until it happens to someone you love

Written for an English assignment in high school, what follows is a guest post from my cousin's son Zachary.  He was asked to write about something that changed his life, and he chose to write about my brother. 


Picture a small, cozy clearing ringed with towering, ancient pine and maple trees.  In the center naturally fallen logs sit around a tall, blazing bonfire.  A gentle breeze slinks into the clearing bringing with it the heady scent of moist wood and whisking the fire’s smoke into the wide blue sky.  This same breeze also makes the trees rustle in a strange, almost other-worldly music.  Listen closely, and you may hear the forest’s heartbeat.  It is made up of the voices of birds twining together with the trees and squirrels in an orchestral imitation of glorious sound around you.  They sing of the simple joys of life.  This is where I believe my second cousin Gregory would visit often.

Gregory was a very likable guy with a great personality.  He lived for the outdoors spending every available second there.  Because of this he worked as a construction worker which provided opportunity to stay outdoors and work hard.  Even as a kid, I am told, he was very adventurous and would often be out skiing, hiking or kayaking (among many others) with his parents (my Great Aunt and Uncle) and his sister Amy.  He enjoyed fishing trips, and as a teen, joined not one, but two Outward Bound programs.  Anyone can see why I liked spending time with him. 

Unfortunately, Gregory was also addicted to drugs.  He had started with marijuana and by the time of his death, he was using heroin.  My Grandmother (his Aunt), speculates that Gregory’s adventurous spirit may have been what caused him to start in the first place.  He died at the age of 22, only 7 years older than I am now.  Right before he died he had been in the process of planning a hiking trip in the famous Appalachian Trail with his girlfriend Aggie.  At the time of his death in 2006, I was 10, soon to be 11 years old.  At this point I was still very much a kid, but I remember being told he had died, and feeling shocked.  He had actually gone to a rehab facility in Oklahoma from July, 2005 to January, 2006.  Unfortunately, when he came back his friends started him with drugs all over again.

Now that I am older I can feel the full effects of this grief and it still hurts to think about him.  Whenever my Grandparents held a party, Gregory would always set aside some time to go out in the yard to play with me.  Before any of this happened I never had a reason to think about drugs.  I knew what they were and what they do but, it was never really a concern of mine.  You never expect anyone you know to die from it.  Almost every night you hear a story about a drug addict dying on the street.  You automatically assume that they were a bad person, and you don’t give it another thought.  Until it happens to someone you love you don’t know what it is truly like.  Gregory wasn’t a bad or stupid person.  He was smart and got help but it didn’t stick.  Now when I hear about a dead drug addict I think about what their family must be feeling.  It is truly a horrible thing and no one should have to go through it. 

Looking back at what happened to Gregory has reinforced my resolution to never use drugs.  What happened to Gregory scares me.  I don’t ever want my life to end in such a way.  As a memorial of Gregory’s death his parents decided to set up a fund in his honor.  The fund benefits such organizations like the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) and Outward Bound.  These organizations help young people gain a stronger understanding and appreciation of the outdoors which Gregory loved so much.

This essay is published exactly as Zachary wrote it, without edits from me.  A few facts in his writing are not exactly accurate as I know them and some points, of which I have a much different perspective, I would have addressed quite differently.  Having said that, the piece is honest, true and accurate to Zachary's knowledge and I think it captures a very special point of view.  Zachary, I thank you for the honor of allowing me to share this piece here.

Information on the memorial fund to which Zachary refers can be found here.


If the complete lack of response to last week's post is any indication, I am sort of back to the drawing board here.  I suppose that takes the pressure off - I feel like I'm just writing for myself, for my own therapy and benefit, which is why I started this blog in the first place.  Writing here has helped me wade through a lot of difficult things, as well as celebrate many joys.  I'm going to take this opportunity to go back to writing just for me - when I feel like writing and whatever I feel like writing.  When I write consistently, I am much healthier emotionally.  I am more likely to take things in stride.  I face things instead of shoving them away in my mind to fester.  I write, let the words spill out onto the screen, and once I've done that, I can step back and gain perspective.  If I'm just writing for my own therapy, it will be okay with me.  If you are reading and want to come along for the ride, welcome; I'll be thrilled to have you.

I'm not sure if I've written about this before, but I'm not going back into the archives to check because it's on my mind and I'm going to write about it either way.  One of my most favorite memories with Greg was taking the time to go pick out a Christmas tree together.  He used to work part time during Christmas season at a local tree farm, and he had access to the farm's special reserve sections of trees.  We'd spend ages up there, covering every bit of ground and examining every tree.  We'd argue the pros and cons of this one or that one and finally settle on the very best one.  Greg would cut it down and we'd drag it down the hill to wrap it up and take it home.  For a few years, we did this together, just the two of us. 

This memory remains present and cherished for me.  I love to pick the perfect tree every Christmas, and always feel Greg's presence when I find a good tree and I can almost hear him sighing impatiently and listing all the criticisms he'd have about it.  It makes me happy to choose a tree I know he'd love, too.  And I'm lucky that Mike likes to participate in getting a tree with me.  He grew up with artificial trees but has never questioned my desire for a real tree; he understands how much it means to me choose and enjoy a fresh tree.
The last several years, living in cities, we've mostly been limited to the small tree stands set up around urban areas.  Most of the trees are wrapped up tight, with an impatient staff, unwilling to unwrap tree after tree for my examination.  It's definitely not the same experience.  This year, we decided to go to a farm not far from our house and cut our own tree.  Emmett got to be part of the experience.  He was so excited.  He took off running with complete and utter joy, in and out of the trees, around the entire area.  He loved looking at all the trees and he was so happy right along with me when we found our tree.  Although, after Mike cut ours down, he wasn't finished - he wanted to keep looking; keep finding more trees!

We got the tree strapped to the top of the car, brought it home, and Emmett followed me around and around the tree as I strung the lights.  He keeps shrieking excitedly that we have a Christmas tree!  Like he keeps remembering it's there and he can't believe his luck!  We haven't put on the ornaments yet; we'll get to that later this week.  But it's up, lit, and filling our house with light and holiday spirit. 

I am very thankful that Emmett and Mike share in my joy.  It helps me keep alive my memories of selecting and loving the perfect Christmas trees with Greg.

Choosing a tree is a symbol of the start of the holiday season for me.  It's a tangible start to a time filled with love, giving, feasting, and - most importantly, to me - the joyful and frequent gathering of family and friends.  This is my favorite time of year.

prompts, please?

I have been suffering from serious writer's block lately. I guess that's fairly obvious. I want to write, very badly actually, but I just can't seem to string any meaningful words together.

I don't know if I have any readers left at all by now, but if you're out there and you'd like to see more of my writing, I've got a favor to ask of you. Please ask me a question, make an observation, or suggest a topic you think I should cover here. Absolutely anything goes.

You can submit anonymously or not, either way. Just leave a comment below or email me via link at the top of the page.

I know this is a lot to ask, but I'm getting desperate- this place is such a good outlet for me and I really want to use it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart in advance!

a semi-tuned piano

Shortly before we moved into our house, we came across an opportunity for a piano.  It was in a house about 15 minutes away from here, a house that someone our agent knew had bought to flip.  They just wanted to get rid of it; all we had to do was arrange a time to pick it up and it was ours.  Not having any idea what to expect, we emptied the moving truck, took a few strong friends to help and relocated it to our living room.

It turned out to be a lovely piece of furniture, though it was old and suffered from significant neglect.  It was so violently out of tune that I didn't even let Emmett play around with it.  I shut the lid, waiting for a piano tuner friend of ours to have a chance to look at it.

A few weeks ago, Alissa and Paul came to spend the afternoon and have dinner.  Paul, the piano tuner, brought his bag of tricks and took a look.  His initial evaluation was that the strings were old and brittle, and the entire inside was dusty and rusty and generally neglected.  To fix it properly, it would need lots of parts and lots of work, but he agreed to give it a go, tuning it as is, knowing there was a good chance a string would break at any time, rendering any work done worthless. 

As he began to tune it, he started playing the notes up the keyboard.  The piano was so far out of tune that as he was going up the keys, the pitch actually went back down in a couple of places.  By some miracle, though, he made it all the way through and thanks to his skillful work, the piano became playable!

It is surely not perfect, as the piano itself has plenty of flaws and he only had time to tune it once, rather than the usual 3 times in one day to achieve the best result, and it has, of course, slipped some since the day he worked on it.  It's more like an old church basement piano, slightly out of tune, a little musty sounding, with a couple of notes down near the bottom that sound pretty hollow, but it's my piano.  It is providing Emmett and me with plenty of laughter and music.  I'm not very good, but he doesn't care, and it's making me so happy to have a piano in the house and to be learning to play a little bit again.

community wind ensemble

You guys!  I found a community wind ensemble.  It rehearses less than 10 minutes from my house.  They rehearse once a week and have about 4 concerts September through May.  There are two vacancies: clarinet and trumpet.  I applied this morning, and am hopeful I'll get a call to audition.  I am unbelievably excited about this.  Cross your fingers for me!

hurricanes, generators and neighbors

We went into Hurricane Irene expecting heavy, heavy rain and power loss, rendering our fancy new monster of a sump pump useless, since we don't have a generator on it yet. Knowing this, we spent Saturday emptying the basement as best we could, and raising up/securing things. The storm hit pretty hard Saturday evening into this morning, though we didn't lose power until this morning.

We had about 5 inches of water in the basement at one point, but thanks to an extremely kind, generous and resourceful neighbor, a generator was hooked up to our pump and it remains under control. He knew we didn't have a generator, and he had an old one he'd never run. He was at our house last night from about 11pm to 12:45am, with Mike, getting it up and running for us. He brought it over, tested it, discovered it was missing a part (the governor - which, I gather, is quite important). So he went back over to his house and he built the part for it. It totally saved us.

The rain stopped, the wind has mostly died down, and the water is gone from our garage & basement. The generator has been moved to a new location between the two houses (pictured above), and it gave us some light, cold food/drinks and charged phones for a couple hours tonight. We don't know when we'll have power back or when the trains will start running again, but it doesn't matter too much.

Irene didn't leave nearly as much destruction as she had potential to cause. Our trees are still standing and our basement is drying out. The neighborhood was out in full force this afternoon; we are surrounded by kind, thoughtful, interesting neighbors. And there is cold beer in the fridge.

ramblings heard through the monitor this morning

Transcribed in real time, as I'm listening to him:

"Daddy make a fire? Yeah? Yeah!"

"Sonnez les matines, ding ding dong."

"Read a book. Read a book. Read a book."

"See Poppy? See Poppy right there? Bye bye Poppy!"

"Make breakfast? Okay!"

"Frere Jacques, dormez vous, sonnez les matines, ding ding dong"

"Want some milk? Amy? Amy!"

After his book hits the floor- "Mama get it? Mama get it? Mama get OUT?"

"Play letters. Play letters. Play letters."

"Frere Jacques. Frere Jacques."

"Get out. Get out!"


"h k l m o p q"

"Talk to Poppy now! Yeah! Oh yeah!"

"Lie down, Puppy. Get your diaper on. All done."

"Mama! Okay, I'm coming. Come on! Come on!"

I guess that's my cue to go get him up!


Always, the first thing to pass through Emmett's lips if he stirs in the night is, "Mama." I wonder how long that will be true.

the things that can drag you back

As you may know, Amy Winehouse died on Saturday, and, though it hasn't been confirmed by toxicology yet, the public assumption is that she died from a drug overdose.  Her use of drugs was widely publicized and when her death was reported, several offhand comments popped up on my facebook news feed.  One person in particular, someone close and dear to me, posted a particularly dismissive comment about how unsurprising her death was.

Whenever a celebrity dies of a drug overdose, which has happened a few times since Greg died, there are inevitably these types of comments in the media and in general conversation.  I am in the habit of blocking out these discussions, as it brings forward some difficult feelings for me.  I know that these people used drugs of their own accord; in a way, they "brought it upon themselves," as is often said.  I also know that addiction and its struggles, in reality, are far more complicated than that.  These addicts - these people - they have families.  They have friends.  They have lives and issues and struggles and joys and sorrows.

Even if they are celebrities, this is true.  Even if the media has shown only one side of them.  Even if it's so easy to dismiss them as worthless addicts you've never met and won't think twice about. 

I force myself to block out these comments, because I am hyper-sensitive to this issue.  If I let it in, every single offhand comment about drugs, addicts and overdoses makes me question how people view my family.  My brother died of an overdose because he made some bad decisions, and because of addiction.  I am in no way denying that.  But that is just a small part of his story.  That is what happened to him, but that is not his story.  That is not his legacy.  That is only a small part of him. 

Amy Winehouse's family, right now, has to deal with the media (not just news, but blogs, magazines, social networks, tabloids, and countless other outlets) making assumptions about their daughter, their sister, their cousin, their friend.

I dealt with, and still deal with, enormous internal struggles regarding how to present my brother's memory.  I am not trying to make him a saint, because heaven knows he wasn't.  I am not trying to hide the fact that he died of a heroin overdose, because he did.  That's what happened.  I just don't want people to forget the rest of his story; I don't want the rest of it to be overshadowed by the way he died. 

When that facebook post popped up the other day, I closed facebook and ignored it.  But it ate away at me, dragging up all those fears that people just think of my brother as a druggie, and no wonder he died, oh well, tough break, life goes on.  It made me remember hearing through the grapevine that many high school classmates of mine - people I never called friends - were gossiping about Greg and digging for juicy details about his death.  It made me realize how incredibly painful that was, and on such a small scale.  Imagine being under that kind of offhand scrutiny in front of the general public?

I went back into facebook and told this person how I felt.  This person responded, we talked about it, and it ended with an apology and the post being taken down.  I explained that I know I am hyper-sensitive to the issue, and I wasn't trying to censor.  I just wanted another perspective included.  But as I said, this person is dear to me, and understood where I was coming from.

I've been secretly bothered by these types of comments from many different sources since Greg died - some related to him directly, but most of them not.  I don't know what made me confront it this time, but I'm glad I did.  It dragged out a lot of residual pain, hurt and fear but it was worth it.  It was therapeutic, in a way.  And I sincerely thank the facebook friend in question for listening to me and understanding. 

herb garden

I was going to continue our tour by moving through the front door into the front hall, but I'm holding that for later because I can't wait to show you our herb garden project!  I only wish I had thought to take a well-framed before picture.

This is the best picture I can find of our kitchen door area before we built an herb garden and bigger patio area.  It doesn't show the patio area at all, but it was basically a small sidewalk, from the stairs to the driveway, and mostly overgrown.  We cleared out a big overgrown section of this garden, including pachysandra, which is an absolute nightmare of an underground vine.  We dug out some large rocks, which were probably a wall or border at one time before they got mixed into the garden soil.  We built a wall, fertilized, planted herbs.  Then we tackled the small sidewalk/patio area.  There are pieces of slate scattered around our property, so we gathered those.  Then we dug out the area where we wanted to put them, leveled it, chose pieces of stone and built an expanded patio.

This was initially supposed to be a quick project of ripping out some plants and putting in some herbs, but it turned into a redesign of this entire area.  I am so happy with how it came out, and I find myself lingering in that area just to enjoy it. 

front door

Welcome to our new house!  The arched front door and the tile floor in the entryway are two of my favorite features (that old wreath, left by the former owners, has been tossed since this photo was taken).  Our house is 86 years old, and it shows in the style and character, which is why I love it so much.

It's been a crazy and busy and happy month, getting settled into our new home.  We are loving the space, the yard and the neighborhood.  The train is a 5 minute walk away, and Mike's commute still gets him home in time to see Emmett before bedtime almost every night.  During the day, Emmett and I wander, play, explore, do chores and we laugh.  A lot.  This place suits us well.

The adjusting and unpacking and painting and projects -- oh, the projects! I can't wait to show you the herb garden we've been building this weekend!  It has all been occupying every spare moment and leaving almost no time for the computer.

I've decided to give you a tour, room by room, in brief posts, so I can show you the house in a manageable way, instead of one big overwhelming house tour post that makes your eyes glaze over while you skim rapidly over it.  It's definitely a work in progress, this house, but we've already made it ours and we love it.  I can't wait to share it with you.


I did something so stupid today.  As I was backing out of my long, narrow driveway, Emmett gave a very loud, piercing shriek in the backseat.  I turned my head to check on him, and as I did, my hand drifted on the wheel and it turned just sharply enough that I hit the fence.  There is a bush growing into the fence, with sturdy branches, which I was unfortunate enough to connect with.  I got out and saw a little bit of scraping and green marks at the side corner of the bumper, figured it wasn't so bad, and went on my way.  When I parked and got out of the car at Target, I went around to the back of the car.  That was when I discovered the grapefruit-sized dent in the back corner of the bumper.  Oops.  I feel so stupid and have been driving around like an old lady today, being extra cautious and hyper alert.  The dent is just cosmetic, fortunately.

The particularly annoying thing:  Emmett's sudden hysterical screaming fit was due to the fact that he dropped his juice.

The silver lining:  You know what?  I have my own driveway now. 

seventeen months

Dear Emmett,

This is the last time you'll get a monthly letter from me while living at your first home!  You are seventeen months today, on Easter Sunday, and we spent it here in Jersey City, just the three of us at our apartment.  Moving day is less than two weeks away, and by the time I write to you next, on your eighteen month day, we will be settling into our new house.  We spent the morning getting bagels and playing in the park, and then we spent the rest of the day running errands, cleaning and packing.  We did take time out to create a little Easter egg hunt in the courtyard for you after dinner.  You raced around, joyfully finding eggs and popping them open to devour all the little snacks and cookies hidden inside. 


You love all the activity here, the walking everywhere, the people and the busy things to see and explore - especially since there are renovations going on at our building, and you always want to see the diggers!  I think you are going to miss lots of things about this place, and so will I.  I'm really looking forward to sharing the new experiences and lifestyle of our house and neighborhood with you, though.  The three of us are going to have a blast exploring our new hometown.

Having our own yard will be a wonderful change.  You are exceptionally exhausting at this current age, more so than you've ever been.  The reason for that, though, is that your mind and body are in constant motion, and it is so much fun to see what a sponge you are, taking everything in, remembering it, and telling us about it later.  It's great, but it is also profoundly tiring, and I can't wait to have a yard where you can run free and use up some of that boundless energy. 

You wear me out, kid, that is for absolute certain.  Keep up the good work.


this cursed day

Today is a beautiful day outside.  The weather is perfect, and we spent a lovely morning at the park.  There was an Easter Egg Hunt for kids, a childrens theater performance and plenty of activities.  We poked through an antiques & junk store, bought a bottle of wine and a fresh baguette to go with dinner, and had lunch at the window table in a little bistro.  Now Emmett's napping and we are about to do some packing and planning for our big move coming up in less than a month.  A perfect day.

And yet, I am feeling hurt, miserable and angry.  I am feeling sad and sorry for myself.  I have been crying on and off since last night.  Because today, despite its perfect mask, is my most dreaded day.  I want it to be just another day, because it IS just another day, but it also isn't.  It marks another year without Greg.  It symbolizes time rushing by, so much of my life adding up and going by without him here.  It's another tally mark on the number of years since he died, putting more and more time between now and the last time I saw his precious face. 

I feel so empty and lonely today.  I can't make a decision as simple as what to do next, and I feel like my head isn't quite attached properly to my body.  I miss my brother so much that it's physically painful, like my body is being torn apart.  I hurt today, more than I have in some time.  I let my guard down, allowed myself to relive that hideous, obscene night, allowed the tears to fall, and now it's so hard to rebuild those walls, to put it away again, but I am trying.  I will survive it and I will tuck it far away again so I can live my life.  I am not really okay today, but I will be tomorrow.


Emmett got to celebrate Holi today with a bunch of neighborhood kids, and he had a blast.  The Indian festival of colors to welcome spring was a perfect way to spend this warm, sunny afternoon.  On our walk back home, lots of people stared at Emmett and me, drenched in colors. 

In the elevator of our building (which has a high Indian population), an Indian girl about my age grinned widely when she saw us.  "Did he get to play Holi?" she asked.  I told her he did, and she sighed, telling me how much she missed celebrating Holi, and it made her happy to see Emmett enjoying it.



Sunday was the 27th anniversary of my brother's birth.  Next month will mark the 5th anniversary of his death.

I spent about a half hour staring at the screen here yesterday, trying to sort out what to say about it, and the two sentences above is as far as I got.

We marked the day on Sunday with some laughter and some tears (and, for my parents, a terrible awful stomach bug), and it was, in many ways, just another day.  Greg isn't just dead on his birthday; he's dead every day.

We have made an effort, in the last couple of years, to celebrate his birthday instead of squeezing our eyes shut, covering our ears and screaming "LA LA LA LA LA" while we wait for the day to be over.  It is not easy.

Stuffing the thoughts, memories and feelings way, way back in my head is how I survive.  If I want to move forward, I have to push it back, ignore it.  As my mom recently told a friend who asked how she does it, "I choose to live my life." 

Make no mistake: it is a choice.  We choose to spend most of our time and energy moving forward and living, or we choose to spend it dwelling and suffering and grieving. 

Having chosen to live, having chosen to push it all aside and embrace life even without my brother, it is hard to lower that wall and let it out.  To do so is like opening flood gates, breaking down levees, allowing the grief and the threat of  suffering and depression to come in and overwhelm me. 

I experiment with inching that wall down ever so slightly, in order to keep memories present, alive and fresh without bringing down the uncontrollable wave of grief with it, but I'm not very good at it.  And I would say our attempts to celebrate Greg's birthday, to actively remember and celebrate his life, have not been very successful.  It is a step in the right direction, though, however tiny, and we will continue to celebrate his life on his birthday as best we can. 

My mom wondered aloud this morning whether we'll ever get to the point where we can really talk about him. 

I hope we will.

fifteen months

Dear Emmett,

You are a fifteen month old with the vocabulary and language usage of about a two year old, according to your doctor.  You performed for her, speaking and playing and showing her your personality.  Your weight is slowing down; you're thinning out and talling up.  This morning you weighed 25lb, 7oz and you are 31.5in tall. 

We have been marveling over your speaking ability, and lots of people have asked us how many words you have.  We started a list a couple of weeks ago, and we have been amazed, seeing it written down, how many words you really have.  So, this month I am creating a written list of your words.  I think it is the last time we'll be able to list and contain your vocabulary, and I want to remember this and be able to show it to you one day.  This is probably not a complete list, but I think it's fairly close, and it tells us you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 words.  You are also starting to put a few words together, such as "Daddy walk," "Kitty food," and - OF COURSE - "No, Mama."

These are mostly just in the order I thought of them as I was adding to the list, although the first few are your earliest words, and I did group all the names together:

Up - Light - Kitty - Clock - Please - Yes - No - Hi - Bye-bye - Book - Ball - Door - Box - Bag - Basket - Ear - Nose - Eyes - Toes - Hair - Brush - Teeth - Cup - Bath - Knee - Boots - Shoes - Socks - Bra - Pants - Clothes - Belly - Back - Butt - Walk - Bounce - Water - Juice - Milk - Toast - Apple - Applesauce - Yogurt - Raspberries - Spoon - Fork - Bowl - Cookie - Cracker - Cheese - Kix - Ghost - Boo - Cow - Horse - Dog - Duck - Pig - Zoo - TV - Car - Truck - See - Bus - Snow - Stuck - Mess - Sit -Bucket - Bear - Grinch - Blanket - Bib - Baby - Bottle - Head - Blocks - Elmo - A - B - D - Mama - Daddy - Nana - Poppy - Mimi - Pappy - Emmett - Alli - Lila - Greg - Noah - Eddie - Ashley - Mirt - Mike - Beanie - Latreash - Wheel - Gears - Down - Bug - Duke - Pull - Hat - Moon - Balloon - Bite - Blue - Red - Tree - Toys - Button - Dance - Poop - Pee - Cloth - Beep - Coat - Scarf - Boy - Girl - Keys - Bubbles - Fish - Umbrella - Heart - Kick - Glasses - Crash - Bonk - Kiss - Mail - Potty - More - Doorbell - Hot - Hug - Towel - Plow - Table - Sticker - Nice - Pizza - Thank you - This - These - Those - Magnet - Gloves - Guys - Diaper - People - Cold - Snaps - Soccer - Go - Sheet - Food - Tea - Help - Fort - Pigeon - Shirt - Zebra - Sheep - Giraffe - Toothbrush - Green - Purple - Away - Feet - Push - In - Whoops - Two - Barn - Stairs - Big

Daddy and I are in awe to be able to communicate with you so readily, and we are so proud of you.  Keep on showing us all the exciting stuff going on in that busy mind of yours.


healing and growing

We have a busy weekend coming up around here.  Two of my college roommates, Alissa and Thais, are coming today to spend have lunch and spend the afternoon, and Emmett and I can't wait.  I love them dearly and I'm so thankful we are all living in the same corner of the world again so we can see each other more often. 

Tonight our friends Ashley & Eddie are coming for dinner and Mike is making soft pretzels for us to use as buns for burgers - trust me when I tell you it is AWESOME - and we'll try to convince Emmett to say Ashley's name.  He says Eddie, but he won't say Ashley.

Tomorrow morning, we are meeting my parents in Westchester County, where they are going to pick Emmett up and bring him back to CT with them.  At which point Mike and I will begin a whirlwind house hunting tour to last through Sunday, with a lovely, much-needed break for dinner and an overnight by ourselves.  And Emmett will begin an whirlwind tour of being loved, spoiled and having his every whim indulged, to last through Sunday.  We'll meet my parents for an early supper Sunday, retrieve Emmett, and get back here for Emmett's bedtime.

I have been doing a lot of thinking and healing and processing and I've realized some things about myself.  I have a post brewing, so I'll be back here next week with that.

In the meantime, I have a friend who is going through a divorce from an abusive husband and learning to heal and to love herself.  She's started a blog, and her writing is lovely and heart-wrenching and inspirational.  Go see for yourself.

fourteen months

Dear Emmett,

Today, you are 14 months old.  You might not realize it, since I failed to acknowledge your 13 month day here with a letter.  I have been struggling to decide whether I want to continue writing letters to you each month.  It is getting so hard to put even one day of yours into words, given all that you learn and do and say, nevermind an entire month.  But I would like to continue marking these days for you.  I have decided your typical update letters are not too practical anymore.  You have your own website, which documents a little piece of your day, every day, and that is a good marker of time and development. 

Each month, though, I will continue to share something to celebrate your growth, whether it's through words, pictures, or, in this case, video.  Following are a series of videos from the last couple of weeks, which capture your personality.

I hope you are as entertained by these videos one day as we are now.


pay it forward

The update on me is that the bleeding has stopped and the pregnancy hormone is officially all gone from my body.  Physically, I am back to normal.  Mentally and emotionally, I'm healing, thanks to Mike and Emmett and wonderful family and friends.  And thanks to you all.

You guys.  I am sitting here, trying to figure out how to thank you.  I feel like all of your arms reached right through my computer screen, picked me up and put me back on my feet.  I don't know how else to put into words how much it means to me.  So I'm going to ask a favor of you instead -- I'm going to try and pay it forward, with your help. 

Several of you who commented on my last post included these initials:  LFCA.  I didn't know what that was, and so I googled it.  What I found was an amazingly supportive community called Lost and Found and Connections Abound.  From the introduction to their newsletter:  "The point of Lost and Found is to level the support playing field. When LFCA works correctly, the newest blogger with the smallest readership can receive the same level of support as the oldest blogger with the largest readership," and "Lost and Found is open to anyone in the infertility, pregnancy loss, adoption, pregnancy-and-parenting after infertility, assisted conception, living child-free after infertility or loss community."

As I scanned the 679th Issue of the LFCA, I was startled to see my name on the list, with a link to my post, saying this:  "Amy is experiencing an early loss and writes about how quickly she fell in love with her baby only to lose him or her in an early miscarriage."

I don't know who submitted me to this list, but I am grateful.  I am so thankful to be introduced to a community so willing to jump in with kind words of support.  So, thank you, whoever you are.  And thank you to everyone who stopped by from LFCA to extend such warm thoughts, just for me. 

I am asking you to go to their website.  Scan the list on the latest newsletter and choose a few people who could use some support or congratulations or good luck wishes.  Show them the same kindness that you and they have shown me. 

it takes less than two days

Six days ago, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. 

Four days ago, I started spotting. 

Three days ago, I started bleeding.

Two days ago, my doctor confirmed that I had a miscarriage somewhere between 5 and 6 weeks.

Today, I am regrouping and recovering. 

It was brief.  So brief, in fact, that if I'd not taken the pregnancy test and just kept waiting, I may never have known. I may have chalked it up to my wonky cycles and moved on, never having known the difference.  But since I had Emmett, my cycles haven't been quite as wonky as usual.  They've been a bit more predictable, and so I did take the test.

I proved what so many, many other women already know.  That it takes less than two days to fall head over heels in love with someone I will never meet.    It takes less than two days to be certain that I would do anything, absolutely anything, for that someone.  It takes less than two days to rearrange your entire life inside your head to make room for this new someone; less than two days to consider yourself a family of four instead of three.

It takes only one day of bleeding to rip that new version of your life you imagined for yourself out of your grasp. 

Insanely, I have never felt like a worse mother.  I was just letting this new life bleed out of me and I was helpless.  No matter what I did, I could not save that baby.  I had no choice but to stand by and let it go.  It is a very desperate and surprisingly strong feeling.  I know that this is crazy.  That there is nothing I did wrong and it wasn't meant to be.  That it is going to be okay and time will heal this. 

While it is happening, though, none of that makes any sense.  It is not something that can be rationalized or explained away.  It is just sad.  It makes me so sad and for a little while, that needs to be okay.  I need to be sad and then I need to heal and move on. 


There are a few of you I should perhaps have told about this personally before putting it out here publicly.  I hope you will understand that I am still very much in the middle of this and talking about it is very, very hard, but writing about it is my version of therapy.

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