In January 2002 I hosted a dinner party to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was a Monday night and we had a wonderful evening of laughter, food and wine. As the night progressed, I began to anticipate how tired and cranky I would be the next morning when my alarm roused me for work. I hate being off my game because of lack of sleep.
As I moved between the dining room and my guests, and the kitchen with its dish filled sink, glancing at the ever later time on the clock, a thought occurred to me: September 11, 2001 had been a Tuesday. Something inside me clicked with such force that it seemed impossible for the internal noise to have gone unheard by those sharing my evening.
We never know when our last night on this earth will be.
I knew, without a shred of doubt, that if the next day was when I met my end, I would rather die with a bellyful of celebratory food and the echo of an evening’s laughter in my ears than 8 hours of sleep. No regrets.
This past weekend may have been close to perfect. One of my favorite girls arrived prior to the snow and we settled in to an afternoon of satisfying household tasks. There was cooking, roasting and baking. A tree was agreed upon and chopped down, by me. Later, it was beautifully decorated, not by me. I call that a win-win situation.
With our bellies full of delicious chili and layers of spandex and Lycra firmly in place, we ventured downtown to the starting line for Albany’s 2013 Last Run. Being smart and all, we stashed some clothes at the Wine Bar for a post-race nosh. We are not amateurs, my friend.
I’ve done this race three years in a row and I have to tell you – it is the most fun race I do each year. The fireworks, the costumes, the crowd, the lights – it is consistently a blast. This year, despite the weather conditions (pretty damn cold with face freezing precipitation) I had the most fun ever, probably a combination of the perfect running friends and an entire day devoted to holiday tasks and festivities. Joy to the world, for sure!
We followed our exertions with a fantastic dinner at the Wine Bar. You might think that I praise the food at the Wine Bar with such frequency because I work there, but you’d be wrong. The reality, though, is I work there because the food is so damn good. Truth. My meal, from the grilled Caesar salad to the phenomenal pork shoulder to the epic wedge of cheesecake from Cheesecake Machismo was flawless. Perfect.
There was another Lilly enjoying her weekend’s activities and menu, Cassidy Bono. She feasted on sirloin steak, ground beef, sardines and chicken breast, punctuated with plenty of biscuits. There were lots of cuddles, along with belly rubs, and what turned out to be our last weekend together will always be a time which I will treasure.
We both had a good run.
Filed under aging, Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Dinner, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Lark Street, Local, running, snow, winter
I began my day on the floor, next to Cassidy, my tears dripping on the softest fur a dog has ever had. That’s why we picked her, you know. In a litter of 11 beautiful black labs, she was different, wearing a lavender ribbon around her neck with fur that could only be described as fluffy. A dozen years later, her coat remains a marvel of softness.
Cassidy has been the only dog my boys have known. In her younger years, she was my cross-country skiing buddy, joyfully covering miles of the golf course with me each winter. For a number of years, we rented a house on the Cape which welcomed pets and Cassidy was a regular at the nearby pond, diving under the water to retrieve rocks. She has been a wonderful, wonderful pet.
In recent days, she has not been herself. There have been messy episodes which have required copious amounts of Nature’s Miracle to eliminate. Her appetite has been compromised and I scheduled a visit for the vet. My youngest, Q, asked to accompany me to the appointment. I hesitated, not knowing what the diagnosis might be, nor how he would respond to the bad news I anticipated. He earnestly told me this: “I’ve taken some punches, Mom. I’ve had up times and down times. I’ll be ok.” He came with me.
The visit was as expected. It seems that our girl has a tumor in her abdomen, more than likely cancer. She probably is experiencing some internal bleeding. I’m crying now. The vet gave me some medication to help with her bowels. He said to feed her whatever she wants to eat and to take her home any enjoy her. We’ll know when she needs us to let her go.
I made Cassidy turkey risotto this morning. I can’t stop looking at her resting peacefully and wondering how many more mornings I’ll awake to find her sleeping on the stained carpet at the foot of my bed.
No matter how hard you prepare yourself, the punch to the gut of losing a beloved pet always hurts. Even when your child dries your tears and tells you everything is going to be fine.
Waking up on this day a dozen years ago, I remember being happy that I could finally get out of bed and escape the image of those towers falling down behind my eyelids, over and over again. The sky was once again stunningly blue, but now it was silent with all commercial airline traffic grounded as the world focused their attentions on Ground Zero.
During my drive west on the thruway to work, I passed a convoy of trucks carrying generators and other equipment, their destination without question. There was still a sense of urgency and the hope for survivors yet to be found was a beacon, to which it seemed we all looked.
There was kindness present in unexpected places. Drivers waved to one another, inviting an easy merge into traffic or permitting a turn which would more typically be denied, as we are accustomed to all being in such a damn rush. The world slowed down.
It’s difficult to believe that twelve years have passed since that horrible and scary time, but what is more difficult to accept is that many of us have forgotten how a simple act of kindness can radiate with as much force as the collapse of a tower. Or two.
The world became a different place for millions of people on September 12, 2001. Husbands and wives woke up for the first time as widowers. Children opened their eyes and saw a world with a gaping hole where once their mother or father had been. Parents mourned the unimaginable loss of a child, which to me, is the ultimate affront to the way nature is supposed to function.
Today would be a great day to do something nice, to make a gesture which is unexpected and generous in spirit. While I hope to never again witness a horrible tragedy like the one which occurred in our country twelve years ago, each day provides us with an opportunity to erase even the tiniest amount of sorrow in the world by the smallest act of kindness. Wouldn’t that be a great 9/11 memorial?
PS – A childhood friend of mine, who lost her husband far too young to a different type of terrorist, cancer, began an organization called Gift it Forward. Check it out here.
They scare me.
I’ve always considered the pressure cooker to be the most menacing piece of kitchen equipment. I understand the appeal of cooking something super fast, rather than leaving it to braise for hours upon hours, but I was always intimidated by their mystery. This past week has only confirmed my fears.
They continue to make a contribution to contemporary life.
Last Monday’s events at the Boston Marathon added the verbalized request from my youngest child of “Please don’t get killed at your race on Sunday” to the terrorism dialogue I have had with my children over the years. The opening statement in this conversation came in the form of question in September of 2001: “Why do the buildings keep falling down?” I don’t like having to revisit these acts of violence with my boys, and I am resentfully heartbroken about the necessity of these talks. It sucks.
They boggle me with their capabilities.
I don’t understand a lot of what happened last week. I can’t grasp that so much carnage can come from ball bearings, nails and other bits of metal. I will never accept that an elected official could make a statement like this, and while I’m not beyond a bit of suspicion when it comes to my government (weapons of mass destruction, anyone?), I really don’t believe there is any type of conspiracy theory worthy activity here, either.
They work quickly, but not necessarily reliably.
The media coverage was at least as explosive as an overheated pressure cooker. The unsubstantiated information circulated was alarming and it was difficult to look away from my Twitter feed. When those pictures of the two suspects were “broadcast,” it became impossible to ignore the immediacy of current news technology. It was breathtaking.
I don’t ever want one in my home.
Quinn asked me to load some Beatles on his iPad recently and I finally had a moment to do it this morning. He has been really into Here Comes the Sun and chose this song as our first tune of the day. Not a bad way to start a Sunday, I’d say.
As the music was playing sweetly, Quinn mentioned that every day he thinks about George Harrison and John Lennon being dead and he gets angry. Well, as he said, not really about George because it wasn’t his fault that he got sick, but the thing about John? That made him really upset. Why did that guy have to shoot him?
Quinn asked me when John was killed – what year? I’m sure that 1980 sounded like a million years ago to my boy, but I continued my remembrances of that time (freshman year of high school) by telling him that the man who shot Lennon was still in prison for committing that crime. He was outraged – “Why wasn’t he executed, Mom? How could he have done that to John Lennon?”
How do I respond to that? How does one explain the precarious relationship between the emergence of sunshine, the death of an idol and a life spent behind bars? Oh, Beautiful Boy, where would I begin?
Filed under Boys, Music, musings
Referencing a lyric from an Irish band on a day when I learned so very much about my maternal, German side of the family may seem inconsistent, but it actually couldn’t be any more appropriate. We each are the direct product of two people, yes? Of course, who we truly are involves many more than two individual people, as I was reminded on this very day.
Today I saw a WW II monument in the tiny cemetery where my grandparents are buried, with the name of my Opa’s cousin etched into the stone. Hubert Meder was 20 years-old when he died in service to his country. I saw a photo of my Great Uncle Josef, who I had the opportunity to meet many years ago, in the uniform of Germany’s army in that same war. When I knew him he had an accordion in his hands. There were photos of my Opa’s sisters taken when they were young, before they took their vows and became married to Christ for all of eternity. And I saw my first photos ever of my mother as a young child, in the days when she was presumably permitted to be a toddler before she had to mach schnell with always a purpose.
My eldest aunt shared her memories with me of a life when the sole purpose of girls was to contribute to the family’s income and assist in taking care of the younger children. I learned of the outrageous hypocrisy of a young couple, Ludwig and Rosa, who knew from experience the challenges and burden of becoming parents prior to marriage, yet were comfortable damning their own daughter (their third born child, yet the first to be conceived within the confines of matrimony) for the same sin. I felt the pain of a nearly 80 year-old woman who still did not understand why her parents continued to leave her to be raised by her Oma rather than claim her as their own for any reason other than to demand her wages once she became of age to work.
This afternoon the dining table nearly bowed with the feast spread upon it, but the soul was fed even beyond the belly. Seeing the pictures carefully mounted between onion skin, hearing the stories and knowing something of the people who came first, fills a place which will never again feel empty.