Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mystery at Swan Point

Yesterday my husband Christopher was out doing errands. He came home and told me that one of the places he stopped was Swan Point and that someone had shoveled a direct path off the main path directly to Natalie's stone. This morning, I went there to see for myself. Sure enough, it was a beeline as clear as day right to her stone. We are both incredibly moved that someone (we don't know who) would do this. It is quite clear that it happened very recently because of the fresh piles of snow on the sides of the path and the fact that it hasn't been re-snowed on or had much time to melt. It all just looks very fresh. To me, this suggests that it is someone who knows that Natalie's anniversary is this week (tomorrow, in fact) and that the person wanted to clear the way so that we could get close without having to trudge through the snow when we came to visit. I was planning to go tomorrow, as I always do, so the mystery shoveler's thinking is sound.

We have absolutely no idea who did this. Was it someone we know or a stranger? Whoever it was, it was certainly a snow angel.

It has happened a few times over the years that strangers who have come across Natalie's stone at Swan Point have contacted me via her website or my blog. They seem to have been moved by the dates, 2005-2007 -- such a young child. Some have wondered what happened to her and have reached out to me to express their condolences. Each time this has happened, I have been moved that Natalie continues to touch people's lives in such profound ways.

In any case, Christopher and I would like the mystery shoveler to know that we are very grateful for their thoughtfulness, for taking the time to honor Natalie in this way -- and to provide some comfort to us. We are deeply moved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Renewed hope

It's hard to believe a whole year as gone by since I last posted here. On one hand, I'm sorry I haven't been as faithful to my blog as I used to be, but on the other hand, it's a sign that I seem to be doing OK (better, at least). I guess. At the moment, I really don't know. My blog served a very important therapeutic role for me in the early years after losing Natalie. One of the reasons I wanted to have my blog is because after creating Natalie's website, I realized that was The End of her story. Natalie's site is about Natalie and her beautiful, but too-short life. My blog is about me and my life with and without my children. Since I'm still here and thankfully, so are Roslyn and Gabriel, it's a story that continues to unfold. I realized, too, that with the advent of Facebook, I tend to share more about this part of my story there. In my mind, somehow, a cute little thing Gabriel said or did doesn't warrant an official blog post. So, I put it on Facebook instead.

For me, it doesn't really matter through which medium I express myself, just that I do when I feel the need.

I chose to write this post now in honor of Natalie and in acknowledgment of the 8th year since she left us. It is still unfathomable to me. Recently I saw two kids (one a 19 month-old boy and the other an 18 month-old girl) and my thoughts immediately went to Natalie who was that age and I thought, "was she that small?" The truth is, I can't really remember how big she was. Gabriel keeps on growing and is now almost 5. He's average size for his age, but it has sort of skewed my recollection or perception of what Natalie was like as a busy, happy little toddler. It makes me feel sad that as time goes on, my memories are starting to fade, too. Of course, there are some priceless treasures that will always remain, but others are definitely growing more dim. It's like losing her all over again.

As this 8th anniversary of her passing approaches, I have have found this year to be difficult and complicated. My involvement with the nursery school that Roslyn was attending at the time in 2007 and that Gabriel is now attending has stirred up a lot of emotions. It has triggered grief in ways I hadn't expected and I have been doing my best to cope with it.

In addition, we are in the thick of planning for Gabriel's schooling next year. He will be in kindergarten. In Providence, kindergarten is a major process involving applications to public charter schools (free and generally considered much better than the regular public schools) and private schools, going to open houses, visiting days, evaluations, etc. It's all been such an ordeal that has left me utterly exhausted. Getting into a charter school seems to be what most people want for their child. It seems to be the best of all worlds -- a good education with no price tag (other than the taxes we pay anyway). It is an extremely competitive process as there are very limited spots and hundreds and hundreds of applications for the lottery. Roslyn did not get chosen in any of the lotteries, which left us with only one option -- regular public school. It didn't go well for her and we ended up sending her to private school for first grade. Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, though we did end up paying quite a bit for her elementary education (all worth it, but we have our limits).

I went into Gabriel's kindergarten process determined to be on top of it, to find out about every school and every option available to us. I sent in our charter school applications the very first day they came out. I registered him for regular public school, and applied for two private schools. But I also had very little hope that we would get in to any of the charter schools. Now the results are in. Amazingly, Gabriel got accepted to 3 out of the 6 charter schools I applied for! One of them we declined immediately because it is a bit too far away, but we now have a choice between two really excellent schools. (Incidentally, he did not get accepted to either of the private schools, so those which were "the back-ups" didn't pan out.) I am beside myself with joy over this outcome and I never expected it because after losing Natalie, I realize that I have come to expect very little from the universe. I have become a bit cynical that, when left to chance, anything good will come our way. I still have faith that we can succeed in situations we have control over, but when it's up to the universe as these kindergarten lotteries are, I really didn't think we'd get picked. It has given me a little injection of hope that good things can come our way. And now, my sweet little Gabriel has two wonderful opportunities to choose from. Making that choice is what's been keeping me up at night, but that's another story.