Somebody Leave the Light On

This is for you, Mom.

This song takes me back and forth – the way I cried out for you in a song I made up as I rocked my crib across the floor. (I still remember the rhythm and melody but thought Tori Amos was WAY better suited today) The way I still wake up out of dreams – heart pounding, stomach in my throat, words at the tip of my tongue. I’ll always rock or crawl across the floor to you (there’s a Clapton reference too!) and I’ll always seek those words. Maybe that’s the greatest gift you ever gave me.

The way we seek and find words, shaping them out of our stomachs into our throats – hearts pounding – forming the images of horror and unspeakable joy, pain and relief, ecstatic humor and rainbow sprinkles and road trips. And always, always, always finding and seeking out the best. You have been giving me words for so long. They’re so ancient – and so new – ripe and ready to pick at any moment. Yet so long and buried, they have grown mold and decay. Still, they need to rise.

We give them life. Old and new life. We have always lifted them up, and they lift us up in return.

And really, who knows what can happen? It’s all just so.. possible and ALIVE, isn’t it?

This is my Mother's Day tribute to you, thanking you for one of the greatest gifts you've given me other than life. And that's words. Magical. Simple. Words

When I was pregnant with Scarlet, my mom gave me the journal she had used to record my babyhood. It started with the day I was born, and continued until 1984 – when I was four. For two years, I kept it safely in a desk drawer, even though my mom kept hinting at me to read it. I dug it out by chance when Scarlet was 18-months-old because I wanted to see how I had been walking and talking at that same age. It was all there for me – in a book! Like how Scarlet and Des will one day see their entire babyhoods spread out on the pages of this blog. My mom waited two years for me to find what was in those pages.

This is my Mother's Day tribute to you, thanking you for one of the greatest gifts you've given me other than life. And that's words. Magical. Simple. Words

Here are the last two posts of my baby book. The first post was written almost three months after he died. The second post was written only about a few weeks after we found out we were expecting Scarlet. She was the first grandchild.

Sept. 26, ’84

“Dearest Tammy,

Three weeks before your fourth birthday, your daddy died. You had been at a birthday party at Shonghum Lake and Lindsay had been to our lake. I picked you both up and we went home. You saw Daddy’s car in the driveway and said, “Look, Mommy. Daddy’s home – the best daddy in the world.” Inside we found Daddy in bed. I bathed you two and you both wanted to kiss Daddy. You went into the bedroom and you both told him you loved him and he was the best daddy in the world.

He felt so uncomfortable and so I told you to kiss his arm so he wouldn’t have to turn over. After I fed you both, I was in the kitchen. I never heard your daddy get up. We all heard him crash in the hall. Lindsay ran to Eileen’s for help.

Carol De Meo and Richard Campbell began giving Daddy CPR. You and Lindsay were taken to Tony and Aggie’s house. Daddy was taken to the hospital. You and Lindsay saw him taken away. You then went to the Campbells’ house and they put your pajamas on you. Then you were carried home to me. I took you in my bedroom and put you on my bed. You both were asking about Daddy. I told you that Daddy had died. You said we needed a new Daddy. I told you his body had died but that the part of him that loved us, dreamed, and thought thoughts would always be with us and I felt he would watch over us.

You and Lindsay slept with me that night. You didn’t talk much over the next few days but on the day of Daddy’s funeral you told Judy Kaplan you’d never see him again. A few days later, you wouldn’t get out of bed. I said to you that maybe you wanted to talk. You said, “I’ll never see Daddy again, will I?”

We took you to a family counselor about 6 weeks later. When he would talk about Daddy, you would giggle and hide behind a chair. This last visit you told him he was scary but maybe you wouldn’t run behind the chair.

You talk about Daddy a lot – how you and he made funny faces together, how he found you the horsie swimming tube you wanted after your nap one day, how he took you to the mall and unlocked the car…

One morning you looked real sad. I tried to get you to talk. Finally you said, “I wish Daddy would come back.” The next day you added “right now.” Sometimes you tell me you want a new daddy but I remind you that our pain and sadness would remain and we would still miss Daddy. This is a time of sadness for us.

One day you said, “It isn’t nice that Daddy died.”

I am trying so hard to help us all through this, Tammy. Your daddy loved you like crazy and I hope you can keep a treasury of memories of him.”

November 24, 2008

“…and indeed you have kept your treasury of memories, Tamara. Once, in our Florida house, you told me that while you dreamed of playing in our front yard, Daddy sat on the porch and watched you, watched you dream.

I am hoping you will enjoy this journal from the past and perhaps continue writing, from your perspective, of all the adventures you are having; you will have.

I thought that I had written more in this book. I sort of remember writing in Lindsay’s journal on later birthdays. I know for years, you didn’t like your birthday. Well, I always had a difficult time too. Perhaps, that’s why I didn’t write more. But, do you know what? I love your birthday now and I think you, too, are having lovely celebrations. Why? Because for one thing, we have truly moved on. It’s not that we forget our other life, it’s that we have integrated it, woven it into the wool of who we are now, who we have become.

I began this journal so I would tell you what you were like as my baby girl. I hope you enjoy the story of “Little Nunu.” I remember wondering if I was doing “it right” as if every 6-month-old in the entire country napped from 2pm to 4pm every day, as if there was a universal “right” for everyone combined. What I learned as a mommy is that each child has her own “rights.” Every child needs her own special kind of parenting, a blend of his/her needs, what is workable, and lots of love mixed in.

I am so proud of who you have grown into. I am intoxicated by your story and know that destiny and magic have brought you and Cassidy together.

I know you will be sensitive, creative and compassionate parents.

How lucky for me to have this wonderful connection to and with you. How lucky I am to be a part of your adventure. How lucky I am to have given birth to you.

I love you forever,
Mom”

mom

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If you’re able to pick your jaw off from the ground, I’ll leave you here, only because as much as she has given me the gift of words, she also has given me the gift of wordlessness. And that’s where I am today. Be good to yourselves, everyone.

mother

I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Oh, Mother..” You can link up HERE.

Oh, mother..

Thanks For the Memories – See You Next Year.

Last week, I got added to a Facebook group for my high school graduating class. It made my head spin! It’s been.. 17 years. That’s twice as old as I was then. I can’t help thinking about all the things I thought I’d be, and I can’t help thinking about all the things I am, but haven’t stopped to appreciate. Because they hurt. Because they aren’t what I expected and how I expected. And I’m not really who I expected to be by now, but maybe that’s ok. My 17-year-old self might shake her pretty head at me and ask, “Why didn’t you go big? I always told you to go big by now.” Well hey, maybe I still will. Somehow.

There she is. High school graduation party.

graduation

My fourth and fifth grade teachers came to my graduation party. I was so humbled and appreciative for all the things they put into one ear, that stayed in my head and jostled around a bit – and never went out the other ear. My fifth grade teacher told me she’d eat her arm if I didn’t grow up to become a writer. I talk about her sometimes. Do you know what else happened last week? I got to indirectly talk to her (through her daughter and husband on Facebook) and tell her how much I took her words to heart. It was such weird timing – a week of Facebook graduating class groups, and 5th grade teacher conversations.

It’s enough to make your head spin, and I was already head-spinny enough with the end of kindergarten, the end of daycare for the year, Des’ birthday coming up, Scarlet’s birthday coming up, my birthday coming up, and the constant growth I see.

That was so non-specific. We’re all growing!

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It’s the sayings they write on your yearbook – “Thanks for the memories. See you next year.” They get me every time! I’m not entirely sure if other people are as sensitive about the passing of time as I am, but since I’ve only ever been me, I can tell you it’s simultaneously exhilarating/terrifying. I’m talking lump in my throat and pit in my stomach. When they used to change the format of the TV guide, I’d have a panicked moment of missing the old format. Luckily I always adapted pretty fast and I’d get to a point in which I couldn’t remember how it used to be. They changed the Facebook format a lot too. You know it.

TV season finales or worse, series finales. The ends of books. An entire world was contained within the pages of one book. Like most kids, I eagerly awaited the end of the school year because quite frankly, summer rocks. That excitement would always move me over the hump easier than my sensitive heart wanted. I would have little rituals. “This is the last time I’ll sit at this desk. This is the last time I’ll use this locker.” I would read what people wrote in my yearbook. I wouldn’t cry.

I’d ease into summer, because, quite frankly, summer rocks.

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If you’re sensitive about the passing of time, the end of the school year is a bit of a kick to the stomach. It takes so long to grow within the walls of your school or daycare. It takes 9 or 10 months – enough time to grow a whole baby. As much as you learn academically, you also learn emotionally and socially. You self-actualize a bit more than ever before, with any luck.

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I still get that lump in my throat and that pit in my stomach, of the happy and sad variety. It’s no longer my end of the school year. It’s no longer my yearbook to get signed. These lives belong WITH me, but TO someone else. Two someone elses.

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How much will I separate myself and let it flow, just let it flow?

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How will I learn to celebrate the passing of another year into another brilliant summer, and contain the hope of what lies beyond? How will I have my own journeys and let my kids have their own journeys, and let it pair together into a sensitive and sentimental bunch. How will I go on my own adventures, let them go on their own adventures, and also love and appreciate our many years of joint adventures? How will I learn not to count our time as limited, and just count it as beautiful?

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How will I learn to celebrate the successes, get over the setbacks, separate what is what, and learn not to be afraid of pianos falling from the sky, because there certainly a lot of pianos perched to fall out of the sky, aren’t there?

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I think I’ll just ease into this summer, because, quite frankly, summer rocks.

“I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin’ in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Standin’ on the edge of something much too deep
It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can’t be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so afraid to love you, but more afraid to lose
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories”

And umm.. as I was finishing this post, “My Old School” came on Pandora on random.