Start to Life.

So I have a guest blogger today, although my guest blogger wrote one of these posts over 26 years ago, and wrote the other one over two years ago. It’s my mom.

When I got pregnant my mom gave me the journal she had used to record my babyisms. The journal starts the day I was born with my birth story and continues until I was four in 1984. And for the last two years I didn’t read the journal because…who knows? Fear of what I’d find in a somewhat painful past? Just plain forgetfulness? Probably a bit of both. So I kept it safely hidden in my desk drawer knowing it would be there for me when I was ready to read it. I dug it out the other day because now that Scarlet is 18-months-old, I was curious as to how I was walking and talking at that age. Finally, finally I opened it up on Saturday night. And that’s when I read the last entry written in 1984 and that she wrote one last continuation in 2008 for me to read as a soon-to-be-mother.

I am a buffoon. She’s been hinting for the last two years that I should open up that book and finish it. She’s been saying, “I don’t remember exactly – check your book!” when I asked her questions about my babyhood. Man, she’s more patient than me! She waited these last two years for what I might find in that journal. I couldn’t have done the same.

Here are the last two posts in my baby book.

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.”

Me, again. My baby book ended there. Then she added one last post before giving the book to me:

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,

And that’s the end of my baby book. I used to be a writer. I had to be! I did it in school from kindergarten through high school when it was required and then I chose for it to be required when I majored in Journalism and Mass Media. And after college, I wrote creative nonfiction and angsty, sexy, probably bad poetry for a few years and I hit a bit of a high peak, and then it all went away when I moved to California. I couldn’t find the inspiration for YEARS. I couldn’t even write a birthday card I was happy about. For years. No writing. No wonder my anxiety got bad! I started writing again after I got this baby book when I was pregnant, and more so after Scarlet was born. I started this blog and I never thought I’d want to write a blog. But I did, I do. I’m still not where I want to be in terms of writing, but at least now I believe I might get there.

Regarding my mom’s letters about my childhood, it’s hard to start life that way, huh? Or at least the earliest life I can remember. I know I had a lot of happy life before July 2, 1984.
But this is who I am. This is the only life I know. This is who I am as a daughter, and who I am as a mother. And that’s that.

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  1. Tamara thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life with us. What beautiful notes from your mom; I'm glad you have been surrounded by love in your life and that you continue to share that love with your family and friends. ((HUGS))

  2. I can still feel Karen's pain. I flew in the next day (I can't imagine who picked me up), and Fran was playing with you and Lindsay on the floor. I called everyone in your father's address book, and after that, it's a blur.

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