Wednesday, May 30, 2012

near death

Yesterday I went out to eat my lunch in the summer heat that had descended on the city. I sat down with a friend on a bench on a dead end street near a park. Seconds after that something seemed to explode right next to us. A huge umbrella had been blown off the roof. Its cast metal stand separated from it and shattered on the pavement, with pieces scattering at our feet. Only a couple of yards separated us from the site of the impact.

I proceeded to eat my lunch. I was not even fazed. Somebody I shared this with told me I had a super power now. Another person said an angel was protecting me.

Both are true. I do not care about death now. My son gave me this gift. I survived his death, so I'm ready for mine, whenever it comes.

Having watched my mother part with life was one of the most heart-wrenching things I've been through.  I'm glad my son won't be there for mine.  And I promise I will not be sorry to go.

Monday, May 28, 2012


First summery weekend in NY. The hot, humid air always conjures up my nostalgia for this city. When I was growing up here I was always lonely. I longed for the summer when I would go back home and see my friends and later my boyfriend. Then I would return, usually around Labor Day, to the suffocating summer city. That came to symbolize New York for me and when I was away from it for nine years, that is how I imagined it and missed it.

When I came here with my own little family I felt I had won - I had the best of both worlds - the city I loved, without the loneliness it went along with.

The first summer I sent my son home to his grandparents. When he came back he was all tan from the beach, with sun-bleached hair - a vision of beauty at 7. We went to Central Park and as we were descending towards the little pond near the Alice in Wonderland sculpture we passed by Paul Simon and his then pregnant wife, Edie Brickell. Our son was running ahead of us dressed in a white button-down shirt bought at a garage sale and khaki pants. As they passed us, he turned to her and said "what a beautiful boy." I felt so fortunate right then to be envied by someone who had everything.

My beautiful boy is gone, but that vision of beauty still makes me feel fortunate for having had it.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The truth is we can only feel so much of it. Then the body's anesthesia kicks in and you feel nothing. I feel nothing most of the time. Only upon waking up, without fail, do I feel the gripping pain in my abdomen. First consciousness, then pain. Then it passes and I either fall asleep again or I get up. I know the drill now, I wait for it to pass. I wonder if it will ever stop. I wonder if other people feel this. I wonder if it's a coincidence that that's where my womb is. Sometimes it spreads to my chest. But it always starts in my core. Sometimes I wonder if it's a muscle spasm. But no, it's just in my mind. And it will never go away. As long as I live.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


8 months today.  Not that time is relevant.  Every day is the same day. 

"I get up in the morning, put my dreams away.  I get up, I get up, I get up again." 

It's from a song by a group called Dead Man's Bones.  Ryan Gosling's their frontman.  My son told me about them, of course.  All their songs feature death.  In a non-morbid way.  There's even a children's choir.

When there is no future, does time really exist?  Once we stop growing up, we measure time by our children's lives.  That's when time is meaningful.  Now it doesn't matter.  Yes, I'm getting older, but when you're already dead, age doesn't matter. Just a little bit older and colder every day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

good death and bad death

So I read this article today, which asks if death is bad for you.  I have always said no.  The quote above is from Dylan Thomas, This Side of the Truth.  I wrote a term paper on it in high school and it has stuck with me.  The deal, of course, is that there is no good or bad death - it's all the same in the end, or as my son was quoted as saying "We all fall short in the end."

So why do I feel bad about my son dying?  For myself, of course, because I miss him.  But I also feel bad for him, though not because it's better to be alive than dead, but because of what I failed to convey to him, because of all the times he felt lacking, because of his self-doubt.  I want to make it all better, but I can't, because he's gone. 

I don't know where I read this - I thought it was Dostoyevsky, but I couldn't find it in The Brothers Karamazov, it could have been C.S. Lewis - that heaven, if it is to exist as a valid concept, must go back in time and remove the pain that was suffered by innocents.  That's what I want to do, but I can't. I can't make amends.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I had a dream that my son had died, but he was younger - 9 or ten. We had scheduled the ceremony and informed people. But as I was watching the body he awoke. I was only briefly startled, then I was happy and relieved. He was still weak, but he was calm and seemed happy to please us with his revival. As I stroked and kissed his head I watched him for signs that it was really him. We had given away his clothes, so I thought I must go buy him new ones and that pleased me, but then I thought maybe I should ask someone with older boys to donate some. I remembered some of the clothes he had at that age or earlier and thought he would have outgrown them anyway. I had the feeling that we can start over now.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

reading Batman

I dug out from under my bed the stacks of comics he left. Roughly a third of them are about Batman.  He kept buying them up to when he died.  They even emailed him after to pick up one he had prepaid.  It was called Avaritia.  I liked the name.  In our last fight I questioned the recurring charges at the comic book store.  “Sometimes I buy lots of comic books because they let me feel like a little kid for a few hours,” he replied accusingly. 

I am looking for the key to his obsession.  Why Batman?  There's a lot about death and redemption.  I'm reminded of the novel Fortress of Solitude, but Yassen never liked Lethem.  Too close to home?  I don't know if I can read any of these.  It's an alien experience.  But I'm running out of ways to get to know him better.  To understand.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

woke up screaming

...last night. 

There was an elaborate assassination plot against my son.  We were trying to subvert it with the help of decoys - other tall young men.  But I realized they were tracking us by our cell phones, so I went to the terrace to throw out mine, but couldn't because there was some kind of net that I had to claw through first.  Then the assassin caught up with me.  It was someone I knew.  My first boss in the US.

I woke myself up with a choked out cry of "I'll kill you!"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

past life

My husband made me take one of those silly tests, multiple choice - he didn't tell me what it was about, I assumed it was a character test.  It was, but with a twist - it was supposed to determine who you were in a past life.  It said I was a nanny on the Titanic, because I stay calm under pressure and my first thought is to help others.

He didn't see the irony of it.  I had to look away because my eyes filled.  If that was indeed the case, let's consider how I feel about my present life.

No mothers day

There's a well-meaning, if misguided, campaign by that title, asking mothers to disappear on Mothers Day to bring attention to the preventable deaths of mothers in childbirth.  Look it up.  But this is not what this is about.

Mothers Day last year was the last day I spent with my son.  He had come to NY to meet with a casting agent, who had seen his photos on FB.  When he told me he was coming I reminded him it was also Mothers Day that week.  He rebuked me for reminding him and said that's why he was coming then. 

The night before he quarreled with his father.  He almost left then and there, but I convinced him to stay.  We went out on Sunday.  First I took photos of him, because the casting agent wanted to see natural light ones.  They were terrible.  I probably cost him the job.  If he had gotten it he might have moved back to NY instead of going to California, where he died.

There is also a photo of us taken by me - the worst photo ever, actually, two of them - the second one is worse, but they are the last photos of us together.

We went to brunch at one of the neighborhood restaurants.  Waiters were handing out roses to the obvious mothers in the room.  He looked at me, not getting a rose, and said - you know it's because you look too young to be my mother.  That much was true - we could have been a mismatched couple.  We got that a lot on a cruise we went on several years earlier.  I was neither flattered, nor upset. 

Then we went to the park where I took the photos of us.  On the way back he got hungry again, so we stopped at an Asian restaurant.  I had undertipped in the morning, just because I couldn't calculate after the Bloody Mary, and he was upset with me.  Here I overcompensated and he asked me sarcastically whether I liked Asians better than Mexicans.  I admitted I was bad at tipping.

That's all I remember of that day.  Next day he left and four months later he was dead and I never got to see him again.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How are you?

I mean, I hate the question in general, because nobody wants to know the answer, so why not just end it at hello?  But now I've begun to dread it, because I'm not a vacuous person who can smile and pretend it doesn't mean anything when you ask me that.  So when I shrug and say 'okay,' I expect you to take that at face value.  And I mean okay, considering my son is dead, not okay in general.

Yesterday someone actually answered me with 'just okay?' and when I confirmed, he proceeded to assure me that I would feel better on the weekend.  Umm, actually, no, I prefer weekdays, but thanks for ignoring the reality of my life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

can't breathe

I had agreed to be transported somewhere while in a tight and airless space. It was like a car, but I was pressed against the window, and we were supposed to go under water. I tried to practice yoga technique, telling myself I would be okay holding my breath and won't suffocate, and I shouldn't panic. But I guess I did panic because I woke up.

I went to the bathroom and temporarily forgot the dream. But then when I went back to bed I kept having trouble breathing and was wondering why I was upset. Then the dream came back to me.

The thought that first came into my mind was I must scatter my son's ashes - he shouldn't be in a box. Then I thought: maybe this is what he went through when he died. Did he dream he couldn't breathe and he couldn't wake up?