Halloween's Back

I am so grateful to have Halloween back!  My friend Annie and her baby, Riley, came over yesterday for a Halloween photo shoot.  We just happen to have the exact same costumes for our babies.  I mean she literally said, "I have 2 costumes for Riley - a kermit and a giraffe", and I was like, "I have those costumes too!  Bring em on!"  How weird!  ....Or not.  She and I are very much alike actually....although I would NEVER buy these crazy muppet masks, the fact that SHE has them is one of the MANY reasons I love her.  She never dresses up like the sexy kitten, or the naughty schoolgirl....she is always in some kind of funny, not so sexy, man costume.  When we first became friends, she had a "rock and roll" birthday party and dressed as a very manish "Prince" (as in artist formerly known as the "artist formerly known as Prince") complete with a jheri curl mullet wig and with a skinny mustache and all (from the Purple Rain days).  Anyway, as you can see...we had a lot of fun.  I'm so happy Halloween is back!

This last outfit was made for Mo by a woman who I told Maxie's story to months ago.  I've never met her, she just wanted to do something nice for us.  She didn't even know how much I love Halloween!

Also - can you believe Mo is three months old and Riley is eleven?  I swear in these pictures Mo looks almost as big as Riley, right?  Riley weighs more but Mo is seriously almost as long.

Sending love and strength to the East Coast, where Halloween is mostly not happening this year because of Hurricane Sandy!!

Life changing boy

Continuing on the theme of yesterday's post, Mo has changed my life in so many ways.  He has made it possible for me to go to the supermarket, go to the Farmer's Market, go to the mall.  My mom and I even took Mo to the "Mommy Movie" (Pacific Theaters has a showing of new releases once a week.  They dim the lights, and set up tables for changing babies, and moms come and breastfeed during the movie).  These are things I could not have done last year.  My heart hurt too much.  And, don't get me wrong, my heart still hurts BADLY.  I miss Max with every second of every minute of every hour of every day.  But, I can separate that longing for MY baby from the feelings of jealousy and pain that were brought on by seeing OTHER PEOPLE'S babies.  It has changed my life.

So, while I am focusing on this little miracle baby, Mo, I wanted to share another quick video of my special, special boy.  It's embarrassing that you will hear how much baby talk I do with my boys, but that's what makes them smile (Mo and Max, that is...not Ted) and I am ALL about making my boys smile (Ted too)!

What a difference a Mo makes!

I recognize yesterday's post was super random.  I guess my point, without saying it was that I had been mindlessly rapping along with this incredibly violent and dark song for all of these years.  Ted and I even get excited when it comes on the radio because it reminds us of the early nineties and because we know all of the words.  But, I have never even fully listened to what I've been saying.  It's weird how mindless we can be as we go through life.  When I really listened to what the song was saying, what I was saying, I finally understood what the song was about.  It was a really weird and mindful moment.

And speaking of mindful...... I went to this conference with my Auntie Alison on Saturday.  The weekend was full of all sorts of interesting authors and speakers, but I was really only interested in two: John Holland and Dr. Brian Weiss so I just joined her on Saturday.  These are two of the guys that I have been reading and following - two who have helped me believe (sort of) that there might be more than this life and that Maxie might be waiting for me when mine is over.  You know it is just too hard for me to believe that Max is just buried in a box on the side of a hill near my house (I just got the chills when I wrote that...the thought shakes me to my core).

I have never seen Dr. Brian Weiss before but I read his book, "Many Lives, Many Masters", right after Max died.  A friend's mother brought it for me to Maxie's shiva.  It helped her greatly after her daughter died three years ago.  I REALLY liked Dr. Weiss, a psychiatrist and past life regressionist, and I will tell you that it had less to do with the subject matter that he was speaking about and much more to do with his dry sense of humor and his gentle demeanor.  He reminded me of my grandpa Jack.  Dr. Weiss also lost a baby boy many, many years ago.  He says that his son's death set him on the path that he is on.  He wants to help others with healing because he knows how awful deep grief is.

I have seen John Holland, a world famous medium, before (at the afterlife conference in Phoenix, AZ in March).  He was AMAZING then.  He was AMAZING Saturday too.  Though I love him, and I really do...I don't think I can see him live again for a while.  It is too stressful.  I want him to pick me so bad.  The only thing that was less inspiring about Saturday's session than the ones we saw in AZ were the people that were picked.  In Phoenix, he picked mostly bereaved parents and spouses - the stories were all tragic.  You could see the MAJOR healing that the messages gave the people who were picked.  On Saturday, there were a lot of grandparents and older parents that "came through".  So, while the messages touched the souls of the people being read in a big way, I didn't get the feeling that they completely altered lives in quite the same way.  Tragedy is just different than an older person reaching the end of their life to me for some reason.  This is just a personal opinion.

What I really wanted to write about today though, was about a woman who was sitting in the front row, dead center, in John Holland's presentation.  She was two rows in front of us.  I could tell with one look that she was a bereaved parent.  She looked desperate for a reading.  She was surrounded on either side by women who were rubbing her back and speaking to her with sympathetic eyes and loving tones.  She was gripping her tissue and shaking slightly.  There was a DARK cloud hanging over her.  I just KNEW she had lost a child.  Side note: recall when Inigo Montoya KNOWS that he hears the "Man in Black's" scream in the Princess Bride?  He says he knows that it is his scream because his true love is marrying another that day.  He knows about the Man in Black's scream the way I knew that this woman was a bereaved parent.  It was pretty much confirmed for me when John Holland said, "If you are hoping to get a message today, send up the love to your loved ones who have crossed over".  I saw her open a photo on her iphone of a young woman's California ID and stare at it while mouthing a prayer to herself.  Oh lord!  I know that desperation well!  TOO well!  He didn't read her.  At the end of the session he asked if anyone had questions for him (presumably we didn't have enough time for one last reading) and she stretched up in her chair so high.  The women next to her were pointing at her as if to say, "Pick this woman, she NEEDS to talk to you".  He didn't pick her.  After his session was over, she tried to chase him out the side door as he was being whisked away.  Early grief is so dark.  I can see why people believe that too much dependence on mediums can be dangerous for a grieving person.  It was as if her whole life depended on getting his attention.  Ugh.  Seeing her desperation, I remembered my own anguish on a cellular level.  All I could think was to tell her what parents who have had to go through this before me have been telling me - "It DOES get easier".  And really, "easier" is not the right word - more accurate words might be "different" or "more bearable". I didn't approach her though.  I just needed to take care of myself and I was having a good day.  Selfish but true.  I don't think she would have cared what I had to say anyway.  She had a one track mind.

When I came back to the conference after lunch time, I got there a little early and decided to kill some time in the stores in the area (Colorado Blvd in Pasadena is filled with the cutest shops and restaurants).  I found the CUTEST baby store called "Buttercup" with the most expensive fancy strollers that I think I have ever seen.  They have a bunch of other really cute baby stuff too.  I was browsing the store for a present for Mo when it hit me that I could not have stepped foot into this store in the year after Max died and before Mo was born.  If I had seen the front of it, it would have felt like someone had thrown acid in my eyes.  But, there I was, browsing around, picking up board books and touching cute little outfits.   Whoa!  What a difference a Mo makes!  And, there it was...."Goodnight Moon".  Maxie's favorite book.  We have three copies: one is at my mom's house, one is too big to read to Mo yet, and the third was buried with Max.  I decided it was a good time to buy another copy for our house to read to Mozie.  Sounds like nothing, but it was a big, monumental move for me.  Maxie would be proud.

Another case of PTSD

I went to a conference with my aunt yesterday, which I will tell you more about later.  Teddy stayed home with Mo yesterday and they had an important father/son bonding day.  I came home for a couple of hours around lunch time to hang out.  I found them in the backyard, sharing a sweet and quiet moment together.  Mo is healing both of our hearts.  

Anyway, on my way home I was listening to Sirius radio's backspin station...it's all hip hop and rap music from my high school and college years.  I love it.  An old favorite of mine (and Ted's) came on and for like the first time EVER, I actually listened to the words I was saying.  Oh my god, I thought, this song is about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Seriously!  All of the things I spoke about in my post traumatic stress post - paranoia, feelings of depression, thoughts of suicide, rage and anger, need to isolate, inability to cope.  

A COMPLETELY different situation than losing a child, or being a vet...but still grief, loss and flashbacks.  Geto Boys' song about the horrors of urban gang life. 

Only a VERY select few of you will know or remember this song.  Disclosure - SO MUCH profanity....don't even listen or read the lyrics below if you can't handle it.  Don't say you haven't been warned. 

Geto Boys - Mind playin tricks on me

Intro: scarface 
I sit alone in my four-cornered room 
Staring at candles 
Oh that sh*t is on? heh 
Let me drop some sh*t like this here 
Real smooth 
Verse one: scarface 
At night I can't sleep, I toss and turn 
Candle sticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned 
Four walls just staring at a nigga 
I'm paranoid, sleeping with my finger on the trigger 
My mother's always stressing I ain't living right 
But I ain't going out without a fight 
See, everytime my eyes close 
I start sweatin, and blood starts comin out my nose 
It's somebody watchin' the ak' 
But I don't know who it is, so I'm watchin my back 
I can see him when I'm deep in the covers 
When I awake I don't see the motherf****r 
He owns a black hat like I own 
A black suit and a cane like my own 
Some might say "take a chill, b" 
But f*** that sh**, there's a nigga trying to kill me 
I'm pumping in the clip when the wind blows 
Every twenty seconds got me peeping out my window 
Investigating the joint for traps 
Checking my telephone for taps 
I'm staring at the woman on the corner 
It's f***ed up when your mind is playing tricks on you 
Verse two: willie d [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyrics
I make big money, I drive big cars 
Everybody know me, it's like I'm a movie star 
But late at night, somethin ain't right 
I feel I'm being tailed by the same sucker's head lights 
Is it that fool that I ran off the block 
Or is it that nigga last week that I shot 
Or is it the one I beat for five thousand dollars 
Thought he had 'caine but it was gold medal flour 
Reach under my seat, grabbed my popper for the suckers 
Ain't no use to be lying, I was scareder than a mother*****r 
But they're laughing at pow pies and buried that quick 
If it's going down let's get this shit over with 
Here they come, just like I figured 
I got my hand on the mother**cking trigger 
What I saw'll make your ass start giggling 
Three black, crippled and crazy senior citizens 
I live by the sword 
I take my boys everywhere I go 
Because I'm paranoid 
I keep looking over my shoulder and peeping around corners 
My mind is playing tricks on me 
Verse three: scarface 
Day by day it's more impossible to cope 
I feel like I'm the one that's doing dope 
Can't keep a steady hand because I'm nervous 
Every sunday morning I'm in service 
Praying for forgiveness 
And trying to find an exit out of the business 
I know the lord is looking at me 
But yet and still it's hard for me to feel happy 
I often drift while I drive 
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide 
Bang and get it over with 
And then I'm worry-free, but that's bullshit 
I got a little boy to look after 
And if I died then my child would be a bastard 
I had a woman down with me 
But to me it seemed like she was down to get me 
She helped me out in this sh**
But to me she was just another b**** 
Now she's back with her mother 
Now I'm realizing that I love her 
Now I'm feeling lonely 
My mind is playing tricks on me 
Verse four: bushwick bill 
This year halloween fell on a weekend 
Me and geto boyz are trick-or-treating 
Robbing little kids for bags 
Till an old man got behind our ass 
So we speeded up the pace 
Took a look back and he was right before our face 
We'd be in for a squab' no doubt 
So I swung and hit the nigga in his mouth
He was going down, we figured 
But this was no ordinary nigga 
He stood about six or seven feet 
Now, that's the nigga I'd been seeing in my sleep 
So we triple-teamed on him 
Dropping them motherf***** b's on him 
The more I swung the more blood flew 
Then he disappeared and my boys disappeared, too 
Then I felt just like a fiend 
It wasn't even close to halloween 
It was dark as f*** on the streets 
My hands were all bloody from punching on the concrete 
God damn, homie 
My mind is playing tricks on me

Max in Mo

I love that I see so much of Max in Mo.

Advice from a friend

I have been wanting to talk to my new friend Molly (who lost her beautiful daughter Lucy 4 1/2 years ago) for months now.  I keep texting her and calling her - like a complete stalker.  I finally got her on the phone yesterday and had no idea what I even wanted to say to her.  I think I just wanted to be reminded that someone who I really like, who is funny and fun and wonderful, has gone through....is going through what we are going through - pain, loss, heartbreak, devastation.  Or, like I told her, maybe I just have a "girl crush" on her.

We talked for a while, while both of our new babies napped (her Zoe is 4 1/2 months old).  She gave me some good advice that she has learned through trial and error.  My BIGGEST question for all bereaved parents is what they say to people who ask how many kids they have.  I know that I will never ever deny Max, but how exactly do I say it?  I have asked practically every bereaved parent I know.  They tell me "Oh, I tell everyone who asks" and then I say, "What are the exact words you use?" because it is all too terrible to even say out loud.  I have heard all sorts of answers.  People always tell me to just say that Max is dead - "Screw people if they can't handle it," they tell me, "you have to handle it every minute of every day".  Agreed.  On the one hand.  On the other hand, even I would like benign conversation once in a while.  When people ask me, they don't really care....and I also don't really care to share Max, my love, with someone who is just asking to ask. I end up sharing my deepest pain with a complete stranger, which is just too ironic since I am hardly ever asked to share it with people who I have known most of my life.  Lately I have just been saying, "We just celebrated my oldest son's second birthday", because we did.  I am not not disclosing the whole story to be kind to the person I am talking to (by not ruining their day and telling them about Max)...I am being kind to me.  If they say, "Does he like being a big brother?", I can say, "I think he really does."...because I think he really does.  

Molly told me that when she is meeting a new person, she doesn't tell them right away.  She gets to know them first and lets them get to know her.  She finds that when she does that, and they later find out what happened to Lucy, they are softer with her...because they already love her.  I don't want to be defined as "that woman whose baby died".  I don't want to be scary.  Sheesh, if I have friends and family that are scared of me because Max died, just imagine what it is going to be like for me when I start meeting new people.  I don't want Max or me to be defined by his death (though I know and want it to be part of our definition).  I would rather be (mostly) defined by his life, which was amazing and beautiful and the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.  I want HIM to be defined by his life - which should still be happening now...because he was only a baby.

I cried and told her how mad I am, how sad I am, how deep this hole is.  She agreed....it is deep.  "I promise it gets easier", she said.  I've heard it before.  I know it is true.  It feels so shitty to know it gets easier.  Of COURSE I want it to get easier...but, on the other hand, do I really want the death of my child to get easier?  Ugh.  Again - Ugh. Double UGH!  

I got off the phone with her with Mo woke up from his nap and I then sent her an email thanking for the chat..  I checked my email a little while later and received the most beautiful return email from her:

It does help to talk to someone in our same club. There is no substitute for that--that's for sure. And I didn't feel one bit that you had vague questions or what have you. I hope I helped in some way. 

I wanted to send an email anyway to recap some of what we talked about and give you some assignments. :)


1. Listen to Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth and The Power of Now). His voice takes a bit to get used to but his teachings REALLY resonate with me and have helped me greatly. 

2. Give people the benefit of the doubt. They are learning about grief and honesty and pain and communication and human interaction and love like we are. Our words are woefully inadequate to express the deepest feelings of our souls. Luckily, we'll communicate spirit to spirit in the next life. 

3. Breathe. Be easy on yourself, like you said. Treasure your little Mo and honor your little Max through enjoying the moment. 

4. Let yourself be angry. Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling. There is no "should". All things will pass and cycle through. 

5. Pray. Just talk outloud to God and tell him whatever you are feeling. Ask him for strength or whatever it is you need. Clarity, patience, your mind and heart to be opened to learned and personal revelation for you and your life. 

I don't know. After Lucy died I needed people to tell me what to do. My frontal cortex, where we make our decisions, was shot to hell with the trauma. So now I'm telling you a few things to do...because I love you and want you to find peace. 

I asked her if it was ok to share her email with you all because 1) I think it is helpful for other bereaved parents and because 2) I want you to know how wonderful Molly is.

Before Lucy died, Molly was starring in the lead role of a local theater production of Peter Pan.  Lucy went to see it many times and loved seeing her momma flying around the room.  She carried around a Peter Pan doll.  When I picture Lucy, I picture her hugging that little doll as I have seen her do in so many pictures.  Her mommy was her hero.  Her mommy is mine too.

My Pictures and Videos

When Maxie was alive, we took lots of photos of him.  I wanted to remember all of his moments and looks as he grew.  I wanted to share him as much as possible with his Gigi and Papa, his Auntie Beth and Cousin Sadie on the east coast.  I wanted to have lots of memories to show him when he got older.  Thank god for all of the photos we took, they are all I have left of our baby boy.  I kick myself every day for not taking more videos.  I can't figure out why we didn't...I mean, our phones have video cameras on them these days!  What the hell were we thinking?  Certainly not that our baby would die....

I am taking lots of photos and videos of Mo.  I want to remember every minute, I want to share him with his East Coast family, I want to show him when he grows up how cute he was when he was little.  I also want to make sure I capture every smile, every funny face, every playful interaction, every snuggle, every THING so that if I lost him (god forbid) I would remember all of these things.  I know you don't approve and you don't want to hear it.  But, every time I take a photo or a video of Mo, I think, "I will want to remember this in case we lose him too".  My phone and camera are quickly filling up.  I feel like I can't delete any of his pictures...if I do and I lose him, I won't be able to get the pictures back.  It is one of the many neuroses brought on by losing my son.  I worry that I don't have enough images of other people in my life too - Ted, my mom, my dad, my brother.  If they die, will I forget how they held their glass or how they couldn't carry a tune?  Will I forget their laugh?  Will I forget their voice?  There isn't a hard drive big enough for all that I need to document.

Ted and I have always sort of made fun of the people that video everything.  You know...those people in line at Disneyland who have their camera and are videoing the line, the ride, their snacks.  They are all over Costa Rica and other vacation spots, videoing the van ride to the zip line place, videoing the zip line, videoing lunch afterwards.  I get it now....even though I don't think they are making "in case someone in this video dies" videos.  I get it, even though those "in case someone in this video dies" are the kind of videos and picture I take.