I don't know what to say. Yesterday a friendly waiter asked Jason and I how our "day was goin' so far" and instead of answering "fine" like a normal human person, I think I just sort of stared at him with my mouth hanging open, like I didn't understand the question. Luckily my brain DID manage to send the abort signal before I said something like "yeah fine except my dog literally just died like two hours ago, so now I'm going to need all the nachos in this restaurant." (I really did consume a ridiculous amount of nachos, though.) Ceiba is gone. She died in my arms, on our couch. She spent the entire morning on our laps, being stroked and rubbed and babied. Max was next to her as the sedative took effect, Jason was was petting her the entire time. She didn't react at all to the second shot, but simply drifted away from us. It was the best death we could have possibly provided for her, but it was still a death, and I am gutted. Ceiba was the tiniest member of the household, but now that she's gone, the house doesn't just feel empty, it's... Read more →

Slightly morbid but necessary update: We've arranged for a vet to come to our home on Wednesday morning to help Ceiba pass while the boys are at school. They understand Wednesday is our Goodbye Day and that she won't be here when they get home. In the meantime, we're all working on a Memory Box, full of pictures and drawings and even a teeny tiny Ceiba made out of Lego. We'll include things like her collar and favorite toys when the time comes as well. I have opted to get her ashes back and plan to scatter them on our new work-in-progress garden. No one else in the house wants anything to do with any sort of remains, but I have a mild panic attack at the thought of her just leaving our house and it being like...welp, that's that! So I'm doing that part solely for myself. We've been pretty straightforward with the boys about everything -- no sugarcoating so far, but lots of assurances that being sad is totally normal and it's okay to cry or feel other things, like anger or fear. I'm really proud of how they're handling things and working through it each in their... Read more →

Thank you, Internet, for the huge loving wave of kind thoughts and condolences. I really had no idea so many people had so much genuine affection for my little dog, and it was an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise total shithole of a day. So Ceiba has cancer. It is all very bad news. The cancer diagnosis was...not a huge surprise to us. Jason basically called it as soon as we got her first negative UTI result. I needed to cycle through a few more of the treatable possibilities first, but over the past couple weeks -- thanks to the blood and drastic weight loss -- I came to the same conclusion. I was possibly holding out hope that it was bladder stones, but deep down I was fully expecting the worst. Making it official and shifting our worry into our reality, though, is rough. Really awful and rough. Her prognosis is not good. There is no realistic treatment option at this point. We won't put her through chemo and surgery would be incredibly invasive (as the tumor is inside her bladder) and dangerous for a dog her age. There's a drug treatment that MIGHT slow the tumor growth... Read more →

I almost made it through Father's Day without thinking about my dad. Okay, that sounds horrible, and isn't really true. There's no way NOT to think about him, what with the sheer volume of irritating PR email pitches that pile up all month. "Don't forget about Dad!" they say in the subject lines, "Please please blog about some crap we think is perfect for your dad! Who is dead!" is how I sarcastically translate them, right before I dump them into the trash can, unread. It's a new yearly tradition, although the righteous anger I used to feel over some poorly targeted email blasts has faded over the years. (No, I am NOT getting an early start on my Father's Day gift guide. Because I am at my father's FUNERAL, motherfucker. UNSUBSCRIBE.) I almost made it through without thinking about my dad in any painful, punch-in-the-gut sort-of way. That's more what I meant. I focused entirely on Jason (who also had his birthday yesterday), so I had lots of extra planning and shopping to focus on, with a goal to give him an entire weekend of fun and presents and relaxation. We got together with friends, went to picnics and... Read more →

An Ordinary Day Like Every Other

Today started with Noah's face inches from mine. "Mom! You told me last night to remind you to give me money for the book fair," he says, lifting up the covers while I blink blearily at him. "So I'm reminding you." And we're off. I pull on some clothes and pull my hair into a ponytail while Jason gets Ike ready. Ezra, as usual, needs to be physically dragged out of bed and deposited on the floor of his room, at least four feet away from his bed so he won't immediately climb back in the minute our backs are turned. I distribute underwear and socks and shirts and hope that there are clean pants in the drawers — by Friday it's usually a laundry crapshoot. I inform Noah that the shirt he put on is too small for him. He insists it's fine, it's okay, he just won't raise his arms too much. Downstairs: Cheerios, milk, juice, grapes, eggs, bananas, pancakes. Second, third, fourth helpings. Good Lord, they eat so, so much. Noah rehearses a presentation for a school project — a shoe box decorated and filled with representations of our family's cultural background. He struggles with the pronunciations... Read more →

Sounding the Everything Is Okay Alarm For the Millionth Time

So I wrote about four sentences' worth of an entry yesterday, an entry I didn't really WANT to write but simply didn't know what ELSE to write: My mom was in the hospital. She'd been in the hospital since Friday. They didn't really know what was wrong and the tests were starting to creep up into the realm of OH SHIT. (At least according to ME. My mom was like, "whatever, I'm FINE.") And so I finally caved and figured that writing a blog entry telling the Internet about it was a slightly better use of my time than all the WebMD Googling I was doing, Dramablogging may be ill-advised at times, but my Internet browsing history was becoming a full-on experiment in terror, so I figured I better let it out. I only wrote four sentences because — as you may have surmised by all the past tense I'm using — that was when my mom called to report that the tests all came back normal and she was free to go home in just a few hours. Okay then! And so we can add this incident to my upcoming bestselling self-help book, tentatively titled "The Power of Bloggable... Read more →

Home Is Where He Isn't, Anymore

Near the end of the long (looooonnnng) (stupid rain) car ride up to Pennsylvania on Friday, we passed a billboard for my dad's cancer treatment center. The billboard immediately after it was for the apartment complex where my mom moved after he died. "Argh," I said. Trips back home are weird now. I mean, PA is not my "home" anymore, and hasn't been for 15 years now, and my parents sold my "real" childhood home a couple years before that. But now that he's gone it feels even farther removed. More different. More not the same, more never to be again. And yet despite everything feeling so different, his memory starts looming large almost as soon as we cross the state border. The Phillies stadium, where we went to all those games together. That church we went to for awhile. The other church we went to for awhile. The summer jobs he'd drop me off at, the movie theater where he and I would go see movies that were too violent for my mom. (All movies were too violent for my mom.) The restaurants we ate at, the car dealership that used to be over there and that store that... Read more →

He didn't look like my dad, not at all, really. He had a full head of white curly hair, no beard or mustache and a completely different style of glasses. But he was reading a Kindle. The older kind, like the one I bought for my dad before he got seriously sick but when he was already not well. He needed extra large-print books — hard to find at the library, my mom said, at least the ones he wanted — and even the act of holding up a large heavy hardcover was getting hard on his wrists and hands. So I bought him a Kindle. He was reading it the last time I saw him, or at least the last time I really saw him, before the final sudden and rapid decline. The Metro was crowded and I had to lean away from the people standing in the aisle lest I wanted a messenger bag to the face. I glanced over at his Kindle and noticed he also had the text set fairly large. I didn't intend to be nosy but I immediately recognized what he was reading: Act I, Scene I: Elsinore. A platform before the Castle. "Hamlet!"... Read more →

I said I wanted to go. Even though I didn't really want to go. But I felt like I was supposed to want to go. Or something. So we went. I drove my mom back to the cemetary, back past the funeral staging area where we waited in our cars for what felt like forever, in the cold and the rain. Where I had stared out the window and told Jason I wanted to be cremated, then stared at my feet and silently regretted my choice of footwear. The weather was beautiful this year, so we parked farther away, where the car wouldn't possibly get in the way of any other funeral. We started walking down the grassy aisles and I silently regretted my choice of stroller. I should have brought the sturdier one, not the cheap car seat stroller frame that got stuck on every lump and divot in the ground. The ground that was full of bodies. My mom got turned around and confused about the rows. The rows and rows of identical markers, so we marched up one and then had to turn around and the stroller got caught on a bit of raised earth around the... Read more →