Seven Minutes

Note to readers: I’m going to change my posting schedule from Saturdays/Sundays to Mondays. It seems that I don’t always have a topic by the weekend but I do on Mondays, so it works out better for all of us. Please look for new posts on Mondays going forward. 


BoyIt was the worst seven minutes of my life.

My husband threw up his hands and called out, “WHERE’S (OUR SON)?” I looked around, expecting to see my three-year-old in a ten-foot radius. He wasn’t there. I widened my search to twenty feet. He wasn’t there.

Our closest friend said, “I’ll watch your daughter. Go!”

Eyes wide, trying to suppress panic, I stepped out from under the festival tent and headed toward the main drag. I scanned the path, the tents, the alleys between them. My son wasn’t there. I got to the end of the path, turned around, scanned again, saw some of our friends looking too, but I didn’t see my son. At the end of the path, one of our friends pulled me aside and had me talk to a festival volunteer.

“What’s his name?”

I told him.

What’s he wearing?

“Uhh, I don’t know. Oh God, I don’t know. Khaki shorts!”

“What color shirt?”

I’d never wanted to remember something so desperately. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know!” read more

A very close call

imagebot (6)My son slumped over in his chair at the dinner table. “Is he okay? Is he okay?” my husband asked, alarmed.

“He’s just looking around,” I said. He was. Like a turtle, pivoting on his neck, with a sleepy look on his face.

“He’s choking!” my husband said, and sprang into action. He thumped my son’s back. So did I, and my son’s head slumped. I stuck my finger into his mouth and felt teeth.

“OPEN YOUR MOUTH! OPEN YOUR MOUTH!” I said.. Oh my God, this could be it. We could lose him right now! I always thought if someone was choking, their mouth would automatically open but his didn’t. Thankfully, he did open his mouth when I said so and, as I worried my nail was too long and would scratch him,  my finger reached for the back of his throat. I swept it, got some small pieces of sausage, and my son began to perk up and breathe. Breathe. It was the most beautiful breath I’d ever seen him take. read more

A hill of beans

“The problems of two people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world.” – Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”
Bad dayIf you caught me on Tuesday last week, you’d have found me alone in my house, screaming like horror film ingénue and sobbing like the friend she left behind. At that moment, I couldn’t believe the horrible deal that life had dealt me and I couldn’t understand why my only hope had fallen through.

Let me back up a little bit. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in this space, but I have severe, chronic migraines. When I say chronic, I mean daily. When I say severe, I mean they can hurt so bad that they make my eyes tear. On more than one occasion, they’ve made me cry.

I have been suffering from these migraines for about a year and a half now. read more

Sometimes things just come together

FireworksSometimes things just come together. And thank God they do. Since I had returned from my dad’s last week, I’d been working on his finances, trying to find a way to pay for his 24-hour home care. When I brought him a check for the first week of care, he took one look at the amount and refused to sign it. “This should be covered,” he said. (See “I shall not be charged”) I promised to try to get it covered and by the time I left, I lied and said that I had. read more

Viki the Friendly Ghost

Viki the Friendly Ghost

“Is Yaya dead?” I heard from the direction of Rose’s carseat.

WHAT? I thought. How the hell does she know that?

“Well, um, yes. One of your Yayas is dead and the other one is very much alive.”

“Where is Yaya?” she asked.

“Remember, she visited us? She lives in New York, where Papou and Aunt Cathi live.”

“No, the other Yaya. Can we visit her?”

“No, Sweetie, not for a long time.”

Rose asked the same questions of Matt as he drove and he explained the situation much more clearly. “Your mother had a Mommy who raised her and another one who had her in her tummy. The one who raised her is dead. You went to her funeral. The other one is alive and she was here a few months ago, remember?” She spared him the follow-up questions. Maybe if I’d explained it better she wouldn’t have asked me either. Dammit.

Clearly I dropped the ball on explaining the story to Rose, but my mind was stuck on how she ever got the idea that Yaya died. Yes, she went to Yaya’s funeral, but she wasn’t even two years old at the time, and it was a closed casket, thank God, so there was nothing creepy to explain. But there’s no way she connected that experience, more than a year ago, to Yaya’s death. She never met my mother because my mom was too far gone with Alzheimer’s by the time Rose was born. I thought if we tried to introduce her to my mom, Rose would freak out at her –a shell of a person unable to connect the outside world.

But now that my mom is free, what would stop her from haunting Rose? Nothing, I concluded. In fact, I think she’d love the idea. She hadn’t seen me, really seen me, for eight years before she died. She wasn’t really conscious for the last eight years. Why wouldn’t she want to visit my house and see her grandchildren? It makes perfect sense.

I don’t delve much into the supernatural, but I do believe in ghosts. I have to. I’ve heard so many stories from people I respect, and I did live in a haunted apartment for a little while. Plus, it’s kind of hard to believe in an afterlife and not believe in ghosts. That said, ghosts scare the hell out of me. I once stayed at a friend’s house and couldn’t let myself sleep because of a ghost they described who visited once a year and then only in the kitchen, a whole floor below me.

Have I felt anything around the house? No. But the events of 2010 could all to point to my mother’s influence on my life. First I got pregnant despite a grim prognosis; then I met my birth mother; then I interested three publishing professionals in my work; I gave birth to a healthy son; my blog readership skyrocketed; then I met my birth father.

I don’t want to get too freaky but couldn’t that be my mother smiling down at me? Although it’s iffy whether she’d want me to meet my birth parents, I think she’d want that mystery of my life solved for me. And as I recall, when the agency gave me some information about my story, my real parents wanted to hear all about it.

I could definitely pin the writing success on my mother. She loved the way I wrote since I was little, and she’d always say, “Maybe you’ll be an author” or “Maybe you’ll write a bestseller.” (Amen to that!) But she hated to share anything personal and I write about her life a lot. Has the afterlife changed her? Is she cool with people knowing her secrets now? And the pregnancy thing – what grandparent doesn’t want another grandchild? I could definitely see her work in that.

But is it her or is it me? I have worked really hard on my writing for years, but last year I spent more time doing it. Plus the blog’s facilitated big improvements in my work, not to mention a boost in my confidence. What about my birth parents? I put my name on the New York State Adoption Registry more than 10 years ago, and my birth father tells me he recently put the impetus on my birth mother to find me. The pregnancy? I can’t explain that away except to say we were looking into adoption so the pressure to conceive was truly off. And every time we’d failed to conceive, I’d said that as soon as the right kid came along, we’d get pregnant. I’ve also long subscribed to the belief that sometimes one extended family member has to die to make room for a new one. Ok, there’s my mom again. And all the time we’d tried to conceive I’d been praying so hard for the next time to work. Can’t discount God’s influence either.

So I guess I have to take credit for some of the good stuff, and give credit where credit is due. I won’t let go of the belief that, at the very least, my mom is watching out for me. But if Rose starts spouting freaky stuff again, I may just have to invest in a Ouija Board.