I don’t want to turn this into a grief blog, but then again, if I’m not writing about what I’m feeling, what am I writing about instead? The way I see it, it can go one of two ways. I can understand how some people might want to alienate themselves from everything and everyone they know after a loss like this. Sometimes the only thing that makes sense is retreating into your own world and starting over. It feels completely fake to put on a “normal” front every day for the benefit of your children, your family, your neighbors, your friends and clients. It’s like you do this so they can feel comfortable in your presence. You know, avoid the awkward. Meanwhile, most things feel trivial and you start feeling like you can’t relate to people anymore because everything takes on a new meaning. That view of the water on a perfect summer day, the pretty bouquet of flowers, the sun that filters through the leaves, a child’s hug…all things that he will never see or experience again. So you keep it to yourself because who wants to be burdened with someone else’s grief. That feeling of being out of sync with the world just grows deeper.
I’ve considered shutting the blog down and starting a tumblr for our business. Photos of cookies, pretty food and business news; normal stuff like most businesses post, not this. But then again, it wouldn’t feel real – more of that “putting up a front” thing that I’m doing every day, everywhere else. So maybe this is turning into a grief blog, I don’t know. What other place do I have?
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A visit to the opening of our friend Fany’s little’s storefront adjacent to her production space last weekend in Red Hook. If you’ve been to the High Line, then you may have had La Newyorkina paletas before. We cruised by just as the pinata was raining down confetti and candy. It’s all about the little communities that form, that make us feel like we belong somewhere. I’m trying to see the light in that again.
Bubbles, Pinatas, Confetti. Just another weekend in NYC. Summer’s in full swing. School’s out tomorrow and we rub our eyes in disbelief that the 4th of July is already next week. June was a blur for obvious reasons, but also a month of changes and a shift in plans that were starting to take root a few months before. Somehow, the change seems fitting.
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There are glimpses of moments when I forget and feel like nothing’s happened. Maybe it was a dream. That’s far from true, of course, but it’s a reminder that one day that feeling will become more the norm than the exception. I’ve come out of hiding, even working in an office a few days a week (more on that later) and I don’t mind crowds because I can be anonymous, but the truth is I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Is it common to feel this?
And then there’s this: this seemingly random bubble event in the middle of the day in Union Square. It’s like every kid’s (and maybe some adults) dream to be surrounded by thousands of floating iridescent bubbles. They’re launched from wands by a force of air, but drift lightly until suddenly, they’re gone.
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The thing about grief is that eventually everyone moves on, but those who are hit the hardest stay suspended in time, frozen, unable to move. The strangest form of loneliness is felt when you’re out of sync like this with the rest of the world. I listen to music a lot. Sometimes I stare at nothing because I feel nothing and other times I feel too much. But most of the time I don’t know what to feel.
I spent 6 days in California last week, a trip that was often confusing, but necessary. Sometimes with siblings it’s easier to remember how we were as children when we were still living under the same roof than to think of ourselves as adults when years of physical distance separates us. I know that he didn’t consider California his home–his heart was always here in NY–but what I came to know about my brother was that he was loved by his community. Our family always knew my brother was smart, but I don’t think we really ever realized how brilliant he was and that was something that came up time and again as we talked with his friends and colleagues. He was a dedicated professional, respected in his field of veterinary medicine, only 1 of a few hundred board certified critical care specialists in the world. More than that, however, it was clear from the crying faces of some of his clients that he made a difference in people’s lives.
I don’t believe that there is really ever any closure. You sort of just learn to go about your life with this new thread that’s knit into your being. I only hope that I too can someday make a difference in people’s lives the way my brother did in his.
P.S. thank you for all your words. I will always carry them with me.
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You’ve been gone now for a week. When I got the news at first, I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t cry and I kept asking myself, why am I not crying? Maybe because I had been preparing myself all day for…what, I wasn’t sure, but I knew something was wrong. They say that twins have a powerful connection and know things about each other, like some kind of empathic telepathy. Well, we’re not twins–I’m your older sister by 6 years, but I knew something was not right. I keep thinking about how I called you on your birthday last Monday while we were driving to have dinner with mom and dad and the girls sang happy birthday to you on speaker phone from the back seat. Did you ever hear that message? That message we left you haunts me. You didn’t pick up the phone. I was on pins and needles all day Tuesday when I still hadn’t heard from you.
All last week people were paying their respects and posting public tributes to Massimo Vignelli and Maya Angelou and it felt weird because I kept seeing all these RIP posts and messages everywhere on the internet while I was in my own private grief state. Dad told me that he had to put away all photos of you from the house that night because he couldn’t bear seeing pictures of you right now. I understand why he did it, but it felt like we were scrubbing you from our memories. Maybe this is why I’m writing this letter and posting it here…for who to read? I don’t know, but I felt like I needed to do something so that your life–and death–was acknowledged.
I still keep replaying that night over and over, having to call mom to tell her that you were gone. How do you break that kind of news to a mother? The morning after, I ushered the kids downstairs to our neighbor’s house to be walked to school and I haven’t really left the house much since then. I’ve cried, looked at old photos of us when we were kids, retraced through our last texts and phone calls, and thought about what your last day might have been like. We had only spoken to each other 2 days before.
We really miss you, but I hope you are at peace now. This is the only thing that comforts me. That and thinking about some of our childhood memories. Remember how we were both super obsessed with watching the weather forecasts on the news? Or how we watched the movie Aliens a billion times and memorized all the lines to Spinal Tap? How you, me and cousin Jeanie felt some weird guilt about not going to church when we were left in the house while mom and grandma went, so we conducted our own “church service” just to make sure we didn’t go to hell? I think about the suspenders that mom used to make you wear or your favorite orange wooden block; how you were obsessed with the Dukes of Hazzard and how we used to threaten you with “No Dukes!” when you didn’t do what we wanted. It feels weird to think that I might be an only child now. What does that even mean? I still have a brother; you’re just not with us anymore, the same way that mom and dad still have a son and your kids still have a father. I hope you know that a lot of people are missing you right now. You were loved. You ARE loved.
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