Happy Birthday Mom

Today passed like I expected it would… with a touch of melancholy.

It was a holiday here, so we would have chatted with mom on FaceTime or Skype so she could see the kids. We would have spent an hour or more sharing woes and laughs. I would have said I sent her cards only yesterday so naturally they would be late… and would have thanked her for the  Father’s Day cards (at least two) that arrived, right on time.

Instead, I had a little cry last night. I thought of all the loved ones also thinking of my mom on this day, her birthday, the first since she passed away last July. I hope they thought of happy memories like I did. She would have been 66. It’s still so hard to believe she’s truly gone. Sometimes it just feels like it’s been a while since we spoke, until it hits me that we will never speak again.

Well, I can still wish her a happy birthday…

I love you mom and miss you every single day. No amount of passing time will change that. I wish we could chat, laugh, hug one last time but my memories will have to get me through now. I took time to make faces and laugh with Logan when I was getting him ready for bed. And I sat and watched Emily dance around and laughed with her before her bedtime. I know that’s what you would have done with them. And I wrote this. For you. Happy Birthday Mom.  

Ending off this day with a smile and feelings of love and warmth rather than tears and grief.



Life Repeats Itself


Let’s see… Christmas was lovely. New Year’s was pleasant. The Carnival season was extremely fun – as always. And my trip to NY was simply perfect. Great, we are all caught up.

Last night I was going to write in my journal about my frustrations (also known as my kids!). Instead, I decided to read some earlier entries. In February of 2013, I wrote about the very same thoughts I have today. Three years later and what has changed? Well there is another child in the mix and my mom is not around to hear my complaints.

I still don’t meditate. I have not started back yoga. Even running is not as enticing as it used to be. Also, I’m not writing much (sad face emoji). Hmmmm… this is a systemic issue. These are all within my control and yet years later I still struggle with a short temper and a wardrobe 1/2 size too small.  Eye opening.

This is not something I would normally talk about ON MY BLOG. I’m not trying to send out negative vibes though. Quite the opposite. I always usually send out love and optimism so I’m hoping this will act as a boomerang and get me back on the right track. Only I can do that for myself, but if I send this message out to the world, shame on me if in three years I’m saying the same things all over again.

Here’s to the journey on this windy road we call life. Don’t go around in circles – “Look kids, Big Ben.” Go forward and love where you’ve been.






LOL – Lots Of Love

This morning I woke up early, came downstairs with intentions to write, and was pleasantly surprised when my husband walked downstairs as well. While our three kids slept, we chatted over coffee. Actually he chatted – a rare occurrence and one of my favorite ways to spend the quiet hours of the morning.

Love brings us through many challenges and difficult times in life. But it doesn’t go it alone. Love’s sidekick “Laughter” takes a back seat but wow, talk about wind beneath wings. A laugh can brighten a mood, cheer up a room, even push out a tear or two. Most importantly, laughing makes you smile. It’s pretty hard not to smile when you are laughing. (I know several silly readers are now trying to laugh without smiling!)

I have at least a million reasons to smile. So that’s what I’m doing. Smiling because of and with… my kids, my husband, my family, my friends, my memories.

I had the most amazing pomegranate the other day… I recalled this short post from January 24, 2013:


I love pomegranates. Every time I start to peel one I think of my mom. We used to eat them together. And I remember how cool I thought it was that every time you pulled another layer off there were more seeds! As a child, it seems never ending and was super fun to eat. 🙂


Just like life. After each layer, there are more seeds. After each chapter, there are more words. After each challenge, there are more obstacles. Such is life, best to just go with it.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.“ – Lao Tzu

Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas. If times are tough right now, I wish for you peace and strength to find the joy in all the love and laughter that surrounds you.




Dusting off the cobwebs… in the house, on the blog, inside my mind.

Therapeutic words have been replaced with tears. The joy of the season is struggling to overcome the sorrow in my heart.

Two of my favorite things to do in life: shopping… and giving. There is one less on my list. One less grandma card for the kids to make. One less card to buy and send. One less phone call to make.

In the past, December has always brought posts about joy, love, this incredible time of wonderment. This year all those things still exist, but with one less to enjoy it with.

I want to write about all the happy things that happen every day. Yet somehow the one looming sadness is all that comes to mind.

I cry… when I fold a fitted sheet because my mom showed me a gazillion times how to do it and I still can’t get it right; when I make meatballs; when I hear the song “See You Again”; when I hang an ornament, look at a photo, recall a memory. So basically, a lot.

The conversation generally goes:

How are you? I’m ok. (Lie, sort of)

I am not ok, but I am. This state of imbalance is uncharted territory.  I can’t even seem to get through a morning car ride or stroll without tears rolling down my face. (WTF)

Recently, I was in NY to take care of estate business. A woman helped me with my mother’s accounts and I think of this complete stranger every day now. She too lost her mom. 13 years ago. Friends have shared their grief and explained to me that the hurt doesn’t go away, you just learn to live with it. Yet, until I spoke with this woman, whom I had never met, it was not clear to me. I have been wondering when I would feel like myself again for months. I finally realize, I will never feel like I did before July 18, 2015. I will always be me, but I will always feel like something is missing. I will always miss my mom.

This marks the first Christmas without her, so it’s a tough one. I am forever grateful for my incredible family: three healthy kids, a loving and supportive husband, dear friends and relatives near and far. The love surrounding me is immense and it will persevere. I just have to hold those I treasure a little tighter.

Wishing all a joyous season. For the grieving, I wish you peace and strength. Love will see you through your time of grief.




On The Edge

I took a deep breath. A very long one. Several weeks long. I thought I was ready to take on the world again… then our family got another bombshell of bad news, which I don’t feel like talking about right this moment. In any case…

I haven’t written much.

I think A LOT though. I think when I’m strolling my baby, when I’m in the car (if the two older ones are not chattering on and on), when I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.

I think about being a step mom and all it’s frustrations, about my uncle who recently received sad news, about my loved ones far away dealing with their own every day lives. I think about my day and my to do list, about my life here in Trinidad, about life in general, about writing. But mostly I think about my mom.

My mom always kept planners and over the years she started writing in them more and more. She mostly wrote what she did or how she felt. Sometimes she let her thoughts transfer on to the pages. There were years of them. I had read all but the last two years before I left NY. I couldn’t keep all. I decided to keep 2014 & 2015. Those are the years we didn’t visit one another.

As I start to read through them little by little, I am immensely comforted. Seeing her handwriting, reading her words, I can hear her speaking them. She wrote the way she thought and spoke… so it fills me with a warmth I didn’t know I needed.

One of our cousins had this brilliant idea to frame my mom’s writing… what a unique and thoughtful gift.


I’ll take that hug with a side of laughter please…

Taking advantage of the better things in life… kids, sunshine, summer.


The thank you cards are sent. The household is sorted through. The ashes are scattered. The seemingly endless To Do list is completed and thus the intermission is over. There was life with mom. Now there is life without mom.

School starts next week. We’ve been back from NY for a few days and mostly I feel like – well it’s hard to explain. I feel uncertain, cloudy. Yet, in my heart, I know I will survive this.

Lovely words, heartfelt emotions, sympathy cards, late night chats. These have started me on my journey past grief. And hugs. Hugs are the hardest. I simply cannot hug a person without a lake forming in my eyes. Very much a part of the process. Very much the opposite of me. It’s a new day.

Just a select few of many:

The day we scattered Mom's ashes...

The day we scattered Mom’s ashes

Maria was lovely….truly. I am grateful that she was part of my life. I tend to turn to quotes during times of sadness or anger, I found this one and thought it fitting.  I know nothing can help but time, but maybe it will help a little.  I love you and miss you!!
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes we’re broken only to discover a rebirth in our lives: a new way of thinking, loving, and cherishing everyone, and every moment we’re blessed with.
I believe you will find the strength that your mom saw in you. And when you do, you’ll realise that the spirit of M is ever-present in your daily life as you hear yourself laugh, and see glimpses of her love in Blaine and the children.


My favorite.

I have a million things to be joyful for and only one to be sad about. And while it is a deep sadness, the love surrounding me will swallow my grief little by little and it will be OK. I will be OK.


When Tomorrow Comes

Today is my 39th birthday. One month ago, I expected to be planning a day with my kids and a night with friends. By now I would have received one (or three) birthday card(s) from my mother because she sent everything early to make sure they reached the recipient on time. Bless her soul, she was the only person I ever knew who was diligent in sending cards in the mail on time.

I have spent the last three weeks sifting through the contents of a house that held 65 years of a life. My mom’s life. The overwhelming amount of “things to do” makes it hard to just grieve. That will come when life settles back into itself. In the meantime I must move forward and tick off item after item on the to do list that should be labeled: “What to do when your mother dies and you are the only child.” It’s daunting.

I look back and can’t believe I’ve made my way through this household of stuff. Things. Almost everyone I talk to about this has now decided to do a massive spring cleaning. I say, do it. I can’t wait to get back to Trinidad and throw away or give away all the stuff. So my kids don’t have to.

While sifting and sorting, every third thought is – I can’t believe this. Because at every turn, I find something she meant to do, something put off for tomorrow, something planned. The suddenness of it all is still unthinkable. I don’t understand my feelings. Parents are supposed to go first. We know, maybe we prepare, but we can never grasp the loss until it happens. And then, there is this space. It’s empty and cannot be filled. I am no longer whole. How can that be?

I wrote a little something to say at my mom’s memorial service…

A little girl born in Miglianico, Italy, Maria Concetta Lo Russo brought joy to her parents Antenisca & Tomasso and her big sister Bianca. At age five, she moved to America with her family and spent the rest of her childhood growing up in The Bronx.  

As little girls, Maria & Bianca would fight as siblings often do but remained close throughout the years. 

When she became pregnant she moved to Long Island to be near her sister, brother-in-law, nephew and parents. And at 26 years old, she became a mother. 

She was a lover of all things related to the Mets (specifically Gary Carter & Mike Piazza). She adored Humphrey Bogart’s movies, Bob Dylan’s records, and Barack Obama’s everything. She introduced me to Scrabble, Cary Grant, and Abbott & Costello. She loved music and often put on a record while getting ready for work in the morning.  And her collection of elephants is unparalleled. 

She was independent and content to be on her own. But she loved her family and although she always said she wasn’t good with kids, she was a star with ours. She offered patience, love & hugs for Aidan, Emily & Juliette and would have done the same for Logan.   

She taught and allowed me to make my own decisions in life, supporting me at every turn. When I moved out of NY, she traveled to see me and when I moved out of the country, she got her passport and visited as much as she was able. 

She loved pearls and her favorite color was pink, soft and beautiful just like she was.  

My first best friend, my biggest fan.

Maria, Mary, März, Cet Cet, Zia Maria, Grandma, Mom, 

I choose to believe you are in heaven watching over us, smiling & laughing as our children  make new memories. We wish you were here with us, that you had more years to spend more time. But this is out of our hands. We will treasure the times we’ve shared with you, the infectious laughter we can still hear, and you will be remembered. Always. Through us, you will remain Forever Young. I love you mom.  

And now it’s tomorrow.