Sunday, June 21, 2015



This is our family's Father's Day tribute to Matthew. You'll find letters from NikkiMatty's Wife, Jason his older Brother and Beth his Sister in Law and Wingwoman. Bruce and I have added our tributes as Gammy and Bampy.

As Father's Day inched its way closer, I felt even more sad than usual. I am not sad for myself, but for you. You are not physically here so that we can give you the proper celebration that you deserve. I hope that as you look over us you can sit back, truly appreciate and feel what you have created for us. You've created this life filled with some of the most kind hearted friends and family. The life you left behind far too soon is truly a blessed one that was created by you, solely based on the type of person that you were in your physical being. What you have left has created light and hope for everyone to stay strong and push forward. What you have left for us is our children. You should be proud, over the top kind of proud.
Addy talks about you daily, sometimes on her own and sometimes it is provoked. She sees you she says. She is special like you, she is you! You have left a mark on that little girl that she will never forget. You were so good to her, to me, to us. Addy and her teachers made you a gift. The gift is of balloons smothered in tiny lip marks and hand prints that your beautiful firstborn created. You will see our balloons today. Addy is so excited to get them to you that I've already had to chase them down twice!!

Bear's first word, "Dada" ironically. We often talk about how you would just be head over heels for this guy. He is everything you described as perfect. His smile fills the room, as did yours. He is all love, just like you. There is so much love compacted into that rather large, "little" butterball. He will remember you through me, family and the friends that are like family to us. We will tell him the most wonderful stories of the kind hearted, organic Father that you were. I can only pray he becomes half of the man that you were.
Your role as Father trumped everything. It made you beam and it came so naturally to you. You were so comfortable with that role and you nailed it. It thoroughly completed you. And watching you take the role in stride completed me. So I hope that today you can sit back and truly enjoy the family that you created. You've blessed me with two of the most incredible tiny humans a Mother could ask for. I truly believe that you are still with us every day. Please celebrate yourself with us today, you deserve it. We miss you more than I can put into words. We love you eternally. Happy Father's Day Daddy. MLA 13  

Mommy, Addy & Bear Bear

LETTER FROM JASON I am on Father's day blessed to have a wonderful family!  I have two beautiful daughters, a wonderful wife, wonderful parents, tremendous friends, and just an amazing family.  So why is there an empty feeling inside that screams "there's something missing".  That's because my brother is no longer here to celebrate these wonderful things in life that we are so blessed to have.  Its truly amazing that we can love someone so much that even with so many amazing people in our life that empty feeling can still affect us so profoundly.

My brother Matthew was a beautiful father, and an amazing man......this is evident from the crazy beautiful son and daughter he left behind.  Fatherhood was something I never quite knew how it  would take to Matty.  I knew he liked doing things when he wanted, how he wanted and with whom he wanted.  What I later found out was not only did all of that change, but it was he who forced the change and did so happily.  It wasn't his kids who forced him to alter his ways, this was done on his own accord and for people who knew my brother this is no small feat!  His enormous love for his children ALLOWED him to become this wonderful father, this amazing new husband, and just a better man.  Today being Father's Day I reflect on the man my brother was because these are the memories I have that I can look back on and smile while crying thinking...."even though my brother is gone, there are still things he can teach me on how to become better myself".  And for that Matty.......I will always be grateful to you.  I love you Nooge, Happy Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day! On this day I celebrate my husband and how I love him more because of the amazing father he is. I also have a sadness in my heart remembering those I have lost. My own father and my brother-in-law Matthew Allard.

Matthew....I have to start by saying you were, as your brother is, an amazing father. I never had a doubt that you would be. I saw it in the first time you held my daughter, Jaelyn, the love you could just see beaming from you. I knew at that moment that when you had your own children you would love them to the ends of the earth with a love that would encompass your whole being. Of course when I saw you with Addy, it came to pass. I knew you would be a great daddy and love your children with all your heart, and play with them and be a big part of their lives. However, I have to say I was a bit apprehensive , knowing Nikki's night hours at work, that you would be taking care of a little baby all on your own. Sorry Matty! I think most moms are always a little nervous about Dads watching the kids on their own. Matty also use to say things Dads say like, "I will never change a Poopy (well he said other words) diaper", etc. So, here is Matty, watching little Addy at like 8 weeks old. Well he sure proved me wrong. Matty was right in there, doing such an amazing job. He changed all kinds of diapers including blow-outs, held her after crying for long hours, rocked her, sang to her, constantly whispering in her ear how much he loved her, and just did all things you need to do to take care of an infant.  I have to say I was so proud of him. When people use to ask me how he was doing as a new Dad, I would love to say he was doing soo great and how he was changing diapers like it was second nature to him. Yes, we did see him like once a week for dinner at our house so Auntie Baaats could do some holding time and help out a little, but even at our house he was always ready to do it all. He use to be so proud that he could wrap up a dirty diaper better than anyone could ( of course there had to be some competition in there).

I do have to tell one funny story. Matty was coming to our house for dinner. He use to come over and cook and I would watch Addy. He was food shopping and Addy was just crying the whole time and he took a picture and sent it to us. When I saw the picture, I was laughing because there she was crying in the shopping cart in her car seat, but the straps to her car seat were too low over her arms trapping them down so she couldn't move. So I was thinking of a way to tell Matty the correct way of strapping her in without offending him. When he was leaving that night and putting Addy in the carseat I was like, "Matthew you may want to put the staps over her shoulders like this because they were a little low in the picture". Of course the typical Matty response, "She is fine Baats, you don't know what you are talking about". He did fix them though!

The love and care he gave to Addy is evident in how much she loves him. The way she looked at him will always be etched in my mind. And for Bear, he was soo proud to have a son and soo proud to name him Bear. As hard as it is to think of him not being here with his children who he loved soo much, I know he is still with them, loving them and watching over them as fiercely as he would be here on earth.

Love you Matty! Happy Fathers Day!




Happy Father’s Day Son! Daddy’s Day, your first Father’s Day with both of your little kiddos. I know you are with them. I see the signs daily. I am so very proud of you. I’ve watched your character, integrity, maturity and your love grow like a seedling to a sapling to a full grown mature tree. Nature is a marvelous work of wonder. Trees can be a metaphor for life. The tree’s trunk continually grows thicker every year. A layer of new bark grows to protect the inner layers that remain alive and vibrant. A mature tree grows branches, limbs, buds and produces foliage in the most brilliant hues of greens, yellows and reds. So big, so beautiful. The bark of the tree gets discolored, nicked and gouged throughout its life cycle, showing its age. The elements may cause branches to break and fall yet nature seals over that exposed part of wood and the tree continues to stand tall. Roots grow deep and the tree is anchored from below. A tree may develop a disease and ultimately may find itself facing its demise or continues to stand tall as a sentry watching over its piece of earth and sky for hundreds of years. From life comes life. From death comes renewal. You are much like the mighty tree. I’ve seen you through your infant/toddler, young boy, teenage years and watched you blossom into maturity. Nobody gets through life without nicks and gouges. You’ve weathered quite a few storms while learning your Earthly lessons. You’ve patched yourself up and carried on. Your family grounded you. You were their protector, teaching them to trust while you circled your arms around them and filled their hearts with love and their minds with a sense of security. You continue to stand tall and strong in our hearts and minds Matthew. I oftentimes look out the dining room window at our Magick Tree.  It has become a point of reflection and comfort. My children’s Christmas story, The Legend of the Magick Tree seems so timely since your passing. It looks more alive than ever. Its mission is to protect the grandchildren and help to eliminate any fears they have of the dark. I wonder if you don’t come to visit and take up temporary residence! I swear that beautiful, old so alive looking tree is helping me shed my fears of life without you; guiding me as I face them, walk through them and conquer them one by one as I slowly find my new kind of normal. Bittersweet.

Your personality was big from birth. I was fortunate to have seen you through so many years of your life cycle. This year for Father’s Day I would like to give you the gift of words—having Addy & Bear see you through their Gammy and Bampy’s eyes. We talk to you, pray to you and for you, look at pictures and videos and keep your memories alive in our hearts. It is a pleasure, an honor to do so for your children. We will begin by telling those tales of what you were like when you were young. Grammar School young. We will hold onto our memories of your teen years, college days and after the diploma years for when they are older. MUCH OLDER. . . for future Father’s Days.  But before we move on, I just had one those why-can’t-I-pick-up-the-phone-and-call-you moments with Addy. We had a sleepover Friday night and when she wakes up Saturday morning, the first thing she says to me is “Gammy, how you know people?”  And I say, “Well honey, which people do you mean?” And she replies “ Like Auntie Baaats and Jaelyn”. Puts such a smile on my face and yet fear in my soul because I have not had an easy time getting her to understand the Mommy/Daddy/Brother/Son concepts  yet. She gets angry with me because in her mind, you can’t be my son and her Daddy at the same time and I can’t be anyone’s Mommy just her Gammy. So, tread lightly I did and I saved the relationship without any further damage and apparently the explanation sufficed because the questions ended! I would love to spend time in their little heads. See how those gears move. What a way to wake up! Glorious!! We would have laughed hysterically over this one.

Here is our gift to you:

Once upon a time there was a beautiful baby boy named Matthew Laurent Allard. He had a head full of thick, brown, wavy hair and very big brown eyes. Anyone that looked into those eyes would instantly fall in love with him. He was a good little baby and slept a lot which made Gammy very happy! He had an older brother named Jason whom he loved very much and who took very good care of his baby brother. Just like you take care of Bear, Addy!

When Gammy went back to work, your Daddy & Uncle Jason went to daycare like you and Bear Bear. Your Daddy’s first teacher was called Sister Diane. She had the same first name as Gammy. You know that Gammy’s name is Diane Romagnoli, right? Addy you’ve changed my last name to Muckanoli haven’t you?? You’re a silly, funny little girl just like your Daddy. He loved to make people laugh. Anyway, your Daddy was very confused that his teacher had the same name as Gammy and Daddy never called me Diane. He only called me Mommy. He decided he was going to call her ‘Sister Mommy’, and Sister Diane loved her new name!

One of Gammy’s favorite stories of your Daddy is another daycare story. Uncle Jason was in pre-kindergarten and your Dad was 2 years old. On the way home after Gammy picked up her boys, they would talk about what they learned in school that day. Uncle Jason said “I learned how to spell today. DOG - - d. . .o. . .g. . .dog”. Even at 2 years old, your Daddy was very competitive. He liked to win or be as good as the other guy and he says “Oh yeah, I can spell too”. Uncle Jason gives him a test and says “Well spell CAT”. Your Daddy then lets Uncle Jason know that he can only spell the easy words! (You will find this story very funny when you get a little older and can spell yourself).

Daddy’s favorite clothes when he was little were Osh Gosh B Gosh overalls in all the different colors they made. Think of him the next time you wear your Osh Gosh overalls!

When it came time for your Daddy and Uncle Jason to go to elementary school, Bampy would drive them to school every day. They would listen to their favorite songs “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul & Mary and “The Unicorn Song” by the Irish Rovers. Their favorite part was:

. . .Green alligators and long-necked geese
Some Humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born
Don’t you forget my unicorns. . .

I bet if you ask Uncle Jason, he’ll sing it for you!! They would listen to those songs over and over and over again, every single day. It made them happy and was a good way to start their school days.

When Daddy was 5 years old he decided that he loved to break-dance. It was a new style of dancing that was very fast. Your feet moved around a lot, you did back spins and head spins. Daddy never took lessons. He just made up his own moves. He decided to enter a dance competition at the Palace Theater which was a very big deal at 5 years old. He did not win but definitely made an impression on the people that attended the competition. When we were leaving there were 2 busloads of high school kids who had boarded the bus and were ready to go home. When they saw your Daddy they started yelling “Baby Break, Baby Break”. They were hanging out of the windows of the buses. Their hands were waving wildly. They were so a’cited, Addy! Your Daddy stopped and gave them the ‘Princess Wave’ and they cheered even louder.  Now, 5 years old, that is how old Jaelyn and Elouise are! Your Daddy was so brave. He did not get scared when trying new things. That is a very good lesson for you to learn. And, even if you don’t win it doesn’t mean that you did not have the BEST time, and having a good time is what your Daddy loved to do.

A lot of these stories are about Daddy and Uncle Jason. That’s because Bampy’s greatest wish was that the two brothers would be BEST Friends forever. And Bampy’s dream came true. They are BEST friends so you see, it is very hard to tell a story with just your Daddy or just Uncle Jason. They were like two peas in a pod. Uncle Jason was the brother that studied hard all the time. He made sure your Daddy did his homework as soon as they got home from school – even before they went out to play. When Uncle Jason was 8  years old, he wrote his first novel and it is called “1610”. It’s a great story about how Native Americans fought all these vicious dinosaurs. I still have a copy. Would you like Gammy to read it as our next bedtime story at our next sleepover? Now, your Daddy was only 6 years old and he was just starting to learn to write and spell, so instead of writing a book, he created this Art Masterpiece called “POEPLE”. He drew a whole book of different kinds of people. Tall ones, short ones, Mommy ones, Daddy ones. He got his letters mixed up in writing the title of the book but it is one of my favorites right up there with Uncle Jason’s “1610”. Having your brother as your BEST friend is very special. It makes you very, very happy and your BEST friend is always very close by to play with, to share your secrets and to help solve problems when you get older.

Your Daddy was a thinker . . . a philosopher (yes that is a big word for someone that thinks a lot). He loved weddings and attended quite a few. At one wedding, the man taking videos captured him on tape giving this advice to all newlyweds regarding the cake cutting ceremony—your Daddy said “. . .they might want to take off their wedding clothes before they cut the cake so they don’t get them all dirty!!” Funny, funny Daddy. And smart, smart Daddy. He would think of ways to do things so that he didn’t need Gammy’s help. When we moved into a new house and he was 2  years old, his bedroom was on the 2nd floor—like where you and Mommy and Bear live is on top of Mimi’s and Papaw’s. Daddy needed to put the light on in the stairwell so that he could see. He was not tall enough to reach the light switch so he would take one of Gammy’s high heeled shoes and use the tip of the heel to turn on the light! He was independent. I think you get that from him Addy. We’ll have to wait until Bear is a little older and you can teach him to be independent too.

Your Daddy loved to play sports. When he was little he played soccer, hockey, football and baseball. When he got older and was in high school he played on the Soccer Team, Ski Team, Tennis Team and Hockey Team. And even when he was out of school he continued to play soccer and softball and hockey and GOLF. He had long hair in high school and used to wear his hair in a ponytail at the top back of his head to keep it out of his eyes. He looked like a Samurai warrior. Gammy will show you pictures. He was a handsome boy, with a great big smile and a laugh that would make you laugh just listening to him laugh. We call that infectious laughter. Infectious sounds nasty like when we catch a cold but here it’s kind of like our Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. Do you remember when Van Vleck started yawning and it was very catchy . . . and how we all yawn when we read that bedtime story? That is what infectious means.

Bampy’s favorite story is how your Daddy fell in love with a little song bird called a Mourning Dove. She would sing her song first thing in the morning outside of your Daddy’s bedroom window. She would coo and coo and Daddy knew it was a special song just for him. He first heard the little birdie when we moved to the Farm on Joppa Hill Rd. We lived there for a few years and then moved to the house Gammy and Bampy live in now. To your Daddy’s excitement, the Mourning Dove moved with us and she continued to coo and coo for your Daddy. Daddy loved everything about Nature. Pay attention to all of the outside sounds you hear. It is Nature’s Symphony, the music of the birds and tree peepers, the owls, the sound of the wind rustling leaves and the pitter patter of raindrops falling from the sky. If you pay attention, every day you will hear a new song.

At 10 years old, Daddy decided that he wanted to be different and when he needed glasses to see the blackboard, he asked Gammy to buy him these big RED glasses. He loved them and he was the only boy in school with glasses like that. Being different was ‘no big deal’ to Daddy. He always looked at people from the inside to see what their heart was like. The outside of people, the way they looked, the way they dressed did not matter to him. If you were beautiful on the inside, Daddy would have collected you as one of his friends.

Uncle Jason and Daddy were born 2 years and 4 days apart. We always celebrated their birthdays together. There was always a Carvel Ice Cream cake and the house rule was that the birthday person got to eat the last piece of cake. Bampy and Gammy always made sure there were two pieces left when it was their birthdays. Birthdays also got you the privilege of getting your favorite meal made for dinner. Daddy’s was Chicken a la King. He didn’t know what it was called so he called it ‘Chicken in White Sauce with Mashed Potatoes, Carrots and Peas”! He would eat the BIGGEST dish every birthday. On one very special birthday, Gammy took your Daddy and Uncle Jason to NY City. We went to see Uncle Ray and he took us to Washington Square Park where all the famous skateboarders hung out. Daddy and Uncle Jason were big fans of skateboarding. Daddy and Uncle Jason got some very funky haircuts at a famous barber shop at Astor Place. Gammy still does not know what she was thinking back then!!

Daddy’s favorite Christmas when he was little was the year Bamby and Gammy bought a MYRA hockey jacket for both Uncle Jason and he. Navy Blue corduroy with big letters M Y R A on the back of the jacket. Just like the hockey players in the big leagues! They also got their first 2-wheeler bikes that Christmas as well. They were so happy. Gammy and Bampy got some BIG hugs and many Thank Yous that day! Daddy always held gratefulness in his heart. Saying 'please' and 'thank you' was very important to Daddy. It is part of being polite and respectful. Daddy thought this was one of the most important lessons he learned.

Daddy loved to invent games. He liked to use his imagination when he played. One year when the Summer Olympics were going on, Daddy and Uncle Jason gathered all of their neighborhood friends and we had our own 2-weeks of swimming and diving and whoever could come up with the silliest dives off of the diving board races and competitions. TOTTY Ball was Daddy’s diving board invention that summer. He and his friend Todd thought up the game – Todd and Matty = TOTTY. When Gammy would come home from work, before we even had dinner, my job was to be the judge and give out medals. We had so much fun that summer! When you have a lot of fun it creates a memory. A story that we can tell and tell and tell and still have as much fun hearing it after 3 times told as we did when we heard it the first time. Now, Addy–I think your favorite story is still Daddy at 2 years old watching the gorilla in his cage at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm. That story is a memory. And you laugh and laugh every time you ask Gammy to tell it to you, and I do. (We’ll have to make sure Bear Bear hears that story when he gets a little older.) Making a lot of memories is a happy way to live your life.

My very last story about your Daddy when he was little is called The Werewolf. One Halloween, Gammy sewed werewolf costumes for your Daddy and Uncle Jason. They were 3 and 5 years old and Gammy was STILL dressing them alike. The costumes were gray, make believe fur with matching hoods with WOLF eyes and fangs. The costume even had mittens with claws . . . SCARY!. Halloween costumes usually only get worn once on that very special day – trick or treating day. Your Daddy however, had a different plan in mind. Daddy was the youngest boy in our neighborhood that had more girls that lived there than boys. There were two twin girls that picked on your Daddy all the time just because he was the youngest. They were mean girls! Daddy was tired of being picked on. One day he came into the house crying and he devised a plan to SCARE those girls and teach them a lesson. It was the middle of July, hot and really humid. Daddy went into his closet and took down the werewolf costume. I help him get dressed. All the kids were playing on our front lawn waiting for him to come out of the house. Your Daddy opens the door and jumps onto the landing and yells the very loudest yell I have ever heard ROOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!! The twin girls came running over to him and started to pet him saying . . . “nice kitty, nice kitty”. Daddy’s plan did not work and he learned about being disappointed that day. Mean girls are not nice girls. They hurt feelings. Daddy learned that your heart does not feel good when your feelings get hurt. If your first plan does not work, you have to think of another one. Daddy learned to be kind to others and to never give up.

So you see, your Daddy was a very special little boy. He was smart, funny, happy, kind and brave. He was athletic, he liked to win but he also learned how to lose. He did not give up. He tried and he tried again. Daddy would want Gammy & Bampy to help teach you these lessons. Daddy’s life was a happy life and he loved living it.

Happy Daddy’s Day Daddy!

. . . and your Daddy is giving both of you a gift of words on this day.

The Sun, the Moon,
The Rain, the Breeze.
The Stars, the Sky
Our Magick Tree.
You see them.
You hear them.
You feel them.
They are real.

A Daddy’s Love,
His kisses,
His hugs,
His wishes for you are real.

Things are different now,
Between you and me.
. . . Just for a little while.
You can’t see me
Or hear me.
Or feel me,
From the Outside.
If you open your heart,
Be very quiet and still,
And close your eyes,
You’ll feel me.
You’ll hear me.
You’ll see me.
I’m on the Inside now.

When you see a Mourning Dove,
Listen for its’ Coo.
I’ve come home to build a nest
And live right next to you.
That flutter you feel in your heart
Is me Hugging you.
When you feel a tickle in your ear.
 I’m Whispering sweet things to you.

I’m a thought,
A nudge,
I’m in your Dreams.
My Love is all around you.
I’ll protect you,
I’ll guide you
Call out my name.
Whenever you need.

I’m by your side always,
I’m your Daddy.
I Love you.
I’m your Forever Thing.

So ends our Father’s Day tribute to you Matthew. Ever so present. Ever so admired. Ever so missed. Ever so loved.

Love you so muchforever.

Mom aka Gammy


Monday, June 15, 2015

SOS Matthew Can you hear us . . . can you see us?


SOS Matthew Can you hear us . . . can you see us? We are beyond 5 months and my heart is trying to find my voice because it is screaming in pain. Breathing does not feel instinctive. It’s shallow. It’s opening a door and letting my anxiety come in with a force. There is a tape in my head that keeps repeating Matthew . . . Matthew . . . Matthew . . . Matthew. Every minute of every hour of the day and night. I seem to be having difficulty finding words. My mind is racing but my body is reacting in slow motion. Insanity? Sanity on the edge? Grief? Mourning? Yearning? What is this????? Going backwards again. I feel like I’ve ridden the rollercoaster and it has taken me to the top and bottom as much as it can on my single ticket ride. It’s dropped me off and placed me in line waiting to buy another ticket . . . just so that I can try to get to the top again. I like the top. I feel like I can breathe at the top. Life seems clearer. I can find joy. I have hope. Lesson learned—buy a season ticket because it’s easier to stay on the ride.

I have experienced that in addition to the FIRSTS, if too many are concentrated into a short period of time your heart becomes equivalent to a construction zone—emotions must maneuver orange barrel season but your reaction time has become too slow. Faced with daily detours and the possibility that the abyss is lurking too closely, I ask myself what choices to I have here? This thing I’ll call Merciless Months has forced me off the road to Lighter Days where the pain of losing you was finding its way of fitting into my daily life and instead has me gazing directly at Confrontation—confronting the truth that the tragedy of your passing has created this time warp of In-Between. It’s not black, it’s not white, and it’s not even gray. It’s not now, it’s not then, it’s not will be. It’s undefined. Wreaks havoc with focus, rationality, energy, motivation and minutes, hours, days, weeks, months as we know them. It’s ugly. It’s scary. It’s new. It’s a roadblock. It’s a detour without any signage. I’m waiving the white flag. SOS Matthew. Can you hear me? Can you see me? Can you help me?

Merciless Months—April through June. We’ve faced your Wedding Anniversary, Mother’s Day, missed Jason’s & your combined Birthday dinner, celebrated your Birth Day, Nikki’s Birthday and Father’s Day to come next week. That is a tsunami of emotions to get through. We gather, we hug, and we cry, we laugh — yes still laughing but our bearings remain off kilter. Yet we continue to come together and we try, try, try to make this life without Matt work. We celebrated Nikki’s Birthday Friday. Auntie and Elouise came up from NY. Steph’s moving and we are saying another goodbye, safe trip, see you at Christmas. Life keeps moving on and I feel like I’m running like crazy to catch it. Going through the motions, not too much makes sense. I need to make sense of this In-Between.

Why/What now? I believe it is closure. My mantra “finding joy while living with the ache” seems fitting as the final link to moving forward in the grieving process. If this is the final link, what is the first, second and every other link that comes in-between? I seem to have jumped right to the end, certainly a good new mission but perhaps sprinkled with a bit of naivety as to the difficulty of this path. Working backwards I need to discover the missing links. It begins with closure and accepting the fact that there is no closure to your passing. There is no closure because there is so much love attached to this tragedy. Your body is dust. Your Spirit lives. The love I have for you is alive. Love is forever; a forever energy. How can one experience closure with something so alive as LOVE; love for you? The mantra is a journey holding many lessons I’ll be learning on the way. Understanding is the beginning of healing. There are missing pieces to this puzzling process. Reflection is the board we use to try and fit all the pieces together. Will I and your ‘Collection of People’ feel whole again? In the end, I am again reminded that it all comes back to love. The joy, the heartache, the starts, the stops, the in-betweens will all be buoyed by love. Loving you, loving our memories and loving each other.

What are my choices? There is only one. Wipe away my tears and really examine the detours. Expect them. Dig deep when they surprise me. Accept that there will be no closure and excavate the elements that make “finding joy while living with the ache” a daily reality.

I need to speak your language right now. I need to experience your special, right from the heart kind of love. Your language—your Bear Hug. Please can we hug? My memory feels alive. Close your eyes my Dear and I will close mine. I feel your arms around me, do you feel mine?
Love you so much – forever.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015



Happy Belated Birthday! Sorry Sweetie, my mind kept getting in the way of my heart, then my heart would get in the way of my mind . . . and I don’t even know how I got through your special day. This has been the most difficult FIRST for me yet. Can I still call it your Birthday or should it now be your Birth Day? It has been two days of the ugly cry but experience has taught me that “this too shall pass”. I needed to just sit with my emotions, quiet my mind and reflect—my tools for finding my center. And yes, CRY, CRY, CRY! It's part of the healing.  It washes away some of the pain to make room for the moments of laughter. I felt numb. I could not remember your first birthday; what kind of cake I made for you. I remembered that your favorite birthday dinner was Chicken a la King, hold the pearl onions; stuffed into  Pepperidge Farm shells that have the tops that come off only to be put back onto the filled shells creating a little hat for decoration. Mashed potatoes. You became the King of making and perfecting mashed potatoes. Exactly what time were you born? I know it was after 10 am but EXACTLY what time? Was I starting to forget? That horrified me. No, that can never happen. My memories and time frames were all jumbled. So I decided to concentrate on the pulled pork I was making for Nikki's celebration of you. Focus I did, I pulled that pork so fine that I believe it became an unrecognizable dish. Corn bread next. How can I mess up cornbread? By putting in half the amount of eggs and liquids. Jalapenos. I'll just add jalapenos. Heat masks and cures anything. 

The weather—pouring. I just kept thinking that the rain drops were tears from Heaven and you were crying because you were sad you weren't with us. I know, crazy thinking. I can't make anything better for you anymore. I can’t comfort you. How can that be? I’m your Mother. It’s my job. It’s why you have a Birth Day. How could I have lost that responsibility? Forever 36. That’s the way it has to be.

When Dad and I arrived at your place and I saw the crowd of your friends, I couldn’t open my mouth for a friendly Hello. I was overwhelmed and sought refuge inside with the babies. Rocked Bear to sleep—one of my favorite things. Auntie Claire and Heidi stopped by. A surprise visit. The support from those who love us is so very comforting. They knew what I needed before I even did. We had a quiet visit, a quiet cry. I spent the entire afternoon indoors. Jaime and Reese were my afternoon companions. Oh! Matty, you should see that beautiful red-headed baby. She’s a little peanut and I can see Quinny in her. You have some amazing friends! The afternoon truly was a blur. My resolve was totally broken when Quinny gave me an Uncle Matty Bear Hug. Jaime had told her I might need one that day. Jaelyn followed suit. The little ones touch my soul. They love to comfort and they can do it so well. Cake cutting was next and sorry to say, I was unable to participate. Caught Nikki’s eye and said a silent goodbye . . . and then more numbness. I wonder if this is what a mollusk at high tide feels like. Covered and unable to dig yourself free. Sounds seem distant. Shifting of the sands, constant movement. An occurrence that happens twice daily always with a beginning and an end. The consistency of the event allowing for adjustment. Back home, I succumbed to grief and let sleep wash over me. It was truly a restless night. I could not make sense of anything. Thinking. Reflecting. If I had to sum up your life how would I do that? What could I say? What could you teach people by your example? What is your legacy? I’ve always been about learning the lesson in the experience so what could I take away from your Birth Day? Your life? Believe. Strength in vulnerability. Love, it all comes back to love. I think those are the lessons you were meant to teach.

BELIEVE. You have sent us so many signs. You have made believers out of more than a few. The picture—DaddyAngel was one of the first and came from Addy. A few days after your passing, Nikki was bathing her and cutting her fingernails. She was holding Nikki’s phone in one hand and playing with an app that allows her to find a picture in the phone’s photo gallery and place a head shot into a template. Jaelyn had always been the recipient up to this point with her cute little face and a monkey body. On this day Addy created DaddyAngel—her words! We thanked you for that sign. Saturday morning Nikki was planning an outing to the beach. While they were getting ready, Addy grabbed something out of the air and said “got him”.  Nikki asked her who she had caught and she answered “Daddy´ and kept her tiny fist clenched for 20 minutes. She put you in Nikki’s pocket and made the statement “I will never drop him” and off to the beach you went. You love making sand castles with that little girl. I also heard a story that you told Addy the beach belonged to her. She was a little upset when she saw other kids were playing in the sand (she’s a bit territorial) and told them that her DADDY said this beach was hers but she’d let them play on it. I can hear that Man Giggle Matty. So, BELIEVE that you are here with us in Spirit. You are part of our lives and always will be. Believe that there is joy in life. Believe and it will come to us.

VULNERABILITY. Such a double-edged sword. In the land of security it is considered a risk, a weakness. From an emotional standpoint it is also a risk but a true test of courage and strength because it threatens one’s self-perception, self-image, and one’s ego. You have to value intimacy in order to dig deep enough; peel away the layers of fear and expose your heart in all of its tenderness. You had such intimacy with your friends, your male friends. There was quite a bit of vulnerability exposed Sunday afternoon as storytelling began and the tears started to flow. You are so greatly missed. Nikki was a trooper wanting the day to be a celebration of your life. She tells me that after singing Happy Birthday and cutting the cake, she broke down. Completely. There are times when the tears have to flow. Nikki was well supported by your cadre of friends. She also gave them a wonderful gift—permission to grieve. We can do it alone and we can share in it as a group. Grieving is part of healing and tears are part of grieving. Tears are not a weakness. Tears of grief in a crowd are a display of vulnerability. They will pass and when they do they are a testament to the quantity and quality of love that people have for you. They are giving back what you gave to them. Intimacy, vulnerability, love. Not to be confused with your favorite line “don’t be a pussy”, which has nothing to do with vulnerability and more to do with pride.

LOVE. The bear hugs were your physical symbol of the love you had for people. Their language is that of intimacy. It said “you mean something to me”, “I value you”, “my heart touches your heart”, and “we are equals”. This is a lesson we can take from your life. Stop for a moment when greeting people. Feel the connection. We are one on a soul level. Let’s put a little warmth, kindness, compassion and empathy back into our earthly world by truly bringing LOVE to our hugs.

My prayer to you on your belated Birth Day. Please shower your family and friends with the gifts of faith, belief in our fellow man, emotional strength, vulnerability and an ability to love that transcends the warmth of the moment to a contagious act—a gift bestowed freely and frequently to many. We honor your Spirit by emulating your intimacy, your love, your “collection of people”, your BIG Bear Hugs.
Love you so much—forever.