“And when I die, there’ll be one child born…”

Yesterday marked three years since Terri journeyed to the other side.

Three years… Inconceivable yet undeniable.

So after dropping Miss M off at school I turned on my Laura Nyro Pandora, hoping to “hear” her voice. And this is what came on;

“And when I die, and when I’m gone, there’ll  be one child born in this world to carry on, to carry on…”

Tears filled my eyes as a chill swept through my body.

Miss M had gathered her Mamãe close that morning as she packed for school. I looked on as she lovingly pulled out each and every thing in Terri’s wallet-reading the membership card for the Dension Pequitsepos Nature Center in CT, savoring Terri’s license, counting how much change Mamãe had. And then she lovingly wrapped her favorite ornament which pictures Terri and Miss M in Central Park on one side and outside their favorite restaurant in NYC on the other.

Last night Team Terri gathered to honor and remember her beloved Mamãe. Some in the flesh, others via technology. The love and light that permeated my home was pure Terri. And at the center of it all? The one child born to Mamãe and Papai…

Here is what she wrote to her Mamãe-

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So thank you my beloved niece for the gift that is your daughter. She radiated your essence, your beauty and your open heart and I am so deeply grateful she is here to carry on.

Miss you my love,

Aunty L

 

 

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“Reach To The Sky Terri”

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Once I fall you help me up
You give me water in a cup
You love me like you do
You know I love you too…

Happy Birthday Mamãe

Love, Marisa

 

 

 

 

Marisa is an 8 yr. old girl, writing songs, making art, having fun and most importantly eating candy!

I dream of having my own horse and all the animals that I dream of.

But for now I can play with my two favorite dogs, Aura and Brownie.

And to this day, I will be happy, sad, excited, nervous, and all those feelings.

And Mamãe will be doing all those things too.

In my memory I can picture us baking a cake and licking the bowl together.

And even though you aren’t alive right now, I know you have all those feelings too and that you are busy creating beautiful sunsets like you made for us at the bench tonight, putting on our favorite songs (and yours) and visiting us by sending a deer or two near us.

Thank you for watching over me and thank you for loving me.

And as I said, to this day I will be happy, sad, excited, nervous and many other feelings too.

I love you.

Marisa

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Time Marches On

Dartmouth Public Schools FB post of Miss M- James M Quinn School's newest cafeteria worker!

Miss M makes her debut on Dartmouth Public School’s Facebook page!!!

This photo of Miss M at her new school job popped up on my FB timeline this morning and I was overjoyed to see her newest transition in action. Time certainly does march on…

So many firsts-first day at a new school, first time on the bus, first day working in the cafeteria, first time balancing life between Papai’s and Aunty Laurie’s (you forgot my sneakers at your house Aunty!!), first open house…

And yet within all these firsts I am reminded yet again that the loss of her mother continues to be a primary lens through which each of these firsts is filtered. Especially for me…

The “knowing” of this loss continues to march to its’ own beat. Just this morning, after rejoicing at seeing Miss M’s smiling face on FB,  I literally burst into tears driving to yoga. That tender space in my heart that holds Terri and my sister longed to hear their voices; to talk to them about this newest chapter in their daughter/granddaughter’s life.

Driving by the field where Terri often “appears” as a deer to Miss M and I, I swiped at my tears before switching from Miss M’s Taylor Swift to my beloved Laura Nyro Pandora station.

And there they were- immediately calling to me as the first few chords of Laura’s rendition of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” filled my car.

So talk to them I did…

And as I talked I realized that each of us is called to have these “conversations”. None of us are immune.  But the essential question becomes, do we choose to answer? Do we choose to “show up”?  And furthermore, do we choose to show up for each other and hold each other through these “conversations”?

For me, it’s non negotiable. I have to show up. To examine that heart space that holds both the joys and the tragedies of my life. Both for myself and for those I hold near and dear to my heart.

Because if I don’t, the pain and the ache and the emptiness haunt me. Delivers me to a deep and dark place where fear and anxiety threaten to suffocate me and keep the love and the light just beyond my reach.

So I choose to show up. To have those heart rending conversations. With myself and with others.

Will you join me?

Love,

Aunty Laurie

 

 

 

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

Miss M had to say goodbye today. Yet again…

As did I.

As I prepared to journey to CT this morning to bring Miss M “home”, I was completely caught off guard by the raw emotion that welled within me as I wrote a farewell and thank you to Miss M’s school. The tears rolled down my cheeks and onto the card as I tried to put into words the depth of my gratitude. I swear it felt as if I was saying goodbye to Terri all over again…

As I struggled to pull myself together I thought, “If this is how I feel, imagine how Miss M is feeling?? How in God’s name am I going to help her through this day?”

Traveling to CT I sifted through the pain. In and out. My pain. Miss M’s pain. So intertwined yet distinct at the same time…

And then I was there. And Miss M and her BFF needed to be fed. So off we went to grab some food and play at McCook Park one last time.

Miss M and I then made our way to Lillie B to say goodbye to her teachers. To the “village of mothers” who mothered her, nurtured her love of learning, cheered her on through her challenges, and provided just the right “holding environment” which enabled Miss M to live through the most difficult time in her life.

Hugs, and smiles and presents abounded. As did the love. And the promise to stay in touch.

The neighborhood goodbye pizza party followed. Music. Laughter. More presents. More love. Miss M was even serenaded by her BFF’s big sister, Sarah, with her own rendition of “When You’re Gone” from the movie, Pitch Perfect, cup tapping and all…

Pictures were taken, my car was packed to the hilt, kisses and hugs were given.

And then it was time…

Papai would be staying till Thursday to finish packing but it was time for Miss M and I to leave. I took her inside one last time to say goodbye to the house.

And it finally hit her.

I stroked her hair as she held onto the wall, sobbing. And I cried right along with her. It’s mind boggling how quickly we can be transported back to that deep and searing grief. To that all too familiar space in the depth of your being where we hold our departed loved ones.

In the end, there’s no way around it. You just have to go through.

So we did.

We went into every room taking pictures for a memory book. Eventually we made our way back outside where she melted into Papai’s arms.

On the way home our tears slowly subsided. She opened the gift I bought her and we listened to the “Kissing Hand”.  As she read along, she sucked on the enormous lollipop her teacher had given her.

I put Pandora on; her new favorite station is Kelly Clarkson, her new favorite song, “Since U Been Gone”. I silently begged Terri to “play” it for us, just as she had the day Miss M visited her new school in Dartmouth.

At one point, Miss M commented, “These songs are talking about our day.” The name of the song? “Home…”

“You’re right,” I replied. “I think it’s Mamãe’s way of telling us she understands we are sad about leaving CT but she is so happy you are moving to Dartmouth. And you know what honey? Home is really where the people you love are. And Mamãe is always with you. No matter where you are.”

An hour later we finally turned onto my road. The first few chords of the next song began. My eyes darted to the screen.

“Since U Been Gone…”

I pumped up the volume, we high fived and grabbed hold of each other, and danced and sang at the top of our lungs all the way home.

We made it through.

Thanks Terri..

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Family is… (Forever)

"Family is... Forever. I just couldn't fit it!'

“Family is… Forever. I just couldn’t fit it!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what Miss M said to Grandpa and I about the drawing she made on Nana Canada’s Buddha Board.

It’s remarkable to me how Miss M so succinctly and effortlessly offers up these profound “koans” as her mother called them. But the reality is, it’s in her DNA; she literally personifies the spirits of her mother and grandmother.  And this personification is never more apparant than when we visit the magical island of Bowen.

This is the 2nd year Grandpa has brought us out for a visit. And as such, my heart and soul literally rejoice at the “love story” that unfolds between Miss M and Grandpa each year. A love story grounded in her mother and grandmother; Grandpa’s daughter and wife. It’s a yin and yang communion of sorts-two grieving yet rejoicing souls…

Witnessing these moments of grace and grief between the two of them sometimes takes my breath away. Mamãe and Nana Canada’s energy seeps out of every pore of the Robinson home and Bowen itself is fertile ground for revisiting, remembering and reaffirming that family is in fact forever.

Miss M and I left the island today deeply grounded as well as recharged in a “deep knowing” that the answers lie within strengthening, honoring and being present for the moments of connection with those we call family. Past and present. Now and forever.

With that in mind, it’s time to share the “change on the horizon” I alluded to in my last post.

Miss M and her Dad have decided to leave Connecticut and move to Dartmouth…

Terri and her Mom have been diligently working behind the scenes to ensure Miss M will truly be surrounded by her “Forever Family”.  A “village of mothers” so to speak, handpicked by Terri herself, to help Miss M’s Dad carry on Terri’s legacy.

A legacy of cherishing Miss M. Of teaching her to live and love deeply. To pursue her passions, reach for the stars, and in so doing, make this world a better place. To learn how to be true to herself and honor her truth. To be inspired and inspire others. And to find the beauty in life and nurture her soul.

This legacy is exactly what our trip to Bowen Island inspired in Miss M.

And we truly believe this is what moving home to her Forever Family in Dartmouth will inspire as well.

Love,

Aunty L

Together again

Together again

 

 

 

Miss M leaves her "mark" on Bowen

Miss M leaves her “mark” on Bowen

Engrossed in Grandpa's storytelling

Engrossed in Grandpa’s storytelling

Loving life

Loving life

 

 

Signs

Change is on the horizon and Terri (and her Mom) are weighing in.

The name for this blog post came to me a few days ago. I’m away for my 27th annual GWA-Girls’ Weekend Away-a girlfriend retreat Terri visited as often as she could. Membership requires “tribunal approval” and needless to say, Terri was a shoe in…

For some reason, I’ve been struggling with “seeing” the signs of late. With believing. With keeping my heart open. But then my girl “showed up” with such a vengeance my gut shouted, “Yes, Laurie, it’s Terri! And Jeanne. Listen to them god dammit!”

Open your heart…

“Gracefulwomanwarrior” the manuscript is poised to launch. Phase one is complete. First readers are weighing in and the response is as my heart expected. Terri’s story is one that needs to be told.

But just how to do that has been weighing on me. Navigating the complicated process of publication is overwhelming to say the least.  So I carved some time to pick the wise and enlightened brain of my dear friend and author, Christa Johnson as to next steps- copy editing, query letters, self-publishing. The list goes on and on.

Christa’s counsel was invaluable, but our “work session” at Ridgevale Beach in Chatham was cut short. No longer able to deny the fact that the mistiness had now turned into big fat rain drops, we quickly packed our gear. Next steps would just have to wait.

Back at the house my BFF Jo-Ann was quick to point out we needed to “deal with” the overflowing recycling bin. I grabbed the realtor’s number and opened my phone to call. Instead of opening to my home screen, there was an internet page open.

Cape Cod Writers Center: Supporting published and aspiring writers…

WTF???? How the hell did that happen? I showed Christa and Jo, explaining to Jo that Christa and I were literally just brainstorming next steps with Terri’s manuscript. And this appears??? Instead of my home page which always opens first? When I had definitely not searched for any such info on my phone?

Christa meanwhile is sitting there with her big Buddha smile, nodding her head.

“Well of course you have to go,” she challenged.

“Absolutely!” Jo agreed.

So I scrolled through the dates. The courses. And they were right. It was exactly what I needed to do.

“Signs, signs, everywhere signs…”

After a few tears I sat outside, gazing at the beautiful vista of my childhood home, Chatham, and jotted down the name of this blog post and a few sentences.

Fast forward to the next day. A group of us were prepping for our annual pilgrimage to Ptown. Getting into the car I asked my sister Dori which Pandora station she wanted for the ride.

“Laura Nyro.”

As I turned to back down the driveway our eyes locked. Laura’s haunting, melodic voice was singing, “Will You Still Love Me”. Our Jeanne song…

Dori then shared her “sign”. Right before leaving she was sitting on the deck, contemplating the beautiful meandering ocean tributaries. A red cardinal literally landed on the railing in front of her.  And just sat there. Staring straight at her.

She felt them both. Mother and daughter. Jeanne and Terri Luanna. Joining us for the trip to our ancestral home. Provincetown…

On the way home my phone dinged. Assuming it was yet another text from my sister Mary coordinating her arrival in the morning, Christa grabbed it off the dash to read aloud since I was driving.  But it’s not Mary…

“Hope u r having a fab girls getaway. Both Amy and I got Facebook memories with Terri today. It’s not a coincidence!!! Did you get any signs this trip?”

It’s Terri’s BFF Maureen. The one who organizes Miles For Marisa, the 5k to benefit Marisa’s Educational Fund.

As soon as I get home I text Maureen.

“OMG!!!!! Literally working on a blog post entitled, “Signs”… Such positive energy coming from our girl.”

To which she replied, “OMG!!!!!!!!!!! No shit! I literally hit send to you and got this text from my sister who is working on a collage for her 40th that said, ‘Look at these gems Tyler just found.'”

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Terri… In the good old days… Hanging with her “posse”…

Yes, Terri is certainly pushing through. And she is working incredibly hard on her biggest most powerful “sign” to date…

Stay tuned.

Change is on the horizon…

Love,

Aunty Laurie

Terri's first GWA "03" Mystic

Terri’s first GWA “03” Plymouth

GWA "05" Mystic

GWA “05” Mystic

GWA "08" Truro

GWA “08” Truro

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GWA "14" Mystic

GWA “14” Mystic

Angel Wings

Terri’s been “popping up” all over the place… Check out the “wings” surrounding Marisa’s first recital pictures!

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All the Moms were comparing pics when one Mom pointed to my phone exclaiming, “Look at the angel wings!” Her sparkling blue eyes locked with mine and she said with complete confidence and authority, “It’s her Mama!”

I looked down to see what she meant. I swiped my phone and there they were. Again. And again. In every single picture, Marisa was surrounded by this ethereal shadow.

That same Mom quickly pulled out her phone to show me and the other moms her own photos. Not one contained that shadow. Same backdrop. Same adorable children preening in their twinkling costumes.

And there Marisa stood, in the center of us all. Beaming. Soaking up the Mamãe energy.

The owner of Broadway Kids & Company asked to see it. Tears sprang to her eyes, matching mine. “That’s beautiful.”

She looked at me, hesitated for a few seconds, then said, “Do you get signs from her often?”

I nodded my head, recognizing that familiar warmth spreading through my chest.

Not surprising, given I have been immersed in everything that is Terri since my last blog post. I have transformed Terri’s blog into manuscript form. And although there is much work still to be done, I feel as though we are perched on a precipace, almost ready to fly.

Marisa is over the moon excited. She and I have even mapped out our gracefulwomanwarrior book tour! NYC, Ohio, Vancouver, CT, Massachusetts. All of the places Terri lived. Loved. Inspired.

And I swear, as I continue to engage Marisa in her mother’s story, it’s almost as if Marisa experiences an “innate knowing” of her mother. The story of their mother/daughter bond is and always will be there for the taking. All we have to do- you and I-those of us who knew and loved Terri or were touched by her blog, is share our Terri stories with Marisa and they will be “written” into their story.

When I left the studio tonight to drive home the messages continued. The first song to come on Pandora was, “To A Child” by Laura Nyro.

What is love? Child I am here to stand by you.

And you will find,  your own way hard and true.

And I’ll find  mine. Cause I’m growing with you.

And we are finding our way…

With Terri’s Angel Wings surrounding us in their warm embrace each and every step of the way…

Love,

Aunty Laurie

The Changing Tides of Grief…

Our grief is shifting…

Especially Miss M’s.

In and out. Ebbing and flowing. Deeper and darker, (if that’s even possible), than it has since our Warrior took her leave-taking just over two years ago.

Sometimes if feels as if Miss M is being swept away by a fierce undertow of anguish. And sorrow.  It literally creeps up on her, seemingly out of nowhere, latching on with such a vengeance, it leaves all of us flailing and thrashing, to and fro, desperate to rescue her.  Without drowning ourselves…

You see she’s finally grocking that death is permanent. It’s irrefutable. Her steadfast magical thinking lifejacket is losing its buoyancy. It couldn’t hold her up through the harsh reality that Mamãe can’t actually write a “real” letter back to her from heaven. And it also couldn’t answer her tearful question, “But why did God have to make diseases?”

Luckily, her loving, stalwart, coast guard fleet were at the ready. All hands were/are on deck.

I truly can’t express how deeply grateful we are to the inner circle of family and friends who surround and hold our girl (and each other) through the painful grief, allowing us to reemerge and breathe in the sweet, clean air of life and love.

And so today, Miss M and I released yet another letter to Mamãe in heaven. And in her own way, our beloved Terri Luanna answered…

Driving to Mamãe’s favorite beach, armed with her letter attached to a balloon rainbow, Miss M and I were poised to set the mood through just the right Pandora station (which also happens to be THE way Terri and her mother, Jeanne “write” to me). Unfortunately, my radio absolutely refused to cooperate. No matter how many times I turned that damn thing on and off (or how hard I jabbed the play button!) Pandora would. Not. Work.

Miss M kept insisting I play the song, Mercy, by Shawn “Mayonnaise” (Mendez). Over and over… Irregardless of the fact that PANDORA WAS NOT WORKING, and I don’t even have that song in my iTunes.

No, that did not stop my single-minded great niece. She kept asking for it over and over! I finally got the IPOD function to work, so we settled on the score from, Pup Star, her favorite movie about a dog and her little girl (whose Mom died…)

As I pulled up to Round Hill Beach, I silently said a prayer to Terri, “Please honey, give us a sign…”

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When we got back in the car, lo and behold, Pandora miraculously started working!

“Put it on the Shawn Mayonnaise station!!” she yelled.

So I did.

As I turned to back up, the name of the next song flashed on the dashboard.

Mercy… By Shawn “Mayonnaise”…

 

 

to: Mamae Love: Marisa

10/25/16

 

 

Dear Mamae,

We will sellabrate your birthday today! We miss you. I am leving you some candy from dylins and a delicous cupcake. It has springkals and your favorite, cocoanut. We also watched vidiows of you and me and papai.

to: Mamae Love: Marisa

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PS from Aunty Laurie- after all the love, the joy and the remembering, it was in the safety of her own home and the warm embrace of Papai that the tears finally fell…

 

Bowen Magic

Well, it finally fell out!!! After weeks and weeks of it hanging by a thread!

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And it’s our last night with Grandpa on Bowen… Coincidence? I think not.

Terri and Jeanne truly outdid themselves tonight. True to form, their finale literally took my breath away…

It was a quiet morning. Grandpa was in rare form all week-singing, hiking, skipping stone after stone, attending Bowen’s Canada Day celebration, foraging through the woods. So today, we decided to take it easy.

Eventually we made our way to Killarney Lake where the magnificence of Bowen’s rain forrest cast its’ wondrous spell. Upon our return home, I forced myself to begin the preparations for our pending leave-taking. Sifting through our things, I was drawn to the pictures of Terri and Jeanne that I’m taking home. One held my gaze, calling to me…

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The labyrinth… Jeanne had walked that labyrinth. She had taken our mother to walk that labyrinth. And here was Terri, walking that labyrinth. Anya, Jeanne’s best friend and I, were just talking about it yesterday, when she had us over for lunch.

So I journeyed to Xenia Centre . And I too walked the labyrinth. And Jeanne and Terri walked it with me. Memories swirled one after another. Joyous memories. Painful memories. I laughed. I cried.

When I returned home I noticed the goodies Miss M and I had left out for the deer that morning after skyping with Aunty Cole. Miss M had asked to “feed the deer Aunty Cole’s way”. When I asked what she meant she told me that on her last visit to Bowen with Mamãe, she and Aunty Cole had placed carrots on the tree stump next to the trampoline. So that’s exactly what we did.

Grandpa, Miss M and I gathered at the kitchen table. Just as we were getting ready to prep for dinner,  I jumped out of my seat yelling, (or as Miss M likes to say, ‘freaking out’), “Oh my God!”

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IMG_6779IMG_5222IMG_8260But that wasn’t all…

While marveling at Nana Canada and Mamãe’s uncanny abilities, (a mother and daughter deer pranced right in front of me on my walk to Terri’s old house yesterday!) Grandpa and I were moved to play a few videos for Miss M. The first was her at about 10 months old, dancing in the living room on Bowen.

“Where is Nana?”

I quickly found one that showed Jeanne and Miss M, swaying together to the music, fully entranced with each other. Then Grandpa showed us a few from the Bronx when Miss M was just born-Nana Canada holding her lovingly in her arms, singing her a Beatles song, then one with Nana Nana taking a turn,  me and Jeanne playing paparazzi in the background.

But it was the video of Terri and Miss M skyping with Grandpa that broke open our hearts…

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Here was Mamãe in the flesh… Laughing. Planning Granspa’s next visit. Literally telling Miss M how much she loved her. And then Mamãe started tickling her. And Miss M asked me if she could act like a baby, cuddling next to me. So we did just that. Then she asked to go on the floor and have me tickle her like Mamãe did. So we did just that. And that’s when the tooth came out…

And all of a sudden I remembered the night Terri and I went to see the Long Island Medium. At the end Theresa kept asking Terri about Miss M’s tooth. Had she lost one? Was one loose? Terri said no several times but Theresa kept coming back to that and told us to pay attention to that.

As I lay with Miss M after saying prayers, I swear I ‘heard’ Terri say, “That’s what she meant, Aunty. That it would be you, along with Papai and Grandpa and Aunty Cole that would keep me “alive” for my daughter…”

And this is how I am learning to go on without Terri and Jeanne… By living and loving fully. By being present and open to what the universe has to offer. By savoring the gifts they left me.

And I invite you to do the same…

Love,

Aunty Laurie

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