Sunday, August 11, 2019


It is summer, and I have a rare few hours to myself. My kids are making up for lost time with friends they only see twice a year. After weeks of spending every minute with at least one of them, I am not quite used to this much quiet. We are in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, where we come every summer. We come for about two weeks in the summer, and if we are lucky a visit in the winter too. It is never enough time for me, and I always wish we could spend the whole summer here. We swim at the lake, we hike, we go to the river, we boat, we listen to outdoor concerts, we see fireflies, we go to town for ice cream, we see friends, and we get lots of mosquito bites. That last one is pretty much the only negative thing I can think of about being here. We spend a concentrated amount of time with my parents, which we don't get throughout the year and other than the noise my kids make and the noise my parents TV makes blaring the news each day, we get along in one house okay.

Each summer we come, my husband can only come for part of it, due to work commitments. We always beg him to come on the back end because it is so much harder to say goodbye to him here, then it would be to come on our own and welcome him here. Last year he couldn't make it at all because his mom was so sick. She passed away two days before we left here, and despite his sadness he asked us to finish out our trip and come home two days later. It was a painful few days waiting to hold him. He had asked me to keep the news from the children until we were all together, and it was so hard to feel his pain and pretend everything was okay for the kids. When we reunited back in LA, my husband picked us up and took us to the beach to tell the kids the news. The ride next to him from the airport all the way to the sand was so painful. I was holding in my tears and so badly wanted let him fall apart in my arms. When we finally sat down to talk to the kids, my husband couldn't get the words out without crying. He asked me to help and together we explained to the kids that their Mimi had died. Both children reacted differently, we tried as best as we could to process this together, and then a dog came running by our blanket and we couldn't help but focus on that. The dog brought a few more dog friends and it was almost comical how interrupted we were by all the dogs running around us, but it was also exactly what we needed in that moment.

Today is the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law's death. Again, I am not with my husband and wish I could hold him again. He wants to be alone today and is taking time to himself to reflect in the desert. It has been a painful year of mourning for him and his sisters. A year of firsts without the matriarch of the family. She was not only an attentive mother, caretaker, and adviser to her four children but I can safely say that she was each one of their best friends. She was always there for them and honestly available to anyone who needed her. For years she worked in a women's shelter volunteering to help women in need. When her extended family needed help she housed their children. She privately paid for medical support for her children, their spouses and for grandchildren when it was out of reach for them. She has left behind quite a legacy and although I am not with my husband today, he asked that I remind the kids today just how special their grandmother was. 

What my husband doesn't realize is how much he is like his mother (or maybe he does, but he is humble like her too). Both last year and this, he asked us to keep vacationing and having fun together and put his needs last. Last year his mom didn't even want her funeral to happen until all of her friends and family had completed their vacation plans for the summer. When my sister-in-law suggested she cancel her trip to Hawaii, her mom insisted that life comes first. Today I will honor you Barbara Andreone, by teaching my children all you were and all you still are to all of us. You are the kind of mother I am hoping I am an ounce of to my children. I would consider myself lucky if they continue a friendship with me that goes beyond just mother and child. I will teach them to look out for others the way you spent your life doing, and you have my word that I will love your only boy for all time. You made a great one and I am so grateful to be part of your family. I love you, and per your advice, we are going to go off today and enjoy this beautiful place and live life up to its fullest.

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