JV Champs

Dear M,

Wednesday: Exciting times here. Tonight was the last meet for the JV cross country season. Middle of the week night meet. Waking up at a leisurely 6 am tomorrow, Do you hear that? How glorious! Just last weekend I was doubting whether I needed my upcoming sinus surgery. Then yesterday wham! Last night I lay awake from 12-3 with fever and chills. Of course went to work today because … all the reasons that are most likely nonsense. Staffing was skimpy today though so I know it would have been a burden to the other nurses. The good news is that my ENT surgeon called in some antibiotics instead of making me come to the office for a third visit in as many weeks. Further good news is that I am convinced the time to do this is now. I’m very headachey without my trusty friends Goody’s headache powder or ibuprofen. Sadly I am not allowed to take them for 10 days prior to surgery.

Friday: I went for my pre-op appointment with anesthesiology today. They repeated my EKG 5 times, moved the stickies around, detached and reattached leads, brought different people in to tweak stuff and then finally concluded that cardiology will have to look at it next week. The machine thinks I had an anterior infarct(heart attack) sometime in the past. They tried to blame my boobs, poor things.

You know I love me some Brene Brown. I love when she quotes Teddy Roosevelt’s speech on the man in the arena. That said I have been in the arena a long long time and would not be a bit surprised if I had an anterior infarct in that arena, because there really was no “letting up.”

Butter has taken to saying “I just need a break. Dad died and we got three days off and then we just had to keep going.” It’s the damn truth and it’s ridiculous. Who wouldn’t have a little wear and tear on the heart after all the keeping going, going, going, going. Gosh early retirement is looking good to me. Maybe 59. That’s seven years away. I may need to be creative and come up with a plan D. I couldn’t bring myself to read Option B by Sheryl Sandburg, who is now a grief guru among other things. So I’m going to invent plan D. First I think a nap would be in order. I’ll try to work on Plan D while I wait to hear from Cardiology next week. Not to worry dear, I am not ignoring Butter through all this. We have been in intense talks for weeks about the pressure, school, missing you, not having any peers who understand. As you would have, I have got the pros on the job too. I’m not going to drop the ball. I am just tired. I wish I could lie down and really rest with the knowledge that someone else could be in charge for a bit. I’m heading out in a few with my trusty and loyal sidekick Miss Murphy, to pick Butter up from a friend’s house and then to bed we’ll go. Honk shoo! Honk Shoo! That’s the sound of me snoring.

Love,

S

Advertisements

The 80’s

Dear M,

We have reached the magical cool breezes of the 80’s here in Florida, finally, in October. I can stand outside for 5 minutes without the drench of summer. The dryer is acting up again. Last night I dreamt that a washer and dryer had been dropped off in the driveway for me to assess. I took photos of them and sent them to you to see what you thought. In the dream you are on a business trip, a very long one, because it is present day and you’ve been gone for like 2 years! I am texting you to see if you are okay with going back to the old fashioned top loading variety without all the digital lights and buttons and settings. You are all in. My current quirky washer dryer, courtesy of our landlady is a 10 year old digital bells and whistles set that is prettier than it is functional. I think I have at least a week of using my drying rack ahead of me. I don’t really mind that except that I don’t have enough racks for all the outfits and towels generated in a day in the life of our 16 year old cross country running youngest son. Yesterday I watched some football with him, UF vs. LSU. Happily your Alma mater UF won. I spent the evening watching Sicario 2, Day of the Soldado with our eldest imac. It was not a great film, but I love me some Benecio del Toro. Imac was home for hanging out and dinner and decided to spend the night since it was late. I deferred the dishes until this morning since Butter was already asleep when imac and I finished the movie. I didn’t want to wake Butter with the racket I make doing dishes. Butter had a stellar day at his XC meet. He pr’d or set a personal record, running a 5 K in less than 21 minutes, which has been his goal all season. We have just one more race, JV Championships, a week from Wednesday. He has a lot of regret about not getting into a sport when you were still here. He wants to share this with you so badly.

I may have told you this already. On October 25th I’m having the sinus surgery I put off when you were sick. I so hope it does the trick. As you know I am petrified of general anesthesia and surgery in general, because hey I’m a nurse and I know how many things must go right. Our friend Rose from church is taking me.

Our sweet dog, Miss Murphy, has been a bit out of sorts since imac moved on campus in August. She’s much more protective of me and seems to think that babies and toddlers and strollers are putting me in peril. This results in not very relaxing walks through the neighborhood. So I hired a trainer, starts next weekend. Seems a bit extravagant. Although I checked with you about the washer/dryer in my dream, I’m not checking with you on this one.

Love,

S

September

Dear M,

It’s September. What can I say? You were born in this month 69 years ago and you died in this months 2 years ago. It’s a big month in our family. Our Watkins parade of birthdays; iMac’s in June, mine in July, Butter’s in August, yours in September, is now punctuated by a death day. The lights and electronics in the house started acting strangely again a few weeks ago. Lights flickering when I enter a room or when Butter sits down at the table across from your chair to do his homework. The microwave turning ON when it’s door is opened. Even the flashlight is flickering. The microwave is going out with the trash tomorrow, so don’t worry about it. Undoubtedly it could be said that I am over reading the lights and electronics this time, but it does remind me of the few months after you died. In my mind it is you talking to me.

Imac was home from college on Saturday, borrowing my carpet cleaner and going with me to Goodyear to get a front tire checked out. He remarked that evacuating his dorm if deemed necessary this hurricane season won’t be so hard as evacuating our house because he doesn’t have any emotional attachment to the dorm.

The house we’ve evacuated for the last two years isn’t really ours anyway. It’s a rental. I am glad for that. I don’t feel personally responsible for it’s defects. It is full of memories of our family. That will be hard for me to leave when it is time. I am reminded of how strange our city apartment at 25/26 Suleyman Rahimov Street was when we first moved in and how by the time we left, it was home.

I can see how fast time is moving now and I can see that in 3 short years it will be just me. I keep myself from panicking about it by watching Tiny House videos on YouTube. They don’t look empty, like someone is missing. They look just right with one person and a dog. Murphy grounds me with her feeding, sleeping, walking, playing schedule. She barks me into the present again. It has always been a hard place for me to live, right now, here, in this moment.

Love,

S

Light and Dark

Dear M,

I just finished watching Sharp Objects on HBO. After I watched the first episode the kids told me I couldn’t watch anymore. They said I’m not old enough. I had nightmares that night and thought, “Maybe they’re right.” The story called me back. I missed the second week, but by week three I was reeled back in for the characters, the mood, the soundtrack, the mystery, the beauty, the darkness. I felt compelled to see it through and I somehow felt so at home there in the beautiful scenery, the appearances that must be kept up. The strangeness of the mother Adora and the way she interacted with her children, the way they existed only in relation to her. Seemingly caring, but something wrong at the core. Watching the way her living children Amma and Camille chose their responses: one a fighter, one a pleaser and the ways it hurt them inside and out. Adora handing down the legacy of her own relationship with her mother Joya to Camille and Amma.

I wonder what kind of mother I have been, especially to imac, the first. It wasn’t what I pictured it would be, not as deliberate and planned, I didn’t picture the haphazard: me barely making deadlines for school forms, volunteer sign ups, scrambling to get dinner made or the supplies for the project in time. That’s not what I pictured, but what I pictured was a story. I hope imac and butter don’t think it means I didn’t care or didn’t love them. I hope that’s not their childhood memory. Mostly they will remember that I was at work I think, because mostly I was at work 50 hours a week and commuting 10. Maybe they’ll remember that I made good grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup and shortbread cookies. Imac came home from college last Saturday. I served grilled cheese. And shortbread cookies, which happen to be the easiest cookie to make in the world. That’s a well kept secret. Other moms don’t make shortbread cookies, except for Mrs. who was my ultimate Mom role model. Mrs. was the mom of my neighborhood childhood friend and I spent as much time as I could around her soaking in her light. My Mom could be the life of the party, the best hostess, the funniest, but always a bit off. I’d put my trust in her and then remember that it was a mistake. I gave her second chance after second chance. I hope my kids give me as many chances as I gave Mom.

Today was a lucky day for me. I got to spend it with CMcC, my dear friend who introduced us, who talked me into making that first phone call to invite you to a movie. She still lights up a room, even a waiting room in a medical center, which is where we were. Fingers crossed and toes crossed that she is eligible and gets selected soon for a kidney transplant. That’s what she’s here for, to find out. I’ve been in a lot of medical centers over the years with you, Mom, Dad, for work. I liked that there were NO televisions in any of the waiting rooms at this medical center. It was fantastic. There’s nothing worse than waiting for some kind of medical news and having CNN or FOX or the WEATHER channel blaring at you about upcoming catastrophes or just past catastrophes. The quiet was wonderful. While I waited I befriended a couple of 92 year olds. They told me they have been married for 44 years, second marriage for both. Nicest people and so dear to each other. She was the patient but wanted to make sure he had a blanket in case he got cold in the waiting room. She explained that she had forgotten to remind him to bring a jacket. I love seeing people be good to each other.

This afternoon I was home with Butter who has his first cold of the school year. Chicken soup and saltines and ginger ale today. I’ll write more soon. Love you lots,

S

Dreams

Dear M,

First an apology, a small one. I may have implied that the Ivy Leagues are homogenous houses of white people, which was not my intent in my last letter. They were homogenous houses of white men when you attended, but no longer.

Now onto dreams. The other day at work another nurse said to me “I wish I had enough money to get my nails done every two weeks.” It is my gift that I decided to give myself for your birthday last year. I advised her that I had given myself this gift for the rest of my life if I care to continue it that long. I was unapologetic. It makes me smile. I look at these hands and I say: “We can do this. We got this, hands. We got this.” Whether they are hidden in purple non-latex gloves at work or out and about they give me just that little boost, that little step up.

Bigger dreams. I do feel like I have the incredible shrinking family, things aren’t quite going in the usual order, with you leaving first. In one month imac will be at college. I really had no vision for what life would look like after kids. Well the vision I had was unrealistic because you were here with me. If we were together, it was home. So now I get to try out ideas, to pretend and envision what it might look like in 3 years when it is just me, Murphy and hopefully Cha. First I think, it’s awfully hot here, awfully hot. Do I like that? Not really. I look at overpriced smallish houses on walks with Murphy, knowing full well that the next hurricane might not be as forgiving as the last two. The price belies that. Mostly the houses do nothing for me. They are adequate homes with extravagant prices for being in flood zone A. They don’t make me smile. They don’t look like home. That’s it really, like Dorothy, I can’t seem to find home. Sorrow is set into motion when I watch the Wizard of Oz. I haven’t watched it on purpose in over 25 years. I still remember watching it for the first time on our color tv on Oliver Street in 1969. My Dad was so excited to share this wonderful movie with me. I was haunted by the loss of home for at least a week afterwards.

My new favorite pastime is watching Tiny House videos on YouTube. Yes, it’s a thing. I have now graduated to shipping container houses. It thinks that’s where it’s really at for me. Not quite so tiny when you put two shipping containers side by side to make one house. I like the idea of re-purposing, of small, efficient, of choosing the interior materials, layout, everything, myself. Just now, while on our evening walk I thought I might like to have a donkey again. It’s a commitment of course, and one I can’t make now. Maybe the thing is to just find some donkeys nearby and hang out with them. I just thought “Hey I’m going to be free to build my dream. Why not add some donkeys.” Then I remember that donkeys don’t let you sleep in. If you are late for breakfast all bets are off and the braying begins.

This morning I was up at 3:15 to get Butter ready for his big trip with BoyScouts. Will M’s Dad helped him with his new fishing pole, a compact version that both Butter and Will M have, good for fitting into their 30 liter dry bags. At 4 a.m. we got in the car with Pam, Will M. And Butter. Pam and I dropped the boys at the airport and were back in our homes by 6. I walked Murphy and then back to sleep. Imac got up at 10 and took over Murphy duty so I could sleep some more, which I did until 12:40 pm. It was rainy and thundering, perfect sleeping weather. I can’t recall the last time I slept that much, probably 18 years ago, before imac was born. That’s all for now. Time for bed.

Love,

S

Remember

Dear M,

There has been a lot of remembering this summer. You are especially absent now. Last summer we were all too stunned. It’s not that we didn’t notice. We were still so out of breath, winded by your long illness, suffering, death.

Now we can miss all of the plans you made for us, big and small. Trips to library or the beach. Camps and mission trips you would sign the kids up for without their knowledge or mine. You were pretty sure you were always right and it would all work out once you notified us of your plans for us. It usually did. Summer has raised my blood pressure and brought the return of  nightmares. I might be on the downslope back to normal as fall and routines and order return. I made summer plans for the boys, but not chock full plans. Then I remember I have always been undone by summer break, Christmas break, trips anywhere. There is always a long recovery back to routines or normalish. Sometimes I come back from a trip and just decide my routines were stupid. I’m not doing them anymore. Work, nope. Laundry, nope. Exercise, nope. Getting out of bed? Again? Everyday? Really? Transition malaise is real and if I remember that then there’s a chance for my return.

It was my birthday last week. I wrote it in BIG letters on the calendar. Both boys forgot, but MK remembered me with a sweet gift bag at the front door. I got a nice postcard from your cousin Katherine on my birthday. I wrote “It’s Sarah’s Birthday” in GIGANTIC letters on the white board at work, so I got about 30 happy birthday wishes there. I got phone calls from elementary to high school friends, two million facebook birthday greetings. Texts and emails from so many phases of my life.

On the way home from Riverton last week, with imac driving, the demise of your van’s transmission began. Long story short I got a new transmission AND new brakes for my birthday. Feeling super safe now. In November I’ll turn the van over to Butter. Some people think it’s extravagant to give him the van. In some ways it is. In other ways it’s simply that I can’t be two places at once and I can’t get time off from work to get him to all the places. When I have occasion to park in the student luxury parking lot at school it doesn’t seem so over the top to me. It’s perspective. I hope the kids get some, in spite of living here on White Island. I know you were hoping for Ivy League for them. Getting in is mostly a game of crafting your intellect, your strategically chosen volunteer activities and club memberships into someone you can sell, someone who may not even be you. I’ve never been a fan. Sure the education is excellent and the networking advantages cannot be duplicated. That’s great, but it’s not real life. Real life to me is a state school, a community college, a Catholic school. Places where everyone doesn’t look and think exactly like you are good for the soul.

I’m not in your shadow anymore. Now they see Mom work 50 hours a week, commute 10 hours a week, get transmissions repaired, remove splinters, hem pants, listen to lengthy descriptions of songs I’ve never heard or games I’ve never played, fall asleep at 8:30 pm, be imperfect but always sincere, struggle, get up again. I don’t aim for perfect. I aim for the best that I have to give at this moment in time. Although we would be arguing right now about colleges, I love you anyway.

 

Love,

S

A Place called Home

Dear M,

I think you would be pleased about our annual pilgrimage to Riverton this summer. I don’t know if I ever promised out loud, but I think you understood that I would carry on your tradition. The boys, Murphy and I spent Saturday morning preparing. At 15 and 17 I think they understood for the first time that our departure time directly correlates with the effort they put forth in packing and getting the household chores done. We left at 1:30 pm and arrived in Riverton around 10 pm. Imac drove the whole way, much to Butter’s chagrin. It was iMac’s first time REALLY driving I-95, aside from the 10 -20 minute stretch of 95 that gets me to work.

imac figures that next summer he may want to drive up himself. You know he usually waits to be voluntold in scenarios that require some stretching beyond his current scope of experience. Butter asked me to drive at every rest stop or gas station, when imac was our of earshot of course. I explained to him that this is how the learning happens. He just hoped not to be in the car while it was happening.

Sunday I grocery shopped and menu planned for the week. It was HOT as always, but I think we have finally mastered our perfect fan configuration since the gigantic house fan died or rather became a fire hazard. Just constant sweating really. Murphy napped intensively throughout the trip. A bit hot for fetch. She also frolicked in the river with Doug’s dog Carly. I went on lots of walks. As soon as I would get dressed after a shower I was dripping sweat again. I didn’t bother with my hair. No amount of product is a match for that humidity.

The boys wanted to know how long I had been coming here and how you got me to come back a second time. Twenty six years and by marrying me are the answers. Then they wanted to know if they had missed any summers or Fourth of July picnics. Only one, the year we moved to the Republic of Georgia in May.

Truth be told it was more relaxing than home, in spite of cooking, shopping and cleaning. All the usual tasks of my daily life but without spending an additional 45-48 hours at work too. Your brothers did a bang up job getting the house ready. No surprises this year, like the dead squirrel in the sofa, featured on a prior summer visit. No convicts recently escaped from the penitentiary either. No leaking roof with soaking wet King size mattress underneath. The house had been broken into since we were there last. That freaked the kids out a bit. Nothing taken though. Fridge, dishwasher, hot water heater, pump, and washing machine still in place. Must have gotten scared off.

We attended Riverton night at the winery. The program of songs had been reworked and actually matched the order that we sang them. Shall we Gather at the River was the second or third song. The first and last time I had sung that song was at your memorial just before Butter and Doug paddled out into the river to sprinkle your ashes. I remembered too the last thing you said to me, “I’m crossing the river now Saire.” The tears just rained down. I brought NO KLEENEX! Are you kidding me, no Kleenex! What was I thinking? Your sweet cousin Stacey came over and just hugged me relentlessly and it was perfect.

Just wanted you to know, we’ll keep going back, carrying on the tradition, returning to your childhood summertime home.

Love,

S

On Grief and Despair

Dear M,

I know the title of this letter is misleading. It might make you think I am at the DEPTHS right now. I am not at this moment at the depths, thankfully. I just came in from walking our sweet dog and I just kissed our sweet oldest boy iMac on the head as he talked about college REALLY happening. He went to orientation earlier this week and registered for classes and got his Student ID. I dropped Butter off this morning at National Youth Leadership Training outside Atlanta, where he is actually one of the trainers this year. The last hour of the six hour drive was beautiful, hilly, rural, tree lined. It reminded me very much of upper Montgomery County where I grew up before the DC suburbs exploded and took over our farms and woods. Georgia of course has more pines. The pines then led me to think of a favorite song, Tall Trees in Georgia as sung by the late Eva Cassidy. She succumbed to your same malady many years before you. We did miss you last night. Butter of course forgot to pack many items. As we neared our destination his Senior Patrol Leader sent a list of additional items to bring, so we detoured to Walmart. I was cozy in bed in my pajamas when Butter announced “Um Mom, you know the health forms you asked me to scan and email on Tuesday? I forgot to attach them to the email.”

I also told him to photograph the forms so he would have a copy of them on his phone. That didn’t happen either. Then I could bonk myself over the head for thinking my 15 year old didn’t need a little confirmation and follow up on these tasks from Mom.

Butter said “Hey Mom what do you think Dad would be doing right now?” I replied,”Sleeping!!!!” You would have handed the baton over to me at this point definitely. We contacted iMac back at the homestead. Imac was able to scan and email the forms to us from home, so that snafu was resolved by 10:45. I fell fast asleep only to be awoken every 5 minutes by Butter with announcements of his latest backpack organization ideas until about 11:30 pm when he ran out of giddiness. He did help keep me alert on the drive. I am so conditioned to be a sleeping passenger while you drive on long car rides.

I digress. So this week in celebrity news, Kate Spade, a fashion designer that you wouldn’t know and Anthony Bourdain, who’s memoir you read, both committed suicide. All the columnists and broadcasters are abuzz about what could have/should have been done, the whys, the where does this come from. It’s a good thing I think in the long run to create some awareness around depression and suicide. Really too big of a topic for a news clip or a sound bite.

You knew my story and you loved me anyway. Looking back I tend to think I was just born this way. Certainly there were events in my life that were triggers, but fundamentally I think I came with a lot of smarts, intuition and creativity. The depression is just part of the package, like value added. NOW with DEPRESSION added at NO extra cost. The intuition has been almost like an extra sense. It’s hard to turn it off. Antennae with a 500 mile radius sensing the moods of the people and the zeitgeist of the world around me, a gift and a curse. Periods of sadness came and went over the years. I remember it as early as my first memories around 3 years old. In my immediate circle, “Oh that’s just Sarah.” The sadness accelerated and gained more power between 18 and 20, until one day the constant crying was so noticeable that my anti-psychiatry father gave my mother the go ahead to find a psychiatrist for me and convince me to go. These were the days before Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. So it was talk therapy for me, twice a week. I didn’t even seem to realize that was really VERY often, that most people don’t need to go twice a week. I think there were weeks I went three times. They were also the days when insurance paid for talk therapy. It saved me. I was able to finish college on time because of it. I didn’t even ask what I was being treated for, I just went because it made things better. I was in therapy for 5 years before I heard the word depression and understood that what was wrong with me had a name. Learning that coincided with the FDA approving the first SSRI for use in the United States, Prozac. It took me about 6 months to be willing to take it after my psychiatrist suggested it. I still felt obligated to pull on those bootstraps. I quit Prozac three times over 25 years, just to see, you know, if I was better. Within 6 weeks I was back at the bottom of the pit each time. People have had lots of suggestions, most of which amount to “Try harder!!!! To be happy!!! Your life is good!” Cognitively I knew it was good, and I tried lots of things, meditation, yoga, nutritional changes, acupuncture, job changes, church, bible study, smoothies, running, allergy shots, sleeping, reading.

The Prozac helped. I could get out of bed without thinking “Now how long will it be until bedtime again?” Still through the years I fell back in to the pit, most notably for about 18 months after iMac and Butters births. I got good at feigning normalcy and then retreating when that was too hard.

During your illness the Prozac wasn’t cutting it anymore, as anxiety was ever present and the fakery of normalcy between your medical crises depleted my reserves. The heinous and horrible headaches were coming now monthly, then weekly. I changed to Cymbalta and relief came, pressure was lifting.

Then you died. Along came grief. I retreated a lot, because people wanted to know this or pretended to want to know: “How ARE you????” You can’t just tell people the answer to that question because they will want to have you committed. So more fakery. I knew I was just where I was supposed to be… in the hardest, most tormenting and painful place, akin to having my head held underwater by a tight grip on the back of my head, holding my breath, telling myself I CAN DO THIS, reminding me of what I am capable of and not knowing when it would let up. But the grief intermingles with the depression and that can be tricky. I recently went for my refill check up with my current psychiatrist. That’s also when they try to sort out what part is grief and what part is depression. I don’t worry about this detail much anymore. Ah how things have changed, 15 minutes every 6 months @ $150/visit to determine if I should get a refill, am on appropriate treatment etc etc. It’s a cheap imitation, but I’ll take it. Something interesting came out of this 15 minute session. The psychiatrist said these words, “Recent studies show that your type of depression may be caused by inflammation in the brain.” That is the sweetest thing to say! I thought, what a nice fellow, letting me off the hook like that. While I can’t speak for other sufferers I am always looking for what I did wrong, what I need to do differently, trying to fix, correct, remediate this condition with will power. Now maybe there is more to this than just my personal effort.

I’ve been running this fall as you know. I hit a major obstacle 3 months in, with allergies and the resultant wheezing/coughing/asthma. The running felt great, and horrible too. But overall great, like an exponent for every positive thing I was doing to feel better and get better. So when the asthma kicked in, I missed the running desperately and went back to my old friend CARBOHYDRATES, who disappointed me once again. I will never learn. Then I discovered that I can get the same result if I really seriously use a stationary bike and without the wheezing and coughing. So I am taking virtual spinning classes in the living room on my iPad.

There were times in our marriage when you saw the depression and times when you had no idea or maybe you just felt like “why is this happening again?” Truthfully that’s what I think to myself too. Again, really, aren’t we done with this?” I think the depression scared you too because it defied logic and perhaps you thought it was your fault as I often think it is mine.

So why did Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain commit suicide? I don’t know. I just know a little something about where they’ve been.

The strangest feeling I had after you died was that I shouldn’t be here and that part of me had already left, like you were pulling on me or a bit of my sweater got caught up and I was being pulled very very hard away from my life on earth. The feeling lessens. The lights don’t flicker when I enter our room anymore. I think you might be at peace. Do know this, that I am determined to stay, that I am planning to be here for the graduations from high school and college, for their first jobs and first loves, and maybe marriages, and hopefully grandchildren. I want to travel again. To see dear sweet Fiona, maybe when she is in London. Fiona and I had planned years ago to go to St. Petersburg. You and I planned to take the kids to Egypt. Such another life it was and it still can be for me. Maybe another trip to New York with Molly. It would be amazing to go back to Baku to see Farkhad and Liana and Sabina.

Love,

S

Graduation

Dear M,

Just a minute ago I was pushing a stroller with a beautiful black haired, blue eyed baby who laughed in his sleep. Saturday he graduates from high school. I bought the special tickets, the ones that you have to line up for at 6 am in front of the school- those tickets. It’s silly but it is important. There was an ultra competitive Mom who got there at 4:15 am. She claimed insomnia made her do it, but I don’t believe her. A few hours of awkwardness for me with the driven tiger moms. This is more important than awards for achievement. This is endurance, fortitude, humility, quiet determination for our baby boy. I must see him up close. I must BE “the parents.” It was nice to share the blame for bad parenting with you when you were here. Now I find myself holding the bag and hoping I am doing ok. It’s hard without you encouraging me and reminding of what the books say. The very same books I recommended but didn’t find time to read

Golf clubs and pie pans

Dear M,

I miss you and you+me. I underestimated the “+” when we were both here on earth together. I am a bit frayed , threads still visible where the fabric was torn. Some of my struggles seem silly but the struggle is real. I have been struggling with your golf clubs and pie pans for months. As you know I don’t play golf and I don’t bake pies. Yes, the kids might take up golf some day, but not likely until after college if real jobs afford them a pastime like golf. I finally put the golf clubs and four of your pie pans in the van. Truthfully this is the second time. The first time I changed my mind and returned them to the house and garage. I drove over to the used sporting goods store only to find they were permanently closed for business. One Florida strip mall over I found Goodwill. I deliberated about the political correctness of Goodwill vs. Salvation Army. Knowing the correct choice would have been the Salvation Army. Salvation Army would mean more driving and another chance to change my mind. Goodwill it was. The clerk announced,”It’s golf club day! Everyone is cleaning out their garage today and bringing in those golf clubs.”

Remember you were rolling out a piecrust the first time I called you at your house on Capitol Hill? You had to call me back, as you explained, rolling out a pie crust is a delicate matter. I digress.

I returned to the house knowing that going to Goodwill with a dead husband’s belongings wasn’t the kind of victory that I could share with just anyone. It would make people uncomfortable. I didn’t want to make the boys sad since they still see your belongings as a part of you. They are not golfers and they are not pie makers but you were. I distracted myself by hopping on my exercise bike. It wasn’t working by itself, so I added some tv. Seinfeld reruns might make me laugh. I always enjoyed Seinfeld during its original run. This episode I’d never seen: The Bottle Deposit. Elaine loses the golf clubs won at auction for her boss Mr. Peterman. The clubs, previously owned by JFK, have been left in the backseat of Jerry’s Saab. Jerry’s auto mechanic Steve decides he cares more about Jerry’s car than Jerry. Steve absconds with the car and the golf clubs. Kramer and his friend Newman, the mailman, make a mission to Michigan with garbage bags full of soda cans and bottles they hope to return for the five cent deposit. En route to Michigan Kramer spots Jerry’s Saab and a very slow car chase ensues. Kramer realizes that Newman is weighing down the mail truck and slowing the chase. In order to offload some weight Kramer speeds off after convincing Newman that he has pulled over so Newman could visit a non-existent roadside pie stand.

So it was that I knew I’d done the right thing about the clubs and the pans.

Love,

S