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.