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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Happy Birthday “Goose”…

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As Marisa’s 7th birthday loomed on the horizon, my heart and soul were filled with questions…

How could we create a magical celebration for Terri’s beloved Miss M?

How could we convey to Marisa the depth of her mother’s love?

How could we ease the painful reality that her Mamãe no longer graced this earth?

A week before Miss M’s gymnastics party I was racking my brains for an idea for her “Mamãe gift”. I had promised Terri that each year I would pick out just the right gift for Marisa. One that embodied the essence of their mother/daughter bond. Last year’s china tea set was a huge hit. Miss M delighted in serving all who attended her 6th birthday- Me, Papai, Aunty Cole, cousins Jeanne, Erin and Jessie, and neighbors Kristina, Mike and Isaac.

But for some reason, this year, I just couldn’t figure out what to do. My daughter Jamie and I were discussing our surprise to beat all surprises for Miss M’s actual birthday, when I told Jamie about my dilemma.

“Mom, remember we had Terri write Marisa’s name? So I could make a necklace or a bracelet for her?”

“Oh my God, Jamie, yes! That would be perfect!!!!!!!!!!”

“I have the two names, Marisa and Goose. Think she’d like Goose?”

“Oh honey, I think that would be perfect,” I replied, my voice breaking as I heard Terri’s voice whisper, ‘Night Goose’.

Fast forward to the day of Miss M’s party. I located the purple folder that contains the cards Aunty Cole bought for Terri to leave Miss M. Finding the one for 2016, I could not believe my eyes when I opened it…

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“It was an ordinary life, right up until the moment your were born. Then it SPARKLED! Happy Birthday to an AMAZING daughter.”

 

 

 

Who sparkles up all our lives! With her silliness and big smiles!

Love you goose!

xoxo Mamãe

When I finally finished crying, I thanked Terri for “whispering” the answer to Jamie and I.

After I loaded the car with all the party goodies, my cell phone rang. It was Papai. I answered but all I could hear was background noise. So I hung up and called him back.

“Did you just call me?”

“I don’t know. My phone was in my back pocket. Then when you just called me, I took it out to answer, and there was a picture of Marisa on the front. I never put it there. It’s her on the beach. I don’t even know how to do that on my phone.”

We were both silent for a few seconds.

“Must be Terri…”

We talked a bit more, finalizing what time to meet at the gymnastics center and after I hung up, I put my phone on the table and started washing the dishes. After a few minutes I heard something. Turning, I could see my phone was lit and I could hear someone talking.

“Oh my God,” I exclaimed when I picked up the phone and heard his voice again. “You aren’t going to believe this! My phone was on the table and I was washing dishes. I didn’t even touch it and it dialed you!”

“Wow,” he replied, and I could literally “hear” the smile on his face.

Terri…

But Terri’s piece de resistance, was later that afternoon. Marisa had just opened her Mamãe present when I heard the ding of a text arriving on my phone. It was Aunty Cole… Who had NO IDEA today was Miss M’s party. I immediately FaceTimed her.

“You are not going to believe this!!!!” I yelled. “We literally just opened Mamãe’s card and present and then you texted. Look Aunty Cole! Look at Marisa’s necklace.”

“Hi Goose! Oh my gosh, I remember the exact day Mamãe wrote that card for you! And look at that hot pink necklace!” she exclaimed, as Miss M modeled her newest treasure.

“Aunty Laurie, you aren’t going to believe this, but I actually sent you that text yesterday. And I was just saying to Mr. Ed, that’s not like Aunty not to get back to me. It’s been 24 hours. I think I’ll text her again. But then, when I went to text you a second time, I realized the original text never went through…”

I looked at Papai, then Jamie and Erin. And back at Aunty Cole.

And we all knew.

Terri was with us. She is always with us. Especially on those really special days. The ones when your heart threatens to shatter into a million pieces from the ache. And the loss. And the grieving. It’s then that she breaks through and reminds you.

I am here. I will always be here.

It helps me to be reminded of that. And I hope it helps you too…

Love,

Aunty Laurie

Love you goose…

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The Gift that keeps on giving

 

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It’s my 59th birthday. This is one of three photos I took tonight of the full moon overlooking the Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas. Can you see Jeanne and Terri dancing across the sky? Aunty Cole and I certainly did.

What a day it’s been. What a week. My daughter Jamie, Miss M and I arrived in Cabo to visit Aunty Cole and Mr. Ed five days ago. It’s our second year in a row rendevouzing with Aunty Cole for April vacation. It just so happens my birthday falls during vacation, so one of my greatest gifts has been traveling around the world to deliver her goddaughter to Aunty Cole. Miss M and Aunty Cole are the two people in the whole wide world who most help me make sense of a physical world without Terri. They truly embody the essence that is/was my beloved niece.

And let me tell you, Terri (and Jeanne’s) energy were fully present tonight…

In the stories. In the scrumptious food. In the magical twinkling lights sprinkled amongst the open air restaurant Aunty Cole chose for dinner. In the pink party balloon Miss M tied to my chair. In the live music that awaited us when we returned to our resort. In the graceful and rhythmic movement that emerged from our bodies on the dance floor we created.

All of these gifts; of love, of connection, of remembrance, of celebration, of sorrow… These are the gifts that keep on giving from Terri…

And they are embodied in her open hearted, bodhisattva daughter, Miss M.

Our first night in Aunty Cole and Mr. Ed’s magnificent Cabo home, Miss M very reluctantly entered the shower.
“I don’t like showers,” she wrote on the steam covered glass.
“I know,” I answered through the glass.
“I like baths,” she continued writing.
“You can take one in Aunty Cole’s huge whirlpool bath tomorrow.”
“Are you Aunty Cole’s sister?” she asked.
“No, Aunty Cole was Mamãe’s best friend. She’s a gift to me from Mamãe. Mamãe has given me so many gifts. If it weren’t for Mamãe I never would have met Aunty Cole. But the best gift Mamãe ever gave me, other than being my niece, was you, Marisa.”
She stood there soaking that in for a moment, then wrote, ” You are the best Aunty,” and drew a heart at the end of her sentence.
Tears rolled down my cheeks.
“Thank you, Marisa. You are the best niece…”

The next night as we primped for our last dinner with Mr. Ed, she ran into my bedroom, bursting with excitement.

“Love emergency! Love emergency! I just left a note for Aunty Cole!!”

“What did it say??”

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Thank you Terri, for the gift that is your daughter. Her being is love in it’s purest essence. Just as yours was.

I miss you every single day. Your laugh. Your joy. Your passionate zest for life. For loving. For giving.

So thank you Terri, for the gift that is/was and always will be, you…

Love, Aunty Laurie

 

 

 

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“Love Is The Best Thing, Remember All Family” -Marisa Alegria da Silva

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A gift from my remarkable niece. My great niece. Miss M. Terri incarnate…

And as always, it came just when I needed it the most…

I’ve felt so disconnected of late. From Terri. From her mother, Jeanne. Even from Miss M. It had been a whole month since I’d last wrapped my arms around her. Since she crawled into my bed in Terri’s spare room for a morning cuddle. Since I made her favorite breakfast of oatmeal decorated with whipped cream and fruit before putting her on the bus. It had been way too long. For both of us.

And in that month, I learned that Tami Boemer had died after a 13 year battle with breast cancer. Tami was a powerful, guiding light for countless warriors. Especially Terri. A gifted and groundbreaking author, her book From Incurable to Incredible, lifted Terri out of the depths of despair shortly after her diagnosis and continued to guide her throughout her 3 year battle with Stage IV breast cancer.

And now she too was dead…

Fucking cancer. Enough!

Thankfully, Miss M reminded me yet again, how to heal my grieving heart.

Love…

And she wasn’t alone!

One of Terri’s Canadian BFF posse, Rani, arrived today all the way from Montreal! Nine hours in a minivan with her husband and 3 kids under the age of 6!! Now that’s love in it’s purest form!

Terri was everywhere. In story after story. Like when Terri and Rani taught each other to drive a stick shift. Or the night they left their shift at Stuarts Bakery on Granville Island to party with the rest of their posse, Nicole and Irene, and ended up in the cemetery of all places!

But the best story was the time Rani and Terri were planning to visit their respective parents in Vancouver and promised to connect. It had been awhile since they had returned to the city where they grew up together.

As Rani’s Dad pulled into his driveway on Bowen Island, Rani said, “Hey, is that Spider?”

Her Dad replied, “You know Spider?”

“Of course I do! That’s Terri’s Dad!” Rani exclaimed.

“Terri from high school?”

“Yes!”

And as they pulled in, there was Terri, literally, right next door.

Tonight, I was reminded once again, Terri is everywhere.

If I am willing to open my heart to her.

She is in the stories Rani is writing down for Marisa every time Rani has a memory of Terri.

She is in Miss M’s smile and her magnificent artwork.

And she is in this blog…

I will leave you with this entry Terri wrote the night we went to see the Long Island Medium. I’m going back to see her tomorrow night. Almost 2 years to the day Terri and I went…

“That is something I continually realize as I chart my path through cancer… We all have our battles to face. Our demons. Our tragedies and difficult situations to contend with. Whether it’s cancer, homelessness, bankruptcy, divorce, unemployment, infertility… At some point we all reach a crossroads in our life. These challenges shake you to your core. Humble you. Jolt you awake. Then we have the choice to either keep trying to return to what was or to embrace the change and redefine yourself and your reality. Each of these moments presents us with the opportunity to make our lives even better than they were before.

Why not seek to live a better life? What have you got to lose?”

Love,

Aunty Laurie, Terri and Miss M

The next germination of BFF's

The next generation of BFF’s

Remembering Terri

Remembering Terri

I do believe, I do, I do, I do… 

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It’s been awhile…

Two days after Terri’s anniversary, I had to say good bye yet again… This time to my beloved brother-in-law, Michael Verronneau. He and Terri had a special connection. For one, they were both members of that unlucky, “incurable disease club”.  But they shared something much more important. An incredibly inspiring and tenacious will to live. Fully. Compassionately. Selflessly. As warriors. Mike was lucky enough to live for 30 years after initial diagnosis compared to Terri’s 3,  but the reality is, they were both taken way too soon.

So I found myself once again falling into the deep, dark depths of grief. Unable to climb up and out. To tap into that place of light. Of hope. Of openness to “their” presence. To those serendipitous moments when I actually “felt” Terri’s love. Or “heard” her voice whispering in my ear.  Or believed in her ability to transcend time and space.

And then today happened…

I was jonesing for a Miss M fix, having gone more than 5 days without laying eyes on her. Our bi-weekly visit was 2 days overdue albeit for very good reason- Aunty Cole is due to arrive Monday!!!- but my perpetual blues needed a major boost, so I hit the Skype button. Heron answered within 2 rings. We kvetched for a few minutes about the pending N’oreaster, then I asked how my girl was.

“Good. She liked gymnastics.”

“I know! Great pictures on Facebook.”

“That night when we got home she told me something. You know how she gets sometimes? How she holds things in? But you can tell something is bothering her?”

“Yes…”

“Well she told me, my friends told me Mamãe is dead so her soul really isn’t alive and she can’t really watch over me.”

My heart splintered into a thousand pieces… Tears spilled down my cheeks.

“Oh my God…”

“I told her you can’t believe everything your friends tell you. You have to listen to Papi and Aunty Laurie. Of course Mamãe is watching over you. She will always be with you.

She seemed to listen and then she asked me to read to her from the book Grandpa sent last summer, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . She hasn’t asked for that in a long time. So I read her a chapter. When I finished she said, but I don’t have a bookmark to use. So I told her we could just use a picture or something.

Then this morning in the mail there was a letter for Terri. We opened it and inside were two bookmarks. They had rainbows and nature pictures on them and they both had Terri’s name on the bottom…

I told her, See??? You asked for a bookmark last night and Mamãe heard you. And it has rainbows on it. Mamãe knows you love rainbows. She is telling you she is watching over you and is always with you.”

At this point I am full out crying and my husband is staring at me from across the room, tears in his eyes as well.

Heron then took the computer downstairs to where Miss M was and she proceeded to tell me the story herself. She held both book marks close up so I could see Terri da Silva in bold print on the bottom.

“Oh my goodness, Marisa!!! That is so from Mamãe!!!! Isn’t she amazing?? See how much she loves you? And it has rainbows just like you love, and nature like you and Mamãe loved to see!”

Then she had me read one of the sayings on the bookmark out loud,

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”

Anonymous

“That is so true, Marisa. That’s like we were talking about two weeks ago when we went to the Children’s Museum. Remember you told me that too much electronics made your brain mush? And I said it didn’t really make it mush for real, but it wasn’t good for it. But what was good for it, and for your heart, was doing things like going to museums and taking nature walks with the people you love. And you said, and like school!”

Then I asked her how she felt when her friend said that to her.

“Sad.”

“I would have felt sad too. And a little mad. That wasn’t a very kind thing to say. I’m so glad you told Papi about it. Your friend was wrong Marisa.”

“I don’t listen to everything she says,” she defended.

“I know. But look how your Mamãe made sure you knew that it wasn’t true. Not one but TWO bookmarks! With her name even!! She will always watch over and love you. You should bring them to your next Cove meeting. Your friends there will understand.”

And with that, she moved on to bigger and better things- a game of memory with Aunty Laurie via Skype…

As we figured out how to digitally play a game of memory, I was reminded just how cruel children can sometimes be. I was taken back to my 8 yr. old self, after my father’s sudden death. I was whisked away to relatives for two weeks, never allowed to attend his services, shooshed whenever I tried to ask questions. I remember feeling like I had the plague when I returned to school, most kids avoiding me at all costs…

I swear the seeds of my career as a social worker were planted right there and then. And I know it is why I was drawn to programs like The Good Grief Program which The Cove Center for Grieving Children is modeled after.

And so, just like that, my faith in the spirit world was restored.

I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do believe…

Do you?

Love, Aunty Laurie

Having Fun "feeding" our hearts and brains at the Providence Children's Museum

Having Fun “feeding” our hearts and brains at the Providence Children’s Museum

2016-01-08 14.21.43 2016-01-08 14.15.31