My sweetie

My sweetie
at school

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Mommy In The High Desert of Oregon


In the kitchen


I have been begging my subconscious to please let me dream about Lueza. I would like to stop having anxiety dreams about losing phones or getting lost in strange cities and I would very much like to spend some time with my daughter in my dreams.

The first dream was hard to remember but had something to do with suctioning out her "trach" and all the virulent looking fluid that poured out into the suction catheter.
About 5 days later I dreamed that I was cleaning and cutting her nails with my nails and I accidentally tore off a little piece of her skin on a finger and made her sob. There was blood. And extreme guilt.

Friday, 15 July 2011


The first city that I started back at work with the tour was Eugene, Oregon. A gentle place. Quiet streets with overgrown lawns of new spring flowers. Signs for psychotherapy and massage and bodywork. Woke up one day with a heavy load of grief in my chest. A strong physical sensation of despair.
Walking seemed to be the way to go. Get out of the hotel room. As I was heading back on a different street I had one thought: I must find an Episcopal church. I'm not a religious person in most ways but it was important to me that my daughter have an Episcopal service and when she lay on her futon where she had died I called the Episcopal minister from my other daughter's school to please come and read prayers around her. Lueza had loved prayers during 2010 and I had always taken the little icon of our Lady of Guadalupe and hung it on her IV pole whenever she was in the hospital. I am obsessed with all things Catholic. Rosaries and religious medals of saints and images of the Virgin Mary. The idea of ritual. Amulets. Beauty.
The priest gathered the five of us around Lueza's bed and we read prayers.
So I'm walking on this street in Eugene thinking I must google Episcopal churches. And of course the next block it appears. I need to ring a bell. There are ladies at a little desk in the hall. They show me where the entrance is. In the front right side is a place for candle lighting. This is what I needed. Hanging over the rows of votive candles is an image of Our lady of Guadalupe. I stuff some dollars into the slot, light my candle and sit in a pew and weep. When I've stopped and it is silent I hear: Christ is dead. Spoken by a man in the back of the church. At first I think maybe it's a kook and then I realize that it is Good Friday and it is the hour when this is spoken by the priest.
I feel peaceful again and go back to my room to google the rituals of Good Friday and the speaking of these words.
Later that day I get an email from a friend who also lost her disabled son very suddenly and she said that she had lit candles for Evan and Lueza in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Another Gift

One of my closest friends sent me a poem that she wrote for Lueza when she got the news. I read it during the funeral service.

Dream Side

Lueza runs
because she's given me miles to walk.
She swims
in the space joy holds
when it's Christmas
and sings in the solitude
of a leaf among trees.
She dances in circles
around a place in the heart
where humor is born
and love is awakened.
It's a space she owns,
between knowing eyes,
a laughing heart,
and trusting arms.
Her eyes search out good company.
Her smile shares recognition
of what it takes
to hold the universe
in the cup of one's hand.
Her thoughts
discuss human paradigms
on the dream side.
Where true understanding lies.
Where seekers worn out feet
yearn to arrive,
experiencing the sacredness
of time,
struggling to leave uncertainties behind.
She wishes them well.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Happy in the hospital December 2010

Thank you cards for our sympathy letters and notes

What to do about all the sympathy cards and letters we received? I was in such a catatonic state but I started collecting them in a pile and eventually a large zip bag became their home. Did I need to write people back? Do you get a break from thank you notes when your child dies? What about all the emails through Facebook?
I googled the etiquette people.
No way out.
You must write everyone back.
I came up with a compromise.
I had a card printed up that would communicate the body of our feelings. And then I wrote something on each one.
It was a labor of love.
We had been overwhelmed with kindness.
Extremely grateful to work on this "project".

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Letter from my niece

On Monday my mom and I built a little altar made out of colored stones at the heart of Miraval's labyrinth. These pebbles joined dozens of other carefully piled stupas left by other pilgrims as a visible marker of their personal prayers. We dedicated the altar to Lueza. In a moment of silence, we visualized her spirit playing happily among the lapiz, rose quartz, jasper and pale green aventurine. As we walked the labyrinth, a monarch butterfly circled the center and danced among the pebbles.

There is no way to follow the path out of the labyrinth without encountering sharp turns when you least expect it. The truth is, we are still in shock and cannot begin to imagine the emotions that you as a family, mother, father, and sister are going through.

That night my mom had a dream. She saw a girl with brown hair, face covered with her hands, her back towards other children receding in the distance. "Ready!" she calls, running after the other kids. As she takes her hands away from her face, she is all smiles and laughter.

When my mom woke up, she realized that the girl was little Lueza, whole in body and heart.

Please know that we are with you in prayer and love in these challenging times.

(This letter became part of our funeral service for Lu)

Friday, 1 July 2011

No Idea

After taking two weeks off from work I spoke with my husband and daughter and told them that I needed to let my job know what I was planning to do. They were getting by with two different understudies but would need to hire somebody to replace me if I decided to take a longer leave of absence. My 14 year old daughter was the first to answer: Go back to work Mommy. It'll be good for you. My husband continued: Go back Mommy. What are you going to do here?
There was a lot I could do there. I could be at home with my family. I could be in my sweetie's empty room and grieve and weep or whatever I was supposed to do. I could spend time with my other daughter who was about to finish 8th grade after 10 years at the same school.
I left.
I took their advice and went back to work. I had no idea what I should do. I had no idea if I could walk and talk on the stage or if I would tip over. I had terrible stage fright at certain times and didn't know if it would come back and get me.
I went back "on the road". Like a circus person.
I could work and I could be alone.
I could wander around cities.
I could light candles in churches.
I could ruminate.
I escaped.