Jun 05

Omar the Gardener

During dinner tonight, the doorbell rang. Weird, it’s Sunday at 6:35. Kids look and say it’s a man with a kid. Oh, Omar rthe Gardener is here! 3 houses ago, we got stuck in a turf-war over snow removal and grass cutting in Hampstead. Don’t laugh. This was serious business and we chose to break the rules because that’s who we were, rule-breakers. Also, Jay really liked Omar. So we took to Omar, who only charged us every third year.

On the one hand, he was worth every penny. On the other hand when it’s time to pay, holy shit! Omar is either Syrian or Turkish, and when he’s not cutting my grass around all the dog poop I didn’t pick up, he’s gone to his home country to help people. So I don’t ask,  I pay and I shut up.

When jay was dying and we moved, I called Omar and I said ‘stop cutting the grass at the old house. We moved to a new house’. Not only did Omar cut the grass at the new place, even though it’s totally not his territory, when I texted him that Jay was dying and the gutters were broken, he broke up all the ice and made sure the steps and driveway where perfect.

so tonight the door bell wrang. It’s our fourth house. ‘The stairs are crumbling, want me to fix?’

‘Thanks Omar, I’m broke. It has to wait’

‘I fix. You pay me when you can’

Thanks Omar

Jun 02

the non-milestone

5 months.

There is no card for ‘your husband/dad died 5 months ago’

5 months is not a thing. It’s not a milestone number like 6 months or a year or 5 or  10 years. It’s just 5 months.

Except this 5 month anniversary comes on the heels of so many end-of-school-year things: a Glee show, an award ceremony, and an upcoming diving competition, another theater show. And a very important grade 5 Generations to Generations school activity. Where people had parents and grandparents and magical fancy objects smuggled out of Poland or gifted to them by Tzars.

We had a paper egg-carton from my grandfather. On my mother’s side. My dead mother. Who wasn’t there. Along with me dead husband. My dad was there, of course. But that was it. Me, my dad and my 10 yo with her paper egg-carton.

So here we are. He died 5 months ago. I have a job and I get shit done and we are coping. But whenever the Facebook Memories or Timehop pop up on my phone, there is that moment. That oh-my-god, I used to think it was SO hard for him to be sick all the time…. except that he was here. And no matter how hard that was, it was so much easier than him NOT being here.

Here is something I haven’t really ever shared before, except to a few close friends….. It was SO HARD to take care of him, and yes, there is a part of me that was relieved that part was over. I don’t miss him-as-a-patient. I don’t miss the hospital visits and the really demeaning things I had to take care of. But I miss him as my buddy, the funny dude, the organizer, the loving dad, the devoted dog-walker. He was such a good guy. When he was good, he was really good. THAT I miss.

Last week, Eldest had a thing that required me bringing paperwork. 85% of it I had in my email. But 15% was on paper, filed in a folder, in a box. For the life of me, I could not find it. He would have found it – filing was his duty. Instead, I had to find who I had share that document with, and then beg them to please scan it and send it to me. He would have found it in 5 minutes.

5 months. It’s not a thing. But to us, it is. It’s a heavy non-milestone.
There is no card. It’s just been 5 months since our husband/father died.

May 26

Requiem for a Guinea Pig

I was going to write this long post about how Eldest fell off her bike after I FORCED her to put her screen down and go play outside. And then she broke her arm. So we had our weekly family-dinner (used to be daily, now it’s weekly) in the triage waiting room of the ER.

And then, Pepper, one of our Guinea Pigs was found early in the morning struggling to breathe. We all knew that sound. The gasping for life sound. We all knew she wouldn’t live. But I couldn’t tell them that. So instead, I rushed Pepper to the 24/7 ER, while petting her in horrible awful city traffic, for almost 40 minutes, listening to her cling to life…. Wanting to smother her just so she would stop hurting, but hoping against hope I would get there and the Vet would say, oh it’s nothing, here is a pill!. Except instead, I paid 37$ to euthanize Pepper. And then I drove around in EFFING city traffic to tell Youngest that Pepper was dead. And we left school and cuddled in bed and cried. Cried for Pepper. But really, cried for all the EFFING – OK, I am not PG – For all the FUCKING shit that always follows us. And then we went to the dollar store and bought a gold box. And I squeezed a very stiff Pepper in there (seriously, rigor mortis in Guinea Pigs is shockingly fast!)

And when afternoon came, I picked up Eldest and told her. And she ugly-cried all the way home. And then the 3 of us dug a hole in the yard and held a ceremony for Pepper, who is now buried in the yard of a house we have no intention of living in for very long. But seeing as clouds of doom loom over us, maybe we should just build a pet-cemetery as there are 3 more living furry creatures….


Anyhow, I was going to tell you about all the tears for a fucking Guinea Pig, but then an old Blog-friend, who happens to have also adopted and also be a widow (seriously, I am NOT alone!) sent me a link to this – the only thing that I don’t agree with in my case is that I was willing to look at ugly. I STARED at fucking ugly the entire fucking time. Me. Only me. Nobody else wanted to stare at the ugly fucking truth. But other than that, all of it.

but most of all this: ‘The cure for grief is not “be not sad” and the cure for anger isn’t “be unagry!” It’s feeling all of the things, even the uncomfortable ones, without judging yourself for them.Your job, when bad shit happens, is to get through it however you can. It is not your job to make your life more palatable for other people.’

Too bad it’s too long for a tattoo. In the meantime, RIP Pepper, you were a good pig.

May 19

‘I thought you were too buzy’

I just got home from diving with Youngest. I rushed to spend time with Oldest, who is off for a loooooong 4 day weekend. Conversation goes:

Me: Tell me 3 things about today
Her: I had chicken for lunch, I am texting all the people in my class to see if anyone can hang out tomorrow and there was an art exhibit at school tonight but I didn’T tell you because you are too busy.
Me: <insert uncontrollable ugly crying here> WHY??? Why didn’t you tell me????


Again, we go back to this issue of time. There is not enough time. My 13 y.o. was showing off her art work, which I am certain was stunning because she is an amazing artist, but she didn’t tell me it was happening. Because I’m too busy.

My kids, they keep trying to protect me. They tell me or don’t tell me, they share or don’t share, because they are protecting me.

I keep telling them: TELL ME EVERYTHING. Let me figure out how to make it happen.

OK, so if I had known, DiverGirl would have sucked it up and missed 1 session. AND WOULD HAVE SUPPORTED HER SISTER. But we didn’t. Because I didn’t even know it was happening.


Adult conversations:

Random Adult: You look great! You must LOVE working, keeps your mind off things

Me, internally <you are saying words but I am not processing them. why am I here? shouldn’t I be somewhere else?>
Me, out loud: oh yeah, work it great. the girls are great. we are GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Except I missed my kid’s art exhibit. And there is no do-over for that.


May 13


What Would J Do

J my dead husband…. Sorry, don’t really give much of a crap about Jesus’ opinion…..

I am facing a lot of *big* decisions. Hard stuff. Stuff that husbands and wives discuss. I have no one to discuss with. Instead I write down lists: pros and cons, all-the-options, long term vs short term. But really, lists don’t hold a candle to discussion. And J was great at discussion!

Several people have told me to ask my single-mother friends how they do it. Here is the thing. Unless your Ex left the country without a forwarding address or is incarcerated, IT’S NOT THE SAME THING. My partner is dead. Regardless of his level of involvement, regardless of his ability to contribute, he is gone. My kids miss him. And his presence looms over us, heavy and hard. So being a widow and being a single mom, while similar, is in fact, not the same.

So I spend a lot of time asking myself: What Would J Do? What would he want? What would his opinion be?

A dear friend told me: it doesn’t matter what he would want. It’s just YOU now. Do what feels right to you. But it doesn’t work like that. He’s still and always will be their father. So his opinion still matters. Obviously he won’t hold me accountable, and moving forward, my opinion will very likely outweigh his, but for now, as I sit here with my lists of Doctors to consult, High-Schools to visit, What-to-do-about-this-house-we-hate, Work-vs-Not-Work, I keep wondering: What Would J Do?

May 10

The Luxury of Time

Nobody had enough time in a day, enough days in a week. I’m not special. Everyone wishes they had more time. Time for hobbies, for friends, to relax. Time for themselves.

Time is the thing I miss the most. I’m coming to terms with out new financial situation. But my lack of time is an adjustment I’m finding hard. I don’t mean time to see friends or go to movies. That is not even on the horizon. I need to be two places at once all the time. I need to be at work so we can live, but I need to be at home to do chores. I am constantly having to pick one kid or the other because I cannot be in two places. My days start before the sun rises and end late into the night and I still can’t get it all done. With money came the luxury of having some things taken care of, like laundry and clean floors. Now it’s all on me. Again, I’m not special. But when you are broken, tired, struggling to keep your sad kids not so sad, time is a luxury. Because I would much rather sit with my kids and watch a movie than do chores. I would love to be at all their activities. I get help. My dad pitches in, my friends too. But then I miss out. And they are sad when I’m not there. Right now, they want me.


Everyone wishes they had more time. But when you are alone, with no one to pick up the slack, no one to help, when it falls on you…. Extra time is the luxury I miss the most.

May 09

Inspiring Women

about 6 weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a woman I only knew in passing. Her son is a friend and she sat in my row in synagogue at high holidays. Her eulogy shook me to the core. She was someone I wished I had known.

Today, a dear friend eulogized her own mother. And made me weep. I was lucky enough to have known her mom, but not closely. Her eulogy was heartbreaking. I cried big ugly tears. And for the last 3 hours, I have been listening to this, on a loop.  Grief it Ugly.

May 06

Before you randomly wish everyone with ovaries a Happy Mother’s Day

When I was a kid, mother’s day meant colored tissue paper rolled into little balls and glued to a paper plate. There were no store-bought cards. When we were a bit older, there was a fancy brunch at the rotating restaurant at the top of the hotel downtown, where we could see the entire city and eat eggs benedict. I wished my own mother a happy mother’s day. We called my one grand-mother on the phone (the other had already passed away). That was it. We didn’t ring the neighbours door bells to wish them a happy mother’s day. My mother certainly didn’t call every one she went to high-school with to give them her good wishes!

With the internet now, it’s become a custom blast your wishes to everyone, loud and proud. And obviously, the intentions are good. Nobody means anything by it – they are just nicely wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.

Except, some people aren’t too happy to be on the receiving end. The women who struggled with infertility, who maybe lost children, or who never became mothers. Many adoptive moms are conflicted about the day too, thinking of the birth mothers who allowed them to become mothers themselves. And women who are mothers but lost their mother….

I know everyone means well, but before you randomly wish every person with ovaries a Happy Mother’s Day, maybe just for one second, ask yourself if it’s really your place to do so. I limit my wishes to my incredibly close friends who play a role in mothering my daughters. I accept their wishes in return, and from my kids and family, obviously. Other than those people, it’s just Sunday.

May 02

3:30 musings

I posted this to my personal FB in the middle of the night, but I think I meant for it to also be a blog post….

Yesterday, we took a road trip and I did whatever I could do keep them both smiling, at the same time. ‘On this day’ last year was the mega garage sale where we sold half of our belongings and put the house for sale . It was also the day J. officially went on the transplant list for a second time. Two years ago he was sick and my friend took me for my de-reconstruction surgery (expander removal). And the year before that, I was taking glam shots before starting chemo the next day. 3 years of ‘on this day’ one heavier than the other. It is exhausting to live in the present and look to the future when the past is so heavy to carry around ‪#‎330musings‬ #widowhood

Apr 25

Superhero powers, activate

I haven’t shared my Instagram here, but it’s not like I was hiding it. However today it feels very appropriate. This is what I just posted:

I got a wicked punch-in-the-stomach overnight. Another one. One that I thought we had dealt with and were going to move on from. But no. There is apparently no end to the pain people are willing to cause the girls and I. So after crying all night, I thought, ‘how do I get up and go to work today?’ And I thought of J. And of the first thing he ever bought me online – this SuperHero necklace. Vintage, from the year 2000. Before we even opened the store. And I loved it so much, I wrote to the maker and convinced her to sell me a dozen to sell in our first store. And they flew off the shelves, even though they were expensive and we didn’t sell Jewelry.

Why am I telling you this? Because I trusted my gut that time. The best decisions I made in my life were purely based on my gut. The last 2 years, I have made nothing but decisions based on fear or logic. That doesn’t work for me. I need to find my gut and start trusting it again. In the meantime, I dug up my SuperHero armour and I won’t take it off.

PS: you can follow me on Instagram.


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