Thursday, December 25, 2008

Quiet Christmas

Christmas has come to a close. Roslyn was so excited this morning to open her presents. She was very happy with all of her gifts -- the Sleeping Beauty bear, new pajamas, Little Miss books, and lots of other goodies. We had a lovely breakfast of fresh grapefruit and eggs florentine. Chris really outdid himself with the hollandaise sauce this year. Wow, was it good. Fully sated, we adjourned to the living room (now habitable, but still without furniture) and played a game of Sorry! Roslyn was victorious, which pleased her. We then got dressed and prepared some side dishes to take to our friends' house for Christmas dinner. How lovely it was to spend Christmas dinner with friends, rather than all alone just the three of us. It somehow made Natalie's absence easier to bear. I am grateful to them for inviting us to share this special day with them.

Upon returning home, I "lost it" while brushing my teeth (of all things). The tears just started pouring down my face and I couldn't stop for quite awhile. I think it was all of the keeping it under control that I finally had to just let it out. I miss Natalie. I am so sad she died. I hate it that she's gone. Roslyn should have her little sister here to play with. I know I've said it before, but Natalie should be here! SHE SHOULD BE HERE!! Oh, Natalie, please know how much we love you and miss you. I am posting a couple of pictures from Natalie's last Christmas. Seeing her and Roslyn together the way it should be, and now seeing Roslyn all alone just breaks my heart. Roslyn is alone too much. She should have her sister here to play with. I am tired now. I just want to go to bed and end this misery in sleep. Maybe I will dream of my sweet Angel. I hope I will. Good night sweet baby Natalie.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Missing Natalie

It's Christmas Eve and Roslyn has visions of sugarplums dancing in her head. I am excited to see her reaction tomorrow morning when she sees what Santa brought for her. I hope she is happy.

Christmas, like many other aspects of my life now, is clouded with sorrow. The pain of Natalie not being here is even more acute with this holiday. I chose this picture of my happy little angel, which also shows her Christmas stocking in the background, which I lovingly made for her. We have hung it on the fireplace with care, but there are no hopes that her stocking will be filled. There is nothing to do other than put it up in remembrance of her life and the joy she brought to our family.

Merry Christmas, my beautiful Roslyn. Merry Christmas, my sweet little Natalie. I love you and miss you more than words can say.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Candles and Winter Wonderland

Right now, Roslyn and Chris are out with friends at the Slater Park "Winter Wonderland" event. I did not go because soon I will be leaving to attend the worldwide candle lighting ceremony of The Compassionate Friends. This is an annual event around the holidays in remembrance of all children who have died. Last year, Roslyn came with me to the event. I think her presence gave many of the other bereaved parents some happiness to see such an adorable young child. This year, Roslyn didn't want to come with me. When her friend invited her to go to the winter wonderland, the choice wasn't difficult for her. Roslyn is all about embracing life and having as much fun as possible, which is as it should be. A small part of me wishes she had the capacity to grieve the way I do, the ability to miss her little sister, and understand the importance of events like tonight's. It is important to remember. It is all we can do now. We must remember. I know Roslyn remembers Natalie, but she was only four when her little sister died. How can anyone expect her to feel the same degree of loss that me and Chris feel? It's not fair to impose such expectations on her. And it is comforting in a way that her youth has spared her this intense pain. I am glad she is free to live her life and be happy. And so, she and Chris are off ooohhhing and aaahhhing over the pretty lights on the Christmas trees. I sit here alone in a dark house, waiting for the time to pack up my pictures of Natalie that I am bringing with me tonight. And it is all OK.

The candle lighting takes place tonight at 7 pm around the globe. Light a candle at 7 pm for Natalie and all children who have died. Remember, remember. Life is so precious.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Roslyn is home sick today for the second day in a row. It's a low fever with cold symptoms. Her spirits are good and she seems to have better energy than yesterday, but she just needs to rest. I hope she'll be feeling better and can go back to school tomorrow. Meanwhile, we are like hostages in our little "office"/family room. It is the only room on the first floor of our house that is not under construction. Today, they are here sanding the floors in preparation for refinishing them, which will happen next Monday and Tuesday. It was quite a job clearing out all the furniture and finding a place to put it for the next 10 days or so, but we were successful. Our upstairs is like a warehouse with all the stuff sitting around. Roslyn and I have been watching "Sesame Street" and waiting for a good time to emerge from our little cave so we can go upstairs and shower. The sanding is a noisy and dusty job, so there are plastic curtains blocking the stairs both up and down to the basement. We are beyond ready for this project to be finished. We had hoped it would be done before Christmas, but I don't think it will be now. Alas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So much love

At this moment, I feel filled with so much love. I wanted to post a fresh Natalie picture to express how much I love her, how deeply I miss her, how sad I am that she isn't with us anymore. So, here's Natalie. My sweet baby girl. My little angel. My beloved daughter. I love you.

This was taken in 2006 at my 40th birthday celebration. She was radiant in her adorable little halter top outfit. She's pointing to the ball because Dora is on it. There's so much expression in her eyes. She was such a beauty.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches, I've been swamped with memories of my two Thanksgivings with Natalie. Three years ago, when she was four months old, we had Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law's house on Staten Island, NY. That's where we'll be going again this year. Natalie was obviously too young to partake of a proper Thanksgiving meal (well, she got it through my milk). She was smiley and happy with all of her family around her. I just remember her round face with her big dimples and bright, smiling eyes. She was such a happy girl.

On Thanksgiving of 2006, we went to a friend's house. Natalie was so wound up with other little kids there and all the excitement, she couldn't sit to eat her meal. I don't remember her eating much at all. She kept wanting to climb the staircase and I spent the entire meal jumping up to retrieve her from the steps. Never a dull moment with a busy one-year-old.

Ah, life.

On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my girls. I thank them both for blessing me with their lives. Natalie, though only here a short time, lived life to its fullest and made every day with her a pure joy. Roslyn continues to give me enormous amounts of pleasure as I watch her own personality take shape. I am so proud of them both. Thank you, Roslyn. Thank you, Natalie. I love you so much.

I am also thankful for my husband Christopher, for loving me and giving me so much. I am thankful for my mom, giving me a happy childhood despite her own adversity. I am thankful for my brother, Bobby, who I don't see as often as I'd like because he lives on the other side of the world. I am thankful for my dad, who has been gone now for 24 years, but who is always with me. I am grateful for my extended family in New York, Becky in Hickory Corners, MI, Phoebe in Beverly, MA, Judy in Ann Arbor, MI, and so many wonderful friends here in Providence.

I love you all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Little Santa

Mondays and Fridays are always a bit more hectic for us getting ready in the morning. These are the two days I work, so I have to get myself ready, pack lunches for everyone, and see to it that Roslyn gets ready. With our kitchen in the basement these days, it makes it hard to make lunch and be sure Roslyn gets up and gets dressed. So, I try to give her some responsibility of doing this all herself. (Sometimes it's a bit scary how much she's like me when it comes to getting up for school. I have a whole new appreciation for what my mother went through all those years. Sorry, Mom.) She usually prefers to do everything herself anyway (except when she's tired). Today I left her to do her thing. About 15 minutes later, I heard her footsteps on the stairs. "Mommy," she called. "Can you come up here? I want to show you something." What is it now? I'm still trying to get everyone's lunch and breakfast ready. I go up to meet her, fully expecting her to be dressed and ready for breakfast. But, no. There she is with a big smile, still in her nightgown, holding a toy catalog. There's a frame with a picture of a child wearing a Santa hat. "It's Natalie!" Roslyn said. "Look, Mommy, it's Natalie!" I have to say, it did look an awful lot like Natalie when she wore this Santa hat. I thanked Roslyn for showing it to me and gently nudged her to go upstairs and get dressed. How sweet. I know Roslyn misses her little sister a lot, probably more than she knows at her tender age. This picture was taken December 22, 2005 -- Natalie's first Christmas. She was so radiant.

Today was the shoe box packing party, which from all accounts went really well. I don't know how well Roslyn really got the idea. She seemed upset that she didn't get the Hello Kitty stickers for herself. It's hard for a 5 year-old to grasp such things. I still think it's good to start early with the idea of giving and helping others. I hope it will take root and help her blossom into a considerate, caring, and compassionate person.

Next Roslyn had her Daisy Girl Scout welcoming ceremony. Now it's official and she has her pin to prove it. Each girl was given a beautiful long-stemmed gerber daisy in various shades of pink. Roslyn came over in tears because hers head fell off. Oh, if only life was fair. Chris and I did our best to console her and suggested we put it in a pretty bowl when we got home. (Unfortunately, I took pictures, but they didn't come out very well.)

Since nobody was home all day, we decided to go to Whole Foods for dinner. Roslyn was so antsy, she couldn't sit still. Finally, Chris came up with the brilliant idea of having her run short laps around the salad bar, over to the drinking fountains, etc. How fun it was to watch her trotting around, dodging people, and returning to check in. It seemed to do the trick of settling her down.

A busy day for all of us.

By the way, thank you, Roxanne, for your very thoughtful card today. I am ever grateful for your support and kindness.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today was much better than yesterday. It got surprisingly cold and I felt terrible sending Roslyn to school with just a fall jacket, but she had outgrown her winter coat from last year. I spent a good part of the morning shopping for a new one. First went to a second-hand store, but they didn't have much in her size. Went to Kohl's and found a cute outfit for her, but no coat. Thank goodness for Target. I found a cute black puffer coat that will keep her warm AND not show dirt. I also got her some new winter boots because with these radical changes in weather, you never know when you'll need them. She wore them from the time she got home until she had to take a bath this evening. I guess that's a good sign.

I also shopped for some toys to donate to a shoe box drive that some friends have organized. I wanted to get a small stuffed animal for the little boy (2-4 years) and had quite a choice -- monkeys, lions, giraffes, dogs, bears, tiger, etc. I settled on the elephant because I think that's the one Natalie would have liked best. It gives me a small amount of satisfaction to do these simple gestures that nobody else would even notice, but it means something to me and that's what matters. I feel good about giving to these less fortunate kids, and I think it's a great opportunity to show Roslyn what the holidays are really about. I hope she will get it.

Here's a recent picture of Roslyn taken on a warm fall day at the carousel in Roger Williams Park. We went to the park that day to visit Natalie's little tree, which seems to be doing very well and had a few touches of fall color. And today's Natalie picture was taken on Sept. 22, 2005 at almost two months of age.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 18

Today marks 20 months since Natalie died. It is incomprehensible to me. I had a rough day. Didn't sleep well and woke up with a headache. On my way to Ardente Plumbing Supply to pick up our new toilet, I passed the State Medical Examiners Office on Orms St. I was suddenly filled with memories of March 18, how we waited for hours for the M.E. to come to our house. Natalie lying on the couch, dead. Finally, he came and explained what they would do and then he carried my little baby out of our house in a child-sized body bag. I remember how lovingly he carried her. Such memories haunt me. As I drove past the building, I burst into tears and then quickly pulled myself together for my own safety since I was still driving. It's amazing how the intensity comes and goes. I have come to understand the power of thought more and more.

Roslyn wasn't wearing her coat when I picked her up from school, and refused to put it on despite my urging and her teacher's. (It was quite chilly today.) Stubborn, stubborn girl. After a few minutes of swinging on the monkey bars, she came running over asking for her coat. I have to remind myself that she needs to find her own way, and this is just one more example of her asserting her independence and control over her life. Still, on a day like today when I'm tired and sad, it tests my patience. Fortunately, I have learned to take a deep breath and bite my tongue when the urge to yell comes. I think I am doing a pretty good job with that.

This picture was taken on October 18, 2006; Roslyn and Natalie were coloring together. Natalie made some beautiful scribbles that day, which I cherish.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Sometimes it is too painful for me to look at Natalie's picture. It brings my grief to the surface and it is still so raw. A friend recently told me that seeing these pictures of Natalie helps her feel closer to Natalie. I hope that is the case for other people, too. I know that for me, seeing her bright, beautiful face just magnifies the immensity of losing her.

This picture was taken on February 1, 2007. Such a cutiepie.

Time to go to bed now and check on my sleeping Roslyn.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Here's Natalie and Roslyn at one month of age. Seeing these pictures of my girls as tiny babies makes me want to cuddle a newborn so much. Christopher and I have been trying to get pregnant for well over a year now, since Natalie died. I had a miscarriage this past April and now we are "trying" again. It is yet another challenge at my "advanced maternal age" but somehow hope springs eternal. Even with the monthly roller coaster of hoping and then disappointment. The fact that anyone gets pregnant at all seems like a miracle to me. When you think about all of the factors that must be right, it's amazing. I now know how incredibly lucky we were to get pregnant so easily (on the first try) with both Roslyn and Natalie. It is just one more aspect of my life now, with and without my children.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Natalie's Novembers

Here are two pictures of Natalie, the first taken on this day two years ago. The other one was taken the previous year, in 2005 when she was 3 1/2 months old. What a difference a year makes in the life of a young child.

I just got back from my meeting of The Compassionate Friends, a grief support organization I've been going to once a month since July 2007. I always feel better after going and being able to cry and talk about Natalie amongst a room full of people who completely understand and know what it feels like to lose a child. None of us want to be in this club, but we are, and it's comforting to know I'm not alone.

Natalie was always so wide-eyed as a baby. She was so alert. I always attributed it to her all-natural birthing and being so bright, she didn't ever want to miss a thing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Roslyn can read!

The highlight of my day: After dinner, Roslyn and I sat down to read some books. There were three she'd picked out for me to read, and one she wanted to read herself. It was a Peter Rabbit ABC book. I read the three books, and then it was Roslyn's turn. How totally cool to sit with her and listen to her sound out words and get them right. Roslyn is learning to read! It was so much fun to see her brain making the connections. Very exciting.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bundle of Joy

Here's baby Natalie on November 20, 2005. This outfit was a gift and was so warm and cozy. She was such a cute little pumpkin.

Today I got an email from a visitor to Natalie's web site. She wrote to tell me that her baby daughter, Natalie Adamo, had just died on October 21, 2008 at 11 months of age. It turns out that her daughter had leukemia and was receiving treatment at the children's hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my home town. What a strange world we live in to have such coincidences. I am so sorry for her loss. I remember well those initial days and weeks following Natalie's death. I was so numb. I didn't care about anything. But Roslyn helped me. She gave me a reason to get up in the morning. And I did get up, every day, showered and dressed, and managed to get through each of these past 19 months and 18 days. I feel like this was quite an accomplishment under such circumstances.

Time to go to check on my sleeping Roslyn now, and then go to bed. Nite, nite, my sweet Natalie.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

19 months and 18 days

Here's today's picture of Natalie, this one taken March 3, 2007, 15 days before she passed away. This is the last set of pictures we have of her. We took them when Roslyn and Natalie opened presents from our friends in England. Roslyn got a furry lion vest and Natalie got this fuzzy lamb vest. She loved it and refused to take it off any time she wore it. She would put it on and say "Baaaaa" like a lamb. She was so much fun.

As we muddle through this day, Natalie's Equinox, I am reassured by the love and support of friends and family that Natalie will always be remembered. We love you, Natalie. And we miss you more than words can say.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Natalie's Equinox

Tomorrow, November 5, will mark the time that Natalie has been gone as long as she was here. Is there a name for this day, this marker of time? A friend suggested we call it Natalie's Equinox and I think that's pretty close. It is so utterly incomprehensible to me that she has been gone as long as she was here. Where has the time gone? And yet, I look at Roslyn and she’s much bigger now, much more mature. She’s in kindergarten! Somehow this time has passed. I know I have more grey hairs and bags under my eyes. In some ways, it feels like forever. In other ways, it feels like it just happened. The pain of losing Natalie is as fresh as it was 19 months and 18 days ago.

When I was 18 years old, my dad died suddenly from a stroke. When I turned 36, I remember so vividly thinking that now I had lived half of my life without him. As time goes on, I live more and more of my life without him. With Natalie, it is ever so painful because she was here for such a short time, just 19 months and 18 days. Once again, I feel scared at the thought of time moving forward, even though I know it will and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Maybe I’m scared that her memory will fade and it will be like she was never here? I wonder if I’m making it worse for myself by making a big deal out of this marker of time. One could say that it’s just a day like any other day. But I don’t believe that’s true. Some days do have more meaning and significance.

We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow, but we will be lighting 19 candles in memory of our sweet little angel, this exceptionally adorable and special little person who was here, if only for a little while. I pray that her memory will not fade.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Natalie

Our happy Natalie Joy on June 23, 2006, about a month before she turned one. She loved having her picture taken and always had a big smile ready. She was such a happy little girl.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

Well, Halloween is in the can for this year. What a relief. Roslyn loved trick-or-treating and approached the task with serious determination to hit every house that seemed welcoming. I loved watching her walk up to people's front doors with her mouse tail wagging behind her. Her costume was even cuter tonight than yesterday. And just in case you're wondering about the picture, Chris is Angelina's cousin Henry and I am Miss Lily, the ballet teacher. This was Chris's second year as a mouse (last year, he was Gus, the fat mouse from Cinderella), and he was happy that this year, at least, he didn't have to be the FAT mouse.

Whenever thoughts of Natalie came into my mind, I blocked them out as best I could. It is just too painful to be without her on Halloween. Of all holidays, this one is a real toughy. Let's face it, they're all sad and miserable without her. And that's not to diminish the joy that my sweet Roslyn brings, but the pain of losing my baby clouds everything now. This is how it is: my life with and without my children.

Happy Halloween, Roslyn and Natalie. I wish you could grow up together. I wanted that so much.

Here's the picture for today: our happy family of four on Natalie's last Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Parade Day

Today was the East Side Nursery School Halloween parade. Roslyn is Angelina Ballerina this year and I have to say, her costume came out pretty darn cute. We were so glad to see many friends from Roslyn's class. Lots of current students and alumni were there all dressed up in their Halloween finest. I looked around at the younger kids, who are in the class Natalie would have been in. I observed them and wondered if Natalie would be the same size, acting the same way. I looked at them and thought how sad it is that they don't know what they're missing. I thought about Natalie's costume -- what would she have wanted to be this year? She'd be old enough to have a preference for sure. Dora the Explorer? Maybe a princess? Maybe something completely different? I looked at the sandbox in the play yard and had visions of my little one-year-old Natalie sitting there getting herself dirty. Oh, how she loved the sandbox. It is always difficult for me to be around so many little children because it magnifies the absence of my second daughter.

Here's today's picture(s), taken on November 2, 2006. That year, Natalie was Captain Hook for Halloween, but I had this great Cat in the Hat costume, which Roslyn had used two years before. I had a feeling Natalie would outgrow it by the next Halloween, so I put her in it and took this great series of pictures. She was so funny, pulling the hat down over her face and then posing perfectly for one of my favorite pictures of her. She was so much fun. I miss you so much, Natalie.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Here's Natalie on August 17, 2005 at the ripe old age of three weeks. Those first few weeks she had her days and nights mixed up. I remember many walks with her in the wee hours of the morning in a desperate attempt to get her to sleep. The Snugli always seemed to do the trick. I am not a morning person, and I remember being amazed to see people out jogging at 5:30 in the morning. "Are they crazy?!" I often thought to myself. Upon returning from our walk with a sleeping Natalie on my chest, it was always a delicate balancing act to transfer her out of the Snugli and into her bassinet. Many times, I was unsuccessful and then had to go through it all over again or, more often than not, just not get any sleep. I have often felt guilty about complaining about never getting enough sleep. I'd give anything, including ever sleeping again, to have her back. Of course, it doesn't work that way. Life isn't fair.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween 2006

Here's Natalie as Captain Hook for Halloween. Roslyn was Tinkerbell, Chris was Peter Pan, and I was Wendy. Having sweet little Natalie be the evil Captain Hook seemed so perfect. Her costume was so good that an hour before we were ready to go out trick-or-treating, Roslyn said she wanted to be Captain Hook instead of Natalie. Too late, Roslyn. This was taken on our neighbor's doorstep where Natalie decided it was time to take a rest. As we all moved on, she continued to sit there. "Come on, Natalie," we all called to her. Finally, I had to go get her and carry her to the next house. She was a trooper that whole night as we went around the neighborhood. It was truly the best Halloween ever.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Picture of the Day

I've decided that my blog needs more pictures of Natalie, so I'm going to start a "picture of the day" feature. In no particular order, I'll do my best to post a new one each day. I've already posted a bunch of pictures on Natalie's memorial site, but there are hundreds more to share! I hope that in some small way, these photos will help the world get to know my sweet Natalie a bit better. I welcome your thoughts, so don't hold back!

Here's a first one to start. This picture was taken on August 1, 2005. Natalie was three days old. My little angel.

Sunday, October 26 - Funk
Yesterday was a really hard day. I don't know why some days are easier than others, but yesterday I was definitely in a funk. I guess every so often, I just need to cry my eyes out. I went to the Unitarian church here in Providence for the second time. I guess I'm searching for some kind of understanding about life and the mysteries of the universe. I came home and found my husband dutifully chipping away at the old paint on our living room radiator. I took over the task with relish, as it was just what I needed. The act of picking and scraping the paint gave me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I cried at times, the missing and longing for Natalie was overwhelming.

Roslyn had a great day, and we ended by singing "The 12 Days of Christmas" and going to bed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Breathing and flashbacks

Since Natalie's death, I have become unusually aware of breathing--that simple act we all do thousands of times a day, usually without even noticing. I think it is because Natalie stopped breathing that I am so hypersensitive to it. When I check on Roslyn after she's gone to sleep, I first listen for the sound of her breathing. If I can't hear her, I rush over and touch her cheek or forehead to feel if she's warm. This usually causes her to stir, take a deep breath, and move around a little, but not wake up. Sometimes, I've been in a panic and pounced on my poor sleeping daughter to make sure she's OK. Once I feel reassured that she's fine, I say "Thank you, Roslyn" (for not dieing).

Since we've been having our kitchen remodeled, Roslyn has been sleeping in our room, in a cozy "nest" on the floor next to my side of the bed. I love having her so close so that I can hear her breathing when I wake in the middle of the night. I also listen to hear Chris's breathing. Sometimes, I have to listen really closely to figure out whose breathing I am hearing. If it's Chris, I lean over and touch Roslyn. If it's Roslyn, I reach over and touch Chris. Reassured that my two loved ones are safe, I can then go back to sleep.

More often than not, going back to sleep is hard for me. Inevitably, my thoughts turn to Natalie. I am flooded with images of her on the morning of March 18. Seeing her dead face, feeling her cold, stiff body. I relive that horror over and over and over. I have wondered if it's a form of "post-traumatic stress," and I think that it is. Sometimes I lie awake for hours, trying to change my thoughts so I can go back to sleep. But then the flashbacks creep in and I am forced to relive it again. I cry and cry and then, exhausted, I eventually drift off.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apple picking

Roslyn, Christopher, and I went apple picking today. It was a brisk (that's putting it nicely... it was really cold!) fall day with occasional glimpses of sun. We decided to go to the same place we've gone for the past two years, Steere's Orchard in Greenville, RI. As we were driving there, Chris noted that he'd forgotten something. What he'd forgotten was that the route to the orchard is the same one we had to take to the funeral home. I think it caught him a bit off guard. I wondered if he'd have agreed to go to this place if he knew it was on the way to the funeral home.

When we got there, I was consumed with memories of our first visit to Steere's two years ago. Two years ago, on a beautiful fall day, we decided to go apple picking. We looked online and found Phantom Farms in Cumberland. It looked like a lot of fun for the kids. When we got there, we were shocked to find out that, despite saying they had pick-your-own apples, they did not. After asking around, someone told us about Steere's Orchard, which wasn't too far from there. So off we went.

I remember so vividly walking through the orchard with Natalie in the backpack. I'd pick an apple, clean it off, and hand it up to her. She was only about 15 months old then, but she could handle eating an apple pretty well. And of course, she loved them! Boy, did she love to eat. Ah... the sound of her humming with pleasure. It is so wonderful to remember. Natalie was such a cool person. It was always fun to be with her. Roslyn had a great time, too. We all did. It was a perfect day. The only thing that made it not perfect is that I forgot to take the camera, so we don't have any pictures to remember our one and only apple picking outing with our precious little Natalie.

Last year, we went back to Steere's and hit it on a weekend when they had hayrides. Roslyn loved riding around on the wagon, grasping for apples off the trees as we passed through the orchard. It was so sad Natalie wasn't with us to have fun, too. Today, it was still so sad Natalie wasn't with us. I don't know if we'll go back to Steere's next year. Maybe we'll try someplace new. Now that it's geographically associated with the funeral home, it's not ideal. But, Natalie's absence is ever felt by Chris and me, ever in the forefront of our minds. I rather like the idea of continuing our tradition there. We'll just see how we feel next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vegas trip

Roslyn and I returned late last night from Las Vegas, where we were visiting my mom. We had a lot of fun together just us girls. Roslyn was such a great little traveler. She managed to keep herself entertained for the five-hour flight both ways. We played countless hands of Crazy-8s and she colored in a lot of ponies in her My Little Pony coloring book. In Vegas, we saw Red Rock Canyan and Old Nevada, for a taste of the old, wild west. My mom gave Roslyn her very own cowgirl hat, vest, and bandana. Roslyn really got into the spirit of it. The next day, we had girls' night out and saw the stage show of "Mamma Mia." Roslyn was bouncing to the beat the whole time. Ah, my little dancing queen. We also visited the Springs Preserve, which is a really cool place to learn about protecting the environment. They were getting geared up for Halloween with lots of really cool decorations, and countless scarecrows, made by everybody from individual artists to a local girl scout troop to the Clark County Coroner's Office. Roslyn wanted her picture taken next to each and every one! My mom and I happily obliged. Roslyn's enthusiasm made it all the more enjoyable. And you can never have too many pictures of my beautiful girl!

The last night in Vegas I had a dream about Natalie. She was a baby in the dream and I was holding her close to me to warm her because she was cold. Oh, it was the best feeling to hold her again! I am always happy when I can be with her, if only for a little while in my dreams. It is better than nothing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Imagining a brown-eyed girl

Tomorrow is the day Natalie should be starting nursery school. I am overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of the joy we are missing, the joy she is missing. It is hard to believe that two years have passed since we took Roslyn for her first day of nursery school. Now she's a big kindergartner and her little sister should be here. It's Natalie's turn! I think back to how much she loved being at East Side Nursery School when we'd go to drop off and pick up Roslyn. There were many days when I had to pick up a crying Natalie and carry her out of the classroom because it was time to leave. She never wanted to go. She always gravitated to the fire escape stairs in the back of the classroom where there's a piece of plexiglass. I can see her looking back at me with her hands on that plexiglass.

Now, all I can do is imagine what she'd be like. I see a beautiful girl with soft brown hair just past her shoulders. It is mostly straight with just a little bit of a wave in the back. She has her bangs trimmed or maybe they're clipped back out of her face. She is looking around--her big brown eyes wide with excitement. She is happy. She is so very, very happy.

I'm writing this as tears stream down my face. I am so, so sad. I love you, Natalie.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Roslyn started kindergarten today! Wow. I knew it would be an emotional time and it was. Roslyn was great. She was excited and ready to go, wearing her new LLBean backpack (in one of her many favorite colors, red). I was happy that Christopher was able to come with us -- after all, there's only one "first day of kindergarten." Roslyn immediately sat down to start drawing a picture of the three of us. "Hold still, Mommy so I can draw you," she'd say. And then I'd accidentally move and she'd have to remind me to hold still. When it came time to say goodbye, she was great. Just gave us each a big hug and kiss. Of course, I was the one who was getting choked up. There goes my little girl, out into the big world... I hope she is happy in kindergarten, happy in life.

I also cried because I should have my little Natalie here to keep me company. I was so looking forward to having this nice one-on-one time with her. Natalie should be here. The fact that she isn't constantly gnaws at me and continually breaks my heart. I miss her beyond words. I can only imagine and wonder what she'd be like now as a busy 3-year-old, getting ready for her turn to start nursery school. Oh, it should have been so wonderful and now it just feels like I'm constantly trying to pick up the pieces of our lives. But it never ever gets picked up. It can't.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

She's baaaack!

My special butterfly was back today. I've seen her a few times now, including Natalie's birthday, but today she stayed long enough for me to get some great pictures. I loved watching her hold on tight as the breeze blew her and the blossoms quite strongly. Her wings are clipped in two places now. Not the perfect being I saw that first day. But she knows that this is her garden and she comes to visit us regularly now. And it pleases me.


August 9, 2008

Last weekend, we were invited to spend a few days with an old friend of Christopher's in the Catskill mountains. It just so happened that we stayed about 15 miles away from the Zen monastery where Chris lived for four years back in the late '80s. And it also just so happened that the day we arrived, it was Obon, which is a Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the deceased spirits of one's ancestors. We had the good fortune of being invited to participate in the ceremony, which included chanting, lighting incense, putting grains of rice in a special bowl, and lighting a beautiful paper lantern that we inscribed with Natalie's name and my father's using a traditional calligraphy brush and ink.

The night was cool, but as clear as could be. There were millions of brilliant stars and an amazingly bright perfect half moon. The ceremony culminated with a procession of everyone carrying their lantern down to the lake where they were floated out onto the water. Finally, a huge bonfire was lit, symbolizing the release of our beloved's spirits. I wept as I watched the flames go up into the black night. It is supposed to be a time of letting go, but I can't let Natalie go. I don't want to. Despite being very tired after the long drive, I felt at peace in that place at that time. Honoring Natalie and my dad together in this way was very special, too, since my dad had spent two years in Japan following World War II. Japan is an integral part of my family's history and is in our hearts in so many ways. I know for Chris, returning to the monastery was like going home. It was an emotional reunion with many dear old friends. I was happy to be a part of it.

Throughout the whole thing, Roslyn was so well behaved. She bowed when she was supposed to bow. She followed along as we fumbled our way through the ceremony. At one point as we sat on our round meditation cushions, she leaned over and whispered, "these cushions are really comfy, aren't they mommy?" Oh, I could have eaten her right up. Even as we lingered well past the midnight hour, and my poor girl was so, so tired, she didn't complain. Chris and I were both very proud.

As we made our way along the winding dirt road up to the monastery, which really is in the middle of nowhere, I asked Chris if there were any bears in those woods. He said he'd only heard of one sighting in all of his time there. Not more than five minutes later, a black bear cub ambled across the road. We all saw it and were really excited. The next day, Chris and I drove back to the monastery while Roslyn stayed behind with his friend, Valerie, and we saw a coyote cross the road, in about the same place as the bear. The next day, we went one last time and this time, there was a dead coyote in the road. Signs? I don't know. Chris's wise old Zen teacher thought so.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Good day today

Roslyn had her swimming lesson this morning at the Y. It turned out to be a private lesson as none of the other kids showed up. I sat there watching her learn how to blow out through her nose instead of plugging it, and float on her back and kick. Her new teacher was really great with her. As I watched, I felt so proud and full of joy. Hearing her giggles from across the pool made me feel incredibly happy. Her jubilation continued into the shower room as she sang over and over and over... "la-la-la-la, I'm washing my hands, I'm washing my hands..." Over and over and over as she danced on her tippy toes around the drain. Normally, I would have been trying to get her to finish up, always needing to get going and move on with our day. But today, I was content to just let her enjoy the moment. Everything else could wait a few more minutes. It was really refreshing to relax like that.

The rest of the day was great, too. I treated both of us to lunch out at TGI Fridays, not my usual choice, but I had the jones on for their "green bean fries." I even let Roslyn have the "cup of dirt" dessert, consisting of chocolate pudding, Oreo cookie crumbs, gummy worms. Yes, today I felt like spoiling her a little bit -- and we had so much fun. After lunch, we went to Target and Ocean State Job Lot, where we got a random assortment of goodies including a six-pack of really cool gel pens for a buck. This is clearly Roslyn's favorite thing we got today.

I always wonder what my life would be like now with a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. Would I be able to enjoy the simple pleasures like I did today? I like to think so, but sadly, I'll never know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blueberry Birthday

A few minutes ago it was 9:38 p.m., the time Natalie decided she was ready to greet the world. Oh, what a strange day today was. So many emotions, so many memories, so many wonderings. What would she be like now? As painful as it has been to lose precious Natalie, I am forever blessed that she came into my life three years ago today.

The yellow and black swallowtail butterfly came back to Natalie's garden this morning. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I'm not so crazy after all. Is it a coincidence that the butterfly returned today? I like to think not. It made for a special way to start this most difficult day.

This afternoon, Roslyn and our friend, Laura, went blueberry picking in Seekonk. It was perfect weather and the picking was good. I thought how appropriate it was that Natalie liked blueberries so much, as they are perfectly ripe and in season on her birthday. It is fitting.

Christopher, Roslyn, and I commemorated her birthday and her life with us by having a blueberry birthday cake like the one I made for her first birthday, two years ago. Roslyn blew out the one candle and we all cried, and then we laughed as Roslyn remembered how Natalie used to like to grab her hair. (Of course she did, Roslyn's hair is so beautiful, it begs to be touched.) Oh, my sweet baby girl. You are forever in our hearts.

Thank you to all our friends and family who reached out to us today. It is nice to know Natalie is still remembered and loved. For me, the next worst thing after losing Natalie would be to let her memory die, too. I pray that anyone reading this blog will keep Natalie's joyful spirit in their hearts.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Natalie Joy.
Always Love, Mommy

Monday, July 28, 2008


Natalie's birthday is tomorrow. I cried a lot today. I feel so unbelievably sad. Just sad, sad, sad. I almost feel like I did in the first few days and weeks after she died, when I was in that grief fog. It's so exhausting.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Arms wide open

It was a beautiful day today, and I decided to walk the 2.6 miles home from work to get some exercise and fresh air. On the way, I passed a house where I'd gone to a yard sale with Roslyn and Natalie two years ago. Looking toward the house, I was suddenly struck by the powerful memory of going there with my girls. I had Natalie in the back pack, which she always loved. I felt sad, but also glad to have another memory to remember. Today was Natalie's original due date three years ago. It was so hot that week.

As I approached home, I saw Roslyn and her friend Margaret standing on the sidewalk in front of our house. Roslyn saw me and came running with arms open wide and a beaming smile on her face. I felt a rush of joy and ran to greet her, too. Biiiiigggg Hug! That made my day. Thank you, sweet Roslyn.

"How are you?"

Yesterday a guy from the gas company came to do a routine check on our gas meter. He rang the bell and I answered the door and greeted him. He said, "hi, how are you?" Without batting an eye, I said "fine." Then I noticed he had tears welling up in his eyes, and he motioned to the faded picture of Natalie and the notice of her passing that we still have posted on our front door. I immediately knew why he looked like he was about to cry. I sighed and clumsily said, "well, fine is all relative." He said, "that just breaks my heart."

I showed him the basement and after a couple minutes he reemerged with the information he needed. He apologized for upsetting me, as I was getting teary-eyed, too. I said, "No, I appreciate it. It's nice to know people care." And then he left.

I never know when something is going to hit me like that. Living with this grief now, as it comes in waves, is very unpredictable. One minute I may be "fine," and the next, I'm a blubbering mess on the couch. People often apologize to me for what they perceive is "reminding" me of it. I always feel bad that they must think they've said something to upset me. But it's really impossible for anyone to "remind" me of it. I can't escape it. And it's nice when people give me an outlet for it.

I am grateful to the National Grid guy, whose name I don't know. Grateful that he was moved enough to take the time to acknowledge Natalie and our tragic loss. In some ways, it would have been easier if he didn't say anything about it, but I would be left feeling like the world doesn't care anymore. And that's an extremely painful thing to deal with. I am always grateful when people say Natalie's name, or have the guts to ask me really how I'm doing.

The standard greeting of "how are you?" is so loaded for me now. Most of the time, I just say "OK" and leave it at that. In other cultures, there are outward signs to show when someone is grieving -- wearing all black, an armband, etc. But it doesn't work that way in our society. It's an awkward feeling sometimes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Sighting

I saw the first monarch butterfly of the season yesterday, in Natalie's garden. This picture was taken last year at the dedication of Natalie's garden we had to commemorate her birthday. We released 24 monarch butterflies, a beautiful symbol of her short, but oh so sweet life. (She would have been 24 months old.)

I was feeling particularly sad this morning. After taking Roslyn to "summer camp," I decided to have a quiet cup of tea in Natalie's garden. As I sat there admiring the beauty of the garden and thinking about everything from how much I miss her to wondering if I planted the hydrangea too close to the Japanese maple, I was visited by a spectacular yellow and black butterfly, the kind with the pointy tips on the end of its wings. I'd never seen one like it in our yard before. It was very interested in the light purple butterfly bush (the same one in the picture), and returned many times to the blossom closest to where I was sitting, about two feet away.

I often wonder if this is, in some small way, a sign from my sweet Natalie. I like to think it is her way of letting me know she's ok, that she's still here with me. But then, my practical, rational side kicks in and I think, "that's just crazy." I have conversations back and forth with myself about it. If it gives me comfort to think it's a sign from her, it's ok. I am ever mindful to "pay attention." But really, it's just a butterfly. It's not Natalie. But who's to say it isn't? And so on it goes.

In any case, watching the silent flutter of its delicate wings and its graceful flight as it searched for the best landing spot on the bush, a peace and calm came over me, and I felt better. So, at the risk of sounding crazy, I would like to thank the universe for this gift today. I am grateful.

Friday, July 18, 2008


On March 18, 2007, my life was suddenly shattered. My heart was forever broken. I woke up that morning to find my daughter, Natalie, had passed away in her sleep. Suddenly I was living every parent's worst nightmare. Natalie was only 19 months old. She was a happy and healthy little girl with a pure heart that was full of love and sweetness. As I write this now 16 months later, I still cannot believe she is really gone. I still can't believe she died. She died. Oh, my god, she died! How could this have happened to her? To our family? And now, 16 months later, after the rest of the world has moved on with their lives, I am still here. Still living the nightmare of March 18. Still in agonizing pain. Still constantly missing my baby girl. Always wondering what she'd be like now, as a bright and busy three-year-old.

Natalie's passing is the single most difficult and painful thing I've ever experienced. No mother should ever have to find her child like I did. The horror of that morning haunts me each and every day. I cannot shake the images of her lifeless body, the way she looked, the way she felt. It isn't fair! But one thing I have learned is that life isn't fair. Bad things do happen to good people. Natalie certainly didn't deserve this. None of us did.

There will be much more about this part of my life WITHOUT my child in future postings.

Now, let me introduce the other half of my life WITH my child. Roslyn, Natalie's big sister, is now almost 5 1/2. She is growing by leaps and bounds and radiates with self-confidence and charm. In so many ways, she is my savior. She is my reason for getting up in the morning, and a big part of what brings a smile to my face despite my overwhelming grief. It's such a bizarre dichotomy to feel so much happiness and so much sadness all at the same time. Sometimes I feel a little bit crazy.

Roslyn continues to delight me. She took this picture herself. Yesterday she drew a picture for me. It's a picture of me in my Halloween costume as a bumblebee standing on our very colorful (in the picture anyway) living room rug. I took it to work today and proudly hung it on my office wall. Seeing it makes me smile.

More soon.