Friday, May 25, 2007


Thank you all for your prayers and kind words for my nephew. His surgery for the tracheotomy went as planned and he has been recovering in a rehabilitation facility. Although hopes of him being able to speak again were slim, his mother answered the phone yesterday to hear "Hi Mom, how are you?" Since communication is all Robbie has, this was a victory for the warrior.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


“Here comes another.” I smile, tipping my head toward the entrance. My mom glances over her shoulder and smiles a confirmation. “It’s so funny,” I say, “You can tell right away; they look alike.” We watch pair after pair of mother and daughter enter the coffee shop from our window alcove table; our Mother’s Day tradition in full swing.

The younger mothers, we observe, are accompanied by an entourage of toddlers, strollers and husband, but the seasoned mothers have learned to take Mother’s Day at a different pace. I take a bite of my smoked turkey and pesto wrap and watch the unhurried pace of the people outside. Mother’s Day is always the same for us. We slip off without a reservation, a plan or a particular direction. We usually end up discovering wonderful shops we had not taken the time to visit, pieces of art to marvel at and a great sandwich shop or Mexican hideaway. The most important rule on Mother’s Day is that there are no rules.

This Mother’s Day stands out as special to me. We delighted in a perfect lunch at Cilantros and window shopped all over the green, but the treasure I found was not in any of those places. It was in the company of my mother.

Our relationship as mother and daughter has evolved over the years; somehow ever constant and yet ever changing. My mother was a balance of nurture and stringent. She taught us to be responsible, and at the same time was there to pick up the pieces when we faltered. She sat through hundred of baseball and football games, rain or shine. She spent an eternity at the dance studio and the doctor’s office, school concerts and conferences. She could sew anything, bake everything saw to it that we kept clean rooms.

Through my rebellious years, I swore I’d never be like her. During my new mother years, I tried my hardest to do it all just like her. Now that my children are older and there is more room in a day for me to be me, I realize how assimilated we have become. Our bond is no longer a balance of needs and authority; we have reached equilibrium.

Being in my mother’s company for me now is like slipping into a well-worn pair of faded jean; the ones that fit perfectly and make me feel great. It’s like coming home to the smell of cookies baking or a rainy day with a good book. Conversation is easy and unnecessary. We communicate as easily with a look or a gesture as with words and there are no boundaries; no judgment. I managed to string this Mother’s Day out into several days with my mother; like faded jeans, warm cookies and a rainy day book all together.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Robbie's surgery was sucessful and he is fighting hard to heal.
Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Twenty-two is about college graduation.
Twenty-two is about starting real life; building futures and families.
Twenty-two is about being at the top of your game.

I sit in the presence of a warrior; awed and humbled by his strength.
Twenty-two for him is the fight of his life; the fight for his life.

I do not know other people who recognize the gift of life this way.

We complain about our lives and the trials and toils. We feel unfulfilled by the gifts bestowed on us, always yearning and striving for more. We grumble about having to get up out of bed, and yet, this warrior before me has not had that privilege in many years.

The machines that surround him beep and hiss a gentle sound; white noise blurring one moment into the next, whispering the rhythms of his body. Intibated, the machine beside him has taken over where his lungs have left off. He speaks through his eyes.

I make endless conversation, wondering if I am a nuisance. His eyes never unlock from mine as I share stories about his cousins. The tiny nods of his head tell me he wants me to continue. We finally get down to serious discussion. “This sucks.” I tell him. He nods. “This really, really sucks!” I look down at his body, 67 pounds of courage.

The nurse in green scrubs enters with a chart and a greeting; a strong and kind young man with an easy smile and sincere eyes. He asks for a pain level in numbers. Five tiny frail finger tips twitch and pain medication is discussed. The balance between comfort and safe blood pressure levels leave the warrior needing to endure the pain.

Muscular Dystrophy/ Duchene’s Disease: a cruel disease, chiseling slowly away at the muscles until they are rendered useless, yet allowing the seemingly lifeless limbs to feel every bit of pain. Trapped as a prisoner of war, he fights; inside lies an unbendable will of steel that the disease cannot touch.

On schedule, the nurse beckons an assistant to help to move him, shifting his aching body into a different position to lessen the stiffness. He attempts to communicate with his lips over the tube that bends his mouth open. The kind nurse is good at this communication and understands the directions.

“Perhaps I should go so you can get some rest,” I offer, to which he responds with a definitive shake of the head. “You want me to stay?” I ask. He nods and mouths the words “I’m scared.”

I tell him that he is the toughest and bravest guy I know; a fighter, not a quitter. He nods ferociously, devouring the words of encouragement as fuel. Tomorrow they will operate. They will put in a permanent tracheotomy with a breathing regulator to keep his lungs functioning.

A difficult decision.

A frightening prospect.

The alternative is to stop breathing; unacceptable to my warrior who holds the precious gift of life dearly in his strong heart and busy mind.

At days end, I tell him that I must leave. Again we play the lip reading game and I understand this time. “Thank You.” he mouths.

“For what,” I ask, “I’m lousy at this and have twisted you in knots and am no good at charades.”

“For coming,” he mouths.

I walk away inspired.

I think of all of the people I know, myself included, who take for granted our very link with this life. The warrior is enlightened to so much through the walls of his prison body. He is a shining example of strength, dignity and courage; a role model for the weak. I feel privileged to have shared his company today, and tuck a little of that strength into pocket as I walk to my car.
The above is about my nephew Robbie, undergoing surgery today. Please keep him in your prayers...