Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Holes of Loss

I have not heard my Nina's name so much as I have lately.  Nina Irene.  Hurricane Irene is on the radio each mourning and evening to and from work.  This brings comparisons to other hurricanes and discussions of loss.  Yesterday NPR talked to a woman with whom they have been following with occasional check ins since Hurricane Katrina.  Her and her husband were there and then rebuilt.  Her husband died a year ago.

For me, it is the drive home from work that has proven to be the time of tears over loved ones lost.  Tears and poems are written in my mind.  The first are etched softly and the latter are like prayers evaporating into the wind.  Not sure why when driving home but it is the case.

I was thinking on Monday about mourning.  Part of the mourning is to honor the loved one gone from this conscious Earth. To be sure.  But part, a major part, is to honor the hole that is left in my self.  There is respect for loved ones lost and there is this personal hole.  How do I balance a desire to live this life, honor loved ones lost, and honor the part of myself gone?  I thought about family alters.  I thought about if I would smile in happy memory or turn sad or solemn or want to cry at the mention of my loved ones.  I thought about customs of dressing in mourning for a year after a spouse dies.  I love my Tata (my grandpa), I love my Agusta (my dog), I love my Nina.  I love others who have gone; my Tia and Melissa.  I sometimes feel the loss of ones I have barely known or never met but only hear of on TV or on the radio.  I mentioned the basic question that I have about mourning to my friend at work, Katrina.  She said that mourning has a way of coming up when it needs to.  Tears will be there when they need to be.  There is no need to work to make them there all of the time.  The woman on NPR said that sometimes, after a month of everything being fine, she will think of her husband and pat his side of the bed.  And everything is ok and she goes on.

I am not certain where I am at with mourning.  I am still an amateur adult in so many ways.  But I think more about the question to myself that I posed: what would I like best when I think about my loved ones gone years from now?  I think I might like it best if my first thoughts, most of the time, when I don't need otherwise, are thoughts that make me smile.  I think I would like to take these holes inside of me and swell them full of the memories I have.  To let the holes fill with goodness and memories and lessons learned and a presence that feels tangible and that is all the good that these special people brought into my life.  That's what I am thinking right now.  And, other times, I'll cry.  But mostly, I will smile.

Enzo the Great

I'm pretty sure Enzo is the most absolutely perfectly awesome-ist boy in the world.  He has crept into my being and built himself a palatial fortress.  He wrapped both of his arms around mine as he fell asleep two nights ago and I'm pretty sure I ascended into a higher state of existence.  My arm engulfed his person without moving.  My heart swelled and covered him.  Sometimes when I hold him he holds me back and Tami laughs but does not fight me on it when I say I can do nothing else practical for the household until he stops cuddling me of his own will.  Sure, I like to avoid responsibility once in a while, but this is valid beyond all valid reasons ever.  He smiles at me.  He gets excited to see me after work but then runs away laughing.  He laughs more when I chase and pick him up.  Sure, three seconds afterwards he goes straight faced, turns, and points to a bouncy orb saying "ball!"  But we have those three seconds and the world is at peace.  At about six o'clock yesterday were you angry but then suddenly felt perfectly at ease?  That's when I picked him up.

He says "bye papa" when I'm getting ready to leave in the morning now.  He is not sad.  He just says bye in his happy-sweet and matter of fact way.  This started only a couple of weeks ago.  It simultaneously made me happy and sad the first time.  My intellect had to intervene and make sense of it all for me.  There is a part of me that wants him attached to me, and part of me that wants him independent of me.  Overall, I want him attached to me but confident that he is well without me and that he trusts he is safe.  So, this is perfect.  Especially since he is happy to see me home, even if he is only elated until three seconds after I pick him up. 

I could hold him forever except that I want him to freely explore on his own and live and some day consciously appreciate this existence and universe.

Enzo loves his sister and is so sweet.  He pushes her on her swing.  He talks to her.  And she will stop anything to look and listen when he gives her attention.  If she is complaining she will still stop when he makes noise.  He pulls her towards him on her little swing, face to face, just like I do with him at the park, and says "wa, tu, thwee" and let's her swing go just as I do with him.  Over and over.  On the weekend I laid down on my belly in the living room next to my daughter laying on her belly.  Enzo came running over from behind and I turned to see him with a huge smile as he ran and he was saying something happy and laid down on my other side to join us, on his belly, as happy as can be and just beaming that beautiful smile of his at us both.  No jealousy, no attempt to be the center, just so excited, it seemed, to see us together and to be part of it.  My smile is HUGE as I write this.  I have thought of that time so many times.  It is the greatest memory I have with them both so far. 

Sometimes at night our whole nuclear family is a chain.  I love that too.  Sometimes by accident.  Sometimes I am awake, Enzo on one arm,  and I will stretch my arm out to Tami who is cuddling and feeding Ana just to feel that chain connect.

He calls me Papa and his mom Mommy lately.  For him, I refer to Tami as Momma and she refers to me as Papi but for now he seems to be settling on the reverse sound endings for us.

We played with his green ball in the front yard yesterday before bed.  Two days ago we walked to the park and I pushed him on the swing for so long and he never tired of it.  I offered to take him out but he kept saying "more".  He points out "palo" everywhere when he sees them.  That's how he says p├íjaro which is bird in Spanish.  He asks about luna often which is moon in Spanish but we haven't had a good view in a while during his waking hours.  The new moon was only two days ago.  We spent several minutes several days back looking at la luna and it some how stuck with him.  I wonder if these are his special moments between he and I so far.

His palatial fortress is indeed gargantuan.

Ana the Molecular

My daughter is so absolutely adorable!  She is becoming so substantial.  Her cheeks are so real.  She looks at me and really looks.  She looks around and observes.  She is so beautiful.  I'm pretty sure she is a genius too.  I can not take her in completely enough.  I wish I could spend a moment fully and completely aware of her every molecule.  How cool would that be?  What if that was a drug you could take; to be fully aware of every molecule of another?  How addicting.  What if you could use that drug for anyone you love?  After a year would you love more people or less?  What if you could use it for yourself?  What if you could take enough to take in several people at once?  Here in real life, with no such magic-total-molecular-awareness drug,  I get to stare at my gorgeous girl.  I kiss her cheeks.  I look at her looking.  I fall deeper in love.  There is no picture yet that does her gorgeousness and spirit justice.  Her brilliance of being is a moving essence and will not sit still long enough for any device.  I keep trying to get the essence on photo, still.  Nothing equals the real Ana.

She is also physically substantial in a scientific baby check up way.  Ana, and her brother and parents, went to her four month doctor appointment today.  15 pounds of gorgeous is what she is.  Not sure how to measure gorgeous medically.  Not sure the doc ever used the word at all, but we all know what she meant.  15 pounds of gorgeous.  Doc said things like "it's amazing she holds her head up so well for so long and rolls so well at four months" and then asks jokingly "are you sure you're four months?"  I'm sure pediatricians are trained to say everything in a way to make parents gush, but really.... Ana is a super-roller-expert-extraordinaire.  Any direction as far and as fast as you can look away; two rolls and with a twist.  Since she has a bit of a kick already mixed into the rolling around it's always a mystery of where she will end up.  I am in this narrow window of time where I could develop a gambling game based on where she will settle in for a minute but I just don't think I can develop the rules, build up the market, attract the gamblers, and come to terms with the morality of using my daughter as a living moving roulette ball to help cover her and her brother's college expenses before she masters direction and is off wherever she likes to be as far as she likes to be and I just don't want to trap her into a narrowly confined game table for the sake of a game.  You know?

In case you are curious, her check up went great.  She is doing well.  She handled her second set of shots similar to her brother.  She didn't like them, she got over them fast enough, and she complained slightly more and for slightly longer than her brother did.  She actually didn't mind the liquid drop part of the vaccines as much as her brother did, though. And in the end, she was happier to settle in with her mother than her father.  I have been the one to hold the kids during all of their shots and eventually Tami gets them because she wants to love them.  It's hard to give them up, really.  Especially when they have tears in their eyes, even drying ones.  It was difficult with Ana because I wasn't done comforting myself by comforting my girl but I knew she would like it even better with Tami and I knew Tami needed her too.  So, I passed her over and it took a millisecond to see that while Ana was already over the ordeal in general she was much happier to finish off the experience with Mama.  They always look great together.

I don't mean to imply that Ana and I don't have our special moments and growing affinity.  We do.  Cuddling up and looking at each other this morning was perfect existence.  It's just amazing to be so in love with a child and to watch her find that little extra comfort in another I love and to know how awesome it is that Ana is this incredibly loved and comfortable though she has no idea yet, thankfully, how lucky she is.  When your second most comfortable parent adores you as much as I adore Ana, I would say you are pretty well set.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


My Nina has left the "building." She is physically gone from the world. She has left me with an example of goodness. She has left me with warmth, affection, consideration, caring, love, confidence. She has left me with intangibles though I can never again look at her person and hug her. Her leaving has left me with pain and sadness. Her gifts have left me with warmth and confidence. She has left me with intangibles that I may carry anywhere and that I may feel. She has left me with her greatest gifts that have always been available to me and always will be. She gave to me before I was born by caring for my mom and family. She gave to me in life by always being there. She gives to me now by the example of her life and by my memories with her. I love you Nina. Thank you for everything. Thank you for existing. Thank you for loving Nino and raising great kids into great adults. Thank you for taking care of my mom and family. Thank you for caring. Thank you for influencing the world by your presence. Thank you for having an affect on me so that I may be a better person to the world and father to my Ana and Enzo. Your influence will last generations even if future generations do not know it. We know now. I know. Thank you. I love you.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Six years of married life today.  Life is nothing as I expected and exactly as it should be.  It's amazing that six years have passed since that morning; that morning when I woke up knowing I would go to sleep a married men.  And now, six years later, we are excellent partners and parents of two beautiful children.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Look who just rolled over for the first time! And on her three month birthday. Happy birthday/rollday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Momentary Rewards

(How I would look with a halo as drawn with my thumb on my phone.)

I've spent some time lately thinking about a certain recent day. A couple of weeks ago, during the packing for the move, I was lamenting the fact that I was working and packing so much that I was not seeing my family. Have you ever started thinking "if only....... then every thing would be perfect..."? I've done that a lot. Not always perfectly consciously but the thought was there that I just need this one thing. As it turned out in this case, I ended up with a perfect Enzo day during a break from packing. I watched him laugh, I watched him explore, I focused fully on him, we played, we snuggled, we went for a walk, we played in the park, we played in the water structure, we spent the day together. Tami had to work and had Ana and so Enzo and I just spent the day together and it was exactly the kind of day I am always wanting more of. A day in which I am wholly present and focused on enjoying my family and the moment. In this case it was specifically with Enzo. There were moments where I lost myself, in a good way, in the moment. I guess I did not loose myself so much as blend into the moment. You know how sometimes you jut feel happy and you are smiling while you are engaged in the world around you? Those moments.

And I got to thinking at the end of a perfect me and Enzo day.

The pleasure, the in-ness of those moments, are fleeting. I got exactly what I wanted, exactly the kind of quality time, "if only....time," and yet the moment passes, new feelings come and go. I receive no plaque, no award or reward, no lasting feeling or medallion for having spent a perfect day with my child where I fully paid attention to him and found perfect harmony and pleasure from being there. I have no saint's halo, no Buddha glow. Pictures of me will continue to look like very ordinary pictures of me.

This thought did not come with the feeling of complaint. Jut a clear absolute realization and acceptance. I got what I wanted. If I want the feeling again, I will have to do it again. I don't get to own the moment and place it on a shelf for future reliving, I have not advanced to a new superior state of being, I will receive no extrinsic reward. My reward was the moment itself. These may seem like plain words, but nearly-religious experiences often do when reduced to language. I suspect this would explain the desire to exaggerate such experiences but I am avoiding that here. The simple thought that: the full reward for any moment is the moment itself, came with that emotional feeling of Ah-ha! that we sometimes get when we feel clear about the ways of the Universe.

I got exactly what I wanted and lived a day as clear and in the moment as I could imagine. And what I got was the moment itself.

A New Toy, a New Home

(Ana trying out my new Ducati!)

My new toy!  1992 Ducati 900ss cr.  This is the bike I lusted after in high school.  It's everything I thought it would be.  It's awesome!  This is only day 3 with it but we are having a blast together.  I had money set aside to buy a car project.  That came from the sale of my super cool RC51 that was a birthday present and I intend to keep the value invested in a toy that is worthy of such a cool birthday present.  I'm still searching for the right car project.  When riding my Norton to our new house a couple of days ago I was forced to accept 3 things.  1, the Norton is a bit of a project itself and it will take a little time, effort, and money to get it to where I can safely and reliably ride it (this was difficult to accept). 2, It is difficult for me to not have a bike that I can hop onto whenever I like. 3, Tami was right AGAIN because she told me I should keep one modern and reliable bike around so that I could go to Santa Cruz and the hills when ever I wanted.  So, I got the great idea that I could convert the RC51 money into two, yes two, new toys!  And then I found this super awesome 900ss on Craigslist, posted less than a half hour before I searched for it and I was able to get it for half the RC51 money.  All of my celestial motorcycle signs/pistons/sprockets were in alignment.  And the bike is truly awesome!  I love this bike.  I have all that lustful excitement about it that I did in high school except now I can actually ride it.  I love looking at it, thinking about it, and riding it.  I love that the engine supports the swing arm, that the engine hangs from a frame (instead of sitting in it), that the engine is visible, and that the frame is that beautiful trellis frame like a gorgeous bridge carrying my body and motor over the road, linking the two wheels together.  It is art.  I feel like a kid in a dream.  A motorcycle dream.  It's beautiful Italian motorcycle art dream.

(Moving out of the kids' first home.)

Also, somewhere above you may have noticed that we moved.  We said goodbye to our children's first home and have moved to a more spacious home.  Monte gets a nicer yard.  Maggie gets a nicer neighborhood to roam.  The kids get way more space to run and play in when inside.  Tami gets two bathrooms (she has been asking for this since we were married nearly 6 years ago).  And I get a bigger two car garage.  We all get what is simply a much nicer home in a great neighborhood.  Tami and I were talking about how quickly we became comfortable in this house and how happy we are to be here.  The whole family seems to have instantly adjusted to it.