Sunday, February 17, 2008

Today It's Your Birthday...

You would've been 27 today.
Shaylyn would've sung "Happy Birthday, dear Mommy."
We would've called you to wish you a great day.
We would've sent you a fun-filled birthday package.
We would've wished to be with you to help you celebrate.

As we do today.

And always.

We love you, Peachoo.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Rachel Elizabeth Scher
February 17, 1981 - May 28, 2005

An unfinished life...


There are absolutely no words to express the sadness we have all felt this past year. We miss you more than we could have ever imagined. In many ways it seems like just yesterday you were taken from us, but it also feels like a lifetime ago.

Twelve months.

1/4 of Shaylyn's life.

An eternity.

But never, ever forgotten.



Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Dear Rach,

You've been in my thoughts a lot this past week. I keep thinking about what a natural mother you were and how your love for Shaylyn was so apparent to all who knew you. You and I were both about the same age when we became mothers. Other than a few short months, I too was a single parent, struggling with college and work, trying to figure out my own life while raising Amy. As I watched you with Shaylyn, I was constantly amazed by your patience and natural ease with motherhood. I think you were one of the finest young mommies I've ever known and Shaylyn, dear sweet Shaylyn, will carry the love you gave her for the rest of her life. None of us will ever let her forget how much you loved her. We will share with her all the pictures and memories we have of you so that she grows up knowing her mommy loved her more than anything in the whole world.

You're in my thoughts today, as are Debbie and Shaylyn.



Saturday, May 06, 2006

(We'll Remember Always) Graduation Day

Dear Rach,

A year ago today, we watched you walk across that stage as you graduated from Old Dominion University in Virginia. We were so, so proud of you. Like your dad, I still have trouble with the whole past tense thing. We were (and still are) very proud of all you accomplished in spite of the obvious obstacles in your life. I believe, next to the day you were born, it was the best day of your daddy's life. He couldn't have been happier for you. We all were so happy. And never in a million years would we have ever thought that that visit would be the very last we'd ever see of you.

We miss and love you more than anyone can imagine.



Saturday, April 15, 2006


Dear Rach,

Tomorrow is Easter and as usual, I've put this picture of you and Amy out with the other spring decorations. It's always made me smile -- I love the expressions on your faces. And as your dad recently wrote, I can hear your laughter (along with Amy's giggles) that particular Easter Sunday at Nana and Papa's. It must have been raining because I remember an Easter egg hunt inside that small condo! It seems like such a long time ago, but in many ways it almost feels like yesterday.

I miss you, Rach. I think of you every single day. I don't write as often as I did, but you are never far from my thoughts and you're always in my heart.



Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's Out Of My Hands

Dear Rach,

It's been almost two weeks since my last blog entry. Until now, I simply haven't felt compelled to write. Not sure why. I've thought about you just as much as ever, but didn't really have anything specific to write about. Or maybe I did and I just didn't know what to say about it. Let's see where this rambling takes me.

We received an ominous envelope from the Commonwealth Attorney's office in Virginia Beach a couple of weeks ago. Your dad has been subpoenaed to testify in the trial against the man who killed you. I hesitate to state his name here. I don't think there's anything I could say that would jeopardize the trial, but better safe than sorry. Plus, just typing his name (or saying it out loud) is painful. It hurts because we all knew him and welcomed him into our home. I put a lot of thought into the birthday and Christmas gifts we bought for him. I prepared certain favorite meals he'd enjoyed in the past, just as I did for you and Amy. We helped pay for his airline tickets to come out here with you and Shaylyn, and my parents used their frequent flier miles to help fly all three of you to Oregon for a summer visit with us. When we thought of you, we thought of all three of you. All this makes it just that much more painful.

Or does it?

I sit and listen to the parents in the support group your dad and I attend once a month (very similar to Compassionate Friends) and wonder how much more difficult this would be if you'd died a different death. What if you'd taken your own life? Or been killed in a random car accident (maybe due to a drunk driver or falling asleep at the wheel)? Or been killed by a stranger whose identity was never known. Is it easier to be able to point a finger and say "guilty" and know it to be the truth? Or is it even more painful because we trusted this person and now feel an enormous sense of betrayal? Is any death easier??

There's really no sense in asking these questions. None of the answers will bring you back. None of the testimony will bring you back. None of my anger will bring you back. It's going to be extremely painful to sit in that courtroom and actually see the person who pulled that trigger, robbing us of all we'd hoped and dreamed of for you and Shaylyn (and Amy and us). But if Rod's testimony and presence helps the jury to find the defendant guilty, then so be it.

As with everything connected to this nightmare, it's out of our hands.

On the brighter side (which I continue to try to look for these days), we'll get to spend some time with Shaylyn while we're in Virginia in May. How can I not look forward to that? She's all we have left of you.

I love you.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Dear Rach,

The other day Amy sent me these two pictures which I immediately turned around and sent out in another email with a huge distribution list. I was so excited and proud of her! Your dad sent a quick reply back simply asking, "Is there anybody you didn't send this to??" I laughed and silently agreed that, yah, I did go a little overboard with my gushing pride. But then I stopped short when I realized there was someone I didn't send it to and that made me terribly sad. Of course, if you were still alive, there'd be no need for me to send it -- you would've have seen the pictures long before Rod and I! You and Amy were thick as thieves and always knew what was going on in each other's lives before we did. Oh, how happy and excited you would have been for her!

If I believed in heaven and angels, I could almost allow myself to envision you and Grams sitting up on the ledge of the billboard, smiling at Amy's beautiful face, sharing old stories of when she was little and remarking on how grown up she's become.

I've always enjoyed taking pictures and can remember exactly when I got my first camera (a Kodak Instamatic). I got my first 35mm (a Canon AE-1) when I graduated from high school, made the switch to a digital few years ago and have never looked back. I've been told that I take wonderful pictures, but I think it helps to have a good subject and you and Amy were so easy to photograph. You both grew up into such gorgeous young women with beautiful smiles and twinkling eyes. I'm re-doing all our photo albums and have decided to make one of all the pictures I have of the two of you together. I must have hundreds, but I never dreamed I'd only have 19 years' worth.There were so many more shots I had left to take.



Sunday, March 05, 2006

Every Road Leads Back To You

Dear Rach,

This has not been a particularly good weekend. Just when I thought I had a handle on this grief thing, I was blindsided once again. However, understanding the way this apparently seems to work, I know I'll move on and get back to where I was before Friday night. Actually, as I sit here writing, I’m already feeling better. I guess there’s some truth in the belief that writing, whether in a traditional journal or a blog, is therapeutic. It certainly doesn’t seem to hurt.

Your dad is out of town on business (lovely Orlando, Florida which he despises) and gets back very late tonight. I’m sitting at my computer with a cup of lukewarm coffee and a couple (ok, a few) Oreo cookies, thinking about why I had a such a tough time this particular weekend (as opposed to when Rod was in Vegas on business in January). I think it’s a combination of two specific incidents that brought the sadness back to the surface, along with Rod’s absence and not feeling like I need to choke back the tears and keep myself from crying. I know he doesn’t expect me to hold it all in, but I think he and I both try to keep our emotions in check these days, not wanting to cause the other any more pain. For the most part, from an outsider’s vantage point, we probably look like we’re doing ok. And we probably are. Until something comes along to knock us down again. I suppose, eventually, it will get easier and we won’t have so many of these “firsts” but it’s very draining at times.

The first bout of melancholy was brought on Friday night as I was watching a movie. I usually watch movies Rod has no interest in when he’s out of town (or busy writing a new computer program or a column for the magazine) . You know, “chick flicks.” Last night’s was Elizabethtown with Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. I didn’t much care for the first half (a little too silly), but boy, it really started to tug at my heartstrings the further along I got. I suspect the whole theme about death and the people who are left behind is what did it for me. I’m trying to remember exactly when I started to cry – had to have been the scene at the memorial service when Susan Sarandon (the widow) started tap dancing to Moon River, with a muted video montage of her husband (Bloom’s father) playing behind her. I think Rod’s absence allowed me to just lose it without worrying about how he’d react to seeing me sob over a silly movie (not that he’d mind, but I suppose subconsciously I’d try to hold it together a little better than I did).

It’s been 9 months since you died, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve cried like that, but that scene really brought back some memories of your funeral – sitting in the front row with Amy on one side and your dad on the other and seeing out of the corner of my eyes each of their shoulders shaking as they both cried endlessly during the entire service. I almost turned the movie off, but decided to take a quick break, grab a piece of cake, dry my eyes and finish watching. I’m so glad I did. I loved watching the finale with Orlando Bloom on his road trip with the accompanying soundtrack at the end (might need to buy that cd!). I wasn’t aware that the movie was a Cameron Crowe production and kept thinking something about it reminded me of Almost Famous. Now I know why.

Your dad and I took a similar road trip back to Lincoln from Virginia Beach after spending those 10 days or so with your mom and Shaylyn right after you died. We decided to drive your car back to Lincoln (we had flown out) and wound up traveling through some beautiful parts of the country: Virginia (we fell in love with Lexington), West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. We didn’t rush (I think we were on the road for 4 days), but we also didn’t spend a lot of time sight-seeing. The trip was emotionally draining, yet cathartic for both of us. It turned out to be a good means to ease back into reality. The long hours in the car were very conducive for rambling conversations about how we were coping. We shared our thoughts of sadness, anger, shock, worry; validating each other's emotional state of mind. I don’t think we would have been quite as emotionally prepared (such as we were) to return to our former lives in Lincoln had we just gotten on a plane and flown home.

I have no idea if you ever dreamed of taking a road trip with a friend (perhaps Candace or Amy?). I have this vague idea that you mentioned it years ago when you first got your license, maybe talking about making a trip out to San Diego to visit your grandparents. But did you ever dream about doing it as you got older? You certainly loved to travel, but I suspect the demands in your life pushed the desire to the backburner.

The second incident occurred last night. Rod and I had been invited to a small dinner party at Dave and Heidi’s and I went ahead without him. Dave and Heidi are such wonderful people and we love them like family. I knew it’d be a good time. And for the most part, until the last 20 minutes or so, it was. There were a few people there I didn’t know, but that was fine. I had fun chatting over appetizers and drinks, laughing and pretty much having a nice time. I missed having Rod with me, but still had fun in spite of his absence. Then out of the blue, one of the women asked if I had any children. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even look at anyone for fear I’d start sobbing. Poor Heidi looked aghast and graciously tried to help explain the situation to her friend and I was finally able to choke out my response that yes, I have two, but you died last year. Of course everyone felt horrible and I felt terrible for the obvious discomfort everyone else was feeling, especially the poor woman who asked the question. But we all managed to get through the awkwardness and actually talked briefly about how Rod & I were coping and how Community Friends (the support group we attend) has helped and even addressed this exact situation -- and then we moved on to a lighter subject. But by then the damage was done and I knew I needed to go home.

Rod and I have known this specific question would eventually come up (and I’m sure Amy will meet someone someday who will ask if she has any brothers or sisters), but being prepared isn’t the same as actually facing a stranger and groping for the right words (or any words) to answer the question. And there’s absolutely no way I could act as if all was fine and just say, “yes, I have a daughter in college in Texas” and leave it at that. Maybe other parents can do this (perhaps it depends on the situation and who's asking the question), but the only response I could ever give is the one I gave. I am not your mother and I never tried to take Debbie’s place, but I loved you like a daughter (just as Rod has loved Amy) and I will continue to tell anyone who asks that, yes, I have two children – a daughter who attends college in Fort Worth, Texas and another daughter who was killed on May 28th, 2005 at the age of 24.

And now it’s another day. The sun is shining and it’s a balmy 55 degrees. I’m feeling better (writing always helps) and think I’ll take advantage of the gorgeous day and head out on the bike trail for a long walk. Maybe while I’m walking, I’ll start putting together a mental list of all the places I’d like to see across the country and really start planning a long road trip to take with Rod. Kind of like John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. All we need is an old beat-up camper and a standard poodle. And coincidentally a good friend was just trying to convince us of buying one of their labradoodles! Travels with Cosmo. It has a nice ring. I wonder if we could just borrow him for a couple of weeks.

I love you, Rach.


P.S. The blog title (Every Road Leads Back to You) is off the soundtrack to For The Boys, one of your favorite movies back in the mid-90's. Hmmm, maybe I should compile a playlist from all these blog entries and make my own soundtrack for a road trip. Or not. Might just be too damned sad to actually listen to.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Moment of Forever

Dear Rach,

It’s that time of year when the weather can’t seem to make up its mind, teasing us with heavenly temps as it did today (a whopping 64 degrees in February!), or reminding us exactly where we live with bitterly cold mornings as we experienced last Friday (with a bone-chilling negative 2 degrees). Your dad and I were laughing later in the week as we realized one has lived too long in the Midwest when a morning temp of 10 degrees is something in which to rejoice.

Every year, just about this time, I begin to wonder what ever possessed us to move from beautiful, sunny San Diego to Lincoln where the weather is always the topic of conversation. But just as I start my annual whine to Rod, I see the first hints of spring -- the tips of the tulip & daffodil bulbs peeking out from under the mulch; the ubiquitous gardening catalogs spilling from the mailbox; pitchers & catchers reporting to spring training; and that pesky rabbit who knows exactly where my coral bells and yarrow are planted, eager to nibble at the first sign of any foliage. I don’t recall much of a change in seasons when we lived near the beach (unless you count the Santa Ana winds and brush fires as part of a season). The palm tree fronds didn’t bud out in March; the tarantulas and rattlesnakes ignored any new growth on the oleander bushes and aloe vera plants; and we never worried about snow filling up the basement window-wells. After all, there was no snow, and no basements, either. So, I really don’t mean it when I whine and stomp my feet and say I miss California. But I do get awfully anxious for spring (and then summer... and then fall...) right about now.

I realize we still have several more weeks of winter, with a very real possibility of at least one or two big snow storms, but I can’t help but feel the itch to dig in the dirt and get started on my new shade garden on the east side of the garage. I’ve always enjoyed gardening and spring in Nebraska is so much more exciting than in San Diego. All those perennials that have been lurking beneath the cover of mulch (or snow) slowly emerge, looking fresh and healthy, bringing a smile to my face as I sip my morning coffee and wander around the yard, checking to see what else has sprung forth from its winter slumber. OK, and maybe checking the downspouts to make sure they haven't come loose during the past six months, threating to flood the basement in the first spring downpour.

I don’t think you had the chance to appreciate the incredible delight a garden can bring. You were just beginning to discover the joy of cooking and reading for pleasure, but without a home of your own, a yard was simply a place for Shaylyn to run around in, burning off the boundless energy of two-year-old, chasing the dog, tumbling down a slide, or digging in a sandbox. You might have enjoyed the beauty of someone else’s garden, but you had yet to own your own home and dig your own flower bed. Yet that didn’t prevent you from appreciating the beauty of flowers. Star-gazer lilies were a favorite and coincidentally, last Friday we received a gorgeous bouquet from Dad and June in memory of you on your birthday, and nestled in amongst all the other spring blossoms were four Star-gazer lilies! I found myself smiling every time I walked past the arrangement. Simply perfect.

During your last summer visit to Lincoln, we decided to wander around the Sunken Gardens, hoping to take advantage of the beautiful setting for our annual Christmas card photo. We’d done this once before, many years ago when you and Amy were still fairly young. Could it have been almost ten years ago?? In any case, you had been to the Sunken Gardens but never had the chance to see it after its major renovation last year. As a matter of fact, I have yet to visit the newly renovated Gardens and am anxious to see it this coming spring. And thank to some truly wonderful friends, your memory will live within the beautiful landscaping for years to come. Quite literally, forever. Linda, Bob, Scott, Cindy, Cami and Chad touched our hearts with their loving birthday remembrance of A Flower Forever in the Sunken Gardens. I don’t believe you ever knew any of these friends of ours, although both Linda and Scott worked with your dad at Cliffs Notes and, so you may have met them at some point in the last 12 years. However, I think they all feel like they’ve come to know you over the years, and most especially this past year, as they’ve helped us deal with our loss -- listening to us when we needed to talk, hugging us when the tears flowed, and consoling us over these dark, dark months. These are the folks who make up what I often referred to as our “gourmet dinner club.” I don’t know where we’d be today without the loving support of this special group of friends. Quite honestly, it has been the unending support of all of our friends, near and far, that have given us the courage and strength to go on with our lives.

A Flower Forever. Forever. That’s a long, long time!

Yet spring is just 24 days away and I can’t wait to wander around the Sunken Gardens. It just better not snow!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Grandpa (tell me ’bout the good old days)

Dear Rach,

Today is Papa Bill's 75th birthday. Until our mass exodus from California (me, Amy and your dad to Nebraska; you and your mom to Virginia; and Nana and Papa to Oregon), the two of you celebrated your birthdays together. I'm not sure how many candles we put on the cakes!

Thinking about those birthday celebrations, not just yours and Papa Bill's, but all the cousins' and aunts' and uncles', brings back such happy memories. Sure it was noisy and chaotic, but that was part of the fun. Even though we all lived in San Diego County, we often didn't get together until it was time to celebrate the next birthday. Of course, with a big family, that didn't take too long. I think we had every month covered!

Nana and Papa welcomed you (and your daddy) into our family with open arms, never once thinking of you as a step-granddaughter. They loved you and mourn your death with deep, deep sadness.

I wish we could all be in Oregon to help Bill celebrate his milestone birthday, but we'll be there in spirit.

All of us.



Friday, February 17, 2006

Forever Young

Dear Rachel,

Today is your birthday. You would've (should've!) turned 25.

This week has been pretty awful for us. It feels like a dark cloud has been hovering, casting a pall over everything we do (or try to do). It feels like depression, but then that's what grief feels like. It feels like we're back to those early days when emotions were close to the surface and all we wanted to do was hide away from the demands of everyday life. I want to crawl back in bed, pull the sheets over my head and stay there until the sun comes out again. Which it will. And I will. But for now, I'm just going to think about you and remember your smile and allow myself to miss you, even though it hurts so damned much.

Your mom mentioned that she's had a tough week and I suppose Amy has, too. Hell, anyone who knew you and knows what today is must be feeling pretty sad. This is such a more difficult day than Thanksgiving and Christmas (and those weren't exactly easy). This is your day. And a milestone to boot. But you won't be out celebrating with your friends tonight. And from here on out, you will remain forever young in our hearts and minds.

I've had a tough time trying to figure out what to do for your birthday. Obviously it's not a day we feel like celebrating, but we do want to celebrate the life you lived for 24 years. Some people like to release balloons or have a party with cake & ice cream to mark the birthday of a loved one who has died. Neither of these appealed to us, but I hated the thought of not doing anything. So we'll have a quiet dinner with friends and raise our glasses in your honor.

As far as a gift, we decided to make a contribution to a local women's shelter. Your murder was the ultimate example of domestic abuse and we felt it only appropriate to make the donation to Friendship Home in your memory. It's the least we can do.

Happy Birthday, Peachoo.

I miss you.



Saturday, February 11, 2006

Frosty the Snowman

Dear Rach,

It snowed this morning. Pretty wimpy storm, though. I doubt we even got an inch. We really haven't had much of a winter this year. I shouldn't complain, but I'd really like a bit more snow. Just 3-4 inches. Preferably on the weekend so I can enjoy it from inside. Not too cold either. Not too much to ask, right?

We get a daily newsletter (via email) from Shaylyn's preschool and yesterday her teacher mentioned that it had snowed. I don't think Virginia Beach gets a lot of snow, so Shaylyn must've been very excited. It reminded me of how much fun you and Amy used to have when we go to Nana and Papa's cabin in Big Bear. Growing up in San Diego, you didn't get to see much snow so a winter trip to the cabin was always lots of fun. After making a few snow angels and the obligatory snowman, you and Amy would slide down the hill on saucers (your dad and I even got in on this!). I think at some point Amy decided to skip the saucer and went down on her tummy instead.

Those were fun times.

Maybe we'll get a heavy snow in another winter or two when Shaylyn is visiting. I'm sure her Aunt Ammy would love to help her build a snowman and teach her how to make a snow angel. Not sure about sliding down any hills, though. This is Nebraska. ;)



Friday, February 03, 2006

The Day the Music Died

Dear Rach,

Last weekend your dad sold his electric guitar on Ebay. Made more than he originally paid. Wonder why this never happens when he sells a car (or house!).

It's been over eight months since the music died at the Scher's house. FatBlueCat ceased to exist on May 28th. After more than a dozen years of standing in a kitchen, listening (and occasionally singing along - hoping nobody could actually hear me) to Rod and his band practice classic rock for a couple of hours once a week, the band packed up and gave me back my laundry room.

I miss hearing Brown Eyed Girl, Tiki Bar, Give Me One Reason and Better Things. I miss sitting out on the porch chatting with Rod, Steve, Ray and Kim before practice and joining them for a beer during their break. I miss the thrill of watching your daddy lose himself to the joy of drumming before a real live audience (sometimes even getting paid to do so!). I became the unofficial band roadie, but I felt more like a groupie. These guys were really good! And I always hoped you and Amy could manage to time one of your visits so you could hear them play. Who knows. You might have even recognized a song or two.

We got up early on the morning of your murder. We'd loaded the drums the night before and planned to have a light breakfast before heading down to the Farmers' Market for the gig we'd all been looking forward to. After a couple of disturbing phone messages and a call to your mom, we'd learned that something was terribly wrong, but at that point didn't really know anything specific. We didn't know where you were. We were both desperate not to utter a single word that might tip the balance of fate and simply hoped you were safe and unharmed, merely scared and possibly in shock after witnessing the horror of that early morning nightmare. A nightmare we had yet to learn of.

Rather than sit and wait for the phone call that would forever change our lives, we drove downtown, prepared to keep our original plans with the band. Who were we kidding?? Rod simply couldn't allow himself to think the worst. Maybe he felt if he could go along with the original plan, he could keep the nightmare from unfolding. I wasn't as brave. I had a terrible sinking feeling, somehow knowing we'd need to be on the earliest flight out to Virginia (hoping the worst case scenario would be a rush to a hospital bedside, not wanting to even imagine anything worse than that). I even went so far as to look up some flight options on Travelocity, shaking my head and muttering to myself, "You're such a worrier. Be optimistic!"

I wish that's all it could take to keep that awful news from coming our way.

It was a beautiful morning. Summer was just around the corner. The sun was out and I had originally hoped to bask in its warmth as I listened to the music with some of our friends who planned to join me.

I don't remember what we said as we drove downtown to the Haymarket. I may have been silently saying, "Please, please, please, please, please" while Rod was focused on simply getting through the each minute without falling apart.

We never even unloaded the drums. The call came from the detective just as we pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine. It still breaks my heart to think of all that died in that single moment.

I have no idea how we managed to drive back home, but we did and the band (and various friends) appeared on our front porch to comfort me yet allowed your daddy the privacy he so needed as he wandered back and forth from the house to the back deck. I finally got a hold of Amy. I hated having to call her with such terrible, terrible news. My heart broke all over again. God, what an awful, awful day.

When we first moved to Lincoln in '92 your dad happened to mention that he'd always wanted to learn how to play the drums. He also said he'd always asked his mom for a pony for his birthday. I encouraged him to buy a drum kit and take lessons (notice how I wisely ignored the pony hint?). That's all it took. A friend introduced us to an incredible guitarist and from that moment on there was always a band in the house. As with all bands, I suppose, members came and went depending on their own life circumstances (and of course we moved to Texas, but Rod was able to find a group of guys to play with for the short time we were there). But through all the changes, Rod and Steve stuck together, even practicing when they were between bass and rhythm guitar players.

The drums were never unpacked from their travel cases. A friend bought them last summer. The electric guitar was shipped to a stranger in Las Vegas. However, an accoustic guitar remains in the living room and every so often Rod will pick it up and play a song or two (as I type, I can hear him playing it right now). And just the other night, as we were driving home from having dinner out with some good friends, Rod began to sing the first few lines of song that I hadn't heard him sing in over a year. It almost made me cry, realizing the music will never really die. Just as your memory will never die. It's a part of who we are and of who we've become.

Maybe some day Shaylyn will decide she wants to play the drums. I'm sure Debbie (or any sane grandmother) wouldn't appreciate Nanny and Grandpa sending her a drum kit for her birthday. But if Shaylyn ever decides she wants to pick up some sticks, I know someone who'd be more than happy to give her a few pointers. Hmmm, maybe we can find a digital kit on Ebay...



Thursday, January 26, 2006

Brown Eyed Girl

Dear Rach,

So many people have commented on how much Shaylyn looks like you. I hadn't seen it until today when I came upon this recent photo I took and was instantly reminded me of one your dad took of you when we lived in Texas. At just three-and-a-half, Shaylyn appears to have a lot of your mannerims. It's no wonder Rod had such a difficult time when we visited her earlier this month.



Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Colors of the Sun

Dear Rach,

I wonder if you ever read the poem that inspired me when trying to come up with a name for this blog. You might have studied it in school, but I'd be willing to bet you heard it recited in Four Weddings and A Funeral (unless you avoided that movie, sharing your dad's aversion to anything with Hugh Grant). I think that's when I first heard it. I'm not much of a lover of poetry, but this has always been one of my favorites.

As your dad mentioned in his blog, your old bedroom is full of sun & moon decorations, many of which I bought for birthday and Christmas gifts. I wonder if your mom will ever "pack up the moon and dismantle the sun"...

I kind of hope not.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden



Wednesday, January 18, 2006

So Far Away

Dear Rach,

We’re home. We spent four days in Virginia Beach with Shaylyn and your mom. As I expected, it was pretty rough returning to VA. We’ve only been there three times. The first was for your high school graduation. The second for your college graduation. The last for your funeral. It was tough. But I so loved spending time with Shaylyn. She is such a joy to be around. Well, for the most part. She is three and knows very much what she wants (and doesn’t want). I don’t know how Debbie manages, but in some ways it must be a good distraction.

As Rod said, I don’t know how I could live in that house. It’s filled with all your things. Your mom was kind enough to let us stay with there so we’d have more time with Shaylyn, but oh, there were some rough moments. Especially for your daddy. Everywhere we turned, there were pictures of you. You as a baby, you as a young girl, you as a mommy. Your room is now the guest room, but the armoire, dresser and closet still contain a lot of your clothes. Your makeup is still on the bathroom counter. Debbie has done a lot, but you’re still there. I don’t know how she does it, but then I have no idea what I’d do in her shoes.

We spent a few hours at Shaylyn’s preschool. You did a great job selecting it! She seems very happy there and her teachers are wonderful. We got a full tour and then stayed for a Shabbot sing-along. Shaylyn didn’t feel like singing and I didn’t push since she preferred curling up in my lap to snuggle. Pure bliss for this Nanny.

Shaylyn and I read dozens of books, played with her toys, did a little shopping and helped Grandpa make his delicious buttermilk pancakes.I took over 180 pictures! Deleted quite a few, but still wound up with far too many. She’s a beautiful little girl and very, very bright. I wish we lived closer. Not just to see her, but to help Debbie out when she needs a break.

Debbie invited a few of your friends over for a casual dinner party on Saturday night. Leena, Chad, Eric, Teri and Candace all came. I spent a long time talking with Candace and am absolutely amazed by her strength and courage. I feel like I have some answers but none that will change what happened on that awful day last May. Even if I did, you’d still be gone. Nothing can change that.

I know it was very difficult for your dad to take this trip, but I’m glad we did. I think it was important for all four of us.

More than anything, I wish you'd been there, too.

Love, Les

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Dear Rachel,

We survived the holidays and now we're heading out to Virginia to see Shaylyn. Returning to your old house will stir up some memories I'd rather not think about, but I'm anxious to see Shaylyn. It's been almost 8 months.

I can't speak for Rod or Amy, but I thought Christmas went better than I anticipated. Not great, mind you, but not nearly as horrible as I thought it would be.

We spent a lovely evening with Chris, Jen and the girls on Christmas Eve. As I thought, the kids made me laugh and it was very nice to be with family.

Christmas Day was spent with our wonderful friends, Dave & Heidi Schneider. They had quite a houseful, but we knew almost everyone there and had a very nice day. It was the next best thing to being with family.

You were never far from my thoughts during either of these gatherings, but I kept busy and didn't allow myself to start wallowing in grief. As a matter of fact, I spent a good chunk of time both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning baking shortbread cookes and rugelach to deliver to friends the following week. Busy is good.

Amy was here for her visit last week and we had a very nice time with her. Instead of opening our gifts in the morning as we've always done, we did it after dinner the night after she arrived. There were a few times I choked up with emotion over your absence, but for the most part it was enjoyable and we actually found ourselves laughing a couple of times. We were even brave enough to mention your name once or twice and none of us fell apart. At least not on the outside.

Last night I found myself thinking about where I am in this whole grief process. I feel like I'm mentally checking items off a list of "events" to get through in order to move forward with my life. Last month I realized I hadn't "acknowledged" the anniversary of your death on the 28th. I was surprised and a bit sad that I'd forgotten - not you, but rather the significance of the date - but then it's not really a date I want to remember. Anyhow, we've gotten through the six-month anniversary, Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas. We still have your birthday, Rod's, Mother's Day, and the one-year-anniversary to get through. And the trial. 2006 may be a new year, but we still have a lot of hurdles to overcome. I may be doing a lot more baking in the months to come.

I can't wait to kiss your baby tonight.



Saturday, December 31, 2005


Dear Rachel,

Just some random thoughts today....

It's the last day of the year. The worst year of my life. The worst year of many, many people's lives. I've only had a couple of really bad years - the year my mom and dad divorced and the year that Steve and I divorced - but they don't compare to 2005. Mom & Dad both remarried wonderful, loving people who have enriched many lives. Steve and I both remarried and I truly believe we're both living our "happily ever after." In spite of the pain endured in these two examples, life did get better and there were happy endings.

I honestly don't see what good can ever come from your death. And while I'm thankful this terrible year is just about over, I know we still face a lot of hurdles in the year to come. It has to be a better year. I don't think any of us can take much more. We'll start the New Year with a long-anticipated visit from Amy and then a visit out to see our Little Princess in Virgina. Nice to have something to look forward to.

I heard an old George Harrison song today and thought of you.

"Every time I see your face
It reminds me of the places we used to go
But all I've got is a photograph
And I realize you're not coming back anymore"

I'm forever thankful for all the beautiful pictures we have of you.



Sunday, December 25, 2005

Hearts in Armor