Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I've been so focused on the end of sheloshim…I hadn't given much thought to day 31.

(You may have heard of the Jewish custom of a year of mourning. In truth, this is only for a child mourning a parent. All other relationships leave us with 30 days of mourning before we re-enter the world. Even a child.)

Today was the first day of the rest of my life.
A life without Sammy.
And a life that I have to continue living.
Even though it is so hard.
I'm not done mourning or grieving or missing him.
I will never be done.

But today…I took Solly to the doctor.
A well-child visit that was postponed from his third birthday last month.

I considered asking for a blood test.
A simple CBC to make sure things were "normal" in there.
Shouldn't we check?
But my inner practical self prevailed…and I didn't ask.

When the nurse put the thermometer into his mouth and I heard the beeps…oh, I nearly collapsed.
But I couldn't help but giggle at his expression. No one had ever put a thermometer into his mouth before! The nurse also realized that this was a total failure…Solly didn't quite get the whole under-the-tongue thing, so we switched to under-the-arm. And the moment was over.

And it was okay...
On day 31, I ran errands.
I stopped at Starbucks.
I cried in Trader Joe's. Just a bit.
I made dinner.
I helped with homework.

And I thought about Sammy.
With every action.
With every moment.
With every breath.

And I kept going.
Today, I put one foot in front of the other.
For today, that is enough.
Classic Sammy stare-down...July 2012
Of course he's in his pajamas...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think you are doing AMAZING, really. Your strength and courage are so inspiring. Keep sharing.

  3. Thank God for well-child visits and ridiculous thermometer faces.

    Your strength (not despite tears but in and through them), and your willingness to chronicle this raw time so that we may accompany you from afar, continue to humble me.

    Sending love.

  4. Phyllis, I don't know you, but I discovered your blog through friends. I have been following here for a few months, and I want to thank you for your honesty and the gift of your descriptions of what this experience has been like for you. I am a child life specialist who works with cancer patients and their families, so I know the world of pediatric cancer but from a different perspective. And we in the health care world rarely get such a valuable glimpse into what happens to a family after a child dies. I've been reading with sadness, but also with appreciation and a hope that what you share about your loss can help me support families if they go through a similar experience.

  5. stay strong,. the pics are adorable! solly really not sure what to do, and sammy, holding the whole machine himself. many sweet memories you have.

  6. Although it's true that you'll never be done grieving, mourning, missing, it's also true that Sammy is with you and he'll always be with you...with every breath you take, every one-step-at-a-time, in your heart, in your mind, always...walking right beside you, loving you just as you love him...always.

    We also are with you, even if we can't take away your pain, we are walking beside you, too, holding your hand, sending you love, holding you close.

    Thank you for continuing to share yourself, your life, and your family with all of us. Sending xoxo, always, from NYC.

  7. Phyllis, thank you for posting about Day 31 and your (as always) openly emotional comments. What a great personal reminder of "the day after." And a good reminder for me, as a rabbi, to check in with my congregants soon after the formal days have reached their conclusion.

  8. Praying for you and your beautiful family.

  9. <3.

    (I sometimes wonder if I'll ever look at thermometers the same way again).

  10. Phyllis, you'll turn this into a book at some point?
    ps It's only 30 days for siblings and spouse, too. Only parents are twelve Jewish months. Kibbud Av v'Em

  11. You did a lot. You are doing a lot. Even when it doesn't feel like it, and everything is foggy and exhausting and so raw. Keep going. You are one strong Mama.