Category Archives: loss

Time to Cry Tuesday – You can’t go home again

540

Cleaning my office the first day back from the holidays, this picture fell out of a file folder onto my keyboard.

The Big 540… my childhood home.

The same house that we sold a few months ago. The process of selling was rather unpleasant, the details remaining unwritten. Use your imagination if you do not know the details. The process of dismantling it was long and arduous, as my parents had lived there for 60 years. But it was a labor of love. By the time we signed on the dotted line it was more of a relief than anything else.

Oddly, a few weeks after closing I had the most bizarre dream. I was showering in my parents’ bathroom and suddenly realized that we no longer owned the house (oops). Yep, wrapped in a towel in someone else’s bathroom and they walked in the back door. The classic version of the ‘I forgot to study for the test’ dream.

A few weeks later I had another dream that I was hanging out in the house and all of the new owners’ relatives started showing up with furniture and started yelling at me and threatening to call the cops. Again, I had forgotten that this was no longer ‘our house’ (yes, I am way crazier than I let on).

I don’t have to be a therapist to know that the loss of this house is obviously effecting me more than I realized. I have never lived without this home – quite something for someone of ‘my age’. This is where I grew up, where the family gathered, where my mom planted. And planted. And planted. Where my history lived in the walls. And although my current home has been in my life almost half as long as this one has, there is something unnerving about losing this place.

I know ‘home’ is not the building. And Lord knows I have brought enough of the stuff from that house here (anyone want to help me go through 14 crates of photos). It is hard to explain how I feel.

Maybe it is simply the knowledge that I can’t go home again.

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Filed under aging parents, grief, homeowner, loss, real estate, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Time to Cry Tuesdays – Grieving is not for Sissies

sod

I know, quite a blog post title to resurface with, but hey, it’s Tuesday. What do you expect?

I like to find the humor in most situations. This grief thing is surely putting a damper on my style, but I work hard at trying to find a way to laugh when I can.

Today I have hit new heights. Amongst the odds and ends of things on my to-do list today, snuggled nicely between ‘call to have the sprinkler system serviced’ and ‘fax e-file forms back to the accountant’ sat this ominous listing:

Call the cemetery to inquire about the sod issue.

Really? The sod issue? Why should there be an issue about sod when we are talking about a grave. Should grass not be a given? Shouldn’t our lowest expectation of a cemetery be that they would lay some sod on a final resting place (Yes, I realize this sounds like a cemetery marketing piece) Apparently not, because they told my Dad that they only lay sod in the fall. So, I decided to call them myself and get to the bottom of this.

First call yielded a recording:

We are experiencing unusually high call volume at this time. Please try again later. (seriously!!!! People dying to get in today… ba dum bum)

Second try:

Me: I am calling about having sod put down on a grave for an unveiling* in June.

Her: I am sorry, we only lay sod in the fall. If we lay it in the spring and we have a hot day, it burns. And we care for it if we put it down.

Me: Were we told that last spring at the funeral (as if we would remember). Or did you send us a notice, like ‘hey, if you don’t want a dirt grave for your loved one you need to order sod in the fall’

Her: No, we don’t.

Me: Hmmm, you might want to consider putting that in your packet. Can we put down our own sod?

Her: Yes, but you will have to take care of it.

Me: Do you have a sprinkler system (yes, after I said that I realized it is probably unlikely and frowned upon to start digging in a cemetery, but I had a momentary loss of rational thought from this conversation)

Her: We do not. Your other option is that you can wait till the fall and we can rent you a grass matt for the unveiling for $10 a square…

with this I sort of lost my mind and said:

Me: Are you kidding me?! More fees! This is like a Larry David.

Her: Who is Larry David?

Me: OMG… Seinfeld? The Larry David Show? Ring a bell?

Her: Oh, never heard of him. Never watched it.

Me: That’s too bad. Ok, so basically you are telling me that my father, who is in his mid 80s, will have to lay sod himself on his wife’s grave so we don’t have to look at the same raw dirt that was there the day of the funeral. And if we want said sod to stay alive, we should drive there a couple of times a week from Long Island to New Jersey to water it. And this you do not find both horrifying and hysterical at the same time.

Her: Well, when you put it that way…

Me:  You should REALLY see if you can find re-runs of Larry David.

Yeh, grieving is not for sissies, indeed.

*Unveiling: Within the first year after the passing of a loved one, mourners and their family gather at the gravesite for a ceremony called the Unveiling, the placing of the tombstone. At this event, a grave marker is put into place and the monument is formally dedicated.

Source: shiva.com. (who knew there was such a url?)

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Filed under humor, loss, religion, Time to Cry Tuesdays, Uncategorized

Time to Cry Tuesday – Want and Need

wantneed

This might be the first post ever to combine Dave Matthews and the Jewish Holidays; but that seems fitting since this is a post about firsts.

Here we are – playing holiday dominoes – with those of the tribe watching Labor Day cascade into Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

This particular holiday is a tough one for our family. We are still stumbling through the ‘firsts’… the things we are doing for the first time without my mom. Although three and half months have passed, it seems like both a moment and a lifetime. Just when I think I have found my footing, my new normal, my ability to feel sad but somewhat whole, it hits me. I have avoided sharing here but somehow this seems the right thing to do, so here goes.

Although no one can stop me from starting to circle the drain, there is always someone there to grab my hand and pull me out. I have my army of grief guides; my friends who have been there and let me know with their steely strength that I will, in fact, make it through. In spite of myself and because of them.

I am beyond fortunate.

Yesterday I had just finished the massive guerrilla food shop. I was cleaning chickens to make my soup and as I was doing it I thought of how when I was first married I could not bear to clean a chicken and my mom used to laugh with me on the phone as I did it to talk me through. And it hit me. Hard. The drain, she was a- calling me to circle to the left.

And then the phone rang. My Rabbi! Seriously, do they learn this in rabbinic school? Do they become hyper-trained to sense the drain circling? Or was it a coincidence? I think not. He also called on her birthday without knowing it. Both times to check on me; to make me try to find the sweet in all the bitter. To hold my hand so I would not succumb to that proverbial plumbing.

I am beyond fortunate.

And then I had a nice long phone visit with my mom’s best friend since childhood – Aunt Arlene (who is not my aunt), as we called her. Her laugh, her stories, her way… all a piece of my mom. As we talked about how much we missed her I felt another hand reach through the phone to keep me from slipping down those pesky pipes.

What I want, is what I’ve not got. But what I need, is all around me.

Wishing all who celebrate a sweet new year. And all who are grieving the strength to stay away from the plumbing during the holidays.

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Filed under aging parents, friendship, holidays, loss

Up is down

up-is-down1Sometimes life feels this way. Things happen that throw us completely off kilter. Up is down indeed.

I am big on watching for signs; seeing what is around me and trying to take something away from everything I see. 

On my daily early morning walk, soon after the most ‘up is down’ experience of my life, I came across this painted in the street. I had to smile. Perhaps the person responsible for this did not have me in mind, but it is no coincidence that it was smack in the middle of my path that day.

Each day afterwards I would pass this in the street, and with each day, it started to fade ever so slightly… not unlike the feeling that I had. 

Today, after a weekend of almost normal – or as normal as it could be, or perhaps the new normal – I looked down, and there was my up is down message, faded almost to obscurity. 

up-is-down2Had I not known it was there I would never have seen it. 

This weekend someone told me a little story about loss. Someone had lost someone close to them and when asked how he was he said that although he was getting used to his life he was still holding on to that feeling of loss. That somehow there was something so very special about still having that feeling. And when the feeling has faded it will seem almost sadder. 

I get that. And all I can add to that is that the signs will always be there, they may fade and be invisible to those who are not feeling them, but those of us who are, know they will always be there. 

 

 

 

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Filed under aging parents, loss

Neverland Sleepaway Camp

 

neverland-sleepaway-camp

Ok, for those who wondered why there was no Michael Jackson post, here it is.

We were at an outdoor seafood place by the water today and saw this guy wearing a Neverland Sleepaway Camp t-shirt. It looked worn so my guess is he has had it for quite awhile. What a perfect weekend to break it out. Note the kid and the MJ silo in the picture. 

Like many in my generation, Michael Jackson was the soundtrack of my coming of age. He was our peer. Yet while we were riding bikes and doing homework he was traveling the world and performing on our TV sets. This took its toll on him and the impact grew in ways we will never understand.

As we grew up, he grew stranger. His talent became overshadowed by his eccentricities. The adoring public turns on a dime – in life and in death. Now he is simultaneously being judged and canonized. 

Here’s to the King of Pop, may he finally rest in peace.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone

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Filed under carry a camera, current events, loss

Time to Cry Tuesday – Loss and the 300th post

Yes, this my 300th post. Hard to believe and usually a cause for celebration in the land of blog. But today I am here to write about loss.

And oddly what I have gained. 

It is hard to explain to those who are not part of this world of blogging and Twitter what a true community has been formed through a medium that would seem to be highly impersonal. 

I come from a generation where the openness and sharing of this world can be a bit overwhelming. For my age group privacy was cherished above all and there is a thread of paranoia about having one’s life out in the open. This makes the world of the mom blogosphere a bit foreign at times. But this week, once again, I have seen the power of the social web and what it can do for those in need.

I am fortunate to live in a community that takes care of it’s own in times of trouble. I have known this kind of support more than once and I am in awe when I see that sentiment replicated on the internet – amongst strangers! 

Beyond comprehension, 2 young babies publicly lost their lives this week.

The first, Maddie Sphor was the 17-month-old daughter of a fellow Silicon Valley Mom Blogger. This darling of the internet whose mom, Heather, chronicled her difficult pregnancy, premie birth and fight to thrive has been followed by many through her blog and twitter. This baby’s infectious smile has haunted us all as we try to accept the tragedy of her sudden death. Within hours funds were set up to help the family with expenses, over $30,000 was raised for March of Dimes and walks in her name were organized. 

One by one, twitter avatars turned purple in Maddie’s memory to show support for her family. These past few days those haunting purple avatars have shown me how much I have gained from the experience of the social web. 

As if this were not awful enough, just days later Thalon Myers, the 4-month-old son of another momblogger lost his life. 

The unthinkable. 

And yet from all misery comes good. The legacy of these families will live on as evidence that humanity is not lost.

As proven during the tragic plane crash that almost cost the Nielson’s their lives, and the overwhelming outpouring to find a kidney for The Domestic Diva‘s daughter, the social web shows us once again that we are made up not of nameless faces banging the keyboard.

We are all people. Sometimes acting more human than you could believe possible.

Love, prayers and thoughts to the Spohrs and  Myers families. May you find a shred of peace in knowing that the world grieves for your loss.

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Filed under communities, current events, loss

Time to Cry Tuesday – An Icon

Sorry, third time in as many weeks that I am posting about loss. However, this one is quite different.

Sunday I had the pleasure (yes pleasure!) of attending a memorial service for someone who helped shape the woman I am today.  Actually, not just me, but hundreds of women through the 60s and 70s. This woman, Alice Sternin, was the director of the summer camp I attended. I have posted about this idyllic place from my childhood before, as both my children are fortunate enough to share in the legacy.

I have never attended a service where there was as much laughter as tears. The essence of this woman was described by countless speakers. Everyone in the room shared the same memories of this tiny woman who was larger than life.

People traveled from all over the country. Family and friends spoke. One after another, stories were shared that sparked long forgotten memories for each one of us . When her famous lines were quoted, the entire room joined  in unison. Treasured camp songs were sung and tears were shed for the loss, not just of this woman, but the childhood jewel this perfect place had been for all of us.

My daughter has had the good fortune to have had this same experience. The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Jana and her girls at the end of their last summer as campers. This sums up what this woman built. And her legacy will carry on long after she is gone.

You are so very lucky to have this piece of your life. Camp is something that you cannot put a label on. There are no words to describe how you feel when you are with your girls. How the sight of the lake and mountains fill your heart in a way that nothing else in this world truly can. The essence of camp is ingrained in each and every one of you. It is part of what makes you who you are, and believe me, who you will always be. We are all beyond lucky to know these feelings.

Leaving is never easy.  All these years later I still tear up as I walk out of camp and drink in one last moment of the place I love so much.

Never, NEVER, take this place for granted. Hold it close and it will never let you down.  

Today, as I sat with MY girls so many years later, I felt the full weight of those words.

Here’s to you Big Al! The toughest camp director in the East. With the biggest heart! You will be dearly missed, but rest easy, your legacy will never die.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog.

For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under friendship, Jana, loss, relationships, Time to Cry Tuesdays