Friday, May 31, 2013


Whenever I stop, whenever I sit still, whenever I'm not distracted by work or friends or TV I relive. I relive the moment I saw my mom after she had died. I relive the last three days when she stopped opening her eyes. I relive holding her hand, kissing her forehead, giving her ground up meds mixed with water.

I don't just see a picture of her like this. I relive it. I can smell what the room smelled like. I can feel what her skin felt like. I can hear what her breathing sounded like. I close my eyes and I'm there. 

And it hurts so much I can barely breathe. It hurts so much I can't make a sound. It hurts so much that I'm shaking long after I distract myself again.

I don't try to remember, try to relive this moment. It just comes on its own. I can't conjure it, and I don't want too. It's so personal, so soul-wrenching that I don't want to be around friends when it happens, even while I long for someone to comfort me. 

This was happening at the end of April. And it's still happening now. Slowly, slowly, as I rest and process and go to therapy and give myself space, I hope this turns into one of many memories, instead of the only memory. Slowly, slowly I want to remember more of my mom. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Love you forever

I was at a friend's baby shower today, and she had a children's book theme. Everyone brought one or more of their favorite children's books. All the food and favors were children's book themed too. 

I love this theme, of course, because I love children's books and my mom did too (how can you not when you work at an independent children's bookstore?).

After the shower my friends and I spent some time reading through some of our favorite books. Books like The Napping House and The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon. And a book I had completely forgotten - Love You Forever. 

Love You Forever is a book about a mom who through the years rocks her sleeping son back and forth and sings "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

She sings this to him as he grows up, even when he's an adult and living on his own. (I'll ignore the fact that to do this she sneaks in through his bedroom window.)

One day, when the mother is old and very sick, she calls her son, and he goes to his mother, and he picks her up and sings "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my Mommy you'll be."

I know that as long as my mom was living she loved me, liked me, and saw me as her baby. And now (or really a month ago) I pick her up and sing to her: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my Mommy you'll be."

One month

Yesterday was one month. One month since I've seen my mom - or at least seen her in real life. I see her in my dreams, in my head all the time. 

It still just feels like she's on vacation. It feels like it did when I was a kid and she went to Hawaii to visit her best friend for a week. It feels like she'll walk through the door any minute, even though she hadn't been able to walk for almost two years. 

It's still hard to be far away from my parents' house (my dad's house). Even being back in Oakland feels to far. Too far from where she was, from where she is in my memories. 

I still can't remember much of her before the stroke - I know the before memories will come back eventually, but her last twenty months were so traumatic, so life-engulfing that before feels too far away. 

What I do remember is her, three days after she stopped getting out of bed, three days into sleeping almost all day long. I had to go back to Oakland for the day, so I whispered goodbye to her. Even though she was sleeping I told her that I loved her and I'd be back soon. Without opening her eyes she said, over and over again "no, no, no, no, no." It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, leaving her when she kept asking me to stay. 

Now I'm the one who wants to say "no, no, no, no, no," enough time so she'll stay. Maybe if I say it just right she'll come back. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


 Nowadays I'm full of contradictions. 

Some days I want to eat lots of ice cream and chocolate. Other days I don't want to eat anything at all. 

Some days I cry a lot, and my mom's never far from my mind. Other days I hide  and pretend, or just watch TV to help me forget. 

Some days I really want to talk - to talk to people about how I'm doing, what it's like to miss her. Other days I act as if nothing's changed.

Some days I want to be taken care of - by my dad, by friends, by anyone whose willing to take the reins for a little while. Other days I want shout my independence from the rooftops and make every decision for myself. 

Some moments I want to cry on a friend's shoulder. Other moments I'd rather stifle my sobs and cry on my own. 

Some moments I'm really depressed, feeling nothing but deep pain. Other moments I'm reminded of life - even if it's something as simple as the smell of nectarines and the sound of MmmBop at the grocery store. 

How can you tell which moment, which day I'm having? Just ask. I promise to be honest. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I want to change. Anything. Everything. Something. 

I want a change so I have something tangible to remind me of the huge change that's just happened in my life. But it's not the olden days, so I can't wear black dresses for a year. And I'm not Jewish, so I can't pray the Kaddish every day. I like my hair the way it is, I don't really want any new piercings, and I'm still on a waiting list for my next tattoo. 

But everything has changed. Everything is different. Nothing is the same. 

And yet I find myself back in the same place, following the same routines. I'm back at work, I'm back in Oakland, I'm trying to get back to spending time with friends. But it feels too normal, too before, too easy to act as if she never died. (Even while, inside my head, I'm screaming "my mom just died!" to everyone I see. They need to know, they need to remember. It's too much of who I am for them not to notice.)

So I get rid of stuff (while adding my mom's books to my bookshelf). And I donate old clothes (while wearing her big grey sweater even when the weather's warm). And I look forward to the day when I can move to a different household and let go of all this furniture I've been holding on to. 

Everything has changed. The person who was with me my entire life is gone. And I'm left reeling in a world that's out of whack. 

So when you see me, it's okay to acknowledge that things have changed. Because things aren't "getting back to normal." And I'd rather not have to pretend that they are. 

Friday, May 10, 2013


A week after my mom died a friend, who lost her dad when she was in her twenties, sent me a text that said, "This first week can feel really long. Seeing other people live life like the most important thing didn't just happen. So distracting." 

I really appreciated that text when she sent it - it came while I was hanging out with a lot of friends, and feeling the tension of wanting to be there while my head and heart were somewhere else. 

But the text feels even more applicable now. Now that I'm not just hanging out in San Jose with my dad. Now that I'm back at work. Now that I'm interacting with people who didn't know my mom. Now that the memorial service is over. 

I know I'm hypersensitive. I know that things people say that never would have registered before hurt like jabs with a knife. It's shocking. It's painful. Every time. It's like people forget that the most important thing has just happened. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Best card ever

Some friends sent me this card today. It pretty much sums it up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Two weeks

It's been two weeks today since my mom died. And today I had to go back to work.

It was really hard - even just waking up early enough to get to a meeting was hard, especially after not falling asleep well last night (it's a new pattern; I can't fall asleep before 1:30am).

It was hard to jump back into the world of work - to think about metrics and measuring the impact of our projects after only having to worry about measuring my mom's morphine, or the number of days since she died. Even though I was surrounded by friends (well, virtually surrounded at least - the beauty of Google Hangouts) I had a hard time focusing. And the tears that I've been saving for times when I'm alone threatened to make our meeting really awkward.

I was exhausted after working for just a few hours. Being back at work was more exhausting than any day since she died. I don't know how to live in the world of work and the world of grief at the same time, even after so much practice for the last 20 months.

But tomorrow will be better. Or so they tell me.