There they were – staring at me, screaming at me to take just one more. Pink frosted, vanilla frosted, chocolate frosted, jelly, glazed, powdered, and my favorite – chocolate glazed. I had already eaten one. Dare I eat another?
I had never worried about things like this before. I have a fast metabolism. Since I was a kid, I have been able to pretty much eat whatever I want without gaining much weight.
Dessert was always my favorite. Brownies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, any kind of candy.
My house was the junk food house. The kids whose refrigerators were filled with only fruits and vegetables would knock on my door whenever they craved something sweet.
Donuts are my biggest weakness. There is something about that fried, fluffy dough with that ooey gooey glaze that I just can’t resist.
Recently, I have come to realize that the diet I have always lived on may not be the best one. While weight gain may not have been my problem, there obviously can be other issues when your diet is not as healthy as it should be.
I needed to make a change. It was time for a healthier lifestyle.
I began a yoga practice, and fell in love with it. It helped to make my body stronger and my mind more relaxed.
Yoga was the easy part. The next change would be more difficult: my diet.
I switched to whole grain breads and pasta, started eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and have made other positive changes.
The most challenging thing for me was resisting anything sweet. I replaced the candy and cookies with fruit, which satisfies my craving most of the time. But when I am faced with my favorite desserts, I sometimes cannot help myself.
No one is perfect every day. Old habits are hard to break. When that box of donuts is sitting in front of me, I can’t resist. I will take one, sometimes two.
That’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day. Who knows what it will hold? Healthier eating, maybe even starting a juice cleanse.
We all try. Try to live a healthy lifestyle, try to work out, try to eat well. Some days are easier than others.
I embrace my inner struggle with sweets. I am not perfect, and more than happy to admit it.
So, one day I stumbled upon this top which read “Somewhere Between a Donut and a Juice Cleanse” by Om & Ah London. Naturally, I had to have it.
I proudly wear my new favorite tank to yoga class, and then to my stop at Dunkin on the way home 😊.
If you happen to think this top is as adorable as I do, or love any of the great stuff at Om & Ah London, please feel free to use my code PINK10 to get 10% off.
I remember in the first few weeks after Howie died, a close friend said to me “I don’t know how you are doing it. I don’t think I could get out of bed if I was in your place.”
I also remember my response being “Yes you would. You are no different than I am. You are a mother and we do what we have to do for our kids.”
I meant it then and I still mean it now. For most of the women that I know. We do what we have to do.
So in those first few weeks, I wanted to stay in bed under the covers and not get up all day. Who wouldn’t? But if I did that, how would my kids get up? How would they go to school? How would they know that we had to move forward, even if we didn’t want to? So I got up, got them up, and made them go to school. And I either went to work or did whatever needed to get done that day.
Believe me, this was no easy task. For myself, as well as for them. Once I would get them to school. I worried all day. And on about half of those days, I would get a call from the middle school saying that Amanda wanted to come home. Some days I was able to talk her into staying. But on the others, I would go pick her up because she just couldn’t be there.
Now, I myself look back on that time and don’t understand how I did it either. But the truth is, I was almost robotic. I got up and did whatever I had to do on any given day because I didn’t have a choice. We needed to live so that’s what we did. But living and being alive are two different things. Everything I did was because I had to, not because I wanted to.
Weeks turned to months, and months to years. Of course time makes things better. There were plenty of happy moments in that time. But I was not this pillar of strength that I tried to pretend to be. The smile on my face was sometimes so fake that it hurt. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it and believe me, I made some very big mistakes.
Now I can truly say that I feel strong. I have become my own person in the past year and I love that. It didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual. My life is far from perfect – I still have plenty of bad moments, but they are much fewer and more far between.
In the past couple of weeks I ran into two different women that I know. One is just starting to go through a divorce and one is very recently divorced. I also had a conversation with a widow that I am friendly with. All three of these women are going through a difficult time at the moment, each for different reasons. I could see myself in all of them. I was where they all are for a very long time, probably too long.
I wish that none of us had to go through that pain. But as much as I was faking that strength for so long, it must have been in me somewhere because it eventually came out. I know it will come out for each of them also. Sometimes it appears when you least expect it.
I am so very proud to say that everything I have been through has brought me to my writing and now being published. Check out my articles
Not only does it “take a village to raise a child”, it sometimes also takes a village to help someone get through a traumatic experience, tough time etc.. I am lucky enough to have the best village in the world. I only hope that others are as lucky as I have been to have people in their lives that support them in hard times. I feel like I should recognize those who have done so much for me…
My next door neighbors who are also my amazing friends – I don’t know what I would have done without them the night that it happened. They were by my side every minute and while I’m sure it was horrible for them as well, they didn’t show it – they were just there to support me. And not just that night – they have done so much for me ever since Howie died. I once called Steve in hysterics while he was watching a football game because my sump pump broke (I had no idea what a sump pump even was) and was flooding my basement. He came running over to help me. I am so thankful that years ago I told them about the house next door to me that was for sale – and that they actually bought it! Best neighbors in the world!
My parents who came running from Long Island to be with me the night it happened, and stayed for a week to help us. It annoyed me so much during that week when my father was obsessed with getting an alarm installed in my house and having my garage cleaned out. It turns out he was right to be obsessed. I am so thankful to put my car in the garage, especially in the winter, and to be able to set the alarm at night. They have also been there for me ever since. Even at 50, sometimes it helps to hear your mom’s voice.
My sister and her family who also stayed every night the first week, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy with two little kids. I know my sister is always there for me and supports me in everything I do. She also keeps Howie’s memory alive for my niece and nephew, which I so appreciate.
My in-laws who have gone through hell themselves. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for them, but they are always there for the girls and I. They are soooo helpful to us in so many ways. Just last week I called my father in law because Amanda had a little “fender bender” and he was right there to take her to the collision place to get an estimate. I am really so grateful to have them.
My amazing friend (and her husband) who always understands what the girls and I are going through. I believe she came into my life so many years ago for a reason. Her father passed away when she was 12 (same age that Amanda was) and she just “gets it” in a way that someone who hasn’t been there cannot. I also have to add her mom – who came to talk to me in the beginning and told me her story. I remember so much of what she said back then and little bits and pieces of it help me all the time.
My best friend who walked into my house late that night after we got home from the hospital and cleaned the dishes that had been sitting out when it happened. She also called the funeral home and started making arrangements while I was in shock and still didn’t realize what was going on. We have been friends since second grade and I don’t know what I would have done without her these past years, and actually my whole life! We have been through everything together.
Two especially close friends and their husbands who are beyond good to me. They take me to dinner with them, we have gone on vacations with them – they have truly made an effort to keep my girls and I in their lives. They call me, check on me, help me when needed, listen to me when I want to talk, and are always interested in what and how I am doing. They also have patience for me when I sometimes withdraw and don’t reach out. They never give up on me which I am grateful for. Amazing friends.
Howie’s extended family who keep us in their lives. I am so happy that we are still cared about and included. Especially a few wonderful cousins who have made sure that my girls have nicer pocketbooks than their mother, and that Amanda got the most beautiful prom dress!
My aunt who even though I don’t see that often, always seems to understand me. Probably because her mom (my grandmother) also lost her husband (my grandfather) at a young age and she remembers what she went through. And she never gets mad when I don’t call!
Howie’s friends who have also kept me in their lives. They have been there for me, each in their own way, and have honestly helped me through a lot of things that I might not have been able to handle on my own. Howie loved his “boys” and I understand why.
All of my “old friends”. These friends I have known most of my life and I know they would do anything for me, as I would for them. What they have done most is make me smile and laugh when we see each other. It’s almost as if I am 16 again when we are together and I can forget my problems just a little. I am so thankful that we all have this special bond.
All of my “local friends”. They celebrate my birthdays with me, meet me for lunch, dinner, coffee, call, text, etc. and have just stayed my friends where others might have run away. They have driven my carpools when I couldn’t, taken my kids when needed, and are just there for me in general. People can say what they want about my town but there are amazing people in it.
The person in my life who stuck around when others would have disappeared. He has had more patience than I deserved sometimes. We probably met a little too early for me and I just “wasn’t ready” yet. I realized that I was ready almost a little too late – but I am glad that I did realize it and now I am happy that it seems to all be working out.
Don’t laugh – my dog. I think those with pets might understand this a little. He has brought a sense of happiness back into our house that might not be there otherwise. He makes the three of us smile everyday – and some days that is very needed.
Most importantly my daughters. They are the light of my life and my reason to be happy. They help me as much as I help them and I love them both more than anything.
I have just read this entire post back to myself and it might sound a little like I am accepting some kind of award that I haven’t received. I just wanted to acknowledge that so many people have been there for me for so long, and even if I don’t say it often, I am so very appreciative. That being said – I would now like to thank the Academy……..well I can dream can’t I?
I remember back to that first night in the hospital thinking “how am I going to do this alone?”. I also remember crying to one of Howie’s friends and saying “who is going to help Amanda with her homework?”. It might seem strange for that to be one of my first thoughts but I think my fear was really about how the girls and I were going to get through life without him. It seemed impossible back then and honestly sometimes it still does.
Right now I am extremely stressed. A lot of it is normal parenting stress that I am sure many of us have. Lily is just getting over a stomach virus and I am sure will have a lot of schoolwork to make up which gives her stress. Amanda is very anxiously awaiting her final ACT scores and finishing up her college applications. I know that the waiting process on that will be unbearable. There are other issues that I am sure they would not appreciate me mentioning, so I won’t. And of course a million other little problems going on in all three of our lives.
About four years ago someone I am close with was upset with me for something. I remember saying to her “My only priority is making sure that my girls grow up to be healthy, happy, well adjusted, successful people. I just can’t handle more than that.”. At that point there really wasn’t room in my life for much else. Over time, and with a little guidance, I have slowly learned to make room for other things. I have learned coping skills that I did not have in the beginning. But when a lot of stress creeps up on me at once, I do still tend to get a bit overwhelmed. There are a lot of decisions to be made and issues to be handled that will be done by just me. This can be terrifying. What if I handle something incorrectly? What if I make the wrong decision? There will be no one to share the blame with. Of course I always have people that I can turn to and ask for advice and I definitely do that. My parents, my in-laws, my sister, my friends, and now my boyfriend (wow I actually wrote that). They are all super helpful and I always take their opinions into account. But as I said once a long time ago, there will never be another person in the world that will love my girls as much as I do. To me that is one of the saddest and scariest things about being a young(ish) widow.
I have discovered that I am a strong, capable woman. I have handled much more than I ever thought possible. But when I look into the future (which I try not to do) and think of things that might go wrong, I sometimes think I would not know how or be able to handle them. Something happened just the other day that made me think.about this. A very close friend of mine has a daughter who just moved into an off campus apartment at college. The craziest thing happened to her – the entire ceiling of her bedroom came crashing down – while she luckily wasn’t in it. Thankfully she was ok – which was most important. As soon as it happened her parents drove to the school to help her handle the situation. I am sure there were a million things to be done. Making sure she was truly ok, dealing with a landlord, finding a new apartment, her things being destroyed, etc. I adore her parents and I am sure they were able to handle the situation in the very best way – they are fabulous. But my mind goes to “What if something like that were to happen to one of my girls? How would I handle that alone?”. I always try to deal with the here and now and not look into “what if’s” but that is a challenge to do sometimes.
So in the here and now I am stressed. Believe me I have been a lot more stressed than this over much bigger things, but stress is stress nonetheless. I worry about my girls probably double than most because I feel like I need to worry for myself and their dad (I am not trying to compare – I know everyone worries about their kids – I’m just saying that I am not sharing the burden). But I will pull out my best coping skills and deal with what needs to be dealt with. I need to remember not to catastrophize (which I have been told I do) and put things into perspective. Lily will make up her schoolwork, and Amanda will go to college somewhere. The other issues will hopefully work out as well. I will “just breathe” and get through the stress the best way I can.
And I do have a few years before I need to worry about off campus housing and falling ceilings – just happy for now that my friend’s adorable daughter is ok!
Howie died in 2011. It seems to me that since then, so many celebrities have passed away. Maybe it isn’t an unusual amount but that is how it appears to me. It’s possible that I am just more cognizant of it than I was before.
Clarence Clemons passed away just a few months before Howie did and he was very upset by it (he was a huge Springsteen fan). I remember thinking it was sad but it didn’t really affect me. Very shortly after Howie passed away, Whitney Houston died. I got so upset about this. I obviously did not know Whitney Houston but I thought it was such a loss. I just didn’t understand why it was affecting me the way it was. Possibly because of the state I was in regarding my own loss? Or maybe just because her music was part of the soundtrack to so much of my life? Possibly both? Who knows.
Shortly after that, Donna Summer died. I reacted to this even worse than Whitney Houston. I think I actually cried! It was almost as if a little part of my past was gone. I loved my disco in the late 70’s and early 80’s and she was the queen. It was like the death of an era.
So many others after that – Robin Williams, James Gandolfini (and his death struck me as so similar to Howie’s), Joan Rivers, Dick Clark. Each one upset me to some extent. I am not one of those who posts on Facebook about it for days or take to my bed because a beloved celebrity dies. These are not friends or family members – I’m not that crazy! But the fact that this upsets me as much as it does is strange to me. Maybe other people react this way also but I do not remember reacting like this before Howie passed away. I do remember and still know that I have always been super-sensitive. Howie used to tease me that I would cry at a rough McDonald’s commercial! I think I became even more sensitive about the subject of death after Howie died – that might be where all of this is coming from.
More recently, Prince and David Bowie both passed away. Again, icons that I grew up with, music that is such a part of my life. I was sad about both. But David Bowie really hit me in a different way. I liked David Bowie but I certainly wasn’t his biggest fan (although one of my favorite memories is dancing at Studio 54 to “Let’s Dance” while the video played on the big screen, and when the line “put on your red shoes and dance” came on, my best friend and I pointed to the red pumps that we were both wearing and started laughing. Sorry – had to throw in a Studio 54 memory). But for some reason David Bowie’s death really disturbed me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a while.
So why David Bowie? I think it’s as simple as this – not only was it about his music, it was about his personal life. He was married to the same woman for years and they seemed very happy. He had two teenage children. Sound familiar? I guess they reminded me of my family – although Howie certainly had no musical talent and I certainly do not look like Iman! But I think I related them to me – that it must be such a loss for his wife and kids. It’s the same feeling I get when I hear that a friend of a friend (or someone like that) loses her husband and their kids lose their father – it’s empathy. I hate to hear about anyone going through this because it just sucks.
So now when I hear a Whitney Houston, or Prince, or Donna Summer, or David Bowie song, it’s sad to think that they are gone. But the music still makes me want to put on my red shoes and dance…
**P.S. – I wrote this a few days ago. Strangely coincidentally, the following morning I happened to catch Iman’s first interview since her husband’s death. It was just a short interview at the Tom Ford fashion show. The interviewer asked how she and her kids were doing, and then commented on what a strong woman she is. Her response was “I’m not as strong as I appear”. Those are my sentiments exactly. We do what we have to do – but it’s not easy.
For as long as I can remember, summer has been my favorite time of year. Maybe because I was a summer baby – born in July. I love the warm weather and absolutely hate the cold. From the beach club growing up on Long Island, to camp, to spending days on the beach and nights at Paddy McGees in my 20’s (I know some of you know what I’m talking about), to Fire Island and Hamptons sharehouses – summer has always been associated with fun and relaxation in my mind. It was my happy time. Howie felt the same way I did and we loved our summers. Before the girls were born and after, we took weekend getaways or just went to the beach often (although not as easy in NJ as it was on Long Island) and loved to eat dinner outdoors. I always felt a sadness around Labor Day.
I never thought anything would change that – it’s just the way I was. But I think Howie’s death did. My last few summers just haven’t been the same. The summer partner I had for 20 years was no longer here to enjoy it with me. I didn’t sit at home and cry all day – I still had beach days and dinners and weekends away with girlfriends which were always fun. But the leisurely, fun, spontaneous, joyful feel wasn’t there like it was in past summers for me.
There were so many summer things that felt a little emptier. First of course, my summer birthday. My friends and family always made sure to be around and take me out and make me feel special, but it just isn’t the same as celebrating with a special person in your life, either with a bunch of friends or just the two of you. Something was always missing.
The other thing that stands out in my mind is Lily’s camp visiting day. The day when all the parents go up to visit their child(ren) who are at sleep away camp for seven weeks. I never loved that day even when Howie was alive. I don’t want anyone to get all judgy, or Lily to get insulted (even though she knows this already) about this. Most parents of sleep away kids will say it is their favorite day of the year blah blah. I am just being honest – OF COURSE I love to see her. I miss her terribly when she is gone. But you drive 3 1/2 hours to park a mile away and schlep a ton of stuff up a hill. Then, I am thrilled to see her for an hour or so. I love to see how happy she is and hear about her summer. But being there from 10 am to 4 pm is way too long to sit outside and walk around in 90 degree weather. Especially when you have a child that is not athletic like Lily. There isn’t much to do. Honestly as she’s gotten older I think she is happy when the day is over and she gets on with her summer. But since Howie is no longer here, I actually dread it (I am clarifying – I don’t dread seeing Lily – I dread the day). Because now Amanda and I drive up (at the crack of dawn) and back by ourselves, and then carry stuff that weighs more than we do up the hill. Every time we get up there I am shocked that we made it without an injury! And then of course everyone around us looks like big happy families having the time of their lives (this of course may or may not be the reality but it is the appearance). It’s just another time that reminds me that something and someone is missing. And let’s face it – Lily is a fifteen year old girl in her favorite place with people that she loves – she doesn’t really need me there. It’s just a tough day.
There are a lot more summer things that just haven’t been the same. Spontaneous outdoor dinners, get togethers with friends etc. The past few years I have actually been looking forward to Labor Day – something I never thought I’d say! I wanted the regular routine of the year to start again – it felt safer somehow.
This summer was the first time in a long time that I almost felt like my old self, which shocked me. This July I turned 50 and it was something I thought I would be miserable about, but I wasn’t at all. I almost felt like I can start a new chapter. Again, not move on but move forward. I took two mini vacations with two separate groups of girlfriends and I truly just relaxed and had fun. I have been spending time with someone special in my life, including my birthday, and that makes me happy. Plus – guess what – Lily was away from camp on visiting day so I didn’t have to go!!! :). And as I write this, I happen to be away in Aruba with my family and really having a great time.
It is a great feeling to know that my love for summer hasn’t disappeared. Although it’s never going to be the same, I had a really good summer and I am actually kinda dreading Labor Day…
When I was 16 my friend Laura’s mom passed away from complications from Lupus. We weren’t the closest friends but we were friends. I am sure that her mom was sick before we were 16 but that is the age that comes to mind for me. I remember her Sweet 16 being the day after mine, and if I remember correctly she had moved the date up because her mom wasn’t doing well. She passed away shortly after that.
We lost contact probably when we went to college. All these years later, she and I are now Facebook friends. She seems happily married with beautiful children. A few weeks ago, she commented on one of my blogs that I posted on Facebook. It was such a nice comment and I was so touched. This got me thinking about her losing her mom when we were kids, and about my kids losing their dad now. About all kids that lose a parent. About how other kids handle things and react to them, and adults as well. And about how times are so different.
It can be hard to remember how you felt about something from when you were 16. I am trying to remember how I felt and how I acted when Laura’s mom died.. All I remember is feeling bad for her around the time of our Sweet 16’s. I remember thinking how hard it must be to celebrate when something like that is going on in your life. I also remember her looking happy that day and having a good time. But that’s it. I don’t remember saying anything to her when her mom died. I don’t remember paying a shiva call. I might have and I hope I did, but I don’t remember. And if I didn’t, I actually feel bad about it now. I texted her today to tell her that I am writing about this. She told me that her house was robbed two days after her Sweet 16 – while they were visiting her mom in the hospital! And then her father passed away when she was 19. I can’t even imagine how tough that all must have been for her. But it is crazy to me that I didn’t know these things.
I was 16 and still pretty much a kid back then, but looking back now as an adult I can’t believe how clueless I was. I can’t help thinking that I should have been nicer, done more etc.. I also wonder if her closest friends did more for her, were more supportive. Then I think about my kids when Howie died. They were much younger, only 10 and 12, but they both had friends that were really good to them. They came to sit shiva often, brought them little presents, and were just there for them – as much as kids that age can be. I think a large part of it was their parents being so good to me, so the kids were led by example. I also think it was a different time back in the 80’s when Laura’s mom died. There was no social media, you didn’t always know everything that was going on with everyone. Plus our parents were different, they weren’t as involved as we are now.
But as time goes on, life goes back to normal for everyone around us. This is when my girls would sometimes get upset about things their friends did or said. I just want to make it clear that nothing has been done purposely or in a mean way. Their friends just might not understand that their dad’s death affects my girls (or anyone else in this situation) every single day in all kinds of ways. So on Father’s Day when 500 pictures pop up on Instagram of everyone’s dads and how much they love them, it does bother them. Or when they talk about all the fun things they did on vacation with their dads. Or when it may be harder for one of my girls to do something because they only have one parent, and friends aren’t that understanding. Kids are kids and they are not always sensitive. Teenagers maybe even less so. So unless it’s something terrible, I have just explained to my girls that they probably don’t realize what they are doing and they do not mean them any harm.
But I do expect a little more from adults around my kids. While for the most part people have been more than kind, there are those who just don’t think. My girls have been pointed at and stared at often, especially in the beginning. This was so disturbing to them. There was one instance when Amanda was in the office of her middle school waiting for me to pick her up. There was a couple in the office waiting for their appointment. One of them motioned towards Amanda and said “that’s the girl whose father died” loud enough for Amanda to hear. She came out of school crying. I wanted to kill them. I called the school to find out who they were but they said they didn’t know (I have a feeling they just didn’t want to tell me).
One of my best friend’s lost her dad when she was twelve. I did not know her then, but there has been no one more understanding of my girls and their feelings than she is. I’m sure it is because she has been there. I hope that one day my girls will be the same way if they are ever in that situation. And as for me – I have learned to be a lot more understanding than when I was 16. 🙂