Monday, March 24, 2014

grief: three years

I found myself weeping unexpectedly a lot, in the months leading up to the third anniversary of her death. At my desk at work, while crossing the street, in the middle of chopping vegetables. I couldn't control it, because I didn't know it was coming. It had been a long time since I was like this, and I didn't understand what was going on. Was I anxious because I'd asked my mother to spend the anniversary with me, for the first time, instead of with the rest of family in Israel?

I should have known. I should have remembered, because I know the last time I regularly burst into tears on the subway, years and years ago. This only happens when there's a grief I haven't voiced, a loss I haven't acknowledged, to others or to myself. After I say it, it gets easier.

So, here is my best guess.

There is nothing like having a sibling in some ways. No one else was there, watching from almost the same vantage point as you, while the experiences that shaped you were happening. There is no one else with whom you can re-examine the formative assumptions of your life, years later: was that really what our parents did? Am I remembering it right? Did I even perceive it right while it was happening?

And there's no one else who can shoulder certain burdens with you. When tragedy strikes your family, there is nothing like knowing you are not alone.

I knew all of that - because all of that had already happened to me. It shaped my determination to have at least two kids, because I knew hard things would lie ahead for them, as they do for everyone. I knew I couldn't guarantee they would be there for each other, or even that they'd get along. But I knew I would do everything I could to give them the chance.

What I didn't know was how much my siblings were part of my identity, until one of them was gone. I don't mean part of my life, or even part of my heart; I mean part of my self. The self I think of unconsciously, elementally, as me.

She was the baby, so little for the first part of my life, I barely knew her. And yet the fact of who we were - that we were four sisters - was something I was so proud of. Always. As we both got older, the individual point on the diamond that she played became more and more important to me. She shaped me, there is no question. As much as I could ever have possibly shaped her. I know exactly how I am different, because I grew up with her.

In the first months after she died, when someone asked how many sisters I have, I didn't know how to answer. I couldn't bring myself to say two. Not because it was painful - because it was a lie. Now I just say, I'm one of four. That will always be the truth. The truth of us.

A piece of my self is missing, you see. I don't know where it is. I will never get it back.

I've been crying a lot less, since I said that to myself. So I think that was probably it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

and now, ladies and gentlemen: the year in quotes.

BET: can you guess who i am? 
PERSEPHONE: [notes light saber] luke skywalker? 
BET: please! call me luke. 

ALEPH: you know, if you did the dishes a little more *often*, i wouldn't have to wait so long for you to play with me. 

[yeah, you kind of made your own bed there, kid]
BET: eema, SAVE ME! abba's going to tickle me just because i [innocent eyes] patted his tush!

ALEPH: [reading box] "the game where anything can happen." [excited] is that really true, eema??? 


BET: [pointing at TV] hey, isn't that Spark? 
PERSEPHONE: ...who? 
BET: you know! Spark! from Star Trek?

BET: will you let me win? 
LANCE: yes. 
BET: are you sure? 
LANCE: bet, have i ever said i would let you win, and not done it? 
BET: no. 
LANCE: so then why are you worried? 
BET: because. this is the FUTURE. 

BET: i don't want my grapes on those holders. 
PERSEPHONE: stems? just take them off. 
BET: but i don't want to. it's... it's terribly upsetting.

[overheard from kids' room]
ALEPH: [moaning] 
BET: [shouting] are you okay, scientist???

[overheard from kids' room] 
ALEPH: [sobbing] bet, if you want i'll tell eema on both of us, okay?

BET: aleph, i can't be a brave knight anymore. i hurt my toe.

BET: you're supposed to say copy that! 
ALEPH: copy that! 
BET: [pause] ...right! ...good! ...i'm glad you copy that!

ALEPH: any ideas for a bill? 
PERSEPHONE: hm. how about if you can't pay for school, you go for free?
ALEPH: well...maybe not free. how about half.
ALEPH: okay bet, now you think of a bill.
BET: how witches!

BET [cheerful]: we're just talking about zombies. 
ALEPH [equally cheerful]: and how they're, like, headless. so they're hard to kill.  

ALEPH: -so the incredible hulk TWIRLED into action, because he'd been in ballet class, and-

ALEPH: this is so strange. i had *no idea* that when i banged it that hard, it would break!

ALEPH: i really only like books about science. and science fiction. and history. wait, is there history fiction? 

BET: finders keepers! ...whippers...neapers!

ALEPH: jedis don't ask why. jedis just do it. 

BET: [pats me reassuringly] you're doing GREAT with the lego thing.

ALEPH: abba, can i ask you a question? do you think your hair looks a little crazy?

[note: this is after finishing his] 
BET: boy, your pizza sure looks good! too bad i can't have just one bite. too bad. looks good. [pause] ENJOY it, eema!

[first time watching the princess bride:]
BET: [in tears] but if he gets killed, how are they gonna get MARRIED? 
BET: does she start loving the prince instead? is THAT how there's a happy ending?

[overheard the next day]
lego man #1: you killed my king. prepare to diiiiiiie. 
lego man #2: prePARE?! i'm not PREPARED!!

BET: hallo. my name is AMIGO MONTOYA

so glad i found this kids' magnetic poetry set!
so far bet has written "my hot mommy likes pigs." 

BET: i already know what i want for chanuka. i mean, *if* i find the afikomen this year.

ALEPH [singing]: i have the haaands of deaaath

[Dispatches from Aleph's Tantrum] "i don't want to be in a room with so many people! but the other room doesn't have enough people in it!" 
[Dispatches Part 2] "i know it doesn't have to be perfect! the problem is none of these are good ENOUGH!"

PERSEPHONE: you need more than underpants.
BET: you mean i need more than THUNDERpants

BET: are you having wine or grape juice? 
BET: i think you're doing a little too much of that.
PERSEPHONE: but...i had like two sips. and that's the first time in about a year.
BET: well. i don't want you to make a habit of it.

ALEPH: i like to move it move it / i like to move it move it [stops singing] eema, do you like to move it?

BET [on macaroni & cheese]: this is the best meal of the YEAR! …i mean day! …i mean week! …okay, it's ONE of the best! 

ALEPH: you know what kind of pajamas would be good? ZOMBIES

ALEPH: you know why i wanted raisins for snack? because it's easier to eat them mindfully.
PERSEPHONE: can't you eat any fruit mindfully? 
ALEPH: maybe. but raisins are easier to roll around your mouth. 
#oh #mindfulness #rolling #isee 

BET: [in underpants] i'm captain underpants! 
ALEPH: [looks down at self] i'm...captain naked! 

favorite new thing bet says: HAVE AT THEE! [rushes at you with nerf sword]

PERSEPHONE: wow, bet. i was sure you were going to need help with that and you did it all by yourself! 
BET: heh. expect the unexpected, eema.

LANCE: you're not coming? 
BET: no mr. bet. 
LANCE: mr. bet? 
BET: that's what some people call me. 
LANCE: who??
BET: okay no one calls me that.

BET: you go. you go! YOU GO! 

[CRASH] aleph: "that worked better in my mind."

BET: i read a calvin story where he drank so much water he turned into a liquid. is that true? 
[simultaneously] LANCE: yes. PERSEPHONE: no. 
BET: so you CAN turn into a liquid if you drink too much water? 
ALEPH: iiiiiiii'm gonna go with eema on this one

a clean-up song by aleph: how am i supposed to do all the things? / howwww? / how am i supposed to do all the things? / howwww? ♪ 

lance offered to make mac & cheese (bet's favorite) even cheesier (bet's favorite FAVORITE) by putting in an extra slice of cheese. bet said no. no? "see abba, the thing about me is...i only like mac & cheese with an even number of slices." 

ALEPH: look eema, i took the skin off my sweet potato. so it's dead now. because someone cut off its skin. with a sword.

aleph song of the day: han solo han solo / han solo han solo / how solo ARE you / and how HAN are you

[oh. i see my reputation has preceded me]
BET: [looking at shabbat dishes] eema, can we at least have a milchig sink by TUESDAY?

PERSEPHONE: bet, why don't you try to compromise with aleph. 
BET: okay! aleph, if you don't play it this way i'll never play with you again. 

BET [on diarrhea]: you know, if there's anything worse than this? it's dying. or SPANKING

[overheard from kids' room] 
"he has the ring of power, but it's not the ring that matters." 
"it's the man." 
"you mean the creature." 
"yeah, the creature. ...or robot." 
"the man, woman, robot, or cyborg. whatEVER." 

aleph song of the day: this time i'm not dead / this time i'm not dead / this time i'm alive and not dead / yeah yeahhhhh

BET: abba, do you love me enough that you would give up your life to save mine?
LANCE: yes. 
BET: can i tell you something? i'm not sure i would. because...i like going to school too much. 

LANCE: [puts out knife & cream cheese for bet to spread himself] 
LANCE: come on, bet! breakfast! 
BET: but-! oh, right. [sadly] you're not my slave.

BET: my friend says DC comics sucks. 
ALEPH: what does he mean it sucks? 
BET: i think it means it got sucked into something. 

PERSEPHONE: you're too tricky for me. 
BET: that's because i'm a superhero called BRAINMAN

BET [giggling]: infinity bottles of beer on the wall, infinity bottles of beer, take one down pass it around, …infinity bottles of beer on the wall

BET: eema? abba? [pause] [opens fridge] 
PERSEPHONE: um, bet? what are you doing? 
BET: [happily] i didn't see you guys so i thought i'd sneak some cheese.

BET [whispering to aleph right in front of me]: maybe she'll go to the bathroom and THEN you can eat the candy

BET: you know what i like about having an eema & abba? 
BET: without them, i would have to live at bubby & zaidy's or saba & savta's house. and...there's not as much toys there. [pause] but cooler tv's! hey, you know what would be fun? 
BET: maybe we could call bubby & zaidy and watch their tv on skype!

ALEPH: [slaps lance on the knee]
LANCE: [looks at him.]
ALEPH: you wanna do somethin' about it?

[note: i do not wear either of these]
BET: the only reason i don't like girls is because they wear makeup. and HAND LOTION

bet's paragraph describing his favorite food: 
"ahhhhhh! its cheesy. it has peas. it has three things you can taste. you put it in a pan."

[home from aleph's friend's way cool science-themed birthday party]
LANCE: that was a pretty fun day! 
ALEPH: eh, not that much fun. 
LANCE: you know, aleph, you seem like the kind of person who can't be happy if things are not completely perfect. 
ALEPH: …and?

aleph song of the day: if this is not the cockpit / then iiiiiiiiii'm stumped

ALEPH [through door of my shower]: you know, i keep doing things, but after i finish them i am BORED AGAIN
PERSEPHONE: yes. that life works. 

LANCE: okay, math quiz bonus round! how...many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man? 
ALEPH [blank pause]: ten? 

ALEPH: "well, we don't actually know if the torah is fiction or nonfiction." 
PERSEPHONE: [spit take]
ALEPH: "i mean, we BELIEVE it's nonfiction, but we don't actually KNOW."

ALEPH: i'm bored. 
PERSEPHONE: you just turned off the video game. 
ALEPH: i know, but i'm bored.
PERSEPHONE: you know aleph, one reason we don't let you play video games all day is if you let them entertain you, all day long, you might forget how to entertain yourself.
ALEPH: but eema. i never KNEW how to entertain myself.

BET [homework]: write a fact about dinosaurs. okay. 
[takes paper away; brings it back] 
BET: oh wait, it says write and illustrate.
[takes paper away; brings it back]
BET: see, it's a dinosaur, with an arrow pointing to it, and it says DEAD. there.

ALEPH: [brings me a napkin unasked] 
PERSEPHONE: thank you, aleph! that's so nice of you. 
ALEPH: some people might say TOO nice

ALEPH: where can i find pajamas? 
PERSEPHONE: they're in the drawer. 
ALEPH: of despair?

BET: i'm just trying to kiss your nostrils!
#what #whatistheproblem

LANCE: good night, boys! tomorrow i'll say hello to a couple of 7 year olds.
[overheard after door closed] 
BET: ...he's talking about us, right?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

superhero meta

BET: Abba can we play Star Wars? You be Darth Vader and I'll be Luke.

LANCE: Okay.

BET: Darth Vader! You must leave the dark side and be good. Or I will have to fight you.

LANCE: No. YOU must come to the DARK side.

BET: No! You have to be good. That's the right thing.

LANCE: Maybe being bad is the right thing.

BET: No! Being good is the right thing.

LANCE: How do you know?

BET: My teacher told me. Master Yoda.

LANCE: Well, my teacher told ME being BAD is the right thing.


BET: Hold on Abba let's stop playing for a second. Being good IS the right thing, right?


BET: Hi! I'm Batman! 

[goes out; comes back in without cape] 

BET: Hi! I'm Bruce Wayne!

PERSEPHONE: Hey, did you see Batman? He was just here a minute ago.

BET: Nope! Didn't see him.

PPHONE: Huh. It's so strange the way I never see you two in the same room at the same time. 

BET: Oh, that's because I uh...go away on a trip with Abba when he's here.

PPHONE: Ohhhh. So it's just a coincidence?

BET: A what?

PPHONE: That's when two things happen at the same time, but they have nothing to do with each other.


BET: Eema hold on let's stop playing a minute. [stage whispers] I'M TRICKING YOU.

PPHONE: [stage whispers back] I KNOW.



BET: Okay! Let's keep playing.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

the year in quotes: now we are six!!!*

*i've only been waiting six years to say that

ALEPH: eema, you can't sit on the sofa anymore. i made it something that explodes. 

BET [completely serious, with mask on top of head]: oh NO! i can't find my spiderman mask. 

ALEPH: ♪ i throw luke skywalker in the air sometimes / saying aaaay-o ♪

[overheard from kids' room]
ALEPH: [bellowing] I AM NOT 'OLD CHUM'! 

BET: [peeks head around bathroom door] can you pretend to be catwoman? 
PPHONE: i...okay.
BET: [closes door again] 

[overheard from kids' room] 

ALEPH: see bet, you broke mine. now, i'm not gonna punish you; i just want you to know that it wasn't good. 

[I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means]
ALEPH [crying]: i got hurt. but i don't want to tell you how. 
US: we kind of need to know. 
ALEPH: fine. i accidentally stood on a rocking chair.

ALEPH: if superman didn't have a weakness, i would be him so much more often.

BET: [after bath] ♪naked naked naked, banana-fana-fak-ed♪

ALEPH: when [hop] you [hop] finish [hop] the dishes [hop] i [hop] want [hop] to do [hop] an [hop] activiteeeeeeee

ALEPH: [falsetto] ♪i like cows / yes i do / i like cows / how about yoooooou♪ 

ALEPH: [crying] bet, you can't pick that up! i wanted to pick it up! 
BET: well, sometimes you get to pick it up; sometimes you don't. 
ALEPH: [still crying] but i wanted to! 
BET: *sigh* okay. i will put it back down on the floor, and this time you can pick it up. 

LANCE: everyone remember the rules about throwing water at the park? 
ALEPH: i...remember you have rules, i just don't remember what they are.

PPHONE: [very late and lost my directions] 
BET: eema? eema? eema? 
PPHONE: i'm busy right now, bet. i'm busy. I'M BUSY! DO YOU HEAR ME TELLING YOU? 
[finally find my directions.]
PPHONE: okay. hi, bet. what's going on? 

BET: where do we live? 
LANCE: where do you think we live? 

ALEPH: see bet, the thing is, i'm starting to get more into star wars and science than superfriends.

BET: i need something to eat. 
PPHONE: raisins? 
BET: there is none. 
PPHONE: no, there are! i'll give you some. 
BET: oh RAISINS! i thought you said reasons

BET: [follows me into bathroom; shuts door] i'm just closing that to make sure aleph gives you privacy. 

BET: [aims cardboard tube at me] i'm switching out your brain!

BET [from bathroom] uh oh. 
PPHONE: what? 
BET: uh oh. 
PPHONE: what?? 
BET: nothing! i was just pretending something was wrong. 

BET: i'm batman! this is my bat-pooper! 

BOYS [both out of bed]: eema? you didn't give us hugs & kisses goodnight. 
PPHONE: yes i did. 
BOYS: well we don't remember you giving them!
PPHONE: [heartless] sorry.

BET: cut! cut! cut! i'm cutting off your fingers! 
BET: let's lie down and snuggle. 

ALEPH: can i tell you something, han solo?

BET: i'm very upset with darth vader. 
PPHONE: why? 
BET: he sent me a birthday card. it said bad things. 
PPHONE: wait, who are you?? 
BET: batman! 

[Road Tripping]
LANCE: deer crossing sign! 
PPHONE: deer crossing sign! 
ALEPH: deer crossing sign! 
[everyone waits] 
BET: yup! 

[...Road Tripping Too Long]
ALEPH: i met a man and he said, i haven't had a jump all day! so i jumped on him! HAHAHAHA! 

BET: [being tickled] HAHAHAHAHAstop that's too funny 

ALEPH: eema, i know the problem isn't your fault, but it is something you're doing.

BET: i don't think you can buy luke skywalker at the store. 
ALEPH: iiiiiii believe you're wrong.

BET: [glaring at me] why do we have to go pick blueberries, if we already HAVE BLUEBERRIES. 

BET: [glaring, in green lantern mask] 
PPHONE: why do you look so angry? 
BET: [gritting teeth] green lanterns are ALWAYS ANGRY.  
ALEPH: [also in green lantern mask] eema, can i sit on your lap? 
BET: green lanterns NEVER say sit on your LAP!

[mid-chess game]
ALEPH: abba, i think what i have you is called 'on the run.' 

BET: eema, guess what! we saw spiderman in times square! and i asked him if he was real! and he said yes! but i don't know if that was true. 
PPHONE: wow. i think maybe he was a real person, but maybe not the real spiderman.
BET: yeah. i think maybe he was peter parker. 

BET: aleph, i thought you said you were going to watch over the toaster.
ALEPH: no! i'm combining human DNA with dinosaurs. 

[looking at pictures of jewelry] 
BET: ooh, those are fancy. wish you could buy ME something fancy. wait! my knight-hat is fancy!

[overheard from kids' room] "you can't trust your computer! you can only trust me!" 

[overheard from kids' room] "if you let me be your master, it will WORK!" 

BET [yelling]: you're not the boss of me! 
ALEPH [yelling back]: yes i -! [pause.] i KNOW that, but -! 

[overheard from kids' room]
ALEPH: excuse me bet, are you sure you know what you're doing? 
BET: of coooourse i do

ALEPH: eema! i kind of did a stand-head! 

ALEPH: eema, how did super grover get his powers?

ALEPH: i met a man walking down the street and he said, i haven't had a bite all day. so i bit him. IN THE EYE. 

BET: i'm getting a little bit into star wars. 
ALEPH: well, you gotta get a lot into star wars if you want to BE star wars. 

[still not adjusted to summer. what. it's only…august.]
BET: [stamping foot] eema, when are we gonna wear PANTS again already!
PHONE: what do you like better about pants than shorts? 
BET: they're LONGER!

ALEPH: [patiently] see eema, i like to keep busy with something. but...sometimes i don't like your ideas. 

ALEPH: why do they call it a peapod if you're not supposed to pee in it? 

ALEPH: bet, i need to go to the bathroom. you want to come do water experiments while i'm in there? 
BET: sure! 

BET: [points at tampons] eema, do you have any idea what those things are? 

PPHONE: you didn't eat your banana. 
BET: it's brown. 
PPHONE: no, it isn't. see? no brown. 
BET: it tastes cold! 
PPHONE:'s room temp. 
BET: this banana doesn't feel normal! 
PPHONE: [gives up]
BET: [shrugs. eats banana] 

ALEPH: R2-D2 needs to go to the droid hospital. i'm gonna go with him.'s his 1st time, and i've been to the hospital before. 
ALEPH [moments later]: his ambulance blew up. i'm gonna have to carry him the rest of the way. 

BET: [screaming] EEMA!!! remember you said we could only scream if we were bleeding broken or on fire? I'M BLEEDING. [points to chapped lip]

ALEPH: i can't have that juice. it's not safe for me. 
PPHONE: no, aleph, it's pina colada! not peanut.

[1:30 AM] 
aleph comes out crying "bet won't let me put up a star wars shelf!" 
aleph tucked back in muttering, "this really isn't FAIR mumble mumble"

BET: [whispers in my ear] 
PPHONE: what? that was so soft i couldn't hear it. 
BET: i know. it's a secret secret. 

ALEPH: ♪ jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle ingle belllllls ♪ 
PPHONE: um...where did you learn that song? 
ALEPH: i didn't! i made it up. 

BET: are you sure castles were made before rocket ships? i don't believe you. 

PPHONE: you're a funny boy sometimes. 
BET: what do you mean? i'm a funny boy all the time. 

[Good Morning To You Too]
ALEPH: why is your face like that? 
PPHONE: like what? 
ALEPH: like how it is right now! 
PPHONE: how is it??
ALEPH:...i don't know.

GREAT AUNT: bet, do you love me? 
BET: i'm not sure i should answer that. because i might hurt your feelings. very badly.

[somehow i thought we had a lot longer before this conversation]
ALEPH: can you turn from an orthodox person into a not-orthodox person?
ALEPH: ...but Hashem isn't angry at either one of them, right?

[post 'But I Can't Put On My Own Socks' tantrum] 
PPHONE: thanks for your hard work, aleph. 
ALEPH: [still crying] none of this is hard, eema.  
PPHONE: [iiiii know.] thanks for your...frustrating work? 
ALEPH: [frustrated] it's not even frustrating! it's just DUMB, is what it is!

BET: can i teach you a lesson? 
ALEPH: no. i know all my lessons already. 

BET [on jennifer of the jungle]: she has this gorilla, and she says 'you always say the sweetest things!'  [sighs dreamily] 

[Cartoon Vocabulary]
ALEPH: i won't give in to your evil orchestrations! 
GROWNUP: [laughs] do you know what orchestrations are? 
ALEPH: plans! 

[...Possibly Too Many Cartoons]
ALEPH: the king...of the UNIVERSE! MWAHAHAHA! 

BET: maybe if i see a video, my stomach will stop having hiccups! 
EEMA: i...don't think that's how it works. 
BET: never know till you try! 
BET: that's not funny! stop laughing!


ALEPH: eema, i'm good at beating people in my class when i play checkers, but you are tricky.

ALEPH: ♪ if you don't i'll punch youuu / if you don't i'll pinch you in the baaack / if you don't i'll throw a bomb at youuu ♪

[You Might Have A Sensory Seeker If]
ALEPH: eema, can we snuggle? 
PPHONE: [hugs] 
ALEPH: [braces his hands on my chest and pushes]
PPHONE: that's...the opposite of snuggling. 
ALEPH: oh! 

[erev Yom Kippur] 
PPHONE: bet, if i hurt your feelings this year, i'm sorry. 
BET: well, you did. lots of times. but I FORGIVE YOU. 

[on running into an erstwhile babysitter]
BET: can i tell you something? i think it's pretty sad that you don't come visit us anymore. 
SITTER: i'm sorry. i've just been so busy. 
BET: you don't need to be sorry! it's not your fault. 

ALEPH: eema? is pluto in neptune's orbit right now? 

PPHONE: i found this at the thrift shop. can you tell me what it is?
LANCE: that's batman.
PPHONE: yes, i know. which batman?
LANCE: that's...scuba...attack batman. obviously.
PPHONE: did you just make that up??

ALEPH: hey, look what i found in my mouth! 
PPHONE: [a choking hazard??...a peanut?

ALEPH: i can never sleep the whole night. but i CAN take short naps. 
BET: i can't ever sleep. 
PPHONE: never? 
BET: never. 
PPHONE: wow! you must be really tired. 

BET: i need to think about whether i'm gonna ruin your plan. 
ALEPH: if you ruin my plan, i'll ruin your plan. 
BET: what's my plan? 
ALEPH: when you have a plan! then i'll ruin it. 

[overheard from kids' room] 
BATMAN: hey robin, you want to take a nap? 
ROBIN: yeah, okay. 

BET: i don't want to go outside. 
LANCE: but you always say that. and you always end up having fun. 
BET: i know, but i'm TIRED of that. 
PPHONE: you're tired of having fun? 
BET: i'm tired of having fun when abba SAYS. 
LANCE: [gives pphone meaningful look] this is all you. 
PPHONE: [laughing too hard to talk] i.know. 

BET: i made this myself! it's called the transweapon-mitter. no, no, the transmitter-weaponer. 

BET: huggeh baybeh! 
PPHONE: ...huggy baby? 
BET: yeah. i'm saying it in a different language. huggehh baybehhhhhh! 

ALEPH: [playing] okay, i've had enough of that. let's do some homework! 

PPHONE: so, aleph types gibberish, and bet just types batmanbatmanbatmanbatmanbatman. 
LANCE: i'm pretty sure that's how faulkner got started.

[Is not child. Is cat.]
BET [suddenly appears at my elbow]: can you stroke my back? 

PPHONE: aleph, you're being a little bit ridiculous. 
ALEPH: well it's [sob] kind of [sob] HARD not to be [sob] 

[It's Probably Inappropriate To Laugh When Your Son Makes Up Words Mid-tantrum] 

BET: if i was an indian and they took my land, i'd hit them in the face, and kick them in the face, a lot of things to them in the face. 

[trying to persuade bet to practice soccer]
ALEPH: bet, can i remind you a lot of things you know how to do, you couldn't do the first time you tried?

ALEPH: [sleepwalks out of bedroom at grandparent's house] [inexplicably wearing maroon satin yarmulka]

[overheard from kids' room] 
"and we'll dress the poop up like ice cream." 

BET [as batman]: i guess we'll have to do this the HARD way! 
PPHONE: what's the hard way? 
BET: i don't know, that's just something i say. 

[i can stop anytime, son. aaaaanytime]
ALEPH: eema, can you stop talking about vegetables for a second?

BET: so on chanuka the greeks lost, right? 
PPHONE: right. 
BET: and the maccabeats won, right?
PPHONE: [ahahaha! whoops.]
BET: it's a good thing all the greeks are dead! 

ALEPH: someone was injured! 
BET: someone was ninja-ed? 

BET [on blue's clues]: i really enjoy this show. but i'm not sure why everybody's dancing.

BET [on the fresh beat band]: i don't like this part. they're kooky. they dance too much. 
BET: aleph and me don't even like dancing. they're not serious! we're SERIOUS! 
BET: [tries to look severe] [can't keep straight face]

ALEPH: this elevator smells a little like throw-up. mostly like french fries. but a little like throw-up. 

[on To Do List: 1. explain expletives 2. explain irony]
aleph now says "oh, NUTS!" when frustrated

PPHONE: are you ready to ask for it nicely? 
BET: *sigh* YES. just give it to me, willya? 

BET: cookies? i love cookies!
LANCE: yeah? which do you love more, me or cookies? 
BET: *sigh* abba. there's different kinds of love. 

[in the middle of my lecture on anger management]
BET: you're rambling, eema.
PPHONE: what?! i am not. 
BET: [smiling] yes, you are. wordgirl says rambling is going onnnn and onnnn and not really having a point. 
PPHONE: i do too have a point!! 

BET: if i met a stranger i wouldn't talk to them. know why? because they might do bad things to me. especially a WOLF stranger.

ALEPH: actually, mostly only - actually, mostly only - actually...mostly...only...abba what was i talking about?? 

BET: eema, maybe when i grow up i can be a monkey actor. i'm practicing my swinging. so i can do that. 

BET: [into my neck] eema. i care for you very much. 

BET: [stamps foot] i'm angry! 
PPHONE: okay. what are you angry about? 
BET: i forgot! [stamp] what i'm angry about! 

[in latest feat of evil, i made kids wear their fleece pajamas to play outside because it's 20 degrees.]
BET: everyone will know!
PPHONE: no they won't. 
BET: but what if someone touches my pants?

ALEPH: eema, this is such a good supper. thank you! 
PPHONE: wow! thank you for thanking me! 
ALEPH: you could just say you're welcome. 

PPHONE: [gives kiss] surprise kiss! 
BET: that wasn't a surprise. 
PPHONE: how'd you know i was going to do that? 
BET: because i'm trickehh, baybehh. 

LANCE: maybe we can play star wars! 
ALEPH: no, because bet is gonna want to be batman. and i'm getting tired of star wars with batman in it. 
BET: ...he's right.

BET: time for another video? 
LANCE: no. it's time for turning off the tv, and hugging, and then getting dressed. 
BET: and mind control?

BET [to pphone]: i just want to tell you something. i love you. more than your favorite...more than your COMPUTER! also more than macaroni and cheese. but that doesn't count 'cause that's a different kind of love. 

hoping aleph never stops calling it "the top bunker" and "the bottom bunker"

[4 am] 
ALEPH: [crying in our doorway] where is bet?
PPHONE: he's in bed.
ALEPH: but he didn't answer when i called him. 
PPHONE: that's because he's SLEEPING.
ALEPH: [tucked back in bed, still crying] but it's very dark in here.

BET: eema. i love you. can i please please please hold your hand.

ALEPH [building lego]: and this is his magical water chair of DESTINY.

BET [to lego man]: here you are, you magnificent knight!

[Emerging Readers]
BET [reading computer screen over my shoulder]: i...don't...give...a... 
PPHONE: [scrolls down RAPIDLY]

[The Pesach Story: A Retelling] 
"and then the Torah shot LASER beams at him!" 

[watching wonder pets rescue another cute baby animal]
BET: i wish every video we watch, we could just jump in and KILL them! 

[Emerging Readers, Part 2]
ALEPH: you know, eema? many things are made in china.

ALEPH: oh! i LIKE mouth kissing. 

BET [one finger pressed to forehead, whispering to self]: thinkthinkthink!

ALEPH: ohhhh. this is a real cooked chicken? 
PPHONE: um. yes? 
ALEPH: no WONDER it's so tasty!

[1 AM] 
PPHONE: do you 
LANCE: you don't think aleph is sleep-cooking, do you?

ALEPH: eema, when you say good things to me when i'm sad, it makes me even sadder
PPHONE: *sigh* fine. no more good things. 
ALEPH: but no bad things either.  
ALEPH: eema, i REALLY don't like when my homework takes this long. 
ALEPH: [stares at me] why aren't you saying anything.

ALEPH: [in bath] ♪ that man in special suit, against the water-gun-of-destinyyyyy ♪

BET: do babies understand what we say? 
PPHONE: no, they have to learn that. 
BET: do we understand what babies say? 
PPHONE: we have to learn that, too. 
BET: wait. do babies understand OTHER babies?

[playing chess against himself]
ALEPH: [singsong] iiiiii wouldn't do that if i were youuuuuu! 

[Yeshiva Education: So Worth It]
ALEPH: see, Hashem is basically like an alien that can do whatever it wants. 

PPHONE: i think your pants are inside out. 
ALEPH: that's okay. i don't mind. 
PPHONE: you...won't be able to get into the pockets. 
ALEPH: i don't need pockets.

LANCE: there's a song about driving, wanna hear it? 
ALEPH: what's it called. 
LANCE: Born to Be Wild. 
ALEPH [firm]: no. 
LANCE: [laughing] oh no no, i mean, uh, Barney the Dinosaur Likes to Drive.
ALEPH: really?
LANCE: yes! 
ALEPH: no.

[Pesach Day 7] 
BET [despairingly]: i've forgotten what everything i like tastes like! 

[Hard To Argue With This]
BET: abba, why are you sad? it would be worser if i killed you. 

BET [re: my library book]: what's that about? 
PPHONE: um. werewolves? 
BET: who's that woman? 
PPHONE: she's married to one of them. 
BET: does he kill her? 
PPHONE [laughing]: what? no! he loves her. 
BET: well what happens?
PPHONE: i don't know! i haven't read it yet. all i know is she's having a baby. 
BET: well when you finish it, can you just tell me: does he EAT the baby?

[bet composes superman-style tagline for wonder woman] 
"look, up in the sky! it's an american flag! it' almost-naked woman! it's..." 

ALEPH: you know what i hate most in the world? 
BET: aveiros? 
ALEPH: no, eating poop & pee. 
BET: and also aveiros?

[follow-up question]
BET: eema, which is more important? not doing aveiros or not eating poop? 
PPHONE: not eating poop. 
BET: what?! 
PPHONE: [heretic] sorry. 

ALEPH: ♪ if he kills me, right-before-he-does, i'll order someone to kill him, after-he-kills-me ♪

ALEPH: what happens on yom ha'atzmaut? 
PPHONE: [lectures on state of israel's birth] 
ALEPH: see, i thought what happens is i go to a party at yeshiva university.

BET: does your soul ever go back in your body after you die? 
PPHONE: no. i mean, Hashem could make it, but He doesn't. that's a really big miracle called t'chiyat hameitim, bringing dead people back to life, and Hashem doesn't do miracles like that nowadays. 
BET: oh right! like zombies?

ALEPH: is 20 x 50 a thousand? i thought so. because 10 times 100 is a thousand, and 50 is half of 100, so...all i have to do is double the 10s.

[bet has to draw his math homework, but he gets to decide what to depict it with:] 
"that's 2 people who do ballet + 5 people who do ballet. i gave them extra arms because they're twirling so fast." 
"that's 2 aliens in a spaceship." 
"you might think that's a door, but it's really a house with a forcefield around it."  

BET: are you making macaroni & cheese? 
PPHONE: yes! how did you know? 
BET: i smelled it. 
[note: only thing in pot so far = water]

ALEPH: [wakes me up way too early] can you tell me where bet went? he's not in the bedroom or bathroom or living room.
PPHONE: [blearily] wha?
ALEPH: [comes back] oh sorry he's in bed actually i didn't see him there sorry

ALEPH: eema, i want to ask you. have you ever been in space before?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

loss: one year

Adapted from my "just in case this is my last chance to tell you" letter to A, March 15th, last year. (It was.)

Someone asked me today if the reason you and I got so close, even though we were 7 years apart, was all the interests we had in common. I said I don't think that was it. I don't think it would have mattered what I was into. I think the reason you're so easy for me to be with is that you accept me for whoever I am.
I think you do that for everyone. I think that's one of your gifts. But you were the first person in our family to do that for me; and I don't even know how to tell you what that meant to me back then, or what it still means.  
With all of the dread hanging over us these days, I still feel lighter every time I walk into a room and see you.
I love you so much. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

the thing is

I've been a lot better. But these days, facing my first trip to Israel where I won't see my sister at the other end, I'm worse again.

I know today I'm not the only one grieving.

I went back to read Emma's post from January, when we knew what lay ahead. I thought you might want to read it again too.

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

- Ellen Bass

Friday, July 8, 2011

grief: three months

The hardest part is remembering what she looked like, that week when she was barely alive. The hardest part is remembering what she used to look like before that. The hardest part is when I can't remember something from before that, when I say something was A's favorite and someone else says no, that wasn't A, that was you, and we'll never be able to ask her and it's just gone. The hardest part is when something was gone years ago but resurfaces in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of playing with my kids, and I'm in tears with no control over them. The hardest part is walking around feeling raw in a way no one can see, like I have no skin. The hardest part is the edge of sadness that underlies everything. Everything.

I have a husband I love and adorable kids and I want to be happy, for them. I can't picture when I ever will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BET: "was that when we were a baby?"

(The Year In Quotes.)

BET: I want what I want. Those are the rules of me.

PPHONE: So, do you think your stuffed animals had a good time in Vermont?
ALEPH: Well, Elmo likes to see new places. Brown Bear & Winnie the Pooh, I don't know.

ALEPH: Welcome to my ice cream store. What flavor would you like?
PPHONE: Cookies & cream, please.
ALEPH: Oh sorry Eema, that has sulfa* in it.
[*In case not obvious, Persephone is allergic to sulfa.]
PPHONE: Oh. Well, what flavor do you have that's safe for me to eat?
ALEPH: [smiling ruefully] Actually, I just realized...all our flavors have sulfa in them.

BET: I'm angry with you.
ALEPH: I'm angry with you.
BET: I'm angrier.
ALEPH: I'm angrier.
BET: I'm angriest.
ALEPH: I'm angriest.
BET: I'm angriest OF ALL.

PPHONE: These are really hard questions, Aleph. I don't know.
ALEPH: [sigh] All right, if you just answer *one* hard one, I will ask you easier questions.

[after battling Bet into bed]
PPHONE: Do you have a last thing to say before quiet time?
BET: I'm going to say...that you're not my mommy anymore.
PPHONE: Is that your last thing?
BET: That's *part* of my last thing. The next part is a knock knock joke.

BET: Abba, can you pretend you're a bad guy?
LANCE [reading newspaper]: No.
BET: How about a bad guy who just reads the paper?

FEEDING THERAPIST: Good for you for trying cottage cheese, Bet. That's not my favorite either.
BET: Then you should have some too!
BET: Sure! Everybody should try new things.
FEEDING THERAPIST: Heh. You're right. Okay. [warily takes a bite]
BET: [perky] How is it?

BET: Eema, can Hashem fly?
PPHONE: Well, I guess He could, but He doesn't need to. He's already everywhere.
BET: Because he's so big?
PPHONE: ...Right.
ALEPH: You mean He's wide.
BET: You mean He's fat.

BET: When a candle burns out, it's not alive anymore, right?
PPHONE: Well, uh, it was never alive.
BET: But Gd can still see it, right?

[subway-loving kid at the supermarket]
ALEPH: Can we go to the express line, Eema? Wait, I think we have too many things for express. We better get on the local.

[Superman II: A Summary, by Aleph.]
When he gives up his powers, he can be hurt by normal things, but not kryptonite. When he gets his powers back, he can be hurt by *kryptonite*, but *not* normal things.

BET: [bops Lance in face with balloon]
BET: sorry.
BET: uh oh.

ALEPH: [with yogurt drip on shirt] Eema, can you take this shirt off me? I need to go to the bathroom.
PPHONE: Okay, but...why do you need to take it off for that?
ALEPH: beCAUSE. [flaps hands wildly] It's too YOGURTY.

PPHONE: [nixes 2nd video]
PPHONE: [nixes 3rd tuna melt]
PPHONE: [nixes chocolate milk 2 hrs early]
BET: [sadly] Eema. You're giving me a very hard time today.

ALEPH: Abba, if Superman saw a kind of candy that he'd never seen before, he would have to make sure there's no kryptonite in it. He'd have to say, "Is this kryptonite-free?"

BET [at bedtime]: "Shazaam…oh." [tries again] "Shema…"

BET: I'm all out of cute!
PPHONE: [Oh I think not.]

PPHONE: Aleph, what are you DOING to your hair?
ALEPH: Putting cheese in it! [is this a trick question?]

BET: Eema, you're so cozy. Can I sleep inside your shirt?

ALEPH: [thoughtfully] The water doesn't taste *so* bad with spit.

[boys march into kitchen]
PPHONE: Yes. Yes I did.
[march back out]

ALEPH: There's a lady pirate!
PPHONE: What are you gonna do?
ALEPH: I will point her with a pointy stick!
PPHONE: [isn't this a Monty Python routine?]
ALEPH: And then drown her at the bottom of the water! And break her feet!!
PPHONE: Uh, I don't think you need to do both.
ALEPH: Please can I?

BET: Abba, why do you have hair on your...uh, everywhere?

ALEPH: Actually, I just thought of something kind of crazy!

BET: [building a house] I need 4 more squares.
ALEPH: Allllllll riiiiiight lemme see what I can do.

PPHONE: [to naked son] Bet, can I bring you some underpants?
BET: [magnanimously] Sure! If you want!

BET: Eema, maybe you could sleep with me the whole night for my *birthday*.
PPHONE: I don't think so.
BET: But MAYBE, right?

VISITING NIECE: Does Bet have something against pants?

ALEPH: But WHY aren't fairies real?
PPHONE: I don't know.
ALEPH: I think there should be some kind of way to invent one. How do you invent a fairy?
PPHONE: I don't know.
ALEPH: But how do you THINK?

ALEPH: Eema, why is my room arranged like this?

[sigh. good morning, young Stephen King.]
BET: [trailing fingers on my face] Spiders are crawling on you! Trying to get in your mouth!

BET: We're playing superfriends and I was wondering if you would like to be Wonder Woman. Because…you're a woman.

BET: [wearing cape, obviously] Superman needs you to clean his hands. Because he ate a LOT of macaroni and cheese.

ALEPH: I wonder what's going on in the Bronx right now.

BET: Eema, we don't have to cooperate with you all the time. Know why? Cause Abba said it's okay to make mistakes.

ALEPH: Eema, I guess you were right.
PPHONE: About what?
ALEPH: [sigh.] I don't know.

ALEPH: Eema, what do you think is going on in France right now?

BET: I just need a hug. A hug that never ends.
PPHONE: [hugs]
BET: Actually one that does end. But…not yet.

ALEPH: [on his first comic book] So it's

ALEPH [to hosts]: If you don't want us to look in all your rooms, why did you invite us over?

PPHONE: [looking for specific Lego piece]
ALEPH: [pointing to random pile of Lego] My mind tells me it's in there.

EEMA: Don't touch that.
BET: I'm not touching, I'm just looking with my fingers.

ALEPH: So uh, Supper Lady? This is kind of good.

BET: I'm gonna cut that bad guy's head off! [aside] Do you have a scissor?

BET: [out of bed after bedtime after a very, very long day]
PPHONE & LANCE: [glaring]
BET: I just have a little problem.
PPHONE & LANCE: [still glaring] What's the problem?
BET: I...miss you guys.


PPHONE: Bet, go to the bathroom.
BET: [teenage sigh] I'm TIRED of that! Why do I have to do that all the TIME!

PPHONE: Bet, did you hear me? Why aren't you going the other way around the sofa?
BET: BeCAUSE! There's a lot of pee over there!

BET: I have a yellow beak, I waddle when I walk, and I'm covered with white fur. I must be a....?
BET: I was thinking of pigs.
ALEPH: But pigs don't waddle when they walk.
PPHONE: And they don't have yellow beaks.
BET: I know, but I was *thinking* of them.

BET: [singing] when criminals in this world appear to break the laws that they should fear the call goes out both far and near for UNNNDERPANTS

BET: I wish I was half me and half Aleph.
BET: I don't want to be me *forever*.

ALEPH: Is there such a thing as a Hebrew muffin?

BET: Can I tell you about the time I was a shepherd?

ALEPH: Eema, it's really not comfortable the way you're holding me! But it's probably not you. It's me.
ALEPH: I mean it's my shirt.

overheard from kids' room:
[BANG] Flash hits a window! It doesn't break! [BANG] Flash hits it again!

BET: You know what superhero you are? HotGirl.
PPHONE: WHAT!? [tries to stop laughing] What's HotGirl's superpower?
BET: She makes things hot.

PPHONE: Bet, what did you get to do as Shabbos Abba?
BET: I was *really* nice to the Shabbos Eema.

ALEPH: So, is Green Eggs and Ham the The Cat in the Hat?

BET: [about to climb onto my lap]
PPHONE: Are your pants dry?
BET: Yes!
PPHONE: Then you can sit on my lap.
BET: [climbs up] They're *mostly* dry!

BET: More kisses. More. More. More more more more more more more more more more okay one more. And now last one. Okay.

BET: Eema, does a time machine have batteries?
EEMA: Uh…no, it probably has a flux capacitor.
BET: *That's* the problem, Aleph. It needs a flux capacitor.

BET: Where does it hurt?
EEMA: All across here. [indicates forehead]
BET: [deep breath] Okay. I'll start from the corner. [begins kissing]

BET: [putting what looks like...elephant tusks? on his lego car]
PPHONE: What are those?
BET: Horns! Beep beep!

ALEPH: Abba, if you *love* Bet, you should really let him do what he wants.

ALEPH: Eema?
ALEPH: What can you do for me?

[listening to TMBG's Here Comes Science]
BET: I'm elephant man! I'm made of elements!
BET: Wanna feel my elements?
PPHONE: [trying to stop laughing] Elements are too small to feel.
BET: But mine are really *big*.

BET: [screaming] Aleph! Aleph! Aaaalleeeeeeph!
ALEPH: I'll be with you in a moment.

BET: If you're not going to eat your mac & cheese, should I?
ALEPH: That's up to you. I don't care *what* you do. [pause] Unless it's mean.

BET: Eema, let's have a hug.
PPHONE: [hugs]
BET: Let's go to the bed and have hugs. Come on, Eema. Let's lie down and hug.

BET: I'm afraid of something.
BET: My skeleton is so strong. What if it punches its way out of my body?

PPHONE: Can I have a hug?
ALEPH [scornful]: No!
ALEPH: ...[grin] because YES!

Bet's class has an every-snowflake-is-unique bulletin board.
Bet's quote says: "I'm special because I don't eat too much."

ALEPH: Eema, there's bear prints in the hallway!
PPHONE: Bear prints? How did a bear get in the hallway?
ALEPH: Well, they might have been giant chicken prints. It was dark. I couldn't tell.

BET: [runs out]
ALEPH: [runs out after him, points dramatically] to the EXPERIMENTS!
BET: [runs back in]

ALEPH: I might have a little bit of a pretend fever.

overheard [reading 10 Minutes Til Bedtime to each other]:
-So many hamsters!
-Eema would be really upset.
-Yeah, Eema would be really upset.

BET: Sleep is too boring.
EEMA: It's good to be bored sometimes. That's called 'downtime.'
ALEPH: [outraged disbelief] Good?! To be bored?!?

[arranged Bet's strawberry slices to look like a flower.]
ALEPH: Can you make mine look like a gun?
ALEPH: Or like a daled! A daled is the shape of a gun.

BET: Wanna see my trick?
[puts laden spoon into mouth; takes out empty spoon]
BET: No. It's *science*.

BET [to grandparents, with big smile, clearly expecting praise]: I don't *want* to kiss you good night, but I'm going to anyway!

BET: Eema, we gotta figure this out or I'll whine. And I *know* you don't want me to *whine*.

ALEPH: [leaps into kitchen, brandishing swords at me] I'll take care of the woman!
BET: [whispers] Make sure she doesn't see you!

ALEPH: It's just, like [SOB] really *upsetting* for me [SOB] when you don't do what I *want*

BET: Stop! You're bothering me!
ALEPH: You never let me do anything I want!
BET: Everything you want to do *bothers me*!

BET [to Aleph]: Can I tell you something? I'm your sidekick.

BET: Let's play Pesach again! But this time the Egyptians are the good guys and the Jews are the bad guys.

BET: I'm hungry.
PPHONE: There's some grapes left from yesterday, do you want some?
BET: [decidedly] No, I don't eat grapes from yesterday.

ALEPH: Your body's waterproof, right? Water can't get through your body. *Nothing* can get through your body. Wellllllll, maybe a pickax.

ALEPH: [singing to self] life is my favorite, life is my favorite
ZAIDY: [enters] You're eating grapefruit! That's one of my favorite things.
ALEPH: I bet not as much as being *alive*! Okay, choose which one is your favorite: having a lot of grapefruits in the house, or STAYING ALIVE.

BET: You never let me watch videos as much as I want!
[note: he watched 3+ hrs today.]
PPHONE: Bet, I told you. no more talking about videos.
BET: I'm not talking about *videos*. I'm talking about how I *feel* about them.

ALEPH: Come on Bet, let's pillow fight the window! *THWACK*

PPHONE: Look, I made my batcycle some wings.
ALEPH: That was clever of you, Eema.

BET: [nauseous] You know what I feel like? You know what I *feel* like?
PPHONE: [looks wildly for bucket] What? What???
BET: I feel like watching a VIDEO.

LANCE: [leaves message and hangs up phone]
ALEPH: Wait, wait! [hopefully] Can we press 1 for more options?

ALEPH [to our guest]: Rochel…you're not boring.

ALEPH: I'll stop if you stop SCREAMING IN MY EAR!
BET: Okay.


5 years old. Still funny. Bring it on, Year 6.

Friday, April 29, 2011

in honor of our new BJURSTA

...i bring you this blast from the past Barren Season:

Sunday, January 30, 2005
[on the way home from Ikea, Saturday night]

persephone: Are you sure you want to put that together tonight? With the kids having so much trouble sleeping?

brother in law: Oh please, there's no noise in this assembly. This is Ikea we're talking about.

persephone: It's gonna make noise when you have to throw things at the wall because nothing fits, won't it?

sister*: [giggling]

persephone: Hey, that must be why they give everything those names! In case you don't want to curse, you can just yell the name of the product instead. YOU STUPID FLUMVARK!!!

sister*: [laughing so hard she can't talk]

*yes, this was my little sister. you can tell by the laughing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

out of your bones we'll pick seven / and build a wind chime that sings to heaven

Today was the last day. From now on I can wear new clothes, listen to music. From now on I won't fit into a box even strangers understand: I'm in shloshim for my sister. From now on I...God, I don't want there to BE a 'from now on'. I'm not ready. I'm not ready to get up and start walking.

A, I've only begun to understand what it will be like to live in your absence. It's still the silly things that make me want to call you up, not the profound ones. Guess what - they're remaking Thundercats. You're never going to believe this, but I'm on youtube. And another thing about these glasses with tiny lenses you made me get: the last time I pushed them up, I poked myself in the eye! I hear your laugh in my head, the one that starts out like a grownup and winds up like Ernie. I can't believe you're not just out of sight, around a corner. I can't believe I won't hear or see you again.

It's been a privilege to talk about you this month, to say the things you'd never let me say to your face. How much I learned from you. How awed I am by the things you managed to do. How much light you brought into a room every time you entered it; how much joy you brought into our family, ever since you were born.

I can see, with the opened eyes of the bereaved, that you were something of an angel. But I'd trade that awfully-won knowledge anytime. I just want my human little sister back.

There is no ending to this. Only hard beginnings, over and over and over.

Monday, April 11, 2011

big sister

It's clichéd, I know, but I can't get over how much technology has changed the character of one of the oldest experiences in the world: grieving.

Let's leave aside the fact that every one of the friends mentioned here is a friend I made online. My family was so surprised to find that my bewilderingly virtual relationships translate into real - and really nice! - people. But that's not unique to this situation; blogfriends have been my salvation since my infertile years, or even before.

Photos shared online, videochats, spreading the word by email or facebook instead of phone tree: again, I think we're familiar with the benefits of these, without needing to tie them to loss or mourning.

But here's a new one: I never would have dreamed our eulogies for my sister would be online...or that I'd be more glad than embarrassed. It wasn't planned in advance, I don't think, but it made perfect sense: by the time our family in America emerged from Shabbat, we had already buried my sister. I can't imagine the unreality and disbelief of hearing that. They wanted - needed - a way to experience the funeral in realtime, as much as we did.

Much later, I discovered another. Because of the awful difference in time zones, my sister and I didn't try to talk on the phone much. (Yes, okay, I hate the phone even in this country, but phone phobia AND time zones? Dude, I give up.) We IMed instead; often when I was supposed to be sleeping or she was, trying not to wake our spouses with the glare of the screen or the clicking of keys. And because of that, I have records of conversations going back...years. Not even anything as coherent as you'd put in a letter, just chats, in the true sense of the word: random, rambly, hilarious. Things we might have said while hanging out on the couch at 1 AM, and never remembered in the morning.

It's not enough. It doesn't replace being able to actually hang out on her couch. It didn't make her any less far away. I'm still struggling with the fact that we lived on two different continents, with a wide, wide ocean in between.

But I think of how different it all would have been, before we discovered we could live online, too. I can't imagine.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

She's gone.

No more words.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

i can't do this anymore

I'm flying to Israel to be with my little sister, for however long we have left.

I have not written about this since her cancer spread, out of respect for her family's privacy. And I don't plan to get into detail now.

But I'm struggling with the idea that this should be private, now. I don't want the world to go about its business, unaware that this grievous wrong is taking place. This is so wrong. This is so unfair. This is a loss for the entire world, whether you know it or not.

I want you all to stop and take notice. I want you to grieve too.

I am so angry.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

what we have here is a failure to empathize

Oh hey, you want to talk can't-vs.-won't and asshole parenting?

Dressing oneself has been a long-standing challenge for both my kids, but especially for Aleph. I think independence scares him in general; he's afraid that if he can do it by himself, I'll decide he doesn't need me anymore and abandon him, blah blah insecure attachment mother guilt blah blah blah.

In any case, Bet recently - FINALLY! - started putting on his own shirt and Aleph is jealous of the fuss we made over it, but unwilling to do what it takes to earn his own fuss, namely put on his own shirt too.

Today he says, amid sobs, that putting his head through the shirt is too scary.

Ok, that's pretty specific. I can work with specific. Maybe he's afraid he'll get stuck? He has a gigantic head; it does happen once in a while. I tell him this shirt has an extra big neck, that's why I thought it would be good to practice on.

"That's not why it's scary, Eema," he chokes out. "It's too dark in there."

It's too dark.

Inside the shirt.

And this is where I thank my stars he's too young to know 'Eema's voice is shaking a little' = 'Eema is trying SO.HARD.NOT TO LAUGH IN YOUR FACE.'

I made him do it anyway, giving him a hug between each step. Can they tell when it's sarcastic hugging? I have a lot of practice with that by now; maybe I'm getting away with it.