Monday, September 27, 2010

Thanks Mom

You know how wonderful it is when your mom comes to help? How the dishes get put away and the laundry is done and meals suddenly appear before you?

Yeah, I love that. I love it more than anything.

Except that my mother left three weeks ago....

and I still don't know where my socks are.


Monday, September 20, 2010


Image via Danica Nelson Photography
May 2010
2 years, 5 months

Oh Caleb. So much has happened over the past year, and I've been pretty bad at documenting it. Here's a review:

You went to a "pre-school" class at the YMCA three days a week for the past six months. Now that Charlotte is 'home' we have to keep you out of it (too many germs), but you loved your class. You learned so many things, but your favorite thing to talk about is stop lights. Anytime we stop at one, you inform us that "red means stop, green means go, and 'orange' means slow down." You know how to count to thirty, although you usually skip 14, 16, and 17 along the way. You know your alphabet like no one's business, but you still don't know which letter is which. You love to point out colors, usually asking us, "Is that blue?" or "What color is that?" and then telling us the answer, "Umm, green?!" You loved your teacher, Miss Bev, and you made some great friends. We never would have put you in a class so early, but with Baby Charlotte, we needed a place for you to go while we were at the hospital. Who would have guessed how much you loved it?! By the time your year ended, we were so sad that you had to stop going. Darn germs.

Caleb, we have all watched the movie Cars, more times than I should say if I want people to think I'm an involved parent. You love yourself some Lightin' McQueen, that's for sure. Of course, you also love Thomas the Train, and you can name pretty much all of the trains. You sing the Thomas theme song when you are playing, and it's pretty darn cute. You are also very concerned with the speed of the car while driving ("You're going too fast, Mommy! We have to slow down!") and you have to know which way we are going ("Is that way left?"). You are trying really hard to put on your own shoes, and you usually get them on the right feet. You're semi interested in using the potty, and if you were in the same place for more than 12 hours at a time, I'm sure you would be done with diapers. You're very interested in going up the stairs, "like a big boy", instead of one stair at a time. You love to make people happy, always asking, "Are you happy?" or "Do I make you happy?" Anytime someone is upset, you run to them and pat them, saying, "It's OK, we're right here, it's OK, it's OK, it's OK." You love to give kisses and hugs and are pretty convinced that a kiss can make anyone happy (you're usually right). You love to show your happy, sad, mad, and surprised faces. You also have one mega "monster" face. Sorry to say it kid, but you are also scared of everything. I mean EVERYTHING. But the best "interest" you have is when you climb into my bed (preferably later than six in the morning) and ask if we can snuggle. Seriously, you know your way into my heart little one.

Big Brother:
You're pretty much the best big brother who has ever lived. And that's saying something, because I have two awesome big brothers myself. Despite knowing that Mommy and Daddy leave you all the time to be with Baby Charlotte, you talk about her constantly. "Baby Charlotte needs Mommy to make her happy." "Baby Charlotte needs to get all better to come home to be with me." You always want to hold her during your visits, and you would be perfectly content to just hug her the entire time. You are very concerned about germs, and you try to wash everything with hand sanitizer to "make the germs all gone." I'm sorry if this fear of germs becomes a problem for you later in life.

Just like any two year old, you have your moments. But considering what you have gone through over the past year (a surgery of your own, a move to a new house, a rather sick/pregnant mother, and a very sick little sister, plus a fourth year medical student for a father) you are remarkably happy. The Child Life Specialist at CHOP sat down to play with you and you told her how sad you are when Mommy has to leave and that you don't want Daddy to go to work anymore. Despite these feelings, you always smile as we drop you off at another friend's house and you always run to us when we come to pick you up. Your flexibility, your strength, your kindness-- you are much more than your two little years let on. You'll probably never know what a support you have been to us as we've gone through this rough year.

Yesterday, I told you I loved you. You responded, "But why, Mommy? Why do you love me?" Trying to give you a "real" answer, I said, "Because you are my baby boy, because you try so hard even when things are difficult, because you're funny, because you're kind, because you're smart."

To which you responded, "Umm, yeah, I smart. I guess so."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Eleven

At the beginning of August I had the opportunity to get away for a girls weekend in NYC. A good friend, Carrie, who had moved to San Francisco, flew back into Philadelphia and she, Kay, and I spent the weekend laughing, eating and wandering through the city. At the time, Charlotte had been transferred to CHOP for the first time, and we weren't sure when she would be coming home. The NICU experience was getting old, and the two days away from it all were re-energizing and healing.

Although I would have had a great weekend with these girls no matter where we went, I'm really glad we went to NYC. While there, we had a chance to take a tour through the Tribute WTC 9/11-- Person to Person History.

I wish words could adequately describe the experience. Our group had two docents, both of which had been personally affected by the terror attacks on 9/11 in NYC. Ron, the tour guide, took us from the fire house, around the site itself, through some adjoining buildings, and finished at the memorial for eleven American Express employees who died that day. About half way through the tour, he sat us down. He looked at us and explained how that day was the start of school. Being a school architect, he was sitting down and taking a deep breath for the first time in months. He had finished his projects, he knew he had a few months before things started getting busy again. And then the first plane hit, just across the road from his workplace. His boss told them to gather extra supplies, scaffolding, equipment, hard hats, etc-- they were going to help stabilize the situation. As they were leaving their building, the second plane hit, and Ron knew the next few months would not entail early evenings and long weekends. He began to realize that the next few months would involve excavation-- not of brick and mortar, but of bodies, pieces of individuals who had been murdered. Murdered.

Ron started that day as a school architect. Over the next few months he lead the teams working on retrieval of bodies. He stood before us that day as the lead architect on the 9/11 NYC Memorial.

Maureen got up next. She had been quietly carrying the amplifier so we could hear Ron's incredible tour. She started out saying that on the morning of 9/11/2001, she was in Germany. She was working as a flight attendant. She turned on CNN, as that was the only English station, and watched as two planes hit the World Trade Centers in NYC. She frantically called her mother, in Canada, as she knew her husband had been in NYC that day, after just receiving a promotion. Her mother told her that her husband had called his own mother. He had asked that his wife be told he loved her. He was happy. He would miss his two children. He would cherish them.

He did not survive that day.

Ron took us a few steps farther and sat us down in the atrium of the American Express building. He told us how he had spent that morning, that awful, infamous morning, digging through rubble, trying to find survivors. He told us of how a building had crashed right through the window, how where we were sitting, hundreds had died. He told us of the two firefighters who would not leave the field, who would not clear the land when he asked. He told us of how he got angry-- didn't they realize how dangerous this was? Didn't they understand that a hand shovel and a pick was not going to do anything? And then he told us of what he didn't realize. How the two firefighters told him, "Man, you just don't get it. Our mother slammed the door in our face and told us not to come home without our father." They were searching. Just like him. Except, they were searching for something to complete the whole. They were searching for the missing piece of their family.

That piece is still missing, even today.

Ron and Maureen did not ask that we pick up arms and fight-- although, by then end of the tour, I was willing.

They asked us to do something so simple, so simple that we often forget to do it-- they asked us to remember. They asked that we remember that almost 3,000 people that day were murdered. Murdered. People woke up that morning, intending to kill, and kill they did. They asked us to keep talking about it-- to keep this day in the front of our minds, to never, ever forget.

They asked us to know that some-- that many-- can never forget. And we shouldn't have that luxury.

Six members of this Ladder Co. died on 9/11. Five were in the fire hall at the time of the attacks, the rest were out on another call, all the way across the city. The other fire fighter was at work, but heard the call. He left work that day to help save lives. He never went back.

All the fire fighters who lost their lives that day. Each one had a family, a mother, a father, a child, a loved one that still mourns. Their families cannot forget. We shouldn't either.

Current construction on the 9/11 memorial.

Ron and Maureen.