Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vignettes on sadness

I can't stop thinking about them. I can't stop crying. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I can't get excited about the holiday season. I know that I have so much to be grateful for, yet all I can think about is how unfair life is. And instead of appreciating my blessings even more, I live in fear that they will be taken away from me. I’ve been a bad mother and a bad wife. I am impatient, snappy, mean. I am frustrated, angry and exhausted. My family deserves better, yet I can’t find the strength to do better.


When my dad died, people told me he was in a better place now. And I believed them. He was no longer in pain. I hoped that he was no longer sad. I hoped that he could now see his grandkids any time he wanted—instead of missing them from half way around the world. I so desperately wanted to believe that to be true. But now I don’t.


On Thursday morning, I saw her for the last time. She was loading the crib and the high chair in her dad’s truck. Everything else went in the moving truck or in the trash. I spoke to her, asking once again if she needed any help. I wanted to keep it together, but I couldn’t—my eyes teared up and so did hers. We hugged and cried. I was hoping to see her again before she left, but I am sure she didn’t need any more goodbyes. I know I will never see her or hear from her again. She has my contact information, but I don’t have hers. I don’t even know her last name… Even if I did, I wouldn’t try to reach her. I don’t want to be a sad reminder of the life that was. But I do want one thing. I want to know that some day—some day—she will be OK. Because I really want her to be OK. And it makes me so sad to know that I will never know.


I am afraid this is going to be either a very sad or a very quiet place for a while, and I won’t be offended if no one stops by here for the time being. My heart is bursting with emotions, wanting to get them all out on paper. Yet my brain is starting to crack down on these outbursts, pointing me to my real-life to do list that overflows with holiday cards, Child’s birthday party, house guests, gift shopping, welcoming my new niece, decorating, Christmas parties, and on and on and on. There is no time to deal with your emotions, my brain says, there is so much else to be done. You will deal with them later. I don’t know how much longer I can wait.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A little over two years ago, new neighbors moved in two houses down from us. They were a young couple, late 20s or early 30s.

I instantly liked them. They were a lot like us—except… a lot more hip. He had crazy curly hair and wore shorts and baseball hats to work. She was always dressed in hip clothes and had a funky haircut—and I often looked at her wishing I had the same sense of style. They often had friends over—grilling, cheering for the games on TV, drinking beer, playing catch in the common area behind our townhomes. You could tell they were free spirits.

As neighbors, they were very friendly, but not overly so—not the kind of neighbors that engage you in a 30-minute conversation every time you run into them while taking out the garbage in your pajamas. And I was secretly hoping that they would become our friends—they seemed like the kind of people I’d love to hang out with. But somehow we just never got around to getting to know them outside of friendly ‘hello’ and ‘isn’t it a beautiful day’ conversations.

After their first winter in the neighborhood, when layers of clothing were packed away in the attic, it became apparent that she was pregnant. We chatted about babies, deliveries, registries. In late May 2007, they had a baby girl.

This summer, a For Sale sign appeared in front of their townhome. Next time I saw him outside, I asked where they were moving to. He got a job offer in Ohio, a job that would allow his wife to be a stay-at-home mom. And being there would bring them closer to family. He was heading out there in two weeks, and his wife and the baby would stay here until the house sold. I saw her and the baby a lot after that—they’d go for a walk any time someone was looking at the house, and I wondered how tough it must be to have a house on the market when you have a young child.

On Halloween, I noticed that she wasn’t home. And I did not see her car for days after that. I figured they decided that the sale was taking longer than they’d expected, so she and the baby moved to be with him. I was sad that I didn’t get to say good bye.

But yesterday, I saw her outside. She and her dad (whose truck with NY plates I recognized right away—they came down to visit frequently) were taking a lot of stuff out of the house to the trash. They house must have sold, I thought. I saw her from the window of my living room several times and could not help but notice how sad she was. Even though it is an exciting change for them, it must be tough to say good-bye to the house that they brought their first baby to, I thought, justifying her sadness.

Eventually, I walked outside to say hello. ‘You look so sad,’ I said. And then I looked in her eyes, and before she said anything, I knew it was more than the sentimentality of leaving her home.

‘He died two weeks ago. He was walking home, collapsed and died. We are waiting for autopsy results. They think it was a brain aneurism. I was driving to see him. I was an hour away, and I got a call to go to the ER. I was too late.’

The grief is everywhere, and it is overwhelming. I will, eventually, come to terms with the death of my dad and my grandma. I feel devastated for my boys’ nanny, who lost her dad and her mom within four days of each other last month. But all of them lived long lives. But this? This I can not understand. I wish I was a more spiritual or religious person who could understand the higher purpose behind this, who could see this as part of a bigger plan. But I simply can not wrap my mind around it. I don’t understand why he had to die. I don’t understand why her life has now taken a turn she could have never imagined. I don’t understand why their sweet little girl has to grow up without having any memories of her dad. I am beyond furious... at God, the universe, whomever is in charge.

I hugged her, I cried with her, I held her hand, I offered my help with anything she could possibly need. And as I walked away, I kept saying to myself, ‘I can not imagine...’ and I waited for my husband to get home. And she went back to her house to empty out the memories.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Today is my first presidential election as a U.S. citizen. Today I cast my vote without any reservations, without feeling that I have to pick the lesser of the two evils. Today I vote in a swing state, where my vote will matter.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I cast my vote for a person who I believed could transform my old country, my country of birth. That election turned into much more than just an election—it became a revolution, a peaceful revolution, one for the history books. The man I voted for was eventually named President. I still have a lot of respect for him, but it has become painfully obvious that one man, no matter how genuine and good, is powerless against a hundred years of corruption, brainwashing and fear-mongering. I believe there is a bright future for my country, but it is generations away.

I don’t want to be disappointed again. Not today, not tomorrow, not a year from now.

Today I can smell the change in the air.