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.