The Man on the Metro

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 →


Wednesday is coming. Wednesday is coming and with it comes sadness and heaviness and a sense that I will need to say something -- to write something -- and that I should know what that something is by now. But to figure that something out, I would need to be thinking about it, about the sadness and the heaviness, instead of pretending that Wednesday is not coming. Pretending it doesn't mean as much as it does, this weirdly arbitrary-when-you-think-about-it block of 365 days plus one, for leap day, which makes it feel even stranger, like I should be dreading Tuesday but the Gregorian calendar is dictating that no, thou shalt be sad on Wednesday. Pretending that I will not be spending it visiting his grave and comforting my mother and basically powering through the day (C'MON THURSDAY!) as quickly as possible so it doesn't crush me like a gnat and I'm not making any sense here, today, on the Friday before, which doesn't give me much hope for coming up with the right words on Wednesday. Ya know? Probably not. That's okay. Me neither. Here's a video of Ike begging for ice cream while Noah asks for permission to watch... Read more →

Parting Shots

I didn't take many pictures of him. Even "before." I didn't take pictures of him because I kept thinking there was going be a different "after;" a better one than the one we got. He was always in the hospital, or stuck on the couch, or hooked up to oxygen, or with visible surgery scars, or bedridden upstairs, or in a hospital bed in the living room, or in hospice -- all stages in a process I could rush here and type thousands of words about, but could not bring myself to hold up a camera and snap a photo of. I could not bring myself to document those moments forever as the way things were, right then, because documenting them felt like admitting that things would not get better. That we would not get a chance to eventually take a photo without the hospital bed or the oxygen tank or the thin, pallid skin and bruises. People told me to take pictures. People told me right here, on this blog, in the comments, to take pictures. Right up until the end: Take pictures. Put the boys around him, put his hands on your belly, and take some damn pictures.... Read more →

Peace in Brain, Goodwill Toward Self

I can't tell you how many first sentences I have written and deleted in the past couple days. "So here's the thing," I'd start, then be unable to put the thing into words. Other times I'd try skipping the pointless preamble and just say it, but then would be irritated by the unpoetic obviousness: the well-duh-ness of it. Then I'd think that I didn't really want to publish anything that might bum people out right before Christmas ANYWAY, so maybe I'll just go do something else until a different, funnier topic occurred to me. And yes, the Star Wars snowflakes were Exhibit A of "doing something else", along with baking. So much baking. I don't even particularly love baking, but I did it anyway. Batch after batch of cookies, until I finally up and ran out of sugar yesterday. So it's either finally sit down and post something or vaccuum. We're hosting Christmas this year, for the first time ever. This is not the thing, of course, because I'm happy to do it. We bought this particular house with holiday hosting in mind -- albeit that was waaaay back before we went and filled every bedroom with wall-to-wall children and... Read more →


(In Which I Strive To Not Talk About Sad Things During Another Post For The American Cancer Society) I was looking through stacks of old photos in hopes of finding some inspiration for this entry, something that would FINALLY maybe focus more on the "birthdays" part of ACS' More Birthdays campaign and less about, you know, the "cancer" thing. I'm not sure if I found inspiration, exactly, but I definitely found a theme. And that theme would be: Cake, Pinafores and Unfortunate Bangs. Oh, I'm kidding. But not about the cake part. Aaaaaand maybe not so much about the bangs thing, either. Sometimes I feel guilty about how few photos I manage to ever actually print out. About 99% of my children's childhoods remain solidly in virtual form only (albeit with a robust and slightly paranoid web of backups going on under the hood). There's something nice about sifting through yellowed stacks of photos, never knowing what awkward, poorly lit memory you'll hit on next. Then again: No timestamps. Perhaps these photos were once labeled in an album, but are now floating loose and out of order, so I have no idea how old I am in the above photo.... Read more →

In Absentia

I was planning to write some kind of tribute. Something happy. Nostalgic and sentimental. I felt confident I could scan some photos, talk about the good times, tell a funny story or two, anything but more cancer talk. Anything but loss, death, grief, because no. It is his birthday. But instead the words are jumbled up inside, trapped within a knotty ball of discomfort somewhere above my heart and below my throat, but the idea of untangling it all seems more likely to result in heaving sobs instead of an eloquently written tribute. I just. It hurts so hard. I miss him so much. I want him back. I want to send him an Amazon gift certificate and talk to him on the phone. I want to hear about the yellow cake with chocolate frosting, his favorite. I want to visit him this weekend and cook for him or treat him to carryout from a restaurant and apologize for how loud the kids are being and for never knowing what to get him for his birthday besides another lame Amazon gift certificate. Because that's what I got him for his last birthday, and the birthday before his last birthday, before... Read more →

Blood Around the Edges

Jason is at a software conference in California all week, and apparently can see Disneyland from his hotel. My mom is in town to help me out with the kids, or at least that's the idea: Please come and save me from my own purposeful decision to have this many children, ay yi fucking yi. Today is (was? would have been? no, let's stick with is) my parents' wedding anniversary. I'm glad she's here. She says she's glad she's here, too. She had flowers and a card delivered to his grave this morning, though. Her grief is...still intense. Raw and fresh and liable to bubble over at any second. The kind of grief that can make people uncomfortable because it's just so real and there. And then there's me. I'm fine! And good. What's for lunch? I should go to the store. We need cat food. Jason says I keep hitting the snooze button on my grief. On grieving. Which I suppose is true, like I keep expecting there to be a time when I can pencil in a good cry and some Deep Thoughts between 11 and 1 next Thursday but oh, crap. I have that call with the... Read more →


Wait! Don't run! This post is not another bummeriffic downer of a weepfest or whatever. I'm totes back to embarrassing myself for fun! Long- and semi-longtime readers now that I have been partnered with the American Cancer Society's More Birthdays campaign for quite awhile now. At this point, they pretty much say JUMP and I say HOW HIGH AND WOULD IT HELP IF I HIT MY HEAD ON SOMETHING ON THE WAY UP? This time they asked me to sing. Oh my God. You guys. Yes, Noah is covering his ears the whole time. Yes, Ezra only knows the "YOU TOO, YOU TOO, YOU TOO" part. Yes, poor Baby Ike is flopping around helplessly like a loaf of Wonderbread because I clearly have never held an infant before in my life. (This was Take One. Things devolved even further during Take Two, believe me.) And yes, I am singing and five weeks postpartum and also the whole right side of my shirt is soaking wet because I got trapped outside in a torrential downpour about five minutes before filming this because I am no better at holding umbrellas than I am with babies. Also: My hair. I know. I KNOW... Read more →

Only In Dreams

I have dreams about him. In my dreams, he is a composite of himself: He's wearing the ivy style hat and long coat he wore to his teaching job every day of my childhood, but his face is older. He's holding a briefcase, but wearing sneakers. His hair and beard are fully gray, but thicker than it was at the end, after the chemo. The glasses he's wearing are from some fuzzy, unspecific point in between. They are not happy dreams: "What are you doing here?" I asked him in the very first one, bubbling over with joy. "Your mother died," he said simply, and walked away. W. T. F? I immediately woke up and texted my mom -- something unrelated and upbeat, just "cuz" -- and then sat in terror as the hours went by without a response and I wondered if I could fake it through a phone call without letting on that OH HI YOUR DEAD HUSBAND TOLD ME IN A DREAM THAT YOU DIED BUT YOU ANSWERED THE PHONE SO I GUESS YOU'RE GOOD OKAY SO NEVERMIND. Kind of a day-ruiner of a dream, to put it mildly. Since then, his presence in a dream unsettles... Read more →