Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Hope You Ride With Me



    Today your brother Adam and I made a trip to our nearest city.   It was rainy and uncharacteristically blustery today.  We ran our errands with the rain and leaves which blew around us.  Finally, it was time to head toward home.  We found ourselves sitting for a long time in the left lane at a traffic light. The car next to us, also waiting,  was a dark blue Volkswagen Passat.   In the back of the car in a nice tall car seat was a little boy who was about three.  It looked as if his grandmother was driving the car.   The little boy reminded me so much of you at that age.  When you were three, you were a veritable curious chatterbox asking about everything and everyone, and noticing everything. It used to be tiring answering all those questions, but I am so glad I did.   Today, the little boy sat in the car seat taking in everything he saw. He had that same look of both innocence and high intelligence that you always had.  Deep down I wanted to cry.  It wasn't that my version of that little boy is gone now, because my version of that little boy grew up and made me even more proud.  You will be 17 in May, or you would be had you remained here on Earth to finish growing to an adult.  I think I am sad because it's that I don't have the easy access to the young man you grew into afterward.  Sometimes, it is no better than the month in which you had to depart. Then, the light turned green. The navy Passat made a quick right turn, and we made our left away from the boy who looked like you.  I hope that sometimes,  you still ride with me.

Monday, January 28, 2013

And the Prize for Creative Songwriting Goes To.....

Those of you who are long term readers of this blog know that Daniel was a creative songwriter in his own right. He especially enjoyed creative use of words and music, and he liked satire. He was very fond of the works of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and their songs from the series "A Bit of Fry and Laurie". Daniel would have been seventeen this May, and boy have a found a songwriter for him. Daniel would have enjoyed this extremely odd, very creative and amusing song. Sarah Slean performs the song she has written below, and because the song moves quickly, I have written the lyrics below. Whether you like the song or not, it's creative and brilliant songwriting. I'll bet Bertie Wooster is tapping it out on the piano now, if of course, he were a genuine person rather than a character from a book and a television series.  . Enjoy it, Daniel.


"Parasol"         by Sarah Slean

Long-necked, shipwrecked, terrified swan
Lies in her mind left a burner on
We crowd into the grand salon
We're watching the mansion burn

And I'm not quite down with the way they roll
They throw knives from their eyes at my parasol
And I'm only human after all
Go easy on me

Oh, it's not like a country lane
A day on the beach in Spain
I'm courting the madness I cannot explain

Oh Virginia
We didn't know you had it in ya
Oh Sweet Virginia

And I coughed this up in a sooty perfume
Out of my mouth like a feather plume
And now here's one more crazy tune
Adversity rings my bell

The wound came loose with a terrible stench
Pain left a stain on my piano bench
And I chased it with a monkey wrench
Cursing in my broken French

It's not like a country laneFind More lyrics at
A day on the beach in Spain
I'm courting the madness I cannot explain

Oh Virginia
We didn't know you had it in ya
Oh Sweet Virginia

And no you can't play that in this serious hall
Only apes, wearing capes, get the curtain call
Your invitation to the ball
Must be lost in the mail

And I don't quite feel like working this crowd
The rest has requested I dumb it down
They'll run your circus right out of town
If you won't abide, but it's suicide

Not like a country lane
A day on the beach in Spain
I'm courting the madness I cannot explain

Oh Virginia
We didn't know you had it in ya
Oh Sweet Virginia

We didn't know you had it in ya
Oh Sweet Virginia

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Learning to Enjoy the Successes of Other People's Children

Julia Bentley and Andrew Gunadie in their famous video "Canadian, Please"

 One of the things that is so difficult about the loss of a child is that his future here on Earth with you, is obliterated.   Daniel is so terribly talented in so many ways, and it can be so very difficult to know that his distinct gifts will not be unwrapped for those here on Earth.   I shouldn't feel so badly.  Not only are Daniel's gifts unwrapped for a Heavenly audience, but  I have watched as our daughter, Daniel's sister,  graduate from college, and find her own means of creative expression and has made a mark in the world as a professional artist, an illustrator and as a photographer.  I have watched as Daniel's eldest brother graduated from the university and become a sculptor.  I am still watching our son Matt in college become who he will be. Soon James who came to us through adoption a year after Daniel's passing will launch to college as well.  I try not to let my heart hurt over not seeing what Daniel would have brought to Earth.
                 One of the other things that does come after the loss of a child is a grand perspective.  I can tell parents who perhaps aren't thrilled with their child's initial career choice or college major that none of it really matters.  A loved child with good parents and loving siblings will find his way, regardless of whatever career or major he chooses first.  This new perspective also allows me to have real joy at the achievements and accomplishments of other young people, my children's ages, who may, or may not be, their friends.

                I would like to introduce you to Julia Bentley.   Julia is originally from London, Ontario.  She and her sister are the daughters of two attornies.   I discovered Julia's music just after Daniel's passing, almost four years ago. She and a  friend Andrew Gunadie who is talented in his own right,  have done some excellent work. 


This is Julia Bentley and Andrew Gunadie (who on YouTube use the individual monikers, Honeychip and Gunnarola)

This video, from three years ago is Julia Bentley and Andrew Gunadie performing a song they wrote, produced, performed, mixed and edited. This past Sunday in Toronto, Julia celebrated the release of her first solo album "Out of Reach" This link will allow you to listen to some of the songs.

 Please check out

(More information at this link)
My particular favorite is the last one "Confidence"

 I would love to see both Julia and Andrew be very successful in the music business, whether they work together or separately in the future.

 I hope their parents appreciate how wonderful it is to have your child bring all of their talents to Earth.

 Good luck Julia, you and Andrew deserve every success. I have a feeling that Daniel would have enjoyed both your music.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Am Not Sure Whether Daniel Ever Saw "Fringe"


  Last evening, the final episode of the FOX series "Fringe" aired.    The original episode aired in September, 2008, just eight weeks before Daniel's passing, and only a month before my father's.   This would have been the type of program which would have captured Daniel's imagination.  It was a science fiction based series starring Australian Anna Torv, Canadian Joshua Jackson, and the amazing Australian actor, John Noble. Many other important actors have contributed to the ensemble cast. In the beginning, one is reminded of X-Files as we join the team as a Boston based law enforcement unit which gathers information on "Fringe" cases, or cases which are quite bizarre. The show went on to have 100 episodes and five seasons in which the concepts of the parallel universe were explored.  This was a wonderful program in that the acting prowess of the principles was well explored.   In one season, Torv not only plays two versions of her own character, but is possessed by Leonard Nimoy's character. She really is an actress.  Jackson has been consistently strong through the series. John Noble however brought us such a multi-dimensional and complex brilliant character with alter-egos that I find it hard to believe that he did not walk away with an Emmy. Cast members still receive Saturn Awards though.  He should have.
         As bizarre as the program was at times, I liked it. I suppose I was quietly intrigued with the concept that perhaps God has a parallel universe elsewhere in which Daniel remains, living the life as we had intended. Perhaps, the timeline in which we live just now, is the errant one. Perhaps there are a set of tasks I can undertake on my own journey to return the timeline to its former healthy state, and bring Daniel back.
         In any event, the program ran five seasons, and I can imagine Daniel being able to follow all of the nuances when I, in typical adult fashion, would have missed some of them. In the end, the "Fringe" people were able to regain their own child by completing their complex tasks which repair their own original timeline..  I , however, remain here, in a world which has seen Barack Obama's election,  Daniel's untimely and poorly explained departure from Earth, a trend toward the weakening and dissolution of the American Constitution, and a serious weakening of the American economy.   My own universe seems very much off the track and in disarray.  Thank you to the writers and producers of "Fringe" for one hundred episodes of much needed escapism.on, at least, Friday evenings.  I remain stuck with my own ravaged timeline with no particular plans for a trip to the past to rectify it, although Daniel would certainly have been game !   As for the "Fringe" being bizarre, I think American life and politics has been even more so !

The cast of "Fringe"

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thunder and Lightning in the Snow


     Today we are having the first snowstorm of our Winter season.  It's an interesting storm.  For the last four of five days we have had heavy rain, and then today, we have a Winter Storm Warning.  What was supposed to begin this evening, but began at three in the afternoon.  We were driving back with one of our sons who is coming home from college for the weekend.  At first, it began as sleet. On the interstate, new cars slid off the road into the deep ditches aside the road.   We kept the speed reasonable, and came home carefully.  At times the snow was dense and powdery and made it hard to see.  Other times the snow was large unusual chunky flakes.  The local weatherman thinks we may get 5-7 inches.
               This evening, our daughter called to ask us whether we too had thunder and lightning with the snow.  Despite the fact that she lives a bit more than five miles from here, we haven't.   I asked James about this and he said that we had some thunder and lightning this morning, after I left.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Learning About Handguns

Handguns are serious tools which require training. Proper training takes commitment and time.  Improperly used, they end lives. However, 2 million times a year, a legal handgun prevents an attack of an American man, woman or child.  I know many people who are alive, only because they own, and know how to use one.

    When I was a little girl, we lived in the country.  My Dad was determined to do a good job in terms of teaching me all that women, and most men, should know how to do, in a pinch.  One of the things he wished to teach me was to properly use a rifle.    "NOOOO !"  I would say to my father.  "Daddee, I'm a girl.  I don't need to learn things like that."     I didn't like the boom guns made and I was pretty inflexible about that.  So, I grew up never having touched a firearm, much less having shot, taken one down, cleaned one, or reassembled one. I wouldn't have known how to remove a magazine from one, had my life depended upon it.
            Years passed. I became a registered nurse and occasionally saw the handiwork of guns and I can't say it changed my mind much about them. After all, I was embroiled in the very honorable work of saving lives.  Why would I want an object that could take one ?   More time passed, I married and went on to have four biological children and my days were busy ones.   My boys liked toy guns and I did nothing to stop this. Boys are attracted to guns, and I saw nothing wrong with play so long as they understood it was play.  Eventually, the pretty suburbs gave way to break-ins, and when Daniel was a baby, there was an attempted abduction of him from a Chesterfield, Virginia McDonalds.
            The following year we moved to the country.  We brought our children all of the rural benefits of our youth and more.  My husband had a rifle on our farm, but it looked to me just as large and as forboding as my father's rifle had, when I was eight.    A few trespassers and some other problems later, I realized that my husband's rifle locked in a safe, might not help us, if something happened here on the farm.  That year, for Christmas, one of his brothers gave me a rifle.  I still did not like the boom, but I had an instrument by which I could defend the farm from rabid or large animals when needed.   I think I would have liked to have enjoyed all the kids, and Daniel as well, and never have given it another thought, but I realized something else.  The phenomenon of home invasion began to hit the news. People with security systems, like us,  were having people break in while they were home ! Some had even been murdered.   Our sheriff had a signficant travel time across the county, and that's if he weren't already involved in something else !   I realized that if ever something happened on our farm, that likely my husband would be at work.  My rifle, was also locked up, and it was not as portable or as quickly accessible as a handgun might have been. I didn't want to leave a rifle out for my use, only to have it stolen by an invader.  My father and my husband never owned a handgun.  However, one of my female friends was a former police officer.  She clearly thought that one of a mother's roles in the country was to protect her children while her husband was working, and she believed that proper training and ownership of a handgun was one of the most expedient ways to do this.  While I worked on hiring someone to reinforce door frames on our farmhouse,my friends worked on target shooting, and on buying their own handguns.
            Finally, when Daniel was about ten, the tables turned for me.  I had always been concerned that with three sons and one daughter, that the chance of a firearms accident in the home, was greater than the chance of an attack during a break in, in which a handgun would need to be used.  When Daniel was ten, going on twenty, I decided that the benefit of having a handgun and then ultimately teaching its proper safe use to each of my children outweighed at least at that point, the chance of a careless accident.  None of my children were careless.  At the very least, my children would know how a semi-automatic handgun and a revolver worked, so that if ever they were in the presence of someone who was using one unsafely or improperly then they would know this.   I bought my first handgun, and took lessons with a certified instructor. The sun was very bright on that first day at the outdoor range, and I wasn't very good. This surprised me, because I had been so talented at archery, I thought it would somehow carry over.   I misunderstood the directions as to how to line up the sights, and I kept shooting low and sometimes missing the backstopped target entirely.  Still, this was something I needed to do to potentially protect my family.  I also had significant trouble with flinching. Each time the weapon would fire, even with ear protection, I would respond slightly and this would change my position enough to disrupt the line up of my next shot slightly. Psychologically, this was hard for me.  All those years of helping people, and helping them heal, were hard to set aside in order to use a device, a simply tool which could devastate a human body, even when our own lives might depend upon it. We also put considerable effort into training for a scenario where someone attempted to rush me and take my weapon while I had it aimed toward them.  This is important, because a handgun taken from you, can often be used on you.   I could have taken the gun home, locked it in a gun safe, and at that point, relied on it for its simple charm value as a deterrent, but I didn't. I kept trying, and I kept practicing.   Next, my eldest son, who was 21, took lessons along with mine.  He was instantly mechanical with the weapon, and was an incredible shot. He didn't fear the sound, and he made me very proud. I almost wished he could take a weapon to his dangerous urban college, but firearms are banned at Virginia universities for all but active law enforcement.   I continued to plod along, finding that using one set of ear plugs and then headphones on top helped with the flinching, along with some practice dry-firing.
          Daniel very much wanted to go with us and learn to target shoot. He liked my guns, and could not wait to learn about them.  However, I told him that I thought age 14 was the age that we would choose to begin his training, and the training of our son Matt. Since Daniel passed before thirteen, he never had that opportunity, and I am sad that this was one of the things he never had the opportunity to try while he was here on Earth.
        In the last few years, a number of the members of our family completed the training in order to carry a concealed weapon. The last one of us was actually my husband, who had been comfortable with having a rifle, all that time.   By far, the most skilled of our group is still my eldest son. He has used it a few times, mostly on the farm, to save our livestock and pets from  rabid wild animals from the large nearby forests.  I continue to train and I am a far better shot than I was in the beginning all those years ago.  One by one, our family is training in order to safely manage the weapons which are necessary not only for farm life, but to prevent the tragedy which could occur in the event of a home invasion. I hope we never have to use our weapons on a drug crazed home invader, but if we do, I will know what I need to do.  I think my father would be proud.  Sorry it took so long, Dad.


 I do not advocate or recommend that those in the throes of bereavement newly obtain handguns or rifles.  In fact, when my mother in law died suddenly, we temporarily removed the firearms from their home until we believed that the remaining members of the family were managing well.  Those in new bereavement should receive all the support which is necessary.
    However, bereavement is a lifelong process, and your loved one who has passed would  wish you to be able to defend yourself in your home, should a home invasion occur.
Please make careful and carefully considered choices with regard to firearms and those in your home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I am Doing My Best

Daniel and Dad,

It's been four years since your departures. Four years since your funerals, and yet in many ways, these are not distant memories. I am afraid that in some ways, my life has come defined by the loss of both of you. The book about Daniel's life is now available worldwide. Daniel, you might be pleased to know that your face can be found all over the world in bookstores, and certainly in all the cities around the world I never got the opportunities to take you. How ironic that your book is so much better traveled than you. Sometimes I feel sad that with all the love I gave you, and all the joy we had, that I somehow dropped the ball on things you should have done while here. But, I would always have wanted more. Dad, when I am not embroiled in activities with the animals or the other kids, and I am not battling either asthma or episodic atrial fibrillation, I will start collecting paperwork and outlining for a book on your life also. It should always have been written, but I believe it would have been a better and more comprehensive book had it been written by you. I will do my best, as the agent of both of you on Earth to continue. Four years on, even with the love of the family that remains, I feel lost sometimes without each of you. I am doing my best.