Monday, March 29, 2010

2 ChaiDay

Hay there-

Well, another two chai day has arrived.

For those that might not understand that statement.......

The day that Bob died was established a "two chai day" by my friend, Mark, who was one of my support people with me those last days. I am oddly structure about weird things at times and I only allow myself one chai latte per day. But at seven in the morning when you are sitting around your dining room table with all your support people in the grey morning light and awkward silence and you have already been up for hours and you are waiting for the undertakers to arrive and your three year old is asking you way too many questions about his daddy who is still lying in the living room and your five month old starts making noise to be nursed and you are holding your coffee mug so tightly that your knuckles are turning white while you stare at the last remaining foam at the bottom of the mug thinking that you will probably never have another chai again since your now dead husband always made it for you and maybe if you stare at the foam long enough some of it might somehow burst into just one more sip of the delicious, spicy, warm, drink that makes you think of Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie and being cared for and nurtured.

And then a friend reaches out his hand and gently takes that mug from your clutches and as you look at him dubiously he says;

"Irene, I think it's a two chai day."

And why not? Why can't you have a second chai that day? No reason in the world.

I have declared every March 29th to be a two chai day. There have been other two chai days on occasion as well, days when I just needed a little bit of extra comfort, a little Thanksgiving.

I realized I was out of chai last night too late to get to the store. But have no fear, my sainted live husband picked some up early this morning and made me a perfectly frothed deliciously spiced chai. It was pure love and comfort that I could never have imagined would be mine six years ago.

Life is unpredictable, and it can be rough at times, and sometimes you just have to allow yourself to have a two chai day.

Thanks for checking in-


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Hey there-

I don't like March.

It has never been my favorite month. March has always seemed so long to me, longer than any other month somehow. The weeks stretch out with no holiday weekends. And by March I am soooo ready for winter to be over, but spring is nowhere close to arriving here in the Midwest.

The only time I have found March palatable was when Bob and I were living in Portland. In Portland March had the white petals of the dogwood trees, the pink blooms of the azalea bushes, the rich reds of the tulips, some yellow from late blooming daffodils, delicate purples of the early iris', plus the varied greens from all the ferns unfolding from the damp earth. In Portland March was an array of colors. Then we moved back to Milwaukee and March became brown and grey once again.

To make matters worse Bob was diagnosed in March, and then he died the next March, making March even more bleak.

Now it is March again. Another mourning march. I can recall so vividly the events happening exactly six years ago on this date. Last night was the night that I called my sister, Anne, the one who was going to come "when things got bad". I had my last lucid conversation with Bob that same night, just before I made the phone call. I was apologizing to him for following him around the house like a toddler. I tried to explain how worried I was that something would happen to him and I wasn't going to be able to handle it.

"Don't worry, Renie, you will," he told me.

Bob spoke so clearly, with that calm, thoughtful tone of his. He looked me straight in the eyes when he said it and I knew he was talking about more than just the next few days.

Well, it's six years later, and here we are, another March, alive and well. I severly doubted his wisdom at times, but Bob was right, as he usually was, I handled everything, just barely sometimes, but I handled it.

No worries. (HA! Well, I am glad he had none anyway)

It takes a whole lot of patience and confidence that there will, indeed, be new life coming out of that kind of darkness. I am thankful for the confidence Bob had in me, and I am thankful Bob died in March, when all the new life forcing it's way out of the cold dark earth is a reminder of the resilience and the undaunted possibility of the human spirit.

Thanks for checking in-


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I walked into the Living Room after hanging up the phone with my sister, Anne. Laughing, I repeated the conversation about the blender to Bob. I thought it was a cute that my family remembered how important the morning smoothie was to Henry and a very telling story about the McGoldrick attention to detail.

Bob obviously did not find the story so funny. His blue eyes darkened with worry. I sat down on the couch primly, hands carefully placed on my knees, waiting for him to reveal himself.

“You know Renie, I might not even be able to go to Nebraska. If my blood counts aren’t good or if the radiation doesn’t work,” he trailed off, reaching for his latte. It had to be cold by now.

I appreciated his concern. It was not easy to be at the mercy of tumors, blood counts, and doctors opinions. Now tickets were being purchased, calendars were being changed, apartments were being rented, all this planning because of Bob. What if it didn’t happen? What if we couldn’t go? What if the tumor didn’t go away?

“Well,” I spoke curtly, “The McGoldrick’s are mobilizing, Bob. You can’t stop them. This is their chance to help, to get involved. So we are going to Nebraska, whether or not you are getting a stem cell transplant, we are going to Nebraska.”

I stood up and walked out of the room, without even a glance behind me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Hey there-

I recently returned from a trip to Colorado. I like to get the boys out there to visit my family and do a little skiing. We stayed with some friends of mine from college. One evening we were having a lovely adults only meal in the dining room complete with candles.(we like to light candles at home but the boys just want to blow them out so they can dip their fingers in the hot wax and make wax finger tips that I later find all over the house-kind of ruins the ambiance of the candlelight for me)

My friends have two boys of their own and all four boys were busy watching some Olympic ski jump competition on the TV. Visions of rigging up a jump of their own in the backyard were racing through their little boy minds no doubt.

While enjoying the relative peace and quiet and good conversation with completed sentences and everything the all too common topic came up of "How does Mike do it?"

How does he live in the shadow of the sainted dead husband?

"I couldn't do it," said my friend. "It's gotta be tough."

I am not picking on this particular friend, I have heard this sentiment many a time from all different people. Mike's friends (some of whom suggested he not even date a widow to begin with), my friends, my family (some of whom suggested I not mention Bob's name in front of Mike), neighbors, coworkers......the list goes on. Everyone seems to believe that Mike deserves some kind of medal for putting up with the likes of me. A widow who remembers her late husband fondly, misses him and believes that he should still be a presence in his sons lives even though (especially because) he is not here live and in person. I never seem to get an equal amount of recognition for putting up with my particular situation, maybe because the phrase sainted ex-wife is not sweeping the nation.

But I am not bitter.

Let me state for the record that I think Mike is am amazing man. He is my greatest fan and supporter, has a great sense of self, is very concerned about my happiness,is great with my boys, and has a wonderful sense of humor about the whole sainted dead spouse thing. One of my favorite examples to share is a time we were spending the night at a friend's house. This was a couple that Bob and I were very close to and Mike was meeting for the first time. The topic of where people would sleep came up and the husband said to the wife; "Irene and Bob could sleep in our bed". While I was cringing on the other side of the table Mike leaned over to me and asked; "Where am I going to sleep?"

See, now that is funny! What are you going to do, be upset? It was an honest mistake.

Anyway,the boys and I were driving to the library yesterday when I heard a familiar CSN tune come on the radio.

"If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one your with." (That would be Crosby, Stills and Nash for those not familiar)

I don't know that the lyrics were meant to speak to a widow necessarily, I am thinking it was more of a war time song, but these words spoke to me during this particular outing.

I can't be with Bob. But I can be with Mike. And I can love him. Not the same way I loved Bob, but not any less, just different. Mike is here....right next to me. (as the song goes)

Maybe it is all just too weird for people not in the situation to understand. It is a conundrum for sure. People try and put themselves in our place and imagine, and maybe you just can't imagine. And both Mike and I seem unable to explain it to people so that they seem to truly understand. We seem to get a lot of odd looks and shaking heads.

Well, I will keep working on the right words. But until then I will continue to love the one I am with as best I can. And, hopefully, the rest will work itself out.

Thanks for checking in-


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Hey there-

Just a quick update regarding my last post. I thank everyone for their advice and support. This parenting stuff is hard work!

Henry will stay where he is for now. His first choice would be for me to home school him but I believe everyone should stick with their strengths and that is NOT mine. Left to our own devices Henry and I would rarely leave the house and would spend the day either reading, baking,sprouting apple trees from seeds, or Googling the latest Greek God Henry was obsessed with. We might take a break for a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood but I am not sure those activities alone would make for a well rounded child.

Anyway, when it came down to it Henry said he would rather be the oldest.

"I am kind of small, you know, Mom," he told me.

I believe Henry will learn because he wants to learn. Bob's greatest concern would have been that Henry live up to his potential as Bob felt he did not. But that concern seems to be universal amongst parents. Luckily, Henry is rather driven at this point so that is not a concern of mine as of right now.

I will keep you posted and until the words of Nancy McGoldrick, and my current mantra;

I am just doing the best I can.

Thanks for checking in-