One Year Later

by Lee on April 10, 2014

I originally wrote this at the end of March. I delayed posting it because I wanted to extend the joy of celebrating Fish’s birthday. I am eternally grateful that my mother did not die on her granddaughter’s birthday. Time passes, the pain eases, but I still want to remember.

A close up of my grandparents grave maker with my mother's information addedA week and one year ago today at 8pm. My phone rang with a call from Massachusetts General Hospital that would forever change my life.

Your mother is dying, how do you want to proceed.

It was the start of 3 of the worst weeks of my life. A year later, I’m still here to tell the tale maybe stronger for it. I miss the mother who raised me, I don’t miss worrying about the medically fragile woman who would refuse to answer her phone for days on end.

It still hits me out of the blue that she’s gone usually during the good times. Which is good, because she really was a good mother when it mattered most. She gave me a strong foundation upon which to build strong relationships that continue to nurture and support me.

She had a will, but no assets, in general that made the process of disposing of her estate relatively easy, but it wasn’t without it’s bumps. Have you had the talk? Do you have a healthcare proxy? What about a Living Will? Durable Power of Attorney? A will? If you answered no to any of these questions get thee to an attorney PROMPTLY.

Hell even one of those online websites is better than nothing. It’s not for you, you’ll be gone, having your end of life matters in order is a gift for the people who love you. Do it. Do it NOW!!

It’s unfortunate that Fish’s birthday and the anniversary of my mother’s death are only one day apart but it is better than the alternative. I would rather focus on the joy and potential that is my daughter, but I never want to forget woman who played a huge role in the mother I am today.

My mother and I and my college graduation.



by Lee on April 2, 2014

Dear Fish,

Wow, it’s hard to believe another year has passed and I am once again writing your birthday post. Yet, when I stop and look back, it’s been quite a year hasn’t it?

Pictures of Fish, making waffles, floating on a lazy river with her Dad & being FISH

The day after you turned 13, my mom, your grandmother, Muzzie died. This was your first experience with the death of someone close to you. Although that night will go down as one of the worst of my life, I knew as it was unfolding, you would be ok. I asked you to try and find your grandparents while I talked with the hospital on the phone about Muzzie’s end of life wishes. You made the calls I asked and then asked if I needed anything else. When I said No, you said “Good, I need my friends right now.” Dealing with death is hard, but it is a challenge that happens to all of us many times over. Seeking and receiving support from those close to us is the key to making it through any life challenge. When you were able to articulate that need and take the necessary steps to get the support you needed, I felt a feeling of pride amongst the chaos.

We already had a lot going on that month, but Muzzie’s death and the Marathon bombing threw a wrench in the works. It was bumpy, but we made it through. One of the bright spots for me came not too long after she died. It was the day we spent in New York City. We happened by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and you seemed to understand why I needed to go in an light a candle. Thanks for holding my hand. Your maturity regularly amazes me.

Fish throughout 2013

Your food sensitivities have definitely presented some challenges (how many days in a row can a girl really be expected to eat fruit, bacon and home fries for breakfast?). But you took a trip to Washington with school for a week and with advanced planning managed beautifully. You are owning it and making the best of it.

Sadly, you have inherited your mother’s lack of grace, and you’ve had two concussions in the last year. The first one took 30 days to clear. We thought that was a long time, until this time. We’re going on two months and your patience is definitely being tested.

You are THIS close to your first degree brown belt in karate and will test for it as soon as you are cleared to return to activities.

You made your first self-funded major purchase this year. You saved your money from gifts and babysitting and bought an iPad Mini, a case, and Applecare. It has now become one of your tools for success in school (when you DON’T have a concussion).

Fish being fish

Speaking of school you are doing well. This is the first year where you’ve encountered some resistance to your efforts. You’ve risen to the challenge and learned valuable lessons about working with people, both peers and leaders. Next year you are headed to a science and technology charter school. It’s a new path, not without risks, but we’re all excited about the opportunity for you. There will be challenges, but Dad & I will be here to support you as you take steps towards defining what it is you want from life.

Regardless of what the future holds for you, I have no doubt you will go far. Not too long ago, you announced you might want to be a Supreme Court Justice. You worked the path from law school back to high school. I can say with certainty that neither your father nor I thought that far ahead when we were your age. You go girl!

You have a style that is all your own. Nothing matches and everyone knows you for it. You have developed a wonderful sense of humor. By way of example. Two weeks after you got the second concussion it was hat day at school. You wore a ski-helmet. The teachers and the nurse wanted to credit me with the choice, but that was all you baby.

By far one of my favorite memories of you from the past year was when you found out we were going on a Disney Cruise. That is an expression I will cherish for ever.

When you are a parent, a small part of you wants to protect your child from the pain and challenges of life. You want them to live a charmed life where they always succeed and never worry. That’s not possible and it’s not healthy. Facing challenges an necessary part of succeeding in life. You are already demonstrating your strength and persistence and that makes Dad and I very proud.

I can’t wait to see what 14 has in store for you.

Happy Birthday.




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