Pumpkin patch

Perhaps I've mentioned once or twice how much Mo LOVES pumpkins. So, you can imagine the sheer joy that this past weekend inspired, when we pulled into this place:

This is just down the road and it isn't even one of the real big pumpkin patches in our area (we will save those for the future). It was like a dream come true for this kid. Now he keeps talking about carving up the orange guys we got. We also talk about Halloween, costumes, and the Halloween cast of characters constantly (witches, spiders, ghosts, black cats). Nearly every day he asks me if it's Halloween yet. At the rate we are going, I think it's going to be a long month.

Hall Pass

In the months and even years following the sudden (and not sudden) death of someone you deeply love, the world you knew spins violently out of control. It is impossible to focus on anything but getting through the next moment. And even when it starts to get better, there is still an always present chaos. It is out of your control to a great extent. Every day that ends feels like an accomplishment, simply for having gotten through it.

During those days, there will be emails, voicemails and texts that go unanswered. There will be many times where you lose track of the story - of others, of yourself. You simply cannot think straight. 

You might feel like everyone you know and love is in great danger - of dying, suddenly and without warning. This feeling can sometimes dull the intensity of everyday (and not so everyday) problems. Taking care of three little kids is hard but not nearly as hard as the constant feeling that I have two and a half months to save the life of my youngest baby. I am literally out of my skin with anxiety about his making it through this year. I'm just trying to put it in perspective.

If someone you love (or loved) has lost someone they love. Especially if they've lost the person around whom their whole life revolved, who was the most special person in their world - I ask that you give them a hall pass. 

They may not be able to focus on you in the way you need or would like. You might need to seek out other outlets for a while. Im sorry to say this - but your "big" problems might be enviable to them. They might forget to return your last text (or your last 10 texts), they might not initiate phone calls or coffee dates (because they probably aren't "hanging out"). Don't take it personally. Your friend will be disappointing. Please try not to expect too much from them - they will disappoint you if you do.

I wish I had had a hall pass for at least the first couple of years. I still sometimes do. Instead I feel like I've been watched under a microscope - while I've tried to rebuild my life. In the past four years, I've had several miscarriages, gone through a complicated adoption, had two children 9.5 months apart and taken care of three under 3 years old, moved across the country & left behind my best friends and family. None of those things by themselves, or even in combination with each other has come anywhere near in the same universe of difficulty as grieving my heart out for Max all of this time. And I'm actually not asking for your sympathy, because I think we've done an amazing job functioning and even thriving through this. But I AM asking for an occasional hall pass and I am wondering if you might consider giving one to anyone you know who is going through a really hard time.

Practice compassion. Thanks!

You should know...

When you sweep aside Max, you sweep me aside too. When you act like I should be over him by now, what I hear is that you are over me. When you deny him, ignore him, and pretend like he never existed - you shut me out and close me down. When I try to talk to you about him and you don't listen - I feel it and it keeps me from connecting to you.

Because, you see, Max IS my soul. He is part of the very essence of who I am and my loss of him will be etched into every moment of my life forever. 

Just thought you should know.

Mace Seven Months Old

I am so grateful that Mace is seven months old.  The closer we get to nine months, the more scared I am.  He somehow seems more and more vulnerable to me, the older he gets.  I can't wait to post his ten month photo.

In the meantime, Mace has had an action packed month.  We took took a mommy & baby trip together to California for a wedding.  He was SO easy on the plane.  He sat on my lap quietly, just looking around and smiling until he fell asleep. The way home was a red-eye and he slept the whole way.  He is a very portable guy. He started daycare (I can hardly believe it either) at Mo's school (with Myla too). The teachers all love him and are always commenting on what a good and easy baby he is. I am praying that this was the right decision for our family.  My feeling is that there are so many capable and certified teachers there - 3 in his classroom alone - and we were having nanny fatigue. It was near impossible to find a nanny like our last one in CA, Vivian, and we couldn't keep playing musical nannies. So far, we've been really happy with the school, for all of our kids. Mo loves visiting his brother and sister throughout the day and Macie is getting so much attention. 

Mace started eating solid foods at the start of the month. He LOVES rice cereal and is pretty much bored with everything else. I have to hide other foods in the ride cereal. I've never had a kid even like rice cereal, Mace can't get enough. 

He is still crazy cute, as evidenced below:

A New Year

The Jewish High Holidays are a time for reflection, renewed commitment to spirituality and community, and without a doubt - for me at least - a time that I can't help but overthink the meaning of everything that has happened, everything that is, and all that will be.

Before losing Max, Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) wasn't too much different than the secular New Year for me.  It was a good time to put together some basic resolutions, get together with friends and family, and reflect on the year that had just passed.  Not to mention that the fasting holiday of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) a week later is a perfect kick off to losing the next 10 pounds (Am I right? - You know I am).

This year, we are in a new place (to me at least) and we are new members of a new synagogue.  Ted had to work on Rosh Hashana, so I went to services alone - well, alone with 3 kids.  I dropped Myla and Mo in the child care room to do art projects and play with other kids while Macie and I went to pray - or, probably more accurate - reflect.

The reading for Rosh Hashana is the story of G-d asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at Mt. Moriah. By any interpretation, it is a shocking text - even when G-d finally tells Abraham he can put down the knife because he was only being tested.  It's hard not to wonder what kind of a G-d would test a man's faith by asking him to sacrifice his own child. G-d asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because he knows that there is nothing more precious to a parent than his/her own child.  (How is it possible that anyone could still think otherwise?)

It's impossible for me not to make parallels to our own story of losing Max and wonder what G-d's role in his death must have been. I do sometimes wonder if we are being tested - if this could possibly be G-d's way of seeing whether we can handle this, whether we will become more or less faithful, whether we will become bitter or enlightened.  But, I realize that I am giving myself WAY too much credit when I start thinking like this.  I am not Abraham - and my child was not spared. And, then the finality of it - the sick realization that my son is never coming back (which I know I SHOULD realize by now - but I still kind of don't), becomes real once again. This leads to the next set of thoughts, which roll around and around a kind of fatalist set of beliefs that don't serve me at all:
  • There is no meaning in our lives
  • Whether we are "good" or "bad" has no impact at all on what is to become of us in this lifetime
  • Do we all just return to dust in the ground?
  • Etc, etc, etc......
Depressing.  I am sure you can tell by now that these holidays weigh heavily on my soul - as do so many things - birthdays, anniversaries, "firsts" that will never be. 

In a few weeks (October 7), Max would be turning five.  FIVE.  I see photos of my friend's children who were supposed to be Maxie's lifelong friends, and they are almost five, and I cannot relate or understand or shake the shock from my brain. Max would be in Kindergarten.  I try not to think about it too much - but holy shit - MAX WOULD BE FIVE.  It's so effing unfair, it takes my breath away.

In the weeks leading up to Max's past birthdays, I've been busy putting together invitations to his Birthday Benefit, collecting silent auction items, pestering people to come to the fundraiser that I am putting together in his honor.  I tell everyone about the activities I've planned - art projects for kids, beer and food and drinks, superheroes, awesome auction items....  You'd think that the whole exercise was giving me a sense of purpose to pour myself into - but I think you'd be somewhat mistaken. 

There will be no Birthday Benefit this year - and it is in large part because we moved, and we have three little ones, and I don't have the network here that I had in LA, or the perfect spot to throw a great fundraising party. I still feel deeply committed to the work of First Candle and I am grateful for the support that they have given me over these past few years.  But, I am also happy to have the excuse not to plan this year.  Because it takes so much out of me emotionally, and running around with a big smile on my face during an event memorializing my child feels somewhat inauthentic to me.  I hope that it will change with time but I just cannot be sure.

What I know is this - not doing an event does not mean I am over it, or getting past it, or so focused on my living children that I have forgotten about my beloved first.  No.  I am still longing, missing, and questioning all of the time. Always hanging on to the hope that there is meaning in this loss - and that someday we will be together again.