Tuesday, October 26, 2010

After the first anniversary

Di and I were talking about how it seems harder now, after the first anniversary of Casey's death, than in the months leading up to it. We were almost propelled and carried along in our grief during the first year by events unfolding around us-the funeral, return to work, Fordham memorial, fall 2009 establishment of scholarships and awards in Casey's name, the Pink Performance, spring 2010 New Jersey traffic safety initiative, West Chester University benefit concert, Casey's birthday in April, accepting Casey's diploma at Fordham and the day of service on July 17 th. I have been down , most days, much of the day for several months now as has Di. We believe it is the present absence of distractions that is making it so difficult. Once one gets down it is so much harder to find the desire or energy to actually do anything and a potentially self-defeating cycle begins. One of the tasks of mourning for completion is the establishment of an enduring, albeit, altered relationship with the deceased. I am still so focused on keeping Casey's memory alive by service and helping others discover the joys of service-this may not be the establishing of a new and altered relationship with Casey as much as it is about what I need to do for me right now but it is what feels right for me. I can see I will have to work a little harder to keep momentum going, new projects to remember Casey and to help others. But I have learned that I do get so much out of helping others and knowing we are making a difference in Casey's memory. One of the scholarship recipients at the University of Colorado , after spending her spring break volunteering ,wrote the following in a letter to us:

I am making a living, breathing difference in the lives of others that I am proud of and want others to take part in.

This keeps me going. I am not such a good anonymous donor.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Parents who carry the loss of a child

Brooke has been training for her first Marathon for about 6 months. After a training run of about 18 miles she saw a plaque on a bench . This is what she wrote to us:

When I finished 18 miles and felt really good, I started to stretch at the bench at the end of the path. I looked up and saw the plaque below on the bench. See the attached picture, but if it doesn't load, it reads, "To all parents who carry the loss of a child within their heats, you are in our prayers. - Love Neil and Karen." This really struck me and reminded me again of the heart of why I am running this marathon. No one expects a child to go before them, and no young person ever expects to loose a friend so early in their lives. I miss Casey so much, and think about her practically every time I run. I think about all the things I know she wanted to do in her life, and who she could have been, and how all that was taken away from her. This plaque was a striking message and a reminder of why I set out to do this marathon in the first place.

I have talked about needing to look for gifts every day as they keep me gong and remind me of all the good in this world. Thanks to Brooke for her many gifts .

Photos of Casey and the NYC Marathon

Di, Brooke and I were looking at photos of Casey. I still cannot do so for very long. There is something about all the life and joy and promise and hope in them-especially someone like Casey, that overwhelms me with a deep sense of sadness and loss. I walked away, outside and sat in the grass in the sun and it was warm on my face and dried my tears. I looked at the sycamore and maple and oaks and their fall colors, heard a flock of geese pass overhead and played with Luna. After a while it was ok. I am so thankful that I am able to get out of those deeply sad moments and can enjoy all the wonderful things this world has to offer. I so much enjoyed having Brooke here-her laughter, smile, tears and hugs. Brooke ran with the group Back on My Feet that has sponsored her for next month's NYC marathon that Brooke is running because of Casey. As Brooke talks of her new job I can't help but think that Casey would also be at a new job, starting her career and having lots of new stories to share. But the enormity of the loss seems somehow less with Brooke here and in our lives. How lucky Casey was to have her as a friend and how lucky Di and I are to also have her as our friend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Compassionate Friends

I attended a Compassionate Friends meeting tonight. About a dozen parents who had lost children. Some could speak freely of their child and their grief while others could not. Anger, pain, loneliness, depression, fatigue and also some humor. If that room is a barometer time does heal wounds. Those 8, 10 or even 16 years into the process had regained some joy in their lives and allowed for the possibility of a hopeful and promising future. That realization came first to me intellectually--that things would get better and I would not feel so down and lonely all the time. I also now know it on an emotional level. "Fake it until you make it?" Borrowing from another support group's sayings. Let's also not forget "one day at a time."It was so hard to hear all the individual stories of loss but after it was all said and done I felt better for going and it allowed me to continue to see a happier future.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

College savings accounts and expectations

When Casey was about 6 months old I opened a college account for her. After she died I had to transfer what was left out of that account. It was incredibly hard to do so. That was about a year ago. Yesterday I was asked for more information from the accountant for a tax filing. I opened up the folder and started to look at the statements and the list of contributions made almost every year from when she was a baby until she entered college. I fell apart and could not do it. It was as sad and empty and grief-stricken as I have felt in a while. The process focused me on her entire life span- a baby, toddler, entering elementary school, middle school, teen years and what I had expected would happen with college graduation and starting a career and family and all of that now will never take place. What I expected , Casey expected and what will never be . The cruelness and unfairness of it was magnified somehow and really hit me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What can you do for me?

I attended a dinner honoring one of my partners and saw for the first time since Casey's death many attorneys I had known and practiced with for many years. Several came up to me and apologized for not doing anything more than sending a card . There was such a sense of helplessness- the inability to do something for me that troubled them greatly. I am convinced that those in my profession, so used to giving advice and solving problems, are at such a loss because they cannot see how they can "fix" my "problem." It is true they can not solve my problem and if that is their preconceived notion of what support and comfort is all about they will be awkward and uncertain and will "fail."It also struck me that many attorneys are not very good listeners--of course some are, but to a large extent they are not. Sometimes I will come right out and say what I need or what I expect from a person who is well-intended and other times it is too much of a burden to do so.