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.