My kids are crazy. I mean, seriously. This is just over a minute, so don't feel like you have to see the whole silly thing, but it adequately captures our "quiet" time together as a family...
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
In light of our recent loss, our contractors (good friends of Max's) have been so good to us, putting a lot of guys on the job and really pushing to get the house done by this weekend. But what I'm learning lately is that sometimes you just have no control. And that applies to both remodeling jobs and life in general.
When I walked through the house today, a little part of me wanted to throw a hissy fit and stomp my feet and cry and demand that they work all night long to get it done... but it may only be a week before everything is finished, so it's not worth looking like a crazed homeowner. It's just a week. In the scheme of things, it's nothing. We are just so anxious to get on with the next part of our life, but life has its own plan for us.
And so we sit. And wait. And wish.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Today, we went to the new house to check the mail and say hello to our contractors. After we ran our hands on the new granite and answered a few questions about the paint, I noticed a box in the entryway, addressed to Raf and me. Not remembering if I'd ordered anything for the house in the week prior to Max's death, I opened the box casually and was THRILLED to see a beautiful basket inside. The note, offering love and support from two good friends of mine - one of whom lives in the new neighborhood - accompanied gorgeous fruits and a box of chocolates. The girls and Raf and I grabbed the contents like we hadn't eaten in a week, juice dripping from our chins on the new porch, chocolate smeared at the corners of our mouths. Raf had two pears, one in each hand, each with a bite mark. It was like we couldn't get enough, finally feeling nourished again.
I hope that, when I look back on this time, I will be baffled by the strange mix in my memory of sadness with the taste of ripe nectarines and dark chocolate truffles.
Anyway, it was gorgeous and heartfelt. I thought later that maybe I felt "Max" in the room... like he was there, watching over us, but it's not something I usually believe. My thought is that people don't stick around on the earth immediately after they die... their souls have too much to do, departed loved ones to reconnect with, an afterlife to learn. The funeral is held so soon after death that it is really just a way for us "survivors" to hold each other and love each other through the pain. So maybe it wasn't so much "Max" in there with us as our collective memories and love for him, stitching us together, the quilt of his life.
Over the week, Raf did what he does best: take care of business. In the midst of it, though, he would remember, in fits and starts, that all of this was for Max. Unbelievable, he kept saying to me. I can't get used to it.When we arrived at the beach house, I was worried about going into the bedroom where Max had died, even though the bed was dismantled immediately and is gone (his mother has it). But when I walked in, his friends were gathered in the corner with a big ol' bud, rolling, and soon the place smelled like Amsterdam, sweet and herbal. It was kind of like the Native American ritual of "smudging," in which you exorcise evil spirits by burning sage. Only it made everyone happier, dreamier, hungrier, more able to enjoy the beautiful day outside the beach house windows.
I'm not saying it was easy. I'm only saying it was beautiful, which felt appropriate.
On the way home, I asked the girls how they were doing, if they had a good time. Serena, barely still awake, sand in her hair, clothes still damp from tumbling in the tide with her sisters and cousin, said, "It was the best worst day ever." And it was.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The call had been hysterical from my brother-in-law's phone. "Hold on, Maxie," I said, fumbling for my earpiece (I was just leaving a parking lot). "Okay, what's up, Max? Is Raffy there?"
I couldn't understand him at first. Panting, crying. It was my husband. "Is he sick?" I asked. "Did you call 911?"
"Get here now, please. I don't care what else you have now, get here, please. I think he... he might be dead."
I don't know if those were our exact words. I don't remember much. I had a long drive to Malibu in the typical traffic of a sunny Saturday in June, when so many people abandon the city to go to the beach. Convertibles. Tanned teenagers in jeeps. Rusty pickups with surfboards hanging out the back.
I had to call his mother. "Did you call 911?" she asked, still composed, not grasping the scope of the moment. Max had been in the hospital just last week and they had been so close, had had such a warm bond over soup at Jerry's. Max had always been a sick kid, had his appendix out at a very young age. Just in the last few years, his doctor had diagnosed him with a very rare condition that caused his glands to swell up suddenly and his mother had become his champion, calling the insurance company and hospital to be sure that he could have a particular shot -- $4,000, but worth every penny -- available in case he had another episode of swelling. She had been so there with him. It was so special.
"Is he at the hospital? He needs to be at the hospital, I'll meet you there."
"No, um..." I didn't know how to say what you shouldn't have to say to a mother. "Um, he uh, he thinks that he might be... he might be..."
"No! No! Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!" She called later to demand that they don't move Max. "We must be with him. They cannot move him. We need to be around him."
Here's the irony of the day: before he left our new house, my husband had dropped his iPhone into the pool and had sent me a text from his friend's phone before he went to Malibu alone with just our oldest daughter and her best friend. My husband, the most reachable person in the whole world, was without his phone.
When he reached Max, just as he was realizing that Max wasn't sleeping, Max's phone rang. It was Josh, one of Max's best friends. My husband picked up the phone, unable to really talk. Josh was the one who called 911. After the first call from Max's phone, I got another call, an accidental redial, in which I heard my husband screaming at Max; I thought that maybe Max had pulled a really horrible joke, even though that wouldn't be Max's style. But still, it made me hope that he was still alive, still living large, loving life.
Everyone battled sunny Saturday traffic to get to Max, to be together somehow, near him. It took me an hour to reach my husband, whose grief was so powerful I had nothing to say, no words or wand to take it all away.Hours later, the coroner arrived and was flanked by two sheriffs, surrounded by Max's mom, sister, best friends, aunt and uncle. I sat on the couch, my husband outside because he just couldn't be in the beach house anymore, and I turned to look out the window. In the path was this image: a beautifully designed home, the sunny waves, and a big blue bong, right in the middle of the coffee table.
It was so like Max to just leave it out there, for all to see. I just had to remember it and save the memory.
We love you, Maxie.