Saturday, September 30, 2006 - 8 pm

For whatever reason, this week has sort of sucked. The farther I get away from the date of Mike’s death, the more often I am able to find a new kind of “normal” – however, when my grief hits me, it seems to hit harder than ever.

I had a couple of down days in the early part of the week, not helped by my getting sick on Monday night. Wednesday I learn it was tonsillitis with a 102 fever. Had to cancel class, but thank gosh for CSM who picked up Bax from school, helped take care of him at night and in the morning, even though I was there (dead to the world, but there).

Antibiotics worked like a charm, so I’m already feeling almost 100% again.

Today was Sash and Dee’s baby shower for their twins due in December. It was held at their friend’s house out on Lincoln Drive. I didn’t think a bit about the emotional charge associated with seeing all of “the family” and all of Sasha and Dees relatives all in the same place. We haven’t really all been together since their beautiful wedding in September of 2004 up in Western Massachusetts that was like 3 days of cabin/summer camp bliss. We were 6 months pregnant, Mike was healthy, all our friends were there and the weather was fantastic.

The other thing I had failed to process ahead of time was the major Discmakers connection that would be there. Sasha’s dad used to co-own Discmakers, Sasha’s cousin was Mike’s supervisor and dear friend, Sasha’s other cousin was our wedding photographer and also loved by one Michael Young. And all these lovely people were sitting on the front porch as I walked up the walkway with my son. I tried to greet and hug, but by the time I got to Sasha’s brother (who I hadn’t seen since their wedding) I was a disaster. Like a couldn’t-get-my-shit-together disaster.

Thank gosh Meh and Heather were there to sort of diffuse the weird energy so that Baxter wasn’t too upset. (I try to never lose my shit in front of him). Then, I got inside and saw Sasha and it was another wave of sobs. Kevin and Beth were there. In fact, Kevin was the first face my brain registered when I came in. The perfect person to be sitting in the chair closest to the door. He escorted me out, Meh was on Baxter duty, and I just fell apart. After about 10 minutes I made a decision that I had to at least greet the moms to be.

Fortunately, the longer I stayed, the more diluted the weird energy became, to the point where it was just a new experience – not a flashback to an old experience with a big gaping hole in the middle.

Baxter still mentions Daddy several times a week. The other night, I put him to bed in his crib, We said I love you and he kissed the picture of Mike that he sleeps with. Then, all of a sudden, Baxter, who was lying on his belly, lifted his head and upper body up with his arms and had a huge smile. In a whisper he said, “Mama, Listen!” Then he pointed to his ear (a gesture I think he has learned from Dora the Explorer).

“What is it?” I asked.

“Shh… Daddy’s coming!” he whispered loudly.

“What?” I tried to be calm.

He said it again. I leaned my forearms and head on the edge of his crib and breathed slowly, trying to just take it in stride. I think I was also waiting for Mike. I never saw him, though part of me thinks I felt him.

Tonight, Bax took some giant legos into the tub with him. After bath, he took four of them and put them together into a tower.

“Nice job, Bud! Now, let’s bring those into Baxter’s room!” Apparently, using the third person with toddlers is supposed to help with their comprehension. Anything to get the process to move along.

My little naked redheaded boy ran out of the bathroom, blocks in hand, into the hallway. He stopped in the open doorway to his room, held up the tower and yelled, “Daddy, Look! Look, Daddy!”

Yeah... I don't know what to say either. I just looked around the room and smiled. He's in there - somewhere.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - 9 pm

I just taught my 4th class of the semester (it meets once/week) and now I'm sitting at Iron Hill Brewery in Newark, drinking a glass of wine and eating some nachos. Tonight I will sleep over at my colleague Jenny's house in Newark while CSM takes care of my boy and brings him to school in the morning. He loves his Wednesday nights with Aunt Susan.

I finished my first draft of the blog introduction. Jae reordered the entire blog in chronological order and pasted it into a word document for me (a task for which I am hugely grateful). I sent it off yesterday. It fells freeing to have it sent off to the agent - but I'm a little bit lost.

Yesterday I ventured into my dissertation files to reaquaint myself with them for the first time in months. It was daunting, but I'm slowly stepping back in.

It's funny - I used to hate eating in a restaurant alone. I remember my first few conferences, eating alone at a table, self-consciously picking at my food and pretending to look over the conference program for the 54th time. But, I'm ok sitting here. I like it. In the quiet is where I find Michael.

Speaking of...

I have been going through old files, finding emails and letters that speak to who Mike is. I recently found the script for the toast he gave as Best Man at Kevin and Beth's wedding in May of 2005.

In it, I found this paragraph. I have no words to describe how I feel reading it. The passage speaks for itself. It is Michael - speaking to all of us.

"Joking aside, I would like to thank them for what they have given us today. We get so few opportunities for ritual in our society anymore, so few chances to be part of a community, and so very few invitations to be part of something sacred. We can all draw strength from what we’ve seen today. We know that despite our best wishes, they will face struggles. But today, in front of all of us, they have looked the other in the eye and said, “I know you’ll make mistakes. In spite of that, I will accept you, love you, and stay with you.” They have shown the courage to make that promise, when it would be easier not to.

It’s easier to doubt; it’s harder to trust. It’s easier to lose hope; it’s harder to have faith. And one of the lessons of improv taught in that class that brought them together still holds true: There are always reasons to say no. The art is in finding a reason to say yes."


MISSING: 5 black easels used at the Tribute show at World Cafe Live

--- they were generously lent to us from Randy, our funeral director. He needs them for a funeral this week.

Doh! help - anyone seen them? They are black and durable - good quality easels.

email me at 185cranios@gmail.com

Thank you!


Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 9 pm

Bax and me and tomtom and meh's this morning. [Right top: feeding mama goldfish, Right bottom: A Ham. Meh thinks this photo looks alot like Mike. Click on it to make it larger and look at his eyes. Particularly the devilish little arch in his eyebrow. So Mike.]

He brings me so much joy. He's full of beans and loves to joke and laugh and be oppositional (ok, not my favorite thing right now) - but I really just enjoy being with him.

We had a fun slumber party and Tomtom and Meh's house with Julie and baby Jack, Titi Sasha and Titi Dee, and our friends from DC who I haven't seen since Sasha and Dee's wedding two years ago. What a fun night - and Tomtom's cooking is killer. sooo good. Complete with buttermilk pancakes this morning. Holy Moses.

This afternoon I watch the video footage that Alex arranged for the tribute. I cried and laughed and cried some more. The video messages to Baxter were amazing. The variety of things that people communicated to Bax gave such a nuanced picture of his dad: Brilliantly funny, positive, optimistic, amazing comedic timing, ethical, good, kind, a great dancer, supportive, a sports fan, a fantasy baseball league champion (4 years out of the last 5!), a baker, an amazing cook, a leader, a director, a friend, and an inspiration. If anything, I fear perhaps we're going to give poor bax a complex because he'll grow up thinking he'll have to live up to the legacy of this Superman...

Oh well - there are worse fates.

When I shut off the camera that I had been using to watch these videos I had this messed up feeling. Like, ok - I've had more than enough of this grieving thing. Mike can return now so we can get on with our lives.

But, how can this thought even exist in my head? Don't I
get it? But it's so real when I have it. Fleeting, but real. Like if I think hard enough, I can snap us back to where we were one year ago and choose the other adventure (remember "choose your own adventure" stories?) - you know, the adventure without the brain tumor that takes Michael from us? If only.

I hate being without him. And I warn you, I may become a bore here, but that's all I can think over and over - I just hate it. I mean, my days are full and friends are keeping me smiling and laughing - as is bax. But darnit to heck... blech.


Saturday, September 9, 2006 - 2 pm

It has been a busy, but satisfying week. Preparing for a teaching my class is quite rewarding and the students are sharp, engaged, and motivated. Baxter is a joy to be around. Grocery shopping, reading, folding laundry and driving in the car are all more fun with the Baxman around.

I've also been working on a prologue to the blog - which is probably why I haven't been posting on the blog itself. I've spent many hours furiously writing the backstory to this entire saga. I'm working with Curtis' literary agent now in the hopes that eventually Mike and I can share our story. Writing the prelude to the blog is cathartic and painful at the same time. Remembering how even before the madness of April - July, Mike's situation was never easy. Even after that first surgery he had to be rehospitalized. Then there was the month of February during which I watched Mike transform before my eyes, unaware of the changes taking place.

Writing about the beginning of this entire journey feels like the one missing piece - other than the missing piece that is Michael, of course.

I'm about to nap while Baxter naps. I actually worked out on my elliptical machine for the first time in 5 months. It felt great to get moving. This afternoon I head to tomtom and meh's for a slumber party and then tomorrow I'm hitting the Philly fringe with Kebbeh and Beth. My friends take care of me and keep me busy and lifted up. I love them all for that.

I leave you with this little thought I had as I was writing on my laptop in the sunshine in Washington Square Park on Friday. I jotted it down in a blank document to save it for my next blog entry:

"You know how when you look up at the sun and close your eyes you see a glow? A bright orange glow that ebbs and flows and darkens and brightens again. Well, I’ve decided that that is Michael. I feel like when I'm sitting in the sun and I close my eyes, Mike is kissing me. "


Monday, September 4, 2006 - 9 pm

Julie, Jack, Bax and I had a wonderful time in Ocean City (R). We waited to head to the shore until the rain had passed, Sunday morning, so Saturday night, Bax and I had an impromptu visit to Tomtom and Meh's beautiful new house in the Art Museum area (L). It was a great night.

Sunday - Monday, Bax and Jack were like two peas in a pod. They slept well and Julie and I actually did a dinner and breakfast out with the boys and strolled along the boardwalk. My favorite moment of the weekend - and there were several - was when we sat with the boys at the edge of the boardwalk and looked out at the ocean. Bax could have sat there for hours: "Oh-sheh. Oh-sheh. Bih wave. Oh-sheh," he said, pointing out across the beach. He was mesmorized.

It was wonderful.


Bax has asked me twice, "Where Daddy go?" So, Saturday, I explained that Daddy had an "owie" on his head so had to be at the hospital, but now he's all around us all the time. I told him Daddy is In my heart, in Bax's heart, and all around us. Even if he can't see him, Daddy's all around.

So, this afternoon, while eating snack, Bax pointed to the picture of Mike on the fridge. "Daddy bump," he said, patting his own head. "Daddy owie head. Daddy wih Boo boo Puppy! Yay Boo Boo Puppy!"

Boo Boo puppy is a frozen ice pack inside a little stuffed dog that they give the kids at daycare when they have a bump. Boo boo puppy fixes everything.

I love that Bax is picturing Daddy with Boo Boo Puppy - and that the image makes him happy.


Friday, Sept 1, 2006

Thank you for all the thoughtful emails, letters, calls, and donations to Baxter. Sunday was such an amazing night, i've geen riding the high of it all week.

This week was like being thrown into the deep end. On monday, I had an afternoon-long faculty meeting at UDel. Tuesday and Wednesday I worked on the syllabus for my new course. Wednesday night I taught my class at UDel. Thursday morning, I presented a paper with a colleague of mine at the american political science associaton meeting which is happening here in philly this year. Today was filled with meetings and ended with the political communications reception in the evening.

Tomorrow, Julie and baby jack are taking Bax and me to the Jersey Shore. We'll be in Ocean City from Saturday until Monday. What a wonderful idea to get away for the weekend...

Thank you and love to you all,
I mean it.