Tag Archives: Family

13 Months: Through The Looking Glass (Reflections on entering the 2nd year.)

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The 21st is a hard date to face each month. A month ago I was standing on the other side, the Looking Glass in front of me, looking over my shoulder at the first year, my past, hesitating to step through to my future, but really, what choice did I have? I can’t live in the past, with regrets, and wishes don’t make the future a reality. So, I stepped through and I find myself here, on the other side, insecure in my uncharted territory with a million decisions to make and myself the ultimate consultant.

I am fine most of the time, well maybe ¾ of the time, as long as I stick to my routine. The decisions are hard, the weekends can be hard but I’ve gotten used to the nights. I’m fine and some of the time I even enjoy the time alone, to think, to write, answering to only myself. I have a home that stays clean, food that I like to eat in my refrigerator and half as much laundry to do each week. I’ve almost stopped waiting for someone to come home.

It is different here, on the other side of the Looking Glass. The world looks different and feels more uncertain, but I am trying to create a landing pad, a place to feel at home and friends to share some good times with. I am making different memories while struggling to keep the old memories alive, the good ones, the laughter, and the adventures shared. This side of the Glass has a long road stretching out ahead and I am traveling light, taking only what holds memories, is beautiful or needed, letting go of so much. Not just hopes and dreams, but also the weight of all that is carried through a lifetime.

A Looking Glass is for looking through, but once I’m through it, I can look forward and while I can’t see too far down the path, I can see a day at a time. I can plan a day at a time. I can live a day at a time, with gratitude that I have these days and that I have this path to walk on. I am fine, most of the time, but having the support of my family and friends is the buoy keeping me afloat. You’re asking, me answering, I’m fine most of the time. Thanks for asking.

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Filed under change, choice, death, grief, hurdles, Life thoughts

Life Goes On

fullsizerender-28It’s been nine months since Gary died and as I woke up early yesterday to get ready for the Women’s March in Los Angeles, I thought about how much has changed in these nine months. The 21st day of each month is a reminder that life can change in a moment, with a phone call in the middle of the night, with a doctor’s diagnosis, when a loved one is suddenly gone. Life can change in a day, with the unexpected results of an election, with the division of friends or family, with the looming uncertainty of the future.

Life goes on for me in a much different way than I could have ever imagined just over nine months ago. I’ve learned to live alone and when asked yesterday if I have plans for today I am reminded by my daughters that my tasks for today of doing laundry, writing progress reports, preparing for the upcoming week ahead and if the rain lets up, having coffee with a friend constitute “plans.” I had always thought plans were plans with others, with Gary or with friends, but now plans with myself are the new normal.

Life goes on in our country too, but in a much different way than I ever imagined it would be nine months ago when we were filled with excitement and enthusiasm about the possibility of the first woman president, with the hope for a different future for my daughters and future granddaughter. The realities of today are fearful monitoring of the news, trying to figure out what is real, and slightly terrified that some of what I hear could actually be real. Nine months ago hope was an electrifying force, today we have to muster up our own hope and courage to embody the change we want to see, that we need to see, that our country needs to survive.

Life goes on for me, with small changes at a slow pace. Learning to cook healthy food for myself instead of making do with a frozen waffle for dinner. Learning to go to sleep and to wake up alone and learning to live in the present instead of planning and hoping for a future. The future is an unknown commodity. My friend said to look for one bit of happiness each day and to gather those as flowers in a vase. My sister gave me a “happiness jar” to fill with little notes written when something good happened so I can reflect back at the end of the year, but I remember when the days had more than one happy moment and I didn’t have to keep count because I knew that more would come the next day.

Life goes on for our country because we, the people, are our country. We gathered together yesterday by the hundreds of thousands, in Los Angeles, the count at 750,000. We stood in massive crowds, peacefully, smiling at each other and chanting together, holding amazing signs with heartfelt messages. We walked through crowded downtown streets, on a sunny day, a break between rainstorms, warmed by comradery and basking in hope. We took a break from feeling alone, from watching depressing news, and made our own news, together.

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      photo credit Nicole Weisberg

Life goes on for me, for my daughters and my family. We made it through the holidays and move towards the last few landmarks to come before reaching the year anniversary. We find some moments of togetherness, some happiness and are adapting to this different life. New things now seem important, the new responsibility of maintaining the rights that were not in jeopardy nine months ago. We have created some new habits, checking in on each other more often, letting each other know we are home safely at night and saying goodnight. It’s good to have a close connection and to feel cared about in a world that can feel isolating.

Life goes on for our country and today as storms pound through Los Angeles, I smile thinking about yesterday, when we were smiled upon by the first sunny day in a week as we marched. The weather paused and gave us hope on a hopeful day. Today everything is washed clean and I hope our momentum continues and elevates. Today we must continue our search for truth in the midst of “alternative facts,” for hope on the other side of this despair and for unity to emerge through the tactics of divisiveness. The Women’s March gave evidence that we are not divided by religion, race, gender or politics but united in our belief that our desire for democracy, for a free country and for love to win as the power to heal us.

Life goes on for me as I crave real talk, the kind of talk that is deep below the surface. Through the connection to others, to those caring people in my life, I have avenues for my raw feelings, my bubbling emotions and worries. For those brave enough to jump in the deep waters of connection, I am grateful. A friend said that these nine months are beginning to be enough time to give birth to a new and active movement within me. Just as with bringing my daughters into this world, nine months seemed to fly by, but nine months also seems like forever.

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Filed under change, death, Election, Family, Life thoughts

How to Make a Fire

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“You need to teach me how to make a fire,” said my middle daughter as we enjoyed the warmth of the fire on a shared New Year’s Day evening. But it was more than that. It was about learning to use kindling, soft pine logs and finally larger more solid oak logs to bring a glow to the room, to provide warmth and ambiance. It was about sharing a space that felt like family. I know, because it is the way I felt when I learned to make a fire back in my 20’s when Gary taught me. My dad occasionally lit a fire, but it was Gary who loved fires and I still crave the warmth and the glow.

The holidays have passed and the memories have joined the others now. The image and scent of sweet potatoes adorned with marshmallows, the corn flake topped string beans, the simmering latkes, the sweet crumble-topped cranberry-pears, bakery goods from Bea’s Bakery and the pot roast recipe created by my Auntie Joyce and made a million times by my mom, complete with carrots, onions and potatoes in gravy, requested and deliciously remembered now. The holidays trigger emotions too and longing for the holidays of the past when everyone was here, but we go on and create new and different traditions that bring the cozy joy of sharing with family and friends.

How do we pass on our traditions to our children? It’s more than telling them about how we celebrate; it’s about embedding the sights, sounds and smells associated with family. The house is decorated with relics of the past, preschool painted dreidels, menorahs made of felt, elementary school laminated holiday poems, holiday lights and the three little Hanukkah mice my mother gave me, one for each daughter. The smell of burning candles, the anticipation of small, secretly selected gifts opened together, eliciting small tears of joy. What makes the holidays real is the togetherness we share.

My job as a mother began more than 32 years ago, but as a mother, once you sign on, that’s it. I’ve taken it seriously from the start feeling that as a mother, my primary jobs were to take care of my daughters, pass on everything I know to them, pass on all family traditions and of course keep them alive. My daughters appreciate their handmade (by dad) dollhouses, the quilts I made for each of them when they turned nine and the special quilts made of all of the sweatshirts collected from ballet, music and theater performances over the years.

Making a fire. Beginning with the kindling, then the soft pine and finally the solid oak. This is what it takes, and the reward is so great. The warmth, the glow, and a place called family.

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Filed under Family, Life thoughts, Mothers

Hawk Watching & Halos of Light

hawkYesterday, marking 8 months, sent the hawk to watch over me as I sat at my desk, paying bills, checking the emails coming in and contemplating my life as it is now, a long floating journey to an unknown landing. The hawk, who usually lands at the top of a nearby towering pine tree, landed in the tree closest to my window, closer than ever before, and sat contemplating me in between gazing at the landscape. I felt protected somehow.

Each month that goes by brings new challenges and just when I think I’ve gotten a grip on things, a new mess is dumped in my lap. Does it really take a year to get things straight? I’ve been told many times to wait a year, that it takes a year to get used to things, to settle things and to figure out a new place in the world. It feels like forever at eight months.

The hawk stayed watching me for over an hour perched in the tree. I felt his presence and it was somewhat comforting, making my day less lonely. The house was busy last weekend, with a visit from my eldest daughter and my youngest, my little granddaughter. It was family filled, busy, chaotic and reminiscent of the many family gatherings over the years as we all came together to introduce little Margie to friends and family. My daughters surprised me for my birthday with a homemade chocolate raspberry cake (our family birthday tradition) and everyone sang. During the singing, as Nicole videotaped, she noticed a halo of lights moving around me and near the cake. Of course it was a reflection of the candles, but yet, it hovered near me, above me and next to me during the singing of Happy Birthday. It startled Nicole and when we watched the video the next day, we were all a little teary and speechless.

fullsizerender-28Sometimes there are things that can’t be explained. Sometimes the longing for what was is overpowering. Birds appear, Honda Pilots escort me as I drive, lights appear, and yet, as I fall asleep asking for a little help getting through all that I am dealing with, it is harder to feel the connection. I want to believe that I can communicate with my partner of 37 years because how can such a strong connection be gone, even with the separation of time and space? It seems so much stronger than that.

I am dealing with the messes, the stuff, the remnants of odds and ends left undone in the wake of a sudden departure. I am tired of “adulting” as Danielle calls it. I am tired of being the only one to deal with the complications in my life that used to be shared. Divide and conquer. Now I’m left with cleaning up the works in progress that Gary left. My life, without these, seems painfully simple and I suppose one day, it will be.

The holidays are a particularly challenging time when the aloneness is in juxtaposition to the blatantly obvious togetherness and celebrating going on everywhere. It is possible to feel alone even in the middle of a group of people and it is especially hard during this solstice, the darkest days of the year. The cold, dark night sends me to the couch to get under a blanket and zone out watching television.

I am looking forward to the return of the light, the coming warmth and the signs of spring to come. I am hoping that I can have a rebirth too, and enter into a life that feels more like I fit in somewhere, that I can make new, happy memories and land on a solid foundation.

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Filed under death, Family, hurdles, Life thoughts

Who are we?

The Path Unknown courtesy of Virgil Poetry

I was wondering today, if we ever really know the people in our lives.  Sometimes we feel like we know each other and that everything is out in the open, but suddenly we are privy to something that opens a door we didn’t know existed.  How do you ever really get to know someone?  The only way to know each other is to be totally honest and open, without fear of repercussions or retaliations.  This is harder than it first appears because while we know what we are thinking and feeling, we cannot predict what others will feel or think.  We have to take chances.  We have to believe that honesty is the best path and that those we love will understand us.  We don’t always know what we are doing, or what the consequences of our actions will be, however, by acting with honesty and with the best intentions, we can be assured that we are on the right path.

There are times when I long for a chance to go back and to re-live parts of my life, like pressing the rewind button on the TV remote control, if only life could be recorded, watched and then revised.  I wish for opportunities to jump into the past and see the reality that existed then, gaining understanding of the actions of my parents and family members.  I want answers that I cannot have, understanding that eludes me and knowledge held at bay.  The mysteries of the past created me, shaped who I am today and impact my life, giving me a shrouded path leading to the unknown.  The choice I have is to give others a clearer picture and light in which to make their choices.

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Filed under creative writing, Family, Life thoughts