Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Aniversary, Mom and Dad

Today would have been my parents' 32nd wedding anniversary. Sally passed just a week before their 25th. Today I'm smiling thinking of what a terrific couple they were! Love ya, Dad.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is it true summer's ending?

I know *technically* summer doesn't end until late September. But already a window breeze has replaced the air conditioner and brown leaves crunch under my flip-flops and in my heart I know that fall's around the corner.

I'm always sad to say goodbye to summer. It seems strange to say that, since I told you recently that August makes me sad. But the truth is, I'm a summer baby. Born on the 14th of July, I can't help but love the hot hot heat blasting down on my pale skin. New York City feels alive in the summer, too. Friends have dinner on sidewalk cafes or share beers in backyard gardens or gather for picnics in Central Park. There's a buzz that doesn't exist any other time of year.

Fall 2009 is going to be a big and busy time. I'm going to be a professor. Mark's working hard on freelance design projects. Suddenly it feels like our summer move-in was so long ago, and our work-work-work routine has taken over.

How do people balance it all, all the time? Was it any easier in the olden days?

I think of my parents in their younger days, two teachers in Queens who had the summers off. They, too, used to feel this way in late August: the half dread/half excitement of a new school year starting. Now I'm a teacher like them, diving into a career I always thought I'd love.

Less dread, more excitement. I think that's the lesson learned at 1AM tonight. Now, time for bed!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

All I can do is keep breathing

I hope you don't think I'm copping out by posting so many songs this week. It's just that during stressful times, music is the only thing that calms me. Ingrid Michaelson's "Keep Breathing" was introduced to most on the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack. Listening to it calms me as much as yoga. I hope it relaxes you, too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

7 Years Later: How to let go of negative thoughts

Hi friends,

Well, today is the day. The "deathiversary," as I've coined it, even though I'm still trying to think of a more positive word. August 19, 2009: 7 years since Sally passed away.

When I woke up this morning that was my first thought: 7 years. And then I thought of the curse we taunt as children: Break a mirror, 7 years of bad luck. I endured my 7 years, not necessarily of bad luck, but of longing and missing and wishing for impossibilities -- similar to the characters in The Lovely Bones. Now, today, 7 years later, I want to be rid of it. I don't know if you can get rid of grief entirely, but I'd at least like to exchange the bad luck grief for the good luck grief.

So I'm doing things differently today. For the first time in 7 years, I'm going to work instead of taking the day off. I know some of you had different ideas of what I should do today, but this seemed like the right idea. I'm not giving up the tradition of going to the cemetery with my family entirely. We just plan to go on Sunday instead.

I also tried to treat the month of August differently this year. In the past, I've let the whole month be sabotaged by this date. I've relived every second of her last summer. I've despised August. On August 1st of this year, I woke up in Chicago feeling full of dread. I went for a run and decided mid-run that I was in control of August. I could choose to have a good month and focus on the positive. And most days this month, I didn't even have to remind myself to be happy. It just happened because I had established a new mindset.

Focusing on the positive can be difficult. A few weeks ago, I saw the first cockroach in my new apartment, and after that I put on my "Bardach Surveillance Camera" and scanned the apartment for more. Soon I realized I was dreading coming home, even though I had been so happy here with Mark until then. So lately, every time I think of the cockroach, I immediately think of something positive to counter it, like how much I love all our plants that hang in our sun-filled windows. Similarly, today I don't want to think about all the negative. I just want to remember Sally as someone I really loved talking to, the best conversationalist you could get on the phone, the wisest words echoing out of this little 5-foot woman.

Mom, today I let go of the negativity. I let go, I let go, I let go.

What do you do on the "deathiversary" of someone you loved? And can you PLEASE help me think of a better name!


Monday, August 17, 2009

If you just smile...

When I miss my mom, I sing this song to myself. I first heard it in My Girl 2. It's from the scene where Vada finds home videos of her mom, who died giving birth to her. Scroll to 1:40 to hear her sing the song...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Did Sally tell me to read The Lovely Bones?

As I walked to work yesterday morning, anxious to get some last-chance August sun on my skin, I couldn't shake away a thought: Sally wanted me to read The Lovely Bones.

I picked the book off my shelf a week ago. It had been on the Banned Book List, a group of books my college roommates told me not to read after my mom died. It made sense at the time, since it's about a girl who is murdered and watches her family from heaven. But now, 7 years later, I felt ready for it. Since starting, I haven't been able to put it down. On subway rides I am unaware of anything around me, completely engrossed in the pages. In sleep, a murderer haunts my dreams and I try to fight him off with punches and persuasion.

For the past 2 weeks, I've tried to ignore August. I've tried to focus on what's good: my new apartment with Mark, the warm weather that finally arrived after a rainy June and July, the prospect of being a professor in the fall. I've tried to say it's just another month, even though it's the month my mother died. But The Lovely Bones will not let August rest.

In the book, Susie (the girl who was murdered) goes to some kind of afterlife and soon discovers that unless she stops watching her family on Earth, they will continue to be obsessed with her death and finding her murderer. Likewise, she will never reach heaven.

Especially since it's August, and 7 years since my mom died, it makes me wonder about where my family is and where my mom is. Is writing this blog keeping her from reaching heaven? Do I need to cut the strings and let her go, let me go?

Maybe Sally nudged me to pick the book off the shelf. Nothing in August is ever pure coincidence. And even though it's 7 years later, maybe I'm still not equipped to read books like this.

The 19th of August, the anniversary of when she died, is approaching fast. I could use your advice.