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Saturday, October 17, 2009

houdini

I came home from work to hear this from Sandi:

"There was a code pink at the hospital today." (this is when a baby is taken)

Gulp. Those poor parents, is all I can think.

Then: "It was Maya."

Why am I not all that surprised?

Maya, Sandi and Ella had all gone to visit a family member in the hospital and were all three looking out a sixth floor hallway window, peeking down on everything below when Sandi turned to see Maya. Who was no longer there.

Panicked Sandi searching frantically for the missing Maya, freaked out Ella... and Maya? Aboard a south-bound elevator which she had found her way into just before the doors closed and swallowed her alone inside. After scouring the sixth floor, poor Sandi, who could now hear crying in the elevator shaft (every parents worst nightmare) grabbed Ella up and ran down the stairs to the security desk at the first floor. At this point, code pink being called overhead, a housekeeper showed up with a very tearful Maya. Apparently she had discovered her in the elevator when it opened on the 5th floor.

Just think of where she could have gone... And for the 10 or so minutes Sandi was without her, she didn't know if Maya had been taken or had maybe somehow fallen into the elevator shaft. I was so glad to hear this story in the past tense, with our crazy blond-haired girl sitting snuggled on my lap.

Then yesterday, Maya and I were at the grocery store. I put her jacket back on her as we departed the check out line to head outside. I turned my head for 2 seconds (literally) and when I turned back the jacket was gone. Completely. From unzipped to off and buried in the cart under the bags in 2 seconds.

I swear she could magic in Vegas if she wanted.

Patti says we are going to have to get her a leash...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

intervention?

I'm not sure if I am on my way to needing an intervention.

People have strange ways of coping, this I realize. Currently I am spreading my coping skills out over running (my old standby) and cooking. The running isn't out of control. I am legitimately preparing for a half marathon in a couple of weeks.

The cooking, however...

It is raining today and all plans are cancelled because Ella is feverish and doesn't feel well. Sandi is at work. It is raining.

And we are cooking.

I told Sandi not to be surprised if she comes home to cakes and pies piled high in the kitchen.

I have appointed myself spirit coach for Emilie's San Francisco marathon which she will be completing this Sunday and for some reason I feel the need to feed her. A lot. Perhaps I am fearful she wither up with lack of solid stores on board or maybe I am just funneling my need to cook toward her without it seeming too weird.

Either way...I told Ella we would be cooking today. "Like all day?" "Yep, all day long." "We are going to cook all day?" "Yes, we are going to do little else except cook." "You're joking, aren't you?" with a little fear.

There are worse things, no? What harm is a little flour, sugar, butter and maybe some chocolate going to do to the world?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

dear, dear

Dear Martha,




I don't really know what to say. I got your letter today. Sandi and I were sitting drinking coffee and going through a mountain of mail and I saw an envelope hand addressed to me. I opened it, saw the folded pages of a hand written letter and thought, "Oh, someone is mad at me and written me a letter to tell off." And in those moments between when I pulled the lined pages out and unfolded them...those were the moments that may define my life from here.





I flipped through the pages and began to shake. I looked up at Sandi with horrified eyes. "Oh, no. Oh, no," I kept saying. "What? What? What happened?" she asked, increasingly alarmed.





I couldn't speak. I couldn't comprehend. I saw the letter and the photocopy of your will and I knew.

You see, we had an appointment the day before, you and I. My beloved friend, my mentor. I had called you that morning around 11 a.m. to remind you. So much had happened in your life in the previous 6 weeks. I called and reminded you of our appointment, telling you to call me if you couldn't make it. Then I waited for you for an hour at the appointed time, worried about your whereabouts and angry that you had stood me up. I had paid a babysitter after all and was losing money waiting for you to come. I went to the grocery store instead, my anger abating, my fear growing.




This was so unlike you. You only went far from home to go on expedition trips to Antarctica or the Falcon Islands or Egypt. These faraway places I could only dream of, places you would return from with gifts for my girls. A solo world traveler, one of the boldest, bravest, most utterly fabulous women I know. I called you 15 times. Your cell was not in service and the house phone where I had been able to leave a message earlier was now not functional. Sandi came home and I told her I had a nagging dread about it and hoped you were okay.


The truth is you were long gone and I did not know. I had no idea that a mile away from me, four days before on Sandi's birthday, you took your life.



You had it all thought out. The letter you wrote me was dated September 21 and the postmark was Oct. 7 which means you must have left it in your outgoing mail on the 6th, the day you died. You carefully outlined your wishes in a will crafted with the exact components, since you were a lawyer and knew precisely how to do it.



People have a lot of thoughts and opinions about suicide. Most feel it is selfish and that if people thought about how much they would hurt loved ones, it would rid them of the urge. As I have searched my heart since I found out, I find I think differently than I once did. I am, of course, aching with the knowledge of your pain, your hopelessness. But past that, I feel this was your right to choose your end- to plan it, to execute it and to very deliberately decide your destiny. Perhaps we are the selfish ones that would rather you be here, living a life you no longer wanted for very real reasons, in physical and emotional turmoil, just to save us the pain of losing you. I actually find myself thinking that I wish you hadn't had to be alone when you made your transition and, regardless of how impossible, I wish I could have held your hand.



I am a little selfish in my grieving you as much as I want to be okay with your departure. I will miss you so. My flower gardens are filled almost entirely of plants that you divided from your own and I wonder how my perennials will find their way back up in the spring in a world where you are not. How my tomatoes will ever grow so delicious if they are not raised from seeds in your greenhouse with your loving hands. I wonder who I will call when my sorbet won't freeze, I don't understand something Julia Child has written in the cookbook you gave me, my sourdough won't rise and I don't know if I should cut back the sage in my garden or leave the woody stems to toughen in the winter snow. I wonder if anyone else I know can make lavender ice cream and who will bring by blueberry date bread for me at Christmas. Who will call me, "Suzanne, dear" each and every time we talk and tell me what a good mom I am. I wonder how I will ever find a friend who will be in my life what you were.

I drove past your house today and I wonder how it possible that you are not there, your incredible flower gardens brown and withered, both because of the harsh fall nights and your absence. I sat in your driveway in my car wanting to sit in the front yard made up of rare and beautiful flowers rather than boring old grass, wanting you to peak your head out from the curtain and tell me there had been some awful mistake.


The invisible threads that hold life together have become completely apparent to me. Suddenly, I can see how the places that you and I intersected have become part of the fabric of my life, like sturdy stitches on a patchwork quilt. I see it with all the people I know and love. Those that we surround ourselves with, those we give our hearts to, every bit defines our life. You have helped define mine and there is a hole now I am unsure how to suture. The world felt palpably different today without you in it.


Thank you for writing to me, a letter so beautiful the first line says, "You have been just the best friend a woman could want." Thank you for explaining to me why you choose this for yourself. Thank you for freeing me of wondering if there was something I could have done differently to change the course of your destiny. Thank you opening your house and your yard to me and the girls so I know where the tea was kept, could open the fridge without permission, knew when you gave me a leg off your peony plant that you did it as a way of sharing part of your heart with me. Thank you for the tulips you gave Ella and Maya for their birthdays last year that can remind us of you every spring. Thank you for treasuring me in your heart so much that you wanted me to have some of the gifts of your life, gifts that will likely change the course of my life forever. Thank you for holding my hand this winter when life was so very hard, for sharing the secrets of living that only one who has lived 60 years knows. Thank you for touching my life. Thank you, most of all, for being my friend.

I hope you know how much I love you and how deeply I will miss you. Love, Suzanne

Thursday, October 8, 2009

we need to talk

For those of you who live in Maine, it is time for us to talk. (For those of you who don't you can read on but are exempt from my soap boxing.)

We need to talk about Question 1 coming to a ballot near you in a few short weeks.

Hopefully you don't live under a rock and you know what I am talking about. Hello? Marriage Equality. Big, BIG deal.

I got a call today from an acquaintance (like we met when she and her partner were trying to get pregnant and they picked our brains and we have barely seen them since and their son is now a year and a half old.) She was asking me if I would volunteer on the phone bank next week to beg people I know or those I don't know (I get to pick) for money on the No on 1 campaign.

Oh, great. I'd been thinking about my level of inertia about this. I care. I care A LOT and yet I hadn't even figured out where to get my No on 1 bumper sticker. I had made some measly comments to people who might be swing voters. I was loser with a capital L in the gay activist department.

See, the great leaders of Maine (miraculously!) saw fit to pass a law allowing gay people full marriage rights last spring. Then the people who have made it their mission to take us down collected over 50,000 signatures (!) to put the question on the ballot for voters to decide whether or not to repeal the marriage equality law.

I have to tell you, it rocks my world that in the time since Ella was born we went from having no rights to having a domestic partnership registry (which basically gives your partner rights if you die), equal protection under the law from discrimination and, most recently and most importantly for our family, adoption rights. The fact that our beloved state has granted marriage rights blows me away. I hadn't even seen it coming.

And now it is at ENORMOUS risk to be taken away.

So I said yes, of course, to the phone bank. Which means, watch out... I may be calling you.

This is my plea... Vote no on 1 in November (naturally) but could you commit to talking to 10 (or 20!) of your friends who might be those swing voters and see if you can convince them? This is going to be a close call and every vote really does count. Please do it. Mindy and Charissa have an elaborate wedding planned for next June. They are counting on you too.

I got my bumper sticker and my yard sign today after she called.

This won't be the last you hear about this from me, just so you know.

If nothing else, if this upsets your earthy orbit, just remember what Dolly Pardon said, "Yes, I support gay marriage. Why shouldn't the gays suffer like the rest of us?"

confessions p.s.

One more to add to my confessions of a real mom.

This is major.

The things that drive me crazy in my mother are the same things in myself that I don't like.

Oh boy...

emergency

What constitutes an emergency??

Must it involve blood or the cracking of bone?

What about when the car won't start and you're already late? When you burn the preschool snack the morning of? When you can't get a hold of your babysitter while she is in school and you need to get to work early? How about when it is getting cold and you have yet to get corn for your corn stove and your pellet stove is still out of commission?

How about when you have two uninspected vehicles and every time you take it in to get something fixed so it will be inspectible they find something else wrong?

(Today I took the van in to have a small valve that monitors tire pressure replaced. It was necessary to pass inspection because without it, the dashboard light would remain on. I was on my return trip in since they had to order the part. After waiting 20 minutes, the guy comes out and says, "I'm really sorry, but there is a screw that doesn't come with the valve. Looks like you're going to have to order the whole sensor for $115." I laughed- what else could I do? I also said, "How about you back to your desk and then come back and say something different?"

I left with no sensor and the same slashed inspection sticker I went in with, practicing in my head the story I would tell the police officer should I get pulled over. Before I could strap the kids into their seats, a mechanic came out after me. "I found the screw! I found the screw!" Back in we went. Luckily the other man waiting hadn't switched off Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I thankfully didn't have to wrestle him for the remote.)

Anyway...

Is it a legitimate emergency when your almost two-year-old paints her lips and the inside of her mouth with nail polish? Deep, vermilion nail polish that you initially think is blood streaming from her mouth? I mean, what do you do, use nail polish remover?? (You never know unless you are in this situation as I was this morning. I went for the forceful washcloth. Maya was saying, "yuck yuck.")

Monday, October 5, 2009

confessions of a real mom

-Sometimes I sit at the breakfast table and think, "Only 10 more hours until bedtime."



-I think strenuous exercise makes me a good mom, sometimes even a great mom. Without it, I am mediocre.



-I miss a clean house so much that I am starting a little side thing cleaning for other people. Why not? Make a little extra money and enjoy their clean house.



-I look at other moms, stranger moms, at the park and the mall and Target, and try to pick the one that most resembles me- in appearance, frazzeledness, parenting style, job fulfillment. I think it depends what kind of day I'm having with who I most identify. On a good day, I am the confident, self-assured, uber patient mom who has the organic snack packs and obedient smiling children- you know the mom whose hair looks awesome and she rocks her jeans? On a bad day, I am the mom who is trying to yell without yelling so she ends up hissing, has glazed, sagging eyes, has not yet showered and whose kids are eating twizzlers which is a step up from the Benedryl crackers she thought about giving them.



-It just occurred to me today, for the first time: I'm not getting paid for this.



-This thought was followed by the even worse: I think we're actually going in the hole.


-Sometimes, by the time I get my kids into bed after a day alone, I am physically shaking.


-I sometimes worry that, even with two super fit moms, Ella will grow up to be a dress-wearing, sweat-fearing, couch potato who sits around and talks about "pretty" things.


- This one is hard...but I understand now how it is that a parent can get so angry that they hit their child.


-It is more common for us to use scissors instead of a comb for severely tangled hair.


-I worry that Ella will be permanently scarred by the amount that we ask of her ultra-easy going person to accommodate the crazy that is Maya.



-I get a serious rush when I get a bargain. I have to refrain from telling too many people, and only then the ones who will really appreciate it.



-I am horrified to admit that some days my favorite time with Maya is when she is asleep.



-I watch Ella run away from me sometimes, up over a hill or across a lawn of green grass and feel like I am watching my life as a movie where my little girl runs out of sight and a grown-up woman returns. I fear my life will go by as quickly as it takes her to circle back to find her way to me.


-I am afraid of days that have no plans.


-I LOVE Storyland. Like really love it.


-I keep chocolate chips in the pantry in case of an emergency. I keep wine for the same reason.



-I have friends that I could call for any form of help at any time of day or night and I find that comforting beyond measure.



-I vacillate between being ecstatic about Ella going to preschool three days a week and wanting to lock her up in the house and home school her until she is 25.



- I really, really want to publish a book. I have one that has some 250 pages to it and it needs so much work I need to just start over. I hear that the only way to write a book it to have a writing "habit" and do it everyday. I wonder when this will start and why I keep waiting for it to happen on its own. I also wonder if you can form a writing habit like you can a coffee habit or a cocktail habit.

-I want to write a song.

-I want to run a marathon.

-Knowing how hard kids are on a healthy partnership, I seriously wonder how people that are shaky to begin with make it. I am equally confounded by the thought that having kids will fix a marriage.

- Sometimes when Sandi drives down the road to work, leaving early for a first-thing procedure in the ICU, I am overcome with jealousy.

-I worry that my brain with actually atrophy.

-When I am out by myself, driving down the road with the music blaring, I feel like a 16-year-0ld out from under the watchful eyes of her parents.

- I can, in the same exact moment of time, wish to be anywhere but where I am because I want to pull my hair out and run crazy down the street while simultaneously missing the moment that will soon be in my past, knowing I will someday long for it.

What are yours?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I wish

I wish I could get excited about little things like Ella does...