Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wonder Woman Again

On Tuesday night, I went on a second date
dressed as
Wonder Woman.

I know...right?!

The back story: We tried to get together and then he was making cracks via email about how busy I am and then he asked if I was out saving the world, or something like that.

He made a joke about my invisible airplane. His last comment to me before we met was "Don't forget your cape!"

And like someone shoving me in the chest, I reacted. I thought "I'm gonna wear my Wonder Woman costume."

Wonder Woman
I bought the outfit in 2006 one month after Art was diagnosed with cancer during his first battle.

I wanted to be a queen that year until Langston, then age 9, pointed out the Wonder Woman costume and said "Mom, you should be this!" I laughed as I paid for it at the register.

Art almost fell over when I met him at the door after he was being escorted home from a chemo treatment.

My friends thought it was the best costume .... EVER.

And then I put it way.

And then, three years later Art died.

So on Tuesday, I'm sitting outside a wine bar, in my car, dressed as a blonde Wonder Woman. And I'm on the phone talking to a widow friend of mine.

"This is stupid." I say.

"No it's not Kim. It's who you are. You are Wonder Woman!"

I take it in.
I feel my superpower rising.

She is right.
I am Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman is back, I think.

Wonder Woman with the faults that do not make her weak but actually make her strong.

Wonder Woman is real.
Wonder Woman has been who I have been all this time, since the moment he was diagnosed to this moment, one year and 8 months after his death.

I realize Wonder Woman is back.

I wear it to meet this guy who is laughing so hard he can't talk for a moment.

I stand there laughing too because he enjoys the joke so much, because I had the balls to say "Fuck it" again and show up in a costume for a second date.

The next day I am laughing because he has written out the lyrics to the Wonder Woman theme song and sent them to me and... he asked me to accompany him to a Christmas party.

He likes Wonder Woman.

The costume will not go back in the Halloween box.
It will stay with me, in my closet so that
I can remember
that Art's death
has brought back
Wonder Woman.

It's nice to see her again.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Exhaustion runs through me
so thoroughly
that I am sure my body now uses it
in place of 30% of my blood.

I can't think.
Eating feels too strenuous
unless I can rip open a bag.
And then if I do,
what I eat is so tasteless
that I end up spitting it out
into the garbage.
Why bother making the effort to chew that crap.

I look haggard,

My skin does not reflect exuberance
but looks more like a pond that has not been drained
properly, murky, unclear and blachy.

I know that I am killing myself.
Not by over dosing on pills,
or alcohol
but by just running at this pace,
the pace of a young,hustling widow
with kids.

I know it needs to stop,
or my body will stop me.
And then I will be made to rest
in a hospital
and it will be a fitful, uneasy rest
because even there
I will be making the ever changing priority list
of things that NEED to get done.

So as I crawl into bed, faced with
the prospect of getting
8 hours of sleep, instead of the 5 I can't exist on
I promise myself that I will

I promise that I will stretch in the morning.
I promise that I will use the damn massage
gift certificate that was
sent to me
over a year ago.
(This person took the time to send me several of them! So I better damn use them. THANK YOU whoever you are.)

I promise to refill the well with water by
and eating
and doing nothing
for at least 30 minutes a day.

He would be proud of me for all of my promises.
He used to say
"What? Do you think you'll finally
get everything done on your list?
You will die with a to-do list so
stop worrying about it so much."

He died with his to-do list
and the biggest thing that is going
is me.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Value Added

I said good bye to this guy a few days ago. Actually what I said was, “Let's just call this what it seems to have turned into, a friendship.…”

I did it in an an email cause I tried to break it off once before over the phone and I moronically then asked him if he wanted a second chance (I KNOW!!! I KNOW…not my finest moment in the newly learning-to-date world.)

I hit send, then slammed my fist into the table.

Then my head.

And then the stupid fucking tears started

I was so mad at thim.

Why did he not see my value?

Why did he keep stringing me along?

And then I went “Huh.”

as I lifted my head and swiped

at my tears with my hand.

I see my value.

That’s why I sent the email.

I see that as much as a cliché as it is, life is to short to be treated poorly or to try to GET anyone to like me.

And I see that in letting him go

Another will come. I can feel him coming now, like a tug in my gut.

In letting this one go, I opened the door for another one to enter.

I got into my car whistling.

There is beauty in Art’s death.

The beauty is that I am here

Alone, without him

And I see




And the value feels added, like something I didn’t have before.

In this new life, I realize now, it wasn’t having Art that gave me value (like I had thought).

It was who he loved that gave me value.

And he loved me.

All my opinionated, brilliant, sometime off the wall ideas.

He loved my hearty laugh and hated the way I would interrupt him.

He loved how quick I was and how much I appreciated his amazing brilliance.

He loved how when we argued and we would switch sides.

He hated my ability to chill him with just one look

And he loved the way I kissed.

But it was not his love that made me valuable.

It was his acceptance of me that made me see my value.

And now it wasn’t until he was gone,

that I really saw how much he loved me.

Anyway, I’m in my car singing after the head banging and the crying.

And I’m singing loudly and quite well, thank you very much,

Because in his death I discovered my value.

And it feels like value added.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wild Crazy

L, my 13 yr old is taking French. The Spanish classes met at the same time as the Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra. He plays the cello.

And he says “Mom, what would really help me is if we went to France.”

And I say, “Ok, wanna go this summer?” This is not a bluff. I have spent the past three weeks deciding where we will live (Chamonix region). I have checked out vacation homes in that area and I have posted on yahoo traveler groups for insider tips. And honestly, I think we may stay a little longer like a year or ….three.

My living room is devoid of furniture, having sold it all a few months ago. Last week, I spent 3 hours in a furniture store. I made the sales person drool as I choose a rug, a coffee table and a cool comfy chair and then inquired about someone who could go to my mom’s garage…in Connecticut (I live in LA), measure the furniture that is being stored there and then make arrangements to ship it out here.

Tonight, I am standing at a party, talking to a man, looking at his lips and I open my mouth to say “I’m sorry. Can you just kiss me right now? I want to see if your lips are as soft as they look and if you are as good a kisser as I think you may be.” I pause before I say anything, then don’t say anything at all.

I feel crazy.

Wild crazy.

The kind of crazy that lately let’s me buy two pairs of jeans for more money that most people’s monthly car payments. The kind of crazy that almost has me purchasing a new piece of art work for 3 months of rent. The kind of crazy that has me longing for physical touch that I considering leaving my kids alone, knocking on “this” guy’s door at 12 midnight just so I can be held and caressed and can fall asleep in a man’s arms. In a man’s arms. In a man’s arms.

It’s the kind of crazy that will make my friends and family whisper to each other “Well, obviously, she’s still grieving and hasn’t thought this through.”

I remember the day I came home from the hospital after Art died. I remember having the need to COMPLETLEY rearrange my house so that it too would be as changed and different as I felt. I was wild crazy with grief.

It is all I can do to keep this wild, crazy in check.

I am wild crazy with “Why the fuck not? Huh, really why the fuck not?!!!” I can’t afford to spend a month in France. Hell, my French is on the level with a two year old.

And everyone knows the way to get a man is not to, in the middle of a conversation, stop him from talking and challenge him to kiss you to see if he kisses well.

But it’s what I want to do. I want my habits to reflect the crazy wild I feel.

I want my kids to have ‘those” kind of stories that they share with their college friends and beyond. “One year, my mom lost it. She took us to France for the summer and we stayed there for four years!” “She dated this guy who……” “She wore these hot pink jeans and …..” I want them to know what if feels like to be wild crazy and to survive it and to look back and say “Wow but cool!”

And here’s the thing, while it feels wild crazy, there is a part of me that knows I make more sense than most people on the other side of death. There is piece of me that understands that after death

“Fuck it”

is a really good answer.

There is part of me that really, really wants to let loose, to live large, to worry later cause I have spent the last 46 years of my life worrying. I have spent the last 4 years of my life watching my husband recover then die from cancer. I have spent the last 1 year and not even 7 months finding my feet, my hands, learning how to breath a whole new kind of air. And I know I will spend the next 45+ years (I will live well into my 100s) missing the man I see in my children. So why the hell, not!

So, I’m gonna stop writing because ya know what? Chamonix is amazing in the summer. I still have my rock climbing shoes and harness. I hope our babysitter is willing to come. I wonder if she speaks French.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wise Ass Widow

My Halloween Costume

Guess what I am!

Art was in my head all day saying, "Babe, don't say anything. Let them figure it out."

But we are opposites.

Here's a hint.
I'm a kind of spider.
I'm a kind of widow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The New Widow Card

So there's this guy...he likes me and I like him
And when we are together, we giggle.
With him, I remember how much I like to laugh, the kind of laughter that makes my belly hurt.

And then
there's this other guy, who when he smiles at me
I can't say a damn thing intelligent.
The energy coming off of him says "Good kisser."
If only I could find the courage to see if I'm right.

And then there were those silly police officers
whose eyes followed me as I walked by their car.
So I swung my hips just little more than usual, I sashayed.

And it felt good.

I love men.

I adore how stupid they get or how bold I feel around them. How quickly they lose themselves in "Excuse me, can you help me? I'm so frustrated."

And now I see, really see that, I am free to love men and that the one I choose is lucky.

And I wonder, is it fun and exciting because I'm NOT that widow who is forlorn and missing her husband so much she can't see the men in front of her. Or is it fun and exciting because I am discovering the new Kim. The "this is what I have to offer" Kim?

It's fun to be that woman who looks at cute men and goes
"Mmm, mmm, mmmm."

I get silly and goofy but this time, 17 years after Art won my heart, I feel the control. I remember...(or is it that I am experiencing it for the first time?) that I am a woman. I glorious sensual 46 yr old woman.

Tall (sort of), beautiful and quick witted.

I know how flirt. How to lay my hand on a man's arm at that exact moment when we laugh, or to salsa with that flare or to say "I really appreciate your effort." and mean it.

I remember how good it is to know they're watching me, wanting me in their simple man ways.

I love what a smile will do for them, and how I can get that extra discount, the little favor, the phone number with that smile.

Somewhere I remember that power. It was the power I had over Art, only then I didn't believe him. I didn't believe that he really loved me on my "fat" days or my "I hate the world days."

And I see. That his love was kind and warm and even now it gives me the courage and the power to put new pieces into the new Kim. To say, "No, you are not right for me." To stay in myself in a relationship instead of in him in a relationship.

And with Art's love from those 17 years, this is what I think I am:

Funny and opinionated and smart. Driven to make a difference and I like to have fun, goofy, let's not get caught fun. I'm the don't-even-come-near-me-if-you-can't-make-me laugh or have never watched Monty Python or have not traveled to some place exotic gal.

I'm the emotional growth, spiritual person. So if you don't know what's in your baggage, if you don't believe in a higher power, if you have not done your work, if you have not fallen to your knees seeing all that you don't know, don't call.

I'm gratitude girl. If you have never appreciated the way your mail arrives 6 days a week, or how wonderful your nanny is or how on certain days, all the traffic lights are green, you won't even get my number.

And this body of mine?
Has the markings of a life well lived. It's sagging in the breast but has an ass that remains "young." This body has lose skin over it's belly. That belly comes alive and will writhe under just the right touch.....if you're lucky.

Did I mention that I laugh loudly and I will tell you when you make me mad? Did I tell you I love adventure but you will have to talk me into it?

I am all these things and I am not
all pretty, or all those things all the time.
I am stubborn and sometimes unkind. I have a quick, sharp tongue that few have been able to rival.

But it is who I am and
all good.

Art taught me that.

This is the new widow card.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ashes to Life

Pallas and Ezra with Art in the box with the bow.

Last weekend......

We're at the ranch.
It's my cousin's place.
90 acres
horses, sheep, ponds, creeks

It's our second home. It's the place where we escape our noisy city lives. It's the place Art wanted to be sprinkled. I left part of him here in May 09, 1 month after his death. I left him in a box. That was placed above my cousin's book shelf.

Today was time to take some of him home to LA. And then spread him out here, down by the creek his favorite place at the ranch.

Ezra and Pallas wanted to see his ashes. So they took the box and sat outside with it.
We opened the box. And then Ezra touched his father.

"I want to keep some of the ashes with me." he said.

"That way I can keep daddy forever."

Sunday, September 19, 2010


"Mom, I wish Daddy hadn't died then you wouldn't have to do so much."

His statement came at the end of an argument about monitoring their Xbox use, something they bought by pooling their allowance and working jobs for neighbors.

I had just listed, in detail all that I have to monitor. The list was something like this

"I have to make sure you:
get up for school
eat breakfast
get ready for school
get to school
get picked up from school
get fed snacks
get fed dinner
get your homework done
get your teeth brushed
get to bed on time...and then
I paused for effect
I have to start all over again the next morning."

And after his comment, I feel like shit.

And then I hug him.

He smiles, gives me a kiss and I know that this burden that he carries as a child without a father will not be too big for him. He walks away returns for a quick hug and then says

"We'll be Okay. We already are."

It is then, on those words, I know he will be Okay. I know because he has that stubborn focus of his father and my tender heart.

He will be OK.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Warning: This post may be unsettling. It was written in June. I didn’t post it because I didn’t want someone calling Child Protection Services, a threat that was made. Please know that I am better. Please know that I continue to fight and function. Please know that I am here.

I thought about it today.
And yesterday
Actually been thinking about it for 5 days straight.
Considering different ways to do it. Quick, painless ways to do it.

I’ve been thinking about killing myself.

The fact that I am writing about this means, I think….I am working past this feeling.

I hope.

This running of me, the running of my children’s lives, the running of my business, the worry of money, the worry of asking for help…..again and again and again.

It’s stretched me beyond ….

I am so thin, wispy…..

I can’t see myself.

Father’s Day, a school wide celebration called Moving Up Day, the death of a husband’s a friend, the running out of money, the knowledge again, that there is no protecting my children, just shielding them and offering them tools that I feel leave them ill equipped to handle life.

Tools to cope, where are mine?

I know suicide would be selfish.
I know that it is possible that my children would never understand.
And I know that I am in extraordinary pain.
And I know that dying would be quieter, easier and would end the pain. I know this is what my husband felt when during his battle with cancer he said to me

“I’m just so tired.

I just want to rest.”

And he did finally, get to rest.

I know that you, the reader may call me cowardly, a horrible selfish mother.

And you would be right and you would be wrong. The pain is so intense that I feel my kids would be better off without this monster mother I have become, roaming freely in the world, angry, mean, blowing up for no good reason at random. Spewing hate and self doubt, shame.

I find myself looking at another shopping list, listening to another bickering session between my kids, packing another lunch, making another play date phone call, trying to stretch $1 into $2 and then going to bed and doing it all over again the next day. I find it all too much. And I ask,

“Is this all there is?”

After the intense loss, after starting to be OK without him, after the grief has turned deep and mellow, is this all there is? Is this what I was fighting to get too?

I remember when Art and I would share the weekends. One morning one of us got to sleep in. For a few hours in a week, one of us got time to ourselves to do whatever we wanted to do. I remember we provided for each other with back-up, guidance, help, humor (I have forgotten what it feels like to have a really big belly laugh!) I remember feeling like I could fall down cause not only was there someone there to pick me up but to clean up the mess as well.

I’m not allowed to fall now.

The wave of grief has me so far down that swimming to air, if I knew which way was up, feels like it would take too much energy. Energy I simply don’t have.

My friend said, “Imagine BP (the oil company) losing ½ their staff during this crisis. That’s what happened to you. You lost half your staff when Art died and you were in crisis and still are.”

That makes me smile. It puts an image to the burden I feel.

He follows with “You need a break.” And I want to smack him. How do you take a break from kids who can’t stand to have you go away?

Everyone says “You need a break." and yet no one suggests exactly how that break is supposed to happen, nor do those words follow with an offer of help, in any way. It’s like the airplane thing when they say put the mask on yourself first. What if your mask is all tangled up, barely within reach, in knots?

I am tired. I have been beaten.

Uncle life, Uncle. You win.

I am no good.

I am no good to my children.

I am tired and I just need a rest.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ours to Mine

Our wedding rings are no more.

His was so huge. My 6'6" husband had fingers that matched his size.
When he died, I removed his ring
and put it into the ring box that I kept my diamond in.

I don't remember when I took off my wedding bands.
Long enough so that wearing a ring on my "wedding" finger feels odd.

I needed something that would represent us, who we were, who we will always be.
Something that spoke to our commitment to each other, our fights, our love making, our sense of humor, our thought provoking, intelligent conversations.

Something that said moved 8 times, birthed two kids at home, had dogs, interrupted each other to read interesting or beautiful sentences from books. Something that said didn't like to be tickled, loved to hold me, incredible father, kind, endearing, stubborn. Something that spoke of our love of Monty Python, riding race bikes and moving our bodies in any form of athleticism only because it felt good. Something that spoke to our competitiveness with each other. Something that held our dissatisfaction of the world and our desire and actions to make it better.

I needed something that would not get in the way of my committing to someone else, but something that would remind me that yes I was fiercely loved for exactly who I am.
Yes, I was worth the time.

Something that will give me hope to being loved like that again ... only differently.

And so I had our rings, his wedding band, my wedding band, the anniversary band and the diamond he gave me, I had them melted and put back together, differently.

Just like me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Act of Faith

Friday, August 27th
I put Langston and Pallas on a bus today to attend Camp Erin, a weekend camp for grieving kids.
I drive away before the bus does.
And on the 10 heading west, in traffic (thankfully) I cry.
Putting them on a bus is..

an Act of Faith.

Faith that they will come back to me. Faith that I will not have to go and identify their crushed bodies at some retched morgue. Faith that they will come back to me as whole as they left me and hopefully full of an experience that will leave them more emotionally capable.

Every time I put them in a car with the sitter, a friend or drop them at camp, it’s...

an Act of Faith.

I know death. I watched it come and take Art. I know death needs no reason, it just comes when it wants.

My husband’s no longer life if proof of that or I can just turn on the news.
Saturday, August 28th
I wake up and death is in the house.
I feel it and it creates a vacuum. I’m afraid to either exhale or inhale for fear of the realization of what? That the day is not what it seems to be in my morning haze. Like the days upon days after Art died.

I fear my lack of control. I fear that two of my kids are not here, under my pretend “protection.” The protection I believe is mine to offer and dole out as need.

I suck in air hoping I will look back on today, even tomorrow and smile at my silly fears. At my need for faith in order to let them go.

And my friends brush it off, “Of course you have to let them go!” they say. Having no experience with the closeness of death, they don’t see it, sitting there, resting and watching.

Yes I know I have to let them go, but every time I do it, the urge to place my hands on their arms and bribe them to stay with a video game, their favorite dinner or ice cream rises. Sometimes strongly, most of the time represented only by a tiny yelp.

Ezra stirs next to me and I know if it were not for him, I could not bare being in this house that is as quiet and shaky as the days after Art died. The house feels airless, the sunny day false. I feel as if I am inside this bubble, unable to hear or touch and see things as they really are, just like after Art died.

I sneak out of bed, trot off to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror

“Happy Birthday,” I smile at myself. I’m 46 today. It’s an...

Act of Faith

that I believe I will get to my 47 birthday.

I crawl back into bed and lift the covers to see Ezra’s chest rise and fall, reassuring me that it will continue to do so. His breathing grounds me, pushes the hysteria away.

Wednesday, August 25
As the driver is transporting the kids and I to the airport, an 18 wheeler gets cut off by a little black Mazda, the truck weaves into our lane, our driver weaves onto the shoulder next to the concrete divider. We are all moving, us wedged and I see the truck begin to jack knife and then

it corrects itself.

Other than a few “Oh God’s” I am steady and calm. After the moment passes, I remember it’s...

an Act of Faith

to expect we will all get home to LA in one piece. An act of trust and an act of ignorance.
Art and I once had a discussion how parents practice acts of faith every time they drop their kids off at school. His job was to make sure, to the best of his ability, that the faith is renewed every afternoon when those parents come back to get their children. He reminds me how ballistic parents get when that faith is shattered.

Since he has died, I know what death really is: random, disjointed, the essence of unpredictable. I feel how unprotected I am from those random, disjointed, unpredictable accidents. The kind that leaves those who hear about them shaking their heads.

And some days I rub it off of me like a few specks of white fluff on my black sweater and other days I wear it like a lead jacket.

I keep committing Acts of Faith. It’s easier to do when I am engaged, and busy. But on those days where I allow myself to be idle, where I allow a moment to see through all the doing, the

Acts of Faith

scare the bejeezus out of me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Other People's Grief

I’m back east with my family; one of my sister’s, her husband and kids, my mom and her husband (both widows) and my aunt and uncle. Cousins, another aunt, a step sister and her husband will arrive tomorrow.

Tonight I saw it on them.

In their eyes. In the way they looked at me.

I saw their grief.

Other people dealing with the loss of…. my husband.

Other people…. missing him.

Other people… tearing up over him.

Other people’s grief.

Before today, I had not noticed.

My grief was a full time job, that seems to have, a few months ago, turned into a part time position with some harrowing, surprising “breaks.”

I see that they are not used to seeing me without him.

I hear about how they catch themselves.

“We’re going to see Kim and…..” sigh.

I hear “For a while, I lost faith in God. I stopped praying after he died.”

Other people’s grief.

They miss him too. They think about him too. They shake their heads in disbelief. They wish it happened … not me.

And their grief pains me. I want to make it go way. Those sighs, those eyes, that moment of silence. I want to make their hearts happy and fill them with light.

And I think I’m looking into a mirror.

I think about those people and so many others who miss Art…still. Who cry that he is no longer here, who stopped believing in God for a little while when he died, who can’t understand how this could happen.

And I think about those people and all the others who have watched me: hollowed eyed, confused, overwhelmed, frightened and came to witness my grief even though all they wanted to do was to suck it from me with a giant titanium straw.

I cry. Not for myself. Not for Art.

But for those people and all the others who still miss him. For those people and all the others who still talk about him, who go to call him and then remember…

I cry because I see their grief and




almost wild with helplessness.

Just as my grief must have (does) pain them.

I am humbled by those people and all the others who are still here, after witnessing such pain, they are still here.

My family and

all those other people

are my family.

I love you.

You are the reason I know there is a God.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Before or After?

Did Art die before or after Pallas hit five feet?

Did he die before I bought the new underwear or after?

Was he alive when Google offered that new earth maps feature?

Was I friends with her before or after Art died?

Was he alive when Langton said __________ or Ezra did ______?

Before or after?

This is the new question I’ve been asking lately.

And most of the time I can’t remember. And it surprises me.

Not so much in the asking of it but in my inability to answer it and in the fact that not being clear is so much a part of moving on. The little details of our life together is losing its color.Not being clear is also disheartening.

And with my inability to answer the questions, he fades into the background just a little bit more. I lose him every time I can’t remember if it was before or after he died.

He gets fuzzy like I’ve had too much to drink.

In that fuzziness, I grow anxious and scared and sad and disappointed that my life is this one. A life that is trying to wrap itself around the fact that he is never, ever coming back.

In that fuzziness I become exhilarated and joyful and find strength as I claim this new life that is opening up before me and is filled with a more dynamic, wiser, YAHOOY me.

My life:
…clear and fuzzy.
…with Art, without him.

April 16, 2009 was the last day he made an impression and its’ starting to fade.

There is ease in that knowledge.
There is sadness in that knowledge.

And I again re-learn, remember and prove to myself that opposite emotions can exist in the same thought.

Did I learn that before or after he died?

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I'm here at Camp Widow in San Diego.
I videotaped the room full of us widows clapping.
And now that I am trying to post it, I'm not sure it's working.
Frustration is on my shoulders, my wrinkled brow and scrunched up eyes.
After an hour of searching and trying solutions, I don't know if any of them will work and I feel
defeated and completely

unable to cope.

Unable to cope. Words that came out of my mouth daily in the beginning. I couldn't cope with getting dressed or making a decision, like what time should Lori come get Ezra? Deciding what time I needed to start dinner to have it on the table by 6:30 not only alluded me, but I didn't even understand how other people went about making such decisions so quickly and easily. I felt crazy. I was crazy. Crazy with grief.

Then as the hysteria lowers (like month 9 or 10 after his death) and as a new normal creeps in (1 year and 1 month) I feel like coping is in the bag, checked off the list, mastered!

Normal feels normal.

And Oh MY! What was that? I feel like the new Kim has not only risen but has no intention to burst into flames again any time soon


things outside of the new normal happen. New things like posting a video to a blog.

As I search for solutions to the video issue, I can't sort out what the websites are telling me.
I reread the same sentences over and over and over again thinking that on the next read, I will get it, knowing that I should be able to understand it.

Confusion rises. (What are they telling me to do) then frustration (Why aren't these directions clearer?) then anger, first at the directions but really now it's at myself. My unable to think is grief-in-action.

Six months after Art died, I decided to bake a cake. I read the directions, line by line, gathering the ingredients on the counter. I would read "2 eggs," get to refrigerator, open it and then forgot what I was supposed to be getting. So I would go back to the recipe, read "2 eggs," reach for the refrigerator and forget again. My brow furrowed, my lips scrunched up and my shoulders tightened, I had to admit this was grief at it's worse. This was the grief that no one sees. This was grief-in-action!

And it is in that memory, right now, that has my confounded and a bit put off. Grief? It's been a year and 3 months, for goodness sake and

now I am laughing!

1 year is nothing in the grief land. One year is enough time to come down from the hysteria, maybe establish some kind of normal. It's NOT enough time to establish a new coping ability to handle the rest of the stuff like missed flights and uploading videos to a blog.

And I'm here, 21 floors above 150+ widows who totally 100% get that. So I'm leaving the video. I hope it works. If not, I'll work on it:

when I'm not under a time pressure,
when I have the space to think
when I have soaked up all
the goodness
and okayness
and support
and REAL widow normalcy
that comes from hanging out with a bunch of people who
this mess

That is when I will figure the darn video out

Sunday, August 01, 2010


On vacation with the kids in Ixtapa, Mexico. My financial struggle having just ended.

Not sure what to write about it. After all the months, (years really) After ALL these months of anger, sadness, resentment, hopelessness, joy, surprise, discovery, light, regret and hope, I find myself at odds with ……dare I call it, contentment.

I’m not sure. I don’t feel overjoyed to be here. I don’t feel sadness either. I’m not worried (other than Langston is not feeling to hot and we’d need a translator if we were to see a doctor). I don’t need anything. I don’t need alcohol or drugs or a distraction. I don’t feel like I need a man. (Club Med does a most excellent job, though, at hiring these 21-30 year old pieces scrumptious eye candy!)

I feel nothing. I don’t feel dead inside. I just feel at peace and it’s startling. And I wonder is this what normal feels like?

Before his illness and before his death I spent much of my time in my head, scared, worried, putting a negative spin on the future. I spent much of the time trying to prove myself, trying to live up to the person I thought all these people expected me to be. My expectation being way beyond what anyone wanted. My expectation for perfection was impossible. It was murderous and it almost killed me several times.

Here in this place, sitting in an outdoor patio in Ixtapa, listening to the waves, the wind whipping my hair around and bringing in the nightly rain storm, I find myself calm. It’s unfamiliar and it’s uncomfortable. Like a new hair cut and every time I walk by a mirror I am surprised because I expect to see the old me.

I have spent the week doing nothing, a 100% complete impossibility before Art died. I tried to work. I tried to get the kids to eat vegetables. Andthen I didn’t know why I was making myself or them do it. I had no words of judgment wagging in my head so I let them eat ice cream, a lot of it and put my computer away.

Instead, I entered an archery competition and end up DFL (dead fucking last) and still talked trash to the others in the competition. I told the kids I lost and saw their puzzlement at my not caring. I butchered the Spanish language multiple times a day! I kayaked, I rock climbed, I did yogalates and swam in the ocean. I napped, I read and I napped again. I ruined and brand new bathing suit with the fine gritty sand of Ixtapa and some sunscreen. I discovered the joy in having a glass of wine, late at night in the reception area where I can listen to the soothing music and the ocean waves and just think about … nothing.

And it’s the thinking of nothing that has me so puzzled. After these years, the pain, the willing, the missing, the pushing, the discomfort, the disliking of myself, the ‘nothing’ is just weird and wonderful. I feel settled. Not complete, not whole, not done, just settled, like a huge ass oak tree.

I will not always feel this kind of contentment. It may be that I am seeing my circle of concern and circle of influence are closer together. I no longer seek to control all that I cannot.

I am a widow, I am a mom, I am a business person, I am an athlete (re-inspired by the trapeze and the archery to begin working on that again). And I am dying. We all are. And all this makes sense to me and brings me hope and courage and the knowledge that no matter what I feel, it will pass. It will pass. There is contentment in that.

Art’s life passed. And damn it all, just damn, damn, damn, damn it all. This powerful gift of my growing into myself, of the discovery and comfort of who I am and who I am not, of understanding the power of loss, is because of his death. It’s all because his last great gift to me was his death.

The gift that truly keeps on affecting me, like a pebble in a pond.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I’ve written ELEVEN Thank you notes this week.


Eleven hand written notes filled with gratitude and gratefulness for the things people in my life did for me. There were the three dinners I had at friend’s houses that included a great amount of laughter and connection and the feeding of my three children.

One went to the paralegal who was kind and understanding.

And one to the lawyer who made my stomach ache with laughter with stories about his dad, including hilarious imitations.

One went to the pizza delivery guy (really) who was on time and just downright jovial, like he always is! Another went to a friend who I miss and had been thinking about far too long not to send something.

I’m gushing.

Gushing “OMG can you believe I’m here?” Gushing “Oh! I hate this cold LA weather but at least I can where my favorite jacket.” Gushing “I am so grateful to be on your list of come-over-and-swim people!”

I’m gushing because I’m standing here and it feels like, really, honest to God……like

I’m back. Functioning smiling and laughing in this new life without him.

I’m gushing because I am the miracle.

Because I am standing in a place that I saw from way below but had no idea how bright and shiny and clear and humbling it would be stand way up here!
Write here in the writing is where I would add all the clichés! “Life is rich. I’m looking through rose colored glasses. You can only live life once so enjoy it. Blah, blah, blah.”

I was angry today and I in that anger I started to giggle. It’s so funny that I’m angry over _________!!! Poof. Out it went.

I looked in the mirror today. Yup have put on a pound or two.

Followed by a SHRUG!!!???

After which quickly came “Who cares! You got that new sexy bikini to wear!”

WHO CARES????? That has never been uttered in the same sentence with the words “weight” and “gain” and “few pound.”

Sentences like
“You are an amazing host.
You have such a good eye for art.
Just hearing your voice takes my anxiety from a 10 to a 3 and I want to thank you for that.
________ (one of my kid’s names here) I am so very grateful to be your mother. Your _____ (pick specific talent, sense of humor, clarity, ability to explain) is such a gift.

Today while walking to me car, “Excuse me. Mr. Dragonfly? Thank you so much for flitting by the pond just now. It was such a gorgeous sight to see.”

I’m gushing. How did I get to be so lucky? How is it possible I can be filled with THIS much gratitude and have buried my husband just over 455 days ago? What a difference a day makes has a WHOLE new meaning!

I am the miracle.

I am not supposed to be here and yet here I am.

And gushing because all those little itty bitty moments, those tiny, tiny milliseconds where I told myself

“This will get easier.

This will not always hurt so much.

You CAN walk through this, toenail at a time"

Have proven to be true.

It was one shitty, slog from hell to get here.

I leave with the kids for a vacation tomorrow.

I think I need to go to the bank again before we leave. I have a feeling this gushing is gonna cost me a lot in tips for the cab drivers, baggers and the parents of the cute kid who I am lucky enough to get a smile from.
Gushing. I really like that word.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Ok I admit it.

I’ve been lying.

Not really lying buuutttttt not telling the full truth.

Because well, people look at me funny when I say, “I’m good!” “I’m doing well.” after they ask “How are you?”

I interpret their look to mean “but she’s a widow.”

While writing lately, I’ve stayed within the imaginary widow party lines that says widows are always sad and lonely and forlorn.

I’m not.

Not always.

Not most of the time any more.

In fact, I can say other than the lack of sleep I’ve been experiencing lately, I’m happy.

I don’t want none-widowed people to think “Well, good she’s done grieving.” Grief is still in my life. It always will be. But it’s not the kind you see in photos of those who just recently lost. It’s stealth grief. Like the other day, after seeing a photo of my therapist’s family, one I have seen like a gazillion times, I burst into tears realizing that Art will never be in a family photo again. I was back in that place of loss, confusion and questioning. It lasted all of 5 minutes.

And then


The moment passed and we laughed at something not related to him or the grief and I left and I went on my merry way. In fact, I did not think of Art at all for the rest of the day.

I want those none-grieving people to know that one never “gets over” a loss. And that in sudden unexpected, random moments the loss hits, like a brick thrown at the back of my head by some stupid bully. And I see stars and can’t breathe and nothing makes sense.

And then just as abruptly the world right’s itself and I am applying lip gloss while driving a large vehicle in traffic, thinking about what I will make for dinner tonight and trying to remember which kid I am supposed to pick up first.

Just by admitting this, I feel almost like a traitor of sorts. Somehow I’m not playing the “widow” part right.

My life includes a hell of a lot of laughter and giggles and crying… because I banged my funny bone on the door jam while skidding sideways trying to run on the hardwood floor (with socks on) trying not to get tagged by my eight year old.

My life includes a stomach workout because my oldest son repeats a joke with words I forbid him but does it imitating the Little Mermaid.

My life includes ‘brain on fire’ moments when my assistant and I are reviewing and tweeking my 6 month marketing plan.

My life includes cute smiles directed toward the guy who strikes up a conversation with me in the check-out line.

My life includes longing for Art, missing his hands on my back and it includes the excitement of new hands on my back, caressing my face, pulling me in.

I will always be a grieving widow just like I will always be an:
African American woman,
A mom,
An entrepreneur.

Just like I will always be the one who is quick to laugh or come back with some smart ass remark.

Just like I will always be up for a game and a little fun competition.

Just like I will always be hot…. (well…another lie, or is it? There are more and more hot over 60's out there, my mother so in that group!)

I am free…..

to order what I want on my pizza,
to decide where I want to go for vacation and
to decided NOT to do that run today.

I am free to…..
listen to the music I want to (when the kids are not playing dj)
Sleep on whatever side I choose (I haven’t switched but if I wanted to I could!)

I have the courage...
NOT be nice to those people ever, ever again!
to say "When you said____, I felt _______ which I didn't particularly care for. Or I am leaving till you can speak to me in a respectful tone."
To claim titles like "a good catch," good mother" and really a "decent friend."

Nothing is as serious as it used to be…..NOTHING!!!

I am light......walking just a weensy bit off the ground.

Oh and here's just one more littlesecret….

Most days, I don’t want him back.

I don’t.

Because if he were here, I wouldn’t be this woman I have become.
This woman that I am really diggin’.
This woman who is clear on her priorities...self, kids, my business. Men....stand in line.
His death was my evolution.

I wouldn’t have the courage (or the experience) to know and say, with pride…
“I Kim Hamer am hot! And yes, I would love to have a drink with you, you lucky dog you!” (I don't so much as say it as I think it, though)

If he were here, I would only see part of the light I have become.
I would not see my power.
I would not know that I, Kim Hamer have one thousand legs to stand on.

So there.
This is the true face of my widowhood.

And it fuckin’ rocks!!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Other Side

I got into a silly argument.
I said you can’t protect him.
They said yes we can and they said we resent being told we cannot.
And after I read those words I dope slapped myself.

They are on the other side.
They are on the side where sure, sure random “bad” things can happen but to other people. But as parents we can navigate and shield our child from them. Their side says “We CAN keep him safe.”

They are on the side that offers power and assurance.
They are on the side that creates an illusion of strength and fortitude.
They are on the side I used be on.
The side where I could remove the mere threat of pain or at least negate it away.
That side is where I could plan for the possible assaults to their beings and plan how to keep them out of harm’s way.
That side is where I talked to professionals and stayed up talking to my husband about what we needed to “do” to improve a situation for our child.

That side is driven by action words like: DO, EXPLAIN, PROTECT.

This side I’m on now is different.
This side says gently “You cannot protect but in their tears you can show them their courage.”
This side says “You cannot make it go away, but you can teach them that the feelings won’t swallow them hole and that they won't last either.”
This side says "I am but a steward for my children. They have their own paths which I know nothing of or understand." In this case, their paths include learning to handle the loss of their father.
This side says “Have faith.”
This side finds me in a heap on my bed humbled by my inability to shield them and knowing that this inability is KEY to the amazing people they are becoming.
This side says, “Trust and love fiercely without getting in the way of the bullets.”

This side drops me to my knees when I watch my daughter loose her sanctuary (her school) because of the death of another child's father in her class. And every day afterward, when she entered her class, she faced remembering how she felt just one year ago.

This side has me awed as I watch my youngest son calmly respond to a child who is stupid enough to say something cruel about my son’s dead father. I want to slap that child, but my eight year old son responds “I’m glad you don’t understand what it means to loss a parent. I don’t like what you said and I’m not going to talk to you anymore.” His wisdom beyond anything I have ever witnessed.

Those people are on that side of pretend power, of control, of DO, EXPLAIN, PROTECT.

I am on this side that says HOLD, LOVE, CRY and RELEASE.

From here I see the inspiring strengths of my children in a way that both marvels and humbles me.

From this side, I marvel at my children’s ability to thrive in circumstances that shut the coping door for many.

If I had to choose, I would never be on this side but now that I am here...

It is such a beautiful awe inspiring view.

Friday, June 11, 2010



Do NOT talk about them.

Do not bring them up in conversation! Pretend they don’t exist.

Proper widows talk about proper topics. These two topics are socially don’t-ask-just-assume-the-best topics. Only the bold among my friends will broach the subjects.


Sex with a man I like is delicious, scrumptious, enticing, drug like, fun, exhilarating --- oh but wait....

I, widow (female) am not too discuss that need! That need that at the age of 45, is alive and glowing in me because it’s not about making babies anymore. It’s about the sheer fun of doing it!
I am not to converse about my need to be held, to be openly desired, to feel a man’s naked body up against mine. I am not to talk about how just imagining his intense breathing in my ear just ……yummy!
I am not to discuss my sexual desire.
It’s vulgar.
I widow, a mother to three poor grieving children who have lost their father so tragically is too angelic to consider ...
her loins.
cash, moola, dinero, buck, dough.. M-O-N-E-Y.
Last week a good friend said “So how are you surviving anyway?” I laughed cause really I didn’t know.
The words “wing” and “a prayer” flitted across my mind.
Running out of it puts the issue of money in my face daily. And with it comes the shame.
The idea that somehow we mismanaged, lived to high, didn’t work hard enough, were foolish, not responsible…all of it presses down on me until it’s absorbed into my skin becoming part of my being.
I believe the whispers that say incompetent, fool and spender and then I look down at my three year old jeans, the ones I jam my ass into every summer. he ones that one day soon will split across the seat from so much wear.
Because the rule is, because we believe that if you are a hard-working, red blooded American you always have money. And because somewhere along the line of being that hard working red blooded American we learned how to manage money through….
And Rick Edelman, Suze Ormond and David Bach.
Not from my parents.
My husband not from his.
Today I am sucking that shit out of me.
We had six months of savings in an account like all professionals suggest. He had a retirement plan. Society says stay home with babies. What they don’t say is , it’s not worth paying you for your time.
His life insurance company unjustifiably canceled his account. (Yes lawyers are now involved…on contingency) His parents chose not to support their grandchildren with one single cent although they are very able.
Been working my business (private K-12 school admissions and financial aid expert) and its growing and searching for a job at the same time. There has been little space for me to “allow the grief to come” like some counseled.
There were spots when I shoved it back down, deep and hard because I was on the phone with a client, taking to an admissions director or just had to figure out how to feed four on a not-even-well-balanced meal. There were doctor’s appointments that were put off. If it didn’t take so long to go to dental hygiene school (or cost so much) I’d go so I could clean my kid’s teeth. The teeth that haven’t seen those nice masked people with silver tools since 2008, months before Art’s cancer returned.
We budgeted. We stayed within that budget. Our credit card debt is below $3000. And yet the guilt borrows in, nesting in my essence. We must have missed something. If we did it all “right” I wouldn’t be trying to stretch a $10 into $100.
And I’m sick and tired of keeping this quiet. I’m struggling. I'm mad and I'm saying something.
I come out of the closet because I know I’m not alone.
But shhhhhhh
Don't talk about it, I am grieving widow. It's undignified.
I vacillate between sweat-inducing fear and believing that “If I leap, the net will appear.” I have leapt, I vision and pray and meditate and pray some more. Good has come my way…so many amazing gifts.
Only umm, God? This time You seem to be cutting it a little close!
The fear of having no money grips me, shakes me and says “you need to do something NOW!” but fails to include details. I continue to take action, trusting that the ground is not coming up at me as fast as it appears.
I know what I need to do to get food stamps. I know I can qualify.
And it all feels familiar, the fear, the anxiety, the not being able to see how I am gonna get through the next month or the next 5 seconds.
As I suck the guilt and shame from me, I find power, clarity, fire and a don’t’-mess-with-a-widow strength that is hard to contain.
I don’t know how this will work out.
But damn it, my husband died last year.
If I can survive his death. I can survive anything!
I am widow,
hear me ROAR!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I love men.

I love their athletic arms and their athletic legs.

I love the way they smile when they like me, when they look at me.

I like how I see their wheels turning, those sexual creatures. I like how I know how to stand with my butt just a little bit out so they can get a better look. I like how for some of them, it makes their day.

I like the power I have, how they get goofy when I smile at them, say hi or heaven forbid, stop to talk for a moment.

I love the way their hand touches, attentively, the small of my back, as they usher me through a door of a restaurant, to a car, out of some kind of "danger."

I like kissing them too.

Yes, I said THEM.

I like how their breath feels on my face. Or the roughness of their fingers as they stroke my face.

I like their deep voices. Their assured walks.

And I like myself with them. I like how I, at 45, feel confident knowing:

this is the body they can get, flabby belly, cellulite butt, small breasts....a good body, a body I know how to work, a body that knows how to teach them how to work it.

this is the loud laugh they can have,

this is the smart, quick business brain they can learn from,

this is the opinionated, thoughtful, idea generator that can help them,

this is a "good catch" that includes my kids!

I love how my priorities are clear...

my kids, my work, myself and my girlfriends and then....them.

I like that I am Kim Hamer, widow, mother, and no, not your lover.....yet. I like how I don't think about Art but all of this is because of him.

I like how Art's love for me oozes out and I am morphing into everything he thought I was, confident, kind, brilliant, spiritual and well worth waiting for every clock in the world to strike 12 noon.

I also really, really like that,

for now,

I don't have to worry if they don't put the toilet seat down.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day?

Kids and I on a hike. 2007
Since Day 365 I have been haunted by Art. It’s like making it to that day I somehow expected that he’d show up at the door and yell “Just Kidding!” …at which point I would beat him to a pulp and then cover every bloody inch of him with kisses. After Day 367 that fact that he's not coming back is more real, almost tangible. And it makes me so very, very sad. It’s like this low level hum, not quiet irritating, not quite clear, but there, vibrating fast of enough for me to know it’s present, not loud enough to make me crumble. It seems to make my movements, my speech and my joy, not less bright but well, less something more empty perhaps. Like they are in a shadow.

Happy Mother’s Day!

(But where is the guy who helped me become a mother?)

This is a day we honor all mothers

(He’s not coming back, is he.)

You are special.

(Not special enough to bring him back.)

Today is the day we honor what you have given to the world.

(His mother would dispute that I’m sure. That world took her son.)

You are the unheralded heroes who raise our future citizens.

(This hero found nothing to say when her youngest was crying about his missing father today.)

You are amazing, full of courage and fortitude.

(OK I’ll take credit there.)

The world is better because of your guts to grow and change and adapt and then change some more.

(True again. I did make to Day 365 which means I will make it to Day 730 and beyond.)

Your love for not only your children but for others determines how we love ourselves.

(Huh. Ya know… getting through this I have learned a lot about self love, about my own
strengths, about how to shine.)

How much we do owe you for your kisses that heal wounds both physical and emotional.

(Not all wounds can be kissed away. I am a mother, not God. But thanks anyway for the kind words.)

So make sure that you honor yourself on this Mother’s Day.

(Two years ago, wow now I say two years ago, he was gonna arrange for me to take the car (minivan back then), fill it with mother friends and head to the mountains for a long hike that would ended with us, the mothers, toasting to ourselves with mimosa and cheese and crackers. He was good, no?!)

So this Mother’s Day honor…

(I will honor. I will honor him for helping me to become a mother. This Mother’s Day I will say thank you to him for making me, the mother of his children, happy, angry, disgruntled, joyful, daring, faithful, tough, humble, fierce and too many other things to be named.

This Mother’s Day I will honor the way good, the bad and the way ugly of our 14 year marriage.

And next Mother’s Day

When I will say "three years ago,"

I will go to the mountains with mimosa’s and cheese and crackers packed by me but enveloped in his love.)

Happy Mother’s Day to me.

Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of us.

We matter more than we will ever know.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Overheard Conversation

Heaven is just behind him. Do you see it?

(On a car trip to a friend's house for a play date as told to me by B's dad.)

B: I have two houses now. My mamma and papa aren't living together anymore.

Ezra: I have two homes too.

Ezra: I have one in heaven.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I'm avoiding...
my bedroom, my pillow, my scrumptious flannel sheets (Its been cold in LA)
cause he's in there, waiting for me and I don't want to see him
feel his emptiness,
be held only by his memory

So I'm up. It's one am. I will sleep less than 4 hours tonight and tomorrow I will continue running,
and running some more,
until the loss of him catches me
and I sink into the hole
of grief.

I will making phone calls so that others can remind me how far I've come, that I don't stay in the hole for long.
That I

Does this cycle ever end?
I know it doesn't and that is why I duck and weave.
Thinking that maybe I can outsmart it, thinking that maybe once it will pass over me and I won't have to be reminded that it will always find me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 365

The impromptu Memory Wall that went up in Ezra's classroom today.
Art's sister looks on as other students add to the wall




beautiful day.

I am


At day 365

not just standing

but rooted



joyful to take the next breath.

The grief is not gone.

Do not be fooled.

It will lurk within me

surface at unforgettable moments

until I draw my last breath.

But today


I am

I am

grateful to Art.

Grateful for the life we had together



for all those people

none and unknown

close to me

and distant





I stand here

because of all of them

because of me

because of Langston, Pallas and Ezra

It's day


and the



glorious on my face.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm OK?

Today looked like this....

I got up.

I laughed before the big toe of my left foot hit the floor.

I left at 8:15 for an 8:30 class that was a 20 minute drive away.

I drove lateness, some things never change.

I didn't know anyone in the class.

I didn't feel like knowing anyone from the class.

At the class, I didn't eat the granola bar, tossed the too sweet yogurt and drank 4 little bottles of water (borrowed from my the table mates, the ones I didn't know.)

I drove home and sang till I coughed.

I made a semi-nutritious lunch for my kids out of food I already had in the refrigerator!

I made a really nutritious lunch for myself. (Spinach, yellow peppers, avocado, pine nuts and goat cheese. Tossed with more balsamic vinegar than olive oil.)

I braved Target at 2:30 pm shopping for clothes with my two youngest. We didn't run over anyone while we were telling each other jokes.

I put together a telescope. I saw the pink-purple flowers of the Morning Glory way in the back yard REALLY well.

I dropped off my daughter for her (as of this minute) first successful sleep over in over 1 1/2 years.

I was truly interested listening to Ezra's hypotheses about weapons, bombers, fighter planes and tactical ways to win over an enemy.

I paid attention as he went on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

Just he and I went to see Avatar. It was a 7:45 pm movie. He's usually in bed by 8:30. We didn't get home till 11:00.

Now at almost midnight, I am laughing again.

I'm OK.

His death didn't destroy me.

Didn't remove my essence.

Didn't consume me.

And I'm still standing

and I find my feet are encased, ensconced in this new earth.

I wriggle my toes and notice that I cannot move the earth that covers them.

I laugh so hard....I pee.

My friend said, "How are you doing?"

Today, I didn't lie.

"I'm ok." I told her

And I am.