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.

Aunty Laurie

We Are Family...

We Are Family…

19 Responses

  1. Laurie, I didn’t know Terri but I did know Jeanne. I think of Terri and Heron and Miss M often, sending metta — May they be free from suffering. May they be joyous. May they rest in the knowledge of love given and received. I wish with all my heart that none of you had had to endure the pain your family has experienced in the last few years.
    Love from Gabriola Island, Mary.

    • Thank you Mary… Feeling your love and heartfelt wishes, as well as a “hug” from my sister Jeanne through your compassion and caring.

    • Oh K’shandra, deepest gratitude for sharing this! I will let her Dad know. Spider was actually supposed to be there but just couldn’t make it this year. I know it will put a smile on his face as well as a tear in his eyes as it did mine.

  2. Grief,as you know,will rest quietly for a time and then ambush you when you’re distracted by something ordinary.Honestly,I barely knew Terri,and it was mostly through this blog.But I miss her…miss the awesome way she saw things.We connected through our respective illnesses and the unwelcome changes they brought to our bodies,and sometimes we both went “I know,right???” and we remembered to laugh.Jeanne told me that a long time ago…you have to laugh at it.So hold on to Miss M and Heron,and don’t forget to laugh.

    • You are so right Vicki! And laugh we did today, as my daughter Jamie and I played, shaped, cleaned and ate ice cream with our fabulous Miss M!

  3. Terri was such a life force! She touched so many, and me in only the short time I was around her. She talked of her intense love of her family & friends. Love like that is just so painful to lose. But it is in all of you & it will carry you through the tough times. You are so lucky to have each other! Hopes & prayers that your happiness & strength out weight the sadness & weakness.

  4. Laurie, it’s a long, long journey. You are still all in my thoughts and prayers. Miss M is so lucky to have extended family; it doesn’t replace her mother (what could, really?), but I know it helps. My own Mum was 10 when her mother died, with siblings from 20 to 2. They were isolated on the prairies, but with support from family and neighbouring friends, their dad was able to raise them all. It helped that he was a farmer and available as needed, but still . . . even in their 90s now, I hear the catch in their voices as they recall those days of grieving and searching for a path forward.

    It’s a heartbreaking time for all of you. May you find peace and comfort in doing what you do each day. Love and Light to each of you. ~ Linne

    • Thank you, Linne, for your insightful and comforting words. My dad died when I was 8 leaving my 36 year old Mom with 5 girls to raise and it was truly the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child” that held true for all of us. Feeling your light and love, Laurie

  5. I wish we were all neighbors. In my heart, we are. Hugs to all, especially Miss M– one of the funnest, grooviest, and dearest kiddos I know.

  6. I never met Terri, but was a long time reader. This post made me cry as if she were a friend I had met, and got to know her family. So sorry she had stupid cancer. And so so sorry your family has to go on without her x

  7. At one point when I popped in here, I wanted to make a joke. “And a special thank you to your dad. He’s why I’m here today – without his books about Callahans, and a special view of the world that it entailed…”

    “… I wouldn’t have followed his blog and learned about your struggles and the blog you were writing so, without him, I wouldn’t have found”

    In my mind, of course, it would be one of those great moments of happy pride – punctured because “why I’m here today” didn’t mean he saved me somehow. And I imagined he’d get a good laugh about it, but I know it might also have been a bitter disappointment, because he seems like the kind of guy who wants to spread some awfully good ideas, and wants to know that they really do some good.

    Well, they do. He has helped save a few lives. Really. Not mine, but he did shape it in some very important ways.

    His first Callahan’s story – That Guy With The Eyes – am I remembering the title? was a fascinating shift for me. I was all pragmatic, you know? If a guy was going to destroy the earth, and preferred dying to doing that, well, I could get that. But these fellows in the story refused to do that.

    Oh, maybe, if he’d broken down and begged, and they realized they really had no choice, time had run out, they would have painfully, reluctantly done so.But first, the choice was “no, it’s not your fault, so hurting you isn’t even self defense, and I’m not going to help you kill yourself just because you’ve got a nasty problem you can’t figure out.” And, as is so often the case, there was a solution… one far better than death.

    What a message – don’t give up hope, don’t take any drastic steps, not while there’s time, not while there’s other possibilities. You just might find the most unexpected of answers.

    He has saved some lives – I actually know of a couple or more.

    Coming here, I was a bit of a shaman – a guy who sees the spirit world, sees things other folks don’t. And I was tired. Always. But I wanted to help. Spider wasn’t a friend, like, I knew him, but he was a friend like, he says he’s facing down all the demons of hell in an onrushing horde, and I had the chance, I’d say say “then get behind me or stand at my side – you ain’t facing them alone.”

    And he’d faced that, and worse, and now was again… if I could do something, I had to try.

    Would what I had to offer do any good? I didn’t know – but you have to reach out when you feel love driving you to do so. Because the fear to reach out, in love, is the one that can keep you from ever finding the greatest meanings to your life. Spider had to write; I had to listen and care, and respond when I could.

    And Terri – she had to shine. Brightly, and beautifully.

    I wanted her to beat this – to live a long, happy life.

    I feared she wouldn’t. Stage 4? Metastatic? I knew that the odds were tiny. And ringing through my head was message, that the battle was not for living long, but for living *well*.

    Because none of us live forever – but we can all endeavor to live our best.

    It never felt like the right time – not until near the end. But then, she didn’t need to hear a call to live well – she was doing that, far better than anyone I’d seen. So I guess, when the time was near, I wanted to say it, not as advice, but as affirmation of her judgment.

    Grief can sneak up on you – it can feel like a sucker punch, suddenly getting you, right deep down where it hurts.

    But it’s not that. Grief is love, and loss, tied together and tearing at us. It’s doing a dark and nasty job, helping us to reconcile the life that is now, with the love and happiness we had once shared, moving us from the comforting “when” to the now that we have to face. It’s painful, horribly painful, but in proportion to the love we felt and still feel.

    And I like to imagine that the pain is not in the grief itself, but in our inability to make sense, to understand, and reconcile on our own. We are trapped in these lonely meat-machines, forced to work through flawed machinery and forced to go through time moment by moment, and these limitations tear at us because within that view, Terri is lost, and gone. The pain will vanish when the barriers of time vanish, and the meat machines are no longer our only truths, and we see that Terri is still with you, all of you – loving you as you love her.

    Be well, all of you – you love, and are loved, in return.

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