Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We made it to Vermont for Christmas 2008 as we had a number of times over the years when Laura was with us. Reminders of Laura seem more keen during winter visits to Vermont.  This time I quietly reflected and looked back in my memories as we drove past places we once all stayed for ski trips (going back a number of years before cancer) like The Woods on the access road, past stores and ski shops where Laura was with us as we browsed, and right on by restaurants like the Baja Burrito where Laura was with us for a memorable meal after a day enjoyed outdoors.  

This photo of Suse and Tony in 2008 is taken not far from where Laura once slowed down to a snowplow to have her picture taken by the on slope photographer in 2004.

At the house, the 2nd bathroom renovation has just been completed. We marvel at the results.
The whole family, Laura included, picked out the tiles in 2004. All of us liked the pattern of sea creature fossils. (To see the pattern, click on one of the photos.)  Plans were made then and the tiles bought but all that came to a halt and was forgotten when Laura was diagnosed in May 2005.  In our world since Dec 2006 without Laura, nothing mattered anymore, but eventually in 2008, going ahead with the renovation and using those tiles that we already owned afforded a kind of project, something to occupy our time. 

For Christmas dinner, we put out Sleighride china just as we did nearly every Christmas of Laura's life. It was while shopping in 1995 accompanied by little baby Laura that I first saw and became entranced with this pattern which seemed to capture the beauty of the season and winter.  

After this year's initially good snow cover becoming greatly diminished by rain, we decided to head home.  But first a visit to the town transfer station (many small rural NE towns have no garbage pickup in my experience) an activity that starts out as a chore but proves to be interesting with seeing the many recycling options available (just some shown here.)

The drive from central Vermont is  a 250 mile trip  and just 15 miles from home, a sudden surprise -a flat tire.  Luckily we were right next to an exit ramp and could pull right off I-287 into the conveniently located Stop and Shop parking lot in Wanaque, New Jersey. I used to sometimes worry that a flat tire or a breakdown would happen when driving Laura during her illness on those 100 miles trips to Philly or back and forth to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York but it never did.  But if it should ever happen to anyone, I hope it will go as well as this flat tire did.  The local towing contractor, Towing King of Bloomingdale, was driving past the supermarket when it received the call from AAA and pulled in immediately.  Here a photo of the scene:  the towman lowering the spare "donut" tire from under the back of the Venture minivan while Suse keeps Sam (in his crate) occupied with some kibble dole-outs.

Last night as we watched the 1951 Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, I sadly reflected that it has been nine years now since my father died.  This movie was a favorite of my father's and growing up, we often watched this movie with him if we could. My father was an avid reader and his volumes of Dickens and other books found around the living room seemed almost like part of the furniture of my childhood to me. 
New Year's Eve today and our world here in Boonton Township is once again snow covered. 
Right: The ghost of Jacob Marley visits Scrooge (from Wikimedia images)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Laura, You've been gone two years today but you are always with us.

You are like my "silent companion" - in some way part of everything I do.  

Rest in peace, gentle Laura.

Photo above:  Candlelight Walk 2008 in memory of Laura (click once on photo for full screen view then turn off lights and view (use scroll bars to see all)  in dark room-you might find you feel like you were there with us!)
More photos of Candlelight Walk 2008 are linked in below as a slideshow. The walk was on a theme of A Charlie Brown Christmas and we sang O Christmas Tree and Hark the Herald Angels Sing at Laura's gravesite.  

For a slide show of the evening, please click here and then click on "slideshow."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow day!

We're having a snow day here today with four to eight inches projected.  Enjoy the snow day everyone!

Photo:  a lighted tree in our yard;  just as Laura might have once seen it, the bend in Pepperidge Road with light snow cover; Mrs. Hammell's field as viewed from the bend, sometimes a fox will be spotted in that field.  Click on any photo for large view-you will feel like you are right on Pepperidge Road!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Congratulations to Suse!

Congratulations to Suse!  She received the word today that she has been accepted early decision to Boston University, her first choice!  Laura must be smiling tonight and so proud of her big sister!

Photo:  Suse in her dorm room last summer while in a summer high school student program at BU.  

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Return to the two cities: New York and Philadelphia

Went to Philadelphia again this year for the Candlelight Vigil at CHOP as part of Worldwide Children's Memorial Day. 

Have been back to NYC in the past two years but hadn't been back to the midtown area of which there are keen memories of times there with Laura.  It was just two years ago that we had a wonderful evening with Laura going to the Christmas show at Radio City and there were other memories as well of seeing shows and going to Times Square to go to the Hello Kitty (actually Sanrio) store.  Suse and I went into NYC this past Friday to meet up with our friend Chris and see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Looking out the window of the train on the way in brought back one memory after another, of Laura, and even of other events in life from long ago.  The train rushed past St. Hubert's in Madison where Kirby our corgi went through all her dog training classes with Laura watching proudly as Kirby reached her Canine Good Citizen award.  On we went past the  Short Hills pharmacy where I used to go to get Laura's cyclophosphamide 25 mg tablets (only place in area that had them.)  Into NYC and then onto the  uptown E train only to impulsively get off the subway one stop early. We walked upstairs to the street to find we were staring right at the Gershwin Theater, home of Wicked.  (There would be other reminders of Wicked like this neat taxi sign.)  
Joining Chris, we headed into the museum and into the Van Gogh exhibit, the Colors of the Night.  The displays of his letters and of some of the books he liked to read were nearly as fascinating as the well known paintings.  MOMA has a great online show Colors of the Night with audio in which you can see nearly everything you would see in person.  Through the process of seeing the exhibit I began to relax and warm up somewhat to the festive environment in that part of the city. We enjoyed walking around Rockefeller Center area and having a nice dinner at Cucina in the  GE building.
It's Sunday now and almost time to get ready to leave for my second city this weekend...

Photos:  Candlelighting ceremony at CHOP (one photo from 2008 and one from 2007);Laura and Suse in lobby of Radio City during the Christmas Show, December 2006; a scene from the 2006 Christmas show; a "wicked" green taxi in 2008 ;  we are outside the Van Gogh exhibit (no photos within); catalog of the exhibit; and in front of the tree.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Star-Ledger photos of Laura at RVS 11/30/2006

Photos by Bob Sciarrino of the Star-Ledger - one day in Laura's life, November 30, 2006, going to school and then to the Valerie Center for a transfusion. This was three weeks before Laura passed away from the neuroblastoma that had resisted all treatments.  Some photos you may remember from the Star-Ledger article that appeared on December 23, 2006; others have not been seen before.  More photos are in the slideshow-to view all these photos, click here and then click slideshow for best viewing. Thanks to Bob for providing these photos for posting here and thanks again to Bob and to Paula Saha, reporter and writer,  for telling Laura's story in the Dec. 23, 2006 article in the Star-Ledger-"Weaving a web of comfort when cancer strikes a child."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Charlie Brown Christmas and other thoughts

In a few days I should be ready to post some very special photos, some of them never shown before.  They are the pictures of Laura at RVS taken by Star-Ledger photographer Bob Sciarrino  at the end of November 2006.  I am very grateful to Bob for providing them to us to show here on the blog.  So I hope you will check back in a few days to see these photos which capture so much of Laura.

We had a rainy day Sunday with snow on the ground to start.  The red berries of the winterberry bushes on Old Denville Road looked very pretty as always.  I believe I used to point them out to Laura as we drove by.  

This time of year I usually pull out a favorite seasonal CD for listening to in the car.  Should I dare to listen to the Starbucks 1997 offering of the original soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which Laura often asked for and so loved to listen to going back and forth to Sloan Kettering in late 2005? Tears most certainly guaranteed to spring especially if listened to while cruising along Interstate 80 just as we often did in 2005 on the many trips back and forth to NYC around that time.  Or should I play it safe and listen to George Winston's December as I have for many years going back before Laura and even Suse were born?  We'll see...and if they sound interesting, I recommend both highly!