Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Craving for Dried Pineapple

At some point over the past few weeks, I've gotten it in my head that I must have dried pineapple from Trader Joe's. Little did I know, this craving would lead me on a fun adventure downtown with my Zoë June. (Now, when I say "adventure", we must remember that we are talking about stay at home mom who considers it an "adventure" to walk outside with the kids to get the mail).

Nonetheless, the day started out with a fun surprise for Zoë. She was going to go to work with daddy! I volunteer every Tuesday morning in Peter's Kindergarten class and struggle to find a sitter for the one hour time slot. We decided to take a chance and send little Miss, armed with toys and movies, to daddy's law firm. It worked like a charm...and I got to spend some quality time teaching and interacting with Peter and his peers at school. 

Here's where the pineapple craving comes in. After saying goodbye to Peter (he unabashedly kisses me on the lips and tells me he loves me in front of his class. Please don't grow up!) I picked up Zoë and we headed to TJ's where she insisted on pushing the "baby cart" (customer in training). After loading up on far too many dried fruits, nuts, and trail mixes, we made it back to the inner warmth of the car. Don't you love cold Fall days where the sun is shining and your car is the perfect temperature to climb into? 

But I didn't feel like heading home. I love being downtown. I tried calling Brighton, but she was heading to lunch with her hubby (newlyweds...who can blame them?) It had been such a long time since I'd been in the downtown Salt Lake City Library so I decided to hit it up. Zoë was going to love it!

It was a pleasant surprise when I discovered that street parking was free. Hmm..Must be a Veteran's Day thing. You know what is also a Veteran's Day thing? A closed library. Darn. But then I remembered that Intermountain Donor has a "Donate Life" memorial section on the grounds of the library..and Lucy's name is etched in glass, along with hundreds and hundreds of others, because of her organ donation. 

Zoë and I made our way to the corner of the library square while I searched frantically for Lucy's name. I'd seen it before, years ago, when we went to the dedication of the memorial. But there are so many names and they are difficult to read. I couldn't remember where hers was. Anxiety was building up inside of me as I scanned row after row of names. They are not in alphabetical order and I could not remember where to find it. I had this feeling that if I was lucky enough to find her name, it would be like she would come back to life again--just for a minute or two. It was like looking for her in a crowd of people. My eyes were scanning so quickly, my heart racing. Then suddenly, I hear Zoë's little voice, "LUCY!!"

I raced over to find Zoë sitting here in "mommy's" lap, pointing up at "Lucy". She knew I had been searching for "Lucy" on the glass wall and she was so excited to let me know that she found her. I cannot tell you how it made me feel to hear Zoë say Lucy's name so many times. The reason I can't tell you how it made me feel is because I don't know. I'm still processing it. It was...like magic. No, really. You know when you watch a magician and you are AMAZED at the tricks he does, but part of you is disturbed and entirely curious HOW he (or she) does the tricks? That's how it felt. Let me hear you say it more, Zoë! The sound of her name! The sound of YOU saying her name! It's...beautiful. It's amazing. Do it again! But...why does it make me feel so sad and curious? Why does it feel so foreign and mysterious to hear you say it? Magic. 

Zoë found a "secret pathway" (a walkway made of engraved stones) and walked up and down it about 5 times. This particular stone stood out to me. 

On the walk back to the car, Zoë noticed the City Building across the street and her entire face lit up. "Castle!!" She really wanted to see the castle. We made our way there to discover that it was also closed. But Zoë made the most of the situation by curtsying to her crowd and waving at the common folk. (She really did). 

Who knew my craving for dried Pineapple would lead to such a glorious Fall day downtown with my sweet cheeks? The thought occurred to me, as I think back on the frantic way I scanned the memorial wall for Lucy's name--I didn't find it. I wanted so desperately to. I wanted to see her name engraved for all the world to see. But I had to keep an eye out for Zoë. I had to make sure she didn't run into the street or into the arms of the several homeless men hanging around. I didn't get the surge of pride moment I was hoping for when discovering her name. 

My life hasn't followed the "story" I had made up in my head. But I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job experiencing the new and wonderful story life has presented me. I don't want to waste time trying to change it or mold it into something I think it should be, or used to want. I want to let it be what it is. Dried pineapple and all the other wonderful, horrible things thrown in too. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A belated Birthday Letter to my Lucy

My dearest daughter,

You had a birthday this summer. It was your 8th birthday. I'm sorry this birthday letter is so late. I think about you everyday and have wondered exactly what is going to spill forth from my heart in this letter. I guess we are about to find out.

When I think of you, I think of your sister. When I am with your sister, I think of you. I suppose it is because she is my strongest point of reference. Zoë has passed you in age, but not in size. She's just a tiny little thing.

We miss you. Your brother and sister talk about you all the time. They tell your story to their teachers and friends, and they love looking at pictures and videos of you. Zoë points to your picture and says, "Lucy choked on a apple."

I don't know how much they really understand. But I know they understand that you are part of our family. You are part of our prayers. You are part of our conversations and plans and part of our heart.

Your daddy and I were sitting in church earlier today and glanced over at your brother and sister. Believe it or not, they were sitting quietly, holding hymn books and trying to sing along in Spanish. Zoë sat closest to us, then Peter, then...You. No, we didn't see you sitting there, but it is what we wanted. They were stacked up so nice and neat on the bench-- shortest little red head, shorter Peter with his brown hipster haircut, then a spot just above his head and shoulders where your blonde would fit perfectly.

Your cousins, Jack and Thacker, closest in age to you (along with Luke earlier in the Spring) were baptized this week. I still can't believe I would have such a big girl. Is it fun for you to watch your family growing up? I don't know how much you get to see or be around for, so I'll fill you in on a few things:

Zoë is so darling it hurts. She loves to dance and sing and walks around saying, "I be in a show, OK?" Peter is doing excellent in school as well as his music lessons. He can read sheet music, play chords, knows his notes and his intervals too! It's so exciting! Daddy is still hoping to find a new job. Will you comfort him, Lucy? He's really down. Is there anything you can do to help him find a different job? A job where he will be happier and able to provide more? I don't know how things work on the other side...but try to pull some strings, OK?

I'm busy performing in my show, taking care of the kids and the house, and trying to balance everything. I have come to accept that you died. I have come to accept the horrible tragedy that happened. But as your brother and sister grow, I realize I will have to someday accept the fact that they are missing out on an incredible older sibling. It is a whole new element to my grief.

We celebrated your birthday this year by taking pillow cases to Primary Children's Hospital. We went to your grave and had a picnic. We love you. So many people love you. So many people suffer greatly everyday. You have taught be how to be more aware and tender toward that suffering.

I love you, dear daughter. Forever and ever. I've said it before, but you make me much less afraid of growing older. I have something so incredible to look forward to.

Big hugs and kisses from all of us,

Mommy Molly

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

10 Things Only Someone Who has Lost a Child Will Understand

1) Forceful rushing rage will descend upon you without a breath's notice. Years and years will have gone by since the loss of your child. A general sense of peace and functionality will have returned to the better part of your life. But in the blink of an eye, fierce anger will race through your veins because your child is no longer here and you'll have deeply violent urges to punch and kick and break something...or someone.

2) A helicopter or ambulance speeding by or overhead will NEVER go unnoticed by you. You could be singing along to your favorite George Michael song in your car at the top of your lungs, the sun shining on your face and the moment you hear the chopper or siren, your heart races. Your eyes glance upward at the racing life flight helicopter and you get a pit in your stomach. You shake your head and pray for the family involved in the accident. You take a deep breath, turn off the radio, and continue driving in silence.

3) Every fun, beautiful, adventurous moment with your other living children is always, ALWAYS tainted by the gaping hole of your child's absence. Always. You grieve even for your LIVING children because they are missing a sibling. So much grieving.

4) When you hear conversations involving sick children in the hospital, children undergoing surgery, children waiting for a transplant...any child who is still ALIVE but in a very sad and painful situation in the hospital...all you can think is, "At least they are still alive. At least they are going to live." You want so badly to empathize with your friends and acquaintances telling these stories and sharing their feelings, but all you can think when they talk about how difficult it is to see your child suffer is, "SUFFER? How about suffer AND DIE?" So instead, you get very quiet and drawn inward and you remember those painful, painful, heart wrenching days and years after your child died. You don't want to become bitter. You don't want it to be all about you. You know the difficulties your friends are sharing are real and painful, but...it makes you feel disconnected and "different"...which makes you feel sad.

5) The circumstance in which your child died will always be on your radar. If your child drowned, you will ALWAYS be worried about your children and any other child near water. If your child died because she choked, you will ALWAYS be extra alert and aware of any young child putting hard foods into their mouths. If your child died in a car accident, you will ALWAYS have a tinge of anxiety while driving with children. It gets better and more manageable, but it will always be a part of your world.

6) You know how you ask yourself what would have happened if you'd married Joe instead of Jake? Or if you had moved to Boston instead of L.A.? Where would you be in life right now? Well, you live with that everyday...because you are living the actual life that happened after your child died. And you wonder every time the sun comes up what your life would be like if your child had lived. Would you be as wise and as sensitive as you are? Are you even wise? Or were you just forced to "grow up" way too soon? Would you be as angry and broken? Would you, would you, would you...You live in a constant state of "what if".

7)You can never have just a plain old, regular "bad day" because every bad day or negative emotion is layered with thoughts like, "Now, how much of this is because I'm having a bad day, struggling with my marriage, stressed about work...and how much of it is compounded by and effected by the fact that my child died?" No emotions can ever stand alone as they are. They always arrive with unannounced company.

8) Your spiritual and religious beliefs become rocked and questioned. Life after death and all the specifics involving it (resurrection, etc.) is a beautiful doctrine to discuss and pontificate over, but until your heart is ripped out of your chest and your world truly turned upside down and inside out, you aren't forced to face what you truly believe. You start entirely from scratch and realize that so much more than you thought is simply unknown.

9) Tears become your most valued commodity. When someone takes the time to talk to you about your child and learn your story and sheds tears with you or for you, it buys you more desire to continue living. It reminds you that you are not alone. It reminds you that people have good and caring hearts. It forges beautiful friendships and connections of great value. And it opens doors to learn about THEIR heartaches. It humbles you and reminds you how special your child is/was. (And here comes that anger again that you just had to type "is/was")

10) You write Huffington Post-like blog posts ("13 Things Only People with a Flat Butt will Understand! " #4 Will blow your mind!) to try and formulate your thoughts and put your angst into place. You don't speak for everyone who has lost a child in a tragic accident, but you know that those who have, will understand where you are coming from and try to calm your racing heart as you muddle through life.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Did I mention our summer?

It was a good one. Cousins, Bear Lake, my sister staying at Solitude for the entire month of July, swimming, splash pads, Red Butte Garden, friends, games, parks, swings, BBQs, photo shoots for the kids...

Just wanted to mention it before the first snowfall.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nose Job--Before and After

The long awaited "Before" and "After" photos of my nose are finally in my possession. Although my incredible surgeon can cut open my face and shape my nose into a masterpiece, he is a little inept when it comes to emailing me the photos. Go figure. So these images were actually mailed to me, then I photographed them and downloaded them to my computer. Wish they were sharper for you.

I'm happy with it. I'm glad I did it. It's funny how some people don't even notice, while others make comments like, "Wow, I hardly recognize you!" It's definitely an improvement and I'm glad I won't have to worry about the giant hole in my septum or my sagging cartilage on my former "buttnose" as I age.

Well done, Doctor Randal Swenson, well done. It's subtle, yet makes a huge difference (in my opinion). What say you? The differences are much more apparent when looking at the original photos as opposed to these photos of a photo. But what can you do or drag a board?

And don't forget, if you didn't win the Fino Designs "Little People" giveaway, you can still get 20% off her Etsy Shop with code: HOPESMILINGBRIGHTLY Seriously, you need to purchase some of her prints or get a family portrait done. They are CLASSIC  and so CUTE and creative. I beg of you. Just in the name of awesomeness and good taste.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fino Designs--"Little People" Giveaway

Jackson Family Portrait 2014

How. CUUUTE and great are these "Little People" family portraits? I'm really in love. Really. For real. 

Vic's wonderful cousin, Shirley, has a small side business called Fino Designs where she takes your family photo with vintage "little people" toys in front of your home. She also has some wonderful Little People scene prints that are perfect for a play room or nursery. 

If you live in Salt Lake or Utah County and would like a family portrait taken, leave a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS and you'll be entered into the giveaway for a "Little People" family portrait or your choice of a print from her shop. If you don't live in Utah, you can still win a print! Go to her Etsy shop HERE and check and see the cuteness. 

Also, please go to her Facebook page HERE and "like" it. I just adore these little scenes. And the way she set up our Lucy angel in our family portrait makes my heart so happy. Such sweet simpleness. 

Winner will notified via email. Giveaway closes next Thursday, Oct. 2nd at midnight. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A girl named Anna

I had an experience a few weeks ago that I've been meaning to share. Like always, I hesitate in sharing things like this because I never want it to be seen as me telling you how great I am. Always it is because I learn something and need to process it and record it.

A beautiful girl named Trisha is in the show with me right now. (When I say, "the show with me right now", I am referring to Catch Me if You Can at the Hale Centre Theatre). She and I were in The Wedding Singer together years ago. We are the same age (ok, I'm 3 years older), we both have 3 kids, and she lives close to me. We've become good friends and so have our kids. It's been wonderful!

She was expressing her frustrations to me on our drive to rehearsal about how difficult her kids had been that day, how little patience she had with them and was questioning if she was a good mother or not. I have spent a significant amount of time in her beautiful home in Daybreak and I can tell you that she is a great mother. I reminded her that her kids are well fed, clean, safe, and loved. Sometimes these are the most important things...not how clean our house is or if our daughters hair is done just right. Sometimes we yell and are so exhausted...but we are doing our best. 

That very night, after Trish dropped me off at our meeting point, I got in my car to finish the short drive home and saw a woman and young child walking with their arms full of stuff. I thought it was strange that they would be out so late (10:30 p.m.) on a walk to the store. (I assumed they had gone grocery shopping or something and didn't have a car). Another strange thing is that they were walking  near a big open field toward a highway and no apartment buildings or residential neighborhoods were very close to where they were. Huh. 

I kept driving. 

I was only about 1/4 mile from home when I had the feeling I should turn around and see if they needed a ride. It took some tricky driving, flipping a U on a busy street, but I made my way over to them, rolled down my window and asked them if they needed help. 

At first, the woman kept her distance and had a scared look on her face. I don't blame her. Once she looked a little closer and (I think) saw that I was just a little blonde lady with a smile on my face, she emphatically said, "Yes! We do need a ride"

The woman (she was only about 22) and her 4 yr. old daughter piled into my car and I asked where they were headed. That's when Anna told me that she and her boyfriend had gotten in a fight and they were running away from him. He yelled at her, spit on her, and called her explicit names in front of her daughter, so they got out of his car and decided to walk home--which was about 6 miles. They were carrying a few bags and her daughter's booster seat. 

Anna launched into an entire story of how they were fighting over a movie and how immature her boyfriend was acting, etc. She was using plenty of harsh swear words herself as she explained things to me. 

Part way through her story, her darling daughter piped up and said, "Mommy, I love you. Are we almost home? I'm tired." 

It broke my heart to see this little girl in a situation like this. I ended up driving Anna and her daughter all the way from South Jordan to her boyfriend's apartment in Murray(that is where her car was parked). But once we got there, her boyfriend was waiting outside for her so we drove past (of course he didn't know my car. I had never met these people!) and drove all the way to Kearns to take her to her x-husband's mother's house. That's when she told me that her x-husband is in prison but his mother watches her daughter everyday while she (Anna) goes to work. The reason she decided to have me take her to Kearns was because her boyfriend didn't know that particular house. She didn't want to go home to her parents home (where she is living in the basement) in South Jordan in case he might come looking for her. 

The point is, her little daughter kept asking questions, talking about how tired she was, and telling her mommy that she loved her. All the while, Anna was scared, upset, using foul language--but grateful for my help. I was proud of her for getting out of the situation and standing up for herself and her daughter. I turned to her and said, "I know we just met. You don't know me. But you cannot be with him. You just can't. Don't go back to him. You and your daughter deserve better than that." 

She offered to give me money for gas and she was so amazed when I told her I was coming home from a rehearsal because I am a performer. She acted like I was famous...which I got a kick out of. 

My stomach fell when I dropped her and her daughter off at her x-mother -in-law's home. It was in a dodgy neighborhood. Their plan was to sleep on the couch. I wanted to take her darling daughter home with me. 

I called Trish (it was 11:30 by this point) and said, "Remember earlier today when you were so worried and hard on yourself about being a good mom? Remember when I told you that you provide a safe and happy and stable environment for your children? Even though you lose your cool and get overwhelmed they are still clean and fed and cared for?"--Then I launched into the story I just told shared with all of you. I told her not to be so hard on herself. 

I don't know where Anna started. I don't know the kind of childhood she had. And I could tell she loved her daughter. She was a very pretty girl and it sounds like she has a stable job. But I could tell she was not given as many opportunities as I have been given. I don't know what kind of examples or support system she has in her life. I tried my best not to judge, but just to love and serve her and offer her my advice. 

She thanked me profusely as we said our goodbyes. I drove home, walked into the quiet, clean house of my parents, and thanked God for the opportunity I had to meet her and to remember how much I have to be grateful for...especially for the wonderful man that Vic is. I wish every little girl could have an example of manhood and love such as Vic. 

I know where Anna works and I have been tempted to stop in and check on her. She reminded me how much we all need each other and how much we can care for and learn from perfect strangers if we learn their stories. I hope things are going well for her. (And I hope her boyfriend gets kicked in the balls). I'm so glad I followed that impression to stop. I especially hope for a bright and stable future for her daughter. And I hope I can remember that while I may not be the perfect mom, I am still doing my best...just like a girl named Anna. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The History of a Friendship--Justin Kinnaird

It's been nearly 8 months since my close friend, Justin, passed away. I wrote this shortly after his passing but have been waiting for the right time to publish it. Tonight feels like the right time. Oh, how I miss him. His birthday is in a few short weeks. Perhaps that is why I keep coming back to this post in my heart and mind. 

Artist, Sean Diediker, holds a painting he did of Justin after news of his death. My parents gifted me a copy of this painting for my birthday last month. 

It dawned on me that many of you who don't know me in real life might be wondering who this Justin character is that I often blog about. The Justin who just passed away 2 months ago. I thought I'd fill you in on the history of our friendship and try to shed a little light on the absolutely incredible person he was.

Maybe it seems strange to you that my best friend was a man. He also happened to be one of Vic's closest friends (I came first...but he adopted Vic once we got married) as well as my parents'. That's just the kind of person he was. A friend to everyone. At his funeral there was a running joke where we argued over whose best friend he really was. Each speaker that got up introduced themselves as "Justin's best friend."

I met Justin in 1997 at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) the first day of school. We were both auditioning for my dad's performing group, Showtime Company. After the auditions, he approached me and asked me if I wanted to walk home with him.  I still remember what I was wearing. Black dance pants, black dance shoes and a burnt orange Banana Republic sweatshirt.

As we walked, he opened up to me about his brother who had recently had surgery, and some family friends of his who had just passed away in a car accident. He was so honest, so open, so sincere, so real. His kind and vulnerable ways really struck me. It was the first time I ever remember having a conversation with someone of the opposite sex where I didn't feel uncomfortable, self-conscious, or like I couldn't be myself. (A pretty big deal for a 19 year old...at least for me).

I left his apartment feeling like a different person. Honestly. In that one walk, that one conversation, I felt a whole new world open up to me. A world where people are real and honest and they communicate with heartfelt words. No flirting or awkwardness...just two human beings with beautiful souls who want to enjoy being in the presence of each other. I had experienced this with my girlfriends, but never with a guy.

We both ended up making the performing group and spent the entire year together...singing, dancing, rehearsing, walking to classes together, studying, driving around in his old little car, and laughing our heads off. We took trips to Salmon, Idaho and swam in the hot springs, went sledding, hung out with his marvelous parents, and stayed up late talking about life. With our friend, Paul, we headed to San Francisco to play at the beaches and parks and shop. At the end of that year, we toured together with the rest of our performing group for an entire month. It was heaven.

After college we kept in touch...always. We had the same sense of humor and would leave each other the funniest voice mails. We always talked about recording our voice mails into one big album and making an NPR story out of them. They were hilarious. So many different voices and characters were born in those voice mails.

Every guy I dated was compared to Justin. In fact, (and I truly don't remember this...what was I thinking????) when Vic and I were talking about getting married,  Vic tells me I walked over to the phone, called Justin and asked him if he thought the two of us would ever get married. When he told me, "no", I hung up and was able to tell Vic that we could go ahead and get married. ( I DO remember doing this with another guy I almost married two years earlier). Justin was my standard for all men.

He was there for me when I went through the temple for the first time, he was there when my brother was in drug rehab then ran away in NYC over Christmastime, (literally. He was came to NYC with my family for Christmas when I was living in Brooklyn),  he was there when I got married, he was there when Lucy was born, and he was there when Lucy died. He was the only non-family member in the room when we said our final goodbyes. Vic was on one side of the bed (I was laying in bed next to Lucy, stroking her hair) holding my hand, and Justin was holding my hand on the other side of the hospital bed. He brought food to the hospital and fed the countless friends and family who came to support us.

He was classy and interesting and enjoyed the finer things in life. He sent me beautiful silk scarves on my mission, he spoke French, he ran Salt Lake's number one restaurant (Cucina Toscana), he sang like George Michael, I loved his siblings and parents and sense of humor. And my family loved him. He was like a brother to all of us. He came to family dinners, on family vacations...it was not uncommon to be talking on the phone with him and have him tell me he needed to answer the other line because my mom or dad was calling.

Our good friend, Paul Canaan, (who is in Kinky Boots on Broadway right now...so fun), used to tease Justin relentlessly about how he couldn't take Justin anywhere because he would end up talking to the clerk, sales person, gas station attendant, librarian...whomever, and learning their life story. He was passionate about people. He taught me how to love strangers and connect with them.

His last text to me, which I got about three days before he died while I sat in rehearsal, was asking me how close to Kiev, Ukraine my parents were (they go there once a month from Moscow) because he had a friend filming a documentary there and he needed to get to a safe place. He had friends everywhere. I don't know a single person who met him who didn't love him.

He had his struggles. I think it is why he had such a tender heart.  He knew the reality of pain. I will never forget the day he asked me to go to his house near Liberty Park. Lucy was about 3 months old. I sat in his messy living room (his house was being remodeled...let's be honest, his house was always messy) as he stained the new cabinets in his kitchen. We chatted about some of his friends and their latest projects...photography, painting. And then he stopped what he was doing, knelt down at my feet, and told me he needed to tell me something. The tears flowed down his cheeks as he confided in me that he was gay. He was trembling. He explained how he had prayed and fasted until he was 130 pounds (he's 6 feet tall) but that nothing worked. He told me that if he could cut off one of his limbs and have the Lord take away this struggle, he would gladly do it.

I cried with him that day. I listened and hugged him and told him how much I loved him. Just like he had done for me so many times before, and continued to do until the day he died.

Sometimes Vic and I would sit in bed with the phone on speaker and talk to Justin about his heartaches. We'd also talk about business ideas (he had such a creative mind and was always starting new projects. He was the ultimate host.) We always talked about traveling to France together one day. We'd talk about food and our families, church, music... there weren't many topics I can think of that we DIDN'T talk about.

No matter what was said, we were just saying "I love you" with every conversation. There were times he'd retreat into a dark, black hole and not want to come out. But eventually, he always did. He lived with his sister (and sister's husband) and her 4 children in their beautiful home in Bountiful. He loved his nieces and nephews immensely. He couldn't hide for long before a loved one would coax him out of his depression.

Justin was a builder. He built up everyone around him. He made you feel like the most special person in the room. It was truly his gift. If you go to his memorial facebook page and read what people have written about him, you will see that I am not exaggerating here. He was an absolutely beautiful soul.

So when I say that I'm happy for him--happy that he is home--it is because I know about the wars that were raging in his heart. He often told me he just wanted to go home. He was so weary. He said he felt he lived a life of "almosts". I can almost be happy with a woman...but not quite. I can almost be happy with a man...but I struggle with the gay lifestyle and the guilt. I can almost be rich and famous (most of his friends were) but I just want to live with my family and serve people.

You know that 80's song, "You can look at the menu but you just can't eat...you can feel the cushions but you can't have a seat. You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can't have a swim. You can feel the punishment but you can't commit the sin." ? I think its a Howard Jones song. He used to say that was his theme song.

Yes, he came close to taking his life at one point. But he was in a wonderful and happy spot when he passed away. He did not take his own life. He had just finished 2 intense weeks of parties and dinners at Sundance (including a birthday party for the actress Geena Davis) and was supposed to take over ownership of Cucina Toscana the day after he died. I firmly choose to believe that he truly wore himself out in the service of others. It was not uncommon for him to wear himself ragged. He would not eat at his incredible dinners. He was too busy serving and hosting. He'd go through the Wendy's drive-thru at 2 a.m. then go home and crash. In the days before he died he was looking dehydrated.

All that matters now is that he is gone. But it also matters that he left an incredible legacy and impression on those of us left behind. I mostly mourn for his family who aches for him...his brothers and sister and parents.

I will miss his gigantic laugh, the safety of his hug, the freedom he granted me to be myself--to call and talk about everything and nothing. To sob uncontrollably because motherhood is too hard, and death is too hard. To talk about marriage and business ideas and church and money.

I have felt him near me and even communicating with me since his death. I've even laughed with him. I feel incredibly grateful knowing he is with Lucy. I feel incredibly grateful that I was a small part of his life and he mine. I love you, Justin. Thank you for loving me so perfectly.

I know it is so cliche, but I want to do better at expressing my love and gratitude to everyone in my life. We never know how much time we have on earth together. And we never, ever know the depths of heartache people are experiencing.

So that's my Justin. My incredible, unforgettable, wonderful Justin. One of the best men I have ever known.

Here he is being the Master of Ceremonies at my last benefit concert for A Good Grief. 
photo by Justin Hackworth