Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Friend Died Yesterday

My friend died yesterday. Those words have been running through my head all day and yet writing them here seems so final, so definite. When I heard the news it was like in high school when you're confronted with a complex story problem. Sure, you know all words but somehow, presented in just that order, it doesn't make sense. My hand flew to my mouth in a protective measure although I'm not sure how I could have found that protective. As though anything can protect you from the pain of losing someone close to you.

I've known Dan for fourteen years. I knew Dan before I was married, before I had kids. I met Dan when he only had two boys before the birth of his beloved little girl. Dan was the type of man that everyone loved, that everyone wanted to be around. He was a good, GOOD man. I truly don't know if I've met a better man. He was always up for a laugh or a joke, always willing to poke fun at himself and laugh at the irony of a half Japanese man eating ten cent Ramen for lunch.

I can still picture the way the apples of cheeks flushed red and lifted right up to his eyes when he laughed. Or how his eyes crinkled and his smile lit an entire room. As a man so focused and determined, he was never afraid to laugh at himself or take himself too seriously. Dan was the man who would dress up as a pimp or a pirate at Halloween. He was the one wielding the fart machine at the company Christmas gift exchange. Watch out when you sat down in the chair to open your gift. The present wouldn't be your only surprise.

Dan was always up for a chat and, in the first office by the back door, he was the first person I saw every morning and the last person I saw when I walked out in the evening. Dan was a constant in our office and even though his office is now dark, he'll always be with us.

My mind has been consumed over the last 24 hours with the things Dan will miss; walking his daughter down the aisle to shake hands with her nervous groom, watching his beloved boys graduate from college; holding his grandbabies. But, more important than the things he won't do, are the things he did do. The beautiful children he and his wife raised, the lifelong friendships that were nurtured through all of life's changes. The friends and family, near and far who will cherish the place he held in their lives. There's no one who met Dan who wasn't changed by him. His goofy, quirky, silly nature is something that we'll all miss.

Good night, my dear friend. I hope, in your final moments, you felt how loved you are, and how deeply you will be missed. And I hope you're looking down on us and smiling your good-natured smile and laughing your infectious laugh. Soon enough, our pain will fade and I promise you, we'll be laughing right along with you. Love you, Dan-o.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


“Mommy,” you whispered first thing this morning, “am I four years old yet”? I opened my mouth to answer but nothing came out. Instead my eyes filled with tears as I nodded and I found my voice, “Yes, baby, today you’re four years old”.

I’m not really sure how this happens or why but it seems like us moms spend our days wishing you would grow up, achieve the next stage. Rushing you littles through potty training and sleeping in your own beds and no training wheels on your bike. And then, one day, maybe it’s your birthday or maybe it’s just a Tuesday, it hits us. You are never going to be as little as you are in this moment. You are never going to NEED me as much as you do right now. And that’s at once incredibly liberating and mind bendingly terrifying. Because you see, little Piglet, you and your brother are my world, my light and my darkness.

Fin, you are simply a joy and a delight. Even on your worst days (of which you’ve had quite a few over the last year) you manage to charm the pants off most people. I’m not sure if it’s your bright blue eyes or the blond ringlets that still haven’t gone away or if it’s the impish way you bury your face in my neck only to glance, side eyes, with a sheepish little grin. Or maybe it’s your tiny little chipmunk voice which you use to get your way at each and every turn.

You are neither independent nor clingy but haven’t passed up an opportunity to snuggle over the past year. You are affectionate to an extreme often holding on to my legs, looking up into my eyes and saying, “Mommy, I neeeeeeeed you.” If we’re driving and you’re feeling particularly lovey, you’ll ask to hug my hand which you will pull toward your face and delicately kiss. You’re also prone to holding my hand in a parking lot and stopping in the middle of an aisle just to kiss my hand. I’m always torn in those moments. Do I hurry you along so as not to annoy other shoppers or do I revel in these fleeting moments, sure to be gone soon, and let you kiss my hand? I hope I let you kiss me often enough.

At night, when I’m putting you to bed, you grab my face in your hands (your still baby-soft hands) and say “Mommy, you’re my best mommy ever.” And then I die. How could I not? And then I kiss your lips, we rub our noses together and I say “I love you to the” (and you say, ”Moon”) “and around the” (“stars”) “and under the” (“ocean”) “and right (kiss) back (kiss) to (kiss) your (kiss) bed”.

I just love you so much! I love your spirit and I love your compassion. I love that you can play all alone while your brother insists on playing with half a dozen friends at once. I love you sneak into my bed every night, curl yourself up into the tiniest of balls and squeeze yourself into the crescent of my body, our foreheads touching, your wisps tickling my nose. Oh, I know that I should send you packing back to your own bed, but I get that these night time visits aren’t going to last forever. Far too soon, you’ll feel like you’re too much of a big girl to sleep with mommy and daddy.

And so, for today, I’ll let you sleep with me, and I’ll let you kiss my hands in the middle of a parking lot. I’ll let you wrap your no-longer-chubby arms around my neck whenever you damn well feel like it. And there will be people who think I’m spoiling you, but really, you’re spoiling me. And I will soak up these beautiful, short-lived moments with every part of me. Because tonight I’ll close my eyes and tomorrow I’ll wake up and you’ll whisper, “Mommy, am I five today?” Happy birthday, Little P.  Love, Mommy

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

He's six

Dear Conor, It's cold tonight, 27 degrees with a windchill that feels like 7 degrees. I just put you to bed and we had our usual snuggle and talk about your day. As it's the day before your birthday, I can't help but think of where I was this night six years ago. Time has dulled the memory a bit but I'm pretty sure it wasn't THIS cold. I remember going to bed the night before you were born and thinking to myself, wow, tonight is the night! I'm going to become a mom. And I did. But more importantly, so much more importantly, I became YOUR mom. And what a miracle that is. Out of all the moms in all the world, I was the one chosen to be yours. It seems somehow unfair to the other moms, you know? Luck, blessing, fate, whatever you call it, I feel really damn fortunate to have you as my boy. What what a BOY you have become. You're all tall (only 13 inches shorter than me!) with knobby knees, and long gangly arms and legs that you just can't seem to control. As often as not it seems like your wacky little boy limbs are moving as it not controlled by you. You certainly haven't grown into them yet and it seems like it's got to be years before your coordination will catch up with your incredible, unstoppable growth. Damn, child! You just keep growing! You're a bit of a phyisical marvel in that you're head and shoulders above most of your friends. Nearly everyone who sees you assumes you're about 8 and not about 6. And to be fair, that's a bit of a struggle. You look like an 8 year old but definitely behave like a 6 year old. Life for us lately is all about sports - football, baseball, soccer, tackling, running, jumping (falling, too). You NEVER stop moving. Just now, as I was putting you to bed, your body was flying out of control, all lanky limbs lashing out and you said to me, "Mom! I've got to get my wiggles out"! You seem to possess a neverending capacity for wiggling. There was a day not too long ago when I put my FitBit on your wrist. You love to watch Oregon Football and run around like a little tornado - a constant whirling dirvish of energy and momemtum. The FitBit was meant to record your steps, a quantifiable measure of just how much you move during your beloved football games. 4.75 miles. In one day. In a 10 by 10 area of carpet. In the space of one football game. Damn, child. It's no wonder you're skin and bones. Except for your little bubble butt. God, how I lvoe that little bubble butt! There are so many things I love about you, little man. So many. I love that you're smart - you're reading already and think the most fun thing is when I quiz you with "math stuff". I love that you're athletic. Your restless little body always in motion. Your lack of coordination brought on, I hope, by limbs growing faster than your bosy can keep up with. It could be that your lack of coordination is brought on by your blood relationship with me and your Nana who have a sort of innate ability to fall over. For your sake, I hope it's the former. But what do I love most about you, my sweet little stinker? Your compassion. Your natual ability to know when someone needs you to give a hug, a kiss, a "how was your day, mommy?". The way you sought out Elliott, the new boy at school who didn't know anyone. You're not afraid to hug and kiss or call me Mommy in front of your friends. Oh you're getting there, I can feel it, but you're not there yet and I am grateful every day for that small miracle. Because, for me, there is almost nothing better than the feeling of your long, bony arms wrapping around my neck and the way you say, "Mommy, I MISSED you today." God, how did I get so lucky? Conor, there have been days when I've felt like being a mom is just too much. Too hard, too much respomsibility, too much pressure, too high a chance of complete and utter failure. It's a big responsibility, this being a charge of a whole other human being. But every night, when I sneak into your room to kiss you goodnight and whisper I love you in your ear, I'm reminded how I wouldn't choose anything else. Of all the things I've done in my life, of all the things I have left to do, there is nothing, NOTHING, more wonderful, more profoundly satisfying than being your mama. You are my life, my little love, my happiness and my frustration. You are the best thing I've ever done. And so tonight, nearly six years after you were born it's time I say thank you. Thank you for making me a mom, thank you for making me your mom. Thank you. For being you. My perfect, giant, tiny, annoying, compassionate, perfect little man. I love you to the moon and around the stars and under the ocean and right back to your bed.