Jan 10

4 years

4 years ago in January, I found out I had breast cancer. I won’t retell the whole story, but it’s here if you are curious or a new reader.

I cannot believe everything that has happened in the last 4 years – I don’t even recognize my life anymore: the store is gone, my husband died, we moved…. none of it has to do with the cancer specifically, but it does seem like the dominoes haven’t stopped falling since that year.

I will never not be afraid that it will come back. I don’t care how reassuring you are trying to be, I will wake up in a cold sweat at least once a week, usually more, and wonder if that ache I feel, that little pinch, if any of it is the cancer coming back. My 6 month check-up is over due by almost 2 months, scheduling conflicts. I’m going next week and I’m terrified. I have no reason to think anything is wrong, though I did have a scare a little while back. But a friend’s relapse this past weekend has hit me right in the gut – I am heartbroken for her, and yes, selfishly, I am absolutely terrified the same thing could happen to me….. There is so much more riding on my health now – I’m the only one left, the only parent, it’s a lot of weight to carry. The fear doesn’t hold me back:  I’ve moved mountains in those 4 years and I get up everyday and I keep moving and making and doing, all to make a good life for my girls. But the fear is always there.

If wish I was one of those positive people, the ones who move onward and upward and don’t look back, but I’m not. I’m not made that way. The fear I live with is deep and permanent. I don’t think it will ever go away. Between my family history and the odds, it’s just something I have to be realistic about. But every January is one more year, and so here we are, 4 years from that long day when I knew deep in my heart….

But I am alive, I am here, I am ok. And I will keep moving mountains, even if I have to carry that fear with me as I do it.

Dec 31

Dear 2017:

People start the new year with resolutions, I want to start mind with wishes.

Not even goals, I’m not ready to set goals yet. Wishes, simple, not grand, just simple. In 2017:

  • I hope to go to less than 8 funerals
  • I hope to go to more birthday or dinner parties than funerals (see above)
  • More laughter. More smiles. More silliness. For me and for the girls.
  • Once a week, do something for ME. (and hopefully not feel mom-guilt while doing it)
  • Dare I hope: run another Ragnar, and make it to the finish line this time!
  • Less screens, more books.
  • A tiny mini little vacation. Won’t be far or long, but SOMEWHERE!


I kept it simple, realistic, but more of all, positive and forward-looking. Because 2016, I refuse to look back at you. I don’t need any reminders, you are seared on my soul forever. So it’s time for you to go now.

Dear 2017,I have wished for a better year many times over the years, I have never meant it as much as I do this year. Please be kind, I’m hanging a lot of hope on you!

Dec 17

a big giant F-you to 2016

this year man….. the world is a giant clusterfuck, and yet, 2016 doesn’t want to give me a break, all the way to the last second.

These days, I cannot avoid reading my ‘Memories’ on Facebook. I know I should just skip it, but I can’t. It’s a day-by-day reminder of the last days of my husband’s life. The public posts, of course, but really, the private ones, to my dear friends to whom I poured my heart out once I got home late at night. As upset as I was, there was a part of me that foolishly thought that the death part was going to be the hardest. That we would somehow grieve, heal and find a new happy.

ha. ha. fucking. ha.

Clouds. More Clouds. Little Clouds. Big Clouds. Dead dog clouds. High school admissions clouds. Car Broken Into Clouds. And finally, one more giant Fuck You: not making the team cloud.

That last one….. I didn’t see it coming. Frankly, no one saw it coming. Even 5 minutes before the meeting, while I was biting my nails and looking green, one of the other moms told DiverGirl ‘don’t worry, if there is ONE kid who doesn’t need to worry, it’s you’. She meant well. But deep down, there is a little part of me that wishes she hadn’t said that. Because with us, it’s ALWAYS the bad outcome.

An hour later, as all the parents were processing the news, I found myself crying in front of people I barely know. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to get up and go cry in private but I couldn’t even move. I was stuck to that yellow bleacher and I couldn’t move, so I just cried in front of everyone.

It’s been a couple of days and frankly, I’m still crying. For this, but also for everything. For the holiday season that is upon us and that we REALLY don’t feel like celebrating. We would like to avoid it and just go away, but even that we can’t do. So we’ll just be trying our best to get through it, with lots of kleenex and Netflix.

I know I said this every single year: I hope next year will be better. But seriously.

Nov 30

Losing and Finding my Footing

I keep not blogging because I don’t want to be the Debbie-downer of blogging.

Death and grief are ugly, and even when you think you have your shit together and you are moving forward, you are totally making it up as you go along.

I thought I was on a upswing, I was getting stuff (shit) done, moving in a general forward direction, looking pretty cute while doing it. And then, bam, bam, bam. It doesn’t even matter what happened. It’s life, it happens and you have to roll with the punches.  (my poor Lucy….. won’t go into details, but we lost a big part of our family)

I felt like I lost my footing. The forward-moving me was moving backwards.
And out of no-where, a life-vest: went back to work on a contract gig that lights my fire. Work that doesn’t pay the bills but makes me feel like I am a rock-star at what I do.

Balance restored. For now.

Everyday is a clusterfuck. You know I love that word.

I will never sugar coat it. I did a youtube v-logger thing with someone I adore about how I get through this shit. It was pretty good. I’m an expert in cancer diagnosis, death and grief and long-term care-giving. Yeah me!

Meanwhile I need to find someone to come and sleep in my bedroom for a few nights so we can find where that incessant stupid beeping is coming from!!!!!! So yeah, some things are under control, some are not.

You win some, you lose some.

Oct 24

Blame it on the cold

In the last couple of days, I find the hours after the kids go to bed to be more painful and lonely than usual.

I mean, I’m used to it. I’ve had no one to talk to after 9 pm for 2 1/2 years. But when the cold comes, when it’s super dark outside, somehow, it’s worst.

Last night, for the first time ever, I was scared. Lucy our very-elderly dog was crying because she is in pain from old age, so I was up at 2 am, petting her. And I heard a noise. Every 19 seconds (I timed it).  it wasn’t coming from inside the house, as far as I could tell. Something outside my bedroom. It wouldn’t stop. And because I couldn’t figure out what it was, it worried me.  Everyone on our street knows, I’m the widow with the 2 girls….. For the first time, I felt not safe. For the first time, the loneliness was also tied in with fear.

I can knit myself socks to stay warm alone at night, I can Facetime my friends to keep me company, but when a strange noise keeps me up and the dog is crying – it’s just me.


Oct 19

Not OK

So I thought I was ok.

For a while, I thought I had found my groove, that we had things going, that I was going to be ok.

And  then I wasn’t. I’m not ok,We don’t have a groove, it’s a shit show. Im not saying this so you feel sorry for me. I’m being honest. People think it’s so much easier than it is..

It’s not easy. It’s brutally hard. Especially the alone part. I’m not a good alone person.

Oct 10

Dear Assholes



the totally UNsubtle wording of the announcement in the paper….. EVERYONE called me to ask me what that was about.

the totally UNsubtle speech? If you were hoping to make a point to the girls, it didn’t work.

Their comment? ‘Wow, that was SO MEAN. Why did he do that?’


Thank you. You made my point for me.

And yes, I know you will read this.

Oct 01

I can’t come up with a title

I have a whole post burning inside of me about the Jewish Holidays, our first Rosh Hashana without J, all the crap that we are going through and dealing with, but I can’t get it together….. so instead:

it’s October, Breast Cancer Awareness month….. you know what, I am VERY aware.
Please don’t buy any pink shit. Don’t buy pink soup, pink crackers, for the love of all that is holy do not buy a pink snow brush!

If you really want to help, donate directly to P-ink Montreal, organized by amazing friend Karen. My own Tattoo artist Jose will be helping by tattooing a deserving survivor with a mastectomy tattoo.

Check it all out on the FB page.


Sep 07

Grief is an ugly Bitch

yesterday, I got one of the emails I have gotten way too often:

‘dear friends, I am writing to tell you that *johnfreedman* passed away yesterday. The funeral will be….’

*johnfreedman* was not his real name (his family should never google him and come up in this inane rambling), but when you read the name in your head, do it in one word. That’s what J always called him. He was never just John, he was always *johnfreedman* to distinguish him from all the other Johns.

I only knew *johnfreedman* through my husband, but the stories of their antics are legendary. And I will never ever forget the Herculian effort he made to attend J’s shiva, where he himself was so weak from his battle with a cancer that doesn’t forgive.

I debated for a few hours whether I should tell the girls or not. They had only met him a couple of times, so I thought maybe they didn’t need to know. But by 9 pm last night, they bith asked me why I looked so sad. So told them. Their reaction was something along the lines of:

‘Wow, a LOT of dad’s friends have died’ and

‘Well now dad has someone new to hang out with’.


My reaction surprised me a little. I cried a lot. Not so much for *johnfreedman*, but for the recurring loss. For the number of times that I have been to a funeral or a shiva. I barely slept a wink. On Thursday I will show up and pay my respects even though I would like to avoid Papermans like the plague.


Aug 14

Figuring me out

Last night I had dinner with a sweet friend who pointed out – ‘you haven’t blogged all summer! Nobody knows what you’ve been up to!’ She’s right. The girls come home on Tuesday, after 6 weeks away. I was worried about my first real summer alone – last year, I was still visiting J at the hospital every single day. This year, what was I going to do?

Well, I said yes, a lot, to almost everything that was put in front of me: Meditation in the lavender fields, tons of comedy shows, a ‘blind-date’ with a fellow solo-mom (ie we had never met, but I had tickets to something and just called her and asked her to go with me). I tried new restaurants and played pokemon-go, I’ve been running to get ready for Ragnar. And I’ve been trying to Figure Me Out.

Maybe you heard the song, it’s playing all the time:

But I believe there’s more to life than all my problems maybe there’s still hope for me to start again
Get my feet back on the ground
Pull my head out of the clouds
I think it’s time for me to figure me out

That’s sort of how I operated for the summer. For the first time in years, I didn’t ask myself if it was the right thing to do, or put someone else’s feelings ahead of mine. I just did stuff for FUN!!!! And because *I* wanted to do it.

Somewhere along the way, I found a little bit of me that I had lost. All that time sitting in hospital rooms, it had drained the ‘me’ out of me. The girls are coming back, and obviously, they will always come first, but I think we will start operating in a way where I don’t drain the ‘me’ out of all the big life decisions we make.

And because I know you are all DYING to know, yes, I did agree to go on a couple of dates… it’s a process. But you will all get a kick out of the one where the man was seemingly a responsible adult with a job and he ended up being a Trump voter who told me that feminism is the root of all evil and socialized medicine is wrong.

Older posts «