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,



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.


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

Oh, mother..

Becoming Neurotic for Ask Away Friday.

Now you may be thinking, “Becoming neurotic? Girl you already have the market cornered on that one!”

And you may be right about that. However, in this case I’m talking about this week’s Ask Away Friday partner – TiaMaria from Becomin Neurotic! Tia is my Facebook friend, my blogging friend, a wonderful supporter to many people, and the mastermind behind a blog about what it’s like to live with chronic illness. Not only that, she is loving, inspiring and funny too.

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Be sure to read TiaMaria’s answers to my questions HERE. And now my answers to her questions:

1. You and your husband work hard to keep the magic alive for your children. What has been your favorite magical memory?

Are you talking about for the kids? If so, I’ll work with that right now. It’s so hard to pick just one. The Disney vacation, the Magic Mailman and the puppy.. I think the kittens story might be my favorite because it was just so.. ludicrous – to find kittens in your garden and to think fairies brought them? And if childhood-magic-ludicrosity is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

She had been asking for a kitten named Dinah for ages. No one expected two.. but life happens as it happens.

ask away friday

2. You recently photographed your first wedding and battled a lot of anxiety to get the job done. What is another instance where you’ve overcome anxiety?

Cool. Really. This question gives me butterflies in my stomach in a good way. I can think of a lot of recent episodes of this, but I’m going to go back into the past. It was a year after Cassidy and I had first broken up and I was still in love with him. I thought that maybe since a year had passed, he didn’t know that I still felt that way. It was my birthday and I had always heard that people have more power on their birthdays. So I got advice from my mom, my sister, my friends, even HIS mom, and I did it! I called him and gave him a very grand gesture of love, one that may or may not have included me offering to leave my entire life and run to San Francisco to maybe stand under his window with a boombox playing, “In Your Eyes.”

He totally shot me down, by the way, and not necessarily kindly either. It’s all good now, though.

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3. I also love sundresses and flowy skirts. What is another must have in your closet?

Jean jacket! And skinny jeans. Love them or hate them, they are so darn comfortable and they go great under boots, which is another staple of my fall/winter wardrobe. Brown or black boots. I wore skinny jeans while 38 weeks pregnant with Scarlet:

ask away friday

4. Your husband is a Phish fan, but you’re not so much. What band/artist do you love, but him not so much?

hmm.. that’s a good question because I DO love Phish, in that it makes him so happy, it reminds me of some of our fantastic times together, and it is highly soothing for me. I think I just like more of a climax and then an ending with my music. Not into.. 20 minutes of the same jam. That said, to actually answer your question! Well I love Tori Amos and I don’t think he’s ever shown a lot of interest in her music. It hit me at the right time in my life. I do think he’d absolutely be open to seeing her live with me.

5. Besides your camera or computer, what one object can you not live without?

Well I’m glad you ruled those out, because they’re at the top of my list! And I’m not obsessed with objects but those two are my tools for photography and blogging! I’m going to have to say my phone. It’s just that good at keeping me connected.

6. You’ve made 2 cross-country moves. Are you guys pretty settled now, or would you contemplate another big move? Where to?

We’re pretty settled right now and the thought of moving again, even within town, gives me the heebie jeebies, I guess I’d never say never. If money were not a problem, I’d honestly live six months of the year in Sonoma, CA. Without a backwards glance here at buggy summer and dreadful winter. I love a lot of things about being here, although not everything, but a lot of things.

I always dream of the west, though. I wonder if I always will.

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7. What is your favorite tool or app that helps you as a blogger/writer?

I honestly love the WordPress app! I can write whole posts on my phone, although I never do, but mainly it helps me with commenting. Not only do I answer my comments right on the phone while waiting for things or when I have a free moment – for all of you people who ask me why I’m so good at replying to comments – but it also lets me know if someone has replied to a comment I wrote on another WordPress blog. I also love my Bloglovin app for when I’m away but still reading blogs.

8. I’ve been following along with your tales of kittens. Have things calmed down a bit there? Where are you now on being a cat person?

Another cool question! Yes, things have calmed down. There’s a bit more of a rhythm now with feeding, litterbox cleaning, and what to do about their midnight and 5:00m crazies – the answer is to keep them on the first floor of the house overnight! I’m not a cat person. I will never be a cat person. They’re yucky to me. It’s hard to admit this, publicly no less, but I do adore one of them more. Dinah the black and white one has one setting – affectionate. She’s goofy, cuddly, and fearless. Bella the Grey (like Gandalf the Grey, but so unlike Gandalf the Grey) has two complete personalities, and they change by the minute. So she can be all in my face and cuddled into my neck and purring, but the next minute she’s scared of me. It’s one-sided a lot. She only gives me the time of day of anyone, but will tolerate Scarlet. She always has a wet mouth and she farts terrible farts. Want a cat?

Just kidding. She’s on my shoulder as a write this. Like a furry, purring parrot.

Cutie Dinah is often on my desk while I’m writing blog posts and editing photos!

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9. What is your favorite funny memory of each of your kiddos?

I think it was the day I took a not even three-year-old Scarlet with me to the doctor for Des’ appointment. It involved talk of balls, peeing on floors, and a hamster in a cage. I wrote about it, actually. Link HERE.

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10. I love your stories about your husband. Do you have any tips for a successful relationship?

Other than all the usual.. I’d just say to be positive. If you’re having a great date, a great vacation, a great kiss, a great night – don’t use that chance to say, “We never do things like this.” That’s like finding the negative spaces in a wonderfully whole circle. It deflates. Congratulate your partner on successes, and be someone they would turn to when sad, angry, mentally ill, etc.

Dream about the future together.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with or to just talk about anything #AskAwayFriday!

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