A few years ago, I gave each of the boys a pair of Ray-Ban Balorama sunglasses, which any sane person knows are too expensive for teenage boys. But Baloramas were Tony's sunglasses. He wore only Baloramas, and he wore them all the time. So when Vince graduated from high school, he kept his Baloramas on throughout the ceremony. Hayes carried on the tradition at the Georgetown gym. When I saw him cross the stage in those glasses, it hit me hard. "Are you crying because you're happy?" Hayes' 9-year-old half-sister, Jane, whispered. I didn't know how to answer. I was happy; I was sad; I missed my mother; I missed his father. I even missed her father. I was overflowing.
It's not laundry or carpools that make me ache for Tony now; it's these milestones. The joy I can't contain. The things I can't say. Most important of which is, thank you.
Marion Winik is the author of "First Comes Love," a memoir of her marriage to Tony (marionwinik.com).
All that Lisa missed
Amy Goldman Koss
I never think I see Lisa driving past me in traffic anymore, or moving ahead of me in a crowd, and it has been years since I've dreamt about her. Time heals, but it erases more than just the pain. In my case it has erased Lisa's laugh and her voice, and way too many details.
I suppose when I can no longer remember the emphatic way she shook her head or the impatient flick of her thin wrist, I'll be free of the last twist of pain. But I dread that comfort.
Lisa and I were the same age once, but now I'm so much older than she is. I know she'd think that was interesting. Lisa thought everything was interesting.
One time I went with her to the hospital to see whether her swollen arm was caused by a blood clot on its way to her heart or by her cancers metastasizing to some deadly new place. A TV yammered away in the room where we awaited the test results. Already on edge, the noise annoyed me beyond endurance. I wanted to hurl something through the monitor, but Lisa was actually listening to the news report. Her eyes bugged and she leapt to her feet as the Challenger space shuttle blew up on screen. It boggled my mind that she cared about a spaceship full of strangers when her own, one and only life hung so precariously.
An investigative reporter to the end.
Lisa had no patience with the "disease acceptance" the wellness community was touting at the time. She detested any suggestion of God's will or a larger spiritual plan. And she never had anyone her own age to talk to, even in support groups. Her disease left her spitting mad and terrified and, in spite of all of us, utterly isolated.
She was alone, even at her wedding, where her groom, the rabbi and all the guests knew that "till death do us part" wouldn't be very long.
Lisa would have loved the Internet as a bottomless well of information. Even as she drifted in dream soup near the end, she made me read the newspaper to her -- still caring about the world that would continue to turn without her.
But Lisa never got to see a woman run for president or an African American get elected. She never talked on a cellphone, listened to an iPod or used a digital camera. She missed the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. She missed 9/11, and she never held my babies or read my novels.
I no longer expect Lisa to call. Fewer and fewer things remind me of her. But I hope that as long as there's anything left of me, Lisa will be here too, even if it hurts.
Amy Goldman Koss' most recent book for teenagers is "The Not-So-Great Depression."
Losing your parents makes you feel old; I got old early.
My mother died in 1989 when I was still in my 30s, and my father in 1996. I was a fully grown adult, or so I thought. It should have been just a normal rite of passage. You grow up, and then your parents die; that's what happens. But I wasn't ready.
When my mother died, I wasn't married, wasn't sure what my work would be, hadn't yet published my first book, hadn't provided any grandchildren.
When my father died seven years later, the reminders of this double loss were everywhere. By then I had children, and I felt a stab of jealousy every time a friend invited Nana and Gramps to a baby's first birthday party or asked Gigi and Poppy to admire a cute new dress. Someone's mother, I would hear, was taking the grandchildren on a special trip, and I ached for my own and my children's loss.
Right from the start, I made my children live with my mother's ghost, incorporating her character and her sayings into the daily mother-child chitchat. One day my eldest son, born two years after my mother died, turned to me -- he was about 14 by then -- and said: "I knew Grandma Jackie, right?"
Sometimes I dial the number for my parents' New York apartment, just for the feel of it. Sometimes I call the house on the Jersey shore where my father lived after my mother died. Maybe he'll pick up and lecture me about the grammatical mistakes in my last published piece. He loved to take a pencil to my work.