Online Bereaved Parents Book Club

Over the years, I have been in three different book clubs.  I have always looked forward to meeting with the ladies, gabbing about whatever book we've read, drinking wine and gossiping.  My most recent book club was made up of mostly high school girlfriends but also a few additions who I love and who fit in perfectly from the start.  I stopped going to book club when Maxie died.  Sometimes I think I might want to get back into it, but I am not ready for it anytime real soon.  I love love love love these women - but I don't think I am ready for it for a whole host of reasons.

In the meantime, I fell asleep last night thinking about how much I would love to have a new book club.  It would be a group consisting of other bereaved parents (or grievers in general - but they'd have to be the REALLY devastated kind - not just semi-sad).  We would pick a new book each month about grief, losing a child or loved one, or something spiritual and uplifting.  Our non-book conversation would be of a different variety than what goes on in a regular book club - not about whether or not it is "fabulous" to be turning 40 (because this is the one thing about my life that DOESN'T keep me up at night).  Our conversation would be about rainbow babies, the power of meditation, god, mediums and therapists.  We would share stories about the children and loved ones we've lost and find new ways of parenting and honoring them together.

I don't think this book group is going to happen - especially considering I only have one bereaved mother friend in LA.  It's also kind of hard to be part of a book club when you don't like leaving your living child.  So, that's another hurdle.  Maybe I need to start an online Bereaved Parents Book Club.  Members would need to be open to reading with an open mind but, like regular book club, they could skip or not participate if they just couldn't get into the book or it didn't resonate from the get go.  I'm about 20% of the way through AT LEAST 20 books and there has been more than one that went directly into the trash or got hurled across the room.  But there have been amazing, life-altering, beautifully written books as well - books that have struck the exact right chord and connected to me exactly where it hurts most.

Books have saved my life.  I have been reading and reading and reading since I lost Max and I just can't stop.  So, at the very least....below is a list of my most favorite books for bereaved parents (and grievers in general). I think I am going to have to write a little more about some of these in the future.....a one woman online bereaved parents book club.

The Knitting Circle - Ann Hood (The author lost her school aged daughter.  This is a fictional account of her loss)
Comfort - Ann Hood (Same author - memoir of her loss)
Resilience - Elizabeth Edward
Two Kisses for Maddy - Matthew Logelin (A local "LA" dad who lost his wife soon after she gave birth to their daughter, Maddy.  It is grief from a man's perspective and it is very moving.)
An exact replica of a figment of my imagination - Elizabeth McCracken (The author's own story of losing her child at birth.  I cannot say enough about how much this book resonated with me.  I want to find Ms. McCracken and make her my new best friend.  Every word I read could have come straight from my own mouth)
When things fall Apart - Pema Chodron (I suggest reading it over and over again whenever you encounter any difficult life circumstance - brilliant)
A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle (same as above)
A Grace Disguised - Jerry Sitter
The Bereaved Parent - Harriet Sarnoff Schiff (It was the first book I read after my Maxie died.  It was brought to me during shiva by my one local bereaved mother friend.  I don't remember one thing about it, except that it comforted me somehow in the very early days of my loss)
When Bad Things Happen to Good People -  Harold S. Kushner
Soul Shift: Finding Where the Dead Go - Mark Ireland (The very best book I've read about seeking answers and connections to our loved ones who've passed - I keep intending to devote a whole post to it but I cannot seem to find my copy.)
Against the Dying of the Light - Leonard Fein 

Please post additional recommendations!  I know that there must be others who are looking for book therapy.  Maybe we can start our own online grievers book club.......


Mo and I took a break in the afternoon yesterday to visit our neighborhood park.  We rolled over there in his little car, swung on the swing and then played on a blanket in the grass.  We were giggling and playing with grass when I heard a little girl call another little girl's name.  The name was unique and familiar.  I looked over at the family and realized - I know them.  They had been sitting in the grass with their mother and a couple of other moms and their children for the whole time that Mo and I were there.  These little girls played with Max.  I just didn't recognize them because they have aged since the last time I saw them.  The oldest is practically a pre-teen now.  The youngest, who was then 3, must be 5 now.  She looks the same, only less like a baby.  The middle one is in an awkward but cute phase.  My heart stopped.  I felt instantly sick.  I must have looked like a crazy person - I could not stop staring.  Did the mom even recognize me?  I can't imagine that the little girls did.  I didn't really know any of them.  But, Max did.  I wondered if they ever think about him.  I wonder if anyone who knew him ever does. 

A few weeks ago, Ted ran into someone from the Max days.  He was in Ikea with his mother shopping for Mo's high chair.  It took him a minute to recognize this person but when he did, he said hello.  She ignored him.  He came home visibly upset and remained that way throughout the day.  It really shook him up.  I'm not sure why she couldn't have said hello to him.  She is angry at us.  Angry at us!  She can be angry at me all she wants (though, I should really be the angry one), but I can't understand why anyone would be angry at Ted.  He doesn't write my blog.  All he is guilty of is losing his son.  LOSING HIS SON!  This woman doesn't get it.  It's all about her.

I zig zag around my neighborhood trying to avoid these ghosts.  There is one who works in the produce section of our local market.  His wife was pregnant while I was pregnant with Max.  He and I would compare notes about how she and I were feeling throughout the pregnancies and then after the babies were born, he told me how his wife was suffering from postpartum depression.  I felt guilty that I wasn't.  I have only had one face to face with him in two years and I ran away quick, before he could ask me how my baby was.  I avoid the store because I don't want to run into him.  When I have been in there at the same time as him, I make sure that we don't bump into each other.  I really don't want to all.

We used to eat at the same restaurant every Friday night.  We were very friendly with the owner.  I had planned on posting some flyers for my daycare in the restaurant - I wanted her business to be successful.  I had spoken the week before Maxie stopped breathing to the owner about it and he said it would be fine.  We haven't been back there since.  I only started walking past it again recently because it is on our way to the park.  I avoided that whole stretch from the restaurant to the daycare for more than a year.  Now I worry that I might run into the restaurant owner....I'm not even sure why.  I just don't want to have to talk to him about what happened to Max at the daycare that I wanted to advertise in his restaurant.  I don't want to have to pretend like its no big deal to make him comfortable.  I get tired of acting like everything worked out for the best since at least we have Mo now.

Since Maxie left our worlds - there are a lot of places we avoid and others I know we may never go back to again - for a long time, I thought I'd never go back to Costa Rica since my most recent memories are from being there with Max.  I am sure we will probably never go back to Catalina - Ted has already told me that he never wants to go back.  I worry about what will happen when one of us needs to visit an emergency room - the ER where Maxie was taken is blocks away.  How can I ever go to the place where I first understood that my baby might (and did) die?  HONESTLY - How can I go there?

For a long, long, long time, I couldn't go in Maxie's room.  Now it is Mo's room - I am in it every day.  I thought the spell was broken but a couple of nights ago, I felt deep deep deep sorrow and pain coming from the room.  I had to shut the door.  Oh my lord!  I miss my child so much!!!!

There are ghosts EVERYWHERE - some are people, some are places.  It's like the whole world is haunted and we live in the epicenter of the haunting.  I used to hate leaving my house for fear of who I'd run into.  Now, I don't worry about it so much.  All of those "friends" who disappeared are now ghosts to me.  If I ran into them, I feel like I'd walk right through them.  They don't live in the same physical realm that I do.  They live in a fluffy la la world where you just dump people when things get hard.  Most of the ghosts I know have just been floating around since Maxie died - light on their feet.

Come to think of it - I bet the woman in the park didn't even notice me.  I am sure that Maxie's death was nothing more than a shocking day for her in the grand scheme of things.  I'd be surprised if she has given it any more thought in the past year and 10 months.  She was likely just enjoying an afternoon at the park with her friends and their children and maybe (though probably not), wondering why the sad looking woman with the cute baby was staring at her.

Mo's Counting Book

Almost every day, I am comforted by the kindness of complete strangers.  It never ceases to amaze me....I mean it really AMAZES me!  I just cannot believe how compassionate, empathetic and wonderful people who don't even know us can be.  How they support us and connect to Maxie and Mo.  It can be so hard to support a person in grief - and yet, there are people who have made the effort to comfort us even though they don't even know us.  I think it points to the true nature of people - and I think that mostly, people are wonderful and kind hearted!

We received the most beautiful gift last week.  It was so personal and creative and we all love it so much.  A reader of mine from Australia, whom I've never met, put together a beautiful handmade book for Mo...and one for us too! 

It is impossible to see the beautiful craftsmanship in these photos.  The felt is all cut and sewn perfectly and the wheels are buttons.  Mo loves to bite, pull and suck on them.

She also put together a little book for me with photos and small bits about her and her family and personal messages to me.

Thank you Renee for this beautiful present.  It's so beautiful and it touched us all so much.  Thank you for thinking of our family and telling us a little about yours.  They are absolutely lovely - as are you!  Renee is a terrific photographer and posts her photos to her blog: Seeing Each Day.


I read somewhere that the mother of Eric Clapton's son, who died at the age of two, has never heard the song "Tears in Heaven" - the song that Clapton wrote for his son.  She cannot listen to it.  She doesn't want to hear it.  I wonder what would happen if the song just came on someplace she was - like the car - she wouldn't recognize it right away, because she's never heard it.  So, how could she be quick enough to change the channel?  What if she's in a restaurant or a shopping mall?  It's a song that seems to come up a lot in the regular rotation of life.  I actually find myself worried for her that it will sneak up on her...that before she even knows its happening, she'll be listening to that song.  Maybe she is very careful to never listen to the radio or go places where that song could possibly end up playing.  As a warning - I suggest she should stay away from Burbank Airport.  I heard that song in their rotation while Ted and I waited for the plane that took us to NYC for Beth's marathon shortly after Maxie's passing.  It was torturous for me - I can only imagine the pain it would cause her.

Music has a power to pull you out of whatever you are doing and put you into a place you once were.  It can bring back all sorts of other sensations as well.  Whenever I need to calm way down, I listen to a Spanish album that I first heard in Argentina (Chambao - Endorfinas en la mente) - it brings me back to a very calm and easy time in my life.  When I was pregnant with Mo, I basically kept the old school rap and hip hop station on in my car all of the time - it brought me back to my high school and college years - so many fun memories.  I knew all of the words to everything then and being able to sing (say?) the words along with the radio while driving to and from doctors appointments kept my mind busy.  It helped me to NOT think about everything that could go wrong.

I have a pile of CDs in Mo's room that are the "Do not play" CDs.  They include - The Land of Nod (volume 2 I think); Jack Johnson's music from Curious George; a bunch of Raffi and some other stuff.  I know better than to listen to Pandora's children's music station - I might end up hearing a song from one of the "Do not play CDs", or worse yet: that Hawaiian version of "Somewhere over the rainbow"....or the WORST possible: "The Rainbow Connection" sung by Kermit the Frog or anyone else for that matter.  That song tears the insides out of my body, rips them to shreds, throws them on the floor and then stomps all over them.  That song taunts me, saying "You think you are surviving but you are BARELY holding on!  You KNOW you can't live without Max!".  I love that song madly but I cannot handle it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a friend's house and the song came on.  I panicked.  Honestly, my mind started racing at 5,000,000 miles per hour.  I didn't know what to do.  I could either sit there and pretend like I didn't hear it but I am pretty sure I would have ended up in a full blown panic attack - and I didn't think that was a good idea considering Mo was on my lap and we were flanked by small children.  I wanted to run outside, but didn't want to make a scene.  I could not hear one more note - I was already being transported back - to dancing with my sweet boy in our living room and then later, to laying in his hospital bed with him while he was hooked up to life support, while Ted played the song over and over again, hoping that the music would bring him back to us. I can't believe that the song didn't bring Max back to us.  I am not sure why it surprises me - nothing worked:  not the song, or the prayers or the promises to god.  It's like living full time in a nightmare.  It's a life sentence for a crime I don't remember committing, that I SURE AS HELL know my child didn't commit.  Five seconds of the song brought up so much pain for me that I barely got through the rest of the day.  I was back in the early days of grief - the really disgusting, dark, awful, shitty mess that it was.

I need to put a plan in place - for times like those.  Like "The Silver Linings Playbook" - did you see it?  He needed a plan in place for whenever he might hear "Ma Cherie Amour" out in public.  Holy moly - I can relate to that.  I need plans for music, and certain smells, and things people say, and when people make that effing sound like they are playing with a cute puppy (aaaawwwwww) when we talk about our broken hearts, and a whole host of other shit that keeps popping up.  On the day I heard the Rainbow Connection, I just walked outside with Mo.  I snuggled him close to my heart and I swayed back and forth with him, the way I wish I could have been doing with Maxie in that moment.  I kissed his cheeks and looked into his deep blue eyes and tried to connect to his brother for a minute.  I am battling some pretty heavy demons and I actually think I am doing an ok job, considering....

The difficulty of communicating

Human communication is so hard.  Kindness can be misinterpreted as pity.  Sorrow interpreted as anger.  Exhaustion interpreted as laziness.  Unless we are in the head of the person we are communicating with, we never know how our communication comes across or what they actually mean.

I had a pregnant employee a few years ago who came to an event to work and complained the whole day about how tired and uncomfortable she was - being pregnant and in the sun all day.  Before the banquet dinner at the end of the day, I told her that she could take off if she wanted.  100% - I felt I was being kind.  I meant to empathize with her and let her go home early to her husband and child.  She didn't talk to me for weeks after this event.  I heard through the grapevine that she was pissed that I made her stay for the whole day and then sent her home before the fun dinner began.  I've never seen the dinner part of that event as fun - it always feels like work to me.  I think this is just a good example of human communication gone awry.

One of the hardest things about grief is being in it with other people.  On the one hand, its a comfort - to know that other people are missing the one you love as much as you are.  On the other hand, and from a more selfish perspective, it complicates your experience of grief.  If you are a person who needs constant distraction to get through grief, it can be very hard for someone who needs to go inside themself to be around you.  You might be someone who needs distraction one day and the next day needs to be alone and quiet.  That is where everyone in my family seems to be right now.  It is impossible for any of us to predict how we are going to feel on any particular day.  It can be incredibly challenging and sometimes just add another layer to the complicated grief.

Relationships have been incredibly challenging since we lost Maxie. Nobody has dealt with his loss in the same way.  Some people mourned in the hospital and then put it away.  Some people didn't start to experience the gut wrenching, sick, horror grief until weeks or months later.  Some are just beginning to feel it now.  Some may never mourn - either they didn't feel that close bond with Max or they just aren't going to let themselves go there.  We are not on the same time schedule, which makes life now as challenging as ever.  You never know how you are going to feel or how someone else is going to feel or how you will interact in any particular moment.  You want to be sensitive to other people's feeling but hope that they can also be sensitive to yours.  So - you mostly just have to fake it all of the time.   Nobody really wants to deal with your pain - because they have their own - or they are just over it already.  Grief is super selfish.  It just is.  I've seen the most selfish sides of everyone I love in the past (almost) two years.  They've seen those sides of me too.  It sucks.

I am wondering if we will ever get to a point where we can actually all communicate again.  Maybe when the pain lessens somewhat, we can be more sensitive with each other.  Maybe faking it is just the way we will all live moving forward.  I think I am fine with that...I let very few people in anymore and I am careful with those that I do.  I can't overwhelm them with what I am going through so I sort of mention it and then deal with it alone afterwards.  I think this is just how life is after a traumatic loss.

Mo's First Haircut

We couldn't wait until his first birthday to get Mo his first haircut.  His hair has been hanging in his eyes for weeks.  We brush it to the side but it still ends up going straight down into his eyes.  So, yesterday Mo had his first haircut.  He was such a good boy!  He sat on his daddy's lap and was so easy and well-behaved.  The lady who cut his hair was so nice and patient.  She asked if Mo is always THIS good.  He really is so good.  I wasn't sure how it would go....but it was a breeze.  I am going to miss his latest doo - with the little wispies hanging into his eyes.  So cute.   But, we left with some baby hair gel and a super cute baby without hair in his eyes.  Definitely a good thing.

More about this tomorrow!

Mo's music class

I've always gotten into trouble for talking too much.  I find it very hard to just shut my mouth and pay attention.  I am always the one (or with the ones) who get told to keep it down - as a kid - at sleepover parties, in school, at summer camp, in dance, music and swim classes.

When I was in high school, the teachers always used to tell my parents that I wasn't working to my full potential.  I spent more time talking with friends than I did focusing on the teacher.  My memories of high school are of laughing wildly with friends on the front lawn, having an ongoing dandruff contest on the black tables of science class (the joys of an all-girls high school), Indian wrestling in the junior and senior lounges, passing notes about boys and speaking in code language in front of teachers.  I didn't become interested in learning until much later.

Later in life, I was always with the loud crew and often leading it.  I could not shut up in restaurants, in movies (how annoying am I?), at hotels, it was hard for me to pay attention in class.  I'd rather be socializing.  I remember being on the patio of Lucy's Al Adobe Restaurant with girlfriends a few years back and being told to be quiet by the people at the table next to us.  I think it just made us louder.  My friend Suzy and I took a weekly semi-private pilates lesson from our friend Molly for a few years.  While I liked pilates (and Molly is an AMAZING teacher), I really went because it was good catch-up time with my girlfriends.  We were told to be quiet more than once (a lesson) by other teachers and their students sharing the studio.

Even on the trips I've led to Israel.  I am usually sitting in the "back of the bus", with the loud croud, yucking it up and not setting a good example of how to pay attention to the guide or speaker at the front of the bus.

I have often just found it really hard to shut up.  I like talking.

Times have changed a bit.

Mo and I have been taking a music class.  We go once a week, with my new best friend Kim and her twins.  The twins are 3 years old.  They are ADORABLE!  They love Mo and he loves them.  I try not to think too hard about the fact that they are six months older than Max would be.  Somehow that six months makes the difference though.  I convince myself that Max wouldn't be anything like them - because he would be six months younger.

Mo loves this music class.  He loves being around other children.  He loves that we sit on a mat and that he can roll around on it and put instruments in his mouth.  He loves when other children pay attention to him.  He loves when I play the (very annoying) CD of all of the music class songs in the car.  Sometimes it is the only way I can get him to stop whining in the back seat.

The best thing about this music class is that I don't have to talk to other moms.  We don't sit around and try to troubleshoot issues we are having with our babies, which is more like the baby and me stuff Max and I did together.  Even the baby and me yoga class I took with Max had too much talking - we all had to go around the room and say how many kids we had and how old they are at the beginning of each session.  Kim assured me ahead of time - there is no talking in music class.  In fact, if you ever do get caught talking - the teacher WILL give you a dirty look.

Talking is not allowed.  Just the way I like it....for now!

Ten Months Old!!!!

Our baby is FINALLY Ten Months Old!!!  He is awesome!  He has three (almost four) teeth on top and two teeth on bottom that don't get brushed as often as they should (we are working on that).  He loves to eat with his fingers - yam sticks, bananas, avocados, cheerios, meatballs, salmon, turkey, cheese, black beans and more.  He grabs huge fistfuls and shoves them in his mouth (the dogs love mealtime - at least half of what he tries to eat falls on the floor).  He still can't crawl but he rolls everywhere!  He knows what he wants and will roll to get it.  He cries when things he wants to play with are taken away or when people he loves leave the room.  He climbs into mommy's lap and smiles big for daddy when he comes home.  He is friendly with people he meets - usually.  He loves watching kids and especially loves when they pay attention to him.  He laughs at things he finds funny and loves watching Sesame Street and Pajanimals (and mommy lets him be a child of the 70s in that way).

We love him SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!  He is an angel sent to us straight from Heaven.  

Here's the recap (and I cannot FOR THE LIFE OF ME get these photos to line up straight):


The new lucky

When I write about how much I LOVE Mo!  How special he is to me!  How much joy he has brought to my life - I feel overwhelming guilt.  Guilt might not even be the right word - but it's the best one I've got.

After losing Max, people kept dismissing our loss, telling us "You can always have more children".  After I got pregnant, they said "Well, at least you can now focus on this child".  I guess it just seemed like no big deal that our baby died.

OOOOOOOOooooooooo!  It made me so mad.  At least!  At least!  At least!  Easy for you to say!!!!!  Have you seen Mo's videos?  Have you seen Maxie's (I have less of those, sadly)?  Can you imagine losing a child?  As I've said before, just because you treat it like it's no big deal - doesn't make it no big deal.  It has broken me.  I feel his absence every moment of every day.  And even when I feel joy, I am acutely aware of the fact that I am feeling joy amidst my deep sorrow.  I don't EVER just feel joy.  It shouldn't have to be this way - for anyone.  It is HARD work - every second.  I know you don't understand - and yet, I still feel COMPELLED to continue to try and explain. It is exhausting.

But, Mo IS here now and he DOES make my life easier.  He doesn't take away the pain of having lost Max.  Nobody could.  But, he makes me feel that life will be good again - a much different kind of good - but still good.  I am lucky.  I AM LUCKY.  I can't even believe I am saying that.  My heart feels sick for those who aren't as lucky as I am.  Those who lost their only child and couldn't have more.  Those who've lost more than one.  Those who've lost whole families....because, Oh My Lord!!!! - it happens.  I feel guilty, guilty, guilty.  I have Mo!

This isn't what I used to call lucky....but it is what I call it now.

Mo's ninth month

I am completely and totally WILD about this boy.  He makes me so happy - so much more happy than I would have ever thought was possible again for me in this lifetime.  When I am looking at him, my heart feels temporarily healed.  I am so grateful for this beautiful boy! 

The last of the broken hearts

I don't want to scare you but I've been thinking about premature death a lot.  I don't think it is as rare as you think it is.  What I mean is -  I think Ted and I often feel like freaks because we are "the ones that lost [our] baby" - but, I honestly don't think we will be the last ones we know who will lose a child.  I hope we are - but I just don't think so.  I've been thinking about all of the young people I've known who've died really young and wondering how it came to be that I know SO many young people who are not here any longer.  I think it is because young people die - much more often than we like to think.  I am sorry for writing about this, but it is what I have been thinking about.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three from my summer camp community.  Two died from cancer - one took his own life.  My camp is a pretty insular place - we all were like a big family.  Learning of these deaths felt like a punch in the face - completely unbelievable.
One friend from high school - gone in a car accident.  It happened just before graduation.  I don't think it ever really sunk in for many of us.  How could it be real?
The guy I dated immediately after my engagement broke off in 2000 - died in a plane crash in Aspen, about a month after we stopped dating.  He was on a private plane and everyone that I ever met through him died with him on that day - they were all going away together for the weekend to celebrate his 25th birthday.  There was nobody left to even bury him as his mother and brothers were on the plane too.  Too tragic to comprehend - impossible to wrap my brain around.
My funny and brilliant friend Judah - who was the inspiration for my Maxie's middle name - died at 39 - the very age I am now.  We all knew he had cancer but nobody thought he would die.  He'd gone through stem cell treatment that everyone thought would save his life.  It didn't.  How can it possibly be that he is gone too?
My hilarious curmudgeonly gay boyfriend and partner in crime, Michael, who took care of me and was my constant companion when my heart was so broken many years ago.  He went home to visit his parents and died in his sleep.  No indicators, no nothing.
Chelsea, the beautiful childhood friend of my cousin Lizzy - same story.  She was on a trip with her mom - I think to visit colleges - and died in her sleep.  Her mom woke up to find that she was beside her, gone already.  When I say this girl was beautiful - it doesn't do her any justice at all.  Ridiculous beauty and a lovely personality. 
My friend Amy lost her brother several years ago - he had just called home from the road to wish his father a Happy Birthday and then died in a car crash.  He was young and ambitious and full of life.
Recently, two guys I know from high school lost their brothers.  Sudden, unexpected losses. 
Should I keep going?
A college friend who died of a heroin overdose.  He'd battled with the drug over the years but had been clean for several years when he must have made a terrible terrible choice to give it one last go.
Two of my best friends - Jon and Lindsay have lost siblings.  Jon's sister Marissa and Lindsay's brother Darryl.  Both young and married with three children each.
My Costa Rican friend Elier - who was my Spanish teacher and first Costa Rican friend - died suddenly, also just a kid....maybe 23 years old.
I think I'll stop there but I could keep on.
All of these lives - gone.  All of these friends left behind parents, siblings, friends.  All of us will die someday - but we all expect to live long lives - and I am not sure why.  All evidence tells me that there is no reason we should expect anything at all.  I am not trying to be a downer - I am trying to be a realist.  The only moment you can count on is this one.

I'm sorry that the sad stories don't end with ours because what that means is that we won't be the last broken of the hearts.

We certainly aren't the first. 

My happy boy

Mo's being so cute makes it very easy for me to not write when I don't want to. Instead, I can just post a video of him being himself.

Mo - 91/2 months old:

Still nine months

Mo is STILL nine and a half months old.  This has been the longest month since he was born.  It feels like the days are passing by and somehow, he is still only nine months old.  I let myself feel safe and then I realize that it could still happen at any minute.  There are no indicators, there is no gut feeling, there is no nothing.  I have been so stressed out that I now have hives all over my chest and back.  Seems like my body's way of getting my attention is to make me super itchy.  I think I enjoyed migranes better.  At least they go away after a few hours.  I've been itching for days.  5 more days.....I can't wait to stick the 10 month sticker on my baby. 


Moriah said something to me during her reading a couple of weeks ago that has stuck (well, apparently my grandpa Jack communicated it - but Moriah said it).  She was talking about a difficult relationship in my life and why it is the way it is.  She ended by saying, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?".  Good Question!  It kind of gets to the crux of most of the issues I have with other people.  Sometimes I just can't believe that these people refuse to take responsibility for their actions.  And often I KNOW I AM RIGHT to think that.  But, you know what?  They think the same thing about me.  No matter how right I know I am...they know they are right too.  And, even though I feel like I shouldn't have to be the one to forgive - I WOULD rather be happy than right.  It doesn't mean that I've let go of all of my hurt and gotten all  "Kumbaya" - it just means that I have bigger battles to fight  - like with my own demons.  I don't have the energy to be mad anymore.  People don't change - you either have to forgive them and change your expectations or stay mad.  I am trying to choose the first method.

PS- I forgot to mention my BEST BEST FRIEND ON EARTH Marla yesterday!!!!!  Sorry Malsie.  You know I love you ;)

What is your definition of friendship?

In high school, I was voted "Most likely to tell a story about her best best friend on earth".  What can I say?  I've got a lot of best friends.  I'm lucky - I've always made friends easily.  It's always been surprising to me that even though I've had a lot of friends, most of them are of the really quality kind - intelligent, loyal, funny, ambitious, deep and interesting.  Depending on when and what's happening in my life, I have a different best best friend on earth (bbfoe).  There are my childhood best friends - Sigalle and Danna; my high school best friends - Bianca, Amy, Suzy, Molly; my cousin best friends - Sharon, Lizzy, Jodi and Leslie K; my college best friends - Jessica, Eowyn, Kate and Robyn;  my guy best friends - Greg, Jon R., and Keith; my adult years best friends - Carmen, Sigalle (again), Tamar and Greg (again); my camp best friends - Carly, Lindsay and Tamar (again) sister-in-law best friend - Beth and my best, best, best friend on earth - Ted.  I've left a bunch out too (like my San Francisco bestie -Rose, and my traveling best friend - Leslie H, my auntie best friend - Alison, my new best friend - Kim and ....)

OY! Dear Other Besties - please don't be offended - you are still my best best BEST friends on earth!.  Somehow quantity has not compromised the quality of said best friends.  Everyone I've named here is still a BBFOE - even after my losing Max and my mind and a good part of my soul.

Someone left a comment the other day that I have had a hard time understanding and wrapping my brain around. The comment said (in part) " I wouldn't know how to relate to you if we ever met because it seems as though you want everyone to suffer your loss in order to understand what you're going through or be your friend."  Uh..............YA!  I still cannot tell if that was written as if it were a bad thing.  Is that too much to expect from my friend?  I am not sure what your definition of friendship is but I think you might not be aiming high enough in the friendship department.  My friends are people who I have chosen to walk through life with.  They aren't people that I was born to or that I NEED to spend time with or that I am getting paid to be around.  I chose them.  They CHOSE me.  We root for each other.  We show up for each other not only for the really exciting life events - like marriages and babies, but also for life's heartbreaks.  When my friend is suffering from a broken heart - whether because he/she lost a job or a boyfriend or a loved one or some self confidence - I suffer too.  Their loss is my loss, their gain is my gain.

It is nice to have people that you simply have uncomplicated fun with - people that you can party with or go out dancing or drinking or shopping with - but those people aren't necessarily your "friends".  When I lived in Israel, I spent a lot of time on a Kibbutz where there was a pretty large group of young Israelis and volunteers my age.  It was one of the most fun times of my entire life but I made very few genuine friends.  I had people to hang out with, go to the nearby Arab village for falafel with, and go to the pub with...but at the end of the day, I was totally replaceable - people were coming and going all of the time.  Those people weren't my friends, though I used the same word to describe them.  They were people I played with at a certain time in my life.  They were great!  But, I certainly wouldn't turn to any of them in a tragedy.  I wouldn't have cried to any of them about my broken heart.  I didn't know much about their hopes and dreams and fears.  It doesn't mean that they couldn't have grown to become real friends - they just weren't at that time.  Our "friendships" were superficial for the most part.  And that is ok.

In Hebrew we call those people who we have superficial relationships with our "Yedidim", which translates to "friends" but means something different than "Chaverim", which also translates in English to "Friends" but whose significance far surpasses those in the first category.

In times of heavy grief, we tend to go deeper within ourselves - making those superficial relationships impossible to maintain.  How can we continue to be in "friendships" with people who just want to have fun with us when we are incapable of having fun?  It is just impossible.  In times like these, we need our Chaverim, our best best friends on earth - the ones whose hearts are also broken that we are suffering - and in our case, those who are missing Maxie with us.

I read this AMAZING book recently called "A Grief Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss", by Jerry Sitter.  Sitter lost his mother, wife, and two year old daughter in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.  Sitter and three of his children survived the accident.  There were may valuable lessons Sitter shared in the book.  Practically every line in my copy is highlighted.  He wrote a lot about the importance of the community that formed around him and his surviving children after the accident and about their willingness to share his pain and make themselves vulnerable.  "Throwing caution to the wind, they walked into the house and embraced me in tears, though they had no idea what to say to comfort me and the children.  They chose to make themselves available, vulnerable, and present to our suffering."

He also writes about how, many people were not able to step up to the plate, and how he knows that in the past he had been one of those people himself.  Even people who do care can't really step up  "..tragic loss, like mine, always engender a groundswell of support that ends almost as quickly as it begins.  We should not necessarily fault friends for the brevity or superficiality of their support.  I have been prone to do the same myself...I wanted to express concern, which I did.  But I did not choose to embrace the suffering and did not allow it to change my life.  In most cases I lacked the time and energy; in a few cases I also lacked the willingness and heart."

He goes on to say what this experience is like for the griever, who themselves lacks the energy to carry on the superficial relationships - too tired from just getting through the grief each day.  "I did not have enough room in my soul to let all of them in.  I could not keep retelling the same story, update people on what was happening to my children, or explain what I was thinking and how I was feeling during the many bleak days and months following the accident."  There is only so much room in one's heart.  As much as people have kept their distance from us, not wanting to get too close to our pain - we have kept those who cannot get close to our pain at a distance as well.  It goes both ways.

All of this to say -Yes, it's true.  I EXPECT my Chaverim....feel heartbroken for us.  I expect that they are feeling broken that beautiful Max died.  Not because they "have to", just because they do.  I expect that they miss him and that they also think about him when they meet a child of 9 1/2 months, or when their own child turns 10 months or when they encounter a 2 1/2 year old child.  I expect them to feel this way because not everyone makes my BBFOE list (though it may seem otherwise) and because I really only have space in my heart for those who care.  I believe that my nearest and dearest have the same expectation of me.  I deeply care about the lives of all of my closest friends - I want for them love, happiness, health, prosperity, joy, beauty, success!  And I suffer with them through heartbreaks, physical pain, disappointment, and loss.  That is what friendship is.  If these aren't the friendships that are present in your life, you are missing the deep soul connection that is possible between human beings and I am sorry for you for that.  My friendships are incredibly rewarding and fulfilling and I wish that for you too.

"The most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them, and others you don't, but in the end they're the people you always come home to. Sometimes it's the family you're born into, and sometimes it's the one you make for yourself." 
- cheesy Sex and the City quote

Challenge Update

Hey!  My weight loss challenge is in round two!  During the first round, our group lost 50 pounds between all of us (and it would have only been 49 without the pound I contributed!)  My already teeny, tiny friend Jessica won $200 after four weeks for highest percentage of weight loss.  There were other very impressive losses in addition to hers also.

I may not have really lost weight but I feel a whole lot better - mostly from the working out part.  Ted and I literally work out in our living room every night together.  We have a lot of fun too.  We've basically memorized the DVDs that we do and enjoy quoting Jillian back at the television set - we try to beat her to the we say "You want more? I've got more!" before she can say it first.  Ah, the memories we are creating!

What's really awesome is that when we started just a few weeks ago, I could hardly do a jumping jack.  I blamed it on bad knees.  But, now - it ain't NO THANG!  In fact, a lot of the exercises that I could hardly muster in the first week are easy peasy now - I'm not braggin or anything - just sayin'.

An acquaintance of mine (who is now a friend - not merely an acquaintance), whose brother I know from my high school days, offered to coach me through a nutrition program she did to lose weight after having her daughter and it seems to be working for me.  I am journaling my food every day and sending it to her at night.  She then returns my emails and says things like, "That's great.  Ideally, I'd like to see you get more vegetables in".  She's so sweet.  Their family also had a major loss recently, so we've been checking in with each other about these cycles of grief as well.  I always loved Leslie, even if I didn't know her well. Whenever I'd see her out over the years, I always gravitated towards her - she's adorable and I am so sorry for her family's loss.  It's just inexplicably horrible.  

I was sent a couple of other diet plans as well that I'm keeping in my back pocket for now (thank you Erin for the plan you will get used I am sure!).  It's kind of funny that I am putting this much effort into something that I hope gets derailed (with a pregnancy) in the not too distant future.  But, I was in bad shape and you know, I needed the distraction.  Anyway, aren't you proud of our challenge group?  50 pounds is no joke!


We actually had a really nice Mother's Day.  My mom, Ken (Mom's significant other), and my brother came over.  Mostly we spent a lot of time watching Mo and taking lots of pictures.  He was in a REALLY good mood.

We also laughed really hard watching this:

Have you seen it already?  It is so hilarious...I want to be as happy as these people again.  I think that I may have been once.  Not sure.  Anyway, I love them.

Grateful for my mother

I have always been close to my mother.  We are great friends, travel companions, and confidants.  I have laughed with her so hard that my stomach hurts and tears roll down my cheeks.  We have been on many adventures together.  We worked together. We found and bought our vacation home in Costa Rica together.  We've made and shared friends together.  I even lived with her for eight months when I was 32 - In fact, I was living with my mom when Ted and I started dating.

My mom and I have also had some of the most major blow out fights I've ever known.  The most memorable blow out was when she came to visit me while I was living in Israel.  I was 21 and feeling pretty adult, having spent the previous 7 months living abroad.  As we traveled around the country together, we were at each others throats.  I felt pretty confident about how to move around in what was considered a pretty unstable time (when isn't it?).  She was more adventurous, wanting to explore places that I thought were risky or dangerous.  I have always been cautious - she has always thrown caution to the wind.  We ended up in a screaming match in downtown Jerusalem the day before we were leaving for a 5 day tour of Cairo.  "I can't wait to get there!", she screamed "I'm going to make all new friends on the bus and we are going to take pictures together and stay in touch after we leave and you can make your own friends!"  It's hilarious to me now - it was actually hilarious to me then too.  What was most hilarious is that when we got there, we found out that we were the only ones booked on the tour.  Not one friend was to be made.  We laughed and laughed and still laugh about it.

Last year was a very hard year for my mom and I, despite the obvious reasons.  I decided to write a bit about it because so many of the other grieving parents I have spoken to over the last 22 months have shared similar experiences with me about their relationships with their own parents since their loss.

When I look back, I remember that everyone in the hospital room with us and Max was in shock.  We were all feeling devastated, sad, out of our minds.  It felt then like we were a team.  We had each other.  I think I thought we would leave that hospital and continue to be a team - holding each other in our pain, going through hell together, crying over the tragic end to the happiest nine and a half months of our lives.  I think I thought we would grieve together.  That isn't what happened....with any of us.  I still don't even know who grieved and who didn't - or if anyone didn't - or if everyone did.  I honestly just don't know.  I know everyone was upset-  but I am not sure if everyone felt destroyed, like me.  I am not saying they weren't destroyed, I just really have no idea.  As it turns out, grief is so personal, that some people just never even talk about it.  No wonder people keep telling me how "honest" I am - there were times like I felt I was the only one willing to admit that the landscape of my life was completely changed - that the good I had known was gone - and that I was (am) completely devastated and unhinged.  As I've mentioned before - I KNOW Ted felt (feels) the same way - but our expression of that pain was completely different and it was sometimes (often) hard to relate to each other.  We have closed that gap tremendously since the early days but it will always be hard I am sure.

I am not sure if my mom had delayed grief, or if she just needed to keep busy, or if she wanted to demonstrate strength to me - but I felt we didn't connect.  I felt all alone in my grief and I needed her.  I felt that there was nobody who could relate to me.  There were people I could call, who would listen (and I am so lucky to have had those people - SO LUCKY!), but they didn't know and love Maxie the way we did.  Nobody was really saying "My life feels ruined too and I just want to sit and cry with you"....and that is ok in retrospect but at the time, it didn't feel ok.  It felt very very very lonely.  I just wondered how every single person who loved Max didn't feel just like me (again, they may have - I just didn't know) - all of the emptiness, the darkness, and the pain.  Ted told me many times, "not everyone feels ruined".  I couldn't even imagine it.  Still can't.

Max was my mom's only grandchild - he was wild about her and she felt the same about him.  She babysat for us - he had overnights there - he even spent a whole weekend there while we attended a wedding when he was about five months old.  I knew she had to be out of her mind.  I knew it!  How could she not be?  But, when I saw her, I would cry and cry and she was generally so busy with work that she couldn't let herself go there and it made me mad.  I wanted her to sit on my couch with me and hold me and cry and scream at god and I don't know.....I wanted to know that he was SO loved that his absence had caused a deep dark hole in the lives of everyone who knew him.  I would end up so upset that she was being so strong and distant, that I would get mad at her, and then she would leave with hurt feelings....causing her to feel even more distant - widening the gap.  This went on for months.  MONTHS.  I finally stopped calling her for support.  We just weren't on the same page.  I don't think it was anyone's fault.  Human interaction is already very complicated - Mother/ Daughter relationships are some of the most complicated out there - communicating through grief is like speaking to someone in morse code.  It's just hard to understand.

Finally, she made herself vulnerable to me.  I don't remember when it happened.  I don't know if it was that she just finally started to really feel the pain much further down the road (most everyone who loses someone they love goes through somewhat of a shocked period and the really awful disgusting grief gets delayed because of it). She told me that she'd been having breakdowns all along but that her breakdowns happened at home.  She felt that she had to be strong for me.  I guess that is what a lot of people think.  Everyone has been so strong for us that most of the time I feel like nobody shares our pain.  And, maybe they don't -  afterall, only Ted and I are Maxie's parents.  Anyway, I'm sure it was selfish of me to want to know that she was miserable and it isn't that I actually wanted her to be miserable, it's just that I couldn't believe that she wasn't.  I could not bear the idea of Max's life and death not having that kind of life-altering impact on the people who loved him.  He was the most amazing person in the world - a baby: innocent, sweet, chubby, cuddly - a bundle of joy and love.  How could anyone walk away from his death without questioning the sanity of the universe?  Honestly, I can't bear the idea of the people who were supposed to have loved Maxie most having been able to walk away from his death without deeply feeling his loss.  Go ahead and think that is incredibly selfish!  I say lots of "controversial" stuff I guess....but I tell the truth.  This is how many bereaved parents feel - we cannot believe that our child's death didn't destroy the world around us.  We cannot believe that the world keeps on turning and that people's lives keep on going.  We just CANNOT even believe it.

Last Mother's Day I couldn't bear the idea of acting celebratory.  I felt like motherhood had been snatched away from me (because it had) and I didn't feel like sitting in some restaurant pretending to be happy.  Plus, I was having a hard time with my mom.  This year, I feel like we are closer than we have been in a very long time - like we have found our way back to one another.  This year, I feel grateful to be able to celebrate my mother along with being a mother.

I am GRATEFUL that my mom and I have found each other again.  I am GRATEFUL that she trusts me enough with her emotions to really tell me how she feels about losing her first born grandchild - about how much she misses and longs for Maxie.  I am GRATEFUL that she continues to include him in our family occasions, that she never leaves him out of the conversation, that she always acknowledges how bittersweet all of the joyful moments are without him.  I am GRATEFUL that she tells me when she has really bad days - the ones where she spends all day crying and wondering how the hell this happened to our sweet boy.

What I have learned is that when life falls apart and you are at your most vulnerable, sometimes you need other people to be vulnerable with you.  In fact, the strongest people - the ones who have really been my pillars of strength are the ones who haven't been afraid to get dirty deep down in the trenches with me.  Being strong is easy - being vulnerable is the hard work.  I am GRATEFUL for my mother.  I love her so much - much more than I ever have in 40 years - if possible.  Her love for Maxie is eternal - as is my love for her.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!  I am so grateful that you are willing to meet me in the depths of this hell.  I know it isn't easy for you but I know that you know that sometimes I need you here.  I hated being down here alone.  I love you.

Proud to be their mom

I am so happy to be mother to these two beautiful boys!  

This Mothers Day is not perfect.  It never will be.  
But this Mothers Day, I am a whole lot happier than I was last Mother's Day.

These two are in my heart forever!


"To love another person is to see the face of God" - Jean Valjean, Les Miserables

My memories of my life with Maxie come back to me in 2-3 second flashes.  I remember his gigantic smile when I would come into his room to get him from his crib.  I remember the funny way he flirted with our housekeeper.  I remember that he would also flash a gigantic smile when I opened the back car door to get him from his car seat.  I remember the way he looked at his daddy.  I remember a lot more but it is in flashes - the memories are not fluid, like the way you get to love someone in the present - more like pictures of a past relationship whose presence seems to be fading from your present day life.  It makes me feel sick to my stomach.  It hasn't even been two years.  I worry what my memories will be like in ten years.  I worry that I will forget to be excited when I am at the end of my life - that I will be too focused on losing what is in my living life to look forward to the soul mate awaiting me in the next one.  I worry that my memories will fade. 

I work hard to cultivate a memory of my life with Maxie that feels present and connected.  It is hard work, most especially because it forces me to recognize that he is not here any longer and we do not have what we once did together.  It forces me to bring up the memories and feel them presently - which causes me a lot of heartache and pain.  The sacrifice is worth the connection though - if I stop believing that - I am afraid I will let go....and I never want to let go.

There are certain specific memories that are with me in a much more present way than others.  Instances where Max and I connected on a soul to soul level that was way outside the regular, every boundaries that exist even between mother and baby.  I'm sure I've mentioned them before but I can't recall when. 

When I was pregnant with Maxie, he had a foot (or two) that stuck into my ribs on the upper right side of my torso.  I would push his feet and he would push back.  I felt like we had our own little secret language.  We were communicating far before he was born - far before I could look into his eyes and know exactly who he was.  I vividly remember sitting in a parlor meeting in someone's home, listening to a speaker, and playing this little push game with Max.  I wondered if my gigantic grin was appropriate to the subject that was being discussed.  I felt like I was completely removed from the going ons of the rest of the room.  I couldn't wait to get into my car and talk to the baby inside of me....which is exactly what I did.

I have a very vivid memory of going over to my mother's house with Maxie to swim one weekend.  It was just me and him in the backyard.  We sat in a wicker chair, under the big tree on her deck.  I remember thinking to myself how special our love was, how much I would cherish this time in our lives together.  I sang to him and talked to him and told him how we would remember these days when he was older and how I would miss them.  I hugged him close, in his damp towel and kissed his still wet cheek.  I can still feel both of those sensations....they still feel present.

I have the same kind of memory of arriving early for Max's nine month pediatrician appointment, parking the car, getting in the backseat and putting him in my lap.  We cuddled and giggled and nuzzled closely with each other.  I looked into his eyes and felt so much connection - so much love - lifetimes of knowing each other.  I could have sat back there with him for hours.  It was so nice to have time to just BE together - not rushing off to work or getting him ready for daycare or feeding or even reading to him or bathing him - just BEING with him.  I miss it.....deeply....profoundly...through my bones and blood and deep into the heart of my soul.  I miss him so much.

What I remember most is how it made me feel to know he was mine - that I would grow old with him - that from the moment of his first kicks, I would know him for the rest of my life.  I remember the satisfaction in knowing that he loved me with as much intensity as I loved him.  The love still runs through my veins with intensity.  The emotions feel just as present as ever - but the pictures are fading and I am clinging to them with as tight of a grip as I can.

The Medium Part IV

I know some of you are really interested in all my medium stuff - others of you just think I am a whack job.  The really incredible thing about having a gigantic loss in your life is that, for the most part, I really don't care what you think.  I am more convinced every day that there is something more than this life and sometimes I need a little extra reassuring.

Last week I spoke to Moriah!  She was the very first medium I spoke to just a few months after we lost Maxie - she gave me a reading at no charge and it was AMAZING.  Whenever we have spoken - my grandpa Jack is the one giving her messages for me and I swear, she speaks in his voice - full of things he used to or would say.  Last week was maybe the most impressive reading that I have had with her (I've had three).  It was good timing too.  I keep thinking about it and it settles my heart a little bit.  She knew about stuff we haven't told anyone - I haven't written about it and it has not been shared (and, no, I am not pregnant - see 30 day weight loss challenge posts).  But she spoke about private conversations that Ted and I have had and about things that have been happening in my life that I haven't written about on my blog.  It was so amazing in fact, that I realized getting a reading for a friend of mine who is grieving was the perfect birthday/mother's day present.  Alas, when I emailed Moriah's assistant to schedule, I found out that she is booked through next spring.  CRAZY!

I was also invited to a private event for bereaved parents with another well-known medium in a couple of weeks that I am looking forward to.  I am more looking forward to it because I like meeting other parents who have lost a child (even though I wish we had NO REASON AT ALL TO MEET).  It is also comforting to see we are doing the same stuff - trying to find our children - wherever they are.  If he is out there somewhere - he knows I am looking for him and I know we will find our way to each other.  Our love is just too strong.  Maybe someday in the nearish future, I'll tell you about some of the stuff she told me.  If you are a griever - maybe you can put a little bit of hope in to the idea that you will be with your loved one again.

The wisdom of another

I've written pages and pages and pages about "what not to say".  I've often heard that I've ruled everything out and now people have no idea what TO say.  I've been told that is why there are so many people that I just never heard from and why some people just pretend it never happened.

Ashley Sullenger is at least ten years younger than me - but I really look up to her.  She lost her beautiful little girl Preslee in an accident.  Ashley writes about her loss and grief and family and joy with so much depth and hardly ever (maybe even never) any of the bitterness I often feel.  She wrote an article about what TO say that is so right on, I had to link to it today.


Please read - even if you never use these tips with me - you WILL know someone else in grief again (you really will) and her words will help you be present for that person in ways that will be very meaningful.

My best medicine

We are entering new territory with Mo.  We've never had a baby over 9 1/2 months.  In this way, it is like we are first time parents again.  Mo is a lot grumpier these days as he is getting 4 new teeth on top and is SO frustrated that he hasn't figured out crawling.  He rolls all over the place but can't get both his tush in the air AND pushed up on both arms.  He usually just ends up with his fingers in his mouth, head on the ground and tush in the sky.  It is incredibly cute but I know it is making him tired.  I love watching him grow and learn, even if he is a little grumpy.  He is my best medicine - my favorite person on earth.  I am attached at the hip to this little grumpy man!!!!

Opening of the flood gates

Yesterday the flood gates opened, the dam around my heart burst, and I cried from morning until night.  I literally could not stop crying all day.  I sat at my desk and worked and cried.  My mother came over in the afternoon and all I could do was cry.  Ted came home and I cried.  All I could do was cry and cry and cry.  I cannot believe I am expected to walk around for the rest of my life with this gigantic gaping hole in my heart!  I cannot believe it!  For some reason, I thought that finally reaching Mo's nine and a half month birthday would be a weight lifted off my shoulders (which I guess it was in some ways) but it reignited a sadness that I have been pushing down for months.  I miss my baby so much!  I still have no idea how any of this even happened!  I still have no idea why my child is not here today!  It is killing me.  Today, however, I am all cried out....and back to feeling the living dead.  The stone wall around my heart is being put back together and I guess I will just zombie through this day.

Another 30 days....weight loss challenge is back on

Our 30 day weight loss challenge is officially over and most everyone "enjoyed" it so much that we are going for another 30 days (if you want to get in on the second round - email me at teddyabby at gmail dot com).  Many people did really great.  I am so glad that I was able to help kick start that for our group.  Unfortunately, I mostly feel defeated and demoralized.  While I stuck to a strict 1200 calorie a day diet and worked out 6 days a week, I only "lost" one pound (am still a couple of pounds heavier than I was only a few months ago).  And, I know, I the spectrum of my life, being 15-20 pounds overweight isn't the biggest challenge I am facing.  I guess I just feel like I would like an ounce of control somewhere in my life.  I wish I could at least look in the mirror and recognize the person staring back at me.  The person I see these days is sad and heavy and missing everything that was once "me".  I hate it.  And, I hate working so hard to stay exactly the same.  I am not asking for sympathy - since I already have used that card way up for the really important grief in my life - but maybe I am asking for some tips, advice, support?  Has anyone else had this issue after having a baby?  After having Maxie, I was training for a bike ride - I followed the Weight Watchers plan perfectly and rode in the mountains of Griffith Park for an hour about 4 days a week and lost nothing.  Is it simply hormones?  Is there anything at all that can be done?  Beth, my sister-in-law, recommended a book called "The Hormone Cure", which sounds great and I bought it for my Kindle.  I feel like getting back to myself physically would do wonders for boosting my self-confidence but I am running out of energy to keep working this hard.

By the way - I am so grateful for so many beautiful notes of encouragement and love yesterday, on Mo's nine and a half month birthday.  We enjoyed a very nice day with him.  I can't say that I feel completely relieved but I feel grateful for him (he's so perfect!) and for your support. So, thank you!

Time, Dates and Anniversaries

All of the really intuitive people I have spoken to over the twenty one and half months have tried to explain to me that time doesn't matter or exist "on the other side".  It is a concept that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around on this side of the veil, as time seems to be the only thing that matters most days - and I'm not talking about simple time, as I once knew it: Time to get up, time for Mo's naps, time for work, time for lunch, time for bed.....I'm talking about the really complicated passage of time and its markings.

In the really early days of my grief, I would stare at the clock.  The minutes went by like hours, the days like years.  I had all of the time in the world - to sit in my own personal hell, rotting from the inside out, starting with my heart and moving out to all of my extremities.  Time was killing me.  I would get through the days by creating markers - Time for a certain show (usually something about death or the afterlife - ie: The Long Island Medium or that show about near death experiences), Time for Ted to get home from work, Time for a visit with some kind friend....Time for things I had tried to plan in advance - Beth's marathon, Maxie's benefit, a trip to Mexico with Ted, attending a conference in Phoenix where I met so many others just like me.

Time was marked that year by anniversaries and empty holidays - Maxie's first birthday without him, Halloween - would have been his second, Thanksgiving, skipping every other holiday that he didn't get to celebrate with us.  Time was also marked by how long it had been since the last time I was with him  - nothing to look forward to except more empty days and nightmares all night.  It was no way to live and yet, that was our life.  We were clinging the this hope - the little boy growing (BIG) inside of me....trying to keep our fears at bay - not doing a great job most of the time (speaking for myself).

And then a whole year had passed.  THE LONGEST YEAR OF MY LIFE - and somehow, also the shortest.  I still can't believe that happened....that I got through that whole first year.  Even if I barely left the house, I am amazed at my strength.  I can't believe how our marriage survived - because it was hard...but I am proud that we gave each other the space to do whatever we needed to do for ourselves, even though most of the time we could not do much of anything for one another.  Oh my lord - I cannot believe people get through these things.  I can tell you and tell you and tell you how hard this was and you will never understand.  Complete hell.

And, then little Mo was born, only two days after the anniversary of his brother's passing.  What a gift he is!  He is the most special person in my life.  We are obsessed.  Time passes so much quicker with him here....but time is still always ticking away and being counted in ways I never would have thought of.

Maxie's second birthday without him.  Holidays celebrated again - without him - sometimes with people who understand the pain of "celebrating" without our son; sometimes with people who don't.  As time goes on, there will be less and less mention of his name, less and less understand of the important role he plays in our lives.

I've been counting down to THIS day since the day Mo was born.  Today Mo is nine and a half months.  He is currently taking the nap during which his brother stopped breathing.  I believe he will wake up from his nap - I believe it with all of my heart.  And, then, I believe he will turn ten months old, and then a year old.  I believe we will have a party for him - and watch him smash cake in his face.  I believe we will feel overwhelming joy watching him grow up while we continue to shove down intense and enormous amounts of pain every day - while we count down the days until we get to be with Maxie again.

It has been almost two years since the last time I kissed and hugged and sang to my lovely boy....and time is what keeps tripping me up.  Has it only been that long?  It feels like another lifetime.  I miss him so intently - it still feels like it could swallow me up alive and kill me.  Can it be that it has been THAT long?  It feels like I was holding him yesterday, my nose buried deep in his neck -trying to smell up all of his sweetness.  

Ironically, today is International Bereaved Mother's Day.  I feel connected at my soul to all of you other mothers and fathers (and other grievers) who count time the way I now do - with sad dates and lonely anniversaries and complex feeling holidays. I wish all of you a "Mo" - whether is it another child, a grandchild, a godchild, a friend, a spouse, a love of some sort - to help you get through the time, the dates and the anniversaries.  I know how complicated it is.  I am sorry.

"The people who you lost feel like they just left you yesterday and will see you tomorrow", said the first medium I ever spoke to.  Though that sounded abstract to me when I first heard it, I realize these days that this is how I feel.

Maxie - I do feel like I was just with you yesterday and I feel every day like I might see you tomorrow.  I look forward to the "time" when time doesn't matter - likely not in this lifetime....  I love you little boy.....ALWAYS AND FOREVER - to the moon and back!!!!  A thousand times...

and I hear your little brother starting to whimper - just getting up from the first nap of the day on his 9 1/2 month birthday.