Monday, November 29, 2010


Thank you to my amazing sister Elizabeth for creating a public memorial to mark the one year anniversary of our mother's death. So much to reflect upon, to feel, today.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The piano

Last year, the house we rented in Redlands came with a piano. We were excited--Hannah had been wanting to learn to play, and we had been shopping for an affordable piano to no avail, so it was great to find a house with one already set up.

Around the time we last saw my mom alive--one year ago tonight--Hannah had been teaching herself to play "Kids" by MGMT. After my mom's death, I couldn't get the song out of my head--there are lines about "making mama so proud" that would bring me to tears, lines about a baby being born that would also move me deeply. The chords of that song reached right into my own heart and plucked some string that reverberated through my whole body.

This summer, I belly danced at the Orange County Fair. My troupe had performed there last year, and my mom had been in the audience--there are photos of her on Facebook still, clapping and looking so happy. While I was backstage this year, "Kids" came on over the loud speakers and I started to cry. My friend Nancy asked what was wrong, and I told her how that song felt so connected to my mom, how I wished she could be in the audience again. "She's here with you now," Nancy said. "She's showing you through the song." After we performed and were walking around the fair, a live band started to play that song; Nancy and I looked at each other, and I so wanted to believe that it meant my mom was there with us as we ate our corn on the cob, drank our fresh lemonade. Later in the summer, when we were shopping in Barcelona, the song came on over the sound system, and I started to cry again. My mom had so wanted to take the whole family to Spain, to explore the roots she had uncovered there. I like to think that this was her way of joining us.

About a month ago, I got a call from my former landlord, asking if we were interested in buying their piano. When we had given our notice, I had asked if they'd consider selling it, but they weren't ready to part with it at the time (it had belonged to the landlord's mother). Now that their own baby was due, they were ready to let the piano go. I wasn't sure at first--Hannah has a piano at her dad's house, where she spends most of her time now, and I didn't know if it would really get played here--but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted that piano. It felt connected to my mom, to the song, to the last night I saw her, to the way she keeps visiting me now. If I was going to have any piano in the house, I wanted it to be that one.

So now we have a beautiful Baldwin Acrosonic piano in our home, and Asher loves playing it (as you can see above). I love the way the sound rings through the house--big and rich, reverberating through my heart strings. It sounds like pain. It sounds like love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday, Asher!

One year ago exactly, I was one hour away from giving birth to my beautiful baby Asher. How has it already been a year? How has it only been a year? Haven't I known Asher forever? Time is such a strange thing. Especially in a year like this, the most epic, transformative one of my life.

I love this picture of Asher with my dad over Asher's birthday cake--they've had such a special connection from the very beginning, and this photo captures it beautifully. As Thanksgiving approaches, I can't help but remember last year's holiday; Asher was about 90 hours old, and my dad was 90 years old. The three of us took a nap together, me between them--I have never felt myself to be "middle aged" more powerfully or sweetly than that moment, sandwiched perfectly between someone so new and someone who has seen almost a century of life. Asher's newness has brought the whole family a healing freshness that has helped us weather our season of loss.

Asher, I'm so grateful for your sweetness, your curiosity, your knowing, your humor, your pure, simple, profound love. Thank you for bringing us joy, so much light, when we've most needed it. I love how you've always loved light, from the time you were a newborn and would stare and stare at the light framed in the high bedroom window; I love how "light" is one of your first words now--you radiate it, my sweetie boy. Happy, happy birthday--I can't wait to watch you continue to grow, to learn, to shine.