Wednesday, May 31, 2023

June 1 1:52am (173 weeks and 2.5 days 44 min)

Dear Sonzee, 

I haven't written you a weekly letter for the last 3 weeks. The intention was initially there, and then after Shaina died everything went out the window. It's been a while since I have gone back to this place. The dark whirlwind of grief hole. The one that makes it impossible for me to fall asleep at night. The one that keeps the tears only a blink away. The one where it feels like I left something behind, and that leaves an enormous weight on my chest. It is the place where I want to be a hermit and not be around many people and keep to myself. It makes me exhausted in the way of not wanting to do anything more than the basics of life. I have worked so hard to get passed this place and to where I was 3 weeks ago...but it took less than a second (literally) to erase it all. 

Work finished up for me last week right before Shavuot. It was a nice holiday, I went and said Yizkor for you. On the first day, there was some drama at the shul because of a suspicious box. It ended after the bomb squad had to give the green light for things to continue. We had a mini block party at the house. I was thankful I had made 4 pitchers of cold brew prior to the start of the holiday!

We celebrated Meena's birthday during the last 3 weeks as you know, she turned 10, 2 times an age you never got to be. Tzvi had hockey tryouts and made peewee silver with most of his friends from last season. It is sad one of Tzvi's friends is no longer on the team, I am upset that his mom won't be on the bleachers with me.  I know I will see her around, but it isn't the same.  

We did an impromptu street cleanup Monday. We had to get our 2nd one in asap since we were due already. I asked Aba Sunday if we should go (it was 7am), and he said he wanted to wait until Monday because he wasn't in the right mindset because it was hot because we would go earlier Monday. The only thing accomplished was the mindset because we went at 9am and it was hot. Ms. Tara came with us and was a great help. Ms. Tara, Noam, Meena, and I finished from 7th-16th street in an hour and 20 minutes, and Aba, Tzvi, and Laeya did 16th-7th in the same time. It worked out nicely, and we got a lot of garbage. I do not understand why it is so hard to throw away cigarettes, but then I guess we wouldn't have any garbage to pick up. 

On Tuesday I flew to New Jersey. I have gotten to hang out with Uncle, Hay-Hay, and baby Isla (who as of this moment is officially a one-year-old). She never got to meet you and it still breaks my heart. I went to Meena's friend Sophia's brother's wedding tonight in New York. It was a beautiful affair, and I loved spending time with some of my VV friends. There was a girl in a wheelchair there and I wonder what her diagnosis is. I couldn't stop smiling watching her be pushed around in her wheelchair and dance with everyone. My heart broke when I saw her dancing with Sophia's brother, and while she isn't his sibling, it dawned on me that you won't be at any of your siblings' weddings. Aba said that you would be there in spirit dancing more freely than you could have ever been. It was an attempt to be positive about the reality. I kept in tears, but they were filling up my eyes, and they are coming out now. You missed Laeya's bat mitzvah, and you will miss the others, but I had not even considered weddings yet, and watching this girl dance with everyone pierced my soul. I hate when things like this sneak up on me. 

I hate that I have worked so hard to be where I was and it now seems like I have to start back over again. Why is grief so stinking hard?!  Why is it 1027392 tiny Sonzee-steps forward but an immediate catapult back? Maybe it is better that it all happens at once so when I eventually crawl back out of this Alice in Wonderland hole I won't (hopefully) fall right back down again. Maybe we can get a lot of the hard stuff out of the way now so I can have another 3+ years to build back up to before I fall back down? 

Sometimes your death mirrors your life spectacularly. I remember during your life someone once asked me why I was afraid to have hope or think positively about your future...and I remember the answer being because I was hoping it would make the fall less intense/less harsh/less far. In hindsight, I am unsure if it made anything any easier to cope with, but I won't know because I never had fictional dreams of a life I knew in my soul you wouldn't ever live. Sometimes I feel like it is the same with your death. Except I have allowed myself to get hopeful and to get comfortable in where I am at, so the fall down is extremely harsh. It feels like I am right back at the beginning and it sucks! 

Anyway baby girl. I am going to go attempt to get some sleep. I miss you lots! 

Until next time. 

Love always. 

The Mighty Contributor

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Another double digit day

Dear Sonzee, 

It is 5:55am and I can't shake the thoughts in my head, so here I am writing you a letter to see if it helps. Yesterday was Shaina's funeral and my heart is just so heavy from it all. I feel like I have been transported back in time to 2020. It sucks. I feel all the feels and I know I look it as well because last night at gymnastics I was asked if I was okay. Telling someone I went to another child's funeral had them understand in a second. It sucks. 

Today, your big sister is 10. An entire decade we have gotten to share with her spunky amazing joyous spirit. She was 6 when you died. She had such a challenge even grasping the concept of death that after Aba went with you to the mortuary, she asked me when you and him would be home. I had to remind her that you had just died and wouldn't be coming home. She gets it now. It sucks. 

Today is the 2nd 10th birthday of one of your siblings we have celebrated without you. The only one you lived to see was on the same day you started to die. I didn't anticipate today to continue me on this whirlwind downward spiral of grief, but here we are. It sucks. 

Today continues the period where you and your siblings' birthdays begin to change to even years. You are the birthday that starts that trend; 5, 8, 10, 11, and 13. The lie behind those ages is that you aren't even 8, it is just what we wish you would be. Today the gap just grows more significant between child #3 and baby #5. I guess it is only fitting that you, baby #4 would impart such a significant gap. I choke when I mention your siblings' ages if I mention just 4 of you. 5, 10, 11, and 13. What happened between 5 and 10? That is a huge gap. You happened...literally, you came and you went. You are no longer present. It sucks. 

The next 10th birthday should have been yours. I know it is going to sneak up on me as quickly as these last 3 years have gone by. It sucks. Today shouldn't be the last 10th birthday I get to celebrate with a daughter of mine, but it is, and, it sucks. 

Please come and have donuts with Meena and her class and let her know you are still with her. I know she misses you and wishes you were still here.

I love you baby girl!

Until next time.

Love always, 

PS: This sucks. 

The Mighty Contributor

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Life and death

Dear Sonzee,

It’s a little after midnight and it’s way past what my typical bedtime has been these last few months. My eyes hurt. It’s a combination of the tears I’ve suppressed, the ones that have managed their way out secretly, and the fact that it is way past my bedtime.

It’s hockey tryout weekend and while I was on a lengthy phone conversation with a mom of one of your brothers teammates, while also texting some others, aba walked in to tell me that a daughter of a family in the chabad community, died. 

While I’m continuing to talk with my friend and text about our current life happenings, hockey…and the drama that occurs with it, another child died. It’s a family in our community…one that probably even attended your funeral (I really didn’t keep tabs). I anticipated it to happen…as usual when a child has a rare diagnosis of any sort, especially cancer. Call me Debbie downer, I like to refer to it as realistic Randi. It’s also the only way I know how to process the death when it (undoubtedly) occurs. It makes the heart break “more tolerable” I suppose? 

My mind is mixed with numbness and intense pain. I’m conflicted. Am I crying over their daughter? You? My current status as a bereaved mom? The fact that someone else in this community will now understand my pain? Is it wrong if the tears are for you? Who are they for? What are they for? Why do children have to die?

I struggle. Do I attend the funeral? I can’t. I should. I want to puke at considering going to the same exact pavilion I sat under for your funeral and seeing another child being buried. But, how can I not show support? How do I support myself? Will it make it better? For who even? Which one of us? No. It won’t for either. We just both now get it. We are both members of this awful, shitty(sorry your siblings hear it all the time anyway) club that NO ONE WANTS TO BE PART OF. I just cant process this. 


I don’t get why children die. Why one of them was you. Why one of them is another child of someone I know. How does this keep happening??? 

I want to give her a hug while we both cry, because there might be some sort of comfort in that for both of us. But, maybe she doesn’t want a hug? Maybe she doesn’t want to process that there is an after part now that her daughter died. I hardly understand how I am alive still. But I am. She has other children, so she will find a way too. HOW though? How do we find a way? It’s not normal, it doesn’t make sense.

And then. Then life continues. Because, I continued my conversation about hockey and tryouts with a choked voice but I am an expert in covering up the emotions, so not enough that my friend knew I even got horrible news. Life continues because tomorrow your sister will have her girls pool party for her upcoming 10th birthday and your brother will have his last hockey skate of tryouts. That’s what happens. 

People die. Kids die. You died. But life…life some how, in some way, making zero sense of how life and death seamlessly merge together continues to go on…with a new normal…that constantly makes me pause and reflect at how surreal it is to continue living when your child does not. When you did not.

I love you so very much baby girl and miss you that much more!!! Please welcome Shaina with a big embrace and show her all you’ve learned. Keep her comforted if she’s scared or missed her home, and remember to always be safe and have loads of fun while you’re both pain free.

Until next time.

Love always,

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

170 weeks and 1.5 days

Dear Sonzee, 

Almost 2 days ago we hit the 170-week mark. The weeks that end in 0 and 5 make the distance seem so far away, and then I am reminded that is because it is.  Yesterday we went to a Lag B'Omer event at an indoor trampoline/air park. We had no idea it was so close to the house. Aba still loves to attend the Chabad community events; I don't share the same enthusiasm.  As I sat there staring at Tzvi play basketball with boys, he was a baby with my mind pictured them all as babies and went back to that time in my life. There was a part of me for a split second that felt sad we don't have recent pictures of them all because they don't really run in the same circles anymore.  At the same moment as my mind felt this sadness over that fact, I remembered why I wanted to move away, why it is so hard for me to be around everyone from that community. It is simply, or rather less than simple, but factually, you. Being around that world takes me back to life with you. I saw Tzvi playing basketball, your sisters running around, Noam doing his thing, and then saw you sitting to the left in your wheelchair kicking your legs, sucking on your pacifier and I wanted to run far away.

The world we live in now doesn't involve your physical presence, and it also doesn't involve me having to unpicture you either. There is no spot in the kitchen you ever were pushed around by your brother. There is no room that was yours. There is nowhere outside that you sat. There are only the pieces of you that we brought with us and the physical things we have made from what you left behind. While it brings on a different set of emotions, overall, it is easier to not have it the other way around. 

Yesterday your brother played in his first soccer game. It was beyond adorable, and despite the 5 minutes before the game where his coach emphasized and repeated which direction he should run towards and which goal he was supposed to shoot into, he still ran towards the other goal. Then he stopped and was like, oh, wait. He had such fun, and we had fun watching him. Tzvi skipped hockey to come and support him. 

I have finished cutting and sorting the clothing for the last 3 quilts we will be able to make from your outfits. The only item I couldn't bring myself to include was the pink five shirt. I don't know what I will ever be able to do with it, but for now, it will sit in the pile of a couple more leggings of yours. 

Aba and I finally agreed to have a management company take care of Bear Pines. We officially went live last week. I am still unsure how I really feel about it, but at this point in our lives it is the best thing to do. 

I miss you lots! Hope you are having fun and being safe!

Love always, 

The Mighty Contributor

Monday, May 1, 2023

167 weeks, 168 weeks, and 169 weeks

Dear Sonzee, 

Every Sunday/Monday for the last 3 weeks I have wanted to write you a letter. Every time the day passes by I tell myself on Tuesday-Thursday to find the time. By Friday I tell myself that I will just write to you the following week....then like the one before, that too seems to come and go. So, today, on the first day of the 4th Month of May you will not be part of, I am forcing myself to write.  It also happens to be that it is my first Monday in 11 weeks that I haven't been in a class on Monday night, and that Noam's soccer practice was canceled due to the insane wind that was present today. Maybe that was you yelling at me to remember you. I promise I haven't forgotten about you.

These last 3 weeks have been filled with your siblings in after-school activities and me working every day of the week. I switched to working officially Full time, so I now work Friday as well, I am able to do my work for the day at home if I want, so that is extremely helpful. We have received 2 more "Sonzee blankets", so now Tzvi is the only one remaining to have one made. It brings me happiness with a tinge of sadness when I see your siblings snuggled with their Sonzee bears and blankets. I am so happy that they use them and love them, I am sad that they are the placeholders for what should be a sleepover with you. 

The last 3 weeks I have found myself telling people that I have 5 children and even mentioning that you are no longer alive. A few times I might have left that little fact out of the story and enjoyed the persons' flabbergasted responses wondering how I do it all. If I really think about it and give the grief component the credit it deserves, it is far more challenging to parent 4 alive children and grieve the 5th. I am not ready to really accept that reality though, it would mean I would have to admit how much of the grieving part I choose to push to the side. It is far easier to do that. 

Noam started his first soccer practice last week for a team. He was all excited to get cleats and shin guards. He picked out blue socks and blue laces for his shoes. Aba seems to be embracing the potential of a son of his not playing travel hockey. Maybe embracing is a bit of a stretch, rather I should say he is in the stage of acceptance. I haven't purchased any "soccer mom" paraphernalia just yet, so he is safe for a bit. 

Tzvi has 16 more days until tryouts for next season, his last as a peewee, his last not checking. I am unsure how my brain and heart are going to handle that future, but for now, I will just focus on his last season of being young. He has been attending some skills sessions and we even forced him to take a full week off. He survived. 

Meena has been getting into the grove of being in level 3. She was a bit disappointed because she really wanted to be in level 4 for her first competition season. The truth is, she has all of the skills, but all of the elders felt it was in her best interest to start out with the potential to medal as much as possible to build her self-confidence to start. After her official placement, she went through a mental block and needed a bit of a mental reset, she seems to be rebounding nicely. I am really excited to watch her next year, she is so beautiful to watch!

Laeya has been giving us a fun entry into parenting a teenager. She is keeping us on our toes and we are trying to balance out being fun, and strict while allowing her some new independence in some areas. It is of course confusing to know if we are doing anything right. We probably aren't, but what would she talk to a therapist about as an adult if we did. 

What have you been up to? Did you come to visit Laeya and me in Florida this past weekend? I noticed it was extra windy. We bought you a red/yellow seashell that says Clearwater. Aba attended a funeral today and I meant to ask him to bring it to you, but forgot. A student of mine from FBC went to heaven Friday. Were you there to greet him? Have you and all of your FBC friends welcomed him with open arms? I asked myself today if you all attend classes together wherever you may be. Sadly, we know there are more than enough of you now for that. Do you see Coach Ed at all? Do you still love to swim? What new things have you tried or been up to? 

2 days from now we will complete another month without you here. The days, weeks, and months keep speeding by. I wish I could see you in my dreams, any idea when I might be ready? I could use a glimpse into your world.

I love you and miss you, baby girl!

I will do better with my letters. 

Until next time.

Love always, 

The Mighty Contributor