Saturday, April 20, 2019

Having a Catch

This morning, before church, the boys and I drove a few blocks to Belmont U. to throw the baseball while Jude went to the grocery store.  We parked on 15th and walked into a large, square green space between the relatively new law school and the relatively new multimedia building.  In other words, we were right where the tennis courts used to be be before Belmont began growing into the monolith it is now.

The boys got out of my truck with their baseball gloves as I grabbed my glove, a few baseballs and a bat out of the back.  We ambled across the street, the three of us, content to be together on a Sunday morning.  We stretched a bit, then I had J.P. and Joe walk 15 or 20 feet away from me.  Then, I started throwing the ball to them, alternating, two to Joe, two to J.P.

We didn't say much.  We just threw the ball back and forth, although I occasionally quietly corrected one of the boys' form.  On most throws, the "thwack" of the ball hitting right in the pocket of one of our gloves echoed between the two building.  Sweet, sweet music to my ears.

I backed them up, bit by bit, until we were long tossing the baseball back and forth.  Regular long toss helps with arm strength.  Nice, easy long toss throws.  I've always done that with J.P., and Joe, too, and I think it's partially responsible for the fact that both of them have strong and accurate arms, more so than most of the other boys their age.

So, here's the really cool part of all of this.  Toward the end of our throwing session, J.P. and Joe were equally distant from me as we were long tossing.  Sure, I had to take something off my long toss throws to Joe, and for the most part, I tried to throw the ball a little lower to his glove side so the catch would be a bit easier.  He caught them all and with a quick crow up and concentrated effort, he was able to throw the ball accurately lot me without my having to move toward him.

Maybe that's too technical, but the point is that for probably the first time, I had both boys throwing with me - long tossing - next to each other.  If not as equals, as peers.  It was another one of this "snapshot moments" for me as a father, particularly one who loves baseball as much as I do.

As I've always said, "what's better than having a catch with your son?"  Nothing, right?

Well, it turns out there is something better.  Having a catch with both of your sons.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Roar of the Tiger

It's Saturday morning and thanks to overnight and early morning rain, the boys' baseball and soccer games this morning have been postponed.  I'm at Portland Brew having a cup of coffee while Jude sleeps in and the boys play in their iPads.

I read a Rick Reilly piece this morning from the Sports Illustrated Vault that got me thinking and reminiscing about my mom.  The piece was on Tiger Woods' first victory at the Masters, when he lapped the field and won by a record 12 strokes, 21 years ago today.

Here's a link to Reilly's piece -

21 years ago.  It's crazy that it was that long ago, when I stop to think about it.  I was 31 years old and Mark and I had just started our law practice.  I was recently divorced from Jude and, if memory serves, hadn't started dating Jude yet.  J.P. and Joe, the North and South Poles of my life today, weren't even a thought in my mind.

And my mom was 58 years old, in her prime.

My mom loved Tiger Woods.  She didn't love golf - not really, other than for the sheer excitement and drama of a close finish in one of the majors - but she loved Tiger Woods.  I had completely forgotten about that until I checked my phone this morning and saw that he was 1 shot off the lead after 36 holes at the Masters.

Whenever Tiger was in contention at a tournament - and it seems like that was virtually every weekend in the late 90's and early to mid-2000's - she had the television on and watched golf on Saturdays, and especially Sundays, while she went about her business at home.  It's funny and I used to kid her about this, but she would have four, maybe five televisions in the house on, all tuned to golf, and she would keep up with how Tiger was doing as she went room to room.  She stayed busy, straightening up the house, paying bills, etc., but the television was always on.

Often times she would call me or I would call her multiple times if Tiger was playing in one of the final groups at a major on Sunday afternoon.  At that point, I think she stopped what she was doing and watched intently.  She absolutely adored Tiger Woods and reveled in every important victory of his career.  That, to me, was proof of his impact on the game of golf.  If Tiger Woods could my mom a golf fan, he had serious crossover appeal.

It's no secret and I've said it here often that I got my love so sports, for better or worse, from my mom.  One of the things I miss the most, and have missed the most, is talking sports with her.  Local sports, college sports, professional sports.  Really, any and all sports.  It was the currency of our conversations, a language we spoke to each other that, in some ways, only we understood completely.

I wish I could have talked to my mom about Rick Byrd's retirement as basketball coach at Belmont University.  I think she would have liked the Casey Alexander hire.

I wish I could have talked to my mom about Vanderbilt's decision to fire Bryce Drew and hire Jerry Steakhouse.  We would have had many conversations about that subject.  My mom would have hated - I mean, hated - the see Vanderbilt's basketball team go winless in the SEC this season.  That would have driven her crazy.

My mom would have loved Tennessee's run in the NCAA tournament.  Even though she wasn't a Tennessee basketball fan, not by any stretch, she should have liked Rick Barnes.  She would have loved Grant Williams, I think.  Admiral Schofield, I'm not so sure about.  She usually had one Tennessee basketball player she didn't like and it probably would have been the Admiral.  Still, she would have pulled for Tennessee in the NCAA tournament, in large part because she knew how excited I was about their success.

My mom would have had an opinion on Magic Johnson suddenly stepping down as the Lakers' President this week.  She would have wanted to know what I thought about Jeannie Buss's decision to fire Luke Walton.

As I recall, my mom was enthralled by Steph Curry's emergence as a star for Davidson in the NCAA tournament in 2008.  I think she would have been a big fan of the Golden State Warriors, too.

So many times, my mom would call me at then end of a work day for me, just to get my thoughts on something that had happened in the sports world.  It might be a local story or it might be a national story.  As I packed up my things at work or as I was on my way home, we discussed the sports story of the day.  It's just what we did.

Damn, what I wouldn't give for one more of those conversations with my mom.

I'm doing okay, I think, probably better than okay, under the circumstances.  Still, I'm finding that one of the times I really miss her is when there's a big sports story or event that is unfolding.  In those times, I'm reminded how special and unique of a woman and mother she was and of how she instilled in me a love of all sports.  A love that I've instilled in my boys, too.

Win the Masters for your dad this weekend, Tiger, and win it for my mom, too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Mt. Leconte

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. 

     - Heraclitus

Last Tuesday, on a cold East Tennessee morning, J.P. and I pulled into the parking lot of the Rainbow Falls Trailhead, set to begin our hike to Mt. Leconte.  There was only one other car in the parking lot.

I was a little nervous, mostly for him, but truthfully, a little for me, too.  I wasn't sure how J.P. would handle the hike given that he'd never attempted one close to this distance (6.7 miles to the top) or of this difficulty.

He and I had jokingly built up the idea of hiking to Mt. Leconte to the point where we had decided he would be a man if he made it.  He began to take the idea seriously and reminded me several times over the preceding weekend that he was about to become a man.  I laughed and played along.  

I added a light weight jacket because it really was cold, stopped by the restroom and off we went.  Although I was wearing gloves, my fingertips were so cold they were hurting.

It had been 25 years since I last hiked up to Mt. Leconte on the Rainbow Falls Trail.  As we  hiked alongside a meandering creek strewn with borders, I was nostalgic as I thought about the years lost to time.  I thought about what my life was like the last time I walked the same path, likely by myself, in my mid-twenties.  So much had changed since then.

I thought about my mom, of course, and how much I missed her.

As we warmed up during the first mile, I took off my jacket and put in it my backpack.  J.P. and I settled into the comfortable rhythm that only hikers on a strenuous hike know.  Lost in our own thoughts with the reverie broken every so often by a few words exchanged about the trail or the scenery.  I quickly realized, with relief, that he was a natural hiker and better yet, the perfect hiking companion.

We rested a time or two as or legs adjusted to the continuous uphill climb.  After an hour and a half or so on the trail, we arrived at Rainbow Falls.  The view was spectacular, just as I remembered it.  We talked with a father and son from Alabama at the falls and asked one of them to take a photograph of us.

After we admired Rainbow Falls, I asked J.P. if he wanted to keep going up to Mt. Leconte or if wanted to hike back down the trail.  Without hesitation, he told me he wanted to keep going.  I smiled.  That's my boy, I thought.  And off we went.

Walking behind me, J.P. asked me if when she was younger, Meemaw liked to hike or do activities outdoors.  I smiled to myself, as I knew this was a signal from J.P. that he wanted - needed - to talk with me about my mom.  For next hour or so, we slowed our pace a bit and I told him stories about her.

I told him that while my mom had never been much or a hiker, she had started playing tennis in her mid-30's.  She used to play tennis with our neighbors and close friends at the court across the street from our house.  She also played doubles for several years at the Brentwood Dolphin Club in a women's league.

Then, transitioning, I told him how happy my mom was when I told her - at Evelyn and Bill Pilkington's house - that Jude was pregnant with him.  I told him how much she used to love keeping him during the week, occasionally, when Uncle Carley (our nanny) was sick or out of town.  I told him how proud of him she was, always.

Turning to catch his eye, I told J.P. how angry and frustrated I was when we first realized she had Alzheimer's disease.  I told him how unfair I thought that was after all she had done for so many others during her life.  Looking at him more closely, I told J.P. that my faith in God had been tested - that I'd never lost it, but it surely had been tested - while I tried to come to terms with her decline health and loss of quality of life.  I told him that for a while, I was angry with God, which was wrong of me.

I talked about how hard the last week of my mom's life had been on me.  I also told him how sad I had been, but that I knew it was okay to be sad.  I told him I still was sad sometimes - a lot of the time - but that it was getting better.

And then I told him what I thought my mom taught me about faith and strength and family.

Faith in God keeps you going when all about you is lost.  I told him I believed - and I do believe this - the that my mom is in heaven and that she is with God.  She is watching all of us, with pride, and looking out for us.  Maybe even putting in a good word for us when needed.  Her spirit is here, with us every day in the form of goodness, happiness and memories.

I told him about all of the adversity my mom had seen in her life, from losing her husband and being widowed at age 31 with two young children to losing both of her sisters to caring for her mother and two aunts in their declining years to working nights as a nurse at Baptist Hospital to losing her memory and dealing with her declining physical health the last year before she died.  I told him that she never companied, never stopped smiling and never, ever stopped loving all of us.

I told him she taught me that you get up, every day, put your feet on the floor, take a few steps and make it through that day.  Then, you do it again the next day, and the next day, and on and on, and that dealing with your grief gets a little bit easier - incrementally - every day.  She told me that very thing on more than one occasion when I asked her how she dealt with losing her husband and her sisters.

I told him how important family was to my mom.  I told him she had taught me that you can always depend on your family, the no one is more important in your life than your family.  I told him how spending that last week together at the hospital had reminded me of the importance of family and that part of me felt like that was my mom's intent.  She wasn't going to leave - or die - until she knew we understood for a final time how important it is to strengthen the ties that bind our family together.

It was a talk we needed to have.  A talk I needed to have and I think that he needed to have, with me. And I'll never forget it.

On the last half of our assent up the Rainbow Falls Trail, the temperature dropped.  We began to see more ice on the trail.  I took the lead and when we came to icy patches of rocks, I reached back for J.P. and he took my hand, without complaint, so I could guide him across to a safer footfall.  The symbolism wasn't lost on me because in 10 or 15 years, it's likely that he'll be doing the same for me.

The terrain changed as we approached the end of the trail and summit of Mt. Leconte.  It was just as I remembered it with evergreens lining the trail on both sides.

Finally, we arrived at the summit - at Mt. Leconte Lodge (where, in a different lifetime, I stayed overnight on a few occasions).  Unfortunately, the Lodge was closed, as the helicopter was delivering supplies every 15 or 20 minutes to prepare for the season's opening the following week.  It was interesting to watch the large, red and white helicopter hover overhead with propane tanks dangling beneath it.

We quickly lost interest, however, when we realized that every time the helicopter arrived, the temperature dropped 10 degrees or so due to the wind generated by the rotating blades that kept it aloft.  It was hard to eat our lunch with the helicopter hovering over our heads because it was so damn cold.  We ate quickly and talked briefly with an older gentleman and fellow hiker (Larry).  I used the latrine and we hiked to the Bullhead Trail to began our descent.

The fire damage on the Bullhead Trail was readily visible.  The magnitude of the devastation was immense even more than a year after the fire.  So many beautiful, old growth trees lost, with blackened dead trunks left huddled together on the mountainside.  It was surreal.  In places, the trail was blocked with fallen trees.  We navigated through or around the deadfalls and made really good time on the way down the trail.

At long last, around 3:30 p.m., we arrived at the parking lot at the Rainbow Falls trailhead, tired but satisfied.  I was so proud of J.P.  Throughout what turned out to be a 14 + mile hike - and a difficult one at that - he never complained.  He rarely needed to rest.  He hiked like a boss on the trail..  Truthfully, he was the perfect hiking companion for me.

And that, I think, is what was kind of cool.  For maybe the first time, J.P. and I were almost like peers.  Companions, more than father and son.  Sure that part was there, but he was an individual keeping up with me on the trail with no apparent difficulty.  That made me proud of him.  Very proud.  It also made me anticipate, with happiness, our relationship in years to come.

So, J.P. and I spent a day together hiking up to Mt. LeConte and back down the mountain, a day we needed to spend together.  It was a day I'll never forget.

Way to go, J.P.!  Know that on this day, you impressed your dad.  I'm proud of you.




Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dreaming Man

I'm sitting in a Starbucks, of all places, in Pigeon Forge, TN, not too long after it opened for the day.  I despise Starbucks' coffee and tend to avoid it like the plague.  Given that this is Pigeon Forge, however, there isn't an independent coffee shop, with real coffee, anywhere nearby.  I can't wait to get home tomorrow and have my first real cup of coffee in almost a week.

I woke up from a dream at 5:30 a.m. this morning.  It was a dream I needed to have and one I had hoped to have at some point.  I was wide awake and I wanted to write about the dream while it was fresh in my mind.

The dream was, of course, about my mom.  It was the first one I've had - at least the first vivid dream about her I've had - since here death.  I tend to dream a lot, so I felt, and hoped, that it was only a matter of time before I dreamed of her.

In the dream, I was moving out of a room - maybe a room at my fraternity house of my dormitory room - where I had either lived for a quite a while or, more likely, where I used to live, now the I think about it.  It was like I was going back for a weekend or for a short period of time, for a visit, and I tried to find my old room.  No one I knew was there and, initially, I used my key to enter the wrong room, down the hall from where I was.  Strangely, the key looked like the key we used to enter our dormitory room at Reese Hall my freshman or sophomore year in college.

Eventually, I entered the right room.  The room had not been lived in for quite some time.  I noticed there were a few boxes that had been packed, seemingly long ago, sitting in the middle of the floor.  There was one large box that had some of my old stuff in it.  I wish I had looked in the box, in my dream, but I didn't.  I just knew what was in there belonged to me.

Somehow, I went outside, and rather than my room in the dormitory, I was outside a room at my fraternity house, in a grassy area.  I looked around and then, it was like I was inside a larger area again, almost like a lobby or something.

I looked up and there was my mom, standing on a balcony a couple of stories above me, looking down into the lobby area of a hotel.  She was dressed nicely and wearing her glasses.  She was standing on her own, clearly herself, and appeared to be in her mid-50's.  As I gazed up at her, I could tell she wasn't confused, not at all.  That, of course, made me happy.

She didn't appear to be worried or concerned.  She wasn't looking for anyone in particular.  It was like she was just taking in her surroundings.  As I think of it now, it was like she traveling and had stopped somewhere for a brief stay.

I began calling to her - trying to get her attention - and waving.  Initially, I was concerned that others in the lobby would hear me and think I was strange, but I didn't care, so I kept calling and waving.  Not desperately, but just to try to get her attention.  I also was starting to wake up, I think, so I fought hard to stay asleep and stay in the dream long enough for her to see me.

My mom looked down, saw me, and started waving to me.  She recognized me.  I'm sure of that.  She didn't smile broadly at me or try to say anything to me.  She just waved back to me.  I was working so hard to stay in the dream for as long as I could that I didn't really have any time to try an interact with her from afar.  We waved at each other, then, finally, I woke up.

A few minutes later, Jude stirred, then got up to go to the bathroom.  When she returned, I told her about the dream.  "Good," she murmured quietly.  "That's nice."  I lay in bed, thinking, trying to decide what the dream meant.

Now, a little bit about dreams, at least my take on my dreams.  I dream a lot.  Vividly, sometimes.  I always have.

I believe in dreams and the power of dreams.  I think dreams - some dreams, anyway - have a deeper meaning.  I think dreams can contain messages.  From whom?  My subconscious?  Another person?  God?  That part, I'm not so sure about, but I think some dreams are sent to me for a reason, kind of like an e-mail or a letter, only in dream form.

Maybe a dream is a form of healing or a part of healing, as my mind processes grief or tries to make sense of a great loss in my life.  

Maybe a dream - a certain kind of vivid dream - is a kind of Rorschach test that allows me to see what I want or need to see in it - something totally different than what someone else would see.

So, how do I interpret last night's dream?  That's the question of the morning, isn't it?

I know I'll ponder that question throughout the day, and probably for the next few days, but for now, this morning, here's what I think.

In my dream, my mom was on the way somewhere.  She knew where she was going and she had a brief layover.  She was in no hurry.  For sure, she didn't have Alzheimer's disease.  She was in peak form, confident, self-assured, and not worried or afraid.  She wasn't sad.

She saw me and recognized me.  I'm stretching here, a bit, I know, but I think when she waved to me, she wanted me to know that she was okay.  I want to believe that, of course, so I'm going to.

It's my dream, after all.


Saturday, March 16, 2019


Earlier this week, I called Jude before I left the office for the day to check in.  In our conversation, she mentioned that J.P. had gotten in trouble at aftercare at school but that he could tell me about it when I got home.  That's kind of our deal with the boys.  If there is a problem at school or if they get in trouble, it's their responsibility to talk to us about it that night, at home.  I didn't press the issue with Jude and figured J.P. and I would talk about it later.

We had an uneventful dinner and, truthfully, I had forgotten about it, until right before the boys were to go up and get ready for bed, Jude reminded J.P. to tell me what had happened at aftercare.  He sat down in the chair next the couch and began talking quietly, not making much eye contact with me.  Clearly, he knew he had done something wrong.  I listened.

The long and short of it was that J.P. and three buddies initially had gotten into trouble for running through a hall in the school to get outside to play, when they were supposed to be walking.  The director of middle school aftercare saw them, told them to come back inside and walk in the hall like they were supposed to do.  For some reason, three of the four boys - including J.P. - decided to run again.  She saw them, confronted them about why they were running again when she had just told them not to, and J.P. lied about it.  He said he had been walking, which was obviously not true.

I queried J.P. - cross examined him, actually - and quickly determined he had been third in line.  I know him and he would not have started running a second time if he had been first in line.  My problem, of course, was that he had followed his two buddies as they ran in the hall.  In other words, he was being a follower, not a leader.  

As an aside, leading and leadership is a big thing - maybe the biggest thing for me - when it comes to the boys.  When he was at Children's House, J.P. had a tendency to follow one boy in particular who had a dominant personality.  Occasionally, he made poor choices and did things he normally wouldn't do simply because he was following someone else.  A large part of the reason we decided to start J.P. in school late was so he would be one of the older boys in his class and, hopefully, be a leader.  I didn't want him getting into a car, for example, with a drunk 16 or 17 year old in high school because he didn't have a strong enough personality to tell him or others that he wasn't getting in the car.

So, I told J.P. that I saw two problems with what had happened at aftercare.  

First, he had been a follower.  Followers don't think for themselves.  Followers often follow those who have made bad decisions.  

Second, he lied about what he had done, which was stupid.  His two buddies immediately owned up to it but he, for some reason, lied when the aftercare director had seen them running.  Why?  Because he was scared he would get into trouble.  I told him the lying - or the coverup - was always worse than the offense.  Always.  When you make a mistake, own it, take your punishment like a man, and move on.  

What I learned next, however, broke my heart.  

"Tell Dad the rest of the story, J.P.," Jude said.  "There's more?" I asked.

After he got caught and lied to the aftercare director, she told him she didn't believe him and that she had seen him running.  For some reason, he was stunned the she didn't believe him and had a complete meltdown.  He started crying and when she told him to go back inside, he slammed open the double doors leading into the school and slapped his hands on the table when she told him to sit down.  He was crying harder at this point.  

All very, very unlike J.P.  Really, the entire episode was unlike J.P.  Nothing like this had ever happened at school before.

He cried for five or ten minutes while she watched him.  Then, he caught his breath, leaned back, clasped his hands behind his head and started talking.  

"Ok," he said.  "This is what's going on.  I miss Meemaw - my grandmother.  I haven't been able to talk about it, not really.  My dad has been busy at work, so he hasn't been around as much.  And I don't want to talk to him about how I feel because I'm afraid it will make him sad."

I sat in stunned silence, tears in my eyes, as Jude recounted what J.P. had told the aftercare director, word for word.  J.P. sat across from me, staring at me, crying quietly.  

J.P. got up and walked over to me, then sat down on the couch beside me.  I put my arm around him as he cried and comforted him.  I had tears in my eyes, too. 

He told me how much he missed my mom.  He said he'd been thinking about all of the times when he was little, when he stayed with her and she took him to the Brentwood Public Library and all of the things they did together at her house.  He said he'd just been so sad.

My memory of what I said to him is a blur.  I struggled to find the right words - the perfect words - to comfort my 10 year old son who was carrying such heavy load in his heart.  

I apologized for not checking in on him more to see how he was doing, like I had done the first couple of weeks after my mom died.  He had told me he was fine and that he didn't have any questions or need to talk about it.  I should have been more persistent, more aware of him and how he was feeling.  Instead, I think I was so caught up in my own grief that I assumed he was fine.

I also apologized for having to work so much recently.  I felt terrible about that.  I work in such a demanding profession and missing almost three weeks from work had put me way behind.  Still, I should have found a way to get home earlier.  

We cried together, as Jude watched us.  I told him how much Meemaw loved him and how lucky he was to have spent the times he did with her, because he always would have those memories of her to sustain him.  I told him I was sad, too, but that I was a better person - as was he - for having had her in my life.  

I also told him that I took comfort in knowing my mom was in heaven, that where she was, now, she could walk, laugh and, most importantly, that she had her memory back.  She can remember all of the happy times from her life.  And that's she's watching over us and waiting for us to join her someday.

I'm trying hard, so very hard, to believe that.  It's part of what sustains me, I think, but it's hard.  So damn hard.  

Jude and I took J.P. upstairs and put him to bed.  He was exhausted.  

So was I.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hope Springs Eternal

I'm coming off a stretch of 5 mediations, a day of depositions and a half day in Court.  That's the price I had to pay, I guess, for the time off work I took in late January and early February when my mom got sick, then died.  

The good news?  I didn't have much time to think about what I had lost.  To grieve, really.  The bad news?  I didn't have much time to think about what I had lost.  To grieve, really.  

Now, I have the time.  And it hurts.  But I'm dealing with it - stoically, I think, as my mom probably would.  I don't talk about it to others, as much.  When I'm asked how I'm doing, like I was when I had coffee with an old friend yesterday, I smile and say, "I'm all right," then quickly change the subject or steer the conversation in a different direction. 

The heart always heals.

So, last night, we had our first baseball practice for the Dodgers, J.P.'s 11 - 12 year old WNSL baseball team.  We've added a few new boys to our roster this spring, so I'm actually running two teams with 19 total boys.  It will be a challenge but one that I'm really looking forward to, for sure.  

I'll also be coaching the Junior Dodgers, Joe's 7 - 8 year old WNSL team.  Their first practice is this weekend.

I needed last night, at practice, in a big, big way.  Shaking hands and introducing myself to the new dads last night before practice - as they leaned on the fence down the right field line; introducing myself to the group and having each boy tell me and our coaches his name and favorite baseball team, as at the boys stood in a circle around me; talking quietly to my assistant coaches; joking with the boys during practice; hitting infield to the boys; throwing with Joe; and hoping into a drill and sprinting to first base with a stopwatch on me as the boys cheered.  

All of those things, and more, helped restore a sense of normalcy to my life that had been missing.  Yes, my mom's gone and that makes me terribly sad.  I miss her every day.  I ache for what has been lost.  But, still, it's baseball season.  And last night, for a little more than an hour, I found myself back where I belong - on a baseball field in the waning light of an early spring evening, coaching a bunch of 10, 11 and 12 year old boys. 

I smiled the whole time.       

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Missing Mom

I was the first one in the door at Frothy Monkey in 12South, like the Sunday mornings so often in the last couple of years, when I stopped in here first then went to see my mom.  I'm having a cup of coffee then I've got to head into the office to do some work and for a meeting.

This was a tough week for me.  I was absolutely swamped at work, then had to work at home at night to try to get ready for the next day.  Depositions and mediations all week long.  In the middle of that, I found myself really, really sad - an aching sadness.  Sadness for what I've lost, what my boys lost and what my mom lost.  

I'm told by many, virtually everyone, that it will get better with time and that there are good days and bad days.  It seems like it's going in the opposite direction right now for me.

I miss my mom terribly.  I miss the person she was in the last couple of years so much more than I thought was humanly possible.  I miss her smile and her happiness when I walked into the Courtyard.   I miss reading poetry from the New Yorker to her during my visits.  I miss watching her eat a donut on Sunday morning, when I brought a dozen and left them for the staff.  I miss the sense of purpose I had in working time into my schedule to see her.  I miss the sense of peace I often got when I was with her.  I miss watching my boys - my gentle, loving boys - read to her and to Ms. Carol.

The finality of it all is so heavy on my heart.  Life goes on all around me and I have to go on with it.  But it's hard, damn hard to find the energy to do all I need to do at work and be all I need to be at home, with the boys and Jude.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a video from about a year ago of my mom in the library at NHC Place, reading a poem to me.  Watching her read and hearing her voice stopped my heart.

I miss you, mom.