‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Update On Our Beloved D

I might not get to post as much over the summer months. I want to, I just don't have the spare minutes to actually do it. Running a summer camp is about as insanely busy as running a political campaign. I don't get a minute off. Really. The good thing is, I LOVE it. I don't mind working 12-14 hour days for 6 and sometimes 7 days a week , because I am doing what I love.

This year, Nastia will be away at summer camp for awhile, which will make this  mom's life much easier so she can get adoption papers completed. I also hired a local middle school student to care for the dogs, so I won't have to run home at lunch every day to walk them. Other than that, I will be spending every rare free minute of the summer trying to get Daniel home. I wish I could talk more about all the issues, but I can't.  Any discussion of his adoption details could jeopardize his  chances of coming home. Your prayers, however, are needed and welcomed.

The best news I received this week came in the form of a photo.Look at this sweetheart arriving on US soil again!

Yes, it's D! Doesn't she look more grown up? She arrived to her host family yesterday and is doing well. A lot of people have asked me where she is being hosted, who is hosting her, if she is being adopted by them, etc. It is not my right to share these things. Here is what I feel comfortable sharing, without compromising the privacy of key others...she is here, she is happy, and she IS being adopted. 

I am grateful beyond words that such a wonderful family will be bringing her home. They clearly adore her and she gets to be the youngest in the family, which I think is very important for her. Her mom will be a stay-at-home mom, so she will also get all that extra attention she so needs. Of course, Ukraine is closing shop for a few months, so she likely won't be home till October, but the important thing is, she will eventually be home.

Others have asked if we are still in touch with her. During the year we spoke to her by phone at the orphanage several times before and after she hosted here in December. I last spoke to her in March, for her birthday, and it was obvious it was best if we loved her from afar. D still was begging us to come get her, adopt her myself, and even a suggestion of 'stealing' her from the orphanage. I could not tell her I knew she was being adopted. And it just seemed that we being in touch was only make things more difficult for her. I talked to her from her host family's home in December and, again, it was quite painful for her. The host mom and I both agreed it was best to not talk by phone again. Graciously, she still shared stories and photos with me throughout D's stay there, and I got to see through her sharing, how well D was doing. The family adopting her is very close friends of this host family that had her in December.

I am have briefly been in touch with the family adopting her and they seem to be a perfect fit. I hope I will be able to see photos of D now and then, and hear updates on how she is doing. Other than that, we will simply be praying for her and rooting for her from afar. We love her so very, very much, and want what is best for her.

Thanks for all the words of support over the past year! They helped so much!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Our teeny cottage on the island.
Today was a bright spot. magic. Therapy, really. I left the house very early in order to pick up two of my summer staff - one at home and one at the train station - so that we could have our first staff prep day before the opening of Rebel Shakespeare. I promise you I know how lucky I am. Every summer I wonder how I got so lucky ...directing Shakespeare....with kids....by the ocean.....with the best staff...and getting paid for it. With all that is going on in my personal life (re: adoption woes), this day by the ocean with such great people was healing indeed. And so fun! I never laugh as hard and as much as I do with my fellow directors. Today was a comedy of errors, because our little cottage headquarters was locked and our keys weren't working.( Seems the lock was broken.) So, we had to break in! I had a lovely time getting a boost up to the top half of the broken window to squeeze myself in and over and down into the cottage.(I like proving I can still do things like that:)

We had great fun cleaning it up, although I ended up the designated spider killer. Sadly, I work with a bunch of wimps..lol. Every single one of them is terrified of spiders and would scream every time they ran across one -- and they were everywhere. I tried to save as many as I could but many got squished in tissues or sucked up by the power-vac. Sorry spiders.

This summer we are working on Romeo & Juliet, and so we sat in the shade on the grass and discussed the themes and our different takes on the play and what we envisioned. I also managed to rush to Danvers to catch my two godsons graduating from eighth grade before heading back to the island.

Anyway, this is a boring post, I know, but I felt I needed to post something after the last two depressing posts. Nothing has really changed since I last posted except my attitude. I needed to grieve before I could feel ready to fight this new spate of obstacles.

I can't post about all of them as I don't want anything else to jeopardize my adoption, but I will let you know that my homestudy agency is on the new Russian blacklist posted by the MOE. For those not familiar with adoption, this means that most of the work I have done on my papers these past few months is meaningless and I need to start over. Problem is, I paid the blacklisted agency and now have no funds to hire a new one to start over with. Many of my documents will expire and need to be redone, and I'm pretty sure I will have to file a new 1600a. Even worse is the new threat that the region may temporarily halt adoptions because of a new abuse case. Worst of all? The US is signing a new bi-lateral agreement with Russia on adoptions and it has been suggested they plan to make indy adoptions illegal in all regions of Russia. This would mean my paperwork would not be accepted. The agreement is set to be signed in mid-July. If my homestudy had been submitted when I was there earlier this month, none of this would be a problem.

I'm currently researching adoption grants, but the time involved in applying for them might preclude me from applying. I'm trying to just take as many steps forward a day as I can, while also going back to working full-time and over-time. It's not looking good, but there's nothing I can do but try to get a new agency ASAP and start over on the homestudy. I cried hard for several days (needed) and now I'm ready to fight again.You have to understand that as hopeful as I might seem about Anya, there is still a great deal of pain and regret about her failed adoption, and so this comes into play when I am facing unexpected obstacles in D's adoption. I get scared. I get terrified, really, that another child will be lost and alone. I can't bear the thought of it.

I'm grateful to those of you who offered prayers and support. I'm sorry my life seems to always have such ups and downs. But, as a dear and wise friend of mine told me 'this is what happens when you live your life doing risky things that others wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.' Most people don't attempt things with so many inherent risks involved, but I think it's worth the inevitable sorrow and pain to be reaching for the hands of children in need. It'll always be worth it. Just know that sometimes a few days of grieving is needed and is, honestly, a healing thing. Swallowing your feelings is never a good idea. Give them room. Give them a voice. Give them the respect they deserve, and then they will give you the space you need to move on.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Seeking Your Help, St Jude

O GLORIOUS APOSTLE St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor  has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the true Church honors and invokes thee universally as the Patron of Things Despaired of. Pray for me who am so helpless and alone. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege granted to thee by God to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, but in particular, that the obstacles that stand in the way of my adoption of Daniel be removed, and that I may praise God with thee and with all the Saints forever and ever. I promise thee, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor and never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power gratefully to encourage devotion to thee. Amen.

And a Favor: Dear anti-Catholic friends, I know you mean well when you write and urge me not to seek the intercession of saints. I know you are 'concerned for my soul' and such. But I beg you, please do not use times such as these to try to evangelise me. When I am despairing and seeking God's help and I post a prayer to a saint I love, think long and hard about what you are doing before you write to counsel me against it. Would Christ himself use such a time to try to sway me in some issue, or would He simply love me and support me? I believe the latter. I'm sorry to have to write this, but every single time I post something a bit too Catholic, I have a few well-meaning but obviously inappropriate born-again Christians email me or privately comment to me that what I am doing is "wrong" or even "dangerous." Please give me the benefit of the doubt - my faith is hard-won and my beliefs are built on a lifetime of searching and prayer. I do not arbitrarily seek the guidance and help of the Saints. They are my brothers and sisters who have gone before me. Just as our family here can support is in our suffering, so can they. Please, please do not use this time for proselytizing. It only hurts me, which I know is not your intent. Thank you.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Sometimes, oftentimes, we cannot find words to articulate the lonely place our hearts are visiting. Sometimes, it can only be spoken with heaves and sighs and deep, deep sobs. That is where I am this night....on this eve of terrible news, and after weeks of an ever-increasing darkness that seems to be pursuing me like an ardent lover.

So I do only what I can -- I beg for your prayers and speak through others' more eloquent utterings. Shakespeare himself says we must give sorrow words:

'The grief that does not speak

whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.'

and so...

The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God,
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility.
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky——
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection.
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up. It has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness——
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars.
Inside the church, the saints will be all blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness—blackness and silence.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Balancing Act

This is how I feel right now!
I've had a rough few weeks. No need to mince words or sugar-coat things. I've tried to be quiet about it all, but if I'm honest, I've really really not liked life the past few weeks. But sometimes there is nothing we can do about that. We just need to 'suck it up' as my daughter likes to say, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Yes, this is a real undoctored photo:)
However, one thing I've noticed in my life is the balancing act that God seems to favor in our lives. Meaning - when things are really bad, there always seems to be some small silver lining or two to get us through. Do you notice that too? Case in point: amidst all the turmoil of my current personal and professional life, God sends a few bright spots to balance things out:

The bad: the economy continues to slam my business and every day I wonder what bad news I'll get the next morning.
The good: Last week I had three invites for articles, stories and one radio interview about my business. Out of the blue. When I most needed it. I'll keep you posted about when they will appear. My favorite interview was with Art Throb. I can't wait to see the story. The journalist was fantastic.

The bad: I've had a longtime friend decide to cut me out of her life for good. 'We're done.' (her exact words.)
The good: I've had two long-lost friends contact me this week with a wish to have me back in their lives. Out of the blue. Completely unexpected. I never thought I'd ever heard from them again. Sooo.very. happy.

The bad: My desire to write has been zilch since I've been back from Russia and I struggled for motivation to post about what's important to me.
The good: Somebody nominated me for that Circle of Moms thing and I somehow made it into the Top Ten. This was the perfect motivation I needed to keep speaking, and keep the story of the orphanage alive. And it will only continue because Circle of Moms is interviewing the Top 25 this week and will be posting out links to their 6 millions subscribers.
By James Christensen, one of my favorite artists.

A few other things that kept me afloat this week:

Resolving the yucky giardia infestation after several weeks. (joy!)Seeing much more of my students and my returning staff. (bliss!)
Finally getting a logo for my company after 22 years, thanks to the positively amazing George Courage! (HALLELUJAH!)

So, you see, God seems to send little reminders of His love and care for us no matter what. I've had some scary news about my pending adoption, too, and yet God also chooses to bless me with a peace about it. I'm trusting Him.

So, keep your heads up, friends. We have a God who adores us and sends us countless reminders of his Love if we just remain open to them. Keep on the lookout for the reminders in your life today. I'd love to hear about them.
My company's new logo. Isn't it lovely?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Because of These Children

J, age 10. Will spend her childhood here in the orphanage, and then what?

K just arrived at the orphanage.

K has HIV and no access to meds. Who will care for him in years to come?

V and L, like all of them , just wants a family.

Far too many boys are passed over for adoption. Why?

P, my little sweetheart. With 4 older siblings, her chances for adoption are almost non-existent.

I've known these three for 6 years. They used to be sweet little boys. Now they struggle with drug addiction, stealing, fighting, alcoholism..and they are set to leave the orphanage for good this summer.

These are the reasons I write. I want to keep getting the word out about these kids. I want to keep finding ways to advocate for them. I can't do it without tremendous help, and significant donations. But I'll keep doing what I can until I dont have anything left to give.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Did You Know?

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over head and a place to sleep, you are richer than over 70% of the people in this world?

handicapped children in a Serbian orphanage.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, or even spare change in your pocket . . .
you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy?

A child begs for change in Thailand.

If you have never experienced the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture,
or the pangs of starvation . . .
you are ahead of 500 million people in the world?

starving child tied to his orphanage crib.

If you can attend a church or temple or mosque without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world?

She was tortured for practicing her religion.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness . .
you are more blessed than the over one million people who will not survive this week?

A dying aids patient in Africa.

Let us be truly aware of what we have, what has been entrusted to us.


let us be grateful.

Most of all, let us share this immeasureable wealth we have with the immeasurable millions who go without every day.

We have the power to change the world.

All you need to do is say yes.
orphaned child in Romania.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Adoption & Your #1 Lamest Excuse

Since I've been a part of this 'Top Adoption Blogs' race to the top and, actually, since I started advocating for the children in Nastia's former orphanage, I get alot of emails and messages that go like this:

" Oh, you're so lucky you have the funds to adopt. My husband and I would do it in a SECOND if we only had the money.."

I can't tell you how many people have written similar words in the past few years. The number is astronomical. If you're a facebook friend, just take a look back on my wall, and anytime I promoted adoption..you'll see a nice long list of 'poor me' responses from people that WANT to adopt but financially can't afford it. You know what I say to this?


yes, bullcrap. I know its not a nice word and this is a G-rated blog and everything, but...BULLCRAP. i am so tired of hearing this excuse I could just scream. Tell it like it is, people..call a spade a spade: its not the money but the fear of the unknown or the concern of disrupting your life or the worry that you won't be a good mother or, or or. but for God's sake, stop using money as an excuse, because it is the LAMEST excuse of all.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No One Ever Talks About Heaven

We drift from day to day, headed toward somewhere. We take our showers, brush our teeth, put on our socks. We glance in mirrors, wash a dish, check our status, walk a dog. But where do all these tiny incremental acts take us? Where are we going and why don't we ever stop moving long enough to talk about it?
I have a friend who think we go nowhere, another who is sure we join a great infinite spirit of energy, another thinks it is simply one life after another. Of course I have my friends of many varied Christian denominations who, like me, believe we are headed home. Whatever we believe, why don't we talk about it more?

Take a trip with a child. You will hear the inevitable 'Mommy, are we there yet?' Are we there yet?' You will also inevitably hear about their plans: 'When we get to grandma's, I'm going to pick carrots from her garden!' or 'When we get to the beach, I'm going to build the biggest sandcastle ever!' Children not only think about the end of the journey, they imagine what they will do there. Why don't we?

I'd love to start a dialogue here about the Afterlife. Heaven. The Great Abyss. Nirvana. Jannah. Araboth. Whatever you call it and however you envision it, I'd love to hear. I've been fascinated with the world to come since early childhood, but it is such a valued and intimately personal obsession, I have not always shared my curiosity with others. My Dad and I talked about it endlessly (We shared the fascination.) But I rarely talked about it with anyone other than my very closest friends.

I don't want to get into my personal beliefs about it just yet. I want to hear from you. Where do you think you're headed? What do you envision? How often do you think about it? How does your particular faith influence your beliefs about it? What do you hope - or who do you hope - is there?

My Home Away From Home

Rebel Shakespeare headquarters:)

See this idyllic spot, with the ocean not too far in the background? This is my other home. For the past twenty-two summers I have been a part of something wholly wonderful, and something I still can't believe I make a living at! Rebel Shakespeare.

This is where I get to spend the next two months:

It has all kinds of interesting little hidden spots for rehearsing our plays...

 Winter Island, the summer home of Rebel Shakespeare, is a local treasure. I spent many summer days here when I was growing up. My Dad was one of the local political figures who helped 'win' it for the City of Salem when it was no longer in use by the Coast Guard. It's a gorgeous little 'island' that juts out from Salem, near the Willows Park. Here is a partial aerial view:

In just a few short weeks I'll be spending every day there from early morning till later afternoon. I'll be surrounded by a few dozen spectacular kids, and a phenomenal staff. I honestly haven't been able to sleep well the last few nights, because the anticipation is so great! Don't know if my staff will kill me for sharing their photos, but here are some of the wonderful folks who'll be directing with me this summer...

Dan G.
Taylor J....
Mikhaela M..

Maeve H...

Tyrel B  (on the right) with his magical significant other, Darcy.

Ryan B..
These are only a few of the jolly souls I get to spend my days with. Maybe now you have a little understanding as to why I'm so unbearably lucky?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today's Unrelenting Distraction

Having ADD is a blessing and a curse. If you didn't know this already, a large number of Fortune 500 CEOs have ADD or ADHD. So do an inordinate number of successful entrepreneurs. People with ADD are great at thinking outside the box, forging new paths, and bucking the system in a myriad of creative ways. I fit into that category. The hard part is, there is a challenging side to ADD , too. Its the one most people think about when they hear "ADD". It's 'distractability'. And it's often a curse. Take today. I have a hundred thousand things on my to-do list, but my mind keeps drifting to something not on the list. Over and over again. Non-stop. Unrelenting. Believe me, I've tried. So in an effort to quiet this little uncooperative sliver of my brain, I'm going to indulge it for 15 minutes, here in my blog, and hope it will have the decency to let me get back to my to-do list!

So, here is today's obsession distraction: I can't stop thinking of that little house in the village. You know, the one I want to buy but haven't yet? The one that I have no clear purpose for yet, but feel drawn to save up for? The little home above the orphanage that may serve as a half-way house/job training/ volunteer housing/ safe place for kids aging out? Yes, that place. In fact, I've been so obsessed, I've started creating a little vision book for it. (A vision book is something we use in theatre to help us create and envision the world of the play we are creating.) In this case, my vision book is to help me envision our little Russian Dacha in remote Siberia.
It might look like this:

or maybe this...

Maybe it'll have a porch, like this...
and a sweet little bedroom like this...

There will be the requisite icon corner in the main room...

and of course, an outhouse like this...
this is an actual one in Siberia!
And a table outdoors for the quintessential Russian Dacha meals...

I can see everything clear as day. You may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one!!!

A very fancy, fairy-tale dacha near St Petersburg.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brace Yourselves!

Nastia had a terrible history with dentists. Some of her worst trauma memories from Russia were of the dentist. Her mouth gave evidence she had endured alot. She only has 17 teeth. Her current dentist could not imagine why and how she lost so many, but Nastia remembered. Even when she could barely speak English she tried to tell me about one particular trip to the dentist. He had come to her summer camp when she was young and he pulled a tooth out of her with pliers and no novocaine or meds. How'd he do it? Well, he had several adults hold her down while he climbed on top of her and yanked it out. She remembers screaming and screaming and she remembers them yelling at her. She had a few experiences like that, so no wonder she completely refused the dentist when she first came home.

About 4 months home, and it was obvious she had a really diseased tooth in the back. I got her doctor to prescribe a sedative, just so we could have a pediatric dentist look at it. Didn't work. She was so terrified, she refused to sit in the chair and the dentist yelled at me for not being able to "control" my daughter. We left. ( I wont even mention the name of this dentist, but will say his office is in Danvers, MA. And I do NOT recommend him.) But her tooth needed to come out, so we ended up having to go to an oral surgeon, and use general anesthesia  just to get it done. She had surgery in October 2005, just before her 13th birthday. Even with the anesthesia, the experience was traumatic enough, that she didn't go to the dentist again for 2 more years. In those two years, I made a hundred calls, trying to find a dentist that would understand her unique needs and help us. Before we discovered  the answer to our prayers : Dr. Polan.

It would be impossible for me to do Dr. Polan justice on this page, but suffice it to say, he was truly a gift from God when it came to Anastasia. I had gone to him once years and years ago and remembered how kind he was. Although he was not a pediatric dentist, I called and talked to him about Nastia's unique situation and asked if he could help. He couldn't have been more supportive of this desperate mother!

Nastia's first visit to Dr Polan was nothing short of miraculous. He told her he didn't even need to touch her mouth for this visit. He would just look. He showed her every instrument and explained its purpose. He let her touch them and when some proved to scary for her, he simply removed them from the room. He blew up a glove balloon for her. He made her laugh. He slowly and surely gained her trust enough that at our next visit, she allowed him to do a little work. He accomplished this by even allowing her to have some control over what happened. If she said stop, he stopped. If she needed questions answered, he answered them calmly and patiently, even though she took up a great deal of his time. He never made her feel ashamed that she was so very afraid. Instead, he met her where she was at, and slowly built up trust. By, I think, the third visit, he had developed so much trust with her that he was able to fill a cavity without her even flinching! Now that's what I call a dentist! My daughter's bravery with Dr Polan even got her dentist-phobic mom to go back to Dr Polan and get a broken tooth fixed!

As the years moved on, it became obvious that Nastia needed braces. She had significant chronic lower tooth pain, and it turns out it was due to the alignment of her teeth. Dr Polan explained that she needed braces and gave us the name of an orthodontist he recommended. At this point, two months ago, Nastia felt ready to handle braces, so we contacted Dr Gough and went for our initial consultation. He was wonderful. His whole office has been so supportive and understanding, and they too, really take the time to put her at ease. Although today's visit was a little traumatic for her  (and for my poor hands that got squished for two hours!), she did sooo well and made it through far better than I would have imagined. She had a few tears in the beginning and some initial anxiety that had her wanting to stop, but in the end, she braved through and now she has these to show off!

My brave girl:)

Nastia thanks all of you who prayed for her today!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thank God for Tindemax

A very sick Keri sleeping on the floor of Sheremetevo
airport Moscow.
I'm not sure if I posted on my blog about this yet, so forgive me if this is repetitive. Nastia,Bridget, Kim and I did not come home from Siberia alone. We brought critters with us. Little teeny tiny ones you can't see but wreak havoc on your system. Yes, Giardia.

I've had it before. Nastia had it most of her life before she came home to me. It's pretty much part and parcel of living in that part of the world. I won't disgust you with all the lovely details of what Giardia is and what it does, but suffice it to say it is NOT FUN and for some sufferers (like me) it means feeling like absolute crap and not leaving your house for many, many days. The good news is, there is a medication that has an almost 100% success rate in wiping out Giardia. It's not widely used in the US, but it was the only thing that worked for me back in 2005, and I begged my doctor to prescribe it again, so I wouldn't have to wait so long to feel better.

Great news. I got the prescription a few days ago and today is the very first day I've felt better since June 2nd! Thankfully I learned some other important health info in the process. I've been sleeping 18-20 hours every day since I got back and was very worried about what that level of exhaustion meant. Turns out it is simply anemia and a recurrence of EBV (Epstein-Barr). I didn't know you could get mono twice, but evidently you can....kind of. The EBV virus stays in your system for life, and some adults experience a recurrence in times of stress. Stress? What stress..lol?

Anyway, I'm just so relieved to know what's going on, and to know the best medicine for me is to learn how to de-stress, rest and take it easy. Lots of fluids, iron, B supplements...and I should feel better within a few weeks. God answers prayers in very surprising ways sometimes. I had been dealing with incredible stress from all corners of my life recently. It felt like I was being attacked from every angle. I could NOT catch a break. Stress begets stress, and so by the time I dragged myself into the doctor's office, I felt like I was on my deathbed! He explained that I really needed to find a way to not be stressed, because my body was not taking it well. He encouraged me to delegate jobs, rest ALOT and sleep whenever I felt the need to. Otherwise, he said, I could be battling this EBV thing for months.

So, I'm working very hard to take his advice. I'm delegating. I'm cutting away unneeded stress. I'm surrounding myself with helpful, loving friends. I'm working at a pace my body can handle, and I'm asking for help. It's working. Today is the first day in ages that I have felt remotely human. And I need to. I need to get better so I can get back on that path that will lead me back to Russia again.

So, thank you, God, for Tindemax and kindly doctors and friends (hello Caroline!) who go above and beyond to help me with my work. I'm grateful and looking forward to feeling better every day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things My Father Taught Me

"I talk and talk and talk, and I haven't taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week." -- Mario Cuomo

I miss him, my Dad. He died six years ago this week. It was Father's Day, actually, and I had to mix my 'Happy Father's Day' Greeting with my 'goodbye' to him on the phone. He couldn't respond to me verbally, but I knew he was hearing every word, and I could easily fill in what he might say back anyway. My Dad was a talker, and he was giving advice till the last minute, even if I couldn't physically hear the words.

People tell you it gets easier as the years go by, dealing with the death of someone you love. And I guess in some way they might be right. But the missing them doesn't change much. I have felt cheated of these years without my Dad, mostly because I know he could have still been here if he had taken better care of himself. Sometimes I yell at him out loud still, when I'm going through a particularly hard time and he's not here to add his two cents. I know he doesn't mind.

My Dad was quite the character. When your Dad is as magnetic and well-loved as mine was, you have to share him with the world most of your life. But I liked that. I felt so proud to be his daughter. When I was young, if some adult I didn't know recognized me as his daughter, I felt like I could burst open from the pride of it. " You must be Bobby Cahill's Daughter"..I heard more often than not. I actually used to wonder what great selfless thing I must have done in another life to win the reward of being his daughter in this one.

But my Dad and I did not always get along. I don't want to paint a false rosy picture. There was hard times and times of not speaking to one another and, if I'm honest, even knock-down drag-out fights. We were alot a like. Others would back down from him when he raged. Me? I gave it right back to him. He didn't like that. I remember once in 7th grade my mom brought me up to his room for talking back. ( He was bed bound for awhile that year after open heart surgery.) My Dad got up out of his bed and asked me to apologize to my mom. I said no, and he slapped me. Most 13 year olds would cry in shame. Me? I slapped him back and ran. I ran, because I was smart enough to know my Dad was stronger than me even if he did have a torso-long new scar running down his middle. I ran and hid in my cousin's treehouse until I felt the storm had blown over.

In my childhood, I do remember wishing he were more nurturing at times. He wasn't one to hug or say " I love you' until I was an adult. But he was such an amazing Dad in so many other ways, I sometimes still can't believe I was lucky enough to have him. He was always bringing us on some sort of adventure or another. Like the times he would take us out of school for Opening Day for the Red Sox or for the premiere of a really great movie. Sometimes he would take me to work with him. I remember spending time at the State House with him, and feeling so very proud to be by his side. And catching lunch with his co-workers at a little pub nearby. I remember Mike Dukakis had a desk next to his and he cleared off a space for me to sit and write. I remember years later visiting my dad at the Salem Jail  (he was Sheriff) and getting to bring food trays to the prisoners. In some ways, I guess it was my first experience with volunteer work!

My father taught me so many valuable lessons that I honestly think I'd be handicapped without them. He was determined to prepare us for life. He never coddled, never comforted, but in his own way, he prepared me for this life better than any other father could have. He used to always remind me when I was whiny about some unfairness or other  'Of course it's unfair! LIFE is unfair.' Or sometime he'd say ' Life is hard, dahlin' - get used to it.' Might seem harsh to think of someone saying that to a ten year old, but his words have stood me in good stead for 46 years. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

I often wonder what my Dad would think of my life right now. I know he'd have alot to say about it. He always did. When I first brought Nastia home, He called me no less than five times a day 'What is she doing now? Write it down!' or 'What is she discovering today? Write it down!' My Dad was a writer, so he always wanted me writing everything down to save for later stories. I wish I had listened.

Dad, if you can hear me, I want you to know I miss you as much today as I did that Father's Day six years ago. I think about you every day and easily ask myself a dozen times a day 'What would Dad say about this?' I would give a million dollars to hear your voice again, and listen to your laugh. I can't wait to see you again, and dream of the day I can listen to all your stories again. Keep close, Dad. I need you these days. As you told me, life is hard, and lately its been harder than I'd wish for. Give me the strength to meet it the way you did -- head-on and with the courage of a soldier at arms. I love you, Dad. And I know how lucky I am:)

Love, your little girl.