Monday, May 28, 2012

Another week gone...another sunset without you

These past three of four days have been intensely painful without you. Not the normal everyday pain since you've been gone, but excruciating pain.

I don't know if it is the initial shock wearing off?
I bet that is what the grief books say.
I can't read those books for more than five minutes at a time. 
I just can't.

There have been multiple times when I didn't want to move forward Jesse.
I want to be with you.

I listened to one of your old voice mails today, twice.
That's all I could do.
I cried.
I bawled.
I look at your face in the pictures around the house and I close my eyes.
This house no longer feels like home.
I hear your voice, I see your smile.

I go out every now and then and I end up getting anxious and restless because you are not there.
It makes me physically sick and I get nauseous.
I hurry and get back to the house.
I feel like you might be waiting for me at home.
Or maybe you might be coming home soon to be with me

I look at Isis' face and think about how she will remember you as she gets older.
I keep talking to her about you.
We both talk about you.
Sometimes we also avoid talking about you.
It's the pain.
I want her to always remember things you taught her and remember your values and what was important to you.
I want her to remember her daddy who loved her so much and lived only for her for many years.

I look at Maya's face and I look for you in her.
I wonder how I am going to tell her about you.
I wonder what I am going to tell her about her daddy.
I want her to know you.
I have started talking to her in Malayalam, like you've always wanted me to.
But what's the point since you are not here to watch me talk to her in another language.
Every now and then I stop and think about what you would've said to her while pushing her in the stroller while she looked up at you with her beautiful smile.
Twinkling eyes.
The funny faces you would've made to make her laugh
Rushed to her side when she woke up from her nap, crying
Snuggled up next to her while she slept

Where are you?
How are you?
What are you doing these days?
Do you miss me?
Do you watch over the girls?

Will you show me the way?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

His last poem

Jesse often...almost every day...wrote me poems and little love notes. He would write mostly on his train ride to work. I usually fell back to sleep with Maya after he left and I would wake up a few hours later and his poems waited for me.

Sometimes, I awaited their arrival. And they would show up...eventually.

He fondly called me Priya Pop.

The engraving on my wedding band reads: " My sweetie Priya PriyaPop"

Yes. I still wear my wedding band.
Yes. It is still on the same finger.

I love you, JLSP.

Here it is...

in which the POP

I see you in every
smile, even the
empty, vacuous, teens'
air-headed vanity...

Your mischievous grin
lights up my face
in bright warm response
-to even the mem'ry.

I wish for you here at
my side, that we
could poke fun and giggle
at every inanity...

So we too would be
labeled as fatuous
and, giggling, we'd be
suspected of having lost
our own sanity.

For it is so,
it is true,
it is,
Reduced to a
am I-
a slave to your
-beauty and soul-
('tis gods' cruel truth!)
"In love", I cry-
And so, alone,
I cry (in love)...

- JLSP, 3/20/2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two months

I love you so much!

It is still hard.
My heart cannot be mended
It bleeds with pain.

They say it gets easier...
I don't want it to get easy either.

I miss you.
I miss you.
I miss you.

Tears and heartache.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maya is five months old today

There have been very few days when I just go about life and such without actually crying even once.

It doesn't mean that my love for you is fading
It doesn't mean that I am moving on
It doesn't mean that I don't miss you

It just means that I was alright that day
It means that I was able to get by that day with you close to my heart
The heartache was somewhat tolerable that day

Mother's Day came and went.
It was a hard day.

Maya is five months old today babe.

I dressed her in the same dress she wore two days before you left us, for her three month birthday.
It fits much better now. She has grown.
Every time she smiles and laughs I think about you and I miss you.
It breaks my heart that you are not here to hear that laugh.

You never heard her laugh.
She started laughing for the first time on the day of your memorial service.

I hear you laugh sometimes.
Your voice is still fresh in my mind, my heart.

I hear you call for me sometimes.
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wonder when you are going to turn off the video games and come to bed.

Isis said she heard you call out to her the other day while she was playing.
"Isis...over here. Look over here Isis..." that's what she heard you say.

She is writing in her journal every night for you.
She wonders if you are reading her letters.
She calls them letters.

She was sad today when she saw and heard a little girl call out for her daddy at the park.
I held her tight.
I hold Maya tight.

Today has been a crying day for me.
The heartache has been intolerable.

I miss you.

I wish I could just hold you
just one more time...

Maya, a few hours old, with daddy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ms. Farnan, our superhero teacher

As a young girl, and also in my adulthood, I have had the pleasure of connecting and knowing wonderful teachers and professors, who became my mentors, some of whom I am still in touch with. They have each played a special role in shaping me into the woman that I have become today.

Isis has had wonderful teachers in her life, but she really didn't build that solid, healthy, nurturing connection with anyone until last year...when we transferred her from the Oakland school to our public school in Union City.

There she met Ms. Farnan, half way through third grade.
And from day one, she has looked up to her with reverent awe.
She hoped, intensely, to be with Ms. Farnan for fourth grade as well.
And she did.
She was beyond thrilled!

We heard wonderful stories about Ms. Farnan every single day. Isis would even write stories for her class assignments with Ms. Farnan as the superhero who killed the monsters and zombies and saved the day. It was amazing to watch how much she connected with her and above all how much interest she showed in reading and learning since then. Isis always loved school and wouldn't miss a day for anything. There was one day last year when she was sick and I decided to keep her home from school. Isis , clutching her belly, "Mama, I will be okay. Can I please go to school. Today Ms. Farnan is going to read us a special book. I will try not to throw up in class! Please?" 

Still makes me chuckle.
She stayed home.

After Jesse passed, Ms. Farnan and the school community have been there for us and especially for Isis in so many ways.

They are family. 

Ms. Farnan made sure that Isis was okay in class and she made sure Isis got her personal space when she became sad thinking about daddy and needed a moment. All her wonderful classmates made cards for her, which we displayed at the service. Isis was so happy. And of course, she announced to the whole world that Ms. Farnan was coming to the service and that the rest of the family members could meet her then.

Ms. Farnan was also thoughtful to do some research and pick out some great children's grief books that we could read together.

"Tear Soup" was one of them.
We have read it together a few times and it has become one of Isis's favorites.
I knew she would love this book because of her love for cooking. 

A book that described grief, the uniqueness of grief, ways to handle grief, including a recipe to make tear soup...sure winner in Isis' world!

This is her favorite page in the book and we often use it a scale to measure how we both are feeling.

This post is dedicated to Ms. Farnan.

I know that you have affected Isis' life in a significant way and no matter where life takes her, I am sure Isis will look back, and fondly, and proudly remember you.

As parents, Jesse and I have always been huge fans and supporters of teachers.
Ms. Farnan continues to fuel that support.

Thank you Ms. Farnan.
We love you!
Isis and Ms. Farnan, Halloween 2011

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rebecca goes to the May Day rally in NYC and I get Deb

A good friend of mine from grad school, Rebecca, decides to attend to the May Day rally in NYC to get inspired because she is all about the advocacy and also because she is awesome.

She and a few other grad school friends of mine have been an immense source of support for me during this hard time. They have patiently listened to me while I rant, they have offered kind words, and above all... they have been comfortable with my silence and given me the space to reach out to them however and whenever I have wanted to.

I love them!
Every time I look around the corner when I am lost or scared, there they are.
Ever willing.


Rebecca attends this rally and then emails me the next day about running into an organization called the National Lawyers Guild in NYC. It was through their resources that I found Deborah Lagutaris.

When I reached out to Deb, I was beyond broken.
I was tired and I was ready to give up and give in.
I didn't see much hope and I honestly didn't expect much from her.

Now, where do I start talking about Deb?

We spoke on the phone and I explained my situation to her, all the while trying not cry. Deb heard me patiently and said, "I will work on this with you. Please don't worry." She was also honest with me about her fees and made sure I was alright before proceeding further. I then sent her a few documents and she began working on my legal paperwork right away.

Because of my horrible experiences with finding legal help and because of being ripped off by organizations who claimed they could help me, I was skeptical about Deb in the beginning. I didn't tell anyone about her. Not even Rebecca. I even wondered if I had made another mistake by trusting her.

Naivety had me feeling stupid not too long ago.

But Deb was real.
Deb was actually helping me.

She stayed in touch with me for the next few days and held my hand and got me through a significant legal hurdle. Even though the hurdle is somewhat behind me, Deb continues to assist me.

It was an emotional experience.
I am glad she was with me.
Above all, I am glad she is genuine.

When I met Deb, we spoke about our lives and our experiences and Deb also spoke briefly about a significant loss in her life.

We were able to connect with each other through our grief and through many unspoken words.

Deb was there for me at a time when people haughtily turned their backs toward me. She was the one person who was willing to stand by me, listen to me, and make sure she did her best to help me out, like she said she would.

When people are grieving, struggling through a recent trauma, have had a significant loss in their lives, or experiencing any other life altering transitions, there is really not much they need other than a listening ear, a willing heart, compassion, and people who keep their word when they say they are going to do something. I am not sure if this is true of everyone, but it is for me.

Oh...I also need hugs. Lots of them.

I am fragile at the moment, and trust is important to me.
Deb gained my trust and she keeps my trust.

I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me and the girls, dear Deb.
Jesse would've loved to to meet you and he thanks you as well.

If you are interested, you can learn more about Deb and her services here

Side note: Advocacy is important, not only for yourself, but also for the community you live in. You never know who you will run into and who you might end up helping in return.

Jesse, Priya, Isis and Maya in the belly saying thank you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

And here's to you

And here's to you...

Today was a big day for me, for us.
You know what I am talking about.
You know what's going on...
I know you were watching over me to make sure everything went alright.

And it did...
Here's to hoping that the rest of the journey will also be alright.

Here's to the strong you
the compassionate and vibrant you
here's to the confident you
the you that didn't break easily
the you that was open to asking for guidance when needed

Here's to you that spoke your mind fearlessly
naming injustice without hesitation when you witnessed it
and here's to you who encouraged me to do the same.

Thank you for being you.
Thank you for loving me and allowing me love you.

Continue to watch over us.
Thank you for sending Deb my way.

Tomorrow, I am going to dedicate my post to a special person named Deb.

Tonight, I am going to be kind to myself, drink some wine, and get some sleep.
Maybe you will come visit?

I love you. Goodnight.'s to you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Not just yet

Today I was in a place doing something that needed to be done. A lady there was having some sort of a medical emergency related to her heart. I was calm in the beginning and even offered to help in any way I could. Then her friend got on the phone with 911.

That's when I froze.
It all came back to me.

I stood up and moved myself away from the area, but at the same time, I had to remind myself to stay calm because I was there to get something done and it wasn't the time or the place to break down, if I could help it. All the medical professionals arrived. I watched them as they actually took their own sweet time to get to the poor lady.

My heart was racing and I was actually getting angry at them.

I kept thinking..."Hurry the hell up assholes!"

I wondered if they took their own bloody time to get to Jesse that night.
Maybe if they had hurried?
I know.
I know he was gone for at least a little while when I found him.

I also know I need to start seeing my therapist again. All the skills that I teach my clients as a therapist seem difficult for me to use for my own good.

I am not ready to be in therapy yet.
I am not ready to do the work.
Doing work means having to start the process of moving on.
I don't want to move on, yet.
I don't want to heal.
Can I be a functional human being meanwhile and keep my shit together so I can provide for the girls?

My grief is my own.
I don't feel like tearing my heart open to you and showing you the raw insides.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tears and patterns

I cried a lot today.
I had some good cries.

Some that felt like my heart would burst open with sorrow.

I burst into tears randomly.
I am fine one minute and the next, I can't talk or breathe or focus.

I cried for a while in the bathroom, alone.

I cried while I lay next to Maya and my sweet angel woke up to look at me...with those eyes, her father's eyes

and her face was saying..."Don't cry mama..."

And then I looked over next to her face and saw the pattern my tears had made on the sheets...

Yes. Jess...
I know...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Supermoon and fingerprint

I missed the "supermoon"
I wanted to watch it in the sky and feel close to you
and wonder if you were watching it too
But life distracted me
distractions are welcomed
they keep the ache at bay, at least for a moment
I cry when I am alone.
I cry at night

I think about that night often

While driving away from home today
I pictured them driving away with you that night...
as our home grew smaller and smaller and disappeared
leaving us behind
taking you away from us
I wonder if you screamed then
or were you by my side all along?

I wear the print of your finger
around my neck
reminds me of the touch of your skin
the way you gently moved your fingers back and forth, on my hand, comfortingly,
while you held it
the fingers that touched my face once
while your eyes looked at me, intensely

I looked at the lines closely for a long time
to see if they would talk back to me
I thought about your life
paths you walked
your big, bright, embracing presence
the lives you touched
The lines
fused with the lines on my fingers
the lines
touched the freckles on my face

This was planned
I am touched
I will always feel
feel the warmth
of you and everything you are

and these lines of yours
around my neck
will envelope me
while I continue to move
and hope
that the lines on my hands
will touch yours
one day
and we'll pick up
from where we left off
while the lines enmesh
fade into one day

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekends. And a false sighting of Rubyroo

I don't like weekends anymore!

I loved Friday nights because they were my comfort nights with Jess, unwinding from the week, and planning the weekend shenanigans.

I still haven't stopped waiting for him to come home every evening.
Today the phone rang at around that time of the evening and my heart became excited for a second.

I almost said to my mom, out loud, "Oh...that must be Jess!"


But was someone calling about our cat Ruby.

Ruby and Jesse shared a strong connection. I saw so much sadness in Ruby's little face the day after Jesse passed.

She hung around here for another day or two and then she was gone.

At first...we just waited for her because she has taken off in the past for a few days, but she always came back home.

She always came back to Jesse.

Not this time.
Well, yeah...there is no Jesse to come home to.
We have been looking for her. And we put up posters for her.

Today someone called because they thought they had found Ruby. He sent me a picture of the cat that had showed up in his backyard, but it wasn't our Ruby.

I just hope she has found another home and I hope someone is loving her as much as Jesse did.

Sometimes Isis and I wonder if she also meeped somehow and if she is with Jesse now.

We love you Rubyroo and we miss you kitty!
And here is one of my favorite pics of Jess as a young boy...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shall we get married this weekend?

Jesse and I spoke about marriage every now and then, but we often came to the conclusion that it really was just a piece of certified legal paper and that our love and commitment to each other was beyond some bullshit legal certification.


Three months into my pregnancy with Maya...
I was laying in bed after I came home from work and I was exhausted. Jesse came home after a little while and got in bed with me and snuggled.

Jesse: babe...will you marry me?
Me (eyes closed...thinking he's being silly): depends on the ring you'll put on my finger.

He pulls out a box from his pocket.

Jesse: will this do?
Me: (silence) (speechless)
The ring was stunning, but the fact that he was seriously proposing marriage, ring and all....

And, after a few seconds...
Me: SHUT UP!!!

And then we both squealed.
I did most of the squealing.
We hugged.
Jesse kissing my belly, "Maya Rose, your parents are engaged!"
Called Isis to come in quick...
More squealing from Isis ensued.

Then a few months later, when I was around five months pregnant...
as part of our random conversation...

Jesse: we should get married babe
Me: sure
Jesse: this weekend?
Me: ummm...where? Vegas? Oooh...Elvis? Or some place closer maybe...
Jesse: Reno?
Me: sure
Jesse: sure? really baby?
Me: yeah babe...really really.

More squealing....and crying and some more squealing.

We didn't even tell our parents. Isis was in Texas with the grandparents.

See...I told you earlier.
We acted like bloody teenagers when she was visiting grandparents.

We eloped.

We got one of those chapel packages. I got myself a lovely purple dress that had room for my growing belly. We went shopping for Jesse's ensemble in Reno a few hours before the limo arrived to pick us up.

He was such a diva.

I picked my dress online in under thirty minutes and got the express shipping option.
My dress arrived the day before we left to Reno.

Jesse took around two hours at the men's wearhouse.
His tie matched the purple in my dress.

I must admit...we both looked damn good!

We were driven to the courthouse first where we signed our names in front of this lady who raised her eyebrow and asked, "well...are you both sure?"

We laughed and said "yes!!!"

Then we were driven to this place that looked like a regular building from the outside. Inside was plastic arches and pillars with fake flowers everywhere. We then were introduced to a priest dude who was pretty cool and then there was a lady who took our pictures under the plastic arches.


We laughed and loved every bit of it.

We both had written our own vows before hand.

We were married once we read them to each other and then priest dude gave his own shpeel about marriage, which was actually kinda sweet, and then pronounced us husband and wife.

It was perfect.
It was so very perfect.
And for some was all the more special because it was just the two of us.

And Maya in the belly.
But we won't count her since Isis will feel left out.

We love our families, but this was about Jesse and me...our moment, our love, and our commitment to each other.

Writing our own special vows, reading it to each other under the plastic arches with fake flowers in the presence of awesome priest dude, made getting the aforementioned bullshit legal certification momentous and unforgettable.

I am proud and honored to be your wife.

I love you Jesse Lee Schneider Phelps.

Your wife,
Priya Moorkoth-Phelps

And hey...Jesse won the money that we spent on our wedding package later that night at the slot machines.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I went from

I went from being content and safe
to chaos
I went from being confident
to unsure and confused
I went from being self sufficient
to seeking welfare
I went from coming home to your arms
to loneliness
I went from having someone to cuddle and fall asleep next to
to having a cold bed and sleepless nights
I went from longing for social interactions and company
to restlessness and avoidance
I went from having a shopping partner
to running in quickly to grab things and hurry home so I don't think about you to the point of being a horrible mess
I went from checking out cool and interesting places to go to
to thinking about places where you would like your ashes spread
I went from wait till your father gets home
to just silence
I went from having someone to text all the time
to blankly staring at my phone hoping you call or text me one last time
I went from knowing what I wanted
to being unfocused and lost
I went from loving life
to wishing it would come to an end
I went from loving our home
to obsessing about when and where to move
I went from having your smell linger on me
to frantically looking for pieces things that still smell like you
I went from loving little girl baby clothes
to hating everything because of the "daddy's girl" "I love daddy" references
I went from always having your hand to hold
to grasping on to my clothes or my purse when I walk down the street
I went from " husband is at work..."
to "my husband died last month..."
I went from having an ATT family plan
to being the only person on the account
I went from being Jesse and Priya
to just Priya