Saturday, July 13, 2013

Seven months later: summer

Thank you for your many get-well comments and messages. They mean a lot to me. I wish I had more time and energy to write but I need to portion out the hours to make sure I get to everything, including daily trips to the city for treatment, long walks to fend off fatigue (it seems to work) and all the familiar happy chores of summer: weeding, watering, picking, veggie cleaning (we belong to a CSA), etc., not to mention the sweet moments spent with visiting family and friends. I haven't been back to baking yet. It has been very hot on and off here in Seattle and I can't yet be home long enough to keep a close eye on fermenting dough. But it will come and the day it does, I know I will feel further along on the path to wellness.
Meanwhile one of my favorite summer activities is to go berry-picking with Ethan, my six-year old grandson. We went two weeks ago. There had been torrential rains just two days before and the soil was very warm and spongy. I joked that if it were any softer, we'd probably sink all the way through and emerge in China and then, what would we do? (I doubt China is the actual antipodes of Washington State but I wasn't going to tell him that we would most likely pop out somewhere in the middle of an ocean, surrounded by sharks and other sea creatures).
We picked raspberries first: because of the rain, many were moldy but the ones that had made it were scrumptious. Very big (this is America after all), extraordinarily fragrant and a tad spicy as if a mad botanist had crossed a humble native species with flamboyant wild ginger. We soon had six pounds. We got them weighed, paid and brought them to the car. The sun was shooting red-hot arrows onto the broiling fields. We gulped down most of the water we had brought and slipped ice cubes down the front and back of our shirts before heading to the strawberry patch.
Contrary to the raspberries, most of the strawberries were on the small side -at least compared to the ones to be found in supermarkets- but the whole patch smelled like no fruit aisle I know has ever smelled. A fragrance you wish you could encapsule and breathe in the dark of winter to conjure up summer.
We went to the farm again last week. The early morning was bright and cool. The farmer told us the strawberries were over for the year. Ethan looked stricken. His face brightened however when he saw the raspberries, ripe and gorgeous, waiting for us. This time, there was no mold, just fuzzy beauties, and the dirt was dry: not a chance of shooting straight down to the antipodes! We picked leisurely: there were other pickers but each family had its own row. Spanish was spoken on one side, Russian on the other, nostalgic echoes of distant lands. Ethan asked why some people preferred to speak another language than English. Funnily he has heard me speak French since the day he was born and never asked that question, at least not from me. I said people usually remain very attached to the language they grew up with and love to use it whenever they can. It wasn't a good enough answer because the next question was again: why? I can't remember what I replied but he nodded and seemed satisfied. I guess I can still play the why game with the best of them!
We talked on as we picked. I recounted the day his aunt Veronique and I went blueberry-picking with Sophia and the twins in Connecticut back when Noah and Arielle were two and Sophia was three. The farmer had taken us to the blueberry patch on a lumbering hay wagon. The tractor hiccuped all the way up the hill. It was very hot and the kids' cheeks glowed red against the bright leaves. The girls set to picking methodically (although Arielle steadfastly refused to pick anything but green berries). But Noah soon lost interest and focused happily on wreaking havoc: baskets got overturned, high-pitched outrage alternated with wild cackling. Everyone grew even hotter. Baskets were cast aside. Mouths and hands turned purple. Water bottles appeared, sunscreen was reapplied, eyelashes started to flutter. We rode the hay wagon back to our car and went home with a lot more memories than blueberries...
Ethan listened, spellbound, a grin on his face. Except for a few family reunions when they were babies or toddlers, he only ever got to spend one full week with Noah. But they were both five and they bonded hard. Talking about Noah usually makes him sad but not this time: I could see in his eyes that he had nothing but admiration for his cousin's rascally ways and that he would have loved to run around the girls with him tipping over blueberry baskets.

Noah - August 2009
Tomorrow will mark the seventh monthly anniversary of Noah's violent death. Looking back to that day in December, I see nothing but darkness. But that darkness has nothing to do with who Noah was. He lives on in light and joy. I am glad Ethan can feel it.


  1. How lovely, MC. I hope Ethan & Noah's other ousins continue to be told as many stories about Noah as possible.
    With thoughts of you today, hoping you're able to enjoy the rest of the Summer & your walks.
    Julia x

  2. Went to sleep thinking of your family, impossible not to on the 13th day of each month. Woke up certain that would be a new blog post, even when you are going through so much in your life.

    Glad you can bring Noah's bright memories back to his cousin.

  3. MC, stay strong. You are the rock of your grandchildren and someday they will tell their children of the times spent with you and all the fun things you did. I am sorry about Noah, I know there is a void in your heart because he is no longer physically here, but I know you feel him deep inside your heart.

  4. Love that cute chunky monkey face! Love and prayers always xoxo

  5. Thank you MC for sharing stories about Noah. We hope you will enjoy good health always and Noah's family and the other families find peace and strength everyday. Take care and have a healthy summer.

  6. Thank you MC for sharing stories about Noah. We hope you will enjoy good health always and Noah's family and the other families find peace and strength everyday. Take care of yourself and have a healthy summer.

  7. Thank you I enjoy your writing very much. I send you well wiishes for your healing and recovery. And look forward to more of your bread stories.
    We picked blueberries yesterday and I will make a blueberry cobbler tomorrow morning before. It gets too hot to bake.
    We hold all of the children and teachers close in our hearts.
    Maureen, Newtown CT

  8. I enjoy your writing very much and especially your bread wisdom. Wishing you well in your healing and recovery.
    We went blueberry picking early yesterday morning. A few weeks ago we picked many pounds of strawberries. Tomorrow early before it gets too hot to bake I will make a blueberry cobbler-a lazy womens pie! But delicious.
    We hold all the children and teachers in our hearts.
    Maureen newtown, CT

  9. Dear MC,
    I hope that you are well and taking good care of yourself. Seven months today, and still so sad. I just wanted you and your family to know that I think of Noah daily and hope that we can try to change things in this country. The news today made me realize that we are still so very far away from any meaningful change as another set of parents also grieve for a son lost to senseless gun violence. Please take care of yourself. Liz

  10. Signora, ho aspettato di leggere il suo post su questo blog per tutto il giorno e non mi ero neanche accorta del fuso orario, io sono qui in Italia e lei è tanto lontana... ora è notte fonda ma prima di andare a dormire ho provato a collegarmi sul suo blog e l'ho ritrovata! spero che lei stia bene in salute e che tutto si risolva. Mi ha sempre colpito il fatto che dice di Noah che lui e questi bambini erano "persone reali" con le loro vite (brevi perchè ancora troppo piccoli)ma pur sempre tanto reali per chi li ha amati e cresciuti vivendo accanto a loro ogni giorno della loro breve vita. Io non so perchè sono tanto legata a questi piccoli ma credo che ogni 14 di ogni mese di ogni anno penserò a loro e alle loro famiglie con una stretta al cuore per ciò che hanno subìto, così piccoli ed innocenti e per il dolore che vi è stato inflitto. Con molto affetto, Fedra

  11. Love,MC. Everything in your stories and pictures simply ooze with love. I have made the promise to never forget and to advocate every day of my life to make the world a safer place. Thinking of you and your family daily. Love and prayers...

  12. I'm still thinking and pouring my love your way...thank you Noah for your family and thank you for keeping him alive in our hearts. Love you all.

  13. I can remember picking wild blackberries with my sister's , Mom and Meme.. You and your family are in our prayers..

  14. I can feel that river of time you spoke about earlier, inexorably moving us downstream away from these beautiful lives. The rift becomes ever wider and will never be truly healed. But Noah and all of the others live on in your stories, your memories and your photos. I pray for healing for you and for your family. Love.

  15. Hi MC, Thanks for continuing to write to us in your beautiful, prosaic way. I hope that you and your family enjoy the summer months (despite the rain!) and just when I thought I had seen the cutest Noah photo, you give us this one with the blueberries, too cute!

    I still think of Noah often and check in with one or two facebook pages which memorialize him and the other victims.
    With every good wish,


  16. I was thinking about you today. Wondering how you were feeling and how the treatments were going and here you've posted another lovely piece of your heart. There is magic in the simple things in life and clearly you have a capacity to tap into this magic to feed your soul. How nice it would be if more people had this capacity.

    Be well MC. Bask in the light.


  17. MC - I still pray for and think about all of the Newtown Angels every single day. I was especially thinking of you and your family yesterday when I realized it was the 14th. I pray that your family can have peace; you guys are going through a lot. I pray that Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly can move mountains. I pray that I am able to help in any small way.

    I am so happy that you choose to share these stories to your blog followers. It helps us as I am sure that it helps you.

    Wishing you Peace and Love,

    Burke VA

  18. Dear Farine,
    I think of you and open your blog and there I see your big smile and the curious beautiful face of Noah. Even though you've so much on your plate right now, you're there for others as well. Get well soon!

  19. Dear MC,
    every evening I pray for you, your familly, and especially for Noah.
    I hope that you health is fine... and I am sure you will be strong & live as happy as possible for your remaining grandchildren. And to keep the story of Noah alive, for me, for all that wait any news from you.
    Please take care, always yours,

  20. Hi MC,
    So nice to hear from you and to read your eloquent words. They always touch me and this time was no different.

    I have been wondering how things have been going for you this summer. When I went through chemo and radiation it was summer too. That was 14 years ago. Heat still stirs up those physical memories somehow. My children were all young then. What carried me through a lot were the people in my community. Meals brought to our front door brought a smile to everyones' faces including mine. Funny how the little things are remembered but to me that was no little thing because the mere thought of doing anything with food was about the last thing I wanted to do! As long as I live I don't think I will ever be able to repay the generosity of all of those people some of whom were complete strangers.

    Daily things would happen that would help me through but I have to say one of the most potent things were the smiles on people's faces. I learned the importance of smiling at people because one never knows what they are dealing with and how a mere smile can change someone's day - even from a complete stranger! My acupuncturist was what kept me on my feet and moving and now has become a wonderful friend and my 'go to' medical expert whenever I have a question about anything. I still have a strong aversion to doctors offices :O.

    Thanks for the post and wonderful pictures. Especially the one of little Noah. I somehow feel he is not far from you these days.

    Take Care,

  21. The words I have are never enough............ love and prayers of health and healing in every way.

  22. Once again you bring Noah to life with your words. Thank you.

  23. I love the blueberry mustache. This child is absolutely beautiful. In every picture it is as if his charm and personality are jumping off of the screen and wrapping his arms around your heart. I still cry and will always love and remember.

  24. I just happened on this and wanted to share. It gives me a good feeling thinking of Noah, happy, flying in Heaven. From Marianne Rose.

    Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple ...and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their friend was dead, gone forever.

    Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top. When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying.

    So, fly he did! And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never known existed. Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now he was dead. He wanted to go back to tell them, and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he understood that their time would come, when they, too, would know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!



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