Just Because

When my son Douglas died, I was devastated.

I searched all over for things to do to comfort myself.

I adopted a rescue dog from the shelter, named him Mac and poured all the love I had for Douglas into that furry baby of mine.

I also donated all my milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank.

I can’t tell you how heartening it was to get Christmas cards from all the families who received my donations.

And I made up little business cards to pass out with random acts of kindness.

Once, I bought breakfast for the couple next to me in the diner and gave them the card that read “This random act of kindness done in loving memory of Douglas.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about random acts of kindness.

Mostly because Burning Man is flush with these kinds of gestures.

Someone following you on their bike for two city blocks to return an item you accidentally dropped on the playa.

Shared chapstick on a hot, dusty day (pre-covid, of course).

And someone stopping what they were doing to help you fix your broken bike.

Little miracles, is what I think of them.

Random acts of kindness and caring.

If you ask me, the world could use a little more care and a little less apathy.

Which is why I’m so excited that my work has launched a site to record random acts of kindness.

I’m reminded of those little business cards I passed out and am thinking I may resurrect them and log a few of my own random acts of kindness.

Just because.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_4717 22 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer – a teratoma, not unlike what Gavin had removed about two years ago.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 12 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

Last year was rough because my nephew’s birthday party fell on what would have been Douglas’ 21st birthday and NO ONE REMEMBERED.

This year I’m going to celebrate my nephew’s birthday again.

It’s an opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two kids that I have.

So happy September 22nd to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

Steve

Today I found out via a text message that a former boyfriend died suddenly Thursday night from an as yet unknown cause.

He was in his 50s.

Far too young to die.

Long ago, when we first met I was madly in love with him and imagined that we had a future together.

But it was a long distance relationship and he seemed more happy being single than being with me for the long haul so we parted ways.

I’ll never forget when (nearly a decade later) he added me as a friend on Facebook.

Bold, I thought.

But Steve was always bold and daring.

And smart as a whip!

We managed to meet up a few times and catch up on the latest and greatest in our lives.

He took me on a sailboat ride around the bay and we ran out of gas.

Literally.

Ironically, neither one of us knew how to sail properly at the time.

Despite that, I had a lovely day on the water with him.

I took pictures and blogged my trip, for which he suggested the title “Fucking Steve!”

I will remember him as the strong, invincible, highly intelligent man I knew him to be.

If I know Steve, he’s in Valhalla celebrating his eternal soul with a beer and pretty ladies while telling stories of his amazing life.

It’s good to be seen

Tonight I’m thinking of my dear friend Andrew who was murdered by his ex-girlfriend in 2001.

I met Andrew on my first day transferring into a new kindergarten.

We never stopped being friends and kept in touch through high school, college, medical school (for him) and marriage (for me).

Another friend Jon once described Andrew as the kind of person who when he walked into a room, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

He was charismatic.

Funny.

Charming.

Occasionally, I dream about Andrew and I ALWAYS realize I’m dreaming when he makes an appearance so I get down on my knees and start crying telling him how much I miss him.

He always stands me up, hugs me and then chats with me like old friends catching up.

Today, my mother spoke with his mother.

It’s something they do occasionally so that isn’t remarkable.

What is remarkable is that my mom is working on organizing THOUSANDS of old photos into albums and the next picture she plucked from the pile was a picture of Andrew with my dad and I.

Probably a picture from the last time I’d ever see him in person, although that detail only occurs to me now as I write this.

I took the picture, studied Andrew’s face, realized that the picture was taken in the very room where my mom told me he had been murdered.

The very room I was sitting in now.

Waves of nostalgia came over me and I found myself playing back images of him and I in my mind.

Him BLASTING “Top of the World” by Van Halen as he burned rubber out of his high school parking lot after graduation.

Listening to grunge music while playing pool at Andrew’s house.

My visit to see him in Irvine when we were in undergraduate school.

I attempted to relieve the sadness inside me by opening up my phone and scrolling through Reddit.

Lo and behold, the documentary about Andrew’s murder popped up in my reddit stream and I paused before watching the first 15 minutes of it.

I don’t usually watch that movie unless I have a bottle of wine, tissues, and at least a day to recover from my hangover.

The circularity of life is amazing.

I was supposed to think of him and remember our friendship.

And so a toast to my friend:

“There are good ships and wood ships,

Ships that sail the sea,

But the best ships are friendships,

May they always be!”

Rainbow baby

The road to parenthood has not been an easy ride for me.

From the beginning I struggled with fertility issues.

Granted, I was 25 years old when I started trying and I had years ahead of me to be successful in my quest to have children, but the steps there were filled with fertility treatments and unfortunately, pregnancy loss.

I admire women who get pregnant and just assume everything will be okay.

After my first loss – a stillbirth at 22 weeks – I never took my pregnancy for granted again.

I stressed and worried and bothered my OBGYN in ways you can’t even begin to imagine, insisting on extra ultrasounds and additional testing to be sure that everything was okay.

No amount of reassurance could convince me otherwise.

I have been pregnant six times but only have two living children.

My first pregnancy ended in stillbirth when it was discovered that my son Douglas had a large tumor growing off the base of his spine – a sacrococcogeal teratoma.

Google it if you want to see what it looks like, but be forewarned, it’s not pretty.

It’s called a “monster-making” tumor for a reason.

Douglas was born still on September 22, 1998.

He was perfect in every way except for a giant tumor on which his little legs rested.

To add insult to injury, Douglas’ body was thrown out with the hospital laundry by accident so it took a few extra days to recover him, cremate him, and hold a memorial for him.

Not all my family was supportive.

My mother-in-law didn’t even bother to attend the memorial.

After Douglas, I lost three babies between 8 and 12 weeks.

I also lost a little girl named Ruby at 16 weeks.

She was physically perfect and genetically nothing was wrong with her chromosomes.

It’s just one of those things that happens, I was told.

Recently, another loved one’s loss has brought all these feeling bubbling to the surface again and it was with tears in my eyes that I embraced her, knowing that she’s reluctantly joined the same club I joined all those years ago when I lost Douglas.

The club for women who will never be able to sail through a pregnancy like women who haven’t experienced a loss.

Worst club in the world, if you ask me.

But we’re there for each other.

There are meet ups for pregnant women who are pregnant again after a loss.

And they call subsequent babies “rainbow” babies to signify how even after a loss, something beautiful can be created.

My love to you.

You know who you are.

Regrets

I wish I’d gotten through September 22nd in my usual fashion – by celebrating life with the ones I love and having no regrets.

I did get to celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday, but I had regrets.

It was the first time a birthday party landed on the same day as Douglas’ birthday and I found myself longing for a birthday celebration to celebrate his 21st birthday – what we would be doing had he lived.

It turns out I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was.

I cried.

It’s a milestone birthday and I found myself wondering who my son would be, had he lived.

Would he be rushing through family dinner so he could go out and celebrate with his friends?

Would we have thrown a big 21st birthday party for him?

As a parent, losing a child is the worst experience you can have and one that we all fear.

To make matters worse, I was the only one who remembered.

No one else seemed clued in to my distress and sadness.

I told my sister-in-law and she gave me a huge hug and got teary eyed.

But then, as life tends to be, we moved on from it.

I am reminded that life is for the living and you either get on with your life or you wallow in sadness, holding on to regrets.

In the end, I choose life.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_4717 21 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer – a teratoma, not unlike what Gavin had removed about a year ago.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 11 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at a birthday party for my 6-year old nephew, celebrating his birthday.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_4717 20 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer – a teratoma, not unlike what Gavin just had removed.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 10 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at a local birthday party, celebrating my burner friends’ birthdays.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

Adios 2017!

How do I feel about 2017?

I’m ready to bring on 2018, that’s how I feel.

In 2017 I had to put down my dog.

That was a difficult and sad time.

I also applied for, and lost, two jobs: one I was excited about and one I was less than excited about.

So perhaps it’s for the best, though it hurt both times to be rejected.

2017 wasn’t all bad though.

I went to unSCruz with The Swede and had a lot of fun.

And, of course, I am in Sweden right now visiting The Swede.

I travelled to Burning Man in 2017 and had a fantastic time so there’s that too.

But there was also a WHOLE YEAR OF #45’s antics and quite honestly I have had my fill of that charlatan.

Three more years? Good grief!

2018 brings some promise.

I will continue to look for another position at work so there’s potential for growth there.

And, once again, I am going to unSCruz AND Burning Man, not to mention that highly anticipated spring Pagan Bunny Burn.

I also start my medical weight management program which I’m not REALLY looking forward to except for how much healthier I will be on the program.

So there’s that.

Overall, I can say adios to 2017 and welcome in 2018 with an open mind and an open heart.

I’m looking forward to the coming year.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_471719 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 9 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at the wedding of two good friends as they exchange their vows in Yosemite.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd, to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.