Silence is not golden…

Here at Terri’s, cleaning up the kitchen, and the silence is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I feel as if it is choking me. My throat aches as it fights to temper the tears.

I’m standing where Terri should be standing. Where Terri should be washing her own dishes. With two working arms. Swaying to the rhythms of Jay Z. Reviewing her day. Planning her tomorrow.

But instead it is me standing here at her sink. Feeling the incredibly heavy, seemingly insurmountable weight of grief. Of anger. Of silence.

I hate fucking cancer.

I hate that it has taken away Miss M’s mother. Heron’s wife. Spider’s daughter. My niece. Jamie’s “big sister”. I hate that Marisa’s eyes were swollen tonight from crying this afternoon for her Mamãe. That Heron was exhausted from trying to balance housework, laundry, and grocery shopping with entertaining his little girl. That Terri isn’t here to take Marisa school shopping tomorrow for just the right back pack. Just the right lunch box. Just the right sassy outfit for the first day of first grade this week.

Grief is a many layered phenomenon. Just when you think you have taken it by the horns, it sneaks up and pierces your heart.

But tonight, for one incredibly powerful moment, we regained our hold. As Heron, Marisa, Jamie and I sat around the table after dinner, Heron noticed the humidity monitor read 77 three times; simultaneously.

“Quick, make a wish! All the numbers are the same. You are supposed to make a wish!” exclaimed Papai.

I squeezed my eyes tight, wishing for happiness for Heron and Miss M. I cried, “I hope mine comes true!”

“Mine will probably take a long time,” Marisa said somewhat solemnly.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s so far away and there’s two.”

“Which two?” Papai asked.

She looked at each of us, hesitated for the briefest of moments and said, “Mamãe and Nana.”

“I thought that’s who you were wishing about,” I said, smiling conspiratorially. She smiled back. “Why will it take so long?”

“Because I have to go to heaven. And it’s far away.”

“Ahhh,” Papai said, “Maybe you will see them tonight in your dreams,” he coaxed, with that loving twinkle in his eyes.

“Will there be lots of candy in your heaven?” Jamie asked, giving Miss M that Jamie look that always elicits a smile.

Sure enough, a huge smile spread across Marisa’s face. “Yup!” she gleefully exclaimed.

She grabbed hold of the wooden centerpiece, “FAMILY”.

“That’s right Miss M, we are family. I got all my nieces, daughters, son-in-law’s with me!” I sang, Jamie rolling her eyes at her zany mother.

And with that, we filled the silence. With our love. With our connection. With our shared pain. And tomorrow Jamie and I will fill Miss M’s silence with the best shopping spree ever. And in two weeks, Jamie will fill the silence by taking Miss M to her second, count them, second concert. This time it’s One Direction. Time will tell if they beat out Miss M’s first concert, Taylor Swift! And we will continue to do our best to fill the silence. To take it by its horns.

I invite you to do the same. Here on Terri’s blog. With each other.

And most importantly, with Heron and Marisa, who need our help filling their silence the most.

Love,
Aunty Laurie

We Are Family...

We Are Family…

Paying It Forward

 

Terri at Blowout 2014

Terri at Blowout 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard to believe a year has passed since our beloved Warrior was the honoree of Blowout 2014. Such love. Such generosity. Such hope.

This year it was our turn to pay it forward. For Terri and for this year’s recipient, 10 yr. old Braiden, diagnosed  with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor.

Like Terri, Braiden exudes positivity despite battling seemingly endless health challenges. Like Terri, his love of life radiates from his being. And like Terri, he and his family were blown away by the love. The generosity. The hope. The Blowout organizers and volunteers once again brought together a community to make a profound difference in a family’s life.

Although this year was particularly painful for us, our grief was tempered by none other than Terri herself.

On the day before the Blowout, Heron sent me this video, Terri Blowout 2015 . My heart ached watching my girl; alive, fighting the fight, wowing the crowd with her inspirational spirit.

I left for yoga after having a good cry and half way through the class, Terri literally “embraced” me. One second I was in down dog, then after rising to mountain pose, I swear I felt her presence enfold me. Tears spilled from my eyes as I “held” her to me, welcoming that achingly familiar but seemingly elusive sensation that I have come to recognize as Terri’s spirit.

When I reached my car, there was a text from her childhood friend, Amy. At the same time I was practicing yoga, Amy was driving to western Massachusetts. So overcome was she with missing Terri, she pulled off the highway. She told me she was wishing she believed in “signs”, like Heron and I, when suddenly, a woman walked in front of her car who looked just like Terri. She shrugged it off and got out of the car to find the bathroom. Walking by two different vendors, their tables were filled with “I love New York” trinkets. She smiled, feeling the “signs” from her best friend hitting her over the head! Once in the bathroom she realized there was no toilet paper. The person next to her was kind enough to assist. Opening the door, she realized her savior was none other than the woman who looked just like Terri…

Later that day I got a text from Aunty Cole. I had sent her a card a month or two earlier that was returned. So I fixed the address and sent it off again and she had just received it. Aunty Cole described experiencing a plaguing, free floating anxiety connected to the loss of her best friend. And then my card arrived.  Just when she needed it the most.

On the same day Heron sent me the video. The same day I felt Terri in yoga. The same day Amy experienced her own “signs”…

Terri knew The Blowout was going to be a bittersweet day for us so she found a way to validate that attending was exactly what we needed to do.

It was beautiful. It was painful. It was necessary.

And Terri did what she always did best. Her timeless lessons of love and living life large streamed through in Marisa’s smiling face as she and her BFF Jillian rode the pony and climbed the rock wall, touched our hearts through Aunty Dori, cousin Ian and Jenna’s powerful music, and shone brightly within the 360 degree rainbow that appeared in the sky.

Her message was loud and clear. Live. Love. Dream. Hope. And most importantly, embrace each and every opportunity to join together and honor her spirit, so that it will never, ever, die.

Love, Aunty Laurie

Papai and Miss M

Papai and Miss M

The second generation of BFF's- Miss M and Amy's daughter, Jillian

The second generation of BFF’s- Miss M and Amy’s daughter, Jillian

 

 

 

 

 

Aunty Dori, Jenna, Ian and Danny

Aunty Dori, Jenna, Ian and Danny

Terri sent rainbow

Terri sent rainbow

Aint no mountain high enough!

Aint no mountain high enough! Go Marisa!