They say it’s your birthday

Dear M,

It is your birthday today, our first without you. My college friend Lisa has been sending snail mail to me daily for the last week. Raining down on me like birthday confetti, each envelope with a surprise, a pink paper heart, a comic strip clipped from the paper. It makes my heart happy. You know how I love snail mail. In celebration of your birthday I thought about what you would do on this day. Mainly you would want to hang out with iMac and butter. You loved to share books and movies with them. I picked a movie I thought you would like: Catch Me if You Can with Tom Hanks and Leonardo Di Caprio. I brought dinner from Chik Fil A. We watched the first half of the movie tonight and we’ll watch the second tomorrow or Thursday. iMac got to see Christopher Walken and began to understand why I was opposed to naming a child Christopher. Christopher was tops on your list when we were picking names for our baby boys, but I just couldn’t do it because images of Christopher Walken kept coming to mind. I find him rather creepy. Cha has just hopped in into bed and Murph is in her crate. I’ll sign off because I have an early wake up tomorrow, 4:30 am.

Lots of love to you on your birthday,

S

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Hurricane Irma Letter

Dear M,

I hope this doesn’t become a regular thing, hurricane letters. I remember sitting on the couch with you talking about hurricanes. You said if Jacksonville gets hit with a Category 5 it will flood from the beach all the way to the St Johns. Irma was a category one when it got here 3 days ago. Downtown Jacksonville is still flooded. IMac and Butter filled 50 additional sandbags for me. Miraculously the water level only came up to the first layer of sandbags. In some neighborhoods whole houses filled with water.

I’m thinking of Idaho. I’ve never been there, but it seems sufficiently inland. Thinking back to my late 30’s when we were in Baku. A sparkle of a dream started there. When I think about becoming a nurse practitioner I don’t think about working in a Minute Clinic at CVS. I think about being in the foreign service and working in a US embassy. In the dream you are retired but tag along. Smaller dreams are getting enough sleep, exercising, having time to read a book or have coffee with a friend, losing my grief fat.

Cha started sleeping in our bed again during the hurricane. Time to stay close to Mom I suppose. I switched my white noise maker from Summer Nights to Thunderstorm. That sounds insignificant, but it’s part of my process of figuring out my likes and routines and not in relation to the people or animals I care for. It’s much harder than it sounds after so many years of identifying and catering to the needs of others. That’s all for now.

Love,

S

There’s No Place Like Home

Dear M,

It’s been a long time. I thought of Dorothy tonight. I thought of how I cried the first time I saw her on the COLOR tv at age 3 in my house on Oliver Street. Dad was so excited to tell me The Wizard of Oz would be on tv. We had one tv in the den. The whole day was anticipation. Then how perplexed Dad must have been by this 3 year old daughter who was devastated by the film. I just remember sadness and fear. Fast forward to me at 23, crying in the living room in front of the tv showing The Wizard of Oz fin the townhouse I shared with my 28 year old landlord and a rotation of others in the third bedroom. I knew I was perplexing, but it was all too hard to explain. Since my earliest memory I knew it to be true, there’s no place like home. I always had trouble feeling it, feeling at home. This last year I have done a lot of fake it til you make it: get up, go to work, do laundry, make dinner, lie down, try to sleep, get up, drive to work. Rinse Repeat, rinse repeat. This next year I think maybe I will start to figure out what feels like home. You did, feel like home.

You may have noticed that Houston just got hit by a terrible hurricane and flooding that still has not abated. Florida seems to be in the path of the next hurricane. We are told to prepare, but then there is also this. We must go to work, do homework, show up for XC and band as if nothing is happening. Until at the last minute they will say: Evacuate, get out of the state, oh well-too late. Oh by the way pick up 20 sandbags between 8 am and 5 pm which happen to be the hours you are downtown at work. I do want the sandbags, and not because I have any illusion they will make the slightest difference if we get a direct hit. If we get the bands at the edge of the hurricane, then the sandbags may help. I still have my Matthew sandbags, now for reinforcements. They will help if it’s just a little backyard flooding, but that’s it. I wonder if that’s how I should invest my time. I’m tired. I’ll go to bed and get up at 4:30 to get Butter to XC practice as if none of this is happening. It just might not. Your birthday is coming up. Then 9 days after your death day. September was a big month for you.

Lots of love,

S