Wordless Wednesday: My Grampa’s Birthday

This is his first birthday in Heaven.  Photo by Kathy Tracy.

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A Month of Reading – Day 14-16, Apology

This is an open letter of apology to the mom bloggers I normally scorn for jumping on the traffic bandwagon after a terrible event makes national news.

In the later hours of last Friday, I saw a lot of people posting things on Facebook, trying to gather their blogger colleagues together to write about the tragedy and gun control and mental illness, and I had flashbacks to the very recent aftermath of the movie theater shooting in Colorado, when it seemed like every new post on Babble.com or Huffington Post Parents was about how to talk to your kids about the shooting, and every mom blogger – especially those with high traffic (at least it seemed to me) – was posting about how she felt about the shooting, and how she was going to act to make the world a better place.  The same thing happened after Hurricane Sandy.  “Look at me!” they all seemed to be saying.  “Look at me and how generous and active I am!  I am helping!”

And so when I anticipated the inevitable glut of posts about Newtown, CT I decided I had to shut the internet down because I knew that I could not stand my colleagues using this tragedy to get attention.  I voiced my opinion in a closed Facebook discussion about this, and mine was in the minority, which I expected.

Since then, I have had several phone discussions with my kindred spirit friends, during which there was lots of crying and philosophizing and fist-shaking at God, wherever He is.

“People grieve in different ways,” is the phrase that keeps coming up.  I want to believe that my colleagues have their hearts in the right places when they organize a “blog hop” about gun control, or pour out their hearts on their blogs.  I actually do believe that most of them do.  But I know that out there somewhere on the internet is that traffic whore who’s going to tailor her blog posts to the latest search terms and she’s going to milk it as hard as she can.  And that for every one of her, there are journalists, reporters, dad bloggers, makeup bloggers, entertainment bloggers, rock stars, jugglers, and sword-swallowers who are trying to get in on some of that action, too.

So what am I doing here?

It took me two full days of balls-out crying, ugly cry, in public and everything, to come to this realization.  In my anger over this meaningless topic, I divert my grief and rage.  So what if every mom blogger I’ve ever known posts something and gets all the internet traffic?  Who cares?  Out of that battle cry there may come some good, even.  Myself – I am not in any position to address that topic, or mental illness, or the culture of violence in our media, or the mass-shooters-are-always-white-privileged-men theory.  I am simply destroyed, and I need a rest.

There was a time when I was like them.  I wanted to use my blog as a platform to Raise Awareness!  After Hurricane Katrina I gathered donations for a family in New Orleans whose little girls didn’t have any clothes to wear to school.  After Hurricane Sandy I posted photos of my hometown, because I knew my blog had a wider audience than the photographer’s.  I often write about Help a Mother Out here, and I energize you, my audience, to help me get diapers to diaperless babies.

This is also about my loss of faith.  Yes, in the last year I have suffered great loss.  I’ve grown mopey on this blog, and cynical, and fatalist.  I lash out with bitterness.  I saw that where once my mom blogger community was one of comfort and shared experience, it has diverged into coupons and recipes and columns and trips to Africa and Twitter parties and marketing companies and who’s making money and we’re all competing for the same eyeballs and I’ve had it with all of that.  I am recommitting to noticing and acknowledging my fellow bloggers, both known and new to me, who do this because we love it, whether they are “internet famous” or not, or making money or not.  Sometimes the cream rises, sometimes it stays in the dark refrigerator where nobody knows it’s there.  It’s still cream.

I release my grudges. I return to loving you, and reading the blogs I’ve always loved.  I can see past the attention-grabbers, and I can sense the sincerity of kindred spirits.  I want to embrace you again, and ignore the rest, and throw off the pall of bitterness that causes me to miss well-intentioned, good-hearted, soulful writing.

Here is what I read this weekend.  Click on it only if you can promise yourself that you can either avoid, or you need, a good ugly cry.

Thinking the Unthinkable – The Anarchist Soccer Mom

A Methodical Massacre:  Horror and Heroics – The Hartford Courant

Victims’ Names – LA Times

A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope – The National Association of School Psychologists

On Guns and School Shootings – Work at Home Mom

A Note From Dawn – VDog and Little Man (Vdog is a blogger friend and colleague who lost a nephew in the shooting)

Five Things to Consider Before Talking To Your Kids About Today’s Tragedy – Rage Against the Minivan

Lastly, I quote Sharon Greenthal here, because it she who provoked my lashing out and my meditations on this topic.  She is a writer I admire, and when I saw this sentence, I knew I was angry at the wrong thing.

…as a blogger I have the opportunity – responsibility – to share the information I’ve been able to gather about how to express your opinion, donate your time and money, or send your messages of sympathy and caring.

From The Sandy Hook Massacre and Gun Control, What You Can Do To Help:  Empty House, Full Mind.

A Month of Reading – Day 14, Alternative

This is the eleventh post in A Month of Reading

Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

From the poem “Resumé” by Dorothy Parker, as quoted in You Might as Well Live:  The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker, by John Keats, 1970.

photo from Wikipedia, public domain

A Month of Reading – Day 13, Team Lisa

This is the tenth post in “A Month of Reading

December thirteenth.  So, I have this friend.

Jason Land was Lisa’s personal trainer.  At least, that’s how they met.  In 2007, after her first surgery, she did physical therapy until the insurance stopped paying for it, and then hired Jason to continue her recovery.  All of that tough rehabilitation made her lose weight, and before long she lost 75 pounds!  She became something of a fitness freak, which I use to tease her for, but mostly because I was jealous.  We had always been the same size, but here she was giving me a pile of her “fat pants” every time she came over.

Jason and Lisa became close friends.  Close enough that she dragged me and another gal down to Orange County to see him play in an 80′s cover band called The Dojo – they dressed in bad-boy karate outfits with Ralph Macchio as their inspiration.  The music got better the more we drank.

In Lisa’s absence I have gotten to know Jason a little bit better.  He married his longtime sweetheart this summer, and I attended a reception here in Southern California, but the wedding itself was held in the Dominican Republic.  Lisa had displayed her save the date on her dining room counter, and was looking forward to the adventure.

Jason has been incredibly industrious in this last year without her.  Inspired by Lisa’s dramatic physical recovery and the way she used the opportunity to increase her overall health before her untimely passing, Jason has created Reclaim Your Body, an interactive fitness book that includes workout videos and nutritional guidance for people who are interested in living healthier.  One user compares it to having a personal trainer with her all the time, without the cost.

That’s pretty amazing in itself, but he didn’t stop there.  Working with the staff at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and USC’s Keck School of Medicine where Lisa was on staff as a neonatologist, Jason set up Team Lisa, a charity that will be funded by the proceeds from Reclaim Your Body.  Team Lisa will send doctors to developing nations to educate their medical personnel on how to properly care for newborn babies.  Jason says that after 400 units are sold, the first doctor will be able to travel and continue the work that Lisa was doing when her life ended.

It’s incredibly hard for me to write this.  I’m so angry that she is gone.  Today is her birthday.  There are no more happy birthdays for her.  But I am amazed and so proud of Jason, who is taking this loss and turning it into something that will hopefully gift many babies with birthdays from now going forward, all over the world.

This is a good time to tell you that I am taking part in a darkly weird but also comforting and awesome blog support effort called Hugs For the Holidays.

Someone just asked me what I miss the most about Lisa.  My answer was this:  “So many things but these days I miss her loyal friendship the most.  I could count on her 100% and she knew that she could count on me.  She was part of my little CA family.”

I super double triple hate that she’s not around during her birthday and Christmas time.  Mary Godwin of The Mama Mary Show and several of our other blogging pals are creating this blog support ring for people who are grieving loved ones during the holidays.  We’re doing a post link-up on Wednesday, December 19.

From Mary’s post:

“We want to make sure no one is grieving alone this holiday season so we invite you to share your story with us.  On Wednesday, December 19th, we will have multiple link-ups on the sites below, where you can comment and/or link up a post you have written, according to the type of loss with which you are dealing.

You can link up anything you would like to share about your lost love one: a link to a Facebook photo/post, a blog post about a particular memory, a Pinterest pin sharing how you cope, whatever you would like others to read or see. If you are not a blogger, you can write your memory in the comments of the blog.

If you have had a miscarriage, stillbirth or lost an infant link here: fourplusanangel.com

If you have lost your mom link here: sandiegomomma.com

Your dad link here: mamamaryshow.com or deaddadsclub.com

Your sibling link here:  myinnerchick.com

A child link here: aninchofgray.blogspot.com

A friend link here: kimtracyprince.com

We have also created a special #HugsfortheHolidays Pinterest board so check it out for tips on dealing with grief and some inspiration to help ease the pain during this season. If you have a specific link you’d like shared on the board between now and December 19th please include it in the comments below.

Please remember to visit a few other blog posts on this special day to help spread the love around to others. Our goal is that no one feels like they are suffering alone this holiday season.”

When I write about Lisa I usually take the extra step to include relevant links to her story for those of you who are new here, but I just can’t do it right now.  I’m tired of this whole year.  I’m tired knowing that I have to keep growing old without her.  I am not yet at the place where I feel her in my heart and that’s enough.  I sure wish I could fast-forward to that part.  So, if you’re new here, just click the tag “Lisa” down there at the bottom of this post, and you’ll see why I am so sad.

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