Archive for November, 2017

Dear Mom, I Miss You

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

How fragile we are, between the few good moments.
~Jane Hirshfield

On November 30, 2009, my mother became an ancestor. Exactly one week later, on December 7, 2009, I met my son. These major life changes did not happen in a vacuum, they came when there were bills to pay, a friend’s daughter to grieve for, the aftermath of a tragic flood, a marriage ended, a love lost, a brother in prison, ongoing family mental illness, and profound darkness that seemed always ready to obscure the light.

At my mother’s funeral, I stood to speak, and my sister shouted, “You killed our mother!” I wrote the eulogy here and her husband commented that I made it up. I can look back on it now and see the humor in the moment. A friend described it as the most bizarre funeral she had ever been to that while I was standing up at the podium and my sister and brother were shouting at me, I was making the crazy sign as I spoke, unflustered.

My mother had given me medical power of attorney because she knew I was the one capable of putting a Do Not Resuscitate on her chart after two code blues and six months in the ICU with permanent tubes in every orifice. My mother had also given me so much more. She gave me fortitude.

After spoon feeding and cleaning up after my mother, I found myself spoon feeding and cleaning up after my son. Her presence surrounded me while I put the spoon to his mouth, swaddled him in a blanket, changed his diaper, and held him close to tell him I love him. She had taught me how to love; how to be a mother. She and her mother, my beloved grandmother, both said in their old age that the singular thing in their life that had made them happy was their children.

Next week, my son and I will celebrate our family anniversary, his adoption birthday, his homecoming. These events only one week apart are indelible bookends in my life. And always between the lowest point, my mother’s passing, and the highest point, meeting my son, are the days of ordinary living.

Eulogy for Little Harry

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Eulogy for Little Harry
A Super Nova Kitty Cat

Our love bug, big blue-eyed Little Harry, left us tonight.

He was four months old when he came to us. We named him Little Harry after my brother’s Siamese cat “Little” and also since he was Tin’s Hanukkah Harry gift.

We hoped he was a Hanukkah miracle.

And he was.

He used up three of his nine lives but didn’t make it through the 4th.

He brought the miracle of love into our family. He was a gift.

We are grieving.

He had the habit of putting his paw on my cheek to beg for my touch. He liked to lie in the middle of any game that Tin was playing. During the day he would hop on my desk and insist I pay attention even by coming between me and my work, tossing all of my paperwork and calendar to the floor and chewing the headset chord of my phone in half to make sure I noticed him.

At night he would hop on my bed and tuck his nose into my neck, slip his paw on top of my chest, and purr me to sleep.

He loved to be carried around like a baby.

But he was no angel.

He was a straw stealing, glass breaking, Ziploc bag hiding, paper shade ripping, slipper thieving, houseplant eating, kitchen-counter lounging, toe attacking, consummate shedding, Lego munching, sink occupying, night crawling, head pouncing at all hours of the night gato malo.

He loved dogs.

He loved the front window where he would watch the world go by.

He loved the back window where he would lie in the sunlight.

He wanted outside badly, but his Leukemia prevented him from that luxury.

When he got sick we wrapped him like a burrito and carried him around.

When he got sick we let him sit on the back steps with his cat leash on.

When he got sick he broke our hearts.

When he got sick he was no longer a kitty cat. He was a sick cat.

Little Harry was a Super Nova – burned so bright – and left a big Black Hole.


Friday, November 10th, 2017

I started this blog in 2004 and then I started writing another blog about raising my son. Then I spent three years writing a book called The Elephant in the Playground. Then fellow published writers suggested I write instead a different book, a book that was more my story, so I began writing essays towards a memoir. And in the meantime, I wrote another book, Meditations on Race and Parenting.

This year one of my essays, completely off the topics I have been writing about over the past few years, was chosen to be included in an anthology called Letters to My Ex.

As I dragged my feet through the well worn path around Bayou St. John yesterday listening to Ram Dass, courtesy of my friend, Susie, who always throws Dass at my problems. Dass spoke about non-attachment. Ahhh, the thing that we seekers of a higher plane of living so desire but so rarely achieve. Dass says just work hard, work at what you do, but do not be attached to the outcome.


That’s nirvana.

This is what I am writing for.

That is what I’m living for.