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.