Becoming June

Dad's birthday (4)
Perfect Proposal anniversary (9)
Mom & Dad's anniversary (13)
A.'s & my anniversary (18)
Father's Day (21)
& friends' & family's birthdays scattered through the month

This time, last year --
Death's invitation (to Dad) arrived
as Diabetic's Slumber & Kidneys' Failure. 

And June's approach
became Dad's life with us ending.
Our eyes' mourning 
began to see 
what June would become . . . 

Summer's slow passing.


Day of Memory

This past weekend was the one-year death anniversary of Tito Frank, a good friend of my Dad's, whose Mass we attended on Saturday at St. Joseph's (JC) -- ironically the same church where I was baptized almost 37 years ago & same priest too (Father Pagnotta, a robust Italian American man of the cloth whose vestment is fortunately large enough to hide his immense circumference).  Tito Frank passed away unexpectedly three months before Dad.  I remember Dad regretfully upset saying, "I was supposed to go before him."  Dad knew even then that Death's invitation to him had arrived. Tito Frank & Dad both died on a long holiday weekend.  Sitting in antique & ornate St. Joseph's & witnessing Tita Yoly's mourning, Mom & I were overwhelmed that it had already been a year for Tito Frank's family, and soon it will be a year for us too. For the most part, I've been able to handle the crying.  But folks are right when they say you never know when it will hit you.

Like on my bus commute on my first day of work.  I started sobbing heavily, & A. didn't know what to do. (Men just get terribly flustered in the presence of women weeping . . . )  I felt as if, Wow, I'm really moving on with my life, & Dad's not here.  While I continue to learn to be okay with moving on, the reality of doing so without Dad sometimes bites.  And the bite is deep & hard, & it hurts real bad. Sometimes I think, What a blessing for Tito Frank's daughters & sons who have their own kids, whose innocent goodness can perhaps subdue their parents' sorrow.  I need to make sure I'm in the company of some kids every so often because being around them helps tremendously.

I also find myself overcome when I explain to my new colleagues why I've been on hiatus from the working world the past eight months.  How I'd been thankful to work at a cancer support organization when all went downhill for Dad last summer, only to return from Dad's death and be laid off from work.  When A. & I reflect on last summer, we know that it was an unforgettable & most difficult one, moreso than his open heart surgery.  

Memory certainly has a way of returning us to the emotions of our experience, some heavyhearted & others joyous.  While the end of this summer will mark Dad's one-year death anniversary, I am comforted by many gleeful memories of Dad:

* Roasting  & impersonating each other during family holidays.
* Reading every piece I'd written since my newspaper days in grammar school, high school & college & into my internship at The Jersey Journal.
* Singing top-scoring karaoke songs from his era, including Dad's sometimes a little off-key rendition of 'Star Spangled Banner' at Knights of Columbus festivities.
* Using riddled metaphors to communicate a particular message like "A flower without bees buzzing around it smells bad."
* Looking fake-surprised at our 'Perfect Proposal.'
* Bantering with A. over philosophical ideas or trash-talking about who played better tennis.
* Planning enthusiastically for Mom's surprise 65th birthday celebration.
* Toasting to A. & me proudly on our wedding day.

Every day is a day of memory.


A walk through the flower district

"lunch break!"
i dart amidst the concrete chaos
a block over
an avenue further
i happen upon --
an urban paradise.

colors vibrate
as they greet my aura --

orange oompas!
green grizzles!
red rah-rahs!
yellow yippees!
blue bashas!
flora & fauna call to me --
"lunch break!"


I can do it!

It's the eve before I return to work after my 8-month hiatus from the workforce. Gone are my daily screenings of "Gilmore girls," though DVR will certainly come in handy.  Definitely gone is my routine of sleeping into the late morning & lounging around while I have my brunch. Welcome back, my NJ Transit bus commute alternating with drives into Jersey City & hopping onto the PATH train.  Welcome back, Work.

Thank you, A., for supporting me during my unemployment, for letting me enjoy a taste of living as a 'kept woman,' at least for a while.  It was actually a good run.  I didn't mind so much the . . . having dinner ready as soon as A. walked through the door, doing load after load of laundry on a daily basis, & groceries every week . . . in addition to my much appreciated yoga & meditation sessions at home . . . dates with Mom . . . & most importantly, time to grieve & reflect on death . . . & life too.  However, I am thankful to return to work, so as to relieve A. of any pressure & stress with my not working.   

This past week, I was saddened to learn that an old high school classmate's 5-year-old son was suddenly hospitalized, and doctors discovered he has AVM (arterio-venous malformation) on his brain, a rare medical condition.  While I am not a parent yet, I feel compassion for B. & her family, especially her young son, J.  Living with AVM is extremely risky, given bleeding on the brain & the possibility of ongoing seizures.  B. & her family are hopeful, and J. receives the best medical care at Columbia University Medical Center.  J., sending you healthy & loving vibrations.

Upon learning J.'s news, I realized . . . I really need not be so bummed about where A. & I are currently at with our family planning.  And facebook doesn't always help . . . getting all caught up with everyone else's status updates & photos of being pregnant, their baby showers, first-time dads cutting umbilical cords,& first-time moms gushing at their newborns.  While I've known that choosing to be a parent is certainly no easy undertaking, I'm also reminded that there are always risks involved -- medical, physical, mental & emotional risks.  While people do choose to be parents, they certainly don't choose their children's -- biological or adopted -- situations.  And therein lies the awesomeness of parenthood.  Circumstances -- parents can't always choose, but no matter what, they do always love their kids.   


Lucy es enciente.

Episode:  "Lucy es enciente."  As I folded unending laundry this morning, I watched an episode of "I Love Lucy," the one where she unsuccessfully makes every effort to tell Ricky that she's pregnant & resorts to slipping the host a note at his nightclub, so that Ricky can sing 'We're having a baby . . . my baby & me.'

Happy for them, I wept as Lucy & Ricky found themselves pregnant after 11 years of marriage . . . & I find, Sheelagh es no enciente.  I must be PMS-ing. 

I know I have so much for which to be thankful.  Like my new job . . . my husband, my mom, loving family & strong women friends in my wisdom circle.  I'm forgetting to be in the now.  

enciente gratitud

with boundless gratitude
i salute the women in my Mother's Council --
those who are their mothers' & grandmothers' daughters,
those who are their daughters' & sons' mothers,
those who are their partners' illumination,
those who are children of the world's villages,
whose loving graces push me up 
from the depths of my pregnant yearning
into the vast openness of my naked heart

Happy Mother's Day Weekend.


Communities & social justice

So I will be working in development (fundraising) as a Government Relations Specialist at Episcopal Social Services (ESS) in NYC.  It's a catch-all organization that supports families to be their strongest.  

What a coincidence that for years, I attended All Angels Church (Episcopal) on the Upper West Side & really enjoyed being part of the community void of all pretenses & such, where the homeless sat in the same pew as the financier from the Upper East side, where the drug addict shared peace with the local Columbia student, & where the struggling single mom sought comfort in spending time with a not-broken family.  And what's great about ESS is its commitment to communities & social justice, which have been part of my life's education -- even if it started in an all-girls Catholic school.

From supporting families (parenting, early childhood, teens, counseling, substance abuse, domestic violence, foster care, adoption, disabled) to providing youth & adults with encouraging assistance post incarceration, I am heartful that ESS will be the kind of workplace that will support A. & me through our next phase as a couple since we've long been wanting to start a family of our own. Maybe like how GCWW supported us through Dad's cancer journey. Call me crazy, but I actually fantasize about how some Asian American baby will come through the doors, & someone will ask if I know of any Asian Am families who want to adopt a child . . . & jumping up & down with my hands flailing, I will respond with an enthusiastic, "Oooo, oooo! Me, me, please!"  Who knows?  


Death & Rebirth --

. . . In the same week?  Mom & I attended a funeral mass yesterday morning for a very dear, old family friend of ours.  89 years old. She'd known my parents when they were single in Jersey City & had known me as a little girl.  In fact, her birthday is the day before mine.  She was the sister of the wife of an older couple who'd walked my folks down the aisle during their wedding ceremony at St. John's (Jersey City - Journal Square) 41 years ago.  Wishing you a most peaceful turnover to the Spirit World, Auntie M. (RIP)

And yesterday afternoon, I received an offer to join the development staff at a large, well-funded non-profit in NYC.  With rebirth comes a huge sigh of relief, especially for A. & Mom who seem to be more excited than I about my opportunity.  I have to admit, I'm working though some of my own anxiety about starting a new job after being unemployed for 8 months. The new job happens to be just a block & avenue away from GCWW, where I used to work.  The idea of returning to that location brings up all of the sadness, bitterness and challenge of last summer -- trying to work in a super dysfunctional culture & Dad's death, then getting laid off.  Feels like muscle memory -- returning to the scene, I guess.  I don't want bad karma biting me in the ass.  

On the other hand, I will have new experiences and new karma, I hope (haven't I got good karma coming to me?) -- working for a new organization that's well-structured & financially sound.  After all, what's the alternative?  Not working?  When I have less than three months left of emergency unemployment checks?  It took at least six months to win my first viable interview, and my last two interviews came at the end of my seventh month.  Hard times in this economy.  While I'd hoped to not return to a NYC commute, I am thankful that this rebirth of sorts will add to my professional portfolio.    

Thank you, Great Spirit, for my time off to refuel.  And thank you for a new beginning & for what sometimes seems like . . . coming back from the dead.  To rebirth!  (Maybe Auntie M. & Dad put a favor in up there?) 


Legacy Stone

" . . . loving a child has nothing to do with giving birth" and " . . . being a family is a choice, not necessarily something that just happens because you're related by blood." ~ Love's Unending Legacy 

Legacy Stone

I cherish
the Legacy Stone
as Mystic Faith calls 
the Butterfly Goddess
and beseeches her 
to become 
the sacred cycle of 
life-death renewal
a tender regeneration of
Her legacy


Another kind of Hunt

[As I reflect on my most recent gynie appointment - just yesterday.  I was overwhelmed to learn that we fall into the 10% of couples' probability of conceiving within a given year . . . in light of our health concerns, limited testing & two specialists' opinions . . . ]  

Goddess Ertha rules fertility, the hearth, the home, domestic life and the Wild Hunt.  My hunt for motherhood & for a forever child lies embedded in my heart's desire.  It's like a never-ending Wild Hunt, searching for something that I have wanted well enough, but remains so far from my grasp. (Maybe that's how The Sperm feel-- like they're on some wild goose chase? Not knowing where exactly to go?  Lost along some other path?) Sometimes I can smell it in the air. Other times, I feel it deep within -- like when I think I'm ovulating.  A slight, piercing soreness that lets me know that Goddess Ertha looks lovingly upon me, wanting my expedition to happen successfully.

I ask Goddess Ertha to provide the endurance & treasure map to find our way to the child who is meant to live in our hearts as well as in our home.  What a life with which The Spirit has gifted us. Allow us to accept what is, and bless us with compassionate patience as we continue on The Hunt. 

The Hunt

After a week of second round interviews in the city & Freehold (NJ . . . I know, Freehold?! . . . more when I actually know how things pan out), it was a most welcome opportunity to embark on a fishing expedition along the Jersey bayshore along with Mom, Auntie & Uncle.  We decided to informally christen the day "Auntie & Uncle Appreciation Day," along with celebrating every day as "Mom Appreciation Day." 

We hit Off the Hook for an early lunch, which included grouper sandwiches & homemade onion rings. Then Al fished a bit on the bayside along The Hook, & we even hung out at the top of The Hook in the old naval barracks.  Afterwards, we headed to Belford where Al landed a 10+ lb. bluefish.  Dunkin Donuts iced coffee seemed to be a welcome reward after all our hiking at The Hook. We then retreated to Keyport for some relaxed casting along the pier before arriving at our final destination -- Dino's Fishery & Restaurant. Nothing beats Dino's sauteed soft shell crab over linguine covered in a light butter, white wine sauce. Yum!

While Al is the ultimate fisherman in search of his big or most of the time, just decent catch, all week long I'd been feeling like Diana the Huntress cautiously on the prowl for my next worthwhile (job) exploration.  By no means do I feel like it's been an easy (job) hunt, but I am hopeful that The Hunt will end soon.