Cracked Lights and Cassette Tapes

Lately I listen to more Cohen than I do Waits.  I’m not sure how to feel about it.  Mr Cohen just seems to pop up more and more fluidly.  Like he did this morning.

I saw a word referencing a leak about a video game news story coming… down the Valve. And instead of following immediately to find out the news, I immediately thought of this quote and subsequent song by Leonard Cohen.

“There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”

This year has had so many life changing moments.  This past week… oh my… it’s been a shark week…

I woke up to a phone call from an office in a land of enchantment.  A land where, coincidentally, someone is returning to as if to take the other’s place.

I thought so much more of that one… and the magic that I thought he helped create.  Like the nuclear explosion in a white dwarf star that makes the world brighter by its occurrence.  And he was, if only for a moment at least.

It wasn’t good news about either non sequitor situation.  It was… a snag in progress.  I have hit so many snags with all of this.  I’ve been starting to lose a bit of hope throughout all of it.

The holiday weekend brought with it so much affirmation and perspective it was mind blowing.  My mind goes through it again and again analyzing each moment and trying to: make peace with it, make sense of it, and change it.

I feel like a jammed cassette tape.

My brain.. under the microscope

(Ps if any of you feel compelled to do so I also wouldn’t mind getting this t-shirt)

I’m about to hit the showers.  Analyze why the phrase hit the showers exists.

(I mean, what did the showers ever do to me beyond get me all clean and smelling good?)

Head downtown to a courthouse with a pen, several notepads, my computer, chargers, and… this heavy heavy heart I have as I trudge through it all.. on the bus system… with an entourage of naysayers strewn across my path.

I think about the words of Mr Cohen once again.  I think about the beauty of enlightenment.  About how the greatest things to happen and the greatest works of literature and art seem to have come from cracked places like this one.

Is it weird that I’m smiling through tears?  That it’s not just society’s’ force that guides me to that smile right now but it’s… this silly stupid optimistic heart?

Maybe I’m just stupid.  Hell I’ve heard that in the past before too.  Either way?  Fuck it.  This is important to me and it’s worth fighting for.  If I don’t, the potential for it to change really is zero.

So here goes [hopefully not] nothing.

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It’s a…

I haven’t been this glowy and happy since I first found out that I was going to be a mom again.  It’s ridiculously cheesy and sometimes I can be both ridiculous and cheesy so, for those of you already in the know, there it is… and for those of you not in the know.. you were warned.

Also a fair warning that this is not going to be the most grammatically correct or strict form of flowing words as I usually try to adhere to.  Blame the caffeine.  Blame the excitement.  Blame the… surge of happiness I am currently feeling after so many hardships that…

But that’s for another entry.

Awhile back I mentioned that my grandmother was very ill.  Combine that with her husband (also of great importance and inspiration to me) having progressively bad Alzheimer’s, I knew that this baby would be important for them.  It was one of my “bargaining chips” to hopefully entice them to hold on a bit longer.

“Gram you have to stick around and meet your new grandchild.  I plan on naming the baby after you if it’s a girl.”

My grandparents’ names are Aldo and Anita.  Sincerely, they are two of the most amazing souls on the planet.  But while I’m happy and enjoy my grandmother’s name, I’m not a huge fan of my grandfather’s… despite my fixation for older style names in general.

Flashback to what feels like another lifetime ago…

When my ex husband fled the state and took two of my children with him.

It devastated me.

For obvious reasons.

My middle and youngest children were so little when he left… and stole those memories from me.  Memories worth far more than any dollar amount… and unfortunately that’s what it seems like it’s going to take to fight him about it.

Again… another blog.

I have one son and one daughter with him.  My daughter Sakura was one of the two children taken from me by my husband.  She was less than a year old when it happened.  He gave those memories to another woman who couldn’t have children of her own… until she later did with my now ex husband.  While I love all of my children the same, I really didn’t get the opportunity to have those little bitty moments with my daughter.  It is especially hard for me.

Back to present day again-

I had been hoping for Anita.  The idea of it made my grandmother beam rays of happiness through her tears on the phone line when I first told her.

I was told to drink a ton of fluids to help get an accurate picture of the baby.  This baby, however, was wide awake and playful, and didn’t want to give up the secret of what the sex was just yet.

But rather than keep it suspenseful more, even though I know very well I could hook you for more clicks, I’ll… tell you another story first.

My child’s father, Bear, told me that he had a dream a long time ago about the sex of a baby he was going to have.  It unfortunately did not happen.  It has brought him a bit of sadness as well.

Hopefully…. that changed a bit yesterday when I told him the news. (Spoiler alert… it did!)

Little Bear moved around a lot during my ultrasound.  My child likes to hang out in my lung capacity to give me the most heartburn possible.  The two sonographers doing the test were taking a long time trying to get Little Bear to remain still enough to figure out what was there.  Like Bear, Little Bear did NOT want to be photographed.

I got a bit of video from the ultrasound… two videos actually that I will post in a later edition.  Little Bear moved around soooo much that unfortunately the sex was not determined in those videos.

The next stenographer came in the room. This was the woman who was supposed to tell me the sex.  I couldn’t get any more pictures or video.  However… the hospital gave me a DISK of pictures.  Those will be loaded onto the proper channels in due time.

(Ha.. due time)

But back to it… Little Bear finally DID cooperate.  And although Little Bear tried his best to cover up and dodge the view…

I need-a new name…

That little boy his father dreamed about then… is happening now.   I officially have become a bit of a 50’s show with this now… third son of mine.

That said, as I was originally set on having a daughter I did not really think of a lot of boy names.  My other sons names are Ethan Raphael and Maddox Conner.  Ethan’s name was originally going to be Trent Xavier- after the Daria character and the X-men character.  My daughter is named Sakura Faye (after Faye Dunaway and Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop).  As you might have been able to summarize, I have a soft spot for comic/pop culture related names and old fashioned ones.  Bear’s father and I are also fans of great writer’s names.

Have an idea about a name?  Please feel free to leave it in the comments.

Little Bear

Super[flawed]Man

Super [flawed]Man

Today is supposed to be a happy day. It’s for celebration. It’s marveling at the amazement that is biology and much more.

It’s a day to remember the great things about our dads and grandfathers and the men in our lives that shaped us to the people we are- whether present or not.

Today is a hard day.

I called my grandfather to wish him Happy Fathers Day from me and my little line of ducklings/spawns. To be honest, I’m not really 100% sure how he was when he was in dad mode. I feel that perhaps I need to ask my family and him more about that part of his life… to find the stories beyond the pictures.

I think about how my grandfather didn’t finish college or even high school. Of how hard he worked (and still does) because of that choice… the rebel choice. You would have thought that by watching his struggles that I might not have wanted to repeat in his hardships. I did, however, in my own ways.

In the machine message I left thanking grandpa I told him that he got the fun parts with us… especially as grandpa. My memories with my grandfather are full of him being the savior and smile and source of inspiration that, well, my parents could never completely fulfill. I think about how much he and my grandmother have shaped my life and brought with it such amazing color and inspiration that…

And then there’s my dad.

Once upon a time my dad was my hero. I was this little girl (watch it with the comments people) with pigtails and missing teeth. My father brought so much laughter and silliness and color into my world too- from my dad’s dedication to Halloween first and then Christmas, to comic books, to… reels of Three Stooges. What I’m not supposed to talk about is how much pain was inspired by him.

As I got older I saw more about the corporate suit with the stable job that loved to laugh and read comic books. I saw the harsh realities of how stubborn he could be… of where I probably get it from. And then I remembered a bit about the joking around with my grandfather about how stubborn he is. It’s so much easier to look at the flaws of your dad vs your grandfather.

I look at the other men that have followed my dad as far as male figures. There is a saying that every girl looks for her dad in the men they date. I have dated some very intelligent, very die hard to their beliefs, colorful and quirky… assholes.

Ethan is currently with my dad right now. His father figure was a ghost of a man. His father… was the colorful bit of lies and laughter. And it’s all my fault. Ethan being with my dad is partially my dad stepping in to try and assume the “hero” role.  It is the same role that my great grandmother did for him ages ago when my grandparents fought (more than the usual laughable kind they do) But were these people really heros or…

Enter Maddox and Sakura’s father- my ex husband- and how he’s probably sitting pretty high on that horse thinking he is the greatest guy in the world… who stole my children. He too, would like people to think he is the hero. And, once upon a time, exhibited that same amount of compassion and silliness that my dad and grandfather did.

And now Little Bear’s dad… Little Bear’s dad was probably the closest thing to my grandfather ever.  Joshie Bear was like looking at a younger version of my favorite male role model in the world… complete with his faults. Josh’s spirit and ease of getting along with people and making friends everywhere.. that silly cheesiness… was why I fell in love with him and why when I first found out about Little Bear, although the timing was not “perfect” I was… really really happy.   Joshie Bear always wanted to be a dad. He never got to be and it broke his heart more than I could comprehend despite some of my super harsh remarks about the whole thing.

I know that today is supposed to be for these men… but perhaps it could be for this wish too. My wish, as I thank each of them for the good they did, is to please remember the bad that their fathers did as well. It’s so easy to look at the hero parts but to truly get past all of that, we have to acknowledge where they were flawed too… so that our kids will know and hopefully not repeat the same actions.

To all the great and not so great men of my life who have made a dedication to the purpose of not just being a donor or the hero but to being a DAD… an unselfish compassionate one, I salute you.

It Won’t Be Like This Forever: My Abortion Story

Months ago…

once upon a time ago…
our time ago…
 
We were having a bad patch.
It seems like we have been cycling through bad patches ever since we got together.
 
I don’t know how we got there.
How we kept getting there.
How we never seemed to leave there.
 
Months ago during that bad patch I sent him a link to a song about my sadness.
Ben Folds- Brick.
 
 
“That’s a song about an abortion, not us.” he said.
“It’s how I feel.”
 
Oh what little did I know all those months ago.
 
Months later…
I sat in a cold waiting room, alone.
I was filling out forms.
Procedures.
Signatures.
Statements of “understanding.”
 
Image
 
“The world is sleeping I am numb.”
 
And the text messages poured in.
It was terrible.
We had been so terrible to each other.
 
I don’t know how it got there.
How it never seemed to leave there.
 
“She broke down. I broke down. Because I was tired of life.”
 
Inside of me there is a seed of love created in happiness.
Of something once undeniably there.
Of something that…
 
I don’t know how it got away from there.
I don’t know how it never seemed to leave there.
 
The picketers whom I had to walk past to get into the office chanted louder.
The door to the office was open.
Perhaps it was to try and remind the women waiting that there still was light.
That there still was hope.
That there still was… something.
 
I could see the picketers from my seat in the waiting room.
Their voices continued to rise.
Louder.
Stronger.
Echoing through the empty corners of that cold white waiting room.
 
And the text messages poured in.
It was terrible.
I felt terrible.
 
“Now that I have found someone I’m feeling more alone than I ever have before.”
 
I don’t know how we got there.
How we kept getting there.
How we never seemed to leave there.
 
“She broke down. I broke down. Because I was tired of life.”
 
But unlike that song, you weren’t there.
When they called my name, you were states away.
 
And these were my steps.
Little steps.
First steps.
Potentially last steps.
 
There was a part of me sentenced to die…
Whom it seemed you wanted to die.
 
The love I had felt…

That we had felt…

This would be a constant reminder and it was to be completely extinguished.
 
I wiped the tears from my eyes.
I took a deep breath breath.
I closed my eyes and pretended I was Dorothy.
I chanted to myself.
“It won’t be like this forever. It won’t be like this forever. It won’t be like this forever.”
 
And these were my steps.
Little steps.
First steps.
Potentially last steps.
 
There was a part of me sentenced to die…
Whom it seemed you wanted to die.
 
The next room I would be alone with a nurse.
Like the first, it would also be cold.
Stark cold nothingness.
It was the theme permeating throughout the building.
A sign of nothingness to be and to continue to be.
 
“Now she’s feeling more alone than she ever has before.”
 
The series of questioning would start.
Medical history.
Partners.
Relationships.
 
“Does the father know you are here?”
“Yes. He wants me to go through with this.”
“Do you?”
“I’m honestly not sure.  I feel terrible right now.  I want more information to try and make my decision.”
“Remember that this is your decision.  Don’t let anyone else force you to make one that you will regret.  It doesn’t matter if he agrees or not.  All that matters is you.”
 
“Now she’s feeling more alone than she ever has before.”
 
I closed my eyes and took another deep breath.

Months ago…

once upon a time ago…
our time ago…
 
He might not remember it but he said it.
“I want to have children with you someday.  I think you’re going to be a great mom.”
But he said it.
He said it multiple times.
 

Months ago…

once upon a time ago…
our time ago…
 
“She broke down. I broke down. Because I was tired of life.”
 
I don’t know how we got there.
How we kept getting there.
How we never seemed to leave there.
 
She continued to tell me about the procedure.
I would be asleep.
It would be relatively painless as I would be under anesthesia.
 
“The world is sleeping I am numb.”
 
“I want to find out how far along I am.  I need to know that much before I even begin to commit to anything.”
She understood.
 
It was time to take more steps again.
Little steps.
First steps.
Potentially last steps.
 
I came into a room filled with women waiting for their procedures.
Some of them were in hospital gowns.
Some of them were waiting their turn.
There were rollers with iv bags.
There were women waiting for ivs as well.
 
Image
 
It was cold.
It felt like the coldest room so far.
Stark cold nothingness.
It was the theme permeating throughout the building.
A sign of nothingness to be and to continue to be.
 
None of the women so much as looked at each other let alone spoke.
Each woman either sat and stared blankly or covered their faces in their hands.
It was a room full of ghosts.
A room full of sadness.
A room full of undeniable pain.
 
I wiped the tears from my eyes.
I took a deep breath breath.
I closed my eyes and pretended I was Dorothy.
I chanted to myself.
“It won’t be like this forever. It won’t be like this forever. It won’t be like this forever.”
 
There was a part of me sentenced to die…
Whom it seemed you wanted to die.
 
The love I had felt…

That we had felt…

This would be a constant reminder and it was to be completely extinguished.
 
A nurse came in to check up on us all.
“How are all of you today?  Are you alright?  Well considering the circumstances?”
 
For a moment I felt calmer.
Warmer.
And the tears dried a little, although not completely.
 
I waited my turn.
 
Some of the women finally began to talk.
It was like they had been awoken.
Even if just for a moment.
 
That nurse was a ray of light.
She was hope.
She was a sign that there were still people who cared.
A light in that blank canvas of nothing.
 
Because that’s what a small ray of sunshine can do.
Because maybe that’s why that door was open in the waiting room.
 
There is still light.
There is still hope.
There is still… something.
 
“They call her name at 7:30.”
 
Another nurse.
Another room.
Cold still.
Nothingness still.
 
“It won’t be like this forever. It won’t be like this forever. It won’t be like this forever.”
 
Another nurse came in.
“So you’re here to get an ultrasound to find out how far along you are?”
“Yes. I am not sure if I want to proceed beyond that.  I know that knowing that much will help me with my decision and my options.”
 
I was told to disrobe from the waist down.
She would return and we would find out my answer.
 
Image
 
I looked up at a monitor.
It was waiting for someone.
It was waiting for me.
It was waiting for…
 
The nurse returned.
We started looking.
Measurements were taken.
Pictures were taken.
 
The nothingness that I felt disappeared.
I began to cry again.
 
Inside of me there is a seed of love created in happiness.
Of something once undeniably there.
Of something that…
 
I don’t know how it got away from there.
I don’t know how it never seemed to leave there.
But there it was… cozy and comfy in black and white on that screen.
 
A sign of life.
A sign of hope.
A reminder of…
 
Months ago…
once upon a time ago…
our time ago…
 
And while my heart fights the reality of that potentially never being anything more than a memory again
 
You’re still there.
 
I’m still here.
 
I’m not ready to say goodbye to either one of us.
 
And these were my steps.
Little steps.
First steps.
Potentially last steps.
 
There was a part of me sentenced to die…
Whom it seemed you wanted to die.
 
Maybe it did that day.
But maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t the way either of us thought it would.
 
That little piece of black and white was hope.
It was a sign.
A light in that blank canvas of nothing.
 
Because that’s what a small ray of sunshine can do.
Because maybe that’s why that door was open in the waiting room.
 
There is still light.
There is still hope.
There is still… something.
 
And while I admit I’m completely scared and not sure about the details of what’s about to happen I know that it’s going to be ok.
 
Because that’s what a small ray of sunshine can do.
There is still light.
There is still hope.
There is still… someone.
And I can’t wait to meet you when you get here.

In Remembrance: The Morgue is alive with words

Imageimage by Dan Simmons, Dan Simmons.com

Oh my dears.. there is so so much to tell you.  I fear that I have neglected you so.  I’ve hoarded my words.  I’ve stashed my thoughts away in a safe hidden place.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

At least… not the way I have been for months.

This is a forewarning to those who are faint of heart…

Things are about to get… very very real again on here.  Real beyond love stories.  Real and sometimes mundane.

I just want to tell these stories before they disappear.

Because unfortunately, my genetics are telling me that it may very well be my destiny.

Two sets of grandparents are currently undergoing this painful process that doctors call “The long goodbye.”  My grandmother on my mother’s side is farther along.  She is becoming a shell of the person she once was.  She barely remembers my mother or my aunts and uncles.  And, while she and I were never really close, nor me with my mother, I know that this is hurting the family around her who are close to her.

My grandfather on my dad’s side is also going through stages of Alzheimer’s.  Ironically, he is one of those unforgettable people.  He is the guy that is constantly making friends everywhere.  Who is the reason I probably talk so much.  Who… is one of my absolute favorite people (outside of my children) in the entire world (the other being his wife).

My heart is breaking as I am seeing one of the most wonderful and inspirational people-  slowly but surely forgetting more and more of his life… of his memories… of the beauty that he helped to show the world… that he gave to me… that….

I don’t want the world to disappear without knowing my stories anymore.

Granted, I’m not going to tell you everything.  If you want that, pick a lifecaster.  There are some things beautiful about sharing every single detail about ones life, and there are things beautiful in not.  I’m choosing a land of in between.  And that’s… ok.

It is my hope that you find something in these posts to bring you back again and again.  Perhaps it’s because of something inspiring.  Perhaps it’s just something silly.  Perhaps it’s comfort in mundane (oh how I wish some days to be more mundane).  But, if nothing else, I want these stories out there.  For the one day I can’t remember them.  For the chance that someone will. Because words are the way a person never truly dies.

—-

But until then, here are a bunch of silly pictures of tombstones.  Because there are enough posts coming up that you can be sad about and well, some of these images hopefully will help make you smile.  Note: none of these images are mine so please don’t sue me folks.

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Happy Birthday Maddox

Happy Birthday Maddox

I’ve been up all morning and late last night thinking about this post… about the beautiful memory of you to write on Little Girl, Big City.  I feel, like the lack of ability to write.. the lack of courage I have had to do right by you, even though I’m arguably better now… I fear I’m still doing it wrong.

I wanted to tell you that even though our time together has been short in your now 8 years of living that, while I have forgotten so much as I struggled to even remember if this was your 9th or your 8th birthday, please know my dearest little (but growing) boy that your mother has not forgotten you one bit.

It brings me such sadness each day that we are away.  Of even more knowing that as much as I’ve tried, I’ve also failed.

The memories are the only thing I have of you nowadays.. and our hearts forever beating are the place we will always be together.

I want you to know that I’ve written and tried to see you but your father has not been forthcoming with things… even when I tried recently to bring you to see your dying Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather.  Your father has denied any sort of interaction between us even in the most simplest of terms.  I tried messaging this year requesting to talk to you and your sister this year just as I did last year.

But I’d hear nothing in return

It’s still early and I’m hoping and praying that I get to hear your voice again.  I worry about you.  Not because I don’t think your dad isn’t doing his very best to take care of you but because I’m your mother and I always will be.

From the day you were born I feel like I might have done wrong by you.  I was scared when you were stuck the day you were born.  I remember when the doctors tried to get you out of me how I couldn’t handle the pain and I freaked out- grabbing the tube to the vacum that was being used to try and pull you out of me.

And then I saw you.  You were the most handsome little man in the world.  And I worried that I might have robbed the world of that because I couldn’t handle a little bit of pain.  When you got older I watched as your dad tried to tell me that everything was alright with you.  Deep down I knew something was off.. and I felt responsible.  Know that I did everything I could to plead with your father to put you into a special program so that you could get the attention and help you deserved.  I hope that it’s helping.

I’m out of words.  I don’t know what else to say.  So I guess I’ll just say it.  I love and miss you my dear growing little man.  Happy Birthday Maddox.   You are my heart.  I wish I was a better mommy for you.  I wish your dad would put away the bitterness so that we could spend more time together.  You deserve that much.

The painters sidekick

When I was younger, my grandmother and I would often be found painting on her screened in porch in a little house on the outskirts of suburban Chicago, Illinois.  Then there were visits from my cousin Marie… venturing from the far far away land of California.

The two of them paired together were the people that introduced me to the art world.  Cousin Marie would teach me the art of brush strokes as we watched Bob Ross on the television.  She would buy me droves of brushes. I would lose them in the myriad of moves.

Growing up and moving out here, I always thought that I would spend more time with Cousin Marie than I ultimately did.  She lived in Bakersfield, and I would go back and forth between Los Angeles and San Diego.  I spent a bit of time with her estranged daughter in Venice.  A bit of time in Culver City.  It was not often enough that our paths would cross.

And then one day I got a call…

Cousin Marie needed some help changing a bandage.  Her daughter was heading to work and couldn’t do it.  I obliged and made the trek over to help her.  I didn’t know how horrible she was going to look, nor did I know about the avalanche of health issues that had come upon her.

Now I’m not a health practitioner of any kind, but the wound I helped her undress and dress took a lot out of me to do.  As I pulled the layer after layer off, and the hole in her side where they had gone in to remove her breast bled and leaked fluids.  Every move I made seemed to hurt her more.  She was in so much pain from all of it.

She was so so thankful- ever vibrant and gracious.  She offered to pay me.  I declined.  The whole time I was there she asked me about me.  She didn’t want to focus on the pain, and didn’t want pitty.

Seeing her like that broke my heart.  One of the heroes from my childhood was falling to pieces.  I didn’t have much, but I offered to help her when a nurse couldn’t, and when her daughter refused to push back her own exploits.

Cousin Marie would later get the treatment she needed.  She was placed into a hospital in Santa Monica.  I regret that I had not visited her while she was there.

Months passed.  I randomly ran into dad after one of his visits.  We thought she was getting better.  We hoped she was getting better.

I asked my cousins daughter for a favor.  She refused.

“You did what you did for my mother, not for me.”

I haven’t spoken to her since February.

Yesterday Dad and Ethan came to visit me in the artist colony I currently reside in.  Cousin Marie had never been there.

“Mom, we’re outside, come downstairs.”

I jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs.  I hadn’t seen Ethan in a few weeks due to work constraints.  We played some cards about killing off members of your family (in comical ways of course) and started a board game.  We didn’t know it then, but this day would be another one that we wouldn’t be forgetting.

Dad sat patiently as we played.  He made some phone calls and listened to the AM radio.  As he got off the phone with the last call, he stopped suddenly.

“She could die any day now.  We’re going to Bakersfield. Are you coming?”

The cancer had come back in five places.  My cousin Marie was now laying in her deathbed.

Back in the days that I’d spent in Bakersfield it always seemed liked death was in the air.  I didn’t understand why she would have wanted to go back up there after being able to get the care she’d needed in Santa Monica.  She chose to spend the remainder of her days where she grew up.

I didn’t know it was going to hit me as hard as it did.  Seeing her there hooked up to machines to “keep her comfortable” as I stood next to my dad and son…

Dad talked to cousin Marie.  He told her about things going on with my grandparents.  About how they had discovered why Grandpa was losing his memory, and how squirrels had destroyed the phone line to their house.  Dad kept his composure.  I couldn’t.  I broke down.

“Jen lives in an artist colony now Marie.  You’d probably like it there.”

My son hugged me tight.  Cousin Marie could barely open her eyes, let alone much else. Dad left the room to talk to the friend she had been staying with.

“Cousin Marie I want to thank you for showing me about art.  You are inspirational.”

She opened her eyes and smiled.  I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say, but I think she knew what I had told her.

We walked out of the room.  I found out that my cousins daughter had not been up to see her.  It upset me some more.  My cousin’s daughter lives a couple of hours south of where her mother was.  Dad advised me not to contact her regarding it, as the relationship between Marie and her had been estranged.

I texted her anyway.

“You need to put your differences aside and go up there.  It’s only a couple of hours away.”

She called me in tears.  She gave excuses as to why she wasn’t going to go.  She claimed she had gone last weekend.  She seemed upset about things out of her control… of the past that she was trying to come to terms with, but wasn’t.

“She made her choice to go up there.  I asked her many times to come down and paint with me.  She didn’t.”

As we left my son hugged me some more.  I felt worse that my son has had to experience death much sooner than I ever did.  I have been very fortunate to have had my family around this long.  Now, one by one they are going away.

“Mommy’s going to miss her the most.”

I think back to those simpler days with Gram and cousin Marie.  Days that formed my childhood.  Days that would form my adulthood.  I think about how different I would have been without these two women.  I think about how different I will be when I don’t have either of them anymore.

We drove home shortly after.  Said a rosary in the car for her.  My son was to have his first day of school today.  His days growing up are far different than mine.  They are so less full of the art and imagination that my cousin and grandmother ingrained in me back in the days that my dad didn’t really care to let us play video games as much as he does now. The days before I started on the path of working in video games and dad would allow my son to play far too much for my liking.

“Call me before you go to school if you can.  And if not, call me after.  I want to know how your day was.”

This morning on the bus, I got a phone call about the time Ethan would be going to school.  I answered excitedly, hoping he had had the chance to call me before after all.  It was unfortunately the call that my cousin’s battle with breast cancer had come to a close this morning.

“She’s gone Jen.”

Immediately it rushed over me.  I was ever so thankful I had had the chance to thank her for impacting my life before she passed.

The pink of the flowers along the path seemed to be a bit more vibrant today.  I saw my cousin shine in the world around me.  I smiled through the tears.  But it still hurts.  What do you do when one of your childhood heroes passes away?

To one of the most inspirational people of my childhood, you will be missed more than you know.  To those that would like to help support the fight against breast cancer, I highly encourage you to donate your time or energy to the Susan G Komen foundation.