Do you believe in miracles?

The care conference was like being in a college classroom again, only this time I was the ill-prepared student. The social worker was kind enough to tear a piece of paper off for me to jot notes, the only natural way I can sit at a table with people talking jotting notes. My comfort zone. Whiteboards, nondescript carpeting, acoustic tile ceiling: it could have been the community college where I taught.

Think about a time, I would say, when everything changed. The one moment after which nothing was the same. We all have them I would say. What was yours? I often began the semester that way talking about the personal essay — quoting Lopate and Dillard and Montaigne, each one more eloquent than I could ever be.

My favorite essay was Scott Russell Sanders Under the Influence — it begins: My father drank. He drank as a gut-punched boxer gasps for breath, as a starving dog gobbles food–compulsively, secretly, in pain and trembling. I use the past tense not because he ever quit drinking but because he quit living. That is how the story ends for my father, age sixty-four, heart bursting, body cooling, slumped and forsaken on the linoleum of my brother’s trailer. The story continues for my brother, my sister, my mother, and me, and will continue as long as memory holds.

Moments after which nothing was the same. The memory of my father banging at every glass door of our condo, drunk. Watching him shave in the mirror at the motel. His murder. Feeling my heart pounding in my chest after my aunt tried to kill my grandmother by hitting her over the head with a cast iron skillet in the narrow kitchen of my grandparent’s cottage and I ran the waist high grasses to the neighbors sure she was behind me. I was not yet in the second grade. Subject to both my mother’s rages and depression I had a stomachache every day. The 80s in Minneapolis I was a wisened and wandering child propositioned and alone with my friends on the streets at night.

The moments certainly weren’t in the phone calls from the state run asylum where my aunt was housed for years, those were routine after she succeeded in severing my grandmother’s spinal cord.

Circling around in my life a little knowing there was something out there that I was supposed to be but had no way to know how to get there. My mother helped, even in her grief she could see the writer in me. She said that. She gave me a path. She set me on it. She always told me I could succeed.

There was a moment when I left my first love. When I was drinking beer on the rooftops of Boulder apartment buildings across from the neon signs of the clubs. I was waitressing and drinking too much. Another moment when I got eight stitches in my Irish chin and was putting restraints by the emergency room doctor. A moment when I got into graduate school. Moments when the beauty and poverty of Montana almost broke me. Brokenhearted when I drove 21 hours across the plains with a songbird stuck in the grill of my Subaru. I left it behind and never came back. The moment when I fell in love. A moment when W put his small hand in mine. A moment when Z was conceived. When I looked up on the ultrasound screen and was told that it was the girl of my dreams. When I felt my father’s presence lift from me like the fog suddenly burning off… The sun in my Prairie garden, the clouds moving fast above me. Watching my husband cast from the dock. The moment I crawled into bed with my best friend. Tears were streaming down both of our faces. She wiped the tears from mine. I told her how I had always loved her and that my life had changed the moment she entered it. She would never ever leave my heart or me. That we would meet again. A few days later I was there at her bedside when she died.

July 7 the day after Gerry’s birthday when I’d been so proud of myself for making a strawberry cake with pastry cream. He was having a sword fight with Zoe and I was taking a bath and Willi was at a friends down the street. What we didn’t know is that he had taken his longboard for a ride on a normal suburban street on a beautiful sunny evening. Sometime between 7:39 PM that evening and 745 he fell. Without a helmet. When Gerry burst into the bathroom and told me that Willi was hurt and that he needed to take him to the hospital I immediately just thought he was concussed. I saw Willi on the couch bent over unable to put his shoes on or follow the directions to do so. I saw them walk to the truck.

I waited for a text. When it came he was being transferred to another hospital he was belligerent. Gerry wrote three words which I will never forget: I am scared.

I parked in the wrong part of the hospital. The doors were closed it was after hours I walked along Jackson Street frantically searching for the emergency room doors. One person directed me to the ER and the security guard at intake level to look at me while giving me my ID tag and said don’t worry ma’am they’re going to take good care of him here. I remember a sea of blue scrubs and Willi hooked up to ventilator underneath the lights and I heard someone say “is this Mom?” And I collapsed into Gerry’s arms as he stood there and the whir of the machine breathing for him. And the stillness. Everything was moving around me but it seemed so still. The neurologist came in and asked us to leave and closed the curtain. I kept saying to nurses “I am just his stepmom ” because I felt like I was usurping his mothers place somehow that I didn’t have a right to the grief that I felt that was about to overwhelm me, that I wanted them to know that I was somehow an interloper there and a kind nurse said to me “You are mom enough”. It’s okay she said. You’re his mom too. I tried to get Willi’s mother on the phone. We conferenced her on Skype with the neurologist who was telling us that she had to do a craniectomy. His mother, pulled over to the side of the road on a rural Wisconsin Highway, her daughter in the backseat in the middle of the night with a 4 Hour drive ahead of her. The neurologist was talking about the CT scan and how they weren’t sure it would warrant craniectomy but his responses were so poor she was certain that they had to. I caught a nurse and she was about to swing out of the emergency room doors and I said frantically what can we expect in terms of recovery what can we expect and she looked at me and she said “there are always the miracles” in my mind spun and spun and I thought wait, wait, we need a miracle? We sat there for hours waiting.

After the surgery his mother had miraculously arrived in time for the surgeon just out of the room to tell us. I don’t remember all the words but I do remember what I said “wait a second, wait a second, is she telling us that he may die?” And I said as I had said 10 times before that night “but it was just a stupid little skateboard accident”

And your love poured in. And I met that singing man in the park. And I felt the presence of my best friend beside me in the car. And he woke up. And today we had his first care conference. Three things stand out for me: when I asked the doctors about a traumatic brain injury support group for families he looked at me and very tactfully more or less said that it might not be what I was looking for. That many of these young people who suffer these kind of injuries are nonverbal/very little movement/Communication for the rest of their lives. He said very kindly that I might be asking how to deal with the fact that my son has impulse control or slight cognitive issues when they are looking at a son who will never be able to speak again.

My husband always asks the best questions. He said what of course we really want to know is that it is he going to have a good quality-of-life.

And a mild-mannered doctor with the most beautiful Kentucky drawl, leaned back in his chair and said if you mean graduating from college, getting married, having kids, holding a job, there is nothing about this injury that is going to prevent him from doing that.

And I tried to hold back tears. But today driving home some dumb country song on the radio, Zoe in the backseat I could barely keep it in.

It is a goddamn miracle and I don’t believe in miracles.
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Reinventing Lady Tremaine

I was reading Zoe stories on the way home from the cabin last month. A gorgeous hardcover book based on Grimm’s fairytales with illustrations that looked more like tapestries.

I don’t know that I have ever known that Cinderella grew a tree , a Willow tree from her tears. Beautiful birds come and settle on the branches and all the leaves unfurl, a symbol of hope and renewal; but then of course I also had to read about stepmother, Stepmother who figures so prominently in so many different stories, so many of our narratives. Isn’t she just like the wicked wolf lurking in the forest.

But here’s the difficult part: if I were to try to imagine another woman entering Zoe’s life… It seems an impossibility. That is where I owe the deepest gratitude of my life. W’s mother and I often have this exchange where I will say “thank you for letting me love your son” and she will say “thank you for loving him as much as you do.”

W was little… Younger than four, G would ask me why I didn’t just scoop him up in my arms more, cover him with kisses. I, of course, regret now that I didn’t but, I come, remember from a fatherless family. There were times when people tried to enter the space that had been occupied by my father and I remember the visceral feeling I had against that space being violated.

I try as best I can to balance that line between loving attentiveness and respectful distance.

W and I have evolved into kind of a bickering relationship where I do nag him relentlessly about what he’s up to. His father sometimes misinterpreted that as if he and I weren’t getting along but really the opposite was true.

He had taken to a lot of unsolicited I love you’s lately, and while that might be routine for a mother and son it was not as routine for us. It was often left unspoken. I’m so grateful for it now. I can see him closing the car door, opening the back of the station wagon and grabbing his hockey stick before practice — and an easy and familiar I love you.

I love you too kiddo

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Grateful

Late last night I furiously googled TBI and squinted over 100 page PDF’s. A note would come into the blog, and another. Reminding me to stay present. “Don’t borrow trouble” an old saying from my great grandmother … G reminded me just tonight to stick my hand out in front of my face and focus “right there. That’s all that’s useful in focusing on this next stage of rehab. A foot in front of your face. ”

I’m a worrier. Born worried. No, really. My mantra as a toddler was “it won’t work”. I can almost conjure up the feeling I had that doubt steeled me against disappointment of a world that had plenty in store for me. My brain travels every path the way a mouse must frantically hoard food– tricking itself into thinking it can prepare for every eventuality.

As my mind whirred last night a comment came in from Jjiraffe telling me about Bob Wiodruff’s story and it calmed me. Just a few words jotted on someone else’s phone half a country away.

It reminds me every time of something Mel wrote once about blogging being like sending a message in a bottle– or the SETI project beaming frequencies into space … I remember the very first comment on my old bloodsigns blogger blog … Connecting with other women who were struggling with infertility took me on the path that led to Zoe. The power of connection.

I had let this blog lay fallow for awhile … But always thought of the people I’d known through the years here — and how in the most difficult times words have always saved me.

Writing my own and reading yours. You’ve given my family your heart and your love and I will go to my grave believing that that miracle of love, your love, saved our son.

For all of the unknowns I am filled with hope today. And so very grateful for you.

Love,

Pam

Rattlesnake in the Ivy

confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy.
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Not knowing is difficult. Not being in the hospital is difficult. Zoe, never one for nightmares, wakes up at least twice a week with them now. Being alone parenting a four and a half-year-old is difficult. Contemplating that the entire landscape of your family has changed is difficult.

More difficult are the old narratives. My mother’s family had one sibling to whom all of the parental energy was primarily directed, my mother’s sister, a schizophrenic who was not easily managed in the years before the better medications. The first time I read Toni Morrison’s beloved about the interplay between beloved and her mother… this twining, boundaryless, all-consuming relationship based on reparation and guilt, I wrote an essay about how it reminded me of the relationship between my grandmother and my aunt. Just last night on the phone my mother told me the story again: it was my grandfather’s funeral, my grandmother was pounding on the door trying to coax Margaret out of her room… And my mother turned to her own mother and said “you know you have two other children, don’t you?”

It was my mother speaking her own fear to me.

It is an impossible choice between the vulnerable child who needs you, and the children who need you because you are knit into the very fabric of their lives.

It is too early yet to know anything other than the fact that everything has changed.

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Nerf Bullet

Such a simple thing as handing over the Nerf bullet for him to load the gun. “Don’t shoot me with that” I say and turn my back. Seconds later it hits. I smile but he can’t see me. He leans casually over the hospital bed, folds his arms and rests his chin there briefly. He levels his gaze on me, woozy from the Ativan, “you’ve worn different shoes like every day you been here” he said (yesterday I had on my clogs.)

He teases his sister about the ET machine wrapped around his finger… (What is the thing that tracks the oxygen called?) “touch the Owie ” and she hides her face shyly clutching onto her father’s arm.

When we arrived at dinner time his father was asking him simple math problems. He got each one right except for what was 45÷3. Of course when G asked me that I said you can’t divide 45 x 3 and he leveled me with a look with that annoyingly ambidextrous brain he has and said 15. I told him that I had just proved that that particular question might not be the best one in evaluating his brain.

During the day when I’m here with Zoe and not at the hospital I read too much and worry too much about what the future will hold. From everything the doctors have told us he suffered a severe head injury with a skull fracture was in the severe range in terms of the Glasgow coma scale — has areas of damage in the frontal and parietal lobes. When I read trying to understand these things it scares me. When I see him in the hospital making small talk and shooting Nerf bullets he seems very much like a version of his old self. They have given him a medication for his nerve pain in his legs and something to help the agitation.

Today is moving day for him. Into the inpatient rehabilitation wing of the hospital. They explained to us that it’s very much like school: they wake up and have breakfast… do their occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and take a break. And then they do sessions again in the afternoon. I understand that after a week his various therapists will meet with us and let us know their assessment. The plan is for him to return to school this year and to be home within a matter of weeks– certainly late September/early October.

When Willi started using his phone for Instagram I remember thinking what an eye he had for photography — and then he began using Instagram as all the kids (and we?) do, to craft a very particular image that they want the world to see. But one picture he took struck me. He had put it on the background screen of his iPad. I looked at that photo for the first time and realized there was a creative spirit inside of him — as hidden as it seemed these days inside of his young hockey player bravado– after all he IS the same boy who would make elaborate sculptures out of cardboard, robot drawings, for a long time I thought that he might enjoy robotics, or building. When he was 8 or so we went to the science Museum and saw a sculpture on the wall of repurposed objects. For a while he was on fire to make a sculpture of repurposed things. He grew and grew into this handsome, broad shouldered, athletic hockey player… A 12 or 13-year-old trapped inside a 16 or 17-year-old body and put aside everything but hockey.

There’s something in that photograph that he’s captured so perfectly: that moment in youth we believe ourselves to be invincible; it haunts me now — heading into the setting sun, riding along the yellow line. No idea what is to come.

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A Handful of Monarchs

The waiting. When Gerry and I first began dating it was five months before I would meet Willi.

It was summer. I was driving down Chicago Avenue with my mother, I was teaching then and househunting. My cell phone rang and it was Gerry asking if I wanted to have dinner not just with him but with Willi.

I remember how nervous I was. Gerry had asked me to get him some milk, place it on the little tray where he was sitting. He was 3 1/2. I took the glass and placed with a smile and he made a tiny lunge with a growling sneer like he was a small pocket-sized tiger.

It wouldn’t stay that way long but I do remember that. I remember that I had to build his trust and play with him and show him that I was someone who cared about him. I had, for some inexplicable reason, these giant rubber ducks wearing sailor hats… A girl and one boy… and babies. My brother had seen them in a window in Boston and purchased them for me that Christmas. I don’t know why but one day I took one over to the apartment where they were living and when I drove away I stuck the duck out the window and waved it madly. He laughed and waved at it. Ever after that it would be something that we would do. I would drive away, one arm out of the window of my jeep, flailing a giant rubber duck in a sailor hat.

These times scroll across the surface of my mind: my 33rd birthday we got caught in a thunderstorm and I rolled down the windows of the car and drove through giant puddles pretending it was a roller coaster and it was fun,having him stick his hands out of the window; traveling to my mom’s place in the upper Peninsula of Michigan where he crawled up on my lap in the rocking chair one morning and I sat there barely able to breathe with fear that he would move, so rare was that moment; the few times when he has broken down completely vulnerable in my arms and sobbed, once at about seven and another at 12. He is cut from the same stoic Austrian cloth as his father.

He lay in the hospital bed awake but tired and in one of the down times after stimulation when he just needs to rest. He will still cry out in pain in his legs hurt, if the lukewarm soup feels too hot to his tongue. And it’s not the tiny roar the tiger cub anymore but of a young adolescent male.

I hovered uncertainly at his bedside and asked him if I could touch him. That I didn’t want to bother him. He sort of half smirked. I put my hand on his arm and told him how much I loved him.

It occurred to me that we are starting all over as if someone had turned back the clock 11 years.

The nurses downloaded and printed out something for us called the Rancho los Amigos cognitive recovery scale. It gives us an idea of strategies to use at every stage of his cognitive recovery. There are 10 levels number one being no response and number 10 being purposeful, appropriate: modified independent.

Right now our son is somewhere between levels four and five it seems– moving from the “confused and agitated” to the “confused, inappropriate and non-agitated”

Imagine your spirited 14-year-old on their worst day when they can’t wake up and they don’t want to talk to you and are agitated. Now amplify it. Even before his injury he might, in the moment of frustration, bark out a cry of anger. He goes to that place quite a lot now. If there’s pain in his legs at night, if his legs are uncomfortable in the wheelchair. He talks too of course but there’s a lot of ordering around that can be difficult for the person on the receiving end. You remind yourself that this is the result of the brain injury and that it is temporary.

The most frustrating part about a traumatic brain injury is that no one can tell you what the end of the road looks like. No one can tell you how long you’re going to be on the road or what the signposts might look like. I did some Internet research for the first time last night but it was too difficult. I understand why now, standing in the trauma center that very first night, shaking like a leaf, the young trauma nurse with the door swung out behind her turned to me and said “but there are always the miracles ”

My mind raced around and around, what does she mean? This is just a stupid skateboarding accident on the suburban street, what does she mean?

I’ve seen half a dozen monarchs in the last week after seeing none at all. A goldfinch in my front garden. It all seems so beautiful and incongruous. I think of the impossible migration of the Monarch. The trees in Michoacan heavy, draped with the fluttering wings of millions of butterflies. Those fragile wings that can be marred by a fingertip can travel thousands of miles..

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Awakening

I was driving to the hospital on my nightly food delivery with Zoe when Gerry texted. He is awake.

I thought he meant conscious had no idea that he actually meant that our Willi was all there — skinny and sweaty but acting more as if he had just come out of a bout with influenza or something.

Harassing his sisters, joking with his best friend on the phone, reading his cards and asking when he was going to get out of here.

His father and I sat in the Ronald McDonald room. It’s like being Italian restaurant on a movie set with the white checked tablecloths. I have brought an Austrian favorite that his mother always makes. We sat and looked with one another; I had tears in my eyes, my eyes wide. Just stunned. And for the first time since I have known him –other than tearing up or a few stifled small cries — his face just crumpled as he sat stock still and he sobbed. In relief.

Willi’s night was difficult. He tosses and turns, is agitated and oppositional. Something that I guess is common with the overstimulation of traumatic brain injury. They’re managing the pain with oxycodone and Valium and Benadryl.

today he moves to inpatient rehab.

None of the nurses on the ICU could believe it. The doctors couldn’t believe it. We saw a glimpse of what people usually only see only months on

He opened his eyes and looked at me. He sort of smirked. Made a goofy face. I asked if I could hold his hand and he jokingly looked disgusted and then I asked if I could kiss it and I did — I brought his hand up to my lips and kissed it . Told him how much I love him.

Gerry said it best on the CaringBridge this morning. We understand now that it’s a marathon but we had no idea we’d be running the marathon on the roller coaster..

The Zoo, Windmils and Tulips

I woke up today and felt like there was elephant sitting on my chest. Elephant seems too gentle… Make it a tiger that has lived mostly in captivity and you think it’s probably tame but you don’t know.

I took Zoe to the zoo yesterday. Trying to make things as normal as I can. We watched a show in American kestrel, she watched a beaver amble from one cage to another. She learned about what it means to be a keystone species. She raised her hand furiously when they asked what other animals eat bugs shouted out “bats ” as only a child who seen a bat flying around her northern Minnesota cabin says. She made such quick friends on the playground asking someone to be her friend, grabbing their hand and running off with them. She has made such incredible strides. And what I told her quietly that it was time to go, that we had things to do before going to the hospital… It wasn’t a tantrum as it can often be, but a quiet acquiescing.

I track her brother through the CaringBridge like most of you and through my discussions with her father and my brief visits in the evening. My head feels like it’s floating. I try to feel my feet on the ground. I remember when my grandmother was ill and I was in college my favorite professor was so kind to me and she said in times like this you just have to feel your body. Feel yourself in the chair. Feel your feet on the ground.

It makes no sense at all. Your mind tries to wander down all the possible paths that life could take. Right now we are just in crisis mode.

I know you know about my best friend Alicia who died last year. I have another best friend who I met the following year when we were in the 8th grade. She’s phenomenally strong. A single mother of five kids her second eldest child, a daughter, was born with a rare genetic abnormality. Her daughter has exceeded every expectation that the doctors had of her. I remember seeing a video my friend posted of her daughter’s Christmas concert biking down the aisles, waving, truly amazing. My friend just shared with me that the genetic counselors had told her that this child would bring them no joy.

The same friend shared an article with me a few days ago called welcome to Holland. The narrative device goes something like this: you plan to trip to Paris you have all the guidebooks have your itinerary you get on the plane and instead of Paris it drops you off in Holland. It isn’t the place you planned to go. But in time you’ll understand that there are beautiful things about Holland. Windmills. Tulips.

There may be windmills and tulips but I cannot see them from here.

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Hospital Garden

We stand in the late summer evening in the hospital garden.

She clambers up on the cement benches, hurries across them, chases her father up and down the meticulously planted groves .

“Be careful “I say which is something I have always said and is something, G says, I say too readily.

My brother was here earlier in the week. I was telling him something while we were driving. He remarked on the deep groove between my eyebrows to which I responded something like “I know I know it could use a shot of Botox” and he said, “no no, you have always had that even when you were tiny. I would take you to the playground just like I took a Z and you would look up at the jungle gym and I would ask if you wanted to climb and you look up at me with that furrowed brow and shake your head silently no”

Z climbs confidently and happily to the top. Surveys her world. Climbs back down and reaches for the tiniest bit of help.

I have been forever calling after my children to be careful. I have seen in every situation dire life-threatening consequences because that is how my brain is wired whether shaped by early life or just by nature.

When Willi was six we went to Florida on vacation to the coast where my father died. We gathered shells and watched the surf. We went to Disney land …world? I get them confused. I remember wandering around the ersatz Nepal in the heat with the undulating crowds of people and the lines. I took a picture of a truck filled with half green oranges. W was most excited by the alligators in the ditches. During our week there we went to an air show. The morning had been heavy with thick clouds and threatening rain. It drizzled as we were able to climb in and out of the grounded planes. As the sun broke through the word rippled through the meager crowd that planes were going to start the show.

We hadn’t walked very far, Willi between us only six years old, when the Israeli fighter jet flew high into the sky. Dazzling and bold it barrel rolled, swooped up and up came down and down and down and all of us held our collective breath and it crashed in a fiery ball in a Florida orange grove.

Just moments before it began my mind had played out that very scenario because that is what my mind does. I remember my numb brain as we walked the dazzling white Florida concrete. W didn’t seem too bothered by the event, he was more bothered by my being so distraught.

I tried to remember that last night when I gave Zoe over to her father to bring her into Willi’s hospital room. My own heightened emotion, I thought, might inhibit something between them. In the car going home Zoe said “and mama he opened his eyes. He said good night to me. ” And he did. He crooked his finger had her come closer and said good night.

He has said my name only once. He barked it out as more of an exclamation rather than a question. His father was by his bedside and assured him that I was there. I was on the couch behind his father and Willi rolled in my direction head halfway off the bed opened his eyes and directly looked at me and then went back to sleep. Once when we were alone and he stirred I just said I’m here kiddo just go to sleep. Just go to sleep. And he did.

Being a stepmother is about constant calibration. I remember when he was four and had the stomach flu. He has lived in two homes from three or so — splitting his time equally between the two but when you are sick you want your mom. They know exactly what you need. They are the inchoate sense of love and calm. This isn’t to say that we can’t find it in other places but I have always understood that he had a mother, a loving and wonderful devoted mother and that wasn’t necessarily what he needed me to be to him. He needed me to be his Pam. What that meant when he was four is different than what it means at 14. We have still been navigating that territory together. I am often translator between him and his father. I speak the language of emotions more fluently than my husband sometimes. I offer unsolicited advice… About interpersonal relationships, about navigating the social world, about love. All of which is probably profoundly embarrassing.

What I know is that Willi knows he is deeply loved by me. And he’s always known this. Interfamily dynamics are complicated for the world at large to untangle. We bring to it our own personal baggage, our societal baggage — The first day he was in the ICU the information desk wouldn’t release the information as to where I could even find the pediatric ICU unit. “But I am his stepmother” I cried “you don’t understand, my husband is in there and he can’t text me to come out here and give the okay this is a crisis situation” how could the woman sitting there have known that I have known Willi since he was 3 1/2. That he has two loving and devoted families with whom he splits his time. Or the charge nurse who shooed me off the floor with Willi’s mother’s closest friend and sister. She couldn’t have known who I was so I came up to her afterwards and said “you couldn’t possibly have known but I want you to know that I am Willi’s stepmother.”

It isn’t about me and I don’t want this post to make it seem so. Many of you have known me for a long time as I’ve written here and have wondered why I’m not writing as much as I could here. In our stepfamily dynamic even when Willi was little I always thought of it as my role to provide a loving and warm environment for his father and Willi to be together. Dinner cooker, facilitator, target of Nerf bullets and boy humor. My role is to be outraged at their grossness, to put my motherly disdain on their behavior. All a bit tongue-in-cheek. But I am an introvert by nature and that also means I usually think that other people need the kind of space that I do. Sometimes I give too much space and that is always a place I’m negotiating with step parenthood.

This is a new landscape and for now I continue to do what I’ve always done which is hold my family lovingly in my heart and support my boys, and of course now, Zoe.

When I heard about their bedtime exchange my heart simultaneously filled and broke. Because, of course, I wanted to be there in that moment. But it’s possible that had I been there that moment would not have happened.

I have always believed that love is the most powerful force. My mother, in talking about my father, would always say “your father believed that people are more important than things.”

How we love and who we are to one another is the only thing that matters.

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