Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009 Against Motherhood

I have been with the kids for 153 days straight.

I have answered 12, 345 questions.

Broken up 1546 arguments. Five of which would have sent someone to the hospital.

I have put them to bed for 138 times.

I have taken them to the ranch, to Maine, for ice cream, the neighbor’s pool, the public pool and to the beach. I have made sure they don’t drown.

I have arranged play dates and well OK Langston arranged them for himself.

I have pondered what to feed them, how to treat them, and prayed that they didn’t get sick.

I have been up with them at 1:23 am and 4:42 am and 5:12 am…some nights three times in a row.

I have laughed at their jokes and listened to their long winded, pointless stores.

I have feigned interest.

I have broken up and mediated countless fights and arguments.

I was at a party where the women talked about being single moms and I wanted to scream YOU ARE NOT SINGLE! You are divorced! YOU have husband who takes the kids. YOU get a break!

I am a single mom. I am out here on my own.

And the exhaustion runneth over and floods my mind.

I need to get away. I need a night (4 really) where I don’t have to think about them, the next meal, the next day, the next anything. I need some time where my thoughts are not mingled with thoughts about what they are going to do, what they are doing or what they will do

I need to find myself. Make sure I’m Ok. Take stock of what I have, of what I need, of how far I have to go and of how far I've come.

Their endless chatter and needs and wants and demands are like the washing machine in the laundry can't hear a damn thing except what is infront of you.

I need to sleep without the other ear listening.

But his death has left me trapped.

Art had no insurance. I did not tell you before becuase up until now, I felt his lack of insurance reflected on my good wifeness and his good husbandness.

I cannot hire a weekend babysitter.

I cannot go to a hotel.

I cannot get a massage.

The nights out are like band aids on a wound that needs to be sewn up, with the proper sutures.

I am that caged lion, the one who was not born in captivity. I pace and pace and pace the I strike with force and resentment and anger and ugliness. I strike in my mind, not really wanting to hurt anyone,, so I hurt myself and the damage is horrific.

The exhaustion is slowly, gently crushing me.

What strength I have left I use to keep me here, to not get on the 10 and just drive…away.

I hate when they say “Mom?”

Right now I hate being a mother more than I can possibly express.

I hate it to my core.

August 31, 2009

The football coach at Windward School where Art worked just called.

He wanted to know if he could put Art’s initials on the back of every helmet this year, as a way of honoring him.

I am lucky I type so much and know where the keys are because I am crying to hard to see them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27, 2009 My Birthday is Tomorrow

Yesterday, I took Art's remaining clothes out of the closet. I divided them into the one's I want to keep and the ones to give away. Today I drove them to the Mission in downtown LA. Some tall homeless person with size 14 feet will finally have clothes and shoes that fit him.
Yesterday, I took down the get-well cards friends, co-workers, familiy members and students had sent him. This wall reflects me.

I am that wall. I am empty, vacant, not complete. I am not surprised at the depth of the grief, just disappointed in it. I am surprised at how quickly I begin to hyper ventilate, and how powerless I feel. I can't talk, even though I wanted to call a friend.
I think we are fine and then it hits, the wave and I swear that I will drown. And I cry so deeply and so completely that my whole body gets involved. I shake and feel nauseous. I force my breath. My nose quickly fills. My head aches, my arms tingle. My feet move rhythmically back and forth across the sheet. I hold myself, I let go. I punch his pillow. I hold myself again.
I know I need to call someone. Anyone. But what will I say? What is there to say? I don't want to be cheered up, I don't want to be soothed. I want to be held. To be allowed to grieve, with the noisy blows from my bulbous red nose and the swollen eyes.
I don't want anyone to tell me it will be ok because right now it's not. I want someone to wrap their arms around me, to sit with my pain, to stroke my hair and my back. To NOT say "shhhh." To cry with me even. No judgment, no better world. Just this grief here and now.
Tomorrow is my 45 birthday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 26, 2009 The Kiss

I kissed someone last night that I really like. I’ve liked him for awhile but I was married. He liked me too but he was in a relationship. We kept it a secret from each other, no point in talking about. He knew and loved Art.

It was a kiss, tinged with release and sadness and desire and love and fun. It was warm and reaffirming. It held no promises. And because it was with someone I know and who knew Art, it was easy. Nothing to explain, to talk about…he reads the blog!

And in the hindsight that 14 hours will give a person, I’m giddy. I did it! Weeeeeee!!!!!

How exciting it this! I have teenage desires WITH the wisdom of 45 years. I know how my body works. I know what I like. I can say no and stand firm in it or I can say yes and stand firm in that. Or I can change my mind and stand firm in that too!

And I was told last night, that I'm hot! (tee, hee)

I can’t wait to do it again!!! I welcome the distraction and the feeling desirable and feeling like a woman, a grown sexy woman. Holy cow, this is going to be so much fun!

I hope he calls soon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009

2:15 Am

Shhhhh. If you listen, you can hear it.

The grief is swelling. It’s coming. I feel it in my loss of temper with kids, my impatience with those around me, my own sudden ugliness reflected in the mirror. The food is tastelessness. It no longer brings an 'ummm' to my lips when I smell and then place it on my tongue.

I can touch the grief in my pillow, in my restlessness, my late night pacing around the house. I want to rush it. I want it to come quickly so I don’t take a sleeping pill I don’t drink a glass of wine. I want to pull ,scratch and tear off a layer of my skin. I am agitated, can't focus. Nothing soothes. I stay up late, alternately waiting for and dreading it. If nothing comes my exhaustion tomorrow will bring it on.

And I look forward to after the release. I will feel pride and congratulate myself for passing through another moment when I wanted the sky and earth to close in on me, where I would rather die than feel the deafening, deadening loss.

When its over, I will smile to myself. I will see my beauty again. I will flex the newly built emotional muscle. The one that with the others inform my voice that says "Yes, you can get through anything."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 19 -21. Grief...Again, Kids and A New Husband

November, 2008
I remember now that he loved me like crazy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The early morning grief starts in my hands. They begin to tremor, barely noticeable, but enough that typing is awkward. I notice it when I stop and reach for a glass of water and see my fingers quaking. And…at that point, I notice that my stomach is moving. It feels as if there is not enough room in my body cavity to house it. It too quakes but in slow motion, I believe I feel it begin to turn inside out and I can feel the acid sliding down the outside dripping on my intestines.

I scoot to the bathroom. The process is mixed with the empty stuff from my stomach (for it is morning and I have yet to eat) and the tears from my eyes and thick gooey saliva from my mouth. I notice it’s been a while since I have cleaned the toilet. And I am laughing and crying and vomiting all at once.

There is just no way that he’s not here. This isn’t my life. This isn’t our life.

Shit. Should have never looked at that picture yesterday (see above). It is easier to live if I don’t remind myself that he is gone, I say as if I can avoid the huge elephant!

And the thing is, it’s not the him I miss, although it is. It’s more about the big bulking hole that I walk into, over, around and through every day. As the days go on, it becomes less about him and more about the loss.

Thurdsday, August 20, 2009

Ezra been crying lately. No. That’s not the word…weeping. Yes. That’s it. Wept two nights in a row saying how much he misses Daddy. Two nights ago I had a male friend over (non-available). We sat outside after desert, with our wine talking the way Art and I used to.

Pallas reported that Ezra was crying. I came in, annoyed. God all I want is a little grown-up time and I’m trying to do it so that you won’t have to have a babysitter and you three can’t keep your crap together for 20 minutes? I went to him and saw his little wet, red puffy face. He looked at me and said “I miss Daddy” and the waves of kid sobs came after.

Kid sobs -- the ones that take a hammer to your heart. The ones that make a mother crazy because if they are not due to something she did, she wants to annihilate whatever did cause the heartbreak, even if it’s another one of her children.

Only I can’t kill Art, I can’t hurt the cancer, I can’t change a damn thing and so in my powerlessness to save Ezra, I sit with him, hold him and harden my heart. Not to him but to this experience.

Last night he cried again. “It’s all the cancer’s fault.” he called from teh rim of the bathtub. “Yes, it is, Sweety.” I reply. Again, I am swinging at an invisible unhurtable opponent. Shit…their grief is what makes this process almost impossible. It’s harder to observe than my own. They lost their father and they don’t even understand how paramount that is because they have no idea what life events are coming that he was “supposed” to be there for.

Maybe that is why the picture of him and I made my vomit this morning. They don't know yet all that he will miss. I keep hoping that with each clench of my stomach I let go of a little more control and power. I can do nothing here but be. Funny, cause the just being is the most challenging part of this grief.

And after the morning worship to the porcelain god, I got up, got the kids out the door and we laughed and listened to music on the way to dropping them to surf camp and everything was normal and fun and just was. We are a happy family too.
I think that is what I want to tell you. It’s not all sadness. In fact, it’s more happy than sad as the distance from April 16, 2009 widens. We function daily and better and better and then we stop, triggered by a photo, someone sitting in daddy’s chair or a song and it’s as if we lost him yesterday. Then if I am brave enough to let go quickly (my kids are), we look up and laugh or get to work, or play, or complaining and we live. We live. We move forward, partly, cause standing still isn’t an option


Friday, August 21, 2009

“When are you going to get married again?” he asked
“I didn’t know you wanted me to.” I say
“Well, you don’t expect me to be without a father forever, do you?”
“No I guess not. I guess we are on the same page then.”
“No.” he says, “not the same page. I don’t want a husband. I want a father. We are on the same chapter.”

He smiles and takes his seven year old presence, that includes a wonderful behind (he got that from me, thank you very much), soft skin and the wisdom of a 100 year old man and asks Pallas if she wants to play.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009 sex

This is the last place I looked for Art.
Even now I can see him there, with his arms behind his head.
My journal and a cup of tea where the only things in that moment that kept me...

Eating lobster is a summer tradition for the Nagle family. Handing Granpa the live lobster to Grandpa is a rite of passage.

Art's headstone
Seeing his death date slammed into the stone
nothing can describe it.

This is the man who.... turned this coffee (yes thats egga and coffee ground) into good camp coffee. Thank you Hal, for inspiring me to take my first sip of coffee in over 24 years.

The Nagle, Hamer-Nagle and Stewert Cousins

Our new family

on the steps of the family camp that Art knew intimately.

Houlton, ME

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009 No Words and Sex

My silence has been about not finding the right words to express the trip to Maine. Nothing fits.

I can only share that I have a family. They don't look anything like me. They are tall and white and live in Maine. And when I arrived in my LA-ness chocolate-colored skin they pulled the wagons round claiming me. I don't know if it's always been the case and I didn't notice or if without Art by my side they decided to make a stand. Either way...I have family in Maine. And I no longer refer to them as his family. They are my family.

Because none of the words I set down on paper to describe my trip to Maine, I share photos.


I can't upload the @()#$$(*@ after being on the phone with Verizon @($)#* twice today after my internet was on the brink for @()#@*(# days!

And what I really need to do is honestly....have good sex.


I just need to get laid. Not f-----but properly laid. Are there any patient men out there who will take more than two minutes for 4-play? (Art took forever and it drove me crazy!)

Since my husband is dead and I can't think of man who is not married that I should bestow my post-death virginal experience on I will have to take my frustration out on this damn computer and website that can't seem to up load three stupid @*(#$@*# pictures.

And its not working! And I'm even more mad cause when you're a widow, no one talks about the lack of sex. My marriage had sex (although not enough) and it was good and pleasant and I miss it and need it and want it.

A widow (ha or a woman) who wants sex is like the persons yelling "F---!" in the public library. Everyone looks up, stares, giggles a bit and hopes you don't come near them.

And I think good widows don't want sex, bad widows do. Well put this behind (which, by the way, is a nice, round, sexy behind!) in with the bad crew. I am a full on woman, damn it and sex is good.


Joy, August 19, 2009

Joy is:

Spending one-on-one time with my cousin and asking and listening for the first time to his wisdom as a parent. Something I can’t remember doing … ever.

Joy is asking him what he thinks his mother did well and discovering that I am developing a vision for my single-motherhood.

Having one child, all to myself for 20 minutes, while in the grocery store. I listen and laugh with her. In her space I explore and marvel at who she is.

Knowing that in his loss, I see my children clearer than I ever have…and I like them!

Not being able to choose when asked “Mom, if you had to give one of us away, who would you choose?” If I had been asked that question 17 minutes before, I would have had a definite answer.

Finding myself at month four and not realizing it’s month four till eight o’clock at night.

Wanting to be held by a man, to feel the masculinity surround me and to get past the moment and realize I want a man in my life but I don’t NEED one in my life.

Listening to Whitney Houston’s Step-by-Step and for once not blubbering while I sing along.

Remembering to set the table for four, not five and not crying about it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

OMG Tuesday Tip #23

OMG Tuesday Tip #

Send Them A Gift Certificate

This is a great gift is you don't live near the person in crisis.

Buy them a gift certificates to: the moviesthe grocery storethe spaa pedicure/manicure placethe mallthe bookstorea restaurantgas stationa favorite museuma theme park Giving a gift certificate allows the person to escape or to relieve some of the financial burden they may be under.

The OMG (oh my God) I Need to Help Tuesday Tip © 2009

Every Tuesday (or in this case Thursday) I post a tip on how you can help someone you love in crisis. These tips were partially derived from the amazing community that my husband, Art, and I leaned on during his two bouts with cancer. He lost his battle in April 2009 and this amazing community continues to support me and our three children.

May you be part of a strong community for your friend. You do make all the differenc in the world for them.

Form more tips, go to

August 5, 2009 Looking for Him

This place is saturated with him.

I awake from a bad dream and prefer to go back to it than acknowledge that the other half of the bed is empty.

It feels like it did in the beginning, raw and suffocating. I am steeped in disbelief. I am not here without him, I think. He’s in the kitchen. And when he’s not there, I think he’s stretching in the living room. And when I check and see the floor empty I think, he’s down by the water. I walk down expecting to find his long legs stretched out, his head back, eyes closed, hands intertwined and resting on his chest, dressed in red fleece. And when I don’t see him there, I sink into his chair and sob again.

This is that big wave that my friend spoke about. It comes and shoves me down to the bottom. It tosses me and I don’t know which way is up. If I breathe it is water that I take in.

At 12:10, three hours after I have gone looking for him, I sit on the porch of Blue Hill Books, unwrap my new journal and begin writing. My lungs fill with air that is filled with him.

I'm still breathing.

August 4, 2009

On August 4th, I left CT and headed to Blue Hill, Maine where my in-laws have a house that has dial up internet!

August 4th Grief and Joy

Joy is …

Racing Malia’s son into their driveway (he was on foot, I in a car),
leaving the car after a 3 hour drive and seeing Malia for the first time in 15 (?) years. She looks just like she did over 25 years ago. I see in her, that I do as well. I know nothing about her really. We share a common past, having gone to high school together but little else. Art’s cancer, death and Facebook is why we are together today.

30 minutes later, our kids are in her pool. She and I chat in the shade of an umbrella. We laugh and share as women do. She’s as strong and equally as opinionated as I am. I feel at ease. We take photographs of the kids. Later she texts me “I love how we didn’t take a foto of US!” And I laugh because I know we’ll have another chance. A friendship was born today and this one is my own. She knew me before Art and now after him, but she didn’t know me while I was with him. I experience this kind of exhilaration. This is my new friendship, as an individual, not as a part of ‘us.’ I will not have to check in with him to see if he wants to stop next visit, or worry about how he will feel meeting my old friend. My chest puffs out as I congratulate myself on mastering another see-I-can-do-this-on-my-own moment.

His death emboldens me. I would probably not have stopped if I had been invited. His death emboldens others, she probably wouldn’t have invited me to stop by. Suddenly we, my friends new and old, are no longer too busy. We admit to ourselves, albeit silently, there may not be a ‘next’ time. Art’s death reminds me of the real reason we are alive. It’s to say “I love you” on a whim, to hold that hug a little longer and to marvel at how we effect each other for the good. We are here to say “We didn’t get a foto of us of us” which is just another way to say “you count.” And that is the gift of his death. I find when I take a deep enough breath, I cry for the beauty of it.


Grief is…
3 hours and 30 minutes after leaving Malia’s I turn onto Rt. 15, in Maine, twenty minutes from Blue Hill. My foot presses down on the gas, urgency flooding the engine. Getting there suddenly becomes very important.

“Look I say. This is where Dad and I got married.” My foot lets off the gas, as we pass the Blue Hill Farm Inn. I consider turning around. Tomorrow I think. You can visit Jim tomorrow. We pass Blue Hill Books, a store Art and I spent hours in before we had kids, would visit when we could sneak away from the kids and would hide from the kids and have a quick make-out session in one of the few intimate corners downstairs. I laugh and the tears spring like the air from a chip bag under pressure.

I don’t stop crying. I cry as I head to 175. I cry as I turn onto Falls Bridge Road. Snap shots appear in my mind; us running or biking down the road, the white house on the right with the white picket fence, just past the reversing falls that we dreamt about owning.

Quickly Haight Farm appears on the right. I turn left into the driveway and cover the eight of a mile as fast as I can without kicking up the dust. We walked this driveway first with Langston, then Pallas then Ezra all in a radio flyer wagon up. We headed up to Haight Farm where Pallas got butted by a goat once, where we admired the soft angora rabbits before they were shipped to Tibet, and where we saw our first hydroponic green house.

The car tires crunch on the gravel. I turn to park and skadush….I realize Art will not be here. A tiny, tiny piece of me, beyond any common sense, believed I would see him, that I would hear his feet on the gravel, hear his voice, feel his kiss. This was the last place I could look for him.

The sound of the gravel under my feet, the combination smell of the sea and grass, the deafening silence make me want to run rather than face the emptiness. Shit.

My mother in-law appears and like a mamma bear, she tries to make the big bad loss go away. And I sob and she says it will be ok and I know but really what I want is for him to tell me that. And I sob some more.

The crying subsides. I wipe my face with my hands, wipe my hands on my dress. And the same smell and sound of the kid’s feet on the gravel tamps down the grief. I have to face this place. And as I pull the luggage out of the car, I see new memories here, ones that include us remembering him but without him in them. And I feel tired and sad and distraught and tired again.

This feeling of loss will never go away. However, having been through it so many times, it does feel manageable. Not predictable or logical but manageable. I am still here. There is nowhere else for me to go but forward. I walk into the house.

Monday, August 03, 2009

August, 3, 2009 -- Old Friends

I visit with pre-Art friends.

Friends from high school. I have breakfast with my oldest friend in the world, Teri P. (We've known each other since second grade). I see another old high school friend; stop by the house of another. I feel grounded, remembering a life before Art.

We gab about people he didn't know, guys I slept with, guys our friend's slept with and it feels easy and funny and not embarrassing at all.

And I come back to the hotel room, feeling tight and strange, questioning his existence. It's like Art was a hiccup. And standing here, in a hotel we never stayed at, in a bed we never made-love in, with children he will never see grow, his existence is hard to grasp.

Until I try to sleep...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

August 2, 2009 Death Sits Besides Me

Driving over to my mother’s in the rain, my hands gripping the steering wheel, I kept thinking, don’t crash, don’t crash and then I noticed my death sitting next to me and I relaxed.

I don’t know when I’m going to die and yes, it could happen today. There is no rule that says tragedy can’t strike twice. We make up that rule to deal with the quaking land under our feet. So I’m driving and I feel death sitting next to me and I relax because I see that it could happen right now – I could crash and die. I could crash and two of my kids could die. I could crash and kill someone else.

Oddly this brings me comfort. In the uncertainty, I find peace. I have less control over this than I desire but it gives me room to maneuver the things I do have control over. I turn my head, glancing to the back of the car for a moment and say to my children...

"You are a gift to me from God. I am grateful and lucky that you are here with me.
Now will you please stop arguing and share the damn goldfish!"

A subtle and unsettling gift from grief followed with a dose of reality.

Pallas and my sister's children