
bright and beautiful in their disarray
intentionally scattered,
reluctantly gathered.
But Daddy helped,
She said.

And Jake is practicing spitting sunflower seeds,
Just as his Uncle Alan would have shown him.
Honing his craft -
preparing for grimy dugout floors
on his way
to a
solid base hit.
We gave them to him - Lily ready to offer a demo -
Crack & Spit
(I taught her the night before).
We gave him a Mattingly figurine too...
Hope we did ok.

Just like her mama, she'll do anything for her boy.
She's even got a pink glove.
Tells me the teams we're allowed to like
as she dozes off to sleep.
(And don't roll your eyes about the pink.
It was a gift.
From Bill.)



So we gathered as we always do,
to celebrate knowing you.
Hope you saw our crowd?
Today I am ever-grateful
of all the people you draw
despite the dose of a double day...

And no, I can't say Happy Fifty.
As it would be today
You always aged so gracefully.
Salt & Pepper grey to match
your sweet and weathered heart.

But even with the ache,
of our Collective Void,
We are living fully,
And laughing, and loving.

Never thought I could fulfill that promise,
that wish you gently requested.
In fact, I lied, straight up…
Doubting what I would be able to do
as I whispered I will try in your ear.
But we are all
In honor of
Here in
so many ways,
In Spirit
as I like to say.

And though we miss you always,
We've got you Babe,
We've got you.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Day

This morning Lily burst onto the scene, fully dressed and ready to go.
It was a thrill.
To not have to herd, plead, nor argue about


SUCH a gift.
And relief, considering bedtime last night was...
A downward spiral which began when I halted
for bathtime and bed.
The girl was born for retail, they'd love her holiday readiness.
Grandpa genes, surely.

Even Lily seemed refreshed this morning.
And after a momentary Q & A in the bathroom about
Daddy died Pumpkin.
Did you just wake up one morning and he died?
Well, no... Actually, yes Pumpkin, yes.
But he was your age, Mama - should you die now too?
No Pumpkin, no one should ever die this young,
that is one of the reasons
so sad.
He had a very bad sick, not like what we get when we go to the doctor,
a different kind of sick...
I love you mama, she says, and I love the dinners you cook.

She hugs me.

I need to pick out my bracelets.

So much happens before morning coffee.

But it was a good morning.
Just as the salutation promises.

And she loved my interview.
New converts to The Right,
we are.
Or at least for The Book's Sake.
Lily waved to the screen and blew kisses upon sight of her dad.
And herself,
And me.

For nine minutes we were a complete family.

Oooh she said, when our photos flashed.
So sweet, that girl.
And in true "truth seeking" form, when the show host mentioned he had kids:

He doesn't have kids, Mama.

Where was she in my Actor Studio days,
on the sidelines with the
Truth Police?

He does have kids, Pumpkin.
Though I must agree, he lacked... Depth? Feeling?
Can you go back on and talk for longer?
Not sure, Pumpkin, not sure.

But one thing I can say for sure,
Alan was with me that day on screen...
Sent me the Harry Chapin reference, off-point,
which was surely an invisible hug -
a reference he often jokingly used when shrugging off
Fatherly Shortcomings.

Never would the song have been used about him.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hold On

Got an aarp solicitation in the mail the other day.
I will not capitalize the letters.
No thanks.
Very much. I'm good.
I Am Good.
So much fun being on the widowed hit list -
Surely they aren't aware of my rollicking early middle-aged WidowFest.

Sounds like an ale.


Come on board.
a blast. I'm like...
The Shark Boat.

For example, tonight.
No golf carts for me, or life-alert.
Instead, my girl, today dressed as Annie for a Halloween Fair, went off on a sleep-over with family.
And I was left, Solo.
Face-paint still on,
hand tattoo (sweetly applied by a fifth grade boy)
of pink-skulls-and-all that read,
Party Girl,
with nowhere to go.

Again, a spontaneous moment of down-time-that-should-be-up-time! leaves no time for coupled friends and tired moms to line up their own escapes.

That's it.


It's OK. It is.
But are they all secretly dining out with other happy
or are they truly exhausted and bed bound.
Just curious.
I'll never know.
Easy to stay in with company.
Must be.
Hell, I'd do it.

Took myself to a movie, 12 Years a Slave which my iphone so helpfully auto-corrected in a text to my brother as:
12 Years of Solace.

For Real.

It said that.

Best laugh of the day as I sipped my wine and snacked on appetizers at a restaurant counter -
warmed by a fire, face-paint and tattoo unnoticed, book in hand,
Aloof Bartender,
Whiter Shade of Pale moaning in the foreground.

And then I get home and am greeted by Cheryl Strayed's
Sugar Something.
A gift in the mail from a dear friend and it's all I can do to get past the inside cover that shouts inspirational I CAN DO IT thoughts.


Been there done that.
Warrior Woman Here.
Shark Boat, remember?
Phoenix rising up from the ashes of destruction?


No Stick Here.
No Oprah either.

I'm all for the inspiration.
In fact, some have said I embody it myself.
But I'd rather go on a cattle drive any day.
Bright, dusty sun, hoof beats that trip, startle and soothe.
Yuck it up with a Marlboro Man.

Leave those dark woods behind.
Sing it:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Lily likes the book.

(Even I can mimic her teenage confidence.)

Proudly delivered it to her school's librarian who accepted it with
kind yet quiet reserve.
The two of us had secretly envisioned it differently:
Horns, smiles, flags and fanfare...
But when we returned last week,
Lovingly placed on top of the shelves.
Eye level for just her size.
Almost Five Size.
Right next to the other books with now weathered pages.

Enveloped in the crinkly-plastic-I've-known-since-I-was-her-age,
Gulp. Smile. Quick Inhale.

Spotting it immediately, she took it down ,
Positioned it on her lap,
Thumbed through its pages -
She knows the words.
Her new old friend.

I Wanted.

She's read it, 'teacher style', to her buddy William -
The two of them huddled under a cafe table.
Gave me a sweet weep inside.
The book for him as well.

She's read it to others, to her animals, her dolls.
Even sings the words.
Belts them out.
Authored her own book too, in fact,
"For All The Kids Whose Dads Have Died",
She Announces to The Crowd.

And with that, she owns it.

The questions are changing.
So much she wants to know.
I have been waiting/anticipating.
Wondering, fearing, these
Simpler answers no longer sufficient.
Hard material to tackle, harder to digest.
Curiosity that can't wait til tomorrow, nor should it.
With that I respond as best I can -
Painful details, researched, rehearsed,
gently shared
morning, noon and night.


But she's allowing it in, thinking it through.
Upset and all.
Like medicine, she takes it,
but no reward.

Strong Child, Brave Girl.

How I wish the lesson could have come later.

But so much support surrounds us.
The book party was the sweetest of commemorations.
Crowded room full of love
Everyone there for the three of us.
We All Three.
As a close friend said,
Alan would be proud of his girls.

How comforting it was to hear those words.

Lily even signed books upon request,
Sidled up next to me,
her name next to mine.
Bubble letters, no less, another friend noted.
Her handwriting already nicer than Alan's...

But she only signs sometimes.

Oh child of mine.
How she processes things.
Fierce and exuberant passionate liver.
Welcomes me home nightly, bikini clad, uke in hand.
Chewing gum campaigner,TV time angler,
Loose tooth yearner, twenty stories a night insister.
Taking it all in lifer.
Inspirer and wear-me-outer.

Little girl,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Begin. Again.

School has begun.

A new one.

It's got old footprints, and now hers.
And with echoes of Alan in the halls, as I imagine she imagines, the book finally out, and a change in the air, it's launched us both into Emotional Overdrive.

New places, new faces - for both of us.

This time of year is tough for me.
Another first and I don't have my man here as I'd like him to be.
As he wished to be.
Going through the motions.
With me.
The meetings, the welcome nights, the conferences,
new kids, new parents.
Hanging in the halls, the school front, the playgrounds.
We never got to experience any of those together.
The fun, excitement, milestone tears, nervous anticipation,
co-parent participation.
Didn't get there -

Way shy of the starting line.

It is hard being
Very hard.

And Lily's missing it, him too.

But she's taking it all in stride like she always does.
Only shows her cracks at home.
Saves them for bedtime and too-early-mornings.
And man is she doing alright.
I am proud because she too has much on her mind.
And I have to remind myself
when moments are beyond trying for me,
that for her,
Big Challenges for a Little Heart.

Just the other night:
Who else doesn't have daddies?
Well, William, Nikhil, Abi - they have daddies but they're not here with us like other dads.
What was daddy doing when he died?
Sleeping, Pumpkin. He was sleeping.
Where was he?
At a place like a hospital with doctors and nurses.
What was he in?
What do you mean Pumpkin?
What was he IN? Frustrated, angry..
I'm not sure, I said softly.
Can you run when you die? Walk? Swallow?
No Pumpkin, you can't.
Where do you go?
I like to think they're in our hearts, their spirits all around us.
Are you going to die, Mama? I don't want you to die when I'm young.
No, Pumpkin, I don't think so. I hope not, most people die when they're very very very old.
How did you meet daddy?
At a restaurant.
What was it like? How?
You know how when you make a new friend, like Jake - and you know from the second you meet that you're going to be really really good friends for a very long time?

With that, she sobs.
I want you to go, Mama. Said quietly, from under her pillow.
4.5 she is.
Once she quiets, after multiple checks, I cover her up.
Kiss her cheek.
Savor it's softness.
And marvel at how she's gotten so tall, so big, mature.

Heavy with sleep.

And then I exhale with my own sobs,
do the dishes,
go to bed.

But the next morning comes and she climbs into bed.
I love you, Mama.
I love you, she says.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sun. Day.

I know this light.
Today's high sun - strong and growing distant, washing out its
reminding us all that
is near.

Seasons get me.

To me.

I can see Alan in this day's overexposed glint.
He is looking at me from a lounge chair, shadowed underneath his new Borsalino, on a beach in Taormina
Hand resting softly on his chest.
Cigarillo perched dashingly on his lips, a "lets play another life" moment ~
Where there is no threat advancing precariously under his hand,
causing the growing pain,
the discomfort of ribs cracking, an unwanted new twist,
horrendous outsider staking its claim over this
Much Loved Man.
I smiled at him, reassuringly, hopeful yet knowing, this honeymoon and its beauty was faster than fleeting.
And in our exchanged glance was an understood conversation
I know Babe, we'll line up an appointment
for the day we return.
Yes, I know.
I know.

And that's how it is, it was.
Love at it's finest.
It was.

And today as I wake to quiet and sun,
I recognize its beauty, its job:
Show up, shine light, retreat.

So easy some things seem to be.
How I wish I didn't feel like everyday was
a marathon for

Never knew I'd be such an expert long distance runner but apparently I am.


It would be nice,
oh so nice,
For One Moment,
it felt full

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Family.

Lily's been busy planning motherhood.
She tells me regularly about how she will be the mom,
Jake the dad (though he wants to be the mom - Isn't that weird mama? I guess I could also marry Tabitha.)
Stella, the big sister and Flower Girl.

How do babies get in the moms, Mama?

That's really something that's easier to explain when you're a bit older, Pumpkin.
Tell me now. She says from the back seat.
Well... You take something from the daddy and put it in the mommy and it's like planting a seed.
It grows and grows for a long time until it's a baby and then it comes out.
I neglected to elaborate on the process should she marry Tabitha.
Or should she decide to be a mom on her own.

I think I'll have two. She says, as though ordering cupcakes or fries.
That's great, Pumpkin.
I hope you do.

I have been quiet.

It was a busy, beautiful month.
My book finally arrived.
Hit the shelves.
And gradually it is seeping in, that this labor of love finally turned into something.
Written, in nights, while Lily as a new babe slept, it was the tiniest of dreams - a hope - a wish - a letter.
Meant to be something that she could read. Someday.
To which she might say,
He is here.
And there I am, on a shelf.
With other stories and books about families.
All sorts.
Some with dads, without dads, two moms, two dads, one mom, one dad. Adoptive moms and dads.
So many versions of family these days.

In California Lily savored her time with her "sisters" - two big girl goddess daughters who shower her with love, help her dig for potatoes, pick berries and beans, watch over her, as she swings, romps, demands
Watch this Keira!
Watch me Thea!
And she picnic'd on Mt. Tam with her buddy Madeleine, an almost twin, who likes dress up and crafts and the Camping Game too.
She did the Cup Song with her cousin, admired her other cousin's pool flips.
Flitted from her Jiji to her courtesy aunts and uncles...

Such a large family we have.

And then as the book takes flight on it's own I find we have more family.
A much loved cousin of Alan's and her military mom friends,
Eager to help.
Widowed moms I don't know, who offer to spread the word.
Old friends who offer to pass it on to others in hopes they can help.
Friends who have been planning its party since I shared it with them from a note-pad,

And I am reminded, again, that though we all collectively are missing loved ones, we are all
Indeed, (as Lily now likes to say)
A Family.
And it takes me back to a song sung at our wedding, six years ago next month - who's sentiment resonates even more powerfully...
If that's possible.
Means just as much to me today as it did,
Then. (Cue music ;)

Ah, song. So Right.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Turn / Five

Had no words for July until today.
Toshi Seeger slipped away and I was comforted to be reminded of her.
Such unwavering strength she had.
A stand by your man woman in the truest sense.
Fiercely attentive, sharp, doting, nurturing.
Qualities I'd like to think I shared with Alan and ones that I already see bursting out of Lily.
She too is a nurturer, just like her mama, through and through.
For Real, as she says.

With July came many turns.
Lily started camp at what will be her new school in the Fall.
A particularly special place because her dad and uncle passed through some of its same doors.
She embraced her camp group with openness,
more boldly than I as we entered its building,
my mind flooded with imagined memories of Alan in those halls, unsure yet excited of how this place will be
for her
for me
for us
These will be her doors for many years to come.

But I already love the place.
Feels Right.

For Real.

And it felt good to learn that Toshi, too, climbed some of those same stairs, learned within the same walls when she was also just a girl.

How well she turned out.
Good sign. Good sign.

And just last week, five years ago, Alan passed.

Lily nearly in his grips, definitely in his heart.
A tough month.
A rough month.
But smoothed over with family, a dog, and a trip out of town.
And the feeling of seasons turning,
With Lily growing
Leaps and Bounds
Mind expanding, hands writing, word spelling, observations flowing
Swimming on her own, wet bangs covering,
Mouth Sputtering As She Reaches The Pool Wall,
Coming up for air,
Scanning the room for my watchful gaze.

Could watch her for days.

Oh wait, I do.
Smile, yawn, smile.

There is goodness in July.

Turn, Turn, Turn (Take it Nina. Take it. But alas, new version...)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just Breathe

June came.
And tossed me around a bit too dramatically.
A visit to the ER for a brief moment robbed me of my steely reserve.
Shook me unexpectedly and gave me an unwanted scare.
Fleetingly, all I could think of was my girl.
Not myself,
Lily Lily Lily.
Over and over and over again.

This must be the worst of what parenthood promises...
The responsibility of another life more important than yours.

Alan would have rolled his eyes at my what-ifs, but this time,
I couldn't help it.
The struggle to be two parents to one child is challenge enough, the thought of no parents for one child is...

And yet.
She was fine.
And I kept the unwanted fears at bay for most of an evening.
Shut them down, pushed them away, kept them
Way Down Deep.
And I was fine.
I was.
Happily, gratefully, fine.

But then other things creep up to take their place.
Unwanted memories, everywhere-flashbacks.
The socks, open backed robes, disinterested nurses, distanced receptionists,abandoned old people grasping at air, and the feeling that you are just one life among many -
the feeling of insignificance, humbling.
Doctors seem scarce, attention casual,urgency elsewhere.
I had been to this place before -
Alan always stoic, and I terrified but composed.
And this night, I discovered, I'm a much better advocate and caretaker for others than myself.

A nurse seemed surprised when I couldn't remember what days I had felt lousy the week before.
And I heard myself confess:
I'm widowed. I'm a mom to a four year old. I don't pay much attention to myself.
You feel awful,

Note to self, work harder on that.

And I will.

But seamlessly the wagons circled.
And I was able to just breathe.
I had family on the East Coast with me for hours, family on the West Coast at the ready, an amazing nanny with my girl, and employers and friends anxiously keeping tabs.
It is a luxury to be taken care of.
And so good to love and be loved.

To paraphrase some lyrics,
Oh I'm a lucky woman, to count on both hands the ones I love.

(worth a listen)

How I wish Alan could have been here to comfort, but everyone rose up in his place.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hail Teacher.

Animated morning, field trip to the zoo.
Lily was ready.
Dressed with a gymnastics medal slung over her shoulder,
Like zookeepers wear, she said.

The classroom was buzzing.
And as teachers ushered them all onto their first school bus I was emotional yet again to witness this First.
Lily's been wanting to ride a Big Yellow Bus for years.

Big Morning.

And once again, we wave our kids off -
And with breakneck speed intentionally skirt over those deep-seated concerns looming in the furthest recesses of our minds as they begin their day,
away from us.

And then I remind myself, she's in such good hands.
The Best Teachers.

How graced we are - to have them as part of our family.
Monday's tornado horror they were throwing themselves on top of their flock.
Sheltering them, saving them.

Beautiful instinct, selfless action.

Comforting, coddling, watching over them ever-closely.

I never fail to marvel during parent-teacher conferences at how well they know my girl.
Her antics, her strengths, her challenges.
Tapped into her personality with remarkable specificity.
They get her.
They get them all.

How lovingly they watch and tend our garden.

Almost bigger than fire fighters, police officers, soldiers, emergency workers.
There before the storm.
And through it.

Give these people raises.


Superheros they are.


Friday, May 10, 2013

True Story.

This morning's first words, 7:08am:
"Is Daddy at work already?"

Ahh beautiful, longing and wishful imagination.
If only this dream were true.
How I wish we could Disney it up in our home
Snap our fingers a la Mary Poppins and have him appear.
Just for a hug.
A really long one.
Eternal in fact.
Give that girl one of those, and then reach out your arm and bring me in too.
Sandwich her in

Oh Pumpkin, you know he's not.

He IS!

Into the bathroom she goes, door closes.
Ten minute silence draws me in there to find her naked and cross legged on the toilet.
Are you meditating?
Yes, she says.

It's Friday.
Almost Eve of Mother's Day.
And as challenging as parenting is, I'm grateful for this.

Our family lost a dear friend just a few late nights ago.
Floated away gracefully, just as Alan did,
Heartbreak in her wake.
She was a friend and a mom and a grandmother.

Earth Mother, in fact.


Just that afternoon as Lily zoomed through photos on my phone she stopped and lingered on just one.
She stared long and hard, lost in thought.
Fixed gaze.
It was at that moment I feared it might be one of this woman's last.

Sure enough, it was.

Lily often prefaces her "accounts" with "this is a true story, ok Mama?"
OK I say.
Sometimes I think children have a very sixth sense about things.
A teacher from last year referred to her group of classmates as Crystal Children.
Perhaps this was what she meant.

I really think Karen's grabbed on to Alan -
hands strong, fingers interwoven
Memories and love flowing through, re-charging one another.

That's good.

Sad, but good.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Wind. Morning Blues.

Two rough mornings in a row.

Sun's coming up too soon and with it the love child who is typically naked, noisy and ready.
Coiling her pearls on the wooden floor, blasting a.m. radio,
singing on the toilet, keeping me out of my own shower.
We now need to schedule our showers, despite the fact this child has her own.

Likes mine more.

And man does she take her sweet time, just like her dad.
On good days, I smile, inside and out, marveling over this creature that's no baby nor tot.
Other days, I curdle over the "tights too tiiiiiight" complaints that have apparently no answer.
Won't take em off, can't stand them on.
And then it snowballs before my eyes, and I'm arguing with a .... Creation Of Our Own Doing.
And I am dragged through dawn with problems foisted on me that I'm not allowed to assist with.
And then, like that, all I hear is dissonance.

Hello morning.
So kind of you to come.

Life is easier now, with a four year old brassy broad who'd drive herself to school if only I'd let her.
Due to age limits, the world still seems to revolve around her.

In loving truth, she's no broad, just a spirit with spine.
A girl with immense purpose.

But must we always be such athletes.

Some mornings I'm just tired of spinning.
Give me a dance.
A good, shake your ass dance.
Get me out of this morning funk.
Spring is here but the blossoms just got their pre-summer blow.
Wind took them away as it does every year, yet the warmth is slow to come.

Saw the Black Crowes a few weeks back and it just felt so good.
The music, the groove... it was... right.
What I needed.
And this song seems to be the only thing that feels good right now.
A bit of rescue.
Not sure what I'd do without music. Oh. And love.
But I'll let the music carry me for now.

And lean on the harmony when it's around.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

California Healin'.

Big Week.
Lily and I took off to California in search of Princesses and Mickey, with the dream of also seeing Mary Poppins. Met up with close friends and family along the way, an action packed week.

Expectations met.

Thank you Walt.

Lily is a dreamer and Disney pulled through. The highlight moment seeing Mary Poppins in the parade, with Lily whisper yelling down to me from atop a trashcan, MOM! It's the REAL one!

Smile. Heart felt good.
Wanted to take a victory lap up and down Main Street.
A monumental moment when I felt tangibly as though I was doing a good job.
Heard the roar of the way-to-go-Sus-crowd in my mind.
Glorious feat pulled off.

In truth it was all Mary.

But I think it was one for The Books.
May she remember it forever.

It was surreal looking up at my girl, silhouetted by a steady blue California sky, watching her mouth every word to supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus, marveling at the fact that I now have a four year old daughter who's making sure that the parade cast measures up to the movie.
Is this really happening?
And then to turn around to see my oldest friend with her girl, a first-timer too, eyes fixated on the same action - was... a flurry.
So many emotions balled up into a few minutes.
Ahh the power of Fantasyland.
Something to remember.
(and we didn't lose them once, either)

So Lily and Mad embraced it all with "let's do that again!" enthusiasm after every ride.
Running in PJs between rooms equally enjoyable, giggling, with noses freckle-dusted from sun.

And then a road trip to Santa Barbara, the ocean on my left as LA sprawl melted into palm trees with If I Can't Have You wafting out of our rental car radio.
Was good.
Nice. Easy.
THE easiest time with a child. They're stationary, strapped in, and hopefully independently occupied.
Love a road trip.
Ahhhh freedom.
So Good.

Saw family, Lily fed fish, put on shows and lay her head on her grandpa's lap.
A lovely destination.
She had her cousins for company and vacation mayhem, influencing her as only worshipped cousins will do.
I laughed when I wasn't worried for her life.
While I focused on the waves, they all drank from a fountain.
Not a water fountain.
No idea what else they were up to... Don't want to know.
Maybe Alan was on the lookout?

Week ended with grey whales and dolphins ushering us into Spring, everyone successfully remaining on-board.
Ocean does wonders for me, whales, equally palliative.
Beautiful, gentle beasts.
With my brother and dad by my side.
And a spirit as our escort.

Lily has been pointing to a tiny freckle she has on the palm of her hand.
It's Daddy, Mama.
Oh! I like that Pumpkin.

May be what kept her safe all week.

Monday, February 25, 2013


What is it about peas and ravioli that prompts a child 48 hours shy of four to casually say,
Why do people sometimes cry when they're happy?


It wasn't my prowess at boiling water that prompted her thoughts.

What made you think of that, Pumpkin?

Flashback to this time last year when she asked what "Let it be" meant. Struggling to define an expression that's so simple it's complicated.
Well, our heart sometimes feels really good or really sad. And when something moves us, makes us really sad or really happy, our heart somehow makes tears. Good tears. Happy tears.
It just comes from inside.

Chew ravioli.
Spoonful of peas.

Like when you were born, I was soooooo soooo happy that you were here in my arms, safe and healthy that it made me cry. You were something that Daddy helped me make and it just felt so good to see you.
I'm so articulate.
(Great. Now we'll revisit how we made you.... Way to go Sus, way to go)
And when Addison was born and Simone was born I cried too - because I was sooo happy for Uncle Dave to have such special little people in his life, that I cried.

In truth I'm not sure I'll ever be able to encapsulate with words what Lily's birth day was like. It was preceded by seven months of darkness, daze, bewilderment, ache and marvel.

Wow. This is it.

What I got.
What he got.
What she gets.

Surrounded by the quietest quiet I've ever known.
Heard nothing around me.
Blank, unfeeling faces.
No one got it.

Unsplendid isolation.


But Lily moved. And kicked and lived. Persisted like crazy within.
Grew and grew, with one less artery to feed her and she just kept going.

It all makes sense now.

Like an acrobat, she was.
So much so that videos of late night maneuvers were National Geographic worthy.
And in those moments,
I smiled.
And I spoke to her, sweetly. Softly.
The only time I liked hearing my voice.
Heard my voice.
Heavy hearted but full of hope because of what she offered.
My Secret Girl.

So that day, nearly four years ago, my heart flipped again.
And joyous broken tears found a way out.
I had Maria by my side, Rita... south, at Dr. Paka's side. Robert at my elbow, and a Super-Nurse at controls.

Alan was on the wall, positioned where I could see him,
and he,

Then out came a child who must never feel the burden of being the life-saver that she is.

She must have been covered in fairy dust.

In fact, last night I spied red glitter on her bellybutton.

Yesterday we had her party, and I can still hear its soundtrack of giggles, squeals and delighted laughs.
Lily and her many sweet friends, some missing their dads too - and a new one to add, sadly, to her posse within the posse.
But he'll be OK too. We'll all watch over him.
Plenty of sad tears but happy ones too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love like an ocean.

The best part of this morning was Lily singing Peace Like a River on her way to school.
And she's a belter.
I've got love like an ocean in my sooooooullllll...

Good way to start the day in the middle of a cold, dry, snow dusted month.
My birthday month, and Lily's.
Last week I made it to Alan's age when he passed away.
It was a day greeted with mixed emotions.
How did I get here
Why do I get this


So many moan and groan as birthdays approach.
Saddened by the passing of time.
What it means, what it measures, how much is left.
What has happened, what has not.

But how fortunate we are.

With our extra days, moments, highs and lows.

What so many would give to have even the worst of days.

Accept with grace, Sus.
Just do it.

Admittedly it is much more fun celebrating Lily's advancing life.
She will be four in just weeks - which I am reminded of hourly. Holidays are big in our home. Halloween and Christmas, apparently fast approaching - and I'm grateful to witness how she inhales it all.
Studies everything whether it is a piece of bread or a stick or human action.
I love to see her life take shape.

So glad I'm here.

Stored up inside me is my brother's voice when faced with life threatening illness himself,
I just want to see my kids grow up.
All I want.

He is still here.

So I got it good.

On my birthday as I sat on the floor, face to face with Lily - my hand steady with a spoonful of medicine - coaxing her to drink up, she cupped my face with her hands.
You know what your eyes say Mama?
What Pumpkin?

Daddy loves me.

And then she gave me a kiss.

How sweet she is
How sweet it is

All of this.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Karma. Please.


Yesterday found me wanting to rescind my parenthood membership.

Pack it in. Skip town.
Hop on the bus Gus.

Not fun.
At all.

Little did I know that yesterday morning's discussion with daughter-formerly-known-as-lily (and no, today she gets no caps) regarding whether or not Santa Claus uses mouthwash would be the loveliest, kindest, most thoughtful exchange of the day.

Would have savored it more.

Instead, a birthday party that began with calming focused yoga but topped with an icing loaded cupcake was the precursor to a very unpleasant afternoon.
In my shell-shocked recollection, the decline began with a discussion over afternoon scootering and it just

My exhausted threenager, a term someone generously shared with me recently, became an ornery, out of control dervish and I thought I would loose my mind.
I may have.

Admission,I did.

I'd like to rent a parent.
Just for a week.
Not a day, a week.
For consistency.
Someone to back me up. Massage my shoulders. Say go get some air.
You're Mother's Right.

They might also say:
You look fucking awesome today.
I like you. (Thank you Laura)
But those would be optional.


The co-parenting thing.
Support from a room-mate.
In house counsel.

Even if it's not all it's cracked up to be, it's got to be good sometimes.

Sweet Relief.

And now I must snap out of IT, recharge, reboot, buck up, buckle up and jump back in.
Block out the bad, focus on the good.
Breathe in, breathe out.

Focus on The Good.
It's there, I know it.
Just not feelin' it

Saturday, January 12, 2013


A new year has begun.

The other morning Lily climbed into bed a bit too early.
I felt her settle but she lay
silently awake.


Praying for sleep.

You were really really sad when Daddy died but then you went to the doctor to get me and then you weren't sad anymore, right Mama?

My eyes opened into morning night.
Heart grateful and relieved I hadn't quieted her when I'd heard her inhale, her thoughts floating, words perched,
lips ready to part.

That's right Pumpkin.
I was very very sad, but I was so so happy to know that you were on the way, and so so very happy when I had you.


We drifted.

Another year, and we're off.

A soft launch, with our winter trip to California still fresh in our minds.
I'm holding on to the ocean cool,
the far away sun with its gentle-sweet reach,
the air that awakens as you move through it,
breathe it in.

So much that is old is new, again.

Lily has a growing friendship with the girl next door.
And that girl's mom was my friend next door,
They're following in our footprints, filling in with their own shadows,
the same routine -
knocking on front doors,
riding the same sidewalks,
beneath the same trees.

California always lifts me up.

I had my mom, Lily had her Jiji.
An uncle,cousins, an aunt, friends and kids all
For love and meals and play.
For music and a mountain.
It will always be home.

We made it to my favorite place.
Lily's first visit to the ridge beneath Mt. Tam.
Henry and Jakie in tow.
Firsts for all, they trudged through tall, wet grass,
dragged branches,
discovered burrowed holes,
delighted in the vastness of their surroundings -
Kings and Queen of mountains.

Just as I had at the very same age.

I remember a picnic there, on a cool gray day, spying bedded down grass where deer had slept, animal remnants, feeling the freedom of never-ending play space with only trees to herd us into view.

A beautiful reprise, but now with our children.
Thankfully, some things never change.

I told Lily to take a deep breath.

Listen, I said
To what mama?
The quiet.
What is it mama?
It's nothing, just silence - only nature sounds Lily, just nature.
We both inhaled a la Harold and Maude.
Took it all in.


And the city girl who often yearns for her home
to leave.