Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other

I have a large calendar that sits directly next to the computer on my desk.  Every day has something scribbled on it to remind me which kid has what activity; Yesterday a food drive.  Today a World Diversity Culture Fair.  Tomorrow no school.  Friday an Easter Egg Hunt.    

Some days don't need any reminders, for they carry their own invisible red circles around them, never letting me forget.  Almost two months, and it is still unbelievably surreal.

We stay busy here.  For sanity's sake.  For my well being.  Sitting around a house does not do any of us any good.  So we fill our calendar with activities, sometimes with school schtuff which is entirely out of our control.  We sponsored a new family who recently arrived here in El Salvador.  We took the kids to a Broadway Show.  I put together a wickedly successful Progressive Dinner for 35 families at Post.  The kids have attended 5 birthday parties.  Riley's had a Science Fair Project and a Science Club Event and a never-ending eye infection.  There's been baby showers and teen bowling night and an Embassy Easter Party.  We've had several of friends over for dinner and been invited to many dinners as well.  Riley celebrated her 12th birthday.  Matt celebrated his 40'ish birthday.  My in-laws came to visit for 6 days.  
I have been applying for jobs here at post.  So far I received one offer for a full time position.  I'm still waiting to hear about my first choice position.  It's been a long, frustrating process, that has caused many sleepless nights and a lot of head shaking.  With almost 15 years in the Foreign Service, the bureaucracy and bullsh*t never ceases to amaze me.

Sheridan lost her 20th and final baby tooth last month. She came barreling down the stairs to show us and squealed with excitement that she couldn’t wait to put it under her pillow and see what the tooth fairy would bring on her final visit.  Ever so tired, I looked at her sweet, bloody mouth, raised my eyebrows and slowly shook my head.  So she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Okay - how about I just put it on your desk and go grab a $20 out of your wallet instead?”

I'm thankful that life still finds a way to move on.  Even if it is one slow day at a time.

Riley's Science Fair Project.  Which won the 6th grade Best Overall Project at the school. 

The girls learning how to surf.  Riley is on the short board on the left.  Sheridan is on the long board on the right.

Matt's birthday was celebrated at a coffee finca, where the kids rode horses, toured the coffee plantation and learned the entire step-by-step process of how coffee is grown, picked, dried, bagged, sorted and sent off.  

We also rode ATVs.  As you can see, Sheridan's driving scared the daylights out of me ... and I *may* have needed to change my underwear when we got off.    

The Embassy Easter Party.  Where the kids spent a lot of time chasing chickens.  And ducks.  And bunnies.  And cocks ... of which Grady was quite enthralled and which deserves a crude joke all on its own.   


Life Is Beautiful

“Follow the signs to Terminal B,” my dad said as I almost missed the turn at the airport.  I was driving, and I wasn’t sure where I was going as it had probably been 15 years since I flew into the San Jose airport.  Though the landscape surrounding the area looked the same.

Everything looked the same actually.  Only now … everything is totally different.

The lump in my throat grew and I had trouble removing myself from my dad’s car.  For I shed more tears on the ride to the airport, hugging my brother and my dad goodbye and on the flights home than I had in the previous 2.5 weeks combined.  Leaving them ultimately ripped off the bandaids we’ve been using to provide comfort and clarity to each other, exposing our gaping wounds and raw emotions. 

Accepting our ‘new normal’ meant that the reality of life is now upon us.  And my mom is truly gone. 

I’ve walked around in a virtual haze since my late night arrival into San Francisco a few weekends ago.  What I hoped would be a quick visit to see my mom in the hospital and offer support to my father and siblings during what was already an unfathomable and sudden series of events, turned into a surreal nightmare.  I can’t help but feel like I’m having one of those out of body experiences where I’m watching from above as my life slowly unfolds below me.  Minute by minute.  Hour by hour.  Day by day.

It was just twelve short days from her lung cancer diagnosis to her death.  Twelve days.  Barely enough time to comprehend her prognosis.  Certainly not enough time to understand enough about chemotherapy and radiation, pain relievers and sedatives, dialysis and kidney failure, pH balances and stents, tumor lysis and bipap machines, DNI and DNR.  But we became well versed in hospitalese.  And we sat by her side 14, 15, 16 hours a day.  Nobody ever leaving her alone, for we were her advocates.  We demanded to know every poke, every test, every single thing they put into her failing body.

My brother and I were with her during the final few moments as her heart beat slowed and faded to a long thin line.  Was she scared?  Did she know how hard we tried to provide her comfort?  Did she feel how much we love her?  Nobody tells you that death very seldom resembles a Made for Lifetime TV movie with a beautiful Hollywood ending.   It’s messy.  It’s scary.  And often times leaves more questions than answers along with little closure.  Her passing was no exception.

These past eighteen days from the date of my arrival to San Francisco, have been a blur.  From choosing a final resting place to planning a funeral and catering a luncheon to organizing drawers and cabinets and bathrooms to focusing on our family.  There are no words to describe how the unwavering support from our family and friends helped get us through these past several days. Well ... that and humor.  And inappropriate jokes.  And pictures.  And the wrestling tournament my dad has been running for the past 20+ years (where my brother Scott announced and my brother Randy officiated).  These things to focus on, aside from the obvious, have given us the opportunity to begin the healing process together, in four very different ways.  We.  Are.  Blessed.

Last night I flew back home.  To my amazingly selfless husband who has given me the most precious gift of time.  To my kids.  To my friends who have become my extended family.  However, I am at a loss with where to begin.  How do I deal with my lack of closure?  My anger and frustration?  Where do I turn for answers?

Though leaving my brothers and my dad, the calming familiarity of the house where I grew up, and the safety net where one could melt down were far more difficult than I could have imagined, deep down I know that Life is Beautiful and it must go on.

"Dear Mom.  While our relationship has always run its own course, oftentimes with our paths never crossing, I never stopped loving you.  It may be awhile before our yin and our yang come together again, but one thing is for sure … our twain are sure to meet." 

Until then, May Her Memory Be Of A Blessing.

 The very last picture ever taken of my mother (17 days before ...)

Our "new" normal


Happy Anniversary and Thanks For The Mammaries

Today we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.

Grady is truly perplexed as he attempts to calculate how his 25 year old mother could be married for 15 years.  I love kindergarten math. 

Very recently "my girls", the ones closest to my heart, hit the jackpot as they moved back up from a basement efficiency to the penthouse.  After 40 25-something years and three children later, gravity had taken its toll on my once perky bosom.

Enter modern medicine ... and now, I can wear my nipples as earrings.


Feliz Año Nuevo desde El Salvador

As the New Year quickly approaches, it seems only appropriate for me to close out 2014 with one final update ... filled solely with a picture dump of what's been happening since the last time I've blogged.  Forgive the brevity of words ... for it's been a long month, and while I'm usually quite verbose, this transition from 2014 to 2015 has left me with too many thoughts to put on paper.  

Until I find my voice again, enjoy our month of December. 

November 29th ~ Girls shopping trip to San Sebastian, Ilobosco and Suchitoto where we purchased gorgeous textiles ... and quite possible the overly exposed lady as well.  Because who doesn't want an extra pair of nipples hanging out in their dining room?

 December 5th ~ I learned to make sushi.  It tasted just as amazing as it looks!

December 7th ~ Matt's dear college friend Craig is in town.  We spent the weekend playing tour guide and even hit a place we'd never seen.  Here we are at the Mayan Ruins in Tazumal.

December 9th ~ Holiday Party at the Ambassador's house.

December 12th ~ RSO Holiday Party ... I made all the desserts.

December 13th ~ Holiday Party at the Embassy.  Grady stood in line to take a picture with Santa. Alone. TWICE.  This on the heels of a MAJOR meltdown he had earlier that week when he came home from school hysterical saying, “I’m the only kid in my class who doesn’t celebrate Christmas… and I don’t understand. We don’t even LOOK Jewish!"

December 16th ~ Latke Party at our house ... for 70!  

December 18th ~ Tried my hand at sushi ... and guess who loved it?

December 19th - 22nd ~ Road Trip to Antigua, Guatemala.  An epic 4 day vacation that requires its own blog post ...

December 24th - 29th ~ My brother in law Adam, my brother Randy, and his friend Jeff visit us in El Salvador.  Another whirlwind windshield tour ... as we hit the beach twice, take the kids surfing, hike the tallest volcano in San Salvador, eat at a few fun restaurants, visit the Mayan Ruins, make home made pasta and a few other delicious meals ... and of course, drink lots of red wine.

Felices Fiestas ... with love from the Perlman Family.  
May your 2015 be filled with Happiness, Your Families with Good Health,
and Your Home Stocked With a Never Ending Supply of Batteries 
so Your Kids Can't Complain that their "Listening Ears" Didn't Work ...

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