Friday, December 4, 2015

Bleecker Street

Not quite sure
…  How
I might explain
The List
of names from yesterday's loss
to an almost seven year old girl, today.
Conversation so layered and loaded
and we've only just discussed families with nowhere to go, 
bad choices made to hurt people,
pollution in China, 
a vanishing island and 
Japanese internment.

She can read now.

And then I see 
Today's Names.
Like rings on a tree, 
each life was a generation -
and they all represented the soul of a country we are lucky


Johnson, Bet-badal, Godoy, Amanios, Kaufman, Bowman,
Velasco, Clayborn, Adams, Thalasinos, 
Nguyen, Espinoza, Meins, Wetzel

There They Are, Lily.  
Do you hear the sounds in their names?
see the sneaky consonants, 
the tricky vowel combinations -
Take a good look at all those names,
they celebrate heritage, harbor hope,
color our world 
and tell us how so many families,
like ours,
most likely all started 


What is there to destroy in those
Rainbow Names?

She is studying community.
The word rolls off her lips with pride,
hits the T with hear-me aplomb
she is only just seeing its beauty
for the very
first time.

I will someday have to talk this through with her,
though I hope it's not tomorrow.
She's taking in our
one thought at a time.
But her shoulders are small,
and she loves her Village.

Fog's sure to lift, 
soon enough.  
But for now, (shhhh….)...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall / Time.

Just recently I went to a Bar Mitzvah,
For the son of an old friend.
I marveled at how this college comrade had grown him.
I could still see her across a cafe table,
over a pot of tea, an Apricot Jewel on a plate between us,
and art history notes scattered before us...
She had waited for this day.
Pretty soon this will be Lily, she smiled,
and then returned to her coming-of-age creation.

It's these rituals that tug at me,
deep within my chest.
Always happens in sacred places
the beauty almost too much for me to bear.
The voices soft yet strong - finding home amid
stenciled walls, onion domes, Eastern patterns,
dangling, stately lights.
And as we move through the hour,
all I can do is keep the ache in my throat
frozen at bay
for fear if I exhale
out will come
the sobs,
the surrendering slouch
of a person still grappling with the

And while I don't long for this particular ritual for Lily,
I am envious of the opportunity it offers -
the ceremonial invitation into adulthood
the acknowledgement of how far they have come,
the opportunity to celebrate the strides they have taken
every day of their young lives, until this point.

Shouldn't they all be commended for their
arrival and survival?

I search the ceilings for answers.

Growing up is no small feat.

This place is part of our culture and reminds us of some of our roots,
though I am a believer in many spirits - not just One.
But when I see the rabbi place her hands on a gently bowed head
and hear the whispered murmurings between them,
it is Alan I see
with his hands on
Our Girl
and I imagine what she will look like
when she reaches that age.
I can see her head bent, dark downcast eyes,
I see bangs and length,
soft cheeks and awkward grace.

Surely she would listen, quietly, to his affirming words.

It is these life moments
that strangle my gut...
and thrust me into "how will I do this" mode -
without her Dad to help me guide her.

But sure enough, he showed up that morning,
in the form of another old friend's encompassing and gentle warm hand,
that reached for me toward the end of the service.

It's okay, Sus, he said through her touch -
It's okay.

All I could do to keep my heart steady,
was look up at the patterns,
to keep the tears from spilling.

But then they closed with one of my favorites,
a relief to hear,
it loosened the Hold
and sent me on my way.

This version, my all-time favorite:  Turn Turn Turn


Friday, October 2, 2015

She's a Rainbow

it feels
has happened, in our
Teenage Explosions that shower
all around me
and the heat of it all
melts my resolve
and then rushes on

Such power
She has,
in her six year old frame
the anger and frustration with nowhere to go but

over to my corner
where I brace myself
against nothing but
hope and the spine that used to keep me so
and ready
for anything

And then I have conversations,
in my mind,
with Alan -
and while he tells me she's just grappling
and struggling and missing and longing,
I tell him it feels like
she's thinking it's my fault,
she's mad at me that
I could go away

I think she'd like a
to get
Then maybe we'd see more
of her
cooler colors.

Friday, September 4, 2015

For A & A

An acquaintance just got married...
Don't know her well,
but in some ways, I might know her more than most.
She's widowed, with a little girl.
Lost her first man in a similar battle.
She found me, years ago,
long distance, as we survivors tend to do.
There is something special when you walk similar paths -
you share thoughts knowingly,
and ponder similar questions.
You share the same secret fears,
discuss challenges without concern of uninformed judgement,
and contemplate hopes that seem so far off.

But she got there.

And just the other day, I caught her -
smiling on Facebook, with her girl under her arm.
Both in their wedding best -
beautiful in its non-pomp -
because this was a different celebration.
The continuation of a journey but an
arrived at destination -
There was a look in her eyes that said it all
I have loved, been loved, am loved and continue to find love
and in those same eyes was a look I know so well.
They announced ease and comfort,
a firmly rooted stillness,
and a reflection that gracefully acknowledged
what they had been through,
what she had endured
and the heartache she will forever feel,
in moments that flash between sips of coffee,
or fly by with a turn of her daughter's head.

But the beauty that she displays
is the image
we all
hope for.

We women are strong,
and this one,
this friend, and her pint-sized life companion,
deserve all that she has found
so thoughtfully for
Some Mom.
Some Partner.
Some Woman.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Never knew
I'd find love again,
never thought
it'd happen like this.

Seven years ago
away went the dreams
the union,
the lives
had hoped for,
had planned.

Except for One.
She stuck with me, and together, we forge
Intrepid Life Explorers
new territory,
And now, with Adam,
come Three More
makes me smile as I write
she and I.

Yes.  Please.

Love the company, the play,
the backseat singing,
the take turn arguing,
the no-tech bartering,
the can't sleep annoying,
the mealtime talking,
the hotels and motels,
lakes and pools,
happy laughing,
together adventuring,
ice-cream dripping
and aunts and uncles and grandparent sharing.

Oh The Sleep -
when they're all
It is then that I feel family,
stronger than ever
and know that though
Lily and I are
there's always room

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fly Away.

Summer's come.
Swept my girl out Kindergarten's door.
A year of words and books and ducks,
apples, weavings, workbooks and risks.

First Grade is hovering,
and Wednesday's morning found me
standing on the sidewalk,
eyes blurred by motherhood stun.
Left me holding a clay bird's nest -
resting cool and heavy,
in my hands.
My grasp fit her fingerprint grooves so well -
how grateful I was to share the mold..
A final holdout from
The Early Years.

We wrapped with a camping trip, her first sleep outdoors - 
in a tent I last used with Alan.
Still had some leaves and nature, stowed away, inside,
so we left it there, she and I.
Daddy Grass we called it.
She romped in the river, muddied with her friends,
ran wild, cooked s'mores,
relished in the dirt and freedom.
All hers, all weekend long.

Only thing missing was her dad and his guitar,
would have been nice in the campfire dark.

A week of milestones, right on time,
extra heavy with a dose of Father's Day,
waiting ahead.
Got that Mid-Week-Edge that eventually eased,
it's the approach that fills me with
bluesy musings.
But yesterday she got to show off Adam to her sleep-over friend,
an Almost Dad with just the right vibes.
"He's good at things" I heard her say as they vanished into her room.

And later last night as I was turning out the lights
in zoomed a ladybug that landed on our wall ~

Had to shake my head with sweet surprise,
rarely a no-show on days like these.
Not sure how he does it but once again,
He did.
Made me want to wake up Lily,
whisper Daddy was here for a quick hello.
But two girls down is no small feat,
so I'll tell her tonight that


Friday, May 15, 2015

Ooh Child.

Sometimes I need just a bit more light.
A boost, a bump, a gentle push...
It's usually the sun that saves me, ushers me along.
Can't help but make a bee-line toward the gleam -
Love to sit on a stoop beneath it,
rush toward its shine on the seat of a bus
my own musical chairs.
Morning prize
to sit on it,
in it.
To be within it.
Its warmth reminds me, reassures me,
Everything's OK.

It is.

Mother's Day was sweet.
But can't say I didn't wake with that gnawing ache -
The One that shadows on
days like these.
Persistent pain that nudges and tugs -
pulls at my shirt tails, slows my step...
Asking asking, disbelieving,

Where is the man that gave me the girl?

The Girl
that leans on appliances and tells me the earth is round,
that the North Pole is real,
the sun is fire.
Loves the scent on my wrist, breathes it to calm her down.
Informs me that Flamingo knees bend backward,
makes predictions,
and tells me "the message" of a story...
Says "that's not really my thing" as she selectively shops,
mutters Jesus Christ under her breath
and sleeps late only on weekdays.

Oh how she makes living so very worthwhile.

And then I am reminded of everyone I've got,
and know his shadow need not be dark.
He's the one that stumbles my sandals on the sidewalk cracks,
but makes sure I don't fall through.
Shakes me softly out of my stupor - as I shuffle through petals,
that paint the ground pink.
Such beauty in this Mother's Day haze.
And then it's Adam's hands I reach for, that hold mine tight.
Steady my heart, make me feel alright.

This was not the motherhood I had imagined,
but it is beautiful, all the same.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Winter's gradually giving in,
still straining to chill, fighting for time,
with gasps of raindrops and wind.
But Spring will win, any day...

April is Here.

Thankfully, we got a dose of sun.
A visit to Ca. softened our shoulders,
loosened our stride.
Lily got to see her Grandpa,
over eighty years between the two...
So much love I feel between them,
and yet
to have someone
that she
It is a
kind of
she can't know -
but still searches for,

The other night she slipped me a note,
her newest mode of communication.
I am glad she is able to find other homes
for her words.
I know that need,
the urge
to put them

I love you Daddy.  I love you to the moon and back.
You make everyday better.

She is big on note writing these days.
I now have a considerable
Apology Series,
always delivered surreptitiously -
announced by the rustle-fuss underneath my door.
Like dollars for a vending machine, uncreased then flattened
coaxed through to my side.
Eyes waiting to see them pulled within.

But she enjoyed our family visit.
Fed the carp, played at the beach.
Reconnected with her California Best
in teacups, over boat ride plunges and Small World wonderment,
Hi Madeleine!! she yelled over her shoulder
craning to see ahead as she
wove drove our auto on a Disney stretch -
invisible trailing scarf, cap and goggles donned.
Then we all relished in desert dry and a Palm Springs pool,
sunny days and windy nights,
topped off by a hotel ruled by blunt bangs and tatooed cool.
This is a Ricky Ricardo room, mama,
alluding to the tropical feel.
Sure, I said.

She had a point.
Usually does.
Most always punctuated by Basically and Seriously?

Finally home to NYC,
just in time
for her
Excitement beyond adventure, sugar or friends.
Even trumped the back-to-winter-blues..
Aged a few years by her new-tooth-gap.
Her Parking Space, I call it.

But even the Space has a new one poking through.

New shoot heralding Spring.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Balloon. Six.

Lily is SIX.
Been wearing a sequined sweater six for months,
been wiggling the tooth,
riding horses with fearless intention,
skiing happily, hands pocketed as though she were casually
gliding down a mountain.

Not sure where her confidence comes from,
it is a facet of her that is all hers...
Not from her dad, not from her mama,
this quality is homegrown.

She celebrated her birthday with closest family and pals,
her best gift a collection of "Daddy Stories" solicited from his oldest and dearest friends.
Just last night she ripped a turning page by accident,
studying it with her night-lite
(another birthday gift for the-girl-who-now-can-read)
in bed

With six came words like
expressions like
"I rather prefer"
"That doesn't make sense" and "oh my god! That's so crazy".

"Mama, I'm going to make a prediction...  When Ricky sees Lucy he's going to say 'aye yay yay'"

And with that, I say the same.

As her birthday afternoon came to a close,
she and I rode in a taxi with her best buddy since birth,
on our way for more play,
red balloon in hand.

I want to let it go into the sky Mama, when we get home.
OK I said, so happy to celebrate her life, yet wistful with gentle ache,
knowing the wish that I knew was to come.

So there we stood on the sidewalk,
make a wish her friend said,
but don't tell us or it won't come true...
I know what it is she exclaimed with a wide wide smile,
as she released her bright red balloon into the pure blue sky.
Together we watched it soar up, up, up!

I wished that Daddy would come back to life!

Maybe he will, Lily, her old friend said - also hopeful in early life -
supporting her dreams as

no Pumpkin, I said softly (my least favorite truth), that's a beautiful wish -
but unfortunately he can't come back.
But his Spirit is here with us, in our hearts...

I know, she said..

Maybe even closer, he said.

And with that we went into the building.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Long. Live. Love. (Soaring Spirits)

Finally made it -
Camp Widow it's called, special place, special people -
Air rich with understanding,
hallway conversations with unnamed people -
introductions hardly needed.
Everyone just gets
of what
this loss
How easily I identify with instant tears.
Our hearts are all indelibly linked.
Never thought my first visit would be to share my own approach to honoring
people we love...
But I did it.

I did it.

And it felt good, so good,
to support others moving forward with their kids,
while always glancing back.

Gave Lily a commemorative tile I had made

I wish Mary Poppins was here so we could jump into it, Mama,
Yes, I know Pumpkin - wouldn't that be the best?
How did he get sick?
That's a good question, I just don't know -  I wonder that too -
Even the doctors aren't sure, so they're doing lots of science projects to figure it out.
He couldn't be breathed in?
No, Pumpkin, that wouldn't have helped.  Not for his kind of sick.
Like Dr. Martin Luther King - I wish they had breathed in him and then he could be alive.
Yes, Pumpkin, I agree.

Remarkable how many warriors exist today -
Strong children, strong parents -
So many who have lost so much,
Spouses with children,
Sons and daughters.
Athletes of the heart where you just keep
Pushing on through.
And to think I joined this weekend with Another Love
Another remarkable aspect of this surprising life.
Thought my longing and loneliness was terminal -
but I can gratefully say it wasn't so.
There were others there who have also found new partners
and they're all navigating with love and hope and respect.
an inspiring

And Alan was there -
Saw him on the sailboat,  and in the nautical knots,
the bar monkey murals...
He even played a song on the rental car radio.

Felt good to know he was
with us too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015. (Girl meets river.)

New Year is here, it's a cold slow start,
dry winds, not enough snow.
Indifferent Winter days, push us indoors,
while bare trees outside stand stiffly and wait.

But Lily keeps the days turning,
She's advancing on me, an affront of opinions
and curious inquiries.
Life talk, body talk, death talk.
Eyes wide open, every dawn, her words spill out
as though they had been locked up since the night before.

How I love my loose toothed whirling dervish.
Keeps me on my toes.
Nearing Six, she's so twelve.

Just recently we passed a cemetery - I explained what it was.
She liked the headstones.
Can we get one of those for Daddy? She asked.
Well, Pumpkin... and then came the explanation I had shared with her in my mind
and over
and over again:

When people get old, (or very, very sick)
sometimes they decide when they die they want to be buried in the ground.
Other people would rather they be made into a special dust that you can scatter
in special places
that that person really loved.
It sounds weird,
but since when bodies are dead they can't feel anything,
so there is no pain,
they use a special fire that burns the bodies into ashes like a special dust.
And they put the dust into a container and then we can sprinkle them
in special places
or ocean,
or softball fields.

Looking out the window,
Where do they get burned?

In special ovens.
But even though the bodies get burned,
they don't feel anything,
because when a person dies, their body can't feel anything.

Have you seen that? Who does it?
No, I haven't seen that, Pumpkin,
Special people do that and then once the ashes/dust are in the container they give them to us.

But how do they get them out of the oven?
Um...  I think they use a special shovel to get them out carefully.

Silence.  Contemplation.  More backseat questions.

There was a Charlie Brown episode about that!  
Like Snoopy or Charlie Brown got dead or something, 
and they burned him into special dust and then they sprinkled it.

It was funny, she said.

With that, she put those big ideas
into an animated, happy, contemplative place in her mind.
And heart.
So proud of her I am.  
The way she takes things in, 
digests them, 
wonders about them,
pursues them boldly and then places them creatively in her thoughts.

We call it "Daddy Dust".

Now she asks others if they know about it.

Just last week she asked to see some.
So with her fingers that are shaped 
she gently put them in the box
her hands.

Weird, she said.

Can I have dessert Mama?


So brave how she goes straight to the water.
Confronts the river.
Dips her toes,