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.