8765 Times Four Living and Remembering

RisaThere are 8765 hours in a year – and each of them has ticked off once again since Risa passed away in 2010.  Entering my fifth year as a single parent raising two girls and I can say we are making the best of our lives and have overcome life’s hurdles – not without challenges.  But 8765 times four living and remembering, we’re hanging in.

A lot happened during the course of the year – along with each of us getting a year older we’ve gone about living our lives together and independently – and I think each of us have learned a lot.  The memories we share of Risa are never far away, and we talk about them a lot.

For me, I’ve had the chance to do so much during the last year.  It may not look like a well planned and thought out process – but more often than not it is.  There are so many people in my life who help make things easier to deal with.  Many have been there for a life time or longer – others are new.

For the girls, the year has been full of a lot of change and transition.  14.0 is in high school now, and asserting her independence.  12.0 is growing so quickly – and is quickly becoming a young lady.  She’s deep into the circuit for bar/bat mitzvahs for friends now – with hers less than a year away.

In the middle of the year our long time sitter moved out.  A few months later, my brother (who needed a chance to re-boot) moved in.  One day we’ll get our house back – but until then, I think Risa would be happy.  8765 time four living and remembering – and we’re doing OK.

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A Little Recognition For A Good Guy

Travis Hamonic and my girls in the Islanders locker room.  Post game Oct. 19

Travis Hamonic and my girls in the Islanders locker room. Post game Oct. 19

Becoming a single parent has led me to a lot of places I never would have thought I was heading back in November of 1997 when I got married.  Along the way I’ve met a lot of great people either through this blog, networking or just because of the experience.  One of the people we’ve met along the way was Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic who grew up in a single parent household.

It was a meeting my girls remember to this day.  Last week when we spent a few minutes with Travis at the Islander’s annual outing at Adventureland, they reminded him of the meeting.

Now ESPN is sharing with the country the project Travis launched three years ago when he came up to the Islanders.  It’s always nice when a pro athlete give back to their community – but when it comes from the heart as it does with Travis its special.

We’ll be watching here – and I hope you are able to at least set the DVR if nothing else.

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Bat Mitzvah Day, Take A Breath

take_a_breatherIt’s the in-between time for us as 13.0 completed her Bat Mitzvah service and we’re about to get ready to celebrate her achievement with our friends and family.  At last on this Bat Mitzvah Day time to take a breath.

I know how hard 13.0 worked on getting ready-and she nailed it.  There is no way she could have done any better with leading prayers, reading Torah and Haftarah and then explaining it all.  In a lot of ways I envy how well she did.

DOWNLOAD THE SINGLE DAD’S BOOK THE BEGINNING OF THE MIDDLE OF THE END OF THE BEGINNING NOW

My part (along with sitting there and looking pretty as 13.0 pointed out) was to present her with her Talit, do prayers before and after the reading of a portion of her Torah and to stand before her and the congregation and to speak to her accomplishments over 13 years-and I have a lot to be proud of.

In my world of over-thinking and self-critiquing, my thoughts on this moment were to deliver not just the speech I wanted to, but to try to think for 13.0’s mother and encapsulate her thoughts (or what I think would be her thoughts) in the speech.  Maybe it was an over-reach, maybe I wasn’t ready-I don’t know.

So, I mostly managed to struggle my way through a speech, talking about the Talit from my father to my daughter with a stop as the chuppa at our wedding.  Just as I gain my composure comes the next bomb I planted in my own speech-telling the story of how she was named for my brother who passed a year before I got married.

It seemed so much better last night when I read through it, and re-worked a portion of it.

But now should be the easier moment. The party is on auto-pilot (I hope).

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SHHHH Can You Keep A Secret?

Big news, but its a secret OK?

My next book is about to be available on any and all e-readers.

UPDATE: You can now download the full book on your Kindle.  Support for all other readers is pending.

UPDATED (AGAIN): You can now also download the full book on your Nook.  Support still pending for iPad and others.

Almost two years in the making, The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning is the title of my book and also a blog I posted on December 4, 2010-the day Risa passed away.  From a pure marketing perspective for a blog, that title is awful.  For me though it was very descriptive of what I felt at the time and how things have unfolded over the 24 months since that day.

So, if you just can’t wait, feel free to get a preview here.  Expect me to be nauseatingly in your face once the book is fully available.

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The Weight of a Promise

In my odyssey of being a single parent, I’ve met many people who are also single parents.  While that distinction unifies us, there are many differences in how we earned the badge.  Those differences I’ve realized help shape our day-to-day even more than we realize (at least for me its more than I realize).

Among the ranks of the widowed (like me) there are distinctions.  I have a friend whose husband died suddenly on a treadmill at the gym.  She has a young daughter at home who barely remembers her father.  My friend’s outlook on things is very different from mine, who has two (older) girls but withstood watching my wife suffer a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Even on the divorced side there are many differences.  One friend who is separated has her daughter full-time and never sees or hears from her ex any longer.  Another friend just completed his divorce after a long period of sharing his house with his ex-wife.  They have joint custody, and she lives up the road from him.  There are others who have a contentious relationship with the ex (and that’s probably why they are divorced) and shared custody.  Even within that last group is a the differences is rules for which days the children are where.

That being said, in my case we were able to do some planning before the end. A lot of those plans centered on the family we decided to start after learning Risa had a brain tumor-knowing full well at some point it was more than likely I would be a single parent.  From Bat-Mitzvahs to lifestyle to setting expectations concepts were discussed and in some cases agreed to-and I made some promises real and implied.

In the implied list is a promise that I would be here for my girls when they need me.  I don’t think that’s unique to me as a parent, but its a weighty promise.  Of late though I wonder (and I’ve been prompted to think about this some as well) if I am taking my promise too literally and feeling my guilt to hard.

I can look anyone in the eye and tell them I am here for my girls, there is no hesitation and very little second guessing.  Until I have time to sit and think about it.  Are the school struggles because I am not there at homework time? Is the social challenge because I’m not pushing hard enough? Do my girls think they can come to me for everything even though I spend a lot of time on the phone?  Will they think I don’t want to be with them if I take time for myself?

I know when I made the promises I told Risa not to worry I would handle it.  And I am pretty sure I have.  But could I do it better?

We all make promises to ourselves and our partners about our kids.  There is nothing unique about that.  We all want the best for our kids.  Nothing unique there either.  It’s the single parent though who has to take it on and balance it though.

Yeah, the therapist will earn her keep this week.

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