I haven't cried since that night. I've teared up a couple times, my voice has wavered now and then, I've stood deer-in-the-headlights style at a party waiting for the topic of conversation to move on from cute stories about other people's fathers, but I haven't cried. That is, until this arrived in the mail: That's my dad's thumbprint. I took the impression while sitting with him after I could no longer talk with him. Some people take photos or locks of hair, I rolled up balls of purple-and-white putty and gingerly pressed his fingertips into them. This is it, I thought the whole time. This is IT. I suppose I'd known before then -- after all, I'd specifically requested the compound be overnighted ahead of our visit, just in case. On the Friday before he passed away I told him about Janessa and the fingerprint jewelry she offered to make for me and my mom, and I felt...weird, like YO I KNOW YOU'RE DYING AND ALL BUT IMMA GONNA MAKE ME A NECKLACE, OKAY? He didn't think it was weird at all. He thought it sounded like a lovely idea. Still, though. I left the compound in my suitcase until... Read more →

Hidden among my father's rows and rows of books -- every book that had ever landed on the high school English curriculum list, plus a few from the banned column, for good measure -- was an impressive stash of Cliffs Notes. I remember being surprised by the huge number of yellow-and-black-striped study guides one day while digging around for something to read, something more challenging than the pathetic selection of Christian young adult fiction-with-a-Jesus-message my school's library offered. I think I was on a Thomas Hardy kick, or maybe it was Vonnegut by that point. Either way, I knew I'd find something that would alternately impress and/or horrify my own English teacher, but I wasn't expecting the Cliffs Notes. I knew exactly what they were, and how most of my peers used them: For cheating. You read the guide and not the book, and hopefully gleaned enough information to bullshit your way through class discussions and tests. They were a safer bet than renting a movie version that might have changed everything, but of course they cost a lot more, and you ran the risk of having a teacher or parent catch you with them. And then there was my... Read more →


Everyone -- okay, well, not EVERYONE, but enough people for it to feel that way -- keeps telling me how lucky I am to have the new baby to look forward to. How thankful I must be! What a wonderful thing! What timing, in the midst of so much sadness, to have something so purely joyful and happy to focus on. The problem is: I don't feel any of those stupid things. The oh-shit moment of general pre-baby non-readiness has morphed into full-on crazy anxiety about the reality of what's coming. Three children. Three! As in, the two I already have, plus ONE MORE. WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MATH IS THAT. Obviously, I'm feeling a bit over-pummeled in general right now. I'm trying to grieve for my father, support my mother, adjust to an entirely new diagnosis for my son, juggle a full work load and the four-frillion mundane details of everyday life that we all have going on a regular basis, plus, you know, GESTATE. There are probably even more people than that phantom "everyone" I mentioned telling me to be gentle on myself, to cut myself some slack, that there is no right way to navigate losing... Read more →

Two Thousand Sixty-Seven

On Tuesday, last week, I took Ezra for a check-up at a new pediatrician. "Okay, family history," the doctor said cheerfully, turning to her computer. "Heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer? Are all the grandparents still living?" "My dad," I said. "Is not. He died yesterday." "I'm so sorry," she said. "It's okay," I said. *** On Wednesday, last week, I took a train back up to Pennsylvania. As I rose to get off, my bag knocked over my seatmate's coffee cup. "Oh!" she gasped. "Oh shit!" I muttered. "I'm so sorry." "It's okay," she said. *** A very nice man asked me if I needed help with my suitcase as we boarded the elevator out on the track. I told him no thanks, my toddler weighed more than this, and HE didn't come with wheels and a handle, so I was good. He laughed. Then he sighed. "And NOW I have to go to work." And now I have to go help plan a funeral, I thought, but did not say. Instead, I smiled. "That sucks. I'm so sorry." *** A couple hours later I was ordering a cake. The baker asked if I wanted anything written on it, or... Read more →

...that we got Noah's evaluation results on Monday. We didn't get them in time for his IEP meeting, but no matter, the school district team agreed that he belongs in the smaller special education kindergarten program for most academic portions of the day, with a few hours in the (gigantic, one teacher and 28+ kids, oh my God) general education classroom, albeit with "support" and regular pullouts for one-on-one occupational therapy for fine-motor delays. All in all, a very good outcome, with no need for us to halt proceedings with our last-minute evidence and change of diagnosis and THIS WHOLE IEP MEETING IS OUT OF ORDER dramatics. But yeah. We do have a change of diagnosis. ADHD, or at least several assessment scores that put him at the top of the "very high likelihood" range. Also a word retrieval disorder, and confirmation of a bunch of ongoing sensory-based delays that we already knew about, so like, whatever. Pffft. Bring it. And yet: GAH, OMFG, ETC. You guys, I am so tired. I am beat. I read the reports, I shrugged my shoulders, I went upstairs and lay down. I told the ceiling fan that hey, we could really, really use... Read more →

When we got there on Friday, it was March 25th, and he was reading the Kindle I’d gotten him for Christmas. He was in a hospital bed in the living room and looked thin and pale and waxy, but he was reading his Kindle. He told me I looked good, referring to my super-pronounced-looking pregnant belly, and I think I said something dumb, like "you too!" that I immediately regretted. But honestly, compared to how he'd look in just a matter of hours, it was true. Noah walked in and surveyed the room. “PopPop, you sure are sick, aren’t you,” he observed matter-of-factly. Ezra, thankfully, did not parrot my pre-visit explanations, but merely stuck his finger in his mouth and requested PopPop make his trademark popping sound with his finger and cheek. He obliged, laughing. Ezra giggled, as delighted with the trick as I’d been as a kid. We hugged, we talked, we gossiped. He teased me about my hair, which he has not particularly liked since I dyed it red. “It’s looking better!” he said earnestly, referring to the neglected, washed-out, two-inches-of-dingy-blond-roots state it’s currently in. Jason and the boys left to stay at his parents’ house; I stayed... Read more →

I wish I knew what to say. I don't know if I have anything to say. Let's just...see where this goes. Things are moving quickly, in the downhill direction. He's in a hospital bed in the living room, unable to breathe unless he stays perfectly still and immobile, utterly wiped out from the fight of the past six months. There is talk of moving to morphine soon. Everyone is scrambling to visit, exchanging helpless text messages about how much this sucks and...and...yeah. How are you doing? I don't know. You? Same. Frowny emoticon. Word. I'm going up to see him on Friday, maybe even Thursday night. I don't know whether to go by myself or try to bring the boys one last time -- if this is, indeed, the one last time -- I don't know how to help, what to do, how to feel except bone-blisteringly, overwhelmingly sad. But it's a sad mixed with happy while I fold onesies and count kicks and kiss my children good-night, like an umbrella I keep forgetting to hold onto. Is it okay to change the subject? To talk about OB appointments and weight gain and belly shots? How is one supposed to... Read more →

'Emotional Etsy Rampage' is the Totally Name Of My New Emo Band

The first thing I did after getting the new-and-so-fucking-not-improved news on Friday was go on an Emotional Etsy Rampage, spilling out the contents of my PayPal account (and gnawing at the edges of Instant Bank Account Tranfers) in exchange for things for the new baby. Wall decals! A custom mobile! Upcycled vintage galvanized storage containers! Bibs! A necklace that I've had in my favorites list for a year but never bought and today is the day! That necklace is mine! Suck it, sadness! Suck on shiny things and die! I stopped only after Noah brought me the Xbox remote and a long, involved (and HIGHLY EMOTIONAL) story about a giant snake level on the Harry Potter Lego game and he couldn't finish the potion and Hermione is stuck in a corner and keeps getting blowed up by the snake and you need to help me, and I was briefly consumed with resentment that really? Really, Noah? This is the biggest challenge in your little life right now? This is the crisis that's reduced you to tears? A video-game snake? MADE OUT OF VIDEO-GAME LEGOS? Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I Pain-Olympic'ed my own child. It was a really... Read more →