Grand Cayman and other things...

Hi, Mom!

Well, so much has happened... and oh how I wish we were talking every day (for real talking, not just me talking to the air and hoping you are there in some form or another). Each day there are little things and big things and as always, I crave hearing your voice to tell you my stories. 

We just got back from vacation; 10 beautiful days in Grand Cayman. And as wonderful as it was (and it was -- Dad is amazing and so generous and we had lots of fun) it just wasn't the same. I saw you with every turn and every crash of the waves. Beach Bubbles made me think of you. Sarah and I took a long (2 hour!!) walk on 7 Mile Beach one morning and I saw your footsteps all along the way and heard your voice pronouncing the different condos and hotels. You were there. I felt it. 

You would have been both amazed and probably horrified with some of our activities... Sarah and I got certified to SCUBA dive -- can you believe it?? Sitting on the beach was too hard for me this time, and definitely for Dad, so we kept moving. We rode horses on the beach. We went on a nighttime boat ride to see the bioluminescence (we even went swimming with it -- totally crazy, by the way -- and all the little jellyfish that supposedly lived on the bottom of the bay. We drove around the island. To Rum Point. To Pappagallo's. Just all over. The house we rented was a terrible mess most of the time -- sand everywhere. Beds not made. Stuff all over the place. You must have been groaning if you were watching. But I know you were cutting us some slack, as you must know how hard it all is for us. 

The girls turned 13 this weekend. Can you believe it? Teenagers!! We took them to dinner at The Wharf and had such a great time. Sarah took tons of pictures, we gave them gift cards and cash (which thrilled them both), and Dad arranged for sparklers to be served with dessert. So cool.  They are getting so big... and yes, I know it has only been three months, but I swear I see them getting older with every day that passes. So smart and sweet and funny. 

Side note: writing these letters makes me feel like my head is going to explode. Just a little explosion maybe. But I JUST CAN'T STAND THIS.  I can't stand not having you here. 

Anyway, found out today that I got the dean job... were you there with me? I felt like it. Felt stronger somehow. It feels good, but bittersweet. I wanted to see this day with you and to celebrate with you. I know how proud you were of me, and I hope you know how much I owe you for letting me follow my dreams. Everything in my life is sweeter thanks to you and to Dad. 

I am about to send a note negotiating the salary -- so uncomfortable for me, but Dad and Todd are encouraging me. I'm trying to do what I can to support my family and make all the hours at work worth it somehow. I know money doesn't make up for time lost, and hope to use anything we have as a vehicle to making things happier and easier. Lourdes for the girls. Amex back to Dad. Vacations to relax and see you in the turquoise waves. Dream of the days when when were together in person. 

So, here I am. Writing to you when I should probably be sleeping. Hoping somehow the message gets through. 

I think I have to sign off for tonight. My heart is just aching and the tears are falling and I don't think I can take more right now. 

I love you. 




Dear Mom,

So there is a large part of me that thinks you would be having a little nervous fit right now! The four of us just finished the closed water diving training, and have only the four open water dives left before we are all certified SCUBA divers! Can you believe it? I bet you can't!! Ainsley is just a natural. A little fish. We keep joking that she has gills underneath her wet suit. Sarah was nervous to start, but I think she was kind of picking up on Todd's anxiety. Once the instructor worked with her, she was just amazing. Todd hates clearing his mask and isn't sure he loves it, and I'm just hanging out hoping my ears will equalize! :) But Dad seems excited that we are doing it, and that he will have some dive buddies. And that makes me really happy. 

Only 10 more days until Cayman. Packing has begun, preparations in full swing. Feels a little hollow without you, and I fear I'll just spend all the time crying, but then again, I feel like crying all the time now so what's the difference! Eh? I know you would be so upset that we are so upset, but what can we do? Dad says we are honoring your memory by doing things  you loved and that we loved doing together, so on we go. Sarah said she would go to the orchid show with me -- that will be fun. Not the same though. 

In other news, made it through my interview. Fingers crossed, I think it all went well. Other candidate is coming in this week, so we shall see. I gave it my best shot, so no regrets there. Thom said I might hear the results before spring break. If it is good news, I hope I do! If not, when I return home will be soon enough! Ha! No sense being upset about that too. 

Dad is doing well, I think. House is too quiet, but I feel that way too. We spent all weekend there, and it was fun. Filled the house with mess and noise. All good things, I think. Watched a movie, had take-out food. Good stuff. I even tried to make the beds before we left, so it wasn't a total disaster. I bet I left a glass or two behind though, as per usual. Don't want to try to change too much... :)

Well, it's almost midnight, and I should get to bed. I think about you all the time. Sarah and I both dreamed of you this weekend... me on Friday and her on Saturday. We were talking, you told me you were OK. I wanted to know what heaven was like and you said it was kind of like here only easier. You kept having to leave, because you told me you were doing things with Sarah. You had a few necklaces in your hand -- a gold one and one with small pearls. Said you were cleaning them for her. Then you got on an elevator and were gone for a while. Came back to see me again before I woke up. Then the next night, Sarah dreamed you brought her some necklaces and that you hugged her. Perhaps it wasn't just a dream?? I certainly want to believe so. 

All right. Time for bed. Miss you more than you can imagine. Love you forever. 



Now it's Febuary

Dear Mom,

Well, we made it to February. It's a little more than two months since you went on to the next adventure and we miss you. I think about you all the time... and know you are still with me. I saw Dad in the city this week -- we had dinner at the Oyster Bar and then stayed in (we both had meetings in the city the next day) at the Fitzpatrick. Dinner was delicious -- we both had the oyster pan roast and raw ones for an appetizer. Their horseradish was very strong! You would have loved it. Several times we both got it up our noses and much sniffling ensued! Good for a laugh, for sure. After dinner, we hung out at the bar, over wine and some scotch. Good talk and made me feel better. 

The girls are doing well -- Ainsley and I worked on her science fair project last weekend and it looks really terrific. She did such a good job -- you would be very proud. We are going to practice a lot before the actual fair in two weeks, so some stupid judge doesn't make her feel bad about what she says or does. I'm still fuming about last year, as you well know. 

Sarah and I are going to work on hers this weekend... I'm still crossing my fingers and praying to whatever the patron saint of plants is that SOMETHING works. So many trials and attempts.... She has such a good attitude about it though. I'm glad of that. But I am still hoping for a sprout or two to be able to show off. Otherwise, lots of talking about what didn't work! We joked at dinner tonight that she could introduce herself as the "great destroyer of all plant life" -- and got a good giggle out of it. Seriously, we have mangled many a plant in our attempts to propagate and graft. My bets are still on the hibiscus to come through for us. If you can put in a good word, I'd appreciate it! :)

Heard a little about my job. I think I'll be interviewing later this month. Maybe it will be all done before we go to Cayman... or at least have a better idea of what will happen. As I said to Dad, either we will be celebrating or drowning our sorrows in the sea and sand.... (and I bet, just a little wine!) Ha!!

We are all signing up for the scuba lessons to see if we can get certified before we go. Had fun the other week and so are going to make a go of it, I think. Ainsley and I for sure are, and Sarah and Todd are deciding. Sarah is excited about the idea of a pink wetsuit and she and Papa had a good conversation last weekend about it and what kind of dives we might do in Cayman. I think she'll do the class at least, and then make up her mind. 

I'm thinking we will start "packing" next weekend -- getting out the prep table and laying out outfits, suntan lotion and such. The girls need new bathing suits -- I'm hoping Target will put some out soon. They may have some out already -- I just haven't been in to look. Been a busy week; tons of meetings and lots of things sitting on my desk. I'll work on it this week. Also need to get the links put in my/your watch. You had such delicate wrists! :) Sigh. Wish it was still on it. It is beautiful though... I'm doing my best to take good care of it. 

Well, I guess that's it for the moment. We are hanging in there. I wish we could be talking in person. I would like very much to hear your voice and your laugh and your responses. I suppose I can hear your responses in my head though... at least for some of it. 

Ok. Enough for now -- I've made it almost all day without crying. Only one "tear up" when Sarah and I were talking about how you would call her the Cotton Ball. Not bad for me! I'll go now then, and rest. 

Miss you so much it hurts.

Love you,


So much for that resolution!

Dear Mom,

All right, so number one on my list hasn't been going so well. It's been a more difficult and "time-consumed" month than I expected. Lots of work. Long days. The girls had midterms and I was committed to working with them every night. Todd got sick - not sick like two years ago, but sick enough to cause major disruptions. And so, each night when I meant to write, I was too tired, or just emotionally not up to it.

But, I can say that I've worked hard on looking for love and sharing love as best I know how, which was my ultimate goal anyway.

We've planned a vacation with dad to go to Grand Cayman and that is going to be good. There will be a fair amount of crying, to be sure, but it will be good. We are even thinking about all getting certified to dive -- can you believe it?? I know, I know -- you can't imaging me doing anything but sitting on the beach reading or watching the girls or just staring at the waves. Don't worry! I'm sure to do a lot of that too. But I'm not sure how well I'm going to do not being with you -- sitting with you -- reading and chatting and laughing with you. Taking our walks. To say I'm going to miss you being there is the understatement of the century.

I'm tring to help us keep going -- to miss you and love you and celebrate you -- but still move on and make new memories.

People are being so kind -- you would be amazed. Lots of love, once again. Friends at work who are helping me get through -- and I truly hope Dad has the same at his work.

I keep checking in on him; I'm trying to hard not to "hover" or be a nag or anything. But I can't not check in or try and spend as much time as I can with him. I send him little text messages every night to make sure he is home safe and sound. And he always replies, no matter how late. It's good -- we are making our own new routine.

He is going to see Matt next weekend. I'm glad about that too. I know Matt is super exicted to see him. They are going dog sledding!! I know you always wanted to do that -- I hope you can somehow be there in spirit form.... you can, can't you? I think so. And because I think so, please help him to not fall off! Or not to hurt himself, OK? Let's not have another water skiing bruise, eh? :)

All right, that's about it for now. The puppy, dear Kipper that is, is currently tearing apart of big cardboard box and I think I need to go and rescue it. Or clean up the mess. Or both. And it's almost time to go and get the ladies from play practice. I don't think I told you -- Sarah is playing Toto and Ainsley is a barrister and a flying monkey! Going to be lots of fun.

Love you mom. I'll write again soon. Bear with me as I find my sea legs again.


One little word for a new year

As has been my tradition, (and not to get all maudlin about it, but it was the tradition mom and I would do together), I've decided to pick my One Little Word for 2016. I thought about not doing it again, just letting it slip by and just work on surviving (come to think of it that would have been a good choice!), but then my little Sarah and I talked. She encouraged me to choose one, noting that I should because I liked doing it and that perhaps it was something we could even do together. As denying her anything causes me pause, I decided she was right. And so, started some reading. I fell across a blog page, (mr. thomas and me), and she talked about how not only she was she choosing a word but monthly "challenges" to help remind her of her word and keep it fresh in her mind. I appreciate this idea -- and not just because it would keep the word front and center. But also because I am a project person. I like short (and sometimes long) term projects that give me a chance to create or be clever and so on. So, not only will the little word keep me staying with tradition, but the projects will help be stay busy. AND, best part, they are things she and I can do together; Ainsley too if she wishes!

So, my word for the year, with help from my dear daughter, is LOVE. Specifically taken from Corinthians, 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Yes, I need to remember that to have faith (and God knows I am trying), I need love. To have hope, I need love. To have courage and strength and everything else, I need love. So I will keep love close this year. 

As to those monthly challenges, here's what I'm going to aim for:

JANUARY -- Blog or journal every day. Let's get back in the habit.

FEBRUARY -- Organize and donate daily. Share some love with those less fortunate.

MARCH -- Walk 200,000 steps (100 miles). Love my health and body.

APRIL -- Do one of Mom's 30 days of lists. Celebrate her life and love.

MAY -- Leave notes of encouragement around. Love my friends and family.

JUNE -- Incorporate 10 minutes of stillness daily. Love silence and contemplation. Think about how I am so very loved and how much I love in return.

JULY -- Start a circle journal between myself, Sarah and Ainsley. Love our girl time. 

AUGUST -- Explore faith. Love God. 

SEPTEMBER -- Develop core strength -- both physical and mental. Love my health and body, once again as I tend to forget...

OCTOBER -- Create something every day. Share love through art, cooking, crafts. 

NOVEMBER -- Write out prayers and positive thoughts and quotes. Find love all around me. 

DECEMBER -- Make a "Things I love about you" book for each member of my family. Express love. 


So there we are. Let's make 2016 a year of love. 


Back to work

Was good to be back. My concentration level isn't the greatest, but I just picked one thing on my list -- today it was working on my capping syllabus for my upcoming class -- and stayed busy. Was able to leave early and get the girls at 3; then set up the grow light for Sarah's science fair project. Homemade stir fry for dinner. TV with the family and a call from Matt. All in all, an OK day. Kipper continues to entertain-- and make me laugh. So -- onward. Busy is good. Busy is good.

Back to work


I've been seeing elevens for months. Everywhere I go, my eye seems to always catch them. Each time I looked at the clock, it was 11 or something and eleven minutes. The time ticker on a song on my iPhone -- something and eleven seconds. My flight to Italy in November - 1114. Just everywhere. I was pretty freaked out about it, actually. Todd and I would talk about it, and he would tell me it was nothing. Just a trick of the eye because I was paying more attention. But I couldn't get it out of my head. So much so that I almost changed my flight. Stopped looking at the time. 

Meanwhile, my mom was getting sicker. The pain was getting worse. All through August and then, September. I watched her suffering -- always believing that she would get better. The radiation that Sloan was going to do would help -- they said so. They said in 90 percent of the cases, the radiation would make her pain free. Would move the tumors away from her spine. 

Then October. The pain did go away, for about a week. Then it was back, just different. Then the pnuemonia. And the anemia. She spiraled down and down. 

Then November. Into the hospital to treat the symptoms. For blood transfusions. For antibiotics. And again, it seemed to be working. We made plans for her to come home, to live with less mobility, but still to live. We never gave up hope. Kept cheerleading and praying and sending her strength and love. 

I spent days and days and days just talking to her. That's all she wanted. Just for me to talk. About anything and nothing. And so I babbled. I was so scared, but didn't want her to know. I'm sure she did -- as the waterworks are something I can't always control, but I tried. I rubbed her feet. I helped her to the bathroom. I stayed as long as I could for as many days as I could -- always believing this would be a chapter that she and I would talk about later, perhaps sitting on the beach in Grand Cayman or on one of our girls trips to Cape Cod. We would toast over wine and say, yet again, how she defied the odds. That us being there made the difference. We would all be so thankful and laugh and cry and hug. And life would go on. 

But this November, month number 11, had other things in mind. She did come home. And we prepared for months of rehabilitation. We prepared for life without her legs moving very well; the wheelchair lift on the stairs, the hospital bed, all the supplies. The nurses for 12 hours a day. And she was scared. And disoriented. And still I sat, and talked, and held her hand. Dad never left her side. Ever. Unless I was there. 

And on November 30, 2015, at 11:30 a.m., I lost her. We lost her. The cancer just was too strong, and her body was just too tired. All the praying and hoping and love wasn't enough to keep her here with me, with us, in her physical form any longer. And now, I am just lost. The elevens coming home to roost. 

I still see elevens. I imagine that it is her talking to me. Telling me she is OK and that she is still here. I WANT to believe this because otherwise, it is even more awful. I find myself in almost a state of disbelief. It just can't be. It is too much to wrap my head around. No more conversations. No more time together, at least for now. 

I am trying to find my faith. To have faith. That there is a heaven. That it is, as the Bible says, made of many rooms and someday I will find her in one of them and we will again see each other. But I'm struggling. 

And so I'll keep going, one foot in front of the other. I'll try not to dwell and obsess. I'll be as strong as I know how for my family and for my dad. 

For Christmas, he gave me the ring she always wore and I wear it now, a constant reminder of her love and a constant reminder that she isn't here -- a double-edged sword at the moment.  But I don't know what else to do. 

That's it for now. Tomorrow, I'll come back and try again. 



It's been a while...

I needed a break. I had been blogging in this space for several years, and needed a break. This space held, as the title suggests, moments of my life -- mostly photos, but also words + stories. The girls got busier. I got busier. And the time I had to journal became less and less. Surely, I could have found time. But something had to give, and this was it. 

But this year ended with something catastrophic and I need to come back. Want to come back. I need a place to write and share and virtually yell and scream. I need a thing to help me as a cope and grieve. So, here I am. Bear with me, you who might stumble upon this space. As Joan Didion wrote, this may be a year of magical thinking.