About Me

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Welcome! This is a blog about life after losing my mom (on April 7th, 2014), running (or not, depending on injuries), being a 'mama' to Grace, 13, Genevieve, 11, and Joseph 6, and teaching 13-18 year olds in Philadelphia. Thanks for being here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Gabriel in the Cubby (The Gift of Laughter)

"Why was there a Gabriel in my cubby?"
This morning I woke up earlier than usual to attend a before school meeting. I had to drop off my 5-year-old Joseph first, and of course he was not at all interested in getting out of bed, putting on his shoes, or buckling his seat belt, so we were running a bit late (as usual). I was focused on everything but the present when laughter brought me back. I am so grateful when that happens.

Here's the story: Once at school (about ten minutes later than I wanted), Joseph was cold so did not want to take off his coat. He also did not want to walk across the hall to the other room, where his teacher was. Trying to hide my stress (because we all know that makes children more stressed, and therefore more difficult) I offered quite cheerfully (I thought) to get him a sweater from his cubby, and that reminded him of something. "Mom!" he exclaimed. "Why was there a Gabriel in my cubby yesterday?"

I looked at him with confusion. "What? What do you mean, a Gabriel?"

He scrunched up his face. "Um, no, not a person, you know ... a .... a ... what do you call that thing you wear on your boobies?" (Yes, I know, we are supposed to only use the correct terms for body parts with children, but I guess in my house we don't ... )

"Joseph, do you mean a bra?"

His face lit up. "Yes! A bra! Why was there a bra in my cubby yesterday?"

"There was a bra in your cubby yesterday?" I had a sinking feeling. I knew exactly why there was a bra, along with his blanket and sheet, in his cubby. I went over  and pulled out the bin, and then the sweet blanket with his name and birthday on it, and the sheet with the sailboats. There, folded within, was the bra that had been washed with them over the weekend. Ah, indeed. A Gabriel in the cubby.

I discreetly folded the bra and put it in my coat to carry back to the car. Joseph and I giggled. And there it was -- the crack of laughter in my life that I needed to return to myself. Joseph walked across the hall with me, coat still on, and I gave him a kiss goodbye. "Love you, Bud, see you this afternoon."

"Love you mom," he answered, and then ran off to play with his friends.

I carried that laughter with me all day.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Cardinal

We were in my parents' kitchen on a cold winter evening when the hospice nurse said the words we
didn't want to hear: "I think it's time." Her words were no surprise; we had called her after the last devastating CAT scan results asking her to come, knowing this was probably the conversation we were going to have, but they were shocking nonetheless. This was happening. We were stopping treatment. I was going to have to say goodbye to my mom.

I was leaning against the kitchen sink. My mom was across the island from me, by the window. My sister and dad were on the other two sides of the island, forming a circle. The conversation wasn't long, and soon the nurse was gone. My mom walked quietly to the living room and retrieved the program from her own mother's funeral, ten years before. When she returned my sister and I sat with her. "This is what I would like," she told us. We picked the readings, a quote for the back, the music. Ken Carter would sing For The Beauty of the Earth. Eileen, she hoped, would sing Morning has Broken (this version, by Art Garfunkel and Diana Krall, is a favorite of mine: CLICK HERE). Other than that, I don't remember what else happened that night. Time -- two years as I write this -- has washed away the pebbles. I am scared it will wash away more.

Photograph by Jo Pierson, my mom's sister. 
After my mom died a friend of my parents' from the beach told my dad, "You know, cardinals are the souls of our loved ones letting us know they are still with us."  Though I have no idea why she said this, I know that she did because my dad, a tried and true agnostic, told me that she did. He then made a point of telling me every time he saw a cardinal at his bird-feeder.  A few weeks after my mom's death, I, too, found myself staring at a sparrow that had perched on the windowsill a little too long. Mom! The sparrow flew away and my trance was broken. I am losing my mind! I thought. It is easy to lose your mind after losing someone you love. Your grief is so deep, the mind so desperate. A butterfly would linger by my shoulder. Mom! A certain song would play on the radio. Mom! I both felt her and didn't feel her everywhere.

Sometimes I didn't feel her at all, and those were the worst times. This year, right before starting school again, I couldn't sleep. Many nights, I would wake, my mind racing, my heart beating fast, and always, after hours lying awake, I would arrive at the same question, as much as I tried to avoid it. God? My despair was a deep reservoir, and I was at the bottom. Mom. One night, after hours of lying awake, I visited each child's bedroom to make sure they were all ok. They were, each breathing softly, calm beneath the lovely cloak of childhood.  Afterwards I sat with the dog, on his beanbag next to the bookshelf. It was two am, my third night in a row of not sleeping. To my left was a shelf of books collected over the years, including one that had been my mom's. I don't know if it was of importance to her or not. IN THE SANCTUARY OF THE SOUL, it read. I opened to a random page. Ask with all your heart, again and again. So I asked. If I am going to be ok, I said, I need to know that my mom is ok. I need to know! I repeated this plea for what felt like a long time. God? I felt nothing. I went to bed and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning was a school day. I woke to my alarm, as usual. I showered and dressed, feeling as much like a robot as ever. Another day, another year. I shuffled to the kitchen to make the lunches. There was a strange noise coming from the laundry room. A cricket? I thought. I closed the refrigerator and stood still to listen. What was that? I had never heard a noise quite like it before. I moved to the back room to investigate. In the laundry room, the noise was farther away. I moved again towards the kitchen. Finally, I realized it was coming from the very back of the house. Persistent, and loud. A chirp like a cricket's, but deeper. I walked towards it. At the window, I saw it. Perched on one of the wrought-iron chairs, and singing towards the house. It did not move when it saw me, not for several minutes. Instead it looked right at me, seemingly puffed out its chest, and chirped louder. A female cardinal, trying to get my attention. My heart lifted. It was just an ordinary cardinal, like so many of those that often flew through the yard, but on this morning it had stopped to sing just for me.

"Did not our hearts burn within us, while he walked with us by the way ... " (Luke 24:32)
A female cardinal like the one that visited that morning in September. 
Another photo by Jo Pierson, my mom's sister. In her words, "Unfortunately I only have these two photos of a cardinal, and they are not the best. There are several that reside around my house, but they are faster than I am when it comes to getting a good shot." 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Great Short Stories That Changed My Life

Me. Longwood Gardens, Spring 2015. Photo by Genevieve. 
I was a junior in high school when my English teacher gave me a book of Raymond Carver short stories, told me to read them, and then sent me and a classmate to see the Robert Altman movie Short Cuts, based on the book. We took the train to Philadelphia to see the movie at the Ritz, a first for me, and I fell in love. Even as everything else on the surface stayed the same (friends, a boyfriend, tennis, studying) I felt something in me shift. I was aware of the world in a way I hadn't been before. Now, more than 20 years later, I still think about the stories in that book (and movie). So Much Water So Close to Home, Neighbors, A Small, Good Thing ...  The last one was my favorite, offering as it did a sliver of hope in the midst of the worst tragedy (and there is a lot of tragedy, and desperation, and strangeness, in Raymond Carver stories, something that startled me as a 17-year-old but that I just nod at, now, at 38). There are other short stories, too, that have equally broken open my world and helped me see it more clearly, some as recently as last year.  In the book store with Grace and Joseph this morning, my heart aglow with all of the stories surrounding me, I started thinking about those that really changed my life, if just in some small way. Below is my "Top 5" list of short stories.

#1. A Small Good Thing, by Raymond Carver. As I reread the last paragraph, I am once again sitting in the movie theater, 17 years old, watching Lyle Lovett as the baker comfort grieving parents Howard (Bruce Davison) and Ann (Andie MacDowell). I am reminded that small, good things may be the only good things. "It was like daylight." Amen. 
"Smell this," the baker said, breaking open a dark loaf. "It's a heavy bread, but rich." They smelled it, then he had them taste it. It had the taste of molasses and coarse grains. They listened to him. They ate what they could. They swallowed the dark bread. It was like daylight under the fluorescent trays of light. They talked on into the early morning, the high, pale cast of light in the windows, and they did not think of leaving.

#2. Death Constant Beyond Love (Muerte constante más allá del amor), by Gabriel García Márquez. I read this story, about a senator (Onésimo Sánchez) who finds "the woman of his life" with only six months and eleven days left to live (he is already married with children), when I was in college. It scared me,  I remember (the death, the solitude, the infidelity), but it also induced in me a sort of urgency for living. I wrote a paper on this one. A-. 

#3. Brownies, by ZZ Packer. I first heard this story when Anthony and I were driving cross-country from San Francisco to Philadelphia, back in May of 2001. We had a few books on CD, including the "Best American Short Stories 2000," and this one came on as we were still driving down the California Coast, on Highway 1 (we first drove from San Francisco to San Diego to see friends, and then zig-zagged our way back). Laurel, the story's narrator, a fourth-grader on a camping trip with her African-American Brownie troop, is both hilarious and whip-smart. Racism and human nature are held to the light, and seen. A beautiful, important story, perhaps especially so now. 

#4. The Scarlet Ibis, by James Hurst. I am not sure if it is the writing on this one that got me. It was more that, while reading it with my 9th grade class at Central High School in Philadelphia nearly 10 years ago, one of the students in that class, a lovely girl, wept openly and even cried out when Doodle, the narrator's younger brother, died. She told me later it was because her own younger brother had special needs, and the story hit so close to home. I will never forget her love for her brother or how much the story moved her. 

#5. In a Tub, by Amy Hempel. My 26-year-old niece Sam gave me Hempel's book (The Collected Stories) for my birthday a few weeks after my mom died. We were at her house for an Easter celebration with more than 50 people, and I snuck to an upstairs bedroom to read the first story.  I need to post the whole thing here. Sam's gift was the small good thing (one if them) that got me to breathe again after my own loss. Thank you, Sam. 

My heart — I thought it stopped. So I got in my car and headed for God. I passed two churches with cars parked in front. Then I stopped at the third because no one else had. 
It was early afternoon, the middle of the week. I chose a pew in the center of the rows. Episcopal or Methodist, it didn’t make any difference. It was as quiet as a church. 
I thought about the feeling of the long missed beat, and the tumble of the next ones as they rushed to fill the space. I sat there — in the high brace of quiet and stained glass — and I listened.
At the back of my house I can stand in the light from the sliding glass door and look out onto the deck. The deck is planted with marguerites and succulents in red clay pots. One of the pots is empty. It is shallow and broad, and filled with water like a birdbath.
My cat takes naps in the windowbox. Her gray chin is powdered with the iridescent dust from butterfly wings. If I tap on the glass, the cat will not look up. The sound that I make is not food.
When I was a girl I sneaked out at night. I pressed myself to hedges and fitted the shadows of trees. I went to a construction site near the lake. I took a concrete-mixing tub, slid it to the shore, and sat down inside it like a saucer. I would push off from the sand with one stolen oar and float, hearing nothing, for hours.
The birdbath is shaped like that tub.
I look at my nails in the harsh bathroom light. The scare will appear as a ripple at the base. It will take a couple of weeks to see.
I lock the door and run a tub of water.
Most of the time you don’t really hear it. A pulse is a thing that you feel. Even if you are somewhat quiet. Sometimes you hear it through the pillow at night. But I know that there is a place where you can hear it even better than that. 
Here is what you do. You ease yourself into a tub of water, you ease yourself down. You lie back and wait for the ripples to smooth away. Then you take a deep breath, and slide your head under, and listen for the playfulness of your heart.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Loneliness of Our Losses

I haven't written since January, and it's because I haven't been able to find the words. Since my last post, April 7th has come and gone. A year without my mom. Tomorrow, July 9th, is her birthday. I know I will forever mark these days - July 9th, April 7th - but I also know that I am not really supposed to talk about it anymore. I understand. I do. But ... it's still there. It will always be there. As my mom's sister said about losing her husband, "It gets easier, but it doesn't get better."

In April, I ran into an acquaintance who knew about my mom but who I had not seen in a while. We made small talk, and then she paused. "So ... how are you dealing with losing your mom?" I took a deep breath. There was a physical ache that I could not explain. She continued, "I mean ... are you over it yet?"

This felt like a punch to the gut. I struggled to say a few words, "You know ... it was just a year a few weeks ago ... I'm ok ... I just miss her ... "

"Well, you had all that good time together."

July 9th, 2013. My daughter, my mom, and me. 
She was right. She was. This woman with whom I was talking had lost her own mother when she was just a child. She hardly knew her. My husband lost his mother before our children were born. Students of mine have lost mothers or fathers -- or both -- and have had to find a way to go on. I know I am incredibly lucky to have had the mom I had and to have had her for nearly 37 years of my life. I know.

And yet ... the words (of this woman, who I knew to be kind, and who did not speak without sympathy) were cruel, despite their truth. And I think that cruelty came from her own huge loss decades before. She was still not over it.

None of us will ever be over the great losses of our life. Of that I am certain. They crack us open. There is a new loneliness. No one will ever truly understand what we have been through.

More than a year after losing my mom, I still wake in the middle of the night and relive that last morning with her. Or I see her ashes, disappearing into the water. And yet I know it is time for grief to pack its bags and move from public me to private me. It is no one else's job to understand my loss. Perhaps I can be kinder because of this. Perhaps. Or perhaps, someday, I can find the words, the words that make the loneliness of our losses a little less lonely. Until then, goodbye mom. A million goodbyes. I will love you and miss you forever.

My husband and me in Montreal last week. I am one of the lucky ones. I am blessed and grateful for my broken, beating heart, and for those I love still around me. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lessons from Fifth Grade Basketball: Nothing is Impossible

Grace had a basketball game tonight. They had played this team before, in the first game of the season, and lost 36-5 (this is their first year in the "A Division," and let's just say it hasn't been a walk in the park). "Mom, we're doomed," Grace said to me before the game, as she was filling her water bottle in the kitchen. Grace is about as competitive as you get, but losing multiple times by more than 20 points has a way of making a realist out of you. But doomed?
"I love watching her play." -my mom

"Wait a second!" I laughed. "I know it's going to be a tough game, but at least believe you have a chance. Your team has gotten a lot better since that first game!"

Grace was silent for a moment, and then, not sounding convinced, conceded, "OK. Nothing is impossible." Still, we both knew it was highly improbable.

The rain poured down as we drove to the gym and ran inside, shivering, but inside was cozy, and Grace and her teammates warmed up enthusiastically, despite the doom that lay ahead (in addition to having lost 36-5 before, this time they were missing one of their best players, Grace's good friend Ava). 

And then, the game started. Here we go, I thought. The other team looked tough. 

But then, something happened. We made the first shot, and then another. We were tough, too. 4-3, 5-3, 7-3, 9-3, 9-4 ... my texts to Anthony (who was home with Joseph and Genevieve) and my dad (who was taking my cousin back to school at Ursinus) became more and more enthusiastic. And, well, while I know this is just fifth grade basketball, it is also, like all sports, so much more as well. When Grace stole the ball and raced downcourt to make a basket and bring the score to 11-4, I realized, with astonishment, they actually might win this. And, though it would have been just a tiny little miracle in a tiny little gym in a tiny little town, it would have been just the little miracle that my heart needed tonight. 

Sometimes the impossible becomes possible, I thought. Sometimes you win when you don't think you can. 

After my mom died last year, I stood up and spoke at her service on April 11th.  That morning, I told the story of a different basketball game, a terrible, unfair game that Grace had lost. It was the last one my mom was able to attend. 

"My mom ... came to many of [Grace's] travel basketball games this winter, despite how she was feeling. Just two months ago she was at a heated basketball game of Grace’s, as both of the teams were undefeated coming into it. The other team was extremely rough, and obnoxious, and the ref wasn’t calling anything. Finally, when the ref didn’t call perhaps the 5th time that a girl on the other team blatantly pushed down one of Grace’s teammates, my mom couldn’t hold it in any longer: 'Come on ref!' she screamed, 'Call the foul!'." (full eulogy posted here: http://nanadays.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-mom-and-truth-adoption-and-otherwise.html)

Though I was telling the story to describe my mom's competitive spirit, I think for a long time I've also thought of that game as a metaphor for my mom's fight with cancer. It wasn't fair, and in the end she lost. It made me angry. It made me feel as though God weren't there, calling the fouls.  

So tonight was a chance to change the metaphor. And I realized that that bird of hope in my heart 
(my heart, which is protected now as it never was before by a thick wall of realism) still flutters about, wanting to believe the impossible. You can win the game. You can beat the cancer

I could practically feel my mom sitting there beside me tonight, cheering Grace on. "Sometimes, when I am watching Grace play and she breaks away and is sprinting downcourt, I am only in the moment and nowhere else," she told me last year. "It is my goal to have as many of these moments as possible." 

My mom would have loved the game tonight. 11-8, 18-14, 20-16, 20-20 and Grace, racing downcourt, trying to make the winning shot (time ran out). The girls found themselves in overtime, and even went up 21-20 at first, but in the end the other team was just too tough.

26-21. Going to cry, I texted Anthony at 6:15, moments before the game ended. Be strong, he texted back (and then, a few minutes later: Give G a big hug for me, and don't forget the milk). 

In the end, there were no miraculous wins tonight, but I have a new metaphor nonetheless. We all want the impossible, and that's ok. Sometimes it even happens. Miracles abound. But when it doesn't, when the game's unfair, or just too tough, if you can meet the buzzer racing downcourt, taking a shot, well, then ... 

Grace at Whole Foods. "I think it was my best game."
After the game, Grace and I went to Whole Foods for the milk, and we sat down to eat something, too. She relived a few of the painful missed opportunities of the game, but overall she was feeling pretty good about herself. In fact, she probably handled the loss better than I did. "I actually think that was my best game yet," she said. I agreed.

I wish she could have won -- because she played so tough, and because she deserved to as much as anyone (and, oh, Mom, in this metaphor, of course, you are Grace, and I am me) -- but I agreed.

Mom, July 2013, in her "Life is good" t-shirt. It might not be fair, but it is good. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Coat, My Mom's Coat

Me in my winter coat. Photo by 10-year-old Grace. 
Last year, my mom gave me a winter coat for Christmas. It is warm -- filled with "Premium European Goose Down" -- and covers me from head to knees. She gave it to me a month early because, like this year, winter arrived in November. I wore it almost every day. My sister laughed when she saw me in it because she had, unbeknownst to my mom, picked out an almost identical coat for her. So it came to be that my mom and I had matching coats. Yet my sister never got to give my mom the coat the way she wanted to. A week before Christmas, my mom had a CAT scan showing that she was not responding to treatment. A few days later, she and my dad met with hospice/palliative care. That day, Kate called me while I was driving to my parents. We cried together and debated whether or not she should give my mom the coat. Yes, we eventually decided. It was an act of hope, even though we knew. And my mom and I did wear those coats together a few times. She came to Grace's basketball games until she couldn't, always wearing the coat that made us laugh when we saw each other. "The twins," my mom would say.

She wore it, too, to her last doctor's appointment at Penn. It was on a Friday afternoon and the plan was that I would meet her and  my dad at their house and drive with them, but a snowstorm snarled traffic, so we decided to meet at the hospital. I knew that when it took me an hour and a half to drive across the city (usually a 15-minute drive) that my parents were in trouble, but what were they to do? They had already left and there was no turning back. Four hours later, and many panicked phone calls between my dad and me as he tried to find the best route (at one point I asked a police officer at the information desk, and he just shook his head, "Lady, the whole city's at a standstill. There's no good route"), my parents made it to within two blocks of the hospital, but were still not moving. My dad called, "Mom got out of the car and is walking the rest of the way. I think I'll be another half hour. I'll call you when I park.") I ran outside to look for her, but the snow was swirling and vision was tough. I crossed the street, walked in the direction of my dad's car, and still didn't see her. Wondering how I would ever find her, I ran back towards the hospital and there she was, standing right in front. "Mom!" I yelled, waving my hands above me, then running. She, in her coat, lifted her hand as well and smiled, shaking her head. A moment more and we were together, laughing at the absurdness of it all. In the nearly empty hospital we at first found that no one was on her floor, but a nurse on her way out led us to another floor, where, when I knocked and opened the door, another nurse, once I had explained our situation, said "Don't worry. We'll take care of you here. We got you." And they did.

This year, I've already worn the coat to the girls' soccer games, and to work. Every time I put it on I think of my mom with gratitude. Did she know what a perfect gift this would be when she gave it last year? Did she know how much I would appreciate feeling warm, and loved, every time I put it on? Sometimes, when I miss my mom too much, I like to think of seeing her again one day. And maybe it will be just like that day at Penn, in the snowstorm, when we finally found each other again and laughed about our arduous journeys. "Can you believe it?" we'll shake our heads, but not unhappily, because we are together. "So much time to get here!"

For now, I have the coat. The cold weather is bitter and brutal, and I can't say I enjoy it one bit, but I can stand it because of my coat, and that's going to be enough until the spring.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life is a Struggle. Enjoy the Struggle.

The above advice came to me via one of my high school seniors, via her grandmother, Millicent Bracy. I like it, and I I've been thinking about it this last week, which was a bit of a struggle. It started last Friday night with Joseph, my three year old, throwing a massive fit in Barnes and Noble because he wanted a Spider Man toy, which Genevieve, my eight year old, had shown him. He didn't want to leave without it, and he didn't want to leave, period. After I slide tackled him to keep him from running away I still had to wait in line to buy the birthday present we were there for, because we had a packed day the next day, starting at 7 am and leading all the way up to my niece's 3:30 pm birthday party, and there was simply no other time we could buy it. Sorry, Barnes and Noble customers of last Friday night. I really am sorry. I could tell by your looks that you were not pleased. I know that listening to my son yell, "I'm putting slobber on you!" and then watching him actually wipe slobber on me must not have been your idea of an ideal evening. I did not enjoy it either.
Joseph, in a moment of peace.

The next morning we all stood shivering in the pouring rain to watch my daughter's tournament soccer games. That was actually a highlight of the week. I always love watching Grace play. Afterwards, it was to my niece's birthday party. Another highlight. I roller-skated and ate cake, so you can see why. (I also gave her the birthday present that we had so painstakingly picked out the night before). But that night, it was on to the beach, and the next morning, Sunday morning, my sister, dad, and I, as planned, kayaked out on the sparkling waters that had been such a part of my mom's life and said our final goodbyes (if there can ever be such a thing as final goodbyes). My heart was heavy. My heart is heavy.  And so, as I woke up each morning to run this week, I contemplated Millicent Bracy's advice: Life is a Struggle. Enjoy the Struggle.

Enjoying the struggle in Barnegat
Each day, the alarm would go off in the dark, and I would run west alone. This week, I was thinking about my dad. He came over in the rain on Monday to plant daffodil bulbs in our front garden. Joseph helped, placing each bulb in the hole my dad had dug for him and covering it with dirt. When they finished, Joseph looked at the ground, head tilted, and said, "Are they gonna grow now?" No, Joseph, they will not grow now. And each morning, as I ran in the dark, this is what I thought about. How long it takes for things to grow. How hard it is to wait, not knowing if they ever will. Still, I kept running. Not many people were out this week, in the dark. When I crossed the footbridge, where in September I was rewarded for my efforts with the beautiful pink hints of a sunrise, I was still in the dark.

I know, somehow, that I need to keep running, that this is what is saving me, but it didn't feel good this week. Still, I keep going. On Thursday, finally, a block from home, I felt relieved. It was still dark, but I had gotten up another morning, and I had done what I know I needed to do. A cool glass of water was ahead of me, and a warm shower. Almost home! Then, without warning, I fell flat on my face. I was in my neighbor's driveway, my foot having caught a slight crack. If someone hadn't just pulled into the the next driveway over, I would have been crying as I lay face-down on the sidewalk, my hand and hip hurting. Instead, I jumped up, embarrassed, and waved to the car to show I was ok. I am ok! I am ok! She was not my neighbor, as I thought, but just a woman turning around. She quickly drove away.
Seeing my dear friend Crary in NY, a highlight of the week.  Worth the ticket.

Am I enjoying the struggle of my life? I am not sure. I'd like to be the kind of person who does. Maybe it's more that I enjoy the moments between the struggle. This weekend, after   a week of more children throwing fits, several unexpected and rather steep bills, many nights of less sleep than I would like, and a traffic ticket of $143 for making an illegal right turn in New York City (for what it's worth, I really didn't see that no turn sign), I  could also look back and see many moments of sweetness. Last night, my family and I went camping. We roasted marshmallows around the campfire and slept side by side in a tent by the lake. We talked and laughed and felt blessed. And I was all set to write about this, and only this, tonight.

These guys are worth the struggle. Even slobber. 
Honestly, that's all I should write about, because I am blessed. BUT, that's not the end of the story. Because we came home to find we had been robbed. Computers, television, stereo, jewelry of great sentimental value … even Grace's $15 Target alarm clock was gone (our vacuum, too). So I guess this is what life is going to be like. For every sunrise, dark mornings. Unexpected falls on my face. Not, as the saying goes, a rose garden. And, like Joseph, I want the flowers to grow now! I want my rose garden. We planted them, didn't we? Why aren't they growing? Will they grow tomorrow? When, dear flowers deep in the ground, will you grow? Because I am waiting.