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Can it really be five years since we last celebrated your birthday with you, Mommy? Five. That’s usually how we count years, isn’t it? In increments of five? The special birthdays like “thirty five”, “fifty” and “sixty five”.  The anniversaries, too? “Can you believe we’ve been married ten years? Or twenty five years?” You get the point. Even companies do it. You usually don’t get a seven year pin. It’s a five year pin, or a twenty or a thirty five.

Is that how we measure death, too? In increments of fives?  I think it might be because this is the fifth birthday since we lost you and it does feel special, but not in a good way.

It’s the first birthday that you have been gone that I can barely hold it together. I’ve been trying to sleep all night and no luck. I noticed the minute the clock turned 12:00 AM and the crying started then. I finally got it together at around two and decided to go back to bed. I shut off all of the Christmas decorations (which takes about twenty minutes) and went up to bed. I was in bed not even fifteen minutes when the tears started again. After tossing and turning for about twenty minutes, I came back down and turned everything back on. I decided I had to get it out – on paper. I started writing in my journal at around 3:30 AM and this is the result. I was too exhausted to type so, I hand wrote in one of my many journals. I thought maybe I would just keep it in my journal – just for me. But, as my faithful readers know, it makes me feel better to purge my feelings into this blog. So, here goes.

I just cannot believe that I can’t remember having your last cake. Was it at my house? At your house? Was it Carvel, Baskin Robbins or did we bake one? I remembered for a couple of years after you died and for the next two I went on with the act of purposely forgetting. Now, however, it’s been five years and I when I try to conjure up an image of that last birthday celebration, I just can’t. And, if I can’t now, I fear I never will.

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Five years. I went to Walgreens for a few things today and as I glanced at the “For Her” section of Hallmark, the cards were mocking me. I will never buy a mother card again. I remember the first year, passing that pink and flowery Hallmark section, I came home and cried my eyes out. They were puffy for two or three days. The second year wasn’t much easier. The next couple of years I would avoid that section altogether but, today, looking at those cards, I had a terrible sinking feeling – a lot like when I found out that you were going to die. At five years, the cards are truly mocking me. They are telling me that It is not a dream, no matter how much you cry or how much you try to avoid the facts. Your mother has died and she is never, ever coming back. You will never have to buy a birthday card for your mother because you no longer have a mother. She died at the terribly young age of sixty six. She would have been seventy one today. Sixty six plus five equals seventy one, after all. It’s simple math. Yesterday, I hated the “For Her” section of Hallmark cards because I knew that even though they were mocking me, they were telling me the truth.

So, five years means that Mason has never celebrated a birthday with you. We have no pictures of you blowing out the candles with Gavin on one leg and Mason on the other, with my boys standing behind you as we sang. Five years means that you never got to see how funny it is how Paulie Walnuts begs with all he has for a piece of cake.

A piece of my heart withered away and died when you did. And, for some reason, I’m having such a hard time on this fifth anniversary. I feel like another little piece of my heart died today (although not as big a piece as the day you died. Nevertheless, it’s gone. And, if history tells me anything, it won’t be coming back.

Maybe this is what will happen every five years – a little piece of my heart will die, until there isn’t any left, and then that will be the time for us to be together again.

Although I miss you more than I can put into words, please take just a sliver at a time. My children need me and my friends and family love me and we lost Daddy,  Neal and Amy so, my sisters, Aunt Angela and Uncle Neal need me, too.

In my heart, I know that I don’t have to worry. You ALWAYS put my needs before yours. We had such a special bond, I know that you will know when it is time for me to go and be with you and I trust your judgement with every fiber of my being.

So, I hope you are happy where you are. I hope Daddy got you a card and addressed it, “Dear Toots”. I hope that there is some kind of Mohegan Sun where you and Daddy are and you are winning every hand. Most of all, I hope that where you are, you don’t have to feel the pain that those left behind have to feel. Something in my gut tells me you don’t.

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Happy Birthday, Mommy. I love you and miss you more than I can really put into words. These words only touch the surface of how deeply I feel your loss.

Forever Yours,


I have spent my life subscribing to the philosophy of Alfred Lord Tennyson;

“Tis better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all”

Telling myself this has gotten me through some very, very difficult times. I have espoused this same quote to my children, to people close to me  trying to make sense of the loss of a loved one and, also, to friends that were going through very difficult break-ups.

This Mother’s Day morning, I woke up and was hit with such a huge wave of sadness and despair. It’s Mother’s Day, I have no mother. She was taken from me at the way too young age of 66. I no longer have a grandmother, who really helped to raise me when my mother was sick with cancer for the first time. I was only an infant. This was my fourth year that I haven’t had either one of them on this day. I know it’s supposed to get easier and I suppose someday it will but, today, when I got up, it hurt like hell.

It’s really not fair to get a good gauge on how well I’m “moving on”. Back in January, I lost my cousin suddenly (the closest one to my age and, for that fact, probably my closest cousin).  We have been close my whole lie. We grew up together. Just a short day and a half later, my daddy passed away. He was a great man, dad and husband. Of course, I was devastated by both of these losses but, to be honest, I was not really able to grieve them properly. The reason for this is my beautiful cousin, Amy.

I call Amy my cousin because that’s what she was to me. She started dating my cousin, Neal, when they were in college so; I have known her for almost 30 years. We have spent countless hours together; at my house, at family weddings, wedding showers, baby showers, holidays, etc. Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer that had already advanced about two years ago.

Naturally, because of my history of breast cancer, I had a very active role in Amy’s life dealing wither her own diagnosis. I went with her to pick out her wig, before she started chemotherapy, spent hours upon hours talking to her and texting her and Neal; about treatment options, how they were feeling emotionally, how to treat each other and be there for each other during one of the hardest times that they will ever have in their lives, the best way to recover from the surgeries, and about just about every other thing you need to start fighting this devious disease.

Unfortunately for Amy, she had a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer. One of the most aggressive and one of the hardest to treat. Amy, my love, had to treat almost constantly for the two years she battled. And battle she did. The treatments were brutal, as were the surgeries. She ended up with almost every side effect one can get from chemotherapy, including a very painful condition called neuropathy. When standard chemotherapy wasn’t working, we were all excited when she started a promising trial, only to find that that didn’t work, either. By the end, she was both emotionally and physically exhausted, in an extreme amount of pain, unable to breathe because the cancer had spread primarily to the lung and because of her very low immune system, brought on by the chemotherapy, was having problems with fluid in the lungs. Nothing about the entire ordeal was peaceful and there was no silver lining.

And, let’s not forget, in the midst of all of this, when she could barely walk across a room without needing oxygen, she lost her husband and her uncle (who she was very close to), within a day of each other. Being Amy, there she was, at both services and funerals, sitting with the utmost in grace and dignity, all the while most likely thinking that there was a very good chance that the next time she attended a funeral she would most likely be the one in the casket.

The hardest thing for me to witness during the whole awful week of deaths, funerals and tears was when we went to my cousin’s final resting spot at the Locust Valley Cemetery. I knew that just about a week earlier, Amy had picked this plot for herself – made all of the arrangements. I cannot imagine being 44 and knowing that I was so close to the end of my life that I had to make “final arrangements”. The very thought of it makes me shudder.

At Neal and my father’s services, quite a few people came up to me to tell me how great Amy looked. You see, Amy was a gorgeous woman by anyone’s standards, and even with the extreme pain and breathlessness she was experiencing, and being there to bury her beloved husband and an uncle she loved so very much, she still looked beautiful. I however, having known Amy for so long, could tell that she didn’t look like “herself” but, looked very, very sick.

So, my grief had, in a way, been put off. Placed on the back burner, if you will, due to the worry over Amy’s health, my steadfast promise to be there for her every step of the way, along with my participation in fundraisers for her treatment (which was not covered by insurance), etc.

Well, my beloved Amy passed away at 3:10 in the afternoon this Thursday. Now she is gone. When I woke up this morning it really hit me that they are all gone. I will never get another big bear hug from Neal (he was the best hugger), I will never be able to hear my father’s booming voice and I will never again see Amy’s beautiful smile and hear her lovely chuckle. Never. Ever. Never again. It is now a trifecta of grief and it hurts. It really hurts.

Even more tragic is the fact that my Aunt Angela loved Amy as her own. She was the daughter that she never had. They talked 2-3 times a day, every day. I used to make fun of them because they started to look alike and sound alike. They even had the same mannerisms. For all intents and purposes, my Aunt lost two children in the span of 4 months. Think about that for a minute. I cannot even imagine the pain and the absolute devastation of her heart. I speak with her every day. Every day she makes me so proud. Instead of lying in bed with the covers pulled all the way up, she is working, she is preparing for the birth of yet another grandchild this Wednesday and she is spending time with her family. She is crying – a lot, of course but, she is living. She is so incredibly strong. Then again, she is my mother’s sister. My mother happens to have been the strongest women I have ever known. I come from a long line of strong, courageous women.

And, of course, I was thinking of Amy’s mother today. She lost her little girl. Although she has a son, she does not have another little girl. Amy and Neal were not able to have children and, so, there is not even a little piece of Amy in the form of a grandchild for Amy’s mother to cling to and give her hope. The pain she is feeling is enormous. The huge hole in her heart as a result of Amy’s death will never be filled. My heart aches for her, in a primitive, real and raw way. I pray to God that somehow she is able to find some joy in the rest of her life. After watching her poor daughter suffer and pass away before her eyes will, no doubt, make this very difficult.

As painful as it was for me upon waking this morning, I can’t imagine the pain either of these lovely ladies felt when they opened their eyes. How does one feel when they wake up on Mother’s Day after just losing a child/children? There are no words in the English language to describe it. The really aren’t.

I was looking through some old photo albums for older pictures of Amy so that I could use them to post a status update about her passing. The digital pictures I have are all of Amy in her thirties and early forties, for the most part. I wanted to find some of her with her big eighties hair, with my babies, when she was in her twenties. I was successful in finding what I was looking for. While going through the albums, I came across the pictures from each Christmas spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  There are scores of us, sitting around three tables that had to be pushed together to fit us all. Looking at these pictures, a thought struck me like a bullet through the heart. Six of these beautiful souls were now gone from this earth. They were here, the asked us to pass the gravy, they handed out the presents they had gotten for everyone, they loved, they laughed, they cried, they felt joy and happiness and sadness and they had hopes and dreams for their futures. With the exception of my grandparents, who were in their eighties when they passed, they were far too young to leave us. They had so much more life to live, so many more laughs to have, so many more tears to shed. And, no matter how hard I try, I am having a hard time making sense of it all. There are days that I really feel my faith being tested, like today.

But in looking at the pictures of us all around the table(s), I also saw the faces of all of the wonderful people I still have in my life. Would I give up the love of even one of them so that I will not have to suffer if I lose them?

The answer is a big, resounding NO.

Tragic things will always occur in life. Of that we can be sure. Tragic things will happen no matter how many people I love and accept love from. And, when those tragic things happen, it will be the people I love whose arms I will run to. It will be those people I will cry with and pour my heart out to.

And, it are these people I love – my family and friends – who inspire me, who make me laugh until my stomach hurts and tears are running down my cheeks. They are who I will share my hopes, dreams and fears with. Without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I even dare say that without them, it is possible I wouldn’t still be on this earth. Their constant support and love are what helped me through my heath ordeals.  Like the song said, they loved me through it.

So, at the end of this Mother’s Day, which was so incredibly difficult for not only me, my aunt, Amy’s mother and the far too many women I know who spent their days without a mother, a grandmother, their children, and a woman who was like a mother to them, I say I am so very sorry for your loss and I wish their was something – anything – I could do to take even a small amount of your pain away. 

At the end of this Mother’s Day, my biggest hope is that you spent a beautiful day with your mother, the mother of your children, your grandmother, your aunts, your God Mothers and your God Children. But, not only do I hope that you spent the day with them, I hope that you took in every moment, that you hugged them and kissed them and that you told them how much you loved them. Because tragic things happen, and the truth is you never know what life will throw at you – they could be gone sooner than you think. If you didn’t do that today, it’s not too late. Tomorrow is another day. Just make sure that you do it because remember;

“Tis better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all.”

Happy Mother’s Day.




I want to thank you all for coming out to honor my father, Robert Taub. Most of you know him by Bob, although he was also known as Daddy, Papa, Robbie, Uncle Bob, Mr. Bob, Big Bob and, most recently, Slim Daddy. Whatever it is that you called him, the fact that you are here today means that he touched your life in some way.

My dad was born on January 27, 1949 in the Bronx to Harry and Dinah. He grew up in Hicksville, NY and was always regaling us with stories of the Cloister Street Gang. Just to name a few, Joe B, Dale, Walter, Richie, The DeGuilios and the Zeigs. So many tight childhood friends, who he kept in touch with pretty much right until his death. I feel that that says something very special about a person. It speaks to loyalty, generosity and commitment.

Daddy played Little League for years and then, football in High School. If I must say, he was quite a fox. When he was 18, he traveled across the country to California where he rode motorcycles, went to Woodstock, had many adventures and was quite the hippie. I know that this time in his life – just having far out experiences with his buddies, was a very special and happy time in his life.

Being a true New Yorker at heart, though, he eventually made his way home. He ended up earning a degree from Nassau Community College and after numerous jobs – he was always telling us he went to Whopper College! – he ultimately discovered that his love for photography was what he was meant to do. In the early 80s, he started his own photography business and named it “Chris Cole” after me and my sister, Chrissy. We were so proud! He had an amazing eye and took gorgeous pictures. Although he later switched careers to computers (he would be mad if I didn’t say Apples, NOT PCs), he never got over his love of photography. For his entire life, he was always there, at every event, with a camera in his hand, capturing every joyful moment.

As soon as personal computers became popular, he was hooked. Mostly self- taught, he went on to have a very successful career as a Macintosh consultant. Some of the places he worked were Sony, Viacom, MTV and CBS. He was so generous with his knowledge and helped so many people learn to navigate this new technology. I know he’s helped many of you here, whether it be which computer to buy, how to use the newest versions, or which programs would best fit your needs. He was always on the cutting edge of technology and loved his gadgets. We were always the first family on the block with a video camera, a VCR, Disc Player, Blu Ray player, TIVO. You get the idea.

These were passions of his. And, I’m happy for him that he got to make a living doing things he loved. But, as everyone in this room knows, his real passion was his family.

He met my mother, Elizabeth, a single mother when I was very young. They met out with friends at a bar. He ran over to light a cigarette for her. Of course, the way he told the story was that she saw him from across the room, whistled through her fingers and yelled, “Yo, Sailor!” They fell in love quickly and soon, he asked her to be his wife. He was a man strong enough, and brave enough, to marry my mother despite her having two very young (and let’s face it – we’re talking about me and Chrissy), somewhat wild little girls. They married in 1980 and gave us our beautiful baby sister Lori in 1981. Finally, after all of the turmoil Mommy, Chrissy and I had been through, we had a loving and stable home. Daddy, at NO time, made Chrissy or I feel as though we were any less of his daughters than Lori was. This is truly a beautiful and rare thing.

And, come on, you have to give the man credit. He lived in a house with 4 females and 1 bathroom. He lived with mood swings, emotional outbursts, snotty teenage attitudes and, it was almost impossible for him to EVER get his hand on a phone that wasn’t being used, the cord stretched to the breaking point around the corner from the kitchen into our bedrooms. In the early 90s, my parents changed their phone number. A couple of years later, I was selling sporting goods at Sears when I was ringing up a middle aged couple. When they asked for their phone number, and they told me it was 499-0103, I excitedly told them that that was MY old phone number. Their faces changed immediately from good natured to something else. The woman said to me, “Oh, Lord. Are you Nicole or Chrissy?” Apparently, they were still getting calls – lots of calls – looking for Chrissy and I at our old number. It was an expensive treadmill and I was on commission so, thank God I did not lose the sale, although it was clear that they weren’t happy!

Despite raising us three girls, who could drive him absolutely nuts, we had a very happy home. We celebrated holidays in a huge way, for every birthday, the house was decorated and filled to the brim with presents and loved ones. We took trips, we went to see movies, we wanted for nothing.

Daddy was also such a loving husband to my mother. They were different in so many ways but, something about them just worked. He would go to the moon and back for her and she knew it. When we went through Mommy’s things after she passed away in 2013, we found some love notes that he had written her over the years. Some were sweet and, some scarred us for life. Really, there are certain things children do NOT want to know about their parents private lives.  However, the one thing that was clear in each letter was how very much he loved her. She was his “toots”. I am so happy that they found each other and believe that theirs was a true love story. Daddy was heartbroken when Mommy passed away. He was never the same. The only thing that got him through it was his children and grandchildren so, let’s go there.

He called me #1. Although I was so happy to have a dad who loved me, boy did I give him a run for his money. My mom had been extremely laid back and I was NOT happy when he first came into our lives and tried to add some discipline. Bedtime? What’s that? What do you mean I have to wear a hat in 20 degree weather? I just did my hair! I’m punished? What the heck does that mean? Eventually, though, we found our groove and, once we did, it was magical. He put up with my boy crazy phase, he allowed my friends to practically live at my house – especially Jill, who he affectionately called his fourth daughter. He was proud of my scholastic achievements, beamed when I graduated from college and felt like I took after him when I became a small business owner. He was tough but fair and taught me life lessons that helped make me into the person I am today. When I married Al, he couldn’t have been happier. He loved Al like his own. They had a very special relationship. I know that Al was always there for him but, after he got sick, Al became his rock. My entire family is grateful to him for this – and will never forget that kindness that he showed Daddy and the wonderful way he took care of him these past few months.

Chrissy was #2. If I gave Daddy a run for his money, she gave him an Iron Man race. We all know Chrissy, and the teenager she was – up for anything to have a good time. A memory that comes to mind is when she traumatized Daddy by basically totalling her car in the city, coming home, parking the car right in front of the house and going to sleep. You can imagine his reaction when he woke up and looked out the front window and saw the car. After ascertaining that she was not hurt – I was seriously concerned that HE would hurt her. Despite many other stories like these, she could also make him laugh like no one else. He used to love to tell the story of when they went to the supermarket and he told her to go to the next aisle and get a 5 pound bag of sugar. He almost peed his pants when she called out to him “Daddy, do you mean the bag that says 5 libs?” As she got older, all of the values he instilled in her came to fruition. He was so very proud of her work ethic and her extremely huge heart. He also used to say that she was the most like Mommy – she would do anything for anyone – always. He really depended on her after Mommy died. She was the one who would run errands for him and check on him every day. He was also thrilled when she married Jay, the love of her life. He knew how much he loved her and that he would be able to be there to comfort her in times of need. You see, when people have hearts as big as my sisters – empathic people – they don’t only feel pain that is their own, they also feel the pain of others around them. It can be a heavy burden to bear.

And then #3, Lori. His baby girl. The greatest day of his life was the day she was born. I remember he was deliriously happy holding her – she couldn’t have been more than a few minutes old – when she farted – loudly! He was stunned. My mother leaned over to him and said, “You know that they do that, right Hun?” Again, he couldn’t stop laughing. So much that he was almost crying. Since the photography studio was in our garage at the time, my mom went outside of the house to work and he was a stay at home dad before it was in vogue. Because he took care of the day to day caring of her, there is no question that they shared a special bond. They did everything together. Wherever he went, she went. When he rented space for the photography studio, he took her with him every day. She would sit at the front desk and, as the customers would come in, she would say, “You can give me the money and then go talk to him”. She was four. He was also incredibly proud of her athletic ability. She was a phenomenal soccer player – a star, really – and, he did not miss ONE game. Ever. There he was, on the sidelines, cheering her on with that big booming voice of his. He was also thrilled with Lori’s choice of a husband. He couldn’t love and respect Chris more. My sister, as I’ve said before, can be a little high maintenance. He always knew that Chris would be able to keep her happy without giving into her every whim and landing them in the poor house.

And, then came the grandchildren.

First was Michael, who was special just for the very fact that he was the first one to make Daddy a Papa. He was so proud of his smarts and kind heart. I am so very happy that not only was he around to hear that Michael got into every college that he applied to but, also that he got academic scholarships.

Then, Jack, who was raised by a village since I was diagnosed with cancer just four months after he was born. Daddy was amazed at his resilience and kindness. He made mention, many times, about how special he thought it was that not only did Jack spend time with his baby cousins but, that he did it with a smile on his face, with patience and with love. He was also proud of his skills both on the basketball court and the football field. All the while maintaining grades high enough to land him on the honor roll every quarter since middle school.

Then Gavin, Lori and Chris’s first baby. All you have to do is look at a picture of him holding Gavin to see how much joy he brought him. Gavin is smart, kind, funny, loving and a real “Papa’s Boy”. He could put together a puzzle of the entire United States by the time he was a year and a half. You know how much Daddy loved him also, because he forgave him for being a diehard Mets fan! Daddy’s favorite sport to play, and to watch, was baseball. He was so proud and happy that Gavin shares this passion!

And, finally, Baby Mason. Daddy’s doppelganger. His zest for life, humor and spunk was a joy for Daddy to witness. Mason was the blessing that God gave to Daddy after he lost my mom. It gave him so much happiness to watch him run around with unbridled joy. Thank God for Mason – because of his incredible resemblance, it will be impossible not to think of Daddy every time we see him.

So, Daddy loved many things; photography, gadgets, computers, his friends, poker, his koi pond, all of the dogs and birds that we had throughout the years, Bob Dylan, playing his numbers, motorcycles, the Yankees, his hippie days – but, there was nothing he loved more than his family. Not for one second. Ever.

I can’t neglect to mention just how incredibly strong Daddy was. Despite many health issues in the past, he always pushed through to fight another day. Although this last illness finally took him from us, he was positive and looking towards the future right up until the very day that he passed.

Daddy, Papa, Mr. Bob, Mr. Taub, Uncle Bob, Big Bob, Slim Daddy

  • We will miss you at every milestone
  • We will miss you at every holiday
  • We will miss you at every birthday
  • We will miss you on a random Tuesday afternoon when there is nothing going on

However, we are happy that you are with Mommy. We are happy that you are with all of those who you loved and who passed before you. We are happy you are with God.

We will take care of each other because that’s what you taught us to do. We will live life to the fullest, in your honor; no matter how hard it is, because we love you that much.

And, lastly, please take care of Little Neal. He just got there a day before you. We know how very much you loved him. Please watch over him until his parents are reunited with him again. 

Love you always,

Number 1

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So, here I sit again – confused, upset, grateful, afraid and dealing with a bit of survivor’s guilt. I am also, once again and more profoundly than ever, realizing how music is magical and mystical – helping us through difficult times, helping us wallow in our sorrow in order to purge but, also, helping us to celebrate the happy times in our lives. It makes us think, it makes us cry, laugh, dance and, most of all reminisce. Sometimes, the reminiscing makes us happy and sometimes, it makes us melancholy but, both emotions are equally important. Without happiness, we would not know sorrow and without sorrow, we would not know happiness.

Of course, I’m talking about the unexpected and devastating loss of Prince, who is arguably one of the most talented artists to have ever lived.

The confusion, the upset, the gratefulness and the survivors guilt – that all comes whenever I hear of someone’s death, and especially when that someone has contributed (and could have contributed more) to our world in a positive and uplifting way.  I felt similarly when James Gandolfini died. He had so much more to give to this world as an artist and – just like that – all that potential went away.

I think that the death of Prince was so sudden, unexpected and shocking that it feels like, for me, an even bigger loss.

Why them and not me, again? I just had another biopsy that, if positive, could have turned my world upside down. It came back benign. Although I will still need another surgery, God willing I will survive it like I did the first twenty. I can carry on with my life. But, why? Why am I still here when this genius, who brought joy to millions of people, is just gone? Why am I, Nicole Abate, still here to see another day? I have an average life and although I always try and do anything I can for my friends and family, there will be no tributes on television when I leave this world. I haven’t left anything for the masses that they can enjoy for generations and generations to come. However, as much as I do feel the survivor’s guilt when I hear of someone’s passing, I am truly very grateful, as well, to wake up each morning and live another day.

Who knows? Maybe I touch more lives that I realize. Maybe this blog will be my legacy – especially if I can turn it into a book. Every time I do a post, I say a silent prayer that it will resonate with someone, maybe make them laugh, maybe take away some of their fears, maybe help them to conjure up some long lost happy memories of their childhoods.

It has taken me three days to be able to write about Prince, and the effect he had on my life. I’ll never forget where I was when I was told he passed by an old high school friend, Janine. I was in the car on the way back from a very productive business meeting and did everything I could to hold back my tears. I spent the next couple of days watching tributes and crying on and off. I know I didn’t personally know Prince, and from the specials I’ve been watching it seems like he was so painfully shy that not too many people did, but, I cry for  a piece of my childhood that has been forever altered, for the potential that will never be seen, and for his family and loved ones.

For so many years he had an effect on me and my friends. I remember that my friends Jill, Tammy, Francine and I watched Purple Rain so many times that we could recite every line. And we all wanted to be Appolonia. I am lucky enough that all of these beautiful souls are still in my life and we have all been grieving. The four of us getting ready to go out listening to “Let’s go Crazy” and “1999” are memories that I will always cherish.

I also had a friend (more like a brother), Vincent, who I would never go more than a day or two without seeing – we lived two doors down from each other. And, although it was not particularly “cool” for a guy to admit at the time that they liked Prince, because Vin would do anything for me, he would let me take the “Yes” tape out of his boom box and pop in my “Purple Rain” tape and I would listen, while he worked on one of his classic cars, for hours.

That album for me also turned our to be a “breakup” album for one of the young loves of my life. I had a very dramatic break up (what break up isn’t dramatic when you are a young teen) on the way home from an eighth grade school trip. I remember listening to “Purple Rain” all the way home. There was whispering, crying and there has not been one time when I could hear a song off of that album that it didn’t bring me right back to that bus ride.

So, you see, even that ONE album brings back happy memories of friends and fun times and melancholy over lost love and people I have lost along with way – including my old pal,  Vincent. Since it reminds me so much of when I was young it also makes me miss my mother, my grandparents (who could never see the appeal! LOL) and my childhood home on Doe Lane, where I felt so grown up having my own room in the basement(which, of course, was painted purple!)

I’m middle aged now, with one child even older than I was at the height of my Prince craze and yet, the guitar intro to the song “Purple Rain” always makes my heart jump and my knees go weak, especially now.

Another great thing about the Purple One was that his music is timeless. Just a few months ago, at a party at my house, Tammy and I were dancing in my living room to “Let’s go Crazy” and having a blast. Seth has the video of it – but was threatened with loss of life if it is ever released! Another happy memory made for me by Prince.

He was also an artist that could do it all. On many of his tracks, he played all of the instruments. His songs also crossed barriers; part funk, part disco, part pop, part Rock and Roll (and if you don’t believe that, listen to one of his guitar solos – You Tube “Guitar Gently Weeps” with Tom Petty and Prince), part R&B and part soul.

His protégées are too many to list. Of course, there was Vanity 6, Sheila E and Sheena Easton but, he also laid the keyboards down for Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back, gave Sinead O’Connor “Nothing Compares to you” and, hoping for a date with Ms. Hoffs from the Bangles, gave them “Manic Monday”. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

On top of directly collaborating and writing for others, there are so many artists who describe him as a “direct influence” on their music. There are far too many to count here.

Goodnight, sweet Prince. You did more on this earth in your short 57 years than most of us do in a lifetime. Where ever you are now, I hope you are singing, dancing and most of all, laughing in the Purple Rain.


For the past few weeks I’ve been having a very hard time grieving over my mother. I know why. I wasn’t feeling great for about three weeks. Not the ordinary pain from the scar tissue or charlie horses from the “phantom limb” like syndrome I have under my left breast, which was operated on over 15 times. Bad as in I felt like I could not get out of bed, I would get exhausted very easily and couldn’t focus. At first I chalked it up to coming off the holidays and just being tired from all of the work that entails. I had just been to the oncologist so, I wasn’t really worried about the cancer (although to say it didn’t cross my mind once or twice would be lying). Finally, I woke up on a Saturday morning with a terrible sore throat. Okay, now I knew, I was just fighting off getting sick and now I was so, it would just run its course (I’m thinking a week or two of just taking it easy and I would be feeling better).

By Wednesday, when I still felt like crap, my husband took me to the doctor. Turns out I had pneumonia. I was prescribed antibiotics, steroids and a cough medicine with codeine in it. By this time, my sore throat had moved into my nose and was dripping down into my chest, although I wasn’t really coughing that much. However, I was still extremely tired. My orders were, because of my health issues, rest, rest and more rest. Luckily, I had caught the pneumonia early.

And rest I did. I worked more after each of my twenty surgeries. I couldn’t work because all I could do was sleep and, when I couldn’t sleep at night (because of those damn steroids), I was loopy on the cough medicine. When I didn’t feel better a week later, I went back to the doctor. Another x-ray was taken and the pneumonia was getting better. I was a bit wheezy, though, so was told to use the cough medicine as needed and use am inhaler and continue to rest. When you have pneumonia (and I never had), it can take a long time to get better, apparently. So, I rested Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I was feeling better by Sunday so decided to go to my nieces birthday party at a roller rink and then to Jack’s basketball game.

When I was a teenager, I could literally roller skate like Dorothy Hamill could ice skate. I could do double sow cows, I could skate forward, backwards, with a partner, with my right leg all the way up and straight, well – you get the idea. I was excited to get on the floor and do my thing. Well, let me all give you a heads up. If you were like me (and, if you are in my age group, you probably were – we spent almost every weekend at the Commack Roller Rink), unless you have kept up with it, or have learned to roller blade in between, roller skating is NOT like riding a bike! I was okay on the carpet. The second my skate hit the wood, I went down like a lead balloon on my right side. Thank God, since I was the first one out there from my family, no one I knew saw me but, about two hundred other people did. They were probably taping it on their cell phones (I’m surprised I haven’t seen it pop up on You Tube or Face Book). With the wind knocked out of me, I lay there for a moment, told myself “I can do this”, got up and, again, went down like a ton of bricks. Now, I couldn’t even get up if I tried. Finally, some guy said “hey, do you need help?” At that point, being so embarrassed and pissed that no one tried to help me up the first time I answered, “No, I’ll just wait for the guy with the striped shirt.” Picture me on the floor with kids and adults skating around me – having to move out of the way to not skate on top of me and no one asks if I need help? Nice.

When the guy with the striped shirt came around (I forget what we used to call them), he asks me, “Do you need help?” By now I am pissed. “Um. Yeah. Clearly I can’t get up. Do you think you can help me up and bring me to the wall?” Geez. Rocket Scientist.

When I got to the wall, I was able to easily get back to the chairs and take off my skates (it’s a lot easier to skate on carpet, believe me). I was so devastated. Convinced that the reason I couldn’t do it was because I haven’t been active in these past fifteen years and so, didn’t have the strength or the balance to stay up. How much more can this cancer take from me?


So, getting back to the point, that I have been really missing my mommy. I miss her most when I am not feeling well. I would have called her, and she I, at least two or three times a day while I was sick. She always had a way of making me feel better – of putting things into perspective. She would have said things like, “Okay, so it’s pneumonia. You beat cancer – you’ll be fine.” Or, when I was stressing about missing work, “Okay, so you have to miss a couple of weeks – the work will be there when you get back, believe me.” She just knew me like no one else and knew exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. She didn’t get pissed if I snapped at her because of any of the things she said. She just chalked it up to me being stressed and sick.

I also miss her the most when I can’t call her ( I probably would have been crying outside on my cell phone) and tell her about things that happened like what I went through at the roller rink. I really was devastated that not only wasn’t I like Dorothy Hamill anymore but, I couldn’t even take one step on the wood floor. She would have made me laugh when I told her that people were skating around me and NO ONE stopped to help. She would have laughed when I sent her pictures of the grapefruit sized bruise on my ass and the apple sized bruise on my thigh. (For the record, I also scraped my left elbow, had pain in my left arm and couldn’t turn my neck for about three days).

Most of all, I missed my mommy these past few weeks because I knew my dad was going in for a big surgery and, so as not to worry my sisters, there are things I don’t say to them that I was personally worried about, having been through what I have in my own life, I shouldered most of the worry alone. Also, the fact that the last time my dad had surgery, they were not able to remove the tube and he couldn’t breathe on his own. It was done at a surgery center and he had to be transferred to a hospital. They really couldn’t give us answers there except we would have to take a wait and see approach. I’ll never forget Al, Chrissy, Lori and I leaving the hospital that night, all heads down, thinking, “could this really be happening again?” It had not even been a year since we had lost our mother. Luckily, they were able to get the tube out the next day. But, I would have been on the phone with my mom all night, and we would have said things to each other to make each other feel better.


I just miss her, damn it, and the last few weeks have been a downward spiral into a place I was in the grieving process about a year ago. I was told, though, that grieving is not linear. You will move forward two feet and then, wake up and feel like you stepped back four. This is always the advice that I give my family and friends when they lose loved ones because for me, it really helped. I didn’t question, “why am I feeling so shitty today when I had a good day yesterday?” Because that’s just the way it goes.

As for the perspective part of the piece. Daddy had his surgery yesterday. It was supposed to be Monday but, that’s a long and shitty story that I’ve told at least ten times today and don’t want to get into. It was over six hours long and, originally was scheduled to be done laparoscopically. Unfortunately, that wasn’t able to happen so, that’s why it took longer than anticipated. They actually had to collapse his lung, on purpose, to get where they needed to get to make sure that they got all of the cancer that was left. Now, the surgery went well. They got it all out. But, they had to leave the tube in so that he wouldn’t wake up and be in pain trying to breathe through one lung. This is what made me nervous. I wanted to make sure that that tube would come out with no problem. That was my main worry about this surgery. But, it was staying in for the night. I was told that they would take it out tomorrow.

On so on to the 11:11 part of the story. Since my mother had basically battled cancer three times while I was a kid (the first time when I was an infant), ANY time there was something to wish on; a dandelion before I blew on it, a blow out the birthday candle wish, an eyebrow that had fallen out and needed to be blown wish, and most importantly every time I saw 11:11 on a clock (which happened every once in a while), my wish was always the same “Please make my mommy be okay”. Well, after she passed, I think the day after was the first time I saw 11:11 on a clock and actually, out loud, cursed it. Fuck you, 11:11, you and the rest of those superstitions I grew up with don’t work worth a shit, or something to that effect. After that, my sisters and I started to  see 11:11 constantly. I know I see it at least 10 times a week. It’s not “normal”. Everyone who knows me knows I am a skeptic about those kinds of things but, I am sure, that every time I see it, it’s my mommy letting me know it’s okay, she’s okay, or whatever I’m going through will be fine and work out.

So, after I got off the phone with my sisters (my brother in law, Chris, took him for the surgery.) I said a prayer to God, my grandparents and, of course, my Mommy. I went into the kitchen to get myself something to drink and got cozy on the couch, praying that the night would go quickly so that that freaking tube could come out. I got a text from someone and, when I picked up my phone – you guessed it – 11:11. Needless to say, I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I just knew that when they went to take the tube out, it would be fine.

I waited up for Michael and then when up to sleep at around 1AM. I slept well, even though I am dad’s healthcare proxy and if I hadn’t seen the 11:11 I would have had a restless sleep, if I slept at all, waiting for that damn phone to ring. When I woke up, my sisters were already at the hospital (I have to wait to get the okay to go, having just gotten over pneumonia). They told me that the tube was out and he was groggy from the medications but, other than that, talking to them, making jokes with the nurse, etc. He was doing really well.

So, I miss mommy but, not like I have in the last few weeks. I am on a high because my daddy is okay. And, isn’t that the way of it? Perspective. Today, I could have been mourning both of my parents. Even my ass, which has killed to sit on the last week, is not as painful. And, the deadlines I have been worrying about at work seem doable now.

And 11:11. Say what you will but, I am a believer. It’s how my mommy communicates with me and, although I’d obviously much rather have her here with me on earth, it comforts me to know that she is still looking out for me and letting me know that not only is she there, she’s watching out for all of us.

Blog 1

I was going to write about James Gandolfini passing. It’s the same old story. While I was watching much of that series, I was sick as a dog going through chemotherapy, countless surgeries, radiation and the like. He seemed so alive, so strong, so vibrant. I bought the box set and continued to watch it, pretty much on a continuous loop, through the ten or so years I was going through my health issues.

I am sad tonight but, trying to focus on this. My mom has said before, when I am in a dark place and can’t imagine that I will make it to old age because either I will recur or just because of all the trauma that my body has gone through. Anyway, in those moments, my mom often says that if you asked her years ago, after she had been diagnosed, who would live longer, her or Princess Diana, she would have bet the farm that Princess Di would outlive her. Well, as I was swollen from the steroids, with a stomach that felt like the water churning on a windy day on the Atlantic, with my bald head and my mouth sores, I never, in a million years, thought that I would outlive Tony Soprano.

But, such is life.

His death also makes me want to talk to people who have had recent heart issues and come through the other side. A lot of these people feel scared, hopeless, lost. I get it. But, what they really should be focusing on is the second chance that they were given. Mr. Gandolfini didn’t have that choice. It sounds like, with the little information that we are getting fed to us by the press, he just pretty much had a heart attack, possibly a stroke, and it was over as quickly as it began. I’m sure he would have given anything for a second chance.The only comfort to me is that it sounds like it was quick. I pray he didn’t know what hit him.

And, once again, here we are talking about the frailty of life. I bet if you had asked James Gandolfini who would have lived longer, the actor who played Junior Soprano or himself, he would have put money on himself.

We just never know, folks, when our time will be up. We pray for a long and healthy life but, the bottom line is, we just don’t know.

The moral is, and I don’t want to sound like I am preaching, that we have to be grateful for what we have, the time we have, the health we have, the things we are able to experience, both joyful and sorrowful. Because it is in these experiences, the good and the bad, that we are truly alive.

Al and I took a trip to Bermuda last week. It was a great week, full of relaxing, good food, and more relaxing. One day, while laying on the beach reading one of the five wonderful books I was able to devour while away, I heard a rat a tat tat sound next to me. I looked up, shielded my eyes from the sun, and found myself looking up at an old man – a very very old man. He had on little black shorts and was walking with a cane. It looked like his son and daughter in law were with him, although I can’t know for sure. In any case, they walked down to the water and I turned away to give them some privacy. It turns out, when he was walking back up a few moments later, he was still dry and made a motion to Al as if he was frustrated. He had been trying to get into the water and was just unable to do it. Well, about an hour later, here he comes again. Rat a tat tat. I didn’t look up, as to not make him self conscious. About ten minutes later, I looked towards the sea. There was the man, sitting at the edge of the rough surf, knees up, hands behind him, leaning back. His son and daughter in law were there for support but, damn if that wonderful man wasn’t letting that beautiful sea water wash all over his body. It was in his face, his eyes. It would move him a bit – again, the water was rough – but, he would adjust himself (with a little help) and let it wash over him again. It touched me in a way I can’t explain.

On the way back to his blanket, a woman behind me, probably in her fifties, told him “God Bless You”. The man’s son (or so I’m assuming) told her that they took this trip for the man’s 91st birthday. 91. After the woman wished him a “Happy Birthday” he proceeded to rat a tat tat all the way up to his chair, under a nice big blue umbrella, where he dozed for much of the day. He also read a book, ordered lunch and at one point, I noticed him putting his feet in the beautiful pink sand.

Unlike Mr. Gandolfini’s short 51 years, this man had had lots and lots of time. Who knows what his story was? Perhaps he lost his parents at a young age, maybe a child? He could have had cancer, or heart trouble, or money troubles his entire life. Maybe his life was charmed, and there were no real troubles that he had to deal with. Again, you just never know. You know what, though? I doubt it. Realistically, we all go through hard times. However, even at 91, he was living. Really and truly living. Not feeling sorry for himself because it took him twenty minutes to walk twenty feet, or because the only way he could get in the ocean was to sit down. He didn’t care who was watching. He didn’t care how he looked. He was happy to be alive.

So, Mr. Gandolfini, I hope that you lived the life you had to the fullest. I hope that you took full advantage of the things your celebrity and wealth could afford you. I hope you smoked cigars, and ate good food. I hope that you were proud of the work that you did and that you were proud to have left the legacy of Tony Soprano. I hope you slept with lots of women and drank good wine with your loved ones. I hope that your Italian home was like mine, filled with love, laughter, loudness and insanity, at times. I hope you showered that new baby of yours with kisses and hugs in the short time you had with her because, she will remember. I hope you lived like that old man.

I am a work in progress. I am doing my best to practice what I preach. I am trying to not sweat the small stuff but, to be inspired by all of the crazy, wild things this life throws at me. I hope I have as much time as the old man in the sea but, I could just have as much time as Mr. Gandolfini. In either case, it’s not a hell of a lot of time.

In the words of another great character from the twentieth century, Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Don’t miss it.

Happy Birthday, Old Man. You are an inspiration.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Gandolfini. Thanks for everything.

I will be forty two in just a few short weeks. Forty two. This also happens to be the tenth year of my survival after diagnosis.

I make this point for a very obvious reason. If you told me when I was twenty nine that forty two was only thirteen years away, I would have cringed. Forty two? That’s like middle aged. That’s like OLD. Now, I LOVE forty two, just as I loved forty, and forty one and will love fifty and sixty and, God Willing, eighty. Not sure about ninety. The jury is still out on that one.

That’s what survivorship gives you, if you are lucky enough, and smart enough, to grab it. Perspective.

I hear people complain about their kids, and how they drive them crazy. I join in, I’ll admit. There is a difference, though. A difference in the “tone” of the complaining. I don’t know how to describe it except for that is “complaining mixed with joy”. I am so filled with joy at the fact that I am here for my kids to drive crazy that, even when they are, I can’t conjure up the kind of anger that many of my peers can.

I see people’s posts about going to the gym, going to the gym, going to the gym. I get it. People want to be in shape. In my heart I believe that it is 20 percent about health and 80 percent about looking good. I am not against this, as a concept. As a matter of fact, I am currently on a diet. I’d like to lose about twenty pounds. But, guess what? It’s not even close to a top priority in my life. I have lost things that no amount of running, or weight lifting, or working out will ever give me back. I have learned to love myself for who I am, and not for what I look like. I am always astounded when people say to me, “I swear, I wouldn’t even know that you had cancer and all of those surgeries.” I am so profoundly changed physically that I feel that they can’t really mean it. What I have to remember is that most of the changes are changes that only I can see, and that my spirit and my personality is what they are seeing. It is what is coming through. So, as long as I am not at a point where my health is in jeopardy, I would much rather spend my time doing things I enjoy than stressing about getting to the gym every day.

Some of my friends are going into menopause. I know, because they tell me. About their symptoms and the hot flashes and the moodiness, etc. etc. First of all, been there, done that, as many breast cancer survivors will tell you. I had the added pleasure of going from being pregnant to being in menopause all in a matter of five months. That’s a ride NO woman wants to take, believe me! Talk about mood swings. My husband actually called my oncologist because he really felt as though there was an invasion of the body snatchers situation going on.

As  a short explanation, I was raging with hormones before my baby was born and immediately after, while I was breast feeding. I was diagnosed at four months with estrogen positive cancer. That meant, I would have to have hormonal therapies that put me into immediate menopause. Thus, the huge drop in hormones within just a few months.

Now, it did suck, I won’t lie. Thankfully, when I was done with my treatment, I went back to “normal” and my cycles picked back up right where they left off. I know that menopause is coming in the next few years, though. And, here’s the thing, I can only experience it again if I am ALIVE. So, I will take it. I will take the hot flashes, the weight gain, the night sweats. I will take the mood swings (poor Al) and the bone density tests and everything else that comes with menopause because I will be grateful to be here to experience it.

I sometimes feel like a broken record here but, when all of these milestones happen to me (and just the fact that I count each birthday as a milestone should tell you something), I can’t help but to share the things that I have learned from this hellish experience of mine.

I guess it all boils down to this. One day you will die. Until then, don’t stop living.

 Fill your days up with things that you enjoy. Surround yourself with your friends and with your family. Open your house to people, celebrate birthdays and holidays and sunny days and Thursdays. Eat cake. Go in the ocean, even if it’s a little cold. Spend your money. Go on vacations, buy stupid souviniers, spend nine dollars on a hot dog at a Yankee game. Snuggle and cuddle and let the dog on the bed. When someone says “ you look great” say “thank you!”.  Drink good wine, eat good food, and drive a convertible at least once, even if you have to rent it. Have sex, even when you have a headache. Laugh as hard as you can, as often as you can (Thank you Lori and Chrissy), tell people you love them, even if they don’t say it back. Go to the movies, don’t wait for them to come out on DVD, and sing Karaoke like you are a rock star. Go to a Halloween party dressed as a Giant Shark, and not worry that you will look like a giant fool.


And, no matter what age you are turning this year, no matter when, I wish you a very happy birthday.

I felt guilty for being alive today.

There is a new person in my life, who I had only met one other time, and who I like very much. I spent some time with him today.  After taking care of business, we were chatting.

He looked at the photographs in my office and commented on the one of me, Al, Michael and Jack with the dolphins at Atlantis. He told me that he goes there once a year. “This year will be bittersweet”, he said.

I asked why.

Because it was the first time he was going since his daughter died last October, he said, from breast cancer. 

She was diagnosed at 32 with Stage IV. It was never good. It never got better.

She was just 32 when she was diagnosed. She had two children at the time. Two little girls. One was just a year old.

The similarities were obvious. I was diagnosed at 31. I had two small children. Two little boys.  One was just four months old.

Since my diagnosis, I have had twenty surgeries, drains, chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapies, shots, pills, swelling, baldness, terror, sores in my mouth, high fevers, rashes, eyelashes growing in backwards, lost nails, pain, numbness, terror, night sweats, pain meds, anti anxiety meds, terror, recurrent infections, weight gain, missed school functions, missed work functions, embarrassment and terror.

So did she.

 From what I learned today, she also made sure that she lived, even while going through all of the above. She went on vacations, she did things with her family, she did everything she was physically capable of doing. She didn’t waste any of her precious time. I felt such a connection to this girl that I never met. I told her father that I, too, had gone to Disney with radiation burns on my neck and a bald head that hurt (hair hurts when it falls out). I told him that we would do what we could and just bring a wheelchair with us.

He shared with me. And, I’m glad he did. I shared with him. I’m also glad about that.

Even though it was just the second time we met, we kissed each other good bye. I hope that meeting me didn’t hurt him too much. I hope that it wasn’t too painful to look at me and think to himself “why did this girl survive and not my daughter?”. He probably did, because that’s what I thought to myself.

I cried a little when he left. I tried not to but, I couldn’t help it. He may have cried on the way home. I’ll never know.

I felt guilty for being alive today. I feel bad that she is gone. I feel bad for her parents, her sister and brother, her husband and her children. I feel bad about all the crap she had to go through and all of the fear that I’m sure she felt. 

At the end of the day, I went through what I went through, and got life. She went through the same (and worse) and at the end of her journey, her life was gone.

She was diagnosed at 32. She died at 36. And, even though I’ve never met her, I love her.

I will pray tonight for her family and her friends.

I will also pray that when I wake up tomorrow, I feel more lucky than guilty.

I have to say, I really despise the term he or she “lost their battle with cancer”. It just bothers me on a visceral level.  I would much rather hear “Amy decided not to play the cancer game anymore. She told cancer he was a dirty player, that she would not participate anymore, and she walked off the field.”

I guess I hate the term so much because it implies that cancer, and not God himself, has the control over when we leave this earth. It implies that cancer is the winner, is victorious. Gets to make decisions that only God can make.  I was not raised to believe this.

Like my  Grandma Nickie said to me my whole life “It’s in the book”. I may have mentioned it in some of the early blogs but, for those of you who didn’t read some or any of them, let me elaborate.

Grandma believed that God is sitting with a big book, a tome, if you will. He uses this book to keep track of all of his children. Before you are born, he dreams you up, what you will do, be, how you will help, whose lives you will touch, and how long you will be needed in your physical body, before you are brought back up to him. So, an entry is made on the day that you are born but, there is also an entry made, on the very same day, of the day that you will pass away.

No matter what you do, or how you try to change it, your name is on that page. That is the day. Now, he may edit it from time to time. That is for him, and only him, to know. But, for our purposes, the date is the date. That’s it.

This is why, although my mother has battled cancer three times, she outlived Princess Diana, who was the epitome of health. It is why my oncologist told me that he has people with very early stage cancers, who should live fifty more years, die in a few months and people with very late stage cancers, who for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t make it to their next birthday, live another fifty years. It’s why children die, why four innocent people went to the drug store on Father’s Day and were gunned down and killed instantly. And why, deep down, I really don’t believe in Karma.

God is holding the book, making his entries, and there is really not a damned thing we can do about it. I find the notion both scary and comforting at the same time.

Scary in that, at the end of the day, you have to admit that you don’t really have control. That’s tough, especially for people like me, who become very agitated and nervous when they feel that they are not in control. And there are a lot of us out there.

Now, I’m not saying not to take care of yourself while you are here, so that you can be as healthy and live life as comfortably as you can when you are here. Also, I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t be a good person because I don’t believe in “karma”. I believe in a heaven, and if you want to get there, the being a good person thing is key.

I really am starting to believe in Grandma Nickie’s theory, the older I get.

It’s in the book.

That’s also comforting. You can relax in the fact that you know that when it is your time, it’s really God’s decision. It’s nothing you did wrong, or because you were a bad person, or because you did chemo and radiation but, you decided not to take tamoxifen. When someone  you love passes, it prevents the useless “What could I have done differently? What didn’t I do? Were they ready?” According to Grandma, they were taken because the page was flipped and their name was on it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I hope that I am in a very late chapter. I am just as scared as the next person of when my time will come. Right now, I am highly motivated to live on this earth with the people around me.

I heard that my friend who recently passed was coherent, knew that he most likely was not going to make it, and he was peaceful. That makes me feel even more strongly about the whole book theory, as opposed to the “losing” theory.  Knowing he was peaceful makes me think that it was God calling off the game. That my friend didn’t “lose” any battle. I think of his passing as going something like this; Cancer throws a particularly nasty throw at him on Thursday, God steps into the ring and yanks my friend out, not even glancing at Cancer, standing there frustrated that he can’t continue this fight. For the fight is what it likes, it’s the misery that it enjoys inflicting.  God tells my friend, “OK, here’s my book. I’m on page one trillion, three hundred million and fifty-two and there is your name, three lines down. You have been such a good man on this earth and I thank you for that. I have big plans for your everlasting life, though, and we have to start right now.”

Cancer is the loser. My friend is the winner, who was lifted up, out of all the earthly misery to a place where there is only happiness, only joy, no worries, no envy, no fear and certainly no cancer.

So, since you have no idea what page in God’s book you are on, enjoy your time here to the fullest. For, there are also many happy and joyful moments to be had.

And, please, for my sake, try to prevent using the “losing battle” analogy. Let’s not give cancer any credit for doing something that only God can do, which is call us home.

Someone died a couple of weeks ago. He was here, working and living his life, and then he wasn’t. I had spoken to him about a month ago, and just gotten an e-mail from him a few days before he passed. I had no idea that he would die.  I mean, I knew one day it would happen but, not that day.

It messed me up. He was someone who I had gotten closer to recently, when he was diagnosed with cancer.  I knew him through work and had always liked him but, didn’t know all that much about his personal life; his likes, dislikes, what his home looked like, what kind of music he liked. I knew just that he was married and had children and we were in the same industry.

When he told me that he had cancer, I tried to help. I told him that he would get through it, that he would come out “on the other side”. His treatments were especially brutal, and I know that he was exhausted and emotionally drained. His sister actually wrote a comment on this very blog while he was having his last treatment. She was kind enough to tell me that my blog had helped to give him a “boost’ before treatment.

He was diagnosed in September. That was in January. His last treatment, he wrote to me in an e-mail. He was so excited and I could picture the smile on his face.

He e-mailed me in March that his scans looked good.  He had a follow-up scan scheduled for May but, he was positive. He thought he had beaten this thing.

And then, I got the word a couple of weeks ago that he passed. I had no clue. Again, I had gotten an e-mail from him a few days before and he did not mention that he was sick. I found out later that the cancer had, indeed, come back and that he had undergone more horrendous treatment, only to get an infection and pass away.

And, so, I don’t know how to feel. I cried. I got scared. If his could come back, so could mine, right? I felt guilty for even thinking about myself when it was someone else who died. I felt that thing they call “survivor’s guilt” – why did he die while I got to live? Being honest, and that is what I am here, for better or for worse, I think that’s bullshit. I don’t feel guilty that I lived. I feel extremely blessed and grateful and in awe and other feelings that I don’t even know how to put into words.  And, I felt extreme sadness for his wife and for his kids and for his friends. And, I felt angry when I heard someone say he “lost his battle” with cancer. That’s bullshit, too! I refuse to give that horrible black hole of a disease any sort of victory.

I was glad, though, that he read my blog and it made him feel good and hopeful. I was glad that every time we spoke I asked him how he was and told he to hang in there and to stay positive and to not give up. I hope that he enjoyed the “space between” his good scan and his crappy one, even though that time was short. I hope that he hugged his wife more and told his kids more often that he loved them.

I hope you do the same, even if you are healthy as a horse.  ESPECIALLY if you are healthy as a horse.

Someone died a couple of weeks ago. I’ll miss him. I hope he is not hurting anymore.

And, life goes on……..

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