Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Anniversary

I did not sleep well last night. This morning, in about a half an hour, it will be exactly two years since you Daniel, walked into the bathroom, and your soul was called by God. We heard you fall, and we ran in and started immediate CPR. By the time the sheriff's office arrived and then the med-evac helicopter, I knew your body had not responded, and that you were gone from Earth. I stayed calm only because you needed my best that day, but I wanted to go with you. In the days that followed I did my best for your dad and for Stephanie, Adam and Matthew, but it was unquestionably the hardest actions and time I can recall, even with God close by that day.
I know that Heaven exceeds everything I ever told you about it. I know you are safe and that you are with my Dad, and that you can see our other relatives who passed before us. We all still miss you immensely.
Last night I had a dream that a package filled with my favorite Cadbury's chocolate arrived in the mail, but with the return address missing. The letter inside from the postal service said it had been "lost for an undetermined period of time". I opened it, and all of the chocolate wrapped animals, Father Christmases, umbrellas etc. were perfect. I thought that one of you had sent this to me before you passed, but the chocolate could not have been perfect. In the dream, I realized that this had been one more reminder that you, Dad, and all the ancestors look down on us and do care, as God does, for our trials, tribulations and sadness, as we attempt to navigate in an increasingly uncertain and bizarre world. I suppose sometimes I pretend I do not need your encouragements, but you, your messages and the messages from others are welcome anytime. We know we are not here alone.
We all, love you wider than the oceans,and deeper than the seas.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I have been thinking a lot lately about you Daniel in terms of your food likes and dislikes. Still, in stocking for the holidays in my regular moments, I still reach to grasp the one liter bottle of soda you would have preferred for the holiday.I still think about making the foods you would have liked best. I know that's silly, but a mother's programming and many of the changes she makes in bringing a child home, and then growing along side him, do not change.I am afraid my Daniel mode is forever. I will tell you one thing Daniel. Before you left, and when some food or drink was finished, the older children tended to try to blame you. "Daniel must have finished it", was their reply. Maybe blaming the youngest brother is a strategy in other families, especially teens, as well.Strangely, after your departure, the same amounts of food and drink were consumed, and on occasion, disappeared. When James joined us, the food consumption increased some more. You are therefore vindicated ! We know you weren't the person eating extra !
I remember that one of your favorite foods was lasagna of many types. You liked my lasagna in all of its different incarnations, and you liked the classic Stouffers as well. You liked my spinach lasagna, my vegetarian lasagna, my sausage lasagna, ground beef lasagna, experimental chicken lasagna, cheeseburger lasagna, and garden-vegetables-we-grew varieties as well. For someone who had completely clean coronary arteries in the country where half of twelve year olds have the beginnings of coronary artery disease, I realize now I could have fed you more of what you wanted. I miss your being happy about whatever I am serving, rather than, "Not that again" that I tend to hear now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday

To most, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, when stores may finally make sales sufficient to take their books from the red ink of money spent/lost for the year, to the black ink of profitability. For many, it is the high gear marker for the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. I remember, many years ago, when I first heard the term I wondered what would happen to a family who had something really bad happen on a "Black Friday". I wish I hadn't asked.
As most of you know, Daniel had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all of us, at a friend's home, and then came home, had a nice evening, and then the following day, came in to the master bedroom to talk to us and seemed perfectly well and excited about Christmas, and then ate a few cornflakes, then walked into the bathroom and died. For me, Black Friday will always be the day in which Daniel was called home without explanation. It will always be a horrible day for me, no matter how many years removed it is from the event itself. Even now, the moments of having found him, having done CPR while others called the helicopter, etc. etc. plays in my mind again and again, like a horror film. As time goes on, I gain more clarity in the recollection of those moments, not less. In many ways, as much as I keep the train on the rails for my husband, our other children, and our newly adopted one, deep in my soul, I left with Daniel. The focus of my soul will always be in Heaven now. I am simply here assuring the growth, health and happiness of the kids, and making sure estate planning is done properly until I too am called. Many times, I hope it is sooner rather than later. This is not to mean that I would neglect my health, start an unhealthy habit, or fail to get help for an identified medical problem. My life is valuable and was issued by God, but now, I can see a time where releasing my grip on it will be alright with me.
I don't think that any parent who loses a child ever returns to the person they were before. I think it's a question of learning to live with the life which remains, supporting the others you love with their loss as well, and not wishing to disappoint God and your child who has somehow you behave yourself. I just know, that nothing will ever be quite the same, quite as exciting, or even unmarred, ever again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Sous Chef

When Daniel was a small boy, I used to try to stretch his imagination by asking him what he thought he might do for a living when he grew up. I think this annoyed him because he already had an imagination and was fairly articulate as it was. Once, when he was about three,he looked me in the eye, and he answered that he wasn't going to do anything. I asked him how he would support his wife and kids. He told me that he would not be having a wife and kids, or working, and that he would always stay with me. He seemed so certain, that this upset me. I told him that my job was to raise him to adulthood to do all thing things adults do and enjoy. The next time I asked, he was a more considerate of my feelings, and he said he wanted to be a head pastry chef. I asked him why and he said because he would get to taste everything.Until then, he said he would have to be a sous chef.How our three year old knew what a sous chef was, I am not quite sure, but for those of you who are unsure, a sous chef is the second in authority, and often does a lot of the preparatory cooking in advance of the head chef.
We have a chore listing on a wipe away board in our kitchen where the common chores are listed. They range from who is running the dishwasher that week, to who takes out the trash, who sweeps and mops the floors etc. Daniel's favorite chore was a sous chef, our families equivalent to the chopper, defroster, and counter arranger of materials needed to cook a meal. His least favorite was loading the dishwasher. When Daniel passed, we could not bring ourselves to remove him from the chore list. His name is still there, now with a halo over his name, and in the perennial position of sous chef. Whomever cooks is relegated to chopping their own celery, and defrosting the meat themselves, and lining up the spices on the counter. We miss our sous chef immensely. We also miss the dear boy who liked my simple cooking, or at least said he did.
Daniel at 12 also cooked a fair bit himself. He developed a quick cupcake recipe from pancake mix. He liked making desserts, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and was quite good at making breakfasts and on using the griddle. It used to worry me because we have a professional gas stove, but he was always careful. Thankyou Daniel, for every moment we shared.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I remember about a month before Thanksgiving in 2008, Daniel telling me that he just couldn't wait for Thanksgiving. We were having a big Thanksgiving with Adam's fiancee's family and our own. Both of my husband's parents died young, before Daniel was born, and my mother passed in 2007. When my Dad passed in 2008, I think Daniel was feeling what I was, which is that our nuclear family is all that is left. Daniel's great uncles and aunts had passed around 2000 and 2001. All Daniel really knew of a great deal of our extended family was their passings. A bridge which would occur as the result of a marriage between his brother Adam and his fiancee would have provided another family connection and people our kids ages. Daniel and I went out the day before Thanksgiving, and among other things, bought our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, and Daniel also bought a beautiful rooster, he named Ross to watch our three lovely hens at home. How ironic that Daniel passed the day after that joyous last Thanksgiving. Consequently, I don't know how I feel about Thanksgiving. Part of me is grateful to God for allowing us that one last gathering and joy with Daniel. It is also almost a signal that our loving God called him the morning after that day, rather than simply a coincidence. Other times, I simply feel sad that Daniel is missing a celebration and can't help us cook. So we will have a second Thanksgiving without Daniel and Dad in the flesh but somehow here in spirit. I will do what I must, but I will be sad, and hiding it from my other children,because we must go on. We must show them how we go on living, and how we trust in God, even when it's not easy, and when it's sad. I am grateful for the time, and the love that we DID have.
Much has changed in the two years since that last Thanksgiving. Daniel is not with us in flesh, Adam has broken his engagement, and the family we had Thanksgiving with in 2008, has their home up for sale, and will be moving due to a job transfer.
There are many changes when I have not yet made sense of what happened in those days.
Whomever you are,reading this blog tonight. Try to love the children and family members you have with you this holiday, with the full and true knowledge that this path is short, and is changed or forever gone only too quickly. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Busy Autumn

These are strange days. Once again, we are are between the anniversary of my father's passing, Octobers end, and Daniel's passing, at November's end. This time causes me to focus on those days in 2008 when they both passed. Dad's passing was expected, and honestly, Dad was no longer comfortable and safe within his own body. It was time to depart for Heaven, and his stresses in that time were related to my taking over the tasks that he had done so well. How could Daniel have passed a month later, without my knowing there was something seriously wrong ? Two years of ruminating over this, and of autopsy reports and specialized testing has brought me no closer than "God called him", the pathologist's first statement. Even the genetic testing at the Mayo Clinic has turned up nothing.
So, we survive by loving the children we have left, and each other, and by remembering and living the loving legacy that both Dad and Daniel brought to us each in different ways.
This weekend was packed full. We spent a big chunk of it moving Dad's remaining possessions from one storage to another for added security, diminished expense, and also as we decide where it's final place should be. Dad was a fairly famous world explorer in his day, and before my own passing, I need to make sure that his papers, writings, and some of his possessions relating to this time find their way into the appropriate museum where they will be cared for and respected in a long term manner. I wish I knew enough about all of the things he did and all of his travels sufficient to write a book, but I don't feel comfortable enough to write a biography on his behalf. I may not give adequate weight to some things, and Dad was an intensely private man, and I don't want to confide things he had intended only to be known by us. It certainly would be a test of our psychic link though.
After the busy weekend, my husband and I took all our remaining children and two of their friends who'd helped out to dinner. It was a new restaurant that hasn't yet had its grand opening, and eight people coming in for dinner threw them I think. The restaurant is in a location in which another restaurant once existed, and Daniel enjoyed the original restaurant in its earlier incarnations very much. (They had changed very little in the interior) I almost felt them with us as we had a wonderful dinner in a harried and haphazard manner. One of Adam's friends came with us and he is considering entering the military. I would very much like him to remain here and not subject himself to the hazards of military service but I was reminded of my father, and I don't think anyone could have dissuaded him either in his youth.
I did receive some joy yesterday though. I had wondered if James would ever really personally connect to our family. Adoption at 14 is tough. In a sense I believe he sees himself here until he departs and goes on with his life elsewhere, perhaps never really connecting here. As we unloaded Dad's equipment, photos, scrapbooks etc. James was tranfixed. This adventurous spirit, my father, became HIS grandfather ! I could feel Dad smiling as James was fascinated by Dad's antique typewriter collection. I could feel Daniel smiling and telling me that this was the plan, as James expressed an interest in some of Dad's books. Perhaps the connection is beginning. These are still bittersweet times.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If Daniel Were Still on Earth

If Daniel were still on Earth he would presently be 14 1/2 years old and probably creating animation and video as much as he did at 12 1/2.
The following video reminds me very much of Daniel's political views, his gifts with animation, and of something he would find deadly serious but amusing as well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Remember

Daniel, I remember planning your next homeschool year, being challenged because you are so bright, and knowing that even at 12 1/2, that I would soon have to enroll you in community college until you were old enough to go to a university. I remember your room being a mess, but not bothering you about it, because I knew that you would eventually clean and organize it. I remember thinking I would have to buy you new shoes again.....Like your brothers, you have big feet. I remember your hating to shop and having great difficulty getting you to want to go out and get something. Every day I remember so many large and subtle details about you, your life, and how lucky I was to have you as my son, even for just 12 1/2 years.
Dad, I remember how tall and strong you are....every time I have ever seen you. I remember how articulate you were even when you were very ill. I remember your favorite foods.....the English cheddar, the seedless rye, and honey, and the British beer. I remember the music you loved, the places you traveled, and many things you said that I may not have seemed to remember at the time.
I remember deeply sad and sorrowful moments in 2008, of both of you, and I don't want to forget them because they are part of the journey and part of each of you.
I hope you each know that especially this time of year, I think of you both constantly, and wonder what you are doing, and what interests you. I share my thoughts and music I have found with each of you. Know that you are loved and part of my family no matter how far you must travel to glimpse and be a part of Thanksgiving.....
You know the drill...........I love you both wider than the oceans and deeper than the seas.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To Daniel and to Dad

Once again, the world has turned to the time of the year in which you each had to leave us, one by one. The memories fall over me particularly at this time of year, a bit like falling leaves, or perhaps a bit like bubbling water from a waterfall.
Dad, much in the world has gone wrong since you departed from it. There was a significant stock crash in 2008 which flattened if not decimated the retirement accounts of many. We have survived by doing some uncomventional thinking, and perhaps with help from you and from God. I appreciate all the chances and education you have given me. Believe it or not, Barack Obama made it to the presidency despite his books in which he alludes to socialist leanings. He and his cronies have spent or appropriated huge sums of money which could burden the kids, or even my grand kids if they are ever born. Unemployment nears ten percent and is higher in some cities such as Detroit. I am doing my best to keep alert and informed politically as you would wish. Oh, and Dad, isn't the song at the bottom of the post beautiful, and beautifully sung ? I was thinking of you when I posted the "Caruso" piece. It's contemporary but very operatic as well. This, in my opinion is the best version of this song, although it has been performed many times by other artists. I will see if I can locate one I think you would like with a male tenor voice. The Josh Groban version is a little nasal, and I have not yet located an Andrea Bocelli version.
Daniel, the farm is shaping up and we are taking excellent care of the animals here. You would be proud. I know that you felt before your passing, that Eric Cantor should not aid in the appropriation of 780 billion dollars to bail out banks which made bad policy decisions and bad loans,and that you told him so, and he did anyway. It seems you were brighter than our Congressman even at 12 1/2. I do think now though that he will take a more conservative stance in the Congress than he had.
Both of you, Adam broke his two and a half year engagement recently. I think that for many reasons, this was a good choice for him. His former fiancee's family is moving away due to a job transfer but I think this event simply underscored difficulties that they were having.
James is adjusting. He is kind and gentle some days, and a tortured and annoying teen others,and probably normal for someone now 15, and came to us through adoption, as you know, a year after your passings.
We all miss you so very much, especially this time of year. I hope you read my posts and I know that somehow you do know what is happening on Earth with those you love. I am so grateful for every moment we did have together, even though, we all wanted more time together. We all love you both, wider than the oceans and deeper than the seas.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Taking Stock

Continuing to build a life and launch maturing children is hard enough following the loss of one's parents, but following the loss of our youngest son, it can be darn near impossible sometimes. As much as we enjoy Jameses company and his adjustment to our family, sometimes his presence simply underscores Daniel's absence. He is adjusting and normalizing to our home and family, and actually doing well with the appropriate amounts of outbursts and annoyances found at his age and situation, and as we start to care for him and the ties which bind him to our hearts begin to grow, we wonder why God could not have allowed Daniel to remain here, and found a way to add James.
This being the time of year in which Dad departed and then Daniel just after, also underscores what time of year this is. I know, we cry more, think of them both more, and mull over ways we could create additional remembrances of them. The tough part is remembering to live your own life, as it surely ticks away, while remembering theirs as well.
Today I thought of my Dad a great deal. We visited with friends from Iran. My Dad, among many other interesting things about him, learned to speak, write and read Farsi (Persian) at Princeton University. I know he would be pleased that I recognize that there are not only bad people all over the planet, but good people from each nation as well. As we visited with our Iranian friends today, who have also experienced deep losses in the past few years, I wondered how we could be so alike in our losses and sharing even though we had grown up in vastly different countries, languages and cultures. Daniel would have enjoyed visiting them too, especially with all the fruit they had.
In conclusion, both Daniel and Dad left broad and deep legacies for us to remember, and try to do justice to, in some way. They each made every moment of their lives count.... and I think sometimes that I spend too much time in grief and sometimes, in guilt as well. Sometimes I just wish I had spent more time with each of them and been more visible, more present etc. Each were independent though, and enjoyed a certain amount of solitude, and so my changing my own choices even then, would have been difficult.