Week 6: Strength in Vulnerability

Week 6:

My memory starts getting fuzzier around this time. I don’t recall the day-to-day anymore.  We were still receiving meals, and visits, and cards nearly daily. There are so many people to thank for so much that I honestly do not even know where to begin. Basically every person I have ever encountered did something to help or reached out to me in some way. Many people I had never met did things to help too. I was, and still am, just gob-smacked by the shows of support. It is humbling. Very, very humbling.  But I knew I needed the help, the support, the love, so I kept saying “yes” just like Bubba told me too. I had a crater in my heart left by Alice’s departure, and all of these people seemed to be trying to fill it. Except a crater like that, it can ever be filled. But they didn’t stop.  And, I, for once, didn’t stop them from trying. I let it stream through the hole in my heart without any attempt to manage it. And this saved me. They saved me. If you are reading this, you probably saved me too. Thank you, from the bottom of my broken, cavernous heart.

I still had the damn eye spasm.  It was a light flutter in the inside corner of my left eye.  Once it would start it would go for hours. If I didn’t have such a monstrous tragedy I was dealing with, I suppose it would have been more annoying. It was annoying, but I didn’t have a lot of energy to spend complaining about it. It would come at odd times, but it would also predictably develop after I cried or had a panic attack. I am sure I cried every day at this point, but it wasn’t for hours on end or anything. I wasn’t laying in bed sobbing hours away or anything. Sometimes, I would l lay down to cry, but it lasted minutes, not hours. Mostly I cried while I swept the floor, or made dinner, or drove the car. I was moving. But I was moving and crying. It came in waves. Still does. The waves are mostly smaller now, shorter. Less intense. Except when they aren’t. Every now and then, every few weeks, a big one descends on me. And I ride through it, and then it passes. I don’t fight it, because I know I can’t win.

At this point I was doing therapy, yoga, meditation, receiving body work on occasion, and accepting help (new for me!).  I was actively trying.   I felt drawn to the spiritual, but not via books.  I was looking for direct experience.  I still am, I suppose.  I have read less in this year than any other year of my life.  Maybe you don’t need to read when you are very busy sorting out your own personal whopper of an existential crisis.  I had, and still have, the urge to be alone a lot.  Sometimes too much.  Sometimes, I force myself out.  But mostly, I feel contemplative, reflective, quiet.  I ponder.  I pace.  I ponder and pace.  That’s the way I rolled at this time in the aftermath, and still do, to a large extent.

I remained committed to doing something nurturing for myself daily.  I had a friend or two that helped me with another commitment: my commitment to laugh every day.  These friends sent funny video clips, told me stories, or were just plain funny.  Mostly just plain funny.  Thank God I have smart, funny friends.   And thank God for Eddie Izzard, Louis C.K., some sailor-tongued lady on LiveLeak who is super mad that it is hot (thanks Dawn Mink for the introduction!), an internet series where action figures undergo pyschotherapy, and a workmate of a friend, let’s call him Chuck, whose life is so vastly entertaining, I feel like I should have to pay to hear the stories of this man I’ve never met. When I have some cash one day, I’m going to find LiveLeak Lady and Chuck and I’m going to send them out for the night of their lives, because their very existence helped me cope with mine, despite having never met them. I’m going to assume that Eddie Izzard and Louis C.K. won’t need my peanuts, but if they ever do, I’ll help them too. Because they helped me.

Tuesday, September 10:

It was a rough morning for Grace this day. She was really acting out, much more than she had since the week Alice died. Once I finally got her calmed down, she asked, out of the blue, if the balloons we released reached Alice in heaven. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I was pretty sure she knew we sent them, and that I was sure that made her happy. Grace sighed and said, “Well, I bet she is always happy now, but we are sad.”

And there you have it, folks. BOOM. Where does she come up with this stuff? I have no idea. But she is right. And it brings up a very important topic: balancing one’s legitimate grief with the knowledge, or belief, that your loved one is fine, and in fact, better than fine.

From the first day after Alice left us, I KNEW she was in a better place. I had absolutely NO DOUBT about it whatsoever. I knew it in my bones. And I know it was not wishful thinking, because I was all about self-flagellating myself with guilt back then. I was still very busy punishing myself for what I could have done differently, but I also had a firm, deep feeling, that she was FINE. This feeling was supported by the vision I had while she was being cremated, the book “Survival of the Soul,” the meeting with the spiritual teacher, and yoga and meditation. I realize, as I write this, that I must sound like an airy-fairy, woo-woo-loving nutcase, but it’s the truth so there it is.  Perhaps I should have thrown in a cuss word to roughen that part up?

The vision was the first time I could really surrender the need to stop torturing myself with the idea that she suffered, or was still suffering.  I still have no idea what sparked that vision, but, again, I know for certain, it was not wishful thinking, because I was not capable of wishful thinking.  I don’t know if it was “real.”  And, you know, it doesn’t matter, because what matters is that the vision changed my feelings, and my whole point of view.  I helped me stop the negative self-talk for a spell. It felt, well, “right” at a time where absolutely nothing felt right.  During the vision, my entire body relaxed, and I sighed, and felt giant waves of “It’s OK, Melissa, she is fine. She is safe. She is loved.  And she doesn’t need your self-flagellation.” At the worst time of my life, in the throes of not knowing if she had suffered, I was able to know she was well cared for, and in fact, was in a state of perfect bliss. I just KNEW it. Deep knowing. I had unflappable confidence that she was OK.

I was a bit jealous of her, truth be told.

You can spend your entire life thinking you know what your religious/philosophical/spiritual beliefs are, but I am telling you, until something this big happens to you, you are only speculating. A loss this big shows you immediately what you really believe. It all comes in to laser-like focus.  For me, some of the things I thought I would believe/grasp on to, I found that I did, in fact, believe.  Some things I came to realize I believed were surprises.  Some things I thought I thought, it turns out I don’t really think. How is that for confusing?  It sounds confusing as I write it, but in real life it took no time or effort. It was just as if my entire “platform” on life, death, religion and the afterlife suddenly bubbled to the surface of my consciousness in a pretty little package.  “Ta-da!” it seemed to shout.

I had not yet prepared my platform for a four-year-old, however. Shit, I had just barely prepared it for a 44-year-old. And this was somewhat inconvenient, because she had a lot of questions. I was doing a lot of “winging it” and we were somehow carrying on.

I had spent my life researching religion, philosophy, mystical traditions, myth, esoterica and cultural differences in views of the afterlife.  I definitely knew that some beliefs/tenets/theories seemed more “true” to me than others, but I read and studied with an open mind.  (Except Scientology.  I just can’t get behind it, or any other religion that demands you pay for exposure to the “next level” of teachings.)  But in the past, I never felt like I had a fully formed personal view of religion/theology, and that didn’t bother me in the least.  I looked at it like a lifetime project, and I guess I still do.  It’s just now, in the wake of losing my precious daughter, I have come to know some things that I truly believe.  And don’t.

There are things you can know in your head, things you know in your heart, and things you know in your gut.  The feeling that Alice was in a perfect place, surrounded in love, and completely safe, was something I felt in my head, heart and gut all at once.  That doesn’t happen very often.  So I take it as truth.  And that truth helped set me free.

So, one can end up feeling pretty damn selfish when one grieves.  It becomes pretty damn clear that you are crying for yourself.  Alice doesn’t need, or likely even want, my tears.  That said, I don’t think it’s healthy to fight them back, or pretend to feel any way other than the way you feel.  So I let the tears rip when they come, I don’t judge myself for them, and they pass through quickly.

It’s all a long way of saying: I knew she was OK, and I was stunned to hear Grace say that she knew the same, because I had not discussed any of this with her.

I had another panic attack on this day. It seemed like it just came out of the blue yet again.  My friend Tommy called for our newly regular check-in right after it started. This was the first time I ever took a phone call while having a panic attack. I was embarrassed that it was happening, but this one was really big, and I was alone, and I was scared. He talked to me for a bit and got me breathing, and asked what had helped in the past. I told him I wasn’t sure what helped, that they just seemed to go away after an hour or two, but he recalled that I had previously told him about the peace in the bathtub I had experienced, so he gently said, “Maybe you could draw yourself a bath and try to relax in the water after we hang up?”  Seems obvious, like I should have thought of it myself, but I didn’t. I realized something else that seems obvious now: during our chat, I realized that all of the panic attacks happened on Tuesdays around her naptime, and that every Wednesday I was drained. Drained beyond comprehension. Before this realization, it all seemed random. But it wasn’t.

Ah. Crazy. The body is crazy.

Your mind needs to do one thing to recover from something like this, but it seems your body has to do its own thing too.  So, I was having these “anniversary reactions” around the time she died, on the day of the week that she died. Even if I wasn’t consciously thinking of it, my body went into hyper-vigilance mode just like it did when I found her. It took me a few weeks to sort this out, but there it was.

I was never thinking of the event when the attack would come on, it just came out of nowhere. I would bend down to get the mail or something, and INSTANTLY become shaky, sweaty, with my heart pounding, and my stomach knots. In the middle of an attack I would sometimes shake so bad it looked like I had Parkinson’s disease. My last chat with Tommy made me realize that I might have PTSD, but I had not done anything about that yet. I guess I was either not yet fully convinced that I had PTSD, or I assumed it would just go away, or I was just stymied. I think I was just stymied, because, I know, looking back, that I was still in deep, deep shock at this time. In any event, eventually we hung up, he told me to call back if the bath didn’t work, and I got in the tub.

Bubba called right after I got in the tub. He was helpful to me during the early panic attacks, and he helped me through this one too. Between Tommy, Bubba, and the bath, I pulled through. A little Irish Mafia, a little water, it all helps.

Thursday, September 12

Grace and I were invited to swim with Kendall and her son Charlie at Kendall’s mom’s house. My girls LOVE Kendall, as I have previously stated. Well, one loves Kendall and one loved Kendall, and it hurts more than I can say to write it like that. Alice had cuddled with Kendall at a birthday party just two days before she died, as a matter of fact. And Alice was VERY choosy about who she cuddled.

Kendall’s son is Grace’s age, and the two of them had a wonderful time swimming and playing with Kendall’s amazing mother. Kendall’s mom should be everyone’s mom; she’s the best. She is whip-smart, and classy yet laid back, and the kids love her. Hell, I love her, and I’ve only met her twice. So, it became obvious how Kendall managed to become so awesome. Kendall’s mother treated us to pizza after swimming, and Grace was calling her Grandma by the end of the night. Kendall and I had a great conversation too.  It is always nice when your kid picks friends with amazing parents. I feel very blessed in this regard.

Friday, September 13

This was a hard day,that I know.  The day in sound bites:

  • It was Grace’s last day at her pre-school, before switching to a new pre-school.
  • I had seven patients that day, which at this time, in my condition, was a lot.
  • I had to do my taxes with my tax attorney. I still can’t believe I pulled this off. I have NO IDEA how I pulled this off, in the condition I now know I was in at this time.
  • We had an interview at the counseling center, SCCC, to get Grace started in some family therapy.
  • The Coroner called, somewhat unexpectedly. It never feels good to get a call from the Coroner, especially when it concerns your two-year-old.
  • I received some crushing financial news.

It was a lot for one 5’ 3” human with a broken heart to take.

Grace had been at her preschool for over two years. Alice had joined her there the previous February. They had both made a lot of nice friends, and the teachers were good to my girls. They were devastated by Alice’s death. No one saw it coming, after all, not even me. We had planned to switch Grace to a different school before Alice died. But, in the wake of her sister’s death, I wondered if it was a good idea. Maybe another giant change would not be good for her right now? But maybe a change of scenery would be good for her?  I debated this internally for a while before I decided to just ask Grace.  Grace has opinions. Might as well hear what they were on this issue, since my inner jury was hung.

Grace wanted to go to the new school, just six or seven weeks after losing her sister.  Grace is indomitable. She really is. She is one tough cookie. Some days her inner toughness is a pain in the ass, I can’t lie. But I console myself with the knowledge that her moxie will come in handy in high school and college. Grace is not showing any signs of being a kid that will succumb to peer pressure (from my keyboard to God’s ears.)

The kids at school loved when my girls would bring bouncy houses on their birthdays, so I sent one to the school for her going away party. I sent bouncy houses instead of gift bags, because, I LOATHE BIRTHDAY GIFT BAGS WITH A PASSION. In fact, I am going to write a missive on the issue and give my best attempt at convincing people to stop the madness with the gift bags.

But I digress.

I stayed to watch the bouncy house frenzy a little, but we had just sent one for Alice’s birthday, and it was just too painful to watch for long. Plus, I had a huge workday. I do enjoy being there while the bouncy house company inflates the bouncy house, however.  All 50 plus kids from the school would come outside to watch, and scream and laugh and shake like teenage girls who had just spotted The Beatles. It cracked me up. It still does.

I worked. I did my taxes. Again, I have absolutely no idea how I pulled this off. My executive functioning skills were basically non-existent at this time. 14 months later, they are still not what they used to be, but I think it is safe to say they were barely there in September of 2013. I was in a daze.  But somehow I managed to keep moving forward. It is a miracle, really.

The Coroner called. I was not expecting this. They had said it might be a few months before all of the lab results were finished. I panicked. I was doing much better, I thought, in the guilt department, but this call let me know that I was not fine. I went into a tailspin as I listened to the message. I was terrified to hear what they might have to say. I was terrified that I could have done something to prevent her death. I was terrified she had smothered while I was in the house, and that I could have done something to prevent her death. I was terrified, plain and simple. I was not sure there was anything they could say that was going to make me feel better. I was just completely consumed with dread and guilt. And sadness. And loss. You can actually FEEL the loss of your child.  It feels like you lose a part of your body. It’s not just a cliché’ number I-have-no-idea-I-lost-track: You truly do feel like you lose a part of your own being when your child dies.

I made the call. I was shaking. I was alone. I was shaking and alone.

Denise, our contact at the Coroner’s office, said that, so far, they had still found nothing, as she suspected would be the case, and that microbiology and neuropathology tests were pending. I sighed a heavy sigh of relief, which may seem odd. I was surprised myself. My mother, and some friends had said that they had hoped the Coroner would have something definitive to offer, thinking this would ease my guilt. But I knew by my reaction, that there was nothing they could find that would ease my guilt. I knew that anything they did find would be used by my brain as a way to whip up the guilt. And I wasn’t sure I could live with the amount of guilt I was currently carrying, much less any additional guilt.  For me, not knowing what happened was the easiest of all potentialities, at that time.

As I have said before, the lack of a logical reason for Alice’s death sort of forces one into the spiritual. And it felt like this was where I was “supposed to go” in the wake of her death. I have been a student of science. I was a research tech at major teaching hospital. I enjoy digging for answers. But when there are no answers to be had, and all the potential answers would make you feel like shit…….well, that leaves the woo-woo.  Luckily, I had been a long-time student of the woo-woo as well.

After school, and work, we headed off to SCCC to get family therapy set up for Grace.  I thought she was doing fine, and I also thought she was a little young for individual therapy, and not sure if she really needed it to be honest. The interview was not quite as awful as I expected.  But, it was still a lot to process at the end of such a huge day.

And then I received some very bad news on the financial front. It felt like I was just getting hit from all sides. I soldiered on, but I was tired. Very tired. A tired that sleep alone cannot remedy.

A couple of dear friends knew, without my saying so, that this had been a pretty crushing day. They checked in. They offered ears, and shoulders, and laughs, where appropriate. I have no idea where I would be without these amazing people in my life.

Sunday September 15

Grace had swimming lessons with the legendary Conrad that weekend. More on him later, but suffice it to say, it is well worth the price of lessons just to sit in his relaxing yard, take in his cool funk and soul music, and watch him handle those kids like a giant Buddha. I go there and pretend I am on vacation in Costa Rica while a giant, chillaxed man teaches my kid to swim. I thank Chrislie for turning me on to Conrad. It is highly entertaining watching him handle those kids.

We also went to Family Art Day at LACMA on this day. Grace LOVES LACMA.  Hell, I love LACMA. LACMA has this ingenious program called NexGen that gives a free membership to all children 17 and under, AND they can “take” an adult guest each visit.  It shows great long-range vision, for they are creating a bunch of little art fans. They are enabling a bunch of little minds to take in the art, and culture and the music programs they offer. They are incubating a bunch of little humans whose childhood memories will be formed, in part, by fond memories of LACMA.  Those little humans will grow up and want to make sure the museum remains a solvent, vibrant, and vital part of LA society, because it will have become important to them.  So few people or institutions show long-range vision. A big solid THANK YOU to LACMA for demonstrating long-range vision.

At LACMA, we met a little girl from Grace’s dance class, and her mom. I could tell the mom was unsure what to say to me. I could tell that no one, really, knew what to say to me. Because, really, what do you say? The girls made some art in the plaza. The art was in relation to an exhibit of Muslim muslin hammocks. So, after the girls finished painting their muslin strips, we went in to the museum to see the exhibit.

The exhibit was in the religious art section, and was really very cool. We walked past the Buddhist art (my favorite) to get there. We ended up walking through the entire gallery, which was fine by me. I personally love religious art, from any religion. I find it fascinating. As we entered the Egyptian art area, I spotted what I was fairly certain was a mummy. It did not occur to me that the art museum would have a mummy, but there it was. As I pondered what to do about that—Grace had not yet viewed a mummy, and her sister had just died and all—Grace walked right up to it.  “Here we go,” I thought.

“Is this guy died (sic)?” Grace asked.

“Yes, honey.”

“Is he very old?”

“Well, I don’t think he was very old when he died, but the body is old.”

“The body has been here a very long time, after he died? How long?”

“Well, they used to do a special preparation so that the body would not fade away after the person died. The Egyptians were really good at that, and kept the wrapped bodies in pyramids. This body has been like this for about 3,000 years!  Isn’t that amazing? 3,000!!!  Someone from this museum went to Egypt and brought back a mummy so that kids like you could learn about it.”

Grace stared and pondered.  Then she waved her hand up and down the glass encasement and said, “So, is this what we are going to do with Alice, Mama?”

I simultaneously smiled and teared up and felt my heart break and stifled a soft laugh.

“No, honey. That is not what we are going to do with Alice.”

But that would sure get some tongues waggin’, I thought. That would REALLY get the neighbors talkin.’

I silently recited, “Please don’t ask me what we did with Alice’s body right now, please don’t ask me what we did with Alice’s body right now.”

She did not ask.


We had a nice time with our friends, and as we drove home, in silence, we passed the giant new building they were constructing on La Brea and Wilshire. I thought it looked somewhat hideous, but it was in the early stages, and I had bigger fish to fry, let’s face it, so I didn’t really discuss the ugly construction. There was tons of traffic, and people walking around etc., and I could see Grace taking it all in.

Out of nowhere, Grace said, “That’s where ghosts go to die.”

Um, what?

She pointed to the ugly construction site and repeated that that was where ghosts went to die. I laughed, and agreed it was quite likely.

Then she asked what heaven was like.  No easy questions for Mama today!

Sometimes, when I don’t really know the answer to her question, and no one really knows the answer to her question, I like to turn it back on her, and ask her what SHE thinks, because 99% of the time, it’s more interesting than any other theory I have heard. So, I said, “You know, I’m not really sure, honey, because if I have been there before, I don’t remember it.  What do YOU think it’s like?”

She tapped her bottom lip as she stared out the window and said, “Ummmmmm, something like Target, I think.”

I laughed. Because, COME ON. Target is sort of like a Capitalist Heaven.

My friends Amy and Trey came over that night with dinner and some cookie dough for cookie making.  Amy is a fantastic Pilates teacher who works at the studio where my clinic is housed. She’s from Detroit, and she cracks me up. I loved her the minute I met her. We always joked around when I saw her, and she is just a great, fun human. Her boyfriend Trey is as incredible as she is, and I loved him at first sight too. Great couple.  And this cheerful, fun-loving couple came to Alice’s service, and were both crying when I saw them, and I was just so touched that they were there for me.

Amy had been asking for a night to come by and be with me, and tonight was the night.  She had the ingenious idea to bring stuff so that she could make cookies with Grace, an idea Grace loved. I guess Grace noticed that they didn’t have kids, because one of the first things she asked Amy was, “Do you know how to play with kids?”

I’d forgotten that, but Amy reminded me.  She said she thought it was a great question, from such a little kid, just four years old at the time.

We had a nice dinner, and hung out in the yard, and laughed, had some drinks, and got Grace to bed. After Grace was in bed, I told them what had happened the day Alice died. At this point, no one really knew what the hell had happened unless they had been at my house in the early days. I mean, I didn’t even know what happened, but my friends new less than I did.  I talked, and they cried, and I cried. And it was so nice to have the comfort of being able to laugh and cry with two special people. I am very lucky to have friends like Amy and Trey.

I paced the yard after they left, and thought about how many great people surrounded me, while I lit the candles on Alice’s altar on the mantle and cried.  I stared at her poster-sized picture. Alice there, in her pool full of water and balls looking sweetly up at God-knows-what, on her birthday, none of us with a clue anything was about to happen to her. I look at the picture all the time, and she just looks so real. I can see every detail of her perfect little ear. My brain just can’t sort out why I can’t reach up and pull her out of there and into a towel in my arms.

It hurts, people.

Monday, September 16

Grace started a new school.  She did not seem nervous. I thought I would be nervous—you know, wondering if she’d be OK, etc., but I wasn’t really. One of her best friends, Elle, was a student at the school, and Grace seemed excited about going. I knew she’d be shy at first, she always is, but if she was excited, I was excited that she had learned to master her fears of new people so early in life. Grace is eager to meet new people, have new experiences, but she approaches with caution, which is probably wise, frankly. And, as her mother, I find this very relaxing. Alice was not shy. Alice got right in there. But she only allowed a few people to hold her. Look, laugh, talk, but don’t touch, seemed to be Alice’s motto.

As I drove to the new school, I remembered how over the summer I was mentally preparing for a two-school drop-off again, having had enjoyed a one-stop drop-off point for over six months. I immediately felt guilty about agonizing over such things that summer, because I would give anything to have a two-school drop-off today, and every day. There is so much to feel guilty about after the loss of a child.

As we walked in, I realized that since we knew no one but Elle’s family at this school, no one knew about Alice. I wondered what to do about that. On the one hand, I realized how much easier it was to walk into a room where no one knew what happened.  I was just treated like everyone else. In the beginning, it was disorienting to me to be in a room where no one knew. As time passed, however, there was some relief in it.  Because people that knew, stared, and looked uncomfortable, and looked at me with eyes that seemed to beg me to tell them what to say and what to do. And, I, being who I am, then felt obligated to manage the situation. To put them at ease. To be truthful in my feelings, but create an environment where they felt comfortable with me. I felt like it was my responsibility to set the tone of the conversation all of the time. And, you know, it is probably best for the bereaved to be allowed to set the tone, but it is a responsibility nonetheless, and in the beginning, one is so very overwhelmed already. I managed this by limiting the number of daily visits and phone conversations I had. The limits were based on how I felt on any given day. I went with the flow on this. And I think that served me well.

In the end, I told Grace’s teacher, and the director of the school, about Alice. I wasn’t sure if Grace would have a hard time adjusting, or if she would bring it up in school, so I thought I’d better let them know what was going on at home. I wanted Grace to be emotionally safe at school, and she could not be emotionally safe if those in charge of her safety didn’t know what emotional challenges she faced. I kept the explanation short, and both ladies looked at me with deep empathy, which I appreciated, before assuring me they would keep an eye out for any extra needs Grace might have at that time. They did not seem shocked, which was somewhat unusual, though appreciated. It was difficult to register people’s shock in those early days. Again, no judgment, I totally get it. But it was hard nonetheless.

It was sometimes hard for me to see people taking me in, in those early days. Well, “sometimes” is probably generous.  It was often hard.   I could feel people stare at me, and then I would see them look at me with a mix of wonder, horror, pity, and, well, they just seemed flummoxed.   And I don’t blame them.  I don’t judge them.  I’m sure I’d have done the same if the roles were reversed.  But I didn’t know what to do with it.  I felt like my identity, which I had taken 44 years to craft, had suddenly become reduced to “that poor lady whose two-year-old died in her sleep.”  It’s a very strange experience to realize that the way people view you has changed so drastically overnight. And this is nothing compared to realizing the fact that your identity DID change overnight, through no fault of your own, at least, I prayed it was no fault of my own. I no longer had two children running around. I was no longer was potty-training a toddler. My daughter no longer had a living sister. I no longer had a “normal” life story. And there were more giant changes brewing, but I didn’t know that yet.

I wondered if this is what famous people felt like, after they got famous: everyone staring at you, not knowing what to say to you, counting on you to set the tone. Feeling like your identity has changed, despite feeling very much like the same person on many levels. I always thought fame would be a very strange ride. And if it’s anything like this, yet magnified on a national or international level, then, yikes. It’s a head-trip.

I had the overwhelming feeling that “I am ALL grown up now. I am a WOMAN now.”    Of course, I was a woman before Alice died.  But when I was pacing one day, and talking to a friend, I blurted out, “I’ll tell you what: I am a grown woman now, dammit.”

Because a thing like this, well, you’re never the same.  The essence of me is the same.  But Alice’s death polished off the edges. I was softened. I was vulnerable. Maybe the most vulnerable I had ever been in my life. And it was very apparent that my future strength would not come from the brawn that I had used in my youth, but from being vulnerable. And realizations like this are at once simple, and life-changing. I was no longer a girl. I was a woman. And I KNEW it.

Look, I can still bring the pain, if I have to do so. I still resort to brawn on occasion.  But mostly, I feel like a strength that comes from surrendering. From being vulnerable. I feel softer, but far stronger. I don’t know how else to describe it.

And you know what, that’s fine by me. They might not allow me to live in LA anymore with this acceptance, no, embracing of my aging and maturation process, but fuck ‘em. I was grown up now whether I wanted to be so or not, because my little girl—she was never growing up. I had to do it for the both of us. And I had to make it good.  Really good.

Slowly. And step by step. With a nap when necessary, because old people, we like to rest, and we don’t see a damn thing wrong with it.



  1. Meleva Steiert
    November 5, 2014

    you’ve always been a “keeper of time”, so it isn’t surprising that your metronomic soul would remember tuesdays for you.

    and, i’m totally with you on the gift-bag front.

    • admin
      January 24, 2015

      oh, Meleva, that is beautiful. xoxoxox

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