Wednesday, May 31, 2006

When you give a boy a haircut

When you give a boy a haircut, he will want some super-hold goo to go with it.

He will volunteer to shower each day, to better tend to his hair.

He will develop a little attitude.  A good thing, in a boy who usually wants no attention drawn to himself whatsoever.

He will decide the hair is too much trouble to do everyday, and move on to something else.

Like fragrance.

"What's that?"  he'll ask, as he points to the TAG on the shelf in the store.

(The boy who hates shopping is along for the ride.)

You tell him it's the smelly stuff from the commercial, where the guy is covered with girls within seconds of putting it on.

"Hmm.  How does this one smell?"  he sprays in front of you.

"Mmm.  Works for me.           Wait, eww, I'm your Mom.  But it does smell good."

He starts contemplating how well he'll do with the ladies with it on at school the next day.  He thinks they'll love it.

"I wonder, does my facial and underarm hair make me a man?" as he reads the label, and points out that it says 'for men' on it.

"I don't know, but I do know that the fuss you are making over this qualifies you as a dork."

"Mo-om."  He accidentally sprays it again.  This time, too close to your face. <cough, cough>

"Maybe I'll wear it next time I go to the movies."


He grins.  "Don't you want me to  do well with the ladies?"

"I can barely tolerate the idea that you are going to be in jr high, much less the idea that you are doing well with the ladies."

As you are leaving, he giggles, delighted with what he is about to say next.

"I guess you don't want grandchildren."

I nearly stop the van and make him walk home.

Instead, I give him The Look.  I turn up the radio a notch, and put my hand up to my face, blocking my peripheral vision.


This makes us both giggle.

"I'm giving that to your Dad once we get home, you know."

"Why does he need it?  He doesn't need to do well with the ladies.  He's already got you."

I took it as a compliment.

He smelled great when I dropped him off at school this morning.

So great, I was coughing all the way home.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Over the Wolv---I mean, Hedge

I'm thinking of cutting the kids out of school early, to go to the movies.

We only have 3 more days left, really shouldn't matter. 

There is a movie I'm dying to see.

Not the 'Da Vinci Code.'  I do want to see that, but I loved the book, and you know how that goes.  Besides, I'd like to enter the theater without stepping over anyone praying their rosary.  I'll give that some time to die down.(Dudes, it's a movie.  Re-laaax.)

Not necessarily 'Over the Hedge.'  That looks just hilarious.  But no, that's not it, either.

Nope.  Today is the day 'X-Men: The Last Stand' is out.   I love the X-Men movies.  The boys love the X-Men movies.  But Audrey...

Therein lies the dilemma.  See, Audrey probably shouldn't see, nor does she want to see, the X-Men movie.

And I'm telling you right now, if I have to sit through Bruce Willis voicing a raccoon while Hugh Jackman is in a theater right next door sporting tight pants and a scowl, I'm not gonna be the happiest camper.


Oh well.  Guess I'm taking one for the little team.  I should be a good sport, but...

I think I'll hold the popcorn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Tomorrow is my husband's Monday.  I'm hoping this week will not be like last week.

Last week, he was very busy, he worked an extra day, and he was late getting home.  That's fine.  I was not bitchy about that at all, these things happen, I know he's gotta do what he's gotta do.


Ah, isn't there always a "but."

But, don't come home, and come home cranky.  Irritable.  We're happy to see you.  Throw us a bone, man.

It was really hard, I mean, the first couple of days, I tried to cheer him up.  I was ON, too, the kids got their homework done, dinner was made, we were all nice to him...and he was still cranky.   I offered all kinds of distraction for him, but he was just not interested.  I tried subtle, I tried obvious, I tried the direct approach of just coming out and stating what was on the table.   No taker.

So I tried something else:  I left him alone the next couple of days.  Fine.  Whatever; I have things to do too; no problem, with a touch of 'hmmphf'. 

By Thursday morning,  I was irritated.   I had hardly talked to him all week, beyond pleasantries and need-to-know details.  I wasn't about to (and didn't) call him, either (and usually, I do around lunchtime, just to see what's up--are you coming home; are we meeting you; what do you want to eat/what should I make?)

He called me that afternoon, and I could hear in his voice that he was mentally just done.  I could tell he was about to say he wanted to come home, and he did say it, but then remembered something else he needed to finish first.  Sigh.

I felt my chill defrosting.  I suggested we all go out to dinner.  It was a good idea, but I could still feel myself being a little annoyed with him.

Later, finally, it was just us.  I was walking by him and he was sitting on the bed.  An easy target, I had to do something.

So I tackled him.  I started talking smack, about how he was a huge pain in the ass, and I needed to teach him a lesson.

I don't know why I did this, as having the upper hand in a impromptu wrestling match with Mr W is impossible for me.  See, I'm very, very, very ticklish.  VERY.  (He is not, not at all; it's really quite unfair.)

And of course, he starts tickling me.  I'm snorting--because you know, my laugh can be quite ladylike--and gasping, and begging him to stop.

"No, wait <giggle, giggle>.  No, stop. <snort> Stop, stop or everyone is gonna wake up.  Besides, you just dig it that I squirm and giggle at the same time."  <gasp, cough, he stops>  "You missed a spot."  <gigglegigglesquirmgiggle>  "Stoooo-op," I  mock-whine.

Whew.  I'm getting in a good breath.  Truce, I'm thinking, as I get up to go about my business.  He comes up to hug me.

And sneakily, uses the scruffy beard approach at my neck, and I'm gasping for air again, clinging to him like I'm about to go under for the last time. 

I thaw completely.

It's really easy to forgive someone when they take your breath away.  Literally.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Here are my kidbits, from the last week.

*Last Tuesday, I took Nolan for a haircut. (He went for the spiky, long flat-top look; it's adorable.  I mean, it's 'tight'.   God forbid I remark on any semblance of cuteness, or risk the eyeroll/"Mo-oom" combo.)  We were leaving and I was wrangling Audrey away from the lippy (conveniently placed at her eye level); I saw Ben and Nolan on the other side of the van, and started loading Audrey up.  I'm about to shut the door and get in myself when: <panic>  "Where's Ryan?"  Ben and Nolan look at each other, I see them thinking before answering, "Oh, he's still inside watching Lilo and Stitch."  "Can you go get him?"  <heart pounding> 

A close one, I must say.  I really would've just gone, I was so certain he was with the older boys as we were walking out.  I relayed the story to Mr W later, and he sighed, "How far away were you before you noticed?"  He of little faith!  Me of scattered brain!  One, two, three, FOUR, I say to myself now, as I count heads in the rearview... 

I should buy that kid a cell phone and some bells.  I could listen for him jingling in the car, and if I forget him, he can call me.  Or CPS.

*Ryan paid me back.  In a special, kid way.  We were swimming at a friends' house, and he commented on my tummy.  (ugh.  Okay, I'll take my punishment...)  "Mommy, it looks like you're going to have a baby, but you're really not." 

He has no idea how close he came to drowning after he said that.  Gee, thanks, son. 

Ben, on the other hand, when we were at Disneyland and preparing for our artic swim, said I was gorgeous in my suit, and he was standing behind me at the time.  You know, everyone's best view. (hmm-mm, yeah, sure, I said to him)  I was telling Mr W about both incidents, and he asks Ben, "So, what did you want?"

He's never having sex again. (hmm-mm, yeah, sure...)

*Today, we were out with Audrey.  She has a new lizard, courtesy of my Dad.  Who, I should warn, is of the "bigger is better" school of thought sometimes.  He bought her this giant, not-very-flexible (plastic? rubber?) 18 inch lizard.  And my girly girl, in her pink polka-dotted dress and pink shoes, who was still flowery-fragrant from her bath, was carrying that lizard around.  Wrapped in a blanket.  Like a baby.

There were some doubletakes, and that's saying something, considering we were in WalMart, where anything goes.

At least no one asked if he was dinner. 

And speaking of dinner, I'm gonna do the Saturday Six, which has a "what kind of food are you?" quiz this week.  Let's hope I'm something spicy and exciting...but...

I'm sure I'll turn out to be vanilla ice cream.

Saturday Six - Episode 110

1. Do you believe in near-death experiences? Have you ever had one yourself?

Ahhhh.  Hmm.  I don't discount anything of this nature, especially things I've not personally experienced.  The closest I've ever felt that things could go against me was at the end of my pregnancy with Ben, with preeclampsia knocking at my door, and the bag of mag sulfate making me feel like I was gonna check out.  Nasty, nasty stuff, but it works.  I'm still here.  Ben is too, and he's the most beautiful reason to go through that there ever was.

2. If you could have on DVD any old television show that you adored as a child, which show would you pick?

"The Wallace and Ladmo Show."   A local favorite, we'd watch every morning before school.   I always wanted to make it up to the big city to be in the audience, but never did.  I knew if the credits were rolling, I was about to miss the school bus...

And "Tom and Jerry."  Love that cartoon, I still do watch it with the kids when it's on.  There are others, of course, but I will stop here.

3. At what age do you plan on retiring? Do you suspect that you'll keep working past that?

Moms don't retire.  We move on to the realm of Nana.  

Besides, I have four children who will hopefully be going to college.  Between that and orthodontia, I'll be working forever. 

It'll make the ten years spent pregnant and/or nursing while chasing small fry on four hours of sleep seem like a cakewalk.

4. Take the quiz: What kind of food are you?

I am Italian food.  Comforting yet overwhelming.
People love you, but sometimes you're just too much.

I think I hear stifled cyber-giggles out there. 

5. When is the last time you ate the type of food mentioned in your last answer?

Tonight.  We had spaghetti.  Easy, quick, and everyone's happy. 

6. What was the last photograph you took? Have you posted it online?

The last photos I took were of Audrey's preschool performance on her last day of school.  The interior pictures came out dark (!) but the outdoor ones were cute.  I haven't posted them.  They're still in my camera, like that kid jumping off the diving board in that commercial.

One last kidbit before I go:  I was in the car with Nolan and Ben, and as usual, cursed about something.  They start to giggle, very proud of themselves; they are on the same wavelength, they say nothing to each other, yet this is what happened next: 
Nolan:  "Sh"  Ben:  "it"  Nolan: "Sh"  Ben: "it"

Oh, aren't they sooo clever?  I did crack up, and it was all good, really, until...

Nolan:  "Bi"  Ben: "i"--->  I interrupt before he finishes.  "That's enough."

"Okay, Mom,"  they reply in unison.

Now, there are two sounds they can put together anytime.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

She's kidding, right?

I was watching "Monster-in-Law" early one evening last week, when Nolan decided to tag along into my room with me.  It's funny, even if it's not critically acclaimed; Nolan was enjoying the antics of Jane and JLo as they inflicted all kinds of crazy evil deeds on each other.  (At least I think that's why he was watching.  I mean, it is JLo in the movie, and he did seem awfully interested in what is, essentially, a chick flick.)

Mr W came in later, and was watching the end of it with us.  Nolan suddenly pipes up, "Mom, you're not gonna act like that, are you, when I start dating?"

Not missing a beat, I said: "No, son, of course not.  Just make sure she has a college education, doesn't work for Hooters, and don't be bringing me home a stripper." 

Mr W looked disappointed. 

We all laughed, then Nolan said:  "No, seriously, Mom."  "I am serious." 

Mr W looked at Nolan, and said, "You know, your Mom has her standards."  And I couldn't see his face, but I swear, he rolled his eyes.

I was kidding, I reassured them.

Really, I was.  I know that as long as someone loves my children, as much as I do, that hopefully, the extra stuff will just fall into place.  Good people come in all kinds of packages, and just because orange is her color is no reason for me to be judgemental.  Besides, aren't all strippers pre-med?

I have embraced, or at least accepted, certain aspects of being a Mom.  I've had the sleepless nights with fitful babies; embarrassing moments out in public where I hope no one heard/was watching/is recording/saw that; and held my breath when someone starts a story with "Guess what your son did."   I am moving on to a new phase.

The "Mom, you are so NOT-cool" phase.  I'm trying to embrace it, as I am certain that this is the part where I get to embarrass them for a change.  Where we will butt heads over really important stuff like shirts with collars, haircuts, and "but my friends get to do it."

Sounds like so much fun, I think I'll do it four times.

Until then, I'll just do the Saturday Six.  On Wednesday.  Better late than never....

Saturday Six - Episode 109

1. When is the last time you switched from one company to another for an important service? What made you switch? Did the company you were leaving try to make you a better offer to make you stay?

I don't do change well, but the last time it was for phone service.  Yeah, the company I was leaving tried to give me a better offer, but I was mad about some aspect of their service I can't remember and was not swayed by their attempt to make nice.  Anyway, there's a certain comfort in keeping things the same when it comes to this, if only to keep it straight in my own head when comes time to pay the bill. 

2. What emblem or logo was on the last coffee mug you drank from?

My coffee mugs are plain, and I only have a couple of them. (I rarely make coffee for myself at home.  Once, I admitted this to my dear neighbor who had a fantastic java set up at home, and she was both horrified and impressed:  "How do you function, with all those children, and no coffee?"  "My happy pills and the hard liquor get me through the day," I replied.)

Does the paper cup from Starbucks count?

3. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a world-class chef and 1 being someone who can't even scramble an egg, how would you rate your cooking ability? 

I give myself a 9.  Probably the only 9 I'd get on any scale of 1 to 10, but I'm comfortable in the kitchen.  I tend to keep it simple, but it's yummy, and I'm not afraid of the more complicated stuff...I'm just pressed for time.  And lazy. However, I always make time to bake, and my kid's friends all like that.  I hear the stage whisper: "Is she making cookies?" almost as soon as the bowl comes out. :)

4. Take the quiz: Are you a good cook? 

You Are a Learning Cook: You've got the makings of an excellent cook, and the desire to be one.
But right now, you're just lacking the experience. You couldn't be a top chef yet, but you could be an apprentice.

I think I'm insulted. :p

 5. When was the last time you prepared a meal for someone other than yourself or those already living with you? Was it well received?

I cook for whoever is gathered at my Mom's at least once every weekend.  It's always well received there, so that might not count. It's been a while...a year at least, either way.  It was well received, my friends liked it.  Then again, it was lasagna, and nearly everyone loves that. 

6. Since it is that time of year, what show's season finale are you most looking forward to? Which show do you wish would just go away?

"Grey's Anatomy."  I watched it this past weekend, and shouted at the screen at the end of the first night (it was a two-nighter).  Oh, and "The Sopranos."  I can't wait to see what's gonna happen. 

I'm done with some of the reality show fodder that seems to be spawning all over the t.v. on both cable and regular networks.  "Survivor"--fine.  "Wife Swap" and that Super-Nanny show?  Give me a break.  Don't even get me started on the Bravo offerings.  Eww.

In my house, 'dork' is spelled with two 'n's

I opened the bathroom door the other day, and pointed out to Mr W, "Man, I've got a lot of hair."  I'd just blowdried it and it was pretty big.  He started laughing.  Okay, not really the response I was looking for, but I could understand.  He commented that it had been a long time since he'd seen me with that much hair.

And he likes it.  He, who never has an opinion about these things, likes it.  I know he does.  Not because he perfunctorily answers "yes" when I ask, but because of something that happened the other night. 

The rated G version is:  He asked me a question.  I looked up, and did that head shake, you know, to get the bangs out of my eyes, so I could see him.   The look he got on his face, was very seventeen year old boy.  In the sense of one who is sneaking a peek down my shirt, grinning like he'd like to not get slapped.   Who wouldn't dig that?

Anyway, I had an regular appointment yesterday, for a haircut and to touch up the color.  I was looking forward to it, as all girls do, and had made sure he'd be home to watch Audrey.  Everything in order, I left with plenty of time to get there...and for some reason looked at my appointment card in the driveway.

I always double check these things the night before.  Always.  But not this time.

Oh, no.  Appt time: noon.  I'm in the driveway, 15 minutes from salon:  12:18.  No, no, no, it's supposed to be at 12:30.  Ladies, you know the feeling that struck my heart right at that moment, don't you?

I call the hairdresser, and apologize all over the place; luckily she's in good humor, and says she'll still get me in for the trim, but that's all she'd be able to manage.  No problem.  I'll color later.  Crisis averted.

How did I manage that?  Who knows.  But I tell myself to get over it, that it's just one of those days.

So why did this follow me into today?

Today, I woke up with an earache.  I've been fighting a bug that got worse over the course of last week, coughing and not sleeping.  I'd get through another day, another night:  "I'm not sick."  "I'm not that sick."  "I don't have a fever, this will pass."

Ha.  Earache = call the doctor, dumbass.  I was so surprised when the girl said "we have an appointment at 10:30" that I said, "I'll take it" and didn't reverify before we hung up.  Hurriedly, I jump in the shower, and head on over...just a couple of minutes (okay, ten) late.  I'm thinking I'm about to receive a lecture when the receptionist calls me up.

"We have you down for 10:30."  I ready my pleas.  "10:30, tomorrow." 

Oh, no way.  No way I've done this two days in a row.

I explain to her that I understand that there's been a misunderstanding, but could I see someone else because the ear really hurts.  Bless her, she got me in at 2:30.  I figured I'd drop the garage door opener to Nolan (whose face lit up at the sight of it:  "Cool!  We're walking?") and let them battle amongst themselves afterschool until I returned.

This time, I was on time.  I think the PA was in the room with me five minutes.  Amazing, how five minutes didn't seem too few, especially when he offered me cough syrup with codeine.   "Yes.  Yes, Yes, I'll take it."  I wanted to kiss him.

Uninterrupted sleep is never to be taken lightly, you know.

And now I'm off, to pour myself a shotglass, I mean a teaspoon, of medicine that'll escort me into dreamland. 

That is, if I don't drop the bottle and break it once I get to the kitchen.

Because, as I mentioned before, in my house, 'dork' is spelled with two 'n's.


Friday, May 12, 2006

I never learn

I had to take Max to the vet yesterday.   Max is a big dog and he sheds like mad, so I wasn't about to get all dolled up to go to the vet.

Audrey and I dropped him off, and ran a couple of errands.  I had on a headband, and no makeup.  Jeans,  a tshirt.  Grubby.  Whatever.

I hate it when you read "and she didn't have on a stitch of makeup, yet she looked radiant" because that is just never gonna be me, and secretly, I think it's bullshit.  Not many of us are blessed with porcelain complexions and rosy cheeks, with perfect bedhead hair--naturally. Oh, sure, I kid myself, and yesterday was no exception, I rolled my eyes at my reflection and said "good enough" as I went about my business. 

Hoping all the while to not run into anyone I knew, because you know, the second you look like you just got back from the "Survivor" set, you run into some old friend who looks like she just had a spa day and twelve hours of sleep.

No, the someone I knew that I ran into was my husband.   He came home for lunch, just after I'd picked up Max at the vet.  It was 90 degrees, and I was in the garage, vacuuming up the one billion white fine dog hairs that Max left behind in the van; along with the detritus of four children who seem to think that my van is just a halfway house for all the trash and dirt that falls out of their pockets and backpacks.  I even found the drying flower buds of an ocotillo.  (where did that come from?) 

I'm just glad he didn't drive up while my butt was hanging out the back of the van, as I was in a most unflattering pose trying to use a lint brush to pick up the really stubborn hairs.  It's not like that kind of attention to detail matters, it's just that I was at the point where it was me or the dog hair, and I wanted to WIN.

He came in, we chatted, he had lunch, and he was about to leave.  I still had more errands to run, so <and here it comes, you'd think I'd learn> I asked him, as I passed a hand over my<I'm sure> red-faced visage, "Am I presentable?"  when I knew I should have asked "How scary am I?"

He hesitated, for a second, and he said, "well, you might want to go do some of that makeup stuff."  Spoken like a true professional husband.  Once again, backed into the corner by my vanity, and really, how do you answer that?  I knew I was scary.  I wasn't angry.  But I sarcastically said, "gee, thaaanks." 

"You asked.  And if you went out like that, I can just hear you now, when you tell me later, 'people were staring, how could you let me go out like THAT?' so I told you."

"Dude, don't get so defensive.  It's okay.  I know.  Thank you."

Just like a professional husband, he kissed me goodbye, anyway.  He knows better.

And I skipped the errands, and took a shower instead. 

I felt better.  I smelled better.  And I was serene.

Dog hair?  What dog hair?

Offkey still sounds good

Two nights ago, I was holding Audrey, praying she'd nod off in the magic chair as I selfishly watched tv.   I don't know why I've been doing this lately, other than that she's getting bigger and I still like to hold her, and so I'm just stretching it a little longer than I probably should.  Ahem, well, all of them, they still come sit with Mom from time to time.   Okay, all the time.  I may as well spill it, sometimes I feel like I have an ample lap just to accomodate all the kids that sit in it.  Or maybe it's a just a good excuse to justify an extra cookie.  At any rate, they sit with me, on me, quite a bit.  A little extra love never hurt anyone, whether you're 4, 5, or 45.

There was Audrey, tossing and turning, trying to not fall asleep.  I'm getting a little aggravated, as I just took an elbow to the chin that made my eyes water, and am about to reprimand her when I hear what it is she's doing.

She's singing, under her breath, and she hit me because she's doing some hand motions.

Ooooohh, I get it now.  She is singing her preschool songs.  Practicing.  Her last day is today, and we have a little program.  LOVE to watch this, all those little ones on the stage, trying their best and so cute with their little voices not quite always singing together but trying real hard. 

I know the songs.  Hey, I learned my ABC's and the preschool song, I know it too, as she is the last in our line to be there.  I've picked it up over the years, and I can even do some of the hand motions too (they do the song in American Sign Language as they sing it--for all I know, I'm cursing in ASL when I'm doing the sign for "apple", but I play along anyway).

She turned to me and would sing a few words:  " we are..." and look at me to prompt me to sing the next part:  "with our smiles" and she'd nod and sing some more.  "Now I know my"  <prompt> I sing "ABC's"  "next time won't you"  "sing with me."  It was adorable.  We went through the entire preschool reportoire.

It brought to mind all the times I heard the boys doing it.  Nolan, always under his breath, never out loud, and never if I asked him too.  At his programs, he never even sang, he just looked out at the audience, mouthing a word here and there.

Ben, who sang in the car, and in the house.  His teachers loved it that he was so animated, they said they put him in the middle row, right in front, because of it.   And he sang so loudly! I remember at his first program,  I looked at Mr W, and he looked at me, and we giggled, "He's YOUR kid" as we sort of sank down in our chairs just for a second.  We heard him loud and clear in the back row, and you couldn't help but grin, as Ben apparently thought he was at the Met or something, and had to reach the roof.   I still hear him, singing along to the radio, in the car now.

Ryan would sing in the car, never for us, and do the hand motions.  I'd watch him in the rear view mirror, and he was never the wiser....until we would turn down the radio to hear him, and he'd stop right away.  "It's okay, baby,"  I'd tell him, "go ahead."  He'd shake his head no and I'd turn the radio up....and hear him go for it again.  He would sing at his program, and wave at us in the back row, even when he wasn't supposed to be.

Audrey does the same.  She sings, she looks for us, she hams it up when we take her picture.

I can't wait to watch her today.

I'll try not to sing along.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Froggy has a request

I took Audrey with me yesterday to watch the procession of motor officers and police cars  before the memorial at the station.

As we waited with some other families for it to approach and pass, Audrey got a little antsy.

Which entirely understandable, and I was expecting it.

She'd brought along her little pals, a tiny toy dinosaur, a small rubber lizard, and her tiny rubber frog.  You know, the usual things you'd find in a little girl's pocket.

I grabbed Froggy and held him up to my ear, nodding and smiling at her.  Froggy is her current favorite.

"Froggy says you are being a very good girl, and he is proud of you."

She smiled, and took Froggy from me, and held him up to her own ear.

She grinned at me as he spoke to her.

"Froggy says that when we are finished, we need to go get some ice cream."

"You're too smart for your own good,"  I said, as I scooped her up and spun them around.  She was giggling in no time.

I figured I'd better disorient her a bit before Froggy got really demanding.

The Big Blue

I have lost my voice.

I don't know if it's a physical manifestation of grief, or if I've caught something.  Either way, I'm not quite myself.

There are so many things I'd like to share about Friday, but I'm not sure I can without it becoming too much.

Things like the children that stood along their school's fence, flags in hand, waving as our procession went by on the way to the cemetary; how I had to remind myself to breathe as the casket was brought out of the chapel and the officers not serving as pallbearers all placed their hands over their hearts in perfect unison, the sadness on their faces so near the surface I wished I could just hold them all;  the overwhelming sense of caring and respect that was palpable as we walked between rows of officers lining the path into the church;  and everywhere, everywhere, a sea of blue, so perfect in appearance and mannerisms it was an honor just to be standing among them.

While it is true that the situation, the reason we were together was tragic, I have never been so proud to be part of the law enforcement family as I was that day.

Our officers, our agency, pulled together in this terrible time and did the right thing all week long for the family, for his widow, and for Rob.  All the while, still doing their jobs.  It was nothing short of amazing.

Other agencies stepped forward and helped ours with all kinds of things, from covering dispatch so people could attend the services, to covering our bad accidents;  they were there for ours.  Just seeing them at the services, and all along the route we travelled, and at the cemetary; knowing that they were doing this out of brotherhood, and not necessarily because they knew anyone--it was nothing short of touching.

And yesterday, at a memorial the department held, officers were given the opportunity to speak, their own personal recollections of their friend.  While the stories were varied, all of them had elements that were just pure Rob binding them together.  

I think that is what has helped throughout this week, the elements of pure Rob that we all remember and hold dear, urging us to put one foot in front of the other, pushing us forward to do our best, while at the same time not letting us forget.

It has been nothing short of surreal.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Usually, once I meet someone new, and they find out my husband is a police officer, I have to field the questions: 

"How do you do that?  Don't you worry?"

I have heard it so many times over the years that I have my standard response, and yes, I have occasionally uttered it with a smug tone; along the lines of how-can-you-ask-me-that-don't-be-so-unimaginative:

"I don't worry.   I have faith in him, and in his training, and in his fellow officers."

It's  little leaps of faith that get an officer's wife through the day.  Those little leaps of faith that you know he's out there doing a job he loves, that he's doing it as safely as possible, that he has a brotherhood of officers watching his back.

On the homefront, you have your little talismans, rituals you perform, perhaps subconsciously, that you feel hollow without:  you always kiss him goodbye, he pats all the kids on the head, he always hears you tell him to be careful, and you let whatever angry remark you might have been ready to utter die on your lips, lest it be the last words he hears you say to him.   And sometimes, the first real deep breath you take for the rest of his shift happens when you hear him come back into the house at the end of it.  

Case closed, we've got this covered.  It goes on like this, for days, months, years, and then the harsh reality of what your husband really does for a living hits you.   Suddenly, those little talismans, those rituals you cling to and the faith you have is called into question.  Because although you can control the homefront, you can wish him well and tell him, genuinely, to have a good day, you cannot control the unpredictable.  You can't control the bad guys, you can't control the sequences of events that could potentially lead to catastrophe, you can't will someone not to get behind the wheel when they shouldn't. 

Once upon a time, back when Ben was a baby, my husband came to me and told me he wanted to be a bicycle cop.  At night.  Primarily assigned to an area of town that I thought was too dark and too dangerous.  I was not pleased, but he sold me on it when he said he would have a partner.  To me, he was still new to the entire police profession, even though by this point he'd been on the force for a couple of years; I loved the idea that he'd have someone along with him every night.

His partner, Rob, turned out to be someone that I ultimately came to just adore.   I can't really tell you why, I knew him, I'd met him a few times, Mr W brought him home for dinner once or twice--but it wasn't like we were together enough that I could recall entire conversations with him alone.  I think it was like anything else between a husband and wife, it was through the stories Mr W told me about him that I got to know him, much in the way that I first got to know Remo.

All I know is, and it surprised me that Mr W remembered this enough to recount it in front of a roomful of people tonight--is that in the end, I was not just happy that he had a partner, but I was happy that the partner was Rob.  I can honestly say that as long as they were riding together, I never worried about my husband.   That's not to say that I don't feel that way now, about his coworkers, it's just that at the time, having two small children and just learning the cop-wife ropes, I felt better, knowing that someone as formidable as Rob would be with my husband each night.  Because I knew, that come hell or high water, he would do everything he could so that the scales would be tipped in their favor.

My husband rode with him for two years, and then they went their separate ways within the department.  But our agency was still small enough, and Rob's personality was big enough, that I still heard the occasional tale or two.   

Later, Mr W knew how to sell it to me, when he was going to be trying to get on with the motors--he told me Rob was testing, too.   But that's another story, for another time.

Yeah, Rob might have occasionally rubbed people the wrong way, in that way that outspoken, opinionated people do, but I never had a problem with him.

Last weekend, my husband received a call that an officer was down and he was to go to the hospital.   I wasn't there at the time he took the call, and he was gone before I got back.  As I called him to find out what was up, I had so many scenarios running through my head that I almost didn't hear him say hello.

When he told me it was Rob, and later relayed to me that it was a bad accident, I started to worry.   All that "I don't worry" out the window before we hung up the phone.

I worried for Rob, I worried for his wife of ten months, I worried for all the police officers I knew that would be lining the halls of the hospital.  It was one of those rollercoaster nights, where each report Mr W gave me was different.  Better, worse, we don't know.   Don't call me, I'll call you.   I was optimistic, hopeful...I mean, someone who gives off that kind of larger-than-life air is certainly invincible, right?  Yet as the night wore on, I started to fear the worst, and I fought it as hard as I've ever fought a feeling in my entire life.

Mr W called me around 12:30 am or so, I forget what time it was, and he told me that things were very touch and go, but Rob appeared to be stable and he'd be coming home soon.  I must've nodded off, because the next thing I know, I felt Mr W in the house, I heard him in our room, I looked at the clock and it was 3 am.  As he started to change, I tried to shake out of my sleep fog, and even in that state, I could tell by the look on his face that he didn't have good news.  Later, he told me he was trying to sneak into the house, hoping he could find the words to tell me that this person that he knew I cared about so much was gone.

I just remember sitting up and saying "no" every time he said it, protesting, insisting that it couldn't be true.  I watched the news coverage of the incident and each time hoped that this would be the broadcast where it wouldn't be shown, and it would turn out that maybe I dreamt Mr W's late entrance into our room. 

Of course not.  Instead, I watched and in horror, I realized that the motorcycle was imbedded in the front of the vehicle thathit him, and charred to the point that I could barely make it out.   In disbelief, I heard about how the people who hit him were drunk, and ran from the scene.  And later, I was pissed off when I heard that the driver was not only underage, but he had a bunch of prior DUI related offenses. 

I feel so much for his wife, for his family, for all of us who will be missing such an extraordinary person.

It's been a week of going through the motions.  We've managed to keep the kids days the same, but they know what's happened, and why we're not exactly the most patient people as of late.  

I vacillate between sadness, disbelief, anger, and surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, fatigue.  I'm tired, as I've never been before.   

My heart, man, it just really hurts. 

Although I still maintain my faith in Mr W, his training, and his fellow officers, I find myself wondering if it's enough.  The rituals, we still perform them, but now I feel doubly superstitious about it, and I don't like that.

And here we all are, going through preparations for the services on Friday.  Boots being polished, uniforms ironed, ducks in a row.

It's true what they say about the police community.  They are a tight bunch, and they circle the wagons around all of us.  It's comforting, on many levels, to know that you aren't alone in this, and unfortunate, in that 'too-bad-it's-under-these-circumstances' way.

On Friday, I will sit with my husband and I will hold his hand.  I will seek out Remo and his wife in the crowd of people I know will be there, because, well, just because.  Because I'm afraid.  Because I'm sad.  Because I have a special place in my heart for them, too.

And I will offer consolations to a family, when I really feel I should be offering them thanks. 

Thanks for a life well done, for a person that I know I won't easily, if ever, forget.