Saturday, March 26, 2011

a rose by any other name

I have been to two Catholic funerals in as many months. At both occasions, I tried to observe with as un-hethonistic an eye as possible, the piousness, the traditions, and the faith of the mourners as they took part in a farewell Mass for their loved ones. I'm a firm believer that we can imbue life with whatever meaning we want, so why not dig deep into every moment and see what turns up? To say that there were many profound moments at Alyssa's funeral today is the understatement of the year. Her mother asking that we all be a little more kind as a legacy for her daughter, the Priest sincerely upset that he had to console a family who had been there 6 months prior to bury Alyssa's brother, the trembling voices of her friends as they read scripture. In the background of all of these moments were the mourners with clasped hands either holding back..or not, their tears.
As I took all of this in, I couldn't help but find beautiful interpretations for things I didn't understand. The incense produced a cloud of smoke that rose up into the heavens, but for me, it represented a physical presence that we could all see, a common vision that seemingly disappeared. I was sitting in the back of the church, so it took a couple minutes for it's aroma to reach me. Then it occurred to me that there it was again, the same presence, nothing had actually changed in it, it was just diluted into the air and had become perceptible through a different sense, yet in a way that was still common to us all. Maybe we aren't capable with our meager 5 senses to perceive what happens to the essence of people when they die, but it was a very moving realization for me that if we keep an open mind, then we keep open the possibility of finding our friends brushing up against us in the wind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


You can take our friends, but you can't take their spirit. You can take our lives, but we'll shine on regardless. You can silence our mouths, but our hearts will continue to beat in those who love us. You can win some battles but we'll win this war.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alyssa Ann Acquafredda

"I don't understand this Cor, how can they be telling me that everything looks so bad when I hardly feel anything?" These were the last words that Alyssa said to me a couple weeks ago. Alyssa was going to be the one who beat this beast, she knew she would and because of that, she did. I could say how much she meant to me, how much I respected her, how she was my hero, how I'd never met anyone more alive then her, how her energy was so beautiful you could feel it through a brick wall, how stunningly gorgeous she was inside and out, how optimistic she was, how inspirational she was, how strong she was.....but all these things put her in the past where she doesn't belong.
I've known for a couple days that her passing was imminent and have been feeling around for that callus that's supposed to develop after wounds begin to heal. Maybe it's because there's not enough time between the passing of my friends, or maybe it's because of the depth of these incisions, but I am totally open and fresh, like a spring flower, to the torrents of this pain.
I am infinitely better for knowing her and will try to incorporate her unique ability to shine into every moment of my life and in that way, I hope to honor her. And as we fight, I will always know that Alyssa has her fingerprints all over the dagger that we're lodging into the heart of this beast.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Riding with Rob again

I love taking Robby home after the weekends. It gives us a chance to listen to music (which we have identical taste in) and to be silly down to the soul. Yesterday we hit some serious traffic on the Mass Pike and did what every mature set of humans would do, we rolled down the windows, turned the music up and made faces at all the curmudgeons groaning about life in traffic. Rob's fro sealed the deal. When we rolled up on people with him bouncing to Trey and his fro following in time about 1/2 a second later, they either gave the "Oh god, WTF is that look" or they laughed hysterically. Either way, it was a distraction for them from an otherwise moment in their lives that would have been considered "wasted". I love that kid because he see's it the same way. Savor it!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Ted is out of the house most mornings before the rest of us wake up. This morning, I woke up to Maddy at the foot of my bed, which usually means that she's hungry and wants me to get up to make her breakfast, but not today. Today she wanted to snuggle, so she crawled up in bed and nestled right into my heart. I was somewhere between dreamland and consciousness as the rhythm of our synchronous breathing allowed me to realize how much we are a part of each other, how deep the bond is forged. Not a bad way to start off the day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cliche of the day

I can't help myself. Life is a gift, sometimes though, you need to rip all the pretty wrapping paper off, roll it up and cast it aside in order to see what's really there. I'm so grateful that I have this chance at the party.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Little girls, little women

Charly is definitely at the age were she would be mortified if she knew that I kept a blog with a picture of her ummm, adjusting her bathing suit, if you will. Those little girls are growing up, and every little milestone that may seem insignificant in an otherwise busy mom's life, is like a step toward freedom for me. Not to sound macabre or doomsday-ish, but having small children while facing "dismal" odds does weigh in on my general thought processes from time to time..haha. More then anything else in this world, I of course want my children to be happy and strong. Tonight, Charly made meatballs all by herself. Whoopty doo, a child rolled meat in her hands right? Wrong. My child prepared a meal! She mixed the ingredients, just as I had taught her, kneaded the breadcrumbs and spices together, and made perfectly sized meatballs, with the exception of one ginaormous one for daddy:). We stood side by side chatting like girlfriends, and all I could think was that there's one more tiny little thing in her world that came from mommy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If you have to ask how we are..then don't

Disclaimer: I'm not in a good mood, so this is me venting. Let me start off this post with one giant apology to everyone I'm about to piss off. Sorry. Now, to move on to the root of the matter. For the past year I have been shrugging off the "How are you's" from people who do nothing but pity me. I think I reached the point of no return when I went down to help my friend who just lost her husband and heard too many people ask her if she's "ok" or wanting to know "how she is". What kinds of questions are those? How exactly is a grieving wife supposed to answer them? Those questions should have some sort of universal mute button that is triggered when people thoughtlessly open their mouths in the face of tragedy.
In my life, I go about my day perfectly oblivious that I'm supposed to be scared, sad, and pitied, until I am greeted with the tilted head and inevitable and usually condescending "how are you, feeling good?" It's like finger nails on a chalk board and all I really want to do is scream expletives, but I of course either turn and ignore the person in classic Corrie style or I play the game and nod my head the same way I do every day to those repetitious words. Basically, the people that I confide in, already know how I'm doing. If you feel the need to ask, please keep in mind that those of us on the receiving end of your "outreach" may not feel like divulging how we "feel" at that moment that you caught us in the hall on the way to the bathroom. Typically, we just want to go to the bathroom. Should you find us crying in a shrunken heap on the floor of the bathroom, perhaps that's an appropriate time to ask if we're "ok". I know that everyone is well intentioned and that people just don’t really know what to say, but I’m here to let you know that saying nothing, or hello, is way better then unloading your perception of our tragedy on us at every awkward meeting.
Ahhhhhhh, I feel so much better now..thanks for asking.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A beautiful legacy

We stood inside the funeral parlor taking in the pictures, flowers, plants, and other testaments that people brought to honor Brad. I stood by her side as she took a deep breath in and let it out knowing that the doors would soon open to the rest of the world that was grieving for Brad, for her, for their family, for themselves.
Brad was very loved and it was moving to see the sincerity on the faces of people trying to convey their heartfelt sympathies to Gina and the rest of the family. I think I speak for all her friends when I say that she was so strong as she gracefully accepted those sentiments along with the hugs, and the condolences.
Gina's friends had arranged the service such that a few people would come up and read from a book of memories that she had made for Brad this Christmas. This book is an amazing legacy for Brad and is filled with stories from his many friends that Gina had gathered together in order to give to their son Max so that he would know EXACTLY who his father was.
Her friend, Kristi (or Christy, or Christi, or...) gave an extemporaneous introduction to the service and the meaning behind the book. For the entire day leading up to this, none of us knew if we'd be able to read. We each had a fall back plan just in case we stumbled and couldn't go up or became overwhelmed and couldn't finish our piece.
Gina went up first and I stood by her side...just in case...but she was so strong, she set the tone for the rest of us. Their friends Josh and Megan each read one story from someone else as well as their own. Megan was great as she read a letter from their friend Craig, who shared a love of Beavis and Butthead with Brad. I don't think she was prepared to say anything even remotely close to the word bunghole at a funeral service, but she did and she got many laughs from people who had been crying just a second before. I went up next and was followed by Nettie and Adrianne, Brads mom and sister. Nettie also made the mourners laugh...a couple times.... I was so impressed by her strength and ability to articulate so clearly her love for her son. It was also moving to listen to and watch his sister bring us all a little closer to who Brad was. Patrick was the last to go up, he read his letter to Max which included many of the touching Haiku's that Brad often wrote.
I think by the end of the service, everyone in that room knew Brad a little better. We all came from different parts of his life, we had different memories, but sharing them together allowed us all to experience him as I can only imagine he would have wanted us too... as someone worth such a beautiful legacy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brad Blunt, climb on

Ted and I used to rock climb every weekend that we weren't backpacking when we lived in Tennessee. There was a crag a couple miles away from our house with hundreds of bolted routes and at this place the most diverse assortment of people would gather to share ropes and routes. One fortuitous weekend, we met Brad and Gina there. We were all a little freaked out when over the course of a couple climbs it became apparent that we were the same people. Among many other similarities, Brad and I were both scientists and Ted and Gina were both fitness gurus. It was such a natural fit that we didn't have to go through the normal steps of forging a deep friendship with them. They would drive up from Memphis, climb with us, go out to Mexican food (a favorite tradition by all), come back to our place, play ridiculous games with lots of alcohol, crash and do it all again the next day.
I remember like it was yesterday when Gina called me and told me to sit down. I immediately took the edge of the tattered leather chair in our family room. Brad's sick, she said. She went down the list of possible ailments that could be causing his neuropathy and at the bottom, was the unmentionable. Neither one of us wanted to entertain that idea, so we talked about the likelihood that it was something else, anything else, cancer for God's sake. It took a while, but they eventually heard those words uttered from doctors who can do nothing for you when you're told that you have ALS.
Even though they lived in Kentucky and we in Massachusetts, we remained very close. Gina is one of my best friends in this world, we've been through so much together. The tipping point from laughter to tears happened a couple years ago, and I hope like hell that we can bring the balance back as she heals from the deep wounds inflicted not only by the loss of her husband, but from the entire process that led up to his death yesterday.
I always remember Brad strong, happy, laughing, silly, alive...... I love you guys so much.