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01

Aug

Cuddle puddle with Laurie & her BFF on Moving Day Eve. 

Cuddle puddle with Laurie & her BFF on Moving Day Eve. 

31

Jul

Then & Now

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I had no idea how to be a mom to Laurie 20 years ago, but at this particular moment in her life, my skill set actually speaks to her needs.

While I wasn’t the one who enrolled her in kindergarten, I can now help her navigate the student-loan process.

Never buckled her into a car seat, but I’m renting the U-Haul truck to move her and her BFF across Charleston.

Never gave her a bath, but I can now scrub her first apartment clean enough for the landlord to return her security deposit.

Didn’t set up her crib, but I can pick up her new queen-size bed and buy her a corresponding set of sheets.

I wasn’t the one who monitored how much TV she watched as a kid, but I can spend 90 minutes on hold with Comcast to transfer her service to a new address.

As I’m rescheduling property inspections with landlords and bubble-wrapping her dishes, she bounces into the kitchen with my tape gun and a grin.

Tré, have I told you today how glad I am that you’re here?

Have I told you, Laurie, how much this parallel-universe-of-a-week means to me?

28

Jul

Sushi Monday in Chucktown with my favorite girl in the world!

Sushi Monday in Chucktown with my favorite girl in the world!

26

Jul

Only 1 more sleep until Charleston with Laurie Rae! 

Only 1 more sleep until Charleston with Laurie Rae! 

25

Jul

Storage Serenade

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The 60-pound club chair that Alberto stored to make room for my vintage L.A. furniture. A tattered French boudoir chair of his that I never asked about. Tennis rackets I never saw him use. Boxes of polos and swim trunks that never saw Summer 2009. All of these things—along with my own share of unused artifacts—no longer live in the basement storage units of my building.

This week they went home with strangers from Craig’s List, to the Salvation Army on Eighth Avenue, and to the rubbish room. There isn’t an impending move to a new apartment. No boyfriend to thank (or blame) for the purge. Just a gradual awareness that these things no longer define Alberto or obligate me. And that the monthly storage expense could be more wisely spent.

My mother’s timely visit to NYC means not only a pair of helping hands, it means hands belonging to someone who understands if I stop and sob now and then. Or share the story that goes with that gallon of paint before tossing it. It also means I have a witness when a plastic storage bin suddenly starts playing a Sinatra song.

Ssshh, Tré—listen! Do you hear that?

I do…it’s ‘Night and Day.’

Is it coming from your phone?

No, it’s coming from…that box.

We lean toward the sound, absorbing lyrics.

Night and day, you are the one.
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun.
Whether near to me, or far,
It’s no matter darling where you are.
I think of you.

Wow, she says, wiping her eyes.

For a moment, I see this scene as Mom is seeing it: music strongly associated with her daughter’s late husband is inexplicably coming from a 20-gallon bin during the clean-out of said husband’s storage unit.

I kinda wish I didn’t know the source of the sound.

Wish I could pretend it isn’t coming from a motion-activated Christmas ornament, which my Dad gave to Alberto and me.

But I do know, and so I confess.

Well, Mom says, that Christmas ornament’s got good timing. You’re keeping it, right?

Hell yeah.

All afternoon, as we sort and shift and stack, the bin serenades us. By the ninth or tenth rendition, I find myself humming along, mixing around the words until they sound less like a sentimental track from my past and more like a present-tense affirmation:

Near or far

No matter darling

Where all our things are

I think of you.

22

Jul

Just found your blog and memoir, and wanted to thank you for all that you write about. I have been incessantly searching the word ‘grief’ on Tumblr to find some words of wisdom since someone I loved died in February.
Although I’ve dealt with sudden deaths of close family and friends, I had never coped before with terminal illness in someone with whom I am in love. His death has affected me more than any before him, which seems to bring along extra feelings of guilt.
Your writing is already helping me, and I’m so glad to see it’s helping countless others. Also, you’ve inspired me to start using Tumblr again.
— Linda, Australia ()

19

Jul

Forty-five minutes into “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” we forget that we are watching Audra McDonald. We are transfixed and transported to Philadelphia in 1959, listening to the ghost of Billie Holiday croon and confess and rage.

Forty-five minutes into “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” we forget that we are watching Audra McDonald. We are transfixed and transported to Philadelphia in 1959, listening to the ghost of Billie Holiday croon and confess and rage.

Stories Below Lower Manhattan

A somber day spent with Dad deep underground at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, a place that felt more reflective than exploitative (excepting the Museum Store, which left us with all the icks).

We reached our emotional saturation point inside of three hours, and stumbled up to the plaza in search of the Survivors’ Tree. This callery pear (upper left tree) survived the towers’ collapse with little more than its trunk, but was nursed back to health for nine years in the Bronx. It now stands tall, scars and all, in the foreground of another symbol of resurrection: the Freedom Tower.

16

Jul

Times Square Selfie with Mom (NYC, Duh) 

Times Square Selfie with Mom (NYC, Duh) 

12

Jul

Keeping up a lifelong tradition of father-daughter baseball outings (Queens, NYC)

Keeping up a lifelong tradition of father-daughter baseball outings (Queens, NYC)

The Things We Do for Grief

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Loss sucks, but it can also be transformed into supernatural fuel. Have you run your first marathon, published a book, created a foundation, run for office, started a business, etc. as a direct result of losing someone close to you? If you’re under 40, reply below or PM me by July 18 for inclusion in my next Modern Loss column. Feel free to share with Tumblrs or others who fit this profile.

here’s to good grief,
Tré

05

Jul

White Elephant on Wheels (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

White Elephant on Wheels (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

How to Cure a Cryover

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“I thought you’d look worse” wasn’t the kindest thing I heard in the months after my 40-year-old husband died of a sudden heart attack, but it wasn’t the most cringe-worthy either. In that first year, I was neither able nor willing to control my tears, but I worked in a NYC office where it wasn’t feasible to hide my puffy eyes behind dark sunglasses.

I tried cucumbers, tea bags and cold spoons, but these remedies were no match for eyelids so swollen, they actually hurt. I experimented with a ton of product, and found three that allowed me to cry all night and erase the evidence the next morning.

If you’re grieving a death, break-up or scary diagnosis, these three secret weapons can let you experience the healthy benefits of catharsis — without insanely puffy eyes or mascara running down your face. I’ve shared them with every mourning woman I know, but I have no affiliation with these brands nor am I being compensated for including them here.  

Read More

Sea Anemones in the Sky (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Sea Anemones in the Sky (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

04

Jul

Sparklers + Moonshine in the ‘Burg for ‘Murica Day (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Sparklers + Moonshine in the ‘Burg for ‘Murica Day (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)