Friday, December 25, 2009

Only one stocking to stuff

Christmas 2009 is now history. Our third Christmas without sweet Natalie. It was good and bad, as are most holidays now -- as are a lot of things in my life now. The worst part was stuffing only Roslyn's stocking. Natalie's stocking, though proudly hung by the chimney with care, remained unstuffed. There is no child here to give goodies to. It breaks my heart over and over and over again. I miss you, my sweet baby girl. You are always remembered, always loved and missed.

Roslyn had a good day. She woke us up a little after 7:00 saying "Mommy, it's time to get up and open our presents... Mommy, Daddy, come on, let's go..." Chris and I were sleepy and managed to get an extra 10 minutes in bed as Roslyn patiently waited, and then we all went downstairs. Roslyn was excited to see that Santa ate the cookies she'd left out for him and the reindeer food. We opened presents and had our traditional Christmas breakfast: grapefruit, bacon, and eggs Florentine. Chris's hollandaise sauce was pure perfection. We played and relaxed until it was time to go to dinner at our friends' house. Now I'm tired and ready for sleep. Tomorrow we'll play the new games we got for Christmas and just relax after the build-up to the holiday. Roslyn wants to learn how to play chess. Sounds good to me. Merry Christmas my beautiful girls.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much to be thankful for

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It has always been my favorite holiday. I love the feast, I love the togetherness, I love what it stands for. It is good to give thanks, good to show gratitude and appreciate what we have. But now, the holidays are especially difficult because at this time for being with family, we are not together anymore. Natalie is forever missing and the holidays only punctuate this sad fact. This will be our third Thanksgiving without her. We only got to spend two Thanksgivings with her. This alone is so incredibly sad. She was here for such a short amount of time. And yet, I am forever grateful for the time we had with her. It is so precious.

As I reflect on what I am thankful for, I think of my children -- my beautiful Roslyn, my beloved angel Natalie, and now, my sweet unborn baby boy who we are expecting to arrive around April 27th. My THREE children. Yesterday I had my 18-week ultrasound and it was confirmed that we are having a son. We are thrilled, and even more thrilled that he seems to be developing normally and everything is going well so far. My screening test for chromosomal abnormalities came back with a risk of 1 in 40,000, which at my ripe old age of 43 is pretty amazing. Chris and I have spent the last several months since we found out I was pregnant feeling amazed that this is really happening and terrified of what could go wrong. We have been through so much already. It is understandable to worry. But I have decided that worrying doesn't do anyone any good, especially me and the baby. I let Chris do the worrying for both of us, and thankfully, he is starting to do less of that, too.

Now is a time to relax and enjoy and look forward to the promise of another new Adamo. We will always remember his big sister, Natalie, and I look forward to telling him about her. I know he will love her, too. Roslyn is so excited to be a big sister again, even though she wishes it were a sister. I think it's her way of missing Natalie and expressing her grief. I have no doubt that once she sees her tiny little brother, she will fall in love with him, too. We all have so much love in our hearts. Yes, I am thankful.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Sharing Girl"

This week was a biggie for Roslyn. She came home on Monday, thrilled to tell us that she had been chosen to be the "sharing girl" this week. In addition to being the first one to go to lunch, first to read in class, first to do a lot of things, the sharing girl gets to bring in something from home to show and tell her class. Yesterday was Roslyn's sharing day and she chose to bring in Stellaluna.

Stellaluna is a very special little stuffed animal in our house. She is the puppy that Santa gave to Natalie in her stocking shortly before she died. Natalie loved her and slept with her every night. Natalie just called her "doggie." At Natalie's memorial service, we placed "doggie" on her casket along with her favorite bedtime book, Eric Carle's "Head to Toe." During the service, Roslyn (then only 4 years old) marched up and grabbed the stuffed animal off the casket. I let her have it as it seemed to bring her some comfort. In the weeks that followed, I would sleep with the doggie. It helped me feel closer to Natalie somehow. When Roslyn discovered I'd been doing this, she asked if she could have her. Although she brought me comfort, I agreed to let Roslyn have her. A mother's sacrifice. Roslyn had renamed the dog "Brownie."

At some point later, I brought home a DVD from the library called "Stellaluna," a story based on the book of the same name about a baby fruit bat who is separated from her mother. Roslyn really loved it and decided that "Brownie" would now be called "Stellaluna" and that she was no longer a puppy dog, but a baby bat. Roslyn started to bring "Stell" as she's known for short everywhere. On one memorable trip to Target, Roslyn lost Stell and we didn't realize it until we were almost finished shopping, at least 30 minutes later. Roslyn burst into tears upon the discovery that Stell was gone. I was on the verge of tears myself. But she remembered where she left her (in the soap aisle), so we quickly made a beeline for where she thought she'd left her. Unfortunately, she wasn't there. I looked all around in the vicinity, but no sign of the lost baby bat. Next we went to Customer Service for the lost & found, but they didn't have her either. By some lucky coincidence, I just happened to notice Stell in a shopping cart that was full of random items that one of the store clerks was picking up to put back where they belong. Roslyn grabbed her and hugged her and we were truly overjoyed that we'd found our little Stell. We were really lucky.

Another time when we were at Sears, Stell accidentally slipped from Roslyn's grasp and we found her lying in the middle of the main aisle. Luckily, it only took us a few minutes to realize she was gone that time. After that, we decided that Stell could come with us, but it would be best for her to stay in the car. Now, she mostly just stays at home for her own safety.

It's amazing how strongly we all feel for this this little stuffed animal. It is clear to me that Stell is a major part of Roslyn's coping with Natalie's death. On a few occasions, she's slipped and started to call her "my little sis..." or "Nat....", but then she catches herself and says, "I mean, Stell." Oh, it breaks my heart.

Stell is starting to show the wear and tear of the intense love she bears. Roslyn's sharing day went well. She reported that her classmates were "very gentle with Stell." I know it made her feel really good to share with them.

Here's Natalie on Christmas Day 2006 with Stellaluna in the background (sadly, the only picture we have of them together), and Roslyn with Stell in November 2007.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My article about grief

In my work as a writer at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, one of my favorite things I get to do is write for their quarterly magazine, Choices. I've written on a variety of topics--bipolar disorder, sleep, celiac disease, emotional eating, talking to kids about food, and swimming, to name a few. For the fall issue, which just came out, I wrote about grief. Like grief itself, writing this article was both extremely difficult and very easy--the duality of opposites that is such a hallmark of grief (at least, it is for my grief). When the topic first came up in our writers' meeting, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do it. After much consideration, I initially declined the opportunity. But after a couple of days of thinking about it, I felt compelled to do it. I HAD to do it. I asked if I could switch with the other writer and she happily agreed.

It took me almost as long to write the one paragraph in which I tell Natalie's story as it did to write the entire article. I struggled with trying to strike a balance between telling my personal story, and keeping it relevant for the magazine's readers. I was very conscious that it not be all about me, but yet it is such a personal subject, how could it not be? The other aspect that came up was that we wanted the reader to come away with some sense of hope that things do get better. It has only been two and a half years for me, which feels like a really long time, but in the grand scheme of things, isn't very long at all. I don't have the perspective to be able to offer assurance to people that it gets easier. But I can say that it is a process that anyone in my situation must go through, and they must go through it in their own way, in their own time.

I suggested to our designer the idea of the broken vase that is crudely glued back together--and he did a beautiful job. It is not the way it was before it was broken and it never will be, but it is mostly whole and can still serve its purpose of holding the flowers. It is a perfect metaphor for my broken heart that will never be the same, and my need to keep on going for daughter Roslyn, my husband, my family and friends, and myself.

Writing this article also gave me the opportunity to help raise awareness of SUDC, sudden unexplained death in childhood. Everyone has heard of SIDS, but so rare is SUDC, that very few people know about it, not even pediatricians. I hope that people will visit the SUDC Web site and take the time to learn more about this devastating thing that has taken away hundreds of precious children from their families, just like my little Natalie was taken from me. It is my way of helping the cause.

There's also a section for friends and family of someone who is grieving on what is helpful and what is not. This comes from my own personal experience, the experiences of other grieving parents, and the advice of experts. It is difficult to tell people what you need, especially when you are in the depths of grief and can't always express yourself coherently. Maybe this will help, too.

So here is the online version of my article, Picking Up the Pieces. Please share your thoughts, let me know what you think. The printed version of the magazine will be mailed to members by the end of the month, but you can also download it from the Choices home page in the upper right corner.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to the blog

I can't explain really why I haven't posted since Natalie's birthday, now more than a month ago. It's not like we've been busier than usual. I just don't know. But now, I wanted to break the silence to give a brief update. August brought more blueberry picking (I think Chris and Roslyn picked a total of 30 lbs! We ate a lot of them, but we have a lot left in the freezer. We love them.) Last week, we finally completed our kitchen renovation. The last piece, the countertop for the island, was installed. We ended up going with butcher block and I think it looks really nice. I'll post pictures soon. We went to a rock climbing gym for Margaret's birthday party and we all got to climb the walls. What fun that was! August 24 saw Roslyn's first day of first grade, and her first day at her new school, Bay View. She has now completed five full days and one half day and when asked how she likes it, says "I LOVE it!!" That's good enough for me. Today I was a helping parent in the lunchroom and it was quite fun to see all the girls. Roslyn was beaming how much she loves me and giving me hugs every time I walked by. That was worth it. I will do this twice a month. Here are a few pictures from her first day of school and our rock climbing adventure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthday Girl

Tomorrow is Natalie's birthday. She would have been four years old this year. These pictures were taken on her first birthday. She had a great time posing and playing with her hat, taking it on and off and saying things like "Da!" I look at these pictures now and I remember so clearly the morning I dressed her in her pretty little outfit and how she played and laughed and kept trying to grab the camera. She didn't have any understanding that it was a special day for her, a special day for all of us. And I, of course, had absolutely no way of knowing that this would be the one and only time I'd get to sing "Happy Birthday" to my darling Natalie Joy. I'm so sorry, Natalie. I wish you were here to celebrate your 4th birthday with us. We miss you so.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Vacation, all I ever wanted..."

On Friday night we returned from our wonderful week in Michigan. Going back to the region of my birth (we didn't make it to the actual place of my birth, Ann Arbor) was good for my soul. How good it was to see familiar (simple) things like the road sign for I-94. No, not I-95, which is here in Providence. I-94, the interstate that goes from Detroit to Chicago and passes by Ann Arbor. How wonderful it was to go to a midwest-style farmer's market with Amish farmers selling their local produce and fresh baked goods. How spectacular to savor the perfection of a hugely plump Michigan blueberry (and of course, think of Natalie, my blueberry girl). How fun to hear real Michigan accents. How nice it was to be Home.

Our travels took us from O'Hare, one of the busiest airports in the U.S. to little Hickory Corners, Michigan. We took the Chicago subway downtown and walked a few blocks to the train station, where we picked up the northern Indian commuter rail, which took us to South Bend, Indiana. There, we were greeted by our friend, Michael, who drove us to our final destination, Gull Lake. Becky was there waiting to give us all big hugs.

For the next five days, we slept until we were ready to get up, went swimming whenever we wanted in the crystal clear, warm(ish) waters of Gull Lake, and visited with our dear, old friends. Between Becky and her sister, Jen, there are five kids at the house so Roslyn always had someone to play with. It was utterly relaxing and wonderful to know she was always having fun and safe at all times. The last night of our visit, our old friend Judy drove from Ann Arbor to visit us for dinner, and we were also joined by Becky's mom and dad. Although we are all older now, it was like old times when me, Judy, and Becky (and sometimes Phoebe and Kim) would spend part of our summer at Gull Lake.

It was also an opportunity for me to share my dear little Natalie with my friends. Jen and Judy hadn't seen many pictures of her and it was very special for me to share Natalie with them and have a good cry. I was filled with a sense of true friendship and caring that goes back to when we were all 4 and 5 years old. How amazing to still be friends after all these years.

As Michael drove us to the Amtrak station in Kalamazoo (also an old, familiar place) to catch our train back to Chicago, we passed a Big Boy restaurant, a Michigan institution. I lamented that I didn't even think to ask if there was a Big Boy nearby, and I missed this chance to go for my all-time favorite burger, the "Swiss Miss." I guess we'll just have to put that on the list for next time.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Natalie patiently waits for her piece of Mommy's birthday cake, July 5, 2006.

Good to the last crumb. Good job, Natalie!

...and Now.

Just the three of us.
Let them eat chocolate roll cake with raspberry cream and fresh raspberries. Oh, my!!

Friday, July 3, 2009


My insides start to twist and constrict when July comes around. It's not quite as bad as March, but close. My birthday falls on the 5th of July and Natalie's comes three+ weeks later on the 29th. My birthday has become something I reluctantly "celebrate." Part of me feels guilty to be celebrating another birthday. How can I be doing this when Natalie isn't?! Part of me wishes it wasn't here because it means soon her birthday will be here and that will bring yet another period of agonizing pain, even greater than the normal pain I live with every day. What should be a happy time of year for our family is now shrouded in sadness. It isn't fair. It isn't right. But it is the way it is and I will try, as in everything, to make the best of it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

With and Without

Yesterday, Roslyn and I had quite a busy day. I had to do two of my least favorite things: go to the DMV to renew my driver license and shop for a new bathing suit. On the way, the skies opened up and we got caught in a torrential downpour. With only one choice, we made a run for it and got soaked in a matter of seconds. We laughed as we toweled off in the ladies room. And after about five hours (with lunch and a trip to Trader Joe's thrown in), we headed for home. It was a pretty good day.

I got home and found a message on the machine from the JCPenney photo studio where I'd taken Natalie for a portrait when she was seven months old. They called to let me know about a special birthday promotion for my child since her birthday is coming up this month. Wow. Did that come out of left field for me. And sent me into a sobbing fit. This is the first time they've called since we had Natalie's pictures taken. Now what do I do? Call them and tell them to take us off their list because my baby died? Or just do nothing? I don't know.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Roslyn had two milestones last week. On Tuesday, she completed kindergarten, and on Wednesday, we discovered that she has her first permanent tooth coming in and her first loose tooth! Since the discovery, she has been constantly wiggling it. She is determined to get that bugger out.

The last day of kindergarten was hard for my girl. I picked her up from school and she was waiting for me, sobbing at her teacher's side. She ran over to me and hugged and clung to me for a good five minutes just crying and crying. I think it was mostly prompted by the knowledge that she will not be returning to MLK elementary school next year. Once she got over the crying, she was fine. Now summer is here and it's no looking back!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A needle in a haystack

On Monday, Roslyn's school had its "field day." When Chris and Roslyn picked me up from work as usual, I was expecting to hear glowing reports of all the fun she had at school that day. Instead, I was greeted with a very sour face. I asked her what was wrong and she said she lost her special pink hair clip that was her favorite because it was in the goody bag at her birthday party. Oh, dear. I tried distracting her from this missing hair clip by asking about field day, but it didn't work. She was fixated and very unhappy. She kept saying she wanted to go back to school and look for it. When we pulled into our driveway, Chris said dinner could wait (we were having homemade pizza and it hadn't gone in the oven yet). So I told Roslyn I'd take her back for a quick look. "YAY!" She immediately brightened. We got to school and she started to excitedly tell me about all the fun things they'd done as she retraced her steps to find that hair clip. "And this is where we had the potato sack races... And this is where we did the obstacle course..." She had had an excellent day and it was fun hearing all about it. Alas, as we scoured the courtyard, the grassy field, and the sandy playground, we didn't find the pink jewel hair clip. I kept thinking, "this really is like looking for a needle in a haystack." As we were starting to give up (Roslyn seeming satisfied that at least we had tried), I noticed something in her hair. I said, "Roslyn, guess what?" "What, Mommy?" "I just found your hair clip!" "Where is it?" "It's in your hair, sweetheart." Roslyn reached to where it had been at the beginning of the day and said, "No, it's not." "Yes, honey... move your hand down more... do you feel it?" She did, and then... THE SMILE! We hugged and laughed and talked about how silly we were. I called Chris to say we were on our way home and please put the pizza in the oven. I felt really good afterward, like I'd done something right. And I think I did.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Girls in pink dresses

This picture was taken May 27, 2006. It seems like ages ago Roslyn and Natalie donned their pretty pink and white dresses to go to their friend Robby's birthday party. The dresses were handmade in Argentina and brought back as a gift from one of Chris's clients. This was the only time they both wore their dresses together. Looking around the rest of the picture, I am taken back to those days when we bought diapers in bulk and they were seemingly all over the place. And there's Natalie's backpack, too. She loved to ride around in it while I did housework. She had a good view and loved to be close. "Back pack" was one of the first words she said and understood. Of course, she said it like "baa paa." Natalie was 10 months old and was learning how to wave. You can see her hand outstretched waving at the camera in the next picture. We were so happy then.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

It's hard to believe that tomorrow will be my seventh year celebrating Mother's Day. Roslyn was only three months old that first year. She was the cutest little bundle in her pretty purple dress. I don't remember the second Mother's Day quite as vividly as the first, but I remember being pregnant with Natalie on my third.

It's my fourth Mother's Day that really stands out. It was in 2006 and was the one and only Mother's Day I got to spend with both of my daughters. Roslyn was 3 and Natalie was 9 1/2 months old. The Sunday before, Chris and I were reading the newspaper while the girls played. He asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. I wasn't sure. I knew I didn't want any kitchen appliances or a box of chocolates. I wanted it to be something special that involved my children in some way. As I was flipping through the flier from Michael's (craft store), I noticed some mosaic stepping stone kits on sale. I thought, "that's what I want for Mother's Day, and I want it to have Roslyn and Natalie's hand prints in it." So off we went to the store to buy the kit.

On Mother's Day, we made the stepping stone. We mixed the cement and smoothed it out all ready for the girls to make their mark. Natalie, being the baby, went first. We pressed her little hand into the cement but she quickly grabbed it and mushed it leaving not a hand print but a big glob of cement. We had to try again... four more times. We laughed after each attempt. (She was just so cute!) Then finally, we decided to use her foot instead. We smoothed it out again and pressed her tiny foot into the cement. Success! A perfect little baby footprint. Roslyn went next and being a big girl, we only had to do one take for her footprint, too. We decorated around the footprints and marked it with the year, 2006.

We decided that making a new stepping stone each year would become our Mother's Day tradition. It would be a fun way to document their growth over the years, and have one-of-a-kind keepsakes to decorate our garden. I loved the idea. After Natalie died, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep doing the stepping stones, but we did -- in 2007 and in 2008.

Mother's Day is a painful day for me. I can't believe that this is the third one since she died. It breaks my heart all over again. As each one rolls around, it gets harder and harder to keep our stepping stone tradition going. This year, I find myself not wanting to really do much of anything at all. But I know I'll summon the energy from somewhere and we'll do it -- in honor of Natalie and Roslyn. Mother's Day is forever bittersweet, but I am eternally thankful for my two precious girls.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Socks for Natalie

Tonight as Roslyn was getting ready for bed, she took off her three pairs of socks and handed me the outer pair she'd been wearing, a pair of Barbie socks that barely covered her heels because they are too small. She gave them to me and said, "Mommy, tomorrow I want you to wash these socks and fold them up and put them in Natalie's room.... because they're too small for me." I had to fight back the tears. Oh, sweet Roslyn, what an awesome big sister you are. How I wish Natalie could wear your hand-me-down socks. I'm sure she would have really liked them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter bunny

Roslyn had a good Easter this year. We decorated eggs, we made carrot cake, and we decorated the house. The Easter Bunny left her a hint in one of the eggs he hid as to the location of her Easter basket. She read it and figured it out and voila! There is was. It was delightful. We had a nice, relaxing day.

As on every holiday, my mind often wandered to sweet little Natalie, though. We only had one Easter with her. We spent it in New York. Natalie wore an adorable pink dress that had been Roslyn's the year before. Here's a picture from that trip of my sweet baby who I miss every second of every day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Super hero"

This week is "reading week" in the Providence public schools. They invite parents to come in and read to their child's class. I happily volunteered to do this, thinking that it would be something Roslyn would really enjoy and remember. So, yesterday I went to the K-2 class and read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, the book Roslyn requested. It's a lovely story written in 1939 about a man and his steam shovel, which had become obsolete in the face of new technology. After successfully completing a daunting task, Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel, Mary Ann, found themselves stuck in the cellar they had dug for the new town hall of Popperville. Nobody knew how to get them out. And then a little boy had a great idea to turn Mary Ann into the furnace for the new town hall. It's a wonderful example of the go-green mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle." Pretty enlightened for 1939.

I really enjoyed the whole experience of sitting in front of those bright young faces, having them greet me "good morning, Mrs. Adamo," and reading the story. When I picked Roslyn up from school, her teacher handed me a stack of thank-you cards and pictures the kids made for me. One little boy wrote, "Ms. Adamo is a super hero." That, along with the beaming smile on Roslyn's face made my day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring comes to Natalie's garden

It's been pretty cold still, but spring is trying ever so hard to come. Natalie's garden is coming back to life, which is nice to see. The forsythia and lilacs are budding, and there are quite a few bulbs popping up. So far, there are just three of these crocuses in bloom. I really love the white with the purple veins. They are so pretty and delicate and perfect for my sweet little girl.

P.S. If anybody knows how to stop whatever animal (squirrel? rabbit? skunk?) is chomping on my crocuses, let me know. Beyond annoying, it is actually heartbreaking for me to see this happening. Last year, we tried sprinkling them with garlic and cayenne, going on the idea that if it doesn't taste good, the critters will leave it alone. Alas, the flowers didn't like it either and many tulips wilted.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


What a week it was. Today Roslyn and I slept in and stayed in our pjs for much of the day. We had a leisurely breakfast, read lots of books, and I did some cleaning while she colored and kept busy. Finally, we got dressed for a visit to the playground where Roslyn was thrilled to see that her favorite swing, which had been broken for a long time, was finally fixed. She couldn't wait to get on it. Why is it her favorite? I don't know. It's just the one on the end. In desperate need of exercise, we played tag in the field and then came home so I could make dinner. It was a pretty good day considering the week that preceded it. Talk about intense. The two-year anniversary of Natalie's death really took a lot out of me. The stress and sorrow was particularly overwhelming this year. Now I just feel numb again. I don't really feel like doing much of anything. I am glad for this time to sit and write and not have to do anything else. But now I'm going to have some ice cream...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Last Day

Roslyn took this picture of the three of us on March 3, 2007. This was the last time we took pictures of Natalie. I wish we had more.

I've spent much of today thinking about my last day with Natalie, two years ago. We were both sick and the weather was terrible. It wasn't our best day. But we still had fun, us three girls, while Chris was at work. Natalie's energy was pretty good. She didn't nap well. After dinner, the four of us were sitting in the living room. Natalie and I were on the couch (the one in this picture), and Chris and Roslyn were in a chair across from us. There was a quiet moment when we all noticed Natalie reaching for her foot and brining it up to her mouth and licking it. It broke the quiet because we all started laughing. Natalie suddenly became aware of herself and looked to each of us with a look of satisfaction that she'd done something to make us all laugh. She seemed pleased with herself. It was a magical moment in which we were all connected through that simple gesture and our collective reaction. That moment encapsulated how spectacular and fun and amazing she was. She was the star.

I'm about to go to bed and I know my thoughts will be on that last night, getting ready for bed, and tucking her in. Natalie knew how much I loved her. Of that, I am certain. It is one of my only comforts through this terrible tragedy. "Nite-nite, Natalie. Mommy loves you, sweet girl."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cold Stone Creamery Day

Two years ago on March 15, I took Natalie out for ice cream to the Cold Stone Creamery on Thayer Street. It was our first time there. It was a rainy Thursday night. Roslyn was sick and Chris stayed home with her. I really wanted ice cream (for some reason), so I took my little pumkin out. We shared a waffle cone with dark chocolate ice cream and banana ice cream. Natalie was excited about the whole outing. She loved watching the lights, the people, and she enjoyed the ice cream a lot. (Yes, there was humming with each spoonful.) We had a great time together. It is one of my favorite memories of something just the two of us shared.

Last year, we went to Cold Stone Creamery to remember Natalie and this special memory. It is now part of our family's tradition as we lead up to the dreaded March 18. We explained to Roslyn why we do this; that it's a way for us to remember how much fun Natalie was and how much we miss her as a family. Roslyn was excited to go out for ice cream, but she also seemed to understand the meaning behind it. As we sat, I told her about the things Natalie did while we were there. Roslyn wanted to "run laps" around the railing like Natalie had done. It was very sweet. Roslyn lit a candle on the web site and told me to write, "I love you, little sister."

Today, they didn't have dark chocolate, but they did have banana, so I had that. Chris had sweet cream with blueberry sauce, in honor of our girl who loved blueberries. It was sad and sweet, but a good thing we did as we begin this most painful week.

Here's Roslyn and Natalie from February, 2007. My two beautiful girls.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


My biggest fear is that Natalie will be forgotten. Not by me or our family, of course. I know that could never happen. But I'm worried she will be forgotten by the people who knew her. She was here for such a short time. Is it possible that people won't remember?

Friday, March 13, 2009

This dreadful month

I hate March. It's always been one of my least favorite months, but now it really is the worst. When the calendar turns, it's like a sudden tightening in my throat, a pounding in my chest, a sense of dread and sorrow and pain that this month brings. As March 18 draws closer, these feelings get stronger. I am now in the thick of it. I know that once that horrible date passes, nothing will be different. Natalie will still be gone. But maybe I can breathe a little easier knowing that I have gotten over another major hurdle -- the second anniversary. Two years. It's unbelievable. I've been crying a lot. There's a lot of other sad things going on in my life right now, which I may write about soon. For now, I just need to say it out loud: I HATE MARCH!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just because

Some more pictures of my sweet baby, just because. From Sept 2005 and Sept 2006. Oh, how my heart and soul aches for you, Natalie.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Frame of reference

March 18, 2007 has become my frame of reference for so many things. When trying to figure out when we did something, I always think, "Did that happen before or after Natalie died?..." Today I went to the dentist for the first time in a long time. When he asked me how long it had been since my last cleaning, I had to think: "I know I haven't been to the dentist since Natalie died, so that means it must have been sometime before... which means it's been over two years... And the last time I did go, Natalie was just starting to walk..." Ah, yes. Now I remember. So I answered him, "between two and three years."

Since dentists like you to go every six months, I felt rather delinquent, but only for a moment. My reasons for not seeing a dentist in over two years are quite understandable. Natalie's death has turned my life upside down and all around. Amidst the grief, I really do my best to take care of myself and my family. But it's hard to take care of everything. So I let my teeth go for awhile. It's done now. Everything gets done eventually.

My grief has been intense lately. I keep reliving the horror of that morning on March 18. I cry and cry, and then it passes. I consciously tell myself to focus on something else. Usually that works, but it comes back later, sometimes when I least expect it.

Here's my happy girl from March 2, 2006 when she was seven months old, the height of her chubby-cheeked cuteness.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Roslyn

February 7 - Happy Birthday, my wonderful daughter. I am so happy you were born this day 6 years ago! Wow! We left for the hospital in morning rushhour and a blizzard. It took about 30 minutes longer than it normally would have to get there, but we made it. I was 9 cm dilated upon arrival and they quickly whisked us down to the ABC, where you emerged after two very intense hours of pushing. Every inch of my body, every cell, was exhausted and weary. But you were here! A week late, you were here. A healthy, beautiful baby girl. Roslyn Grace. Life was never the same after that. What a blessing you are. I love you so much.

February 8 - To celebrate Roslyn's 6th this year, we threw a big party at the downtown ice rink. The day was sunny and warm, a welcome change from the deep freeze we'd been in this winter. With a spectacular Sleeping Beauty cake, a gang of delightful friends and their moms and dads, and fun on the ice, a good time was had by all. The only thing missing was her sweet little sister, Natalie. Always missing, always missed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dark Cloud

I feel bad I haven't updated my blog in awhile. It has been too painful to even express in any outward way my grief these days. I have muddled through by keeping myself distracted by our kitchen renovation, planning Roslyn's birthday party, my mom and brother's upcoming visit, work, and the mundane realities of everyday life. But Natalie remains my first thought when I wake and my last thought when I go to sleep. I still cry myself to sleep. Last night was particularly bad. It is impossible to put into words how much I miss her, the horror of losing her, the incredible longing and yearning for her. It has been too much for me to handle so I distract myself. But even then it is always there, a constant, ominous cloud of sadness.

I want to post another Natalie picture because she is just so beautiful. Look at those gorgeous eyes. The lost promise, the lost joy of seeing her grow up... It is beyond words.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sacred Dirt

Getting through the holidays seemed a bit easier this year. I think this was because we have been so utterly distracted by our kitchen renovation (which is still not done!). Last year, New Year's Day was especially difficult because it symbolized the passage of time. Seeing the calendar turn from 2007 to 2008 was really painful because it meant that soon Natalie would have been gone for an entire year. While it hasn't gotten any easier to accept her death or live with the pain and grief (if anything, it's gotten harder), New Year's Day 2009 was very different. I didn't dwell on time. I didn't feel as angry. What I did do, after a lot of thought, was finally clean the screen on our TV.

Let me explain. At the time Natalie died, she had left her mark throughout the house in various ways. Over time, I found a puzzle piece under the living room rug (the "M" from our alphabet train puzzle, which was Natalie's favorite), a bottle of breast milk that had rolled under the dresser in her bedroom, books with torn pages, Chris's missing cell phone, to name a few. But one other thing she left behind was her slobbery fingerprints smeared across our TV screen. (There are some more on the glass door of our stereo cabinet, too.) After she died, these fingerprints became sacred to me. They represented the fact that Natalie really was here. She wasn't a figment of my imagination or only in my dreams. While most of the other things had been moved from the spot where she left them, these fingerprints remained. When I would watch TV, I could sometimes see them and I would relish in them being there. It was comforting in a way that's hard to explain. We had a cleaning lady come to help me with the house and I put big notes on the TV and stereo cabinet "Do Not Clean!" I think she thought this strange, but she respected my wishes. From time to time, I would dust the TV with the vacuum cleaner, but did not ever clean those very special smears. As time went on, especially after we began the kitchen renovation last August, I started to notice more dust in the house. It started to stick to the fingerprints. By early December, the TV was just plain dirty. I started to really consider the fact that soon I would have to clean it. I started to feel that the dirt was no longer Natalie's. It had changed. It was construction dirt and the dirt of time. And I finally decided it would be OK to clean it off. As January 1 approached, I planned that I would clean the TV on that day. Not for any major symbolic reason, but to perform just a small gesture to acknowledge Natalie and the passage of time. I thought about it a lot, sometimes as I lay in bed at night, sometimes as I sat watching that dirty TV.

When the new year arrived, I very consciously, and with only a moment's hesitation, wiped the TV clean while Chris and Roslyn were busy elsewhere. I cried, but I also made some peace with it. I was not erasing Natalie -- that would be impossible to ever do. After it was over, we went on with the day. We didn't do anything special. Now, a couple of weeks later, I do not regret doing it. And, thankfully, I still have the sacred fingerprints on the stereo cabinet, which I plan on keeping as long as I want.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Snow Angel

Roslyn has so much fun playing in the snow. Just look at the glee on her face. It gives me hope and fills me with joy to see her like this -- my beautiful snow angel. Of course, I cannot think of angels and not think of Natalie, either. I take comfort in the thought that she is an angel of some sort. She is with me all the time.

As the holidays have come to a close, I am relieved. Today was Chris's birthday and we had a nice celebration. I am also looking forward to Roslyn's birthday in five weeks. This year, I want to embrace wholeheartedly her birthday and rejoice that she is still with me. I can't believe she will be 6! She's growing up so fast. The other night when I was tucking her in to bed, she asked me about Natalie. She wondered if Natalie would be at East Side Nursery School and if she'd be able to talk if she were still here. She seemed to miss Natalie very much, even though she still can't really articulate it. We both cried and I felt very connected to her in that moment.

As we drove home from the restaurant tonight, I suddenly felt the void of Natalie's absence. It struck me that she should be sitting in the back seat with Roslyn, not me. We should be a family of four, not three. I cried in the car, quietly and without anyone noticing. When I really think about who Natalie was, the real person she was, it is like a knife in my heart. I miss her so desperately. I can't imagine this feeling ever subsiding, and in a way, I don't want it to. I embrace the pain now. It is part of who I am.