Sunday, February 14, 2016

Two years, zoo years

February 15th marks two years since Maggie passed away.  Two years without her laugh, two years without her smile, two years without the person who defined my life for 20 years. It seems like a minute and it seems like a lifetime.

The pain is still fairly fresh. I suppose with time it will dull somewhat, but I know it will always be there. That's just a fact of life. We all lost a piece of ourselves when she left us and we know we can't get it back.  We have learned to carry on - mostly because we have no choice - but carrying on and "getting over it" are two very different things. We are ok, but we are not whole.

One thing we have been wrestling with is how to commemorate Maggie in a public place. We wanted to dedicate a bench to her in Golden Gate Park, one of her favorite places, but the program to do that was so screwed up that it was on hiatus. Really! How hard is it to collect money and put a plaque with her name on a bench, but somehow it was a mess. Now the program is back, but still trying to get off its feet. It will be a long time before that could happen. We continue to try to find the right thing. But it's a difficult task, and it's exhausting to think about. We haven't told many people this, it's just something we have talked about at home. And, because of the weight of all of it, there is definitely more talk than action on this front.

Then something wonderful happened. Our friend Ed is on the Board of the San Francisco Zoo. He remembered how much Maggie enjoyed the accessible swing at the playground at the zoo when it reopened a couple of years ago after extensive renovations. Here's the video of that visit from November 2013

I never told Ed or really very many people about our desire to commemorate Maggie publicly. It's just something we have talked about at home. That makes this all the more amazing.

 Unbeknownst to us, Ed and wife Lynn made a contribution to the zoo in Maggie's name and a portion of that playground will be dedicated to Maggie with the most beautiful plaque.

He came by on my birthday the other day to give it to us. Everyone of us was in tears. I have never received a more amazing gift and cannot imagine I ever will.

Not only will Maggie's name be visible for all to see, it will be in a place of joy, something she had in spades. Kids are happiest in a playground. Maggie was always happy in any playground, but especially in one that was accessible and she could actually join in the merriment.   Anytime you find yourself at the San Francisco Zoo please be sure to stop by the playground and look for Maggie's plaque. There will be the sound of laughing children in the background, which is perfect.

So we mark two years with the expected sadness, but we look forward to the dedication and know that Maggie's name and memory will be part of the fun.  And we all have to smile a bit at that.

Simon and Garfunkel said it best. "It's all happening at the zoo.  I do believe it, I do believe it's true"

Note: The zoo always accepts donations. go here if you want to contribute.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Same song, new lyrics

I have a big birthday coming up. One with a zero after it. Those always give one pause.

How can I be this old when I don't feel any different than I did in college? OK, the knees and back are a little slower and there's definitely more of me to love, but inside I'm exactly the same. So many years and experiences under the belt, but I don't feel any older.  I still marvel at the fact that I have children, but they are no longer children. It's hard to reconcile.

My friends feel the same way. I have several close friends that I grew up with and we are all facing the same big birthday, yet we go out and laugh ourselves silly about the same things we laughed about decades ago.   Exactly the same things.  And they are still funny. 

When you have lifelong friends they know all your secrets. There's no BS. They can pull up some obscure moment from your past in every detail and have you in stitches in no time. 

In 1980 - yes 36 years ago - I went to Europe with my friend Nonie and my sister Kate. We spent weeks traveling around with our backpacks sleeping on trains and having a great time. When we were in Salzburg, Austria we took a "Sound of Music" tour. It was something Nonie really wanted to do and of course we went along.  It turned out to be one of the most memorable and most hilarious days of my life. This is partly because it was the morning after a late night at a local beer garden. We were seriously hung over but rather than fumble our way through it, we decided to fully embrace this tour. It was small, just the three of us, a guide and a Japanese man who sold Harpsichords. Of course we named him Lurch. He excitedly told us he saw the movie seven times (and this is before the days of vcrs and dvds). That started us laughing and we never stopped. Lurch laughed right along with us. 

We went to the house and grounds the Von Trapp Family lived in the movie. It was beautiful, of course and we had to reenact the scene in the Gazebo where Liesl and her soon-to-be-Nazi boyfriend sang "I am 16 going on 17."  It was hilarious and ridiculous and I know given the chance I would do the same thing again.  

I may have aged, but I have not matured. 

I tell you that story simply so I can share this photograph that I received in the mail the other day. Nonie sent it in anticipation of my big birthday. That's me in Salzburg in 1980 doing my impression of Liesl.   The caption is more recent. 

The lyrics have changed, but the song remains the same.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Weird Dreams

I had one of those dreams last night. You know the type. You are trying and trying to get somewhere or get to something and no matter what you cannot get there. Last night it was a bus at the top of a very steep hill. I was slogging up the hill so so slowly and would get pulled off the street to do various tasks. I would hurry through those only to found myself back on the hill trying to get to the top in super slow motion.

I suppose that means I am searching for unattainable goals or something. Shrug. Who knows. Who really cares. I can tell you for sure that when I have these dreams I wake up more tired than I was before I went to bed.

But last night was different. On one of my many attempts to get up the hill a woman (whom I have  known since the 5th grade) appeared and asked why I had to get to that bus.  I could not answer her. She suggested I take a different road because Maggie was waiting for me. I ran down the other road that was flat and easy to travel and started running fast, so excited to find Maggie.

Then I woke up.

And she was still gone.

And I was so sad all over again.

But I can't quite shake it. I was working so hard to get something I didn't really want or need when, at least in my dream,  something I really wanted was - or seemed to be - so much easier to get. And what is the significance of my childhood friend's sudden appearance. Someone is trying to tell me something? Something or someone from my past will lead me where I want to go? But reality may prevent me from getting it?

Maggie is actually not in my dreams very often. Perhaps because she is constantly on my mind, my sub conscious gives me a break. When she is there, she is smiling and happy and I take comfort in that.

I loved the feeling I had in the dream when I was running toward where she was.  And hated the feeling when I awoke.