5.24.15 My Daughter, and Her’s



    So my plan was to write about something else – something funny and lighthearted and not … this.  But if I didn’t talk about it, about her, I feel as if I would be introducing you to a terrible, tragic story without hope.  And in my life, as anyone who knows me, knows about me – hope dies last.  Inspired by the Italian proverb, “Hope is the last thing ever lost,” it has become a bit of a mantra.  

     My husband and I were talking with some great friends of ours tonight over dinner, presenting questions to one another in an attempt to enrich and enliven our dinner conversation.  The question was raised, “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned.”  My friend said to live in the moment.  This struck a particular chord with me, as all week I have been inadvertently comparing my days with my daughter, and her’s – the mother of Taina, (my student suffering with brain tumors).  Because aside from the obvious age gap between them … this girl isn’t so very different from my own, and thoughts like that produce a paralyzing sadness that grips and overwhelms the moments I am living in.  

     I pick her up from school, my daughter, and she is surrounded by friends who hug her goodbye for the day.  I see pictures of her, Taina, of her friends hugging her goodbye … for longer. 

     I take my daughter to the doctor for a check up, and we wait minutes for the doctor to tell us,”Everything looks great.”  Taina’s mother waits in another doctor’s office, having a translator relay the details of her daughter’s impending neurosurgery. 

     I go to work as my daughter goes to her last day of school for the summer.  Taina’s mother quits her job, to stay with her daily, at the hospital. 

     I choose five books for my daughter to read to me, as she is slowly developing her independence as a reader.  Her mother reads to Taina, as her eyes cannot focus long enough to attempt the task. 

     We pick a movie to watch as a family, our cozy, weekend tradition.  Taina chooses to watch the movie version of the book we are reading at school … her attempt to stay on track in whatever way she can. 

      My daughter’s kindergarten graduation begins, and my sweet girl parades in a small, blue gown.  I am near bursting with joyous tears, then think of Taina’s mother, watching her daughter draped in a very different sort of blue gown.  

     My girl graduates.  Her’s wonders if she will be able to. 

     My daughter wakes beside me, sleepy eyed and smiling after a night of snuggles and dreams.  Her daughter wakes with tubes and monitors beside her, lucky to still be alive.

     One tumor has been removed, as “successfully” as something like removing a tumor can be.  She has some severe side effects, and another surgery is inevitable … yet Taina sends me texts, a day later, thanking me for prayers and sending me pictures of her fragile, undoubtedly painful, smile.  How melancholy life and love are.  How amazing that one moment I can be delighting in the momentary wonders of my daughter, and agonizing over her’s.  

     My friend said live in the moment, and I am trying to – trying to find a balance between faith and fear, hope and heartbreak, promises and prayers.  But in the end, all we’ve got to hold onto is this one breath; Taina’s journey is teaching me, and so many others, just what a gift that is. 

     If you have any prayers to give, I beseech you again … please offer them.  I thank you for the ones already prayed.  If you would like to hear more of her story please visit Taina’s Site and consider donating to her family.  Currently they have raised just over $1,000 of the already needed $50,000 worth in bills.  I once read author Katie Davis say that sometimes it feels as though we are  “Emptying the ocean with an eyedropper.”  But you know what?  Every drop counts.  

     I thank you for all of your comments on the previous update, and for tonight at least, I can assure you that though the battle wages on, hope continues … to die last. 


5.17.15 Requesting a Miracle



Writer Shannon L. Alder said, “You will face your biggest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.”  I certainly hope this is true, because I am most certainly in need of miracle.  A few Fridays ago, one of my darling students, a thirteen-year-old girl, went home with a headache.  On Monday, we were called into a staff meeting to be told that this girl … this sweet little Hell0 Kitty loving child, had two rapidly-growing brain tumors.  How do you respond to news like that?  I wish someone would have told me, because I’m not sure I know still.

The weeks that followed have been difficult and heart-wrenching.  From watching her say goodbye to her closest friends at school and finding that her family cannot afford her medicine, to hearing she will be having surgery only after she can gain weight, and recognizing the fear in her voice.  The staff and I tried to think fast.  One woman decided to buy the band bracelets to sell to raise money.  Kids brought in countless stuffed animals, made cards, showed their love by the piles.  My students and I made her a blanket.  We signed it with glow-in-the-dark paint so that she would not be alone when the night came.  And it is not enough.  None of it is.

Her surgery is on the twenty-second.  I’m not sure she is strong enough, but time isn’t really on her side.  I know this post isn’t witty.  It isn’t funny, or particularly well-written … but I am asking you to take care in reading it just the same.  I am asking you to be this little girl’s miracle.  I am asking you to pray … wherever you are, whoever you are, God is waiting for your voices to reach him, and so is she.

My thanks,


5.10.15 Vindicated



For better or for worse I have made a habit out of being completely honest with you.  Well then … why stop now?  Last Monday, I was borderline belligerent.  In fact, the only thing keeping me from crossing that border, were my two beautiful children with four very open ears.  Honestly, I rarely swear.  I don’t like to … I always feel bad after, but last week, nothing would have soothed my temper tantrum quite so well as a good verbal tirade.  It all started with underwear. 

You see, I had spent the weekend folding and putting away four baskets of laundry.  And you’d think, as I did, that in all those clothes there would be at least ONE pair of boy underwear right?  Wrong.  I had just gotten home, we had twenty minutes before soccer practice, the cat had an accident, my daughter needed me upstairs, and my son sat in the wet spot where I cleaned the cat mess!  OF COURSE!  Because why, in our whole entire two story plus basement house would you choose to sit anywhere else but the two by one square space of carpet that’s wet!?!  Needless to say, he needed new clothes and underwear.  That’s where I started to lose it. 

The next twenty minutes involved multiple trips upstairs and downstairs, dumping clean baskets, turning over dryer-fulls and scrambling through his empty drawer just to realize that it is in fact possible to do endless loads of laundry and still not have the one item you need.  Finally, in a state of pure rage, I slammed my hand against the wall (internally cursing my laundry to the depths of hades) and then fuming worse at my broken blood vessel finger that was now turning purple from the knuckle up.  Let me clarify that this entire time, my son was wandering around behind me dressed in nothing more than a t-shirt and soccer socks.  No pressure.  Just a little naked shadow to keep me motivated.

Edging on manic, I then dumped the ONE dirty basket I had left, and lo and behold … there were the underwear!  I forcefully tossed a pair at my son who looked at me (and the dragon-like smoke coming out of my ears) with caution.  “Umm…” he hedged, “Mom?  Are these – clean?” 

Ready to internally combust at this point, I lifted three fingers and proceeded to point out his options with vengeance. “It is either those, or mine, or your sister’s!” 

“These are great,” he smiled appeasingly, skinny legs nearly tripping as he pulled them on with haste. 

The short ride to soccer consisted of me yelling at my kids, “You know I’m not mad at you right!?!” 

“Yeah,” they said, glancing nervously at one another.  “We know mom.” 

The afternoon was a total fail.  I was a total fail.  Literally slinking like a deflated balloon, I stepped out of the car to see my blonde and beautiful and always-put-together friend dropping her son off five minutes late too.  “Hey you,” I said.  “Rough day?” 

“Totally,” she said, taking her keys from her four-year-old who sat ready-for-anything in the driver’s seat. 

In a moment of desired absolution, I confessed my whole previous scenario.  I don’t know what I expected exactly, but it wasn’t the laughter-filled hug that I received.  After parting, she told me that her afternoon consisted of her son getting off the bus late, refusing to leave the house before taking WAY too long in the bathroom, and losing his sock somewhere between the toilet and the car.  So while my son had on dirty underwear, her’s had one ankle sock, and one shinguard respectively.  In that moment … as her small daughter screamed from the car and her four-year-old came yanking on her skirt to get her attention, I was vindicated.  I saw the same exasperation, the same “God?  A little help here!” look passing over her tired smile, and in that … I was renewed.  Because so often, I try to be the “perfect” mom, but it’s not about being perfect – it’s about realizing that everyone else is as imperfect as you are (even if they’re great at hiding it).

Jackie Kennedy once said, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”  And sometimes … I’m afraid she’s right, but I’m more afraid that I have already “bungled.”  Because in all honesty, I make a mess of things.  I lose my temper.  I wash the wrong laundry.  I say I will and don’t.  I get there when I get there.  I mismatch socks.  I fall asleep too early.  I wake up too late.  I forget before.  I remember after.  I fail.  Epically so.  

But then … grace overwhelms me, because today is Mother’s Day … and I am given gifts by the gifts God gave me.  My daughter wrote me a book that tells me what makes me “amazing.”  According to her, I am amazing because I love the color blue.  I play with her.  We bake on Sundays.  I help her with work.  And that’s all it takes.  My son gives me a print of his hand, on his card (written in his most careful handwriting) he says I’m the best.  I know I’m not, but am SO thankful it’s not my opinion that matters – it’s his.  Just like that – I’m absolved.  Thank heaven love is blind; would it be  too much to wish it were also deaf?  

Vindicated, as are you.



5.3.15 Prom



Thomas Moore once said, “No, there’s nothing half so sweet in life as love’s young dream.”  This weekend was prom in our neighborhood, and I would have to agree.  There is a pond by our house, and a lovely brick formation that is great for taking pictures.  And apparently, the entire town thought so too.  Flocks of multi-colored gauze and lace wobbled on unsteady heels around too-hot-for-a-sunny-day suits with matching ties.  Some might call the display ridiculous, expensive and wasteful … but I am not one of those people. 

I was mesmerized.  

Unpractical use of my very limited free time though it was, I couldn’t help but stare out my window at the parade of frill.  Call it nostalgia, romanticism or simple girlish-fancy … titles don’t matter.  Captivated by the smiles of the mothers taking pictures, the boys tugging at too-tight ties and the girls who inspired them to wear them in the first place, I grinned over at my second-grade son beside me, imagining his turn, while simultaneously reminiscing about my own.  

“Hey buddy,” I said, pulling his attention from an iPad game. 

“Yeah,” he said barely looking up. 

“Look at all those kids going to prom.” 

“Ugh,” he said in a half-disgusted tone. “They’re in love,” he finished annoyed. 

“What?” I laughed.  “How can you tell?” 

“Just look at what they’re wearing!” he said, as if stating the most obvious thing in the world.

“So …” I hedged carefully, “you don’t think you’ll go to prom then?” 

“No, I’ll probably go,” he sighed, returning to his game, as I returned to my smiles. 

There is magic in first love – not because it is necessarily any more or less than other kinds of love … but because you are so very open and unassuming.  As Benjamin Disraeli stated, “The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end.”  And standing by my window, swathed in memory … I was again reminded that true love doesn’t.  We might move on, and things certainly change, my beautiful son is proof of that.  But the memories live; the memories stay.   So carry on young love … it is your moment to be fearless, to dance to songs you will forget the titles to, with friends whose names you won’t remember, wrapped in feelings you’ll never outgrow. 

Literarily yours,