Monday, December 19, 2016

Loads of Quiet

It's been hard to know what to write in the last several weeks. I live in an area where most of the adults (and children) were supporting Hillary Clinton, and we all spent more time than I think any of us individually expected recovering from her stunning non-victorious winning of the popular vote in the election. There are so many ways that people are saying that we can get involved, but after all the fake news, it's hard to know what's a real opportunity, and what may be distracting propaganda.

And it's all propaganda, isn't it? The PEOTUS is making "decisions" that seem arbitrary and certainly not in the best interest of the country, so to distract the electorate from that, he's tweeting wildly about SNL, China, Russian hacking, that's he's smart enough not to need daily intelligence briefings, Vanity Fair magazine, Chuck Jones, etc. Then , the media veers off the report on those distractions, and he nominates oil barons who have been awarded the highest non-citizen honor from RUSSIA to be our SoS. What? WHAT?


I just...I just can't. Meanwhile, we hurtled through the first Thanksgiving as a country as divided as 1860, and now on to the holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas. and we're still pretty tentative. I worry about violence popping the bubble around my home, even though it seems hilariously far-fetched. You know what else sounded far-fetched? Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination for the presidency. Also, Donald Trump winning the election. And yet, hilariously, both those things came to pass regardless of how hard he seemed to be trying to NOT be president.

So what now? When I was a child, we watched the news nightly as a family. I am not sure I want my kids to watch the news because what if it isn't actually the news? How will they grow up learning to be citizens of the United States, and of the world, if I can't show them reliable information about the state of the country and the world? They are already children of the internet - how can I show them that most of what they find on the internet is wildly inaccurate?

And how can I do all these things, on top of the already Denali-esque pile of things-to-do I have daily anyway?

So, while these rocks tumble around in my head, I've been quiet. Because I'm pretty sure we ALL wonder how to parent and live and survive this spectacular showcase. It is, in fact, tremendous. Never once in my life did I think I would live in a time of such division and anger. It forces me to consider - will we ever be post-racism? Post-afraid-of-people-not-like-us? Post-anything? Or ultimately, are we all more closed off than we ever considered, and at the end of each day it's are MY people safe?

I dunno. It's a lot to consider. For now, mostly, I just try to be nice to everybody. Except at the people who drive poorly. Them I yell at.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

It's Mourning In America

This morning I woke up with the same feeling in my body and my soul that was present on February 2, 2014.

How can this be reality?

But it is. And I despise that there is a trap door here. I was truly not expecting this one. I thought it would be close. I know how much people hate Hillary. It's clearly beyond reason. But I was not expecting this trap door.

And when I got home from an appointment this morning, I found this rebellious bloom in Connor's garden. A November blossom.

Keep the faith, friends. Connor came back to visit me today and helped dispel that feeling I woke up with.  I'm giving myself today to recoup my strength. As you know, I have practice at that, so now that I've done it, it will be faster this time. It will bolster my desire to do good. To be good. To practice compassion. To remove complacency. To remember what this country is about, what I am about, and what power lies in me.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Being the Best I Can Be

I am so lucky.

I was raised in a family where the gender dynamic was not even close to even. We weren't just female-heavy in our ratio. Females are dominant in our family. Not only in my nuclear family, but in my extended family of cousins too. It was a matter of fact that we are strong women. We were raised by strong women.

I was also raised by a strong man who believes to be very depth of his being that each of us can be anything we want to be. ANYTHING. I cannot think of a single time in my life when my father treated me differently than my brother. Want to play sports? Great, let's get your geared up so you can play your best. Need to practice? Let's hit the driveway. Tough spot in school? Let's sort it out. You have rehearsal? Let's get you there and home again safely. It wasn't only him, but when I think back, as far back as I possibly can remember, I never had my father say "you can't..." to me except in two instances:

1. When I wanted to wear my Emory University shorts inside out to the state finals in my senior year for basketball. My reason - the shorts were the only red shorts I owned but I was there supporting my team, not Emory. His reason - just no. Turn em back out. I glowered, I muttered under my breath (hm, wonder where THAT trait comes from) but I did it because I tested him completely throughout my adolescence and that was the first NO he gave me.

2. In my third year of college, when I became enamored of clowning (yes, clowning) and decided that once I completed my degree I would join the circus as a clown for a year. That got a big fat nope from him too.

I am so lucky.

I was so outspoken, sassy, strong, pick-your-synonym if you don't like mine when I was in high school that it inspired fear in boys. I attended an all girls high school, but the first day I had to go to the boys high school, 4 times the size of my own, I walked down the center of the hall there, between rows upon rows of lockers and hundreds of boys, with my head up, my eyes open and ready for a challenge. Many, many times I was challenged there. Every time, I refused to back down. Even to the point of being escorted to their office for a conversation with their Dean of Students whose responsibilities included handling the problems students. I wasn't even one of his students.

Because of how I was raised, it never occurred to me that I needed to be quiet, or unassuming, or demure. Naw, screw that? I was female, I was human, and I would not be denied my rights as a human.  Before anyone ever made the astonishingly simple relation that human rights apply to all humans, I believed that and tried to live it. And I was never punished for living that way, not even by the Dean of Students of the boys' school.

I am so lucky.

I went to college without a single concern about being safe. I have always been safe, even when I made stupid choices of epic proportions. I'm certain I made them. I probably have friends who can verify them! But I stomped out of college unscathed, and I know so many women who did not. I wish I had done more for them.

I am so lucky.

I worked at a wonderful place for a decade. While there, I was promoted to an executive position in my office, and a male partner asked me after the announcement if it made sense that I was an executive since I wasn't even 30. My response, carefully stated since I'd learned to be wiser with words as I matured, was to say, "Why not? No one else was clamoring for this."

It never came up again, and he was one of my greatest champions while I worked there.

I am so lucky. And it's time for me to start pushing that luck out of me and into those who will come. My sons, who have privileges so deep they cannot even begin to fathom them, and whose interest in social justice inspires me. My community, which has much of what it needs but can always make room for improvement. My country, which has suffered terribly in the last 15 months in an ugly electoral cycle that is certainly not the first of it's kind, but without question the most televised one. I may write Ryan Murphy and tell him that next year he needs to do American Horror Story: Election.

But I am so lucky. And tomorrow, I vote.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Well, That Was Interesting

The boys and I just returned home from delivering a congratulations card, balloon and small floral arrangement to their teacher whose first baby arrived yesterday. It was our first non-emergency visit to the hospital together ever.

As we left the building, we talked about when they could meet the baby (we dropped everything at the nurses' desk at the ward, not wanting to disturb her) and that they had to be healthy so their good health could protect the baby, etc.  As we drive out of the parking garage, Tucker asked, "Does everyone who dies come to the hospital?"

No, I said. Not everyone. When Connor died, they brought him here. They wanted to know why. So as I drove home in the blinding late afternoon sun, I tried to explain about resuscitation, and why their brother was brought to the hospital. They seemed to understand immediately why the EMTs took him straightaway, which was a relief.  But I had to explain to them why their father and I had decided years prior to not resuscitate their brother should he suffer a lack of oxygen. To their eternal credit, they seemed to understand. They both said, how sad it would be if he could have done less than he did.

And then Tucker, who cannot be pessimistic it seems unless it relates to me being "the worst", said, wouldn't it have been amazing if they HAD resuscitated him, and he was all fixed and could do everything?

Yes, my man. It would be, in fact, miraculous.

They were both on board with this miracle, and much of the rest of this ride home was a discussion of how cool it would have been to have Connor come home and be the most amazing big brother.

Good Lord, they try me most days, but my kids are pretty amazing. I'm a lucky Mom to have them here with me.

Monday, September 26, 2016

What Makes A Long Life?

Lest you think that last week's post would predict a continued rough patch, we had a really great weekend.

But today is actually one of the biggest days, and one of the biggest trap doors, even though I knew it was coming.

By the end of today, Drew has officially lived longer than Connor. This year will be a series of 10th birthday parties for Drew, and his friends, and every time I will celebrate the amazingness of those roughly 3654 (thanks, leap years!) days. Inside, though, the realization that the decade, the double digits have been breached and it will make me sad to know that with all the things Connor did accomplish in his short life, that wasn't one of them.

But, he did live roughly 3280 more days than they told us they expected. That's a pretty good over. If I were better at math, I could interpret that better. But I'm not, and have accepted that.

One week until Drew is 10. He's very excited. Which means that he won't see anything from me except for huge smiles for him.

Friday, September 23, 2016


This week has been especially trying for the boys, and I cannot figure out why. But on two consecutive days, they seemed to have lost their damn minds.

Day the First - Tucker's turn. Instead of listening to his soccer coach, Tucker spent most of his practice roughhousing with teammates. I personally adored it when one of them (who mostly Tucker ignored) said to him, "Tucker, why are you doing this, stop it!" AND HE DID. That showed me that my kid can in fact hear. I eventually had to tell him that soccer is a no hands sport and if I saw him put his hands on another teammate during practice I would send him to military school.

Yes. Military School.

Now, I think we all know that I will most likely NOT send my son away. His response was, "You know what? You just need a vacation. You should just go away. We'll listen to Dad and then when you come back we'll be good." So I asked where I should go, and his immediate and emphatic response was, "Minnesota."


Anyway, I then explained that military school meant going and living elsewhere without us. He broke down in the saddest tears I have even seen him cry. Now he's terrified of me. But at least he's being more compliant and doing what we ask without it becoming a threatdown every time.

Day the Second - Drew's turn. Drew has this tendency to decide if I ask him to do something unpleasant (like hang up his backpack, or walk through a room to put his shoes away) by staging a passive resistance revolt. So yesterday, done with his crap, I dragged him off the sofa by one foot. To say he was shocked and terrified is an understatement. I sent him up to his room. He stomped up screaming, "I'M RUNNING AWAY!" to which I reminded him to pack a bag. Then I sat in the office and heard him go out on the roof over the office from one of his bedroom windows. All the while, I IMed Lee to tell him that Drew was actively in the process of running away. Then, from upstairs, there was a very scared, "Help!"  Away I went.

Drew was stuck on the roof. He had also bent the screen and it  could no longer sit in the window properly. Neighbor kids came by while I struggled to remove the twisted screen so he could get back in, and he very calmly said, "I got stuck." When he got back inside, he broke down and said, "I didn't want it to show how scared I was."

THIS IS A BREAKTHROUGH. He's never once given a rat's ass about that. So, part of me is crazy proud of him for learning this skill, and part of me is horrified that he has to quash his broadly emotive personality. Truthfully, in the long run, he has got to learn to control his emotions for long term happiness. However, I love that peer pressure has never gotten to him until yesterday. 

Either way, I'm hoping that I don't have to continue to threaten to get anything accomplished. I may make them salute me to remind them that there's always the chance I will send them away to learn to follow rules.  But don't tell them I won't. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Like a Volcano

Things have been building. Years like this are hard - politics are so present and so invasive, and it can tear people apart, people who up until now have happily co-existed.

When I was much younger, I was shown the world of campaigning and politics, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed helping leaders get re-elected. I enjoyed helping candidates get the word out when they were running in their first race. Of course, I wasn't given a lot of choice...I was 8, 9, 10 and some days were volunteer days at the local office, or papering the neighborhood, or whatever.

I discovered though that when you are a 10 year old girl your opinions about the greater good are not really playground material. I put it away after struggling for years with it being the first thing forward about me. Boys in high school called me a "communist" which was ADORABLE. It's a good thing, I think, that I have the quirk in my personality that gives me the power to not give a crap what people think or say about me.

Entering into adulthood, I sort of let it all go. I took care of me, I took care of mine, and I stood up for people who needed standing up for, or animals, or elements of our environment.

Now here I am, on the cusp of 43, watching my male children learn what's right and wrong, and trying to guide them to make sure they know things like when someone says stop you STOP. I do not feel as though I have a lot of support in this. The very privileged world I live in makes things like tickle-fights and other seemingly innocuous "activities" blaze with red flags around me. They NEVER stop when I tell them to stop. I have to force them. I have to find a way for them to understand.

And we have a woman running from president of the United States. A woman who, when I was younger, seemed to permit what I thought was impermissable occur in her life, which in many ways destroyed my estimation of her. Now, of course, the benefit of age and hindsight has taught me that my judging in those years was unwarranted because you never know how you will handle something until it is planted directly in your path. She's a mother, a grandmother, a politician, a statesperson, and without question fully qualified. And yesterday, she was publicly ill and now that's a THING. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Guess what, as a mother, daughter, Realtor and housewife, I am sick quite often. And you know what I do more often than not? I get up, take some medicine and get shit done. That's my job. Getting shit done is now my primary daily responsibility, and we're talking low-level stuff like laundry, bedmaking, and staying on top of contracts for clients. I stay in bed if I have a fever or am actively barfing. Otherwise, I'm on my feet, making lunches, bossing kids, and generally sucking it up.

Guess what, people? Everyone gets sick, even the president. Frankly, if I were president, I'd be sick a WHOLE lot more, because the stress and the pressure must take so much energy from you. I imagine I'd have a complete set of false teeth stemming from so much teeth grinding that the dentist would just say, "Sorry, they're all nubs and have to go. On the plus side, no more cavities!"

She's been sick all week with an infection that in fact can be cured with rest and antibiotics, and people are wasting time discussing whether or not she has "it" in her to handle the presidency?? When the alternatives are a xenophobic megalomaniac and a candidate who has almost no focus on foreign policy, we are wasting precious moments and fleeting seconds even considering them? She could destroy either or both of them together in a debate on foreign policy right now, hopped up on antibiotics and resting.  If they debated today, she'd still roast them.

Do you think that in the 4 years she was Secretary of State, she was never sick? Do you think that in her 8 years as a federal Senator, or 8 years as FLOTUS or 8 years as FL of the state of Arkansas she was never sick? COME ON. That is insane.

It's starting to boil over. All the latent feminism I've been storing inside is starting to come out. My poor kids better watch out. My poor husband too. Because I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The All Clear

Back in the day, when Connor was first diagnosed, Lee and I would talk about how we were going to throw this enormous, hella party to celebrate when his EEG came back 100% clear. We had so many people to invite from the vast network of family and friends who supported us and him in those early days.

The closer we got to Connor's first birthday, the more it sank in that we would never get a 100% clear EEG. Undaunted, as we tend to be, we moved forward and had an enormous first birthday party for Connor, inviting basically every person we ever knew. The party was crazy - probably more than 70 people came to celebrate with us, and to accept our thanks for their love and support in this difficult year. In the same timespan of April 2004 to February 2005, we had been given a staggering diagnosis for our son, wallowed in self-pity and grief, contemplated splitting up due to extraordinary sadness on both our parts, learned to care for Connor the way he needed (including 42 injections - one per day, and then how to get enough food into him, and then how to get his medicine in and keep it there, and then, and then, and then...), realized that splitting up only weakened our position of Us-for-Him-Against-the-Rest, started getting sleep again, and then he was 1.

Anyway, the point is, for Connor we never got an all clear.

Today, I had another skin check. Which made me realize it's been 2 years since the cancer diagnosis and surgery. It felt like a LOT longer than 2 years had passed. As of this morning, I've been given the all clear. No recurrence. YAY! I called my mom after texting Lee on my way out to tell her I was released to GenPop for my skin. Now I only need to get checked once a year.

Not bad, really.

No matter what, your body keeps going.

So it's time for my mind to keep going too, and hopefully, my spirit.

Friday, July 08, 2016


The last month or so has been about fixing. Fixing my attitude towards my reality, expressing less anger about things.

It was also about fixing in terms of health.  First my dad, with his very serious surgery (which went well, and his recovery at home continues to do well also). Then Lee, who had a minor spill off his bike but managed nevertheless to damage his left thumb to the point that he needs surgery also. Right now, I'm in the waiting room at the hospital, waiting to be brought back to sit with him until the surgery. Good Morning, America is on the TV, playing the press conference from the Chief of Police in Dallas, and I believe the Mayor. 

My dad needed fixing. My husband needs fixing. Our country needs fixing. There's not just one person  who can make it great again. America became great because the will of the people was to be great, and we strove together to make it so. We have to do better. We have to love each other before all else. 

I've seen the amazing things accomplished by love. Back in high school, there was some overwrought argument occurring during rehearsals for a show I was in with my sister.  She was so frustrated she started crying. I immediately started crying; it was utterly out of my control. Someone asked me, why are you crying? Because she's my sister, and I love her and I hurt when she hurts. I was 14 then. It's been almost 30 years since then, and now I cry with Alton Sterling's family, and with Philandro Castile's family, and with Dallas, and especially the families of the murdered police officers, as a whole. I cry with the families of all the victims at Pulse. I cry with the family of Trayvon Martin. I cry with all the grieving families, of all the victims of senseless crime and killing. These days, that means I'm crying every single day. 

I'm so tired of crying. It's time to change the story. It's time to look every person I encounter in the eye with an open heart and smile, and ask, how are you? Because we are all sad, and angry, and frustrated, and unsure of what to do. But I have to do something, and since it has to start somewhere, I'll start it in my community. You're on notice, community. I am coming for you with all the love I've got, and I will not let you down. 

If we all made that promise, how far could we get?

Monday, June 06, 2016

Comfort Food

This weekend, I get to sing with my boys.

Before I had my boyos, I had my boys. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and auditioned for and was welcomed into a cover band that played out and about here in Arlington, DC and more. I spent 5 wonderful years with these guys. I mean, they drove me CRAZY sometimes, and it's 100% certain that there were times that they probably wanted to throttle me.  But the best years of my life as an individual were spent with them, traveling, performing, and joking. I can remember times I laughed so hard I cried, and then I was so emotionally spent I couldn't stop crying (that was in Kosovo...)  They called me on my stupid, selfish bullshit. The shows kept me up well past a normal bedtime, preparing me for life as a new parent (and then, essentially, just as a parent).

I love them. I hope they know it. I'm not good about saying it to them because, (a) at the time, it would have been super weird and awkward and (b) I basically was a guy when with them, and guys just don't blurt out "I love you!" all the time, from what I'm told.

Anyway, by sheer dumb luck (and smelling nice), I got to be with them in the late 90s/early 00s. And when I called and emailed earlier this year and said, hey, would you come play our annual pig roast, they all said yes.

My boyos didn't really get it. To them, I already play with "the band" because half of the current band is half of the line-up of the OLD band. I tried to explain why I was so excited. Total blank eyes. But, being children, I finally found the link.

I said, you know when I make you your favorite meal? And it tastes really good, and it makes you feel warm inside and good inside?

"Yeah." Their eyes brightened in recognition of that feeling.

Well, that's what playing with my boys is like for me. I'm so grateful they are coming to play with me. It's the comfort food of my soul. And my soul is in desperate need of nourishing.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Life's Trap Doors

So a few days ago, someone around me used the phrase "the short bus" to describe the bus service for special needs children. While I'm certain that no harm was intended, it stopped me cold. The second those words were out in the air, a trap door opened underneath me.  Another person nearby could tell, and was quietly, unobtrusively, and wonderfully supportive of me, but it was truly a bucket of ice water being dropped on me. I had Tucker with me (who seems to have not heard it, or not cared) so I sucked the tears back in as quickly as I could and moved on with the day, but it's been lingering, and it occurred to me that the trap door nature is the part that is bothering me the most. I don't like this feeling that I caught myself by the fingertips at the edge, and have to awkwardly find a way back up.

I am a calm person in an emergency. But the trap door part of my life now is going to be probably the hardest, because I cannot predict them. Trap doors. Landmines. There's all kinds of imagery I could use. The image isn't what matters. It's the feeling of your stomach dropping out that you cannot predict or avoid. And the worry that your sensitive little ones are going to hear disparaging things and want explanations that you don't readily have. And the internal sadness that people can be thoughtless, including you. Seems pretty much like life, right? Why is this so much harder now?

I'm still sorting through it. Any ideas you have would be appreciated.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Parenting to Enough

I have an admission to make, and it's going to sound bad or judgemental but it is not intended to.

I don't read parenting books. I don't read parenting articles. None of it. 

I stopped short about 6 weeks into parenthood. Firstly because I was exhausted and susceptible to every type of paranoia out there about every possible thing that could be going wrong with what I'm doing. Who needs that kind on pressure on top of being wholly responsible for a person OUTSIDE your own body for the first time? But then, a few weeks later, it was because basically none of it applied, and I had a host of other reading and learning to get done that was more critical.

My initial logic (most likely flawed) was...well, lots of people have done it without the experts telling them what to do because there were fewer communication vehicles, and I'm pretty well educated AND have common sense. I can do this. Also, my kid is not a type.

For Connor, this turned out to be a really good thing, because letting go of all that reading, that pressure to be perfect and help him/nurture him into perfection would have been an Herculean effort with little return.  

Then, when it came to the other boys, I just leaned on the "our family is different, so we can't..." as my excuse. Yes, it's an excuse. To be the best at anything, there's the combination of natural talent and study. I was a good student, and would usually put in the effort to become fluent in something. Enough work to play basketball well. Enough work to dance well enough to be cast in a musical. Enough work to be near the top of my class, but not the very, very top.  Enough.

I feel now like a lot of parenting is getting to enough. I do enough that they keep growing, physically and emotionally. Life is not perfect, and it can't be. You can joke about the Disney Princesses perfect lives, who sang with the animals, and that those same animals helped those princesses...but remember - Cinderella was enslaved by her stepmother and Snow White had to run away so that her stepmother would think she was dead. So....emotionally speaking, what the HELL? I'd rather have a choppy, disjointed, love-them-one-minute-hate-them-the-next relationship with my kids, because it's natural. More so than anthropomorphizing animals to entertain children (and make them terrified of step-mothers). It's natural to have feelings, and to be overwhelmed at times. I don't TELL them that. They know when I am annoyed, or mad, or even seething. Usually, I have to get to seething before they care. They're kids. OF COURSE. I remember when I was probably 9 years old, and my mother had reached her limit (or so it seemed to me) at the war-zone condition of my bedroom. She very dramatically beat her fists on the wall and possibly even threatened to remove everything on the floor and throw it away. She wailed. Full on wailing. I was terrified. I'd never once seen her lose her cool like that, and felt terrible that I had caused it.

I'm still a slob, but less so. It's been 34 years or so since that happens and I can still see her in the hallway outside my room, and then the little flowers on the wallpaper in my room as I sat in there after she was done, crying and hoping that my mom still loved me. (There was a lot of drama going on that night, as it turns out.)

It's examples from my past that I try to channel as a parent. And if my kids' doctor says to me, "I think you should read up on these things..." I will. But until that, I'm going to do my best with the tools I was born with, or those I can construct without Youtube instructional videos.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring Break

We're all on spring break these days. We started ours off by flying to visit Shannon & Todd in Chicago. It was windy and a bit chilly but not bad, considering. They live in a nice 3 bedroom place 4 flights up. There's no chance we could have traveled there with Connor and stayed with them. Just getting him up and down the stairs would have taken 20 minutes and exceptional coordination (one adult per flight, maybe?) Of course, if we'd had to, we would have. It's what we always did. He probably would have loved chopped up deep dish pizza. He loved big flavors. But the wind would have bothered Connor too, and feeding him from the hot dog stand by the Field Museum? Impossible. He would have enjoyed seeing some of the exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry probably. I'm so glad we were able to go and share time with Shannon & Todd, and see about 1% of the awesome stuff we could go see there. Looking forward to another trip there, maybe in the summer time next time!

We went to the nursery today to get plants for this year's memorial garden. The boys selected a yellow jasmine plant, hyacinths, and some orange flowers I've never heard of. Oh, and Gerbera daisies, my favorite. I also grabbed a beautiful (in my opinion) hydrangea bush. I really hope it flourishes. The honeysuckle vine from Megan and Tlaloc and the lavender from Shannon and Todd are still going strong.  The butterfly bush from my parents and the lilac bush from Erin are resurging after a long and weird winter. It's 60 degrees! It's below freezing and snowing for 36 hours!  It's 60 degrees again!

Tucker also wants to try growing corn, so we bought corn seeds. I'll let you know how the garden grows (on the side - no food items in the memorial garden). The cherry trees here in DC have reached their peak, and the air on my block is filled with small white petals floating down in the breeze now. It reminds me a bit too much of snow but the warm air helps...some.

So this weekend, during Easter, we will plant some new life in Connor's garden. It seems like a very good way to celebrate Easter and to remember him a little more than usual. If you get a chance, plant a seed for him. I know he'll rain down, and shine down, on those plants for you.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


It's a time honored snoop in your sibling's stuff...your parent finds something you carefully snoop is human nature. But will almost always find something you don't want to see.

Today, I was the parent reader in Tucker's class. I love his class, and I'm happy to have the chance to be with him. Because the younger boys went to a cooperative preschool, we knew their classmates (and their classmates' families) really well and I miss knowing everyone.

I arrived today and waited at Tucker's desk for the class to return from PE. In that time honored tradition...I started shifting through the mess inside his desk. First, I got his reading books all piled together. Then I pulled out his Reading and Writing notebook. There were many pages in a row of what must be work related to classroom materials. I held the book in my hand, and it opened to a page almost midway through the composition book naturally. There, 20 pages beyond his classwork, was this:

I think this is what he wrote:

Connor's Dath (death)
It was a normal day.
my dad got up
he discovered Connor was dead.
He started to cry.
Me and my brother got up.
(Unintelligible) on the floor was my dad sobbing.

My poor littlest man. But what en elegant expression from a 6 year old (who was a 4 year old when this happened!) There was a check-mark next to it, which means I think his teacher saw the work. I'm glad I saw it, but wish I hadn't, also.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Smiley Face

As many of you may have seen, I recently changed my facebook profile photo to a very young and very smiley Connor.

Connor did not smile in the traditional sense very often. So when it happened in front of you, it felt like the clouds had parted and sunshine was streaming all over your heart. He didn't have a lot of really dramatic facial expressions, so this one was always so huge in intent it just made life amazing.  As he grew, it became harder to make him smile. The guaranteed smile-inducer was to bounce him, big time, on a bed or sofa. If you went on long enough, he's also laugh, another thing that rarely happened. As he grew, it became really hard to safely bounce him.

I miss that little chuckle.

One thing I've found out recently from his brothers, though, is that in their minds, he was always smiling. I showed them the photo, and they said, "Yeah, Mom, of course he was smiling," as though it was a daily occurrence and I was crazytown.

I am not crazytown. But I love that in their minds, this was his norm.

Then yesterday, I received a card from the parents of one of his former classmates (and her mom), and it was so touching. I opened the card, and written in childish handwriting at the bottom of the card was this: We remember Connor! Love from (name redacted) (but it was his classmate). Her mother had traced out the letters and his former classmate had written them herself. This student LOOOOOOOOOOVED Connor.  I mean, the showers of love he got daily from her made the notes in his book most days. When she moved up to another school, we wondered how they would both do as they were in effect besties. I miss seeing her smiling face, and remember being in class with him and her constant and devoted attention to him. I think she would have done everything for him - fed him, given him something to drink, helped him with his school work.

I am thrilled to see that she's learning some writing, even if it's still with support.  We can do a lot with support. Look at me, remaining a functioning human being thanks to the support from all y'all, even in this horrible month of February.

So I'll wrap this up with another smile from Mr. Personality. See how alight his face is! THIS is what I remember and miss the most...those brief seconds when we connected in joy.

Monday, February 01, 2016


It's back. That dreaded day is back.

I spent the weekend with my family, enjoying where we grew up and watching a new life unfold onstage in the form of my mother's latest "baby." It was a lovely way to spend the weekend.

But today still came. I woke up. I read in bed. I got up right around the same time as I did two years ago. But today is different, of course. Today, I didn't have to rush down the stairs when Lee came to tell me what he's discovered.  But he is at the forefront of my mind. I drank a cup of coffee and thought about him. I moved the laundry along and thought about him.  Etcetera ad nauseum.

And so I've been contemplating all the wondrous ways you all reached out to me (and us) on this day and in the days after. As I closed my dresser drawer having pulled out some clothes for today, about 3 sweet seconds of music box tinkling occurred.

I don't have a music box. I opened and closed the drawer again. No response. I looked through the drawers a bit in case there was something in there that would produce that. Nothing.

So he sent me a song, and I treasure it. Rest on, little man.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Because it's DULL, you twit. It'll hurt more.

This week has not been kind to keen artists from Britain who are 69 and who secretly had cancer. This week officially TOOK away some pure creative geniuses.

My reaction when I woke up, awfully early, on Monday morning when I saw the news on David Bowie was a surprised "Oh, my God!"

This morning, after getting up awfully early again (it's been a busy week, professionally), I settled into the driver's seat of my car and before I could do anything but pull the English muffin out of my pocket to eat (foreshadowing???) my phone chimed with a text message. I hit the screen and read "Just heard snape died..." from my best friend.

I sat there, and just chanted, "No! No, no, no, no, no!"  Left the breakfast on my lap, which bled butter into my newly cleaned trousers. So much for a professional appearance. (I later determined that Alan was telling me it was time to replace those 15-year old trousers. And because he is British they were trousers, of course.) I called Lee, reported this, and headed out. Things had to get done. I couldn't sit around and bemoan the loss of someone I don't even know, nor would have ever had the chance or circumstance to meet.

So here's the thing...when I think of him of course I think Severus Snape. I love Harry Potter. I loved reading the books, and when they said that Alan Rickman would be playing Professor Snape I had such hope for the films, and the whole series was perfect. You can't convince me otherwise, so please don't waste time trying.

When I was 16, my sister Shannon and her bestie Sarah and I used to go see movies all the time. When they were home from college, a call would come from Sarah, "Hey, this amazing/stupid/creepy/whatever film is playing. Let's go!" and Shannon and I would peel out of our house, screech to a stop briefly in front of Sarah's, and then practically Italian Job park in the movie theater parking lot. Sarah called one day and said, "Truly Madly Deeply - let's do this." So we did. It was the first work I'd seen of Alan Rickman's. (Of note - I didn't see Die Hard until much later - just not my thing as a teenager) If you haven't seen this film, do so if you can. It's lovely.

Then a year later, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves came out.  I was 17.  I saw it 5 times in the theater. You can judge all you want. I was SEVENTEEN. And whenever I saw Alan Rickman, from that year until he became Snape, when I saw him I would occasionally say when someone referenced a spoon, "Why a spoon, counsin?"  I really wanted the other person in the conversation to Alan Rickman me.  I don't know why. I'm weird. Who cares?  Either way, I loved it especially when they would say the whole response, "Because it's DULL, you twit. It'll hurt more. Now sew! And keep the stitches small."

Then Sense & Sensibility. Then Love, Actually. Then all the roles. And then Snape. To take on a character reviled for almost 4200 pages of the series, only to find out at the end his true motivation was love, and to work so closely with the author to relay that spirit and that resolve and remain an enigma to the very end? Genius, people.

Drew recently finished the series. I will be telling him when I pick him up from school. Snape belongs to him and me. Lee hasn't read the books, and Tucker only knows Snape as a bad guy. This is our thing.

As I chewed on this in the back of my mind today, I began to think about the artists we lost this week. They were both sublimely talented and multi-faceted. Then I thought more...aren't we all multi-faceted? Doesn't the loss of two well-known artists call to us to remember that we all have talents, and sharing them is the BEST way to relate to people? To make connections? To last in this world?

Be your art. Let it come out of you. GIVE it, to counteract the taking of them. Don't stop. Alan, and David, and all the others whose work moves you will celebrate.