Archive | July 2012

Home Cookin’

One of the best things about my mom was her cooking.

Nothing offers more comfort to me than biting into my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing or mainlining her split-pea soup.

Bu and I love to trade recipes–especially those that belong to our mothers. I know if I’m stuck at a loose end, with three ingredients in the house, and one pan, Bu will have an arsenal of recipes at the  ready–many of which belonged to her mother.

Have a fave mom recipe?

Feel free to share !


A Response: See What’s Become of Me

If you saw me on January 16, 2011, you’d think I was a young woman without a care in the world. You would see a girl and her Beloved walking around a Home and Garden show: she–thinking about a possible closet makeover–and he–thinking about a water filtration system. She was envying a girl’s Burberry boots. He was appraising outdoor landscaping ideas.

They spent time poking around downtown stores and eventually decided on Italian for dinner.

Certainly, there were cares in the world: work, bills, the loss of a pet, Christmas decorations that had yet to be stored.

But on that day in those moments, life was sweet. A perfect day.

I remember that Sunday because it was the last day my mom was alive.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t had good days since then–even days that I’ve called perfect. I have.

It has been approximately a year-and-a-half since my mom died.

I can scarcely believe how much time has passed. Not that how much time has passed, but how quickly it has.

I don’t think time heals all wounds as that adage might have us believe, but rather, that time simply passes.

Nor–as I’m coming to learn do we simply “get over” something due to the passage of time. Perhaps the initial shock passes. The punch to the gut. But the grief and loss are still there. Which I am learning to deal with (with some help).

It is sometimes hard to talk about grief. Whether it’s grief from a death, end of a relationship,  job loss. I think most people are comfortable with grief in a finite timeline: “Well, it’s been six months.”  I have been that person.

If you saw me now, you’d see a young woman: a trifle thinner than she was last year. She smiles. She laughs. She talks (too much) about her dog and could probably best you in a s’more-eating contest. She’s probably too emotionally invested in She talks to her BFF, Bu, daily. Her Beloved has landscaped the backyard.

And she’s pretty happy.

The loss of her mom is omnipresent, however. Because her life is altered.

She knows that her mom has died, but like, Bu, will think, “I need to ask my mom about that.”


I don’t think that viewpoint is that uncommon. I think–especially–after the first few years we have lost someone: the desire to call, to connect, to see them in public is simply there. Or to have experiences that evoke those memories. Trips with family. A ride in the car. A song. A blade of grass.

After a conversation with a friend, I cannot listen to Train’s, “Hey Soul Sister” and not think of my mom.

We get there. We’ll get there.






Time time time

I was walking my dog the other day and thinking about the doll collection that my mother started for me. So many beautiful dolls that now all belong to my little girl. One doll in particular stands out in my mind — my custom cabbage patch made by my mom for my 12th birthday. It has blond hair and blue eyes, just like me, and is adorable. My daughter now plays with it.

So as I was walking and thinking about my cabbage patch doll it dawns on me that I should have my mom sign the bottom of my doll, just like the “real” cabbage patch dolls. Her version would be branded just like the originals. Then it hits me. Mom’s gone. She can’t sign anything, let alone a doll she made over 25 years ago for me.

It is amazing to me that three years later I can still have fleeting “Mom is still alive” moments. This happened  a lot right after she passed, practically every day. I’d wake up in the morning and for a few brief seconds I would not remember, then CRASH. The stabbing pain in my heart would return. But time has kept on and, while the pain is still there, it is not as acute as it once was.

Meme and I had a long conversation about this and she remarked that it would be impossible for our bodies to sustain the acute grief pain for any prolonged period of time. I agree. I also believe that our mind protects us from all kinds of pain, which is why we have those moments of, for lack of a better word, denial memory. Just like I have physically forgotten the pain of childbirth, I have physically forgotten the initially acute pain of losing my mother. Now when I have the random thought that my mother is still alive, I feel a stab in my heart, but it’s not the same; just like I can have a random bodily pain that reminds of childbirth, but is also not the same. That has to be why, even three years later, I can briefly forget that Mom is gone.

What do you think?

Neil Diamond Rocks!!

I’m actually in the middle of another post, but decided to STOP THE PRESSES because I wanted to talk about my unapologetic love affair with Neil Diamond.

Last night, he performed here in St. Paul, and I eagerly attended  his attendance with the enthusiasm of a 15-year old seeing Justin Bieber.

(Not that I could recognize a Justin Bieber song.)

(And, sorry, Justin: I give you five years before you’re performing at Grand Casino Mille Lachs.)

The thing with Neil is that people give me shit–sorry Neil–obviously, not everyone has taste–about my unabashed Neil love. As a 38-year old woman, I get comments: “What are you, 80?”

So let us circle back to last night: the Neil crowd is certainly a kinder, gentler concert-goer type of folk. Those of us in Neil t-shirts nod to one another in a certain kind of Neil solidarity.

And then the show started.

🙂 YAY Neil!! (Sorry to the older couple next to me–I  probably yelled in your ear the entire time.)

When I was seven-years old, I saw Neil in concert. It was my first concert. I wore my very favorite white dress with the navy polka-dots. I got to stay up past my bed time. I went to Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, IL. I was with my mom, dad, and grandmother.

When the lights dimmed and the concert started, I was entranced. “Forever in Bluejeans” came on, and that was that.

I will always love Neil That Much More for getting me out of a half-day of second grade.

When my Beloved bought me Neil tickets back in 2008, you had thought he had procured the Hope Diamond.


When I lost my mom, I lost some of my joy. Just the joy of being.

And now in 2012, for the third time, I am back again. Hanging out at the Xcel Center smiling the whole time.

Neil is green kool-aid, playing freeze-tag, capturing frogs and lighting bugs, and feeling the love of family. Neil is about listening to “Cracklin’ Rose” and having contests with my friend, Katie, and who looked cuter sleeping (me!) okay (her!). Neil is about the time when I loved “Love On The Rocks” and had no idea what it meant. And about those pesky flowers. And how no one brings them. Anymore.

And the love of his grandmother in “America.” (Which brought tears to my eyes.)

Neil transcends. He is the Tune.

He brings some of that joy back.


Little girl in that Polka-dot Dress


It is hard to measure the depth of your grief when there are so many other things going on. Almost as soon as my mother died, the world as I knew it began to slowly shatter around me. My heart was understandably broken and the person who I would most likely call to share my sorrows was no longer with us. The weekly, daily contact with my brothers and my dad dwindled just as the crisp memories of my mother began to fade. I attributed these feelings to living half a country away from my family… but that wasn’t the case. Slowly there was less to talk about. The funeral was over. The thank you notes had been written. The tombstone was set.

It’s been three years since my mother passed and only recently have I discovered that I am suffering from grief AND a broken heart. I mourn the loss of my mother. I feel the pain of how I should have done and handled things different and how I could have been better… a better daughter, a better friend, a better caretaker. There have been changes deeply etched into my soul from my experience. It has changed the family dynamic too. We are broken. The glue that once bound us together died. And I struggle to keep her memory alive and to maintain the bonds the once tied us all so tightly together.

I never fully appreciated how Mom kept us tied together (and how delighted she would have been to know another strength she had). She always carefully mentioned everyone in our conversations, keeping me up to date with my dad, her sister, my brothers, the nieces and nephews. In one phone call with my mom, I was back in the fold and in sync with everyone else. The gap left by her departure has not been filled. I run around ad-hoc trying to piece things together and make sense of it all. I ask myself how do I fix this kind of broken? How do I get this back?