About Mallory Kasdan


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lasts and likes

Yesterday was the last day of second grade. Z’s class watched the Smurfs and Jessie apparently. I know this because after pickup Z and her friend both tried to recount the plot of the Jessie episode and I had to tune them out. Hearing Jessie plots breathlessly rehashed by two seven year olds is actually worse then watching the show itself. But that’s fine. They learned things this year. Just not, you know, in the past two weeks.

So, it’s summer again and the seasons they go round and round, painted ponies and all that. It is pretty easy to get sucked into weeping and feeling panicked that this life is speeding by like one of those TV renovation shows where there’s a dump of a house and then suddenly everyone’s fixing it up in a 2 minute montage and then a backsplash and an accent wall and built ins and books arranged by color all emerge. We don’t see the bathroom breaks and the walks around the block and the lunches and the gossiping about the contractor. We only see the doing, edited down to barely anything.

But life isn’t really that. These milestones, these beginnings and ends, they have this heightened emotional quality, because we try and get a handle on things and highlight them because otherwise, what ARE we doing? Of course, we record them — the end of year performances, the moving up thingies, the last hugs with their teachers with our ubiquitous phones held up in front of us while we half watch the performances, distracted by the idea that we might not get the shot. Because if we don’t record, will we forget? Will we not feel the preciousness of the moment unless other people give us a thumbs up on Facebook? It almost like we think we CAN hold onto any of these fleeting moments if we only record and catalogue and share. Then at least there’s documentation. It’s something.

With all of this mad documenting though, the result can be a racing feeling, an anxious feeling, and sometimes an out of control feeling. It’s almost too much at times. Scary world + innocent kids doing adorable things = please god let this all go well for them. Or something like that – math isn’t really my thing.

What I’ve been doing to counteract my larger existential anxiety when things are moving too fast in this way is to try to stand there in it, in those lumpy throated moments when the kids perform a World Cup dance on a stage and I feel like I simply can’t bear the sweetness and the wonder of this fleeting innocence. Or when they lope around the park after school, I see them from behind scootering away from me and watch their once tiny bodies stretch into tall big kid bodies. I try to just be in it, to just go: wow, they are changing every second and I am changing too. I’m not 22, even though I feel that way sometimes.

Because of course I am older, not because people call me ma’am in American Apparel, but because we are just aging and that’s what we fucking have to do. No one can make it stop, and no one can really take care of us except ourselves. And this past year in particular has held a shift for me, as I truly let go of the need for someone to turn to in that role.

This is sad, but ultimately good. I think maybe I’m a better parent to my kids now that I’ve internalized that control really is an illusion, that I can only do so much, and that luck will play a huge role in all of it. We can only try as hard as we can and love as much as we can and the rest is sort of not even up to us. Being as present as possible seems the only salve for feeling out of control.

Last year at this time, things really were spinning off of their axis. I really did feel like parts of my body were in danger of falling off. I was so tormented about every bit of life moving forward without my mom. Everything felt painful and impossible.

And now I cry a little less easily, and there is an acceptance now that I am the parent – to myself and to these other two people — one of two adults in this house taking care of business. They need me and I need them and this is what this is — all this is. Of course it’s still sad that I don’t have my mom to witness Z’s punk song she performed onstage, or M shuffling down the hall every time he has to pee with his pants around his ankles because he just can’t figure out the order, but it will be ok. And not just because I take the videos and pictures and share them with my friends, but also because these things really happen every minute and I notice them and I feel them and then we move on.


There is some. Finally. My heart has been constricted for so long that it feels rather foreign to have air around my thoughts. Grief is a lot of work and takes up a great deal of space. But some has been cleared.

This last month was an emotional sprint towards the one-year anniversary of mom’s death. There were still firsts to get through – Mother’s Day, her birthday, and several memorials. Heading towards this finish — which really isn’t a finish of course, but is more like the beginning of a life without, was quite challenging. May was tough – Mother’s Day in particular was almost physically draining, and I only got through it with wine and yoga and cuddling my family. I was so grateful for the friends who have also lost their mothers, who shared how much they missed them, and how difficult Mother’s Day was for them, too. I felt acutely part of a club, this sad but supportive little club of motherless daughters.

I sat through a memorial that a national women’s organization put together in her honor. Her hometown chapter named a children’s playroom at Family Court for her, because she spent much of the time she was president of this organization advocating for children and families. It was a real honor, but not easy to watch a slideshow set to that inspirational/sad Desiree song – the “you gotta be” one. Mom smiling wide at a podium, marching in protests, and meeting government officials on behalf of this organization – seeing these images of was a reminder of her accomplishments, but also how much she had left to do when she died.

Her birthday on May 24th was another rough one, because I was literally reliving that time last year when she was alive, deteriorating, and yet still able to call me after receiving the peonies and bright orange scarf I sent. It made me sad, thinking about those tokens I now have back in my possession, the scarves, the gifts, the clothes and jewelry divided up. So I took some breaths and wore the orange scarf all that week in her honor.

Then I was back in Pittsburgh for the unveiling, which is done within a year after a Jewish death. It’s a simple ceremony at the gravesite, where a Rabbi says some psalms, the immediate mourners say the Kaddish, or mourning prayer, and the face of the gravestone is revealed. And then there it was. Her name on a piece of granite. Her dates. Mother, Wife, Grandmother and Friend. I placed a purple rock on the top of the gravestone for Miles and Zoe, as Jewish custom dictates. It was a perfect June day, just as her funeral had been almost a year before. The sun and the breeze filtered through the trees as we put arms around each other and cried again for mom. And then we had brunch.

That weekend of the unveiling was intense, but when it was over and we returned home to Brooklyn I felt hugely relieved and … spacious. I felt like I possessed this certain kind of acceptance and understanding that had been out of reach until that moment. It’s vague and new age-y but I felt I had arrived at a destination, in my heart. And that I was going to be okay, no matter what swirled around me from that point on. I hadn’t believed it until then.

I feel so much gratitude towards friends and teachers and people who have been with me throughout this difficult year, bestowing kindness and reading my pieces and making chit chat and asking my how I’m doing. It has all been a part of this particular journey I’m now on, and each interaction and intersection of humanity has been a step on the ladder towards it. I was so happy to be able to honor my mom with friends in my home last week, for the final and most personal of all the memorials, to accept people’s kindness and offerings and music and warmth. We had an unforgettable small service and mini concert for Judi from my friends Jamie and Erin, where I was able to accept love and say thank you to my community. And to let mom go a little bit more, but with the reverence she deserved.

It must be the benefit of all of the therapy, the writing, the going inward and the good support I have. Because I feel so much less angry about losing her than I used to. A huge relief! I feel grateful to the people who get how to be and less pissed at the people who don’t. And I truly feel lucky to be the emotional person I am, and not burdened by it because right now it feels like something of a gift.

I will continue to wrestle with missing her. I will still be sad and have to shake my head at some of the continued fall-out from her loss. But I will be ok. I’m not just repeating it, hoping it will stick. I believe it.

every day i write the book

I’ve been working on a children’s book about loss and grief. It features beloved objects that become separated from their owners and won’t be coming back.

The book will explain to a young person, in metaphor, where someone goes when they die. How those left behind can cope with the journey of grief and come out ok. It will do this without talking down to these young readers or confusing them.

I’m hoping my book will have the proper combination of sweetness and whimsy to keep it appealing and hopeful, and still be clear enough to guide a small person who has been devastated by loss.

Problem is, this is REALLY hard. I’m terribly murky about how to shape a story that’s going to make a child feel like everything is going to be ok after a loved one is gone.

Because are they going to be ok?

Am I?

At the moment it’s dicey. And like I’m trying to write my way out of something hairy that I want to be better, but cannot make so.

I returned yesterday from the first of the one-year later memorials. My nails and cuticles are not in excellent shape. Mom used to smack my hands when I’d bite my nails in nervousness and out of habit and say, “MALLORY!” Now Zoe smacks my hands and shouts my name, with that Judi flavored bossiness that’s in her DNA.

Hugging mom’s friends at the memorial – friends from the swim club and the book club and the women’s organization that was honoring her – those hugs were plush with history and love. Watching a slide show of her accomplishments set to a Desiree song was moving and smile through your tears sad, and enriched this other perspective on my mom, one that didn’t involve me and my sisters or my dad, but was connected to her need to help others and pursue social justice.

Remembering her passion, her persuasiveness, her laugh, her opinions and her “close talking,” I felt and feel deeply connected to those aspects of her every time I force myself to stop looping about how hard this is and focus on what a unique woman she was. Not just to our family, but to every person she touched with her get it done style and her self assuredness that she was doing the right thing. And honoring that her death is also loss for every person that she could have helped.

Going to see her gravestone was grounding and peaceful. Walking in the woods afterwards gulping in air was cleansing and healing. Chasms between me and family members continue to be distressing.

It is just crazy trying to parse out where she has gone, trying to figure out who is going to plug up the holes and smooth in the cracks. We are all still unprepared for a future without her. It feels terrifying. But we must move through so we do.

So the story goes forward. The memorials will continue and in a sense I must mother myself now, and find support in those able to give it — friends and cousins and my own community. Smack my own hand or wait for Zoe to do it.

And hopefully with this forward movement, clarity will come, and my story about being ok will write itself.


Terrible stories are everywhere it seems. Stage 4 cancer at age 40, hit by a car while buying cookies at the local bakery, aneurism on the golf course. Sick kids, sick spouses, sick parents. Mental and physical illness. Accidents.

Last week I received shocking and sad news about a former boss. She died at 45 after being diagnosed with cancer only 3 months prior. I had no idea she was sick. I hadn’t seen her in a very long time, but she had just said something funny on a Facebook post I wrote in February, and I had been thinking about giving her a call. She was a PR maven and since I’m considering strategies to promote my upcoming book, it seemed like a nice symmetry to reconnect with her.

Of course, I now regret terribly waiting on this.

As I’ve grieved for my mom this past year, I’ve noticed a heightened state of nostalgia and an almost maniacal desire to record certain moments in time, to stamp them with recognition so that they never fade. Since Jen’s death last week, I’ve been perseverating over those early years in New York just after graduation, when I worked for her in the publicity department at Hyperion.

Details of the office on Lower 5th Avenue are front of mind. I can see the quality of the fluorescent light in the hallway where the assistants lined up like an entry-level army, fortifying their bosses’ windowed offices. Flicking through the cards on my Rolodex and calling the deli every morning with our breakfast orders. Jen liked a large iced coffee and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with butter. (This was back when people ate bagels). There was Neil, the super-friendly head of the mailroom pushing the overloaded mail cart, and the giant diamond engagement ring one of the book designers wore. The heft of the To Be Filed File that I hid in my drawer, hoping Jen wouldn’t ask me how the filing was going. The tiny yellow X-acto knife she gave me to open the millions of boxes of books that arrived daily for us to unpack and mail out to the media.

Jen taught me to take a thorough phone message. To create a travel itinerary that wasn’t nonsensical for our touring authors. To grill the “book reviewers” trying to get free review copies. To massage the egos of the needier authors and only get her out of “a meeting” if it was someone specific. She taught me to pitch reporters, the most awkward and agonizing part of publicity work.

Jen gave me amazing opportunities and cocktail party stories for years. We took authors to bookings at the network morning shows, to “Politically Incorrect” when it was on Comedy Central, and to Letterman. She let me take RuPaul on a four-city book tour at age 23, and to a Today Show taping at the MAC store, where I got a makeover and a ton of free makeup. And my favorite, taking authors to the old WNYC, which stoked my longtime love of radio and had the best author and musician sightings in their ratty greenroom.

After work I’d go home. I remember looking around at my neighbors, many older than me, most on a professional track, everyone heading to Central Park to exercise with the fervor they probably put into their jobs – running, biking, rollerblading, unicycling (ok, just this one guy). I was obsessed with people watching and wondering about their back-stories, their paths. If they were coupled, how did they meet their mates? And if they had children, um, how do you even do that in New York? I was fascinated with how one arrives at an adult place and the decisions and luck a person needed to get where they wanted to go. How did they know what they wanted to do and be? How were they brave and strong enough to make it in this crazy ass city?

And now, almost 20 years later, I’m there, firmly ensconced in my adult life. How I arrived here — my own back-story– is nothing special. I’m not always even sure what led to what. I feel super lucky most days, skating by, dealt a few blows here and there, but mostly incredibly grateful. But damn aware of the fragility of it all.

I wish we didn’t need these painful reminders that life is so fleeting and that we need to be good to each other. I guess all we can do to honor those who have passed through our lives is to live with compassion and humor and an incredible amount of humility.

I’ll never forget Jen.


It’s the month of Mother’s Day. Of mom’s birthday. And the month before the month of the anniversary of her death. In my mind, a year is the amount of time I’m supposed to spend grieving and then sort of be done with it already. Which I know is preposterous. But still, I’m watching May really carefully.

There is some sense that a corner has been turned. It’s finally spring, sponsored by sun and cherry blossoms and new wedge sandals. I’m sleeping more, writing more. Miles is using the potty and Zoe wrote a White Stripes-esque song about a broken heart. Summer is on the horizon: the beach and the country to look forward to, outdoor concerts and ice cream and sleeveless shirts.

But I’m still digging, trying to puzzle it out – puzzle her out. I read somewhere that when someone dies those left behind spend much of their time attempting to solve the mystery of the lost person’s life. The lost person becomes, in death, more mysterious and enigmatic than they were in life, for the simple reason they are no longer around to answer questions.

I’m surprised how often I want to ask mom something that no one else would know the answer to. Like where are those pointe shoes you put away for Zoe? Is that dad in the picture from Courtney’s mom’s wedding or were you on a date with someone else? What happened when that guy broke into our house and stole your jewelry? Tell me again the story of having your third kid and how you were freaking out about it.

Sometimes its like I can’t trust my memories. And I wish I could interview her – like one final interview where I could dredge up all the possible questions I couldn’t bring myself to ask her when she was sick. When you look back on your life, what are your regrets? Did you get to do most of what you wanted to do? Is adulthood really just faking it mostly? How are you in a good mood so much of the time? Aren’t you pissed about this cancer bullshit?

And a question that’s not really a question, with an answer I’ll know only as time marches on:

Just tell me we are all going to be ok without you.

Because some May days are better than others.


She hung her “Judi” key on this hook, lay down in this bed, showered and dried herself with these towels in this bathroom. It’s impossible not to feel her in this place.

Her tics and habits are ground into this apartment, layered like a collage. In this kitchen she insisted on wiping a glass table with a dirty paper towel. At this computer she printed out boarding passes days before she had to. On this beach she devoured her book club books, took walks with her grandchildren and chatted up every yenta from here to Montreal.

Her things are mostly gone from the Florida apartment, parceled out to a daughter or a cousin or thrown away. But a random drawer can still reveal an oversized brown silk button, incased in plastic like a secret. It belonged to a blazer or a sweater that once hung in this closet. A pair of size five flip flops poking out beneath a pile of sand toys, the impression of her bunion-ed feet worn in to the rubber.

Each plastic toy she bought for the kids they loved with a fervor that now seems prescient. The crayon shaped menorah she bought one Hannukah from one of the kosher stores down the street. Sunhats and knickknacks in turquoise, her very favorite color. The “cookies for sale” sign that she and Zoe made the last time we were all here together.

Objects are so curious. Completely static, and yet poignant with meaning. It’s a wonder we’re not all hoarders, trying to hold on to a person.

walk it off

Mom was no good at self-pity. From the time she was diagnosed until the time she died, she faced some overwhelming and deeply frustrating circumstances that most people would not tolerate well, few with the grace she managed. There was the physical discomfort of her illness through all of its soul sucking phases: the itching of her skin, the crappy side effects of each drug and therapy that never seemed to work as the cancer continued to spread. The depression she wouldn’t admit to, and the underlying stress of having a rare chronic disease with no known cure that worsened as it morphed. But though she may have lost a touch of the sunnyness and became perhaps more sarcastic and less patient towards the end, never once did she feel sorry for herself.

When I was growing up, Mom’s and my styles would often clash. I’m a crier, a prober, sometimes a cynic and always an over thinker, and it was challenging to have a mother who didn’t get a lot of that. Things just didn’t affect her emotionally. I’m not saying being who I am always works for me. I have trouble making decisions. I’m sensitive and can take things personally. Mom was the opposite. She would act, feel confident in those actions, and never look back. She had strong convictions, and didn’t second-guess. So she wasted a lot less time dithering and worrying, being anxious. When I reflect on her style of living, doing, and parenting, we are mostly opposites, and it’s even a bit comedic that I would come from her.

But fuck, I’d give anything to be annoyed with her positivity right this minute. To have her tell me to stop complaining about how much I miss her and how hard it is to not her around.

Almost 10 months after her death, there’s this low-grade constant awareness of her lack, and many reminders of how discombobulated things are as my family resets. I get the deep sads more randomly now, but when it comes on, it is still the rawest, achiest, saddest sadness I have ever known. It’s a longing for something I know I won’t get. Out of reach. Off limits. And ugh, I just miss her messages and her texts and her replies and opinions on things so damn much.

I wanted so badly yesterday to send her a picture of Zoe posing in front of the diorama she made as a part of her city planning unit. I want her so much to ichat with Miles while he lounges around our place like a pre-schoolin’ Hugh Heffner in his socks and nothing else. I want to show her the cover of my book or my author photo proofs, just to hear her take on it. I’m dying to talk to her about movies and books. It’s such an uncharted emptiness that I just cannot fill.

I heard this 20ish/30ish girl the other day at the coffee place on the phone. She was talking to her mom in a really sour and insouciant way – she sounded like a teenager with a bad attitude. Who knows what her mom was saying to her on the other line. Who knows their history or their dynamic or what’s come up between them, what their conflicts have been. I’ll never know. But I wanted to shake her. And tell her to buck up. Whatever was going on, she needed to be nice to her mom. It couldn’t be that bad. As Judi would say, walk it off sister.


The grief is morphing. Spreading out. Not lessening exactly, but some of these calcified parts of my heart are opening to something. Softening. I still miss her every hour, every time I strike up a conversation with a stranger or call someone sweetie. Every yoga practice I feel like I’m breathing her in and out. I want to Sykpe with her every time the kids do something Zoe or Mileslike and every time I finish a book or watch a movie or some asshole Republican Senator does something appalling.

But there is a change in the quality of my loss that feels measurable, like the temperature or humidity in a room. Life without her at seven months is still my same life. I think about the same concepts. I loop and worry roughly the same amount that I always have. I find things funny, moving, annoying, fascinating, beautiful, depressing, maybe in that order. Falling asleep and waking up in the morning is easier now. Food is good. And the chaos of the racing mind and impossibly heavy heart I had when she died in June and for that six month period following is dissipating.

Milestones have inevitably come and gone. I went back to my parents’ house for the first time since she died there and began trying to conceive of it as my dad’s place. I sat and drank coffee at the kitchen table and noticed that all of her calendars and date books, reading glasses and theater tickets were no longer a part of the kitchen desk drawer. I tried to get used to not seeing her at her desk in her office or watching Downton Abbey and Scandal on the couch or napping in her room. I had to deal, in such an initial and basic kind of way, with the physical and spiritual changes in my childhood home. I tried out the words: dad’s house.

I went to see her at the cemetery. Weirdly, it was not altogether impactful. Though her final home conceptually, it felt generic being there. Lovely and peaceful, close by where she lived her whole life, but not sad exactly. More vague than anything else. Which has more to do with the I work I need to do in terms of understanding where she is now. Where we all go.

I’ve had to accept how each member of my family is folding her death into their own lives. I’ve come to terms with a change in the narrative: a sad ending to a golden tale of a happy and healthy family doing it right and getting by with luck for so long. What is the next chapter? Knowing is a process, but I’m feeling hopeful.

For my own family of four, they have absorbed much of my pain and allowed me a focus. Lately I’ve been feeling that my mother-ness supercedes my other-ness. It’s the identity that make me feel most alive and competent right now. Which doesn’t mean that I’m doing it well necessarily. But the way that my kids need me is so primal, so deeply dependent that I feel confusedly comforted by some of the very same tasks that otherwise make me feel like a literal valet/chauffuer/butler.

It must be because I feel so connected to my mom when I’m driving them somewhere, or watching a performance, or researching a camp, or navigating some emotional drama between Zoe and myself or shouting for the eightieth time that Miles must get in the tub. I’m reminded of the beautiful hectic heydey of the Kasdan family and all that we did, and all that mom did for us. It’s a way to bring her in, and to thank her I guess.

My days are getting easier to move through and enjoy even, especially when I’m busy and productive and my household is happy, but its the forever-ness part of this whole business that stings. And answering the questions about the why. That is hard. A spike of pain breaking through the subtle, dull throbbing. When Zoe asks, or I allow myself to ask or just feel sorry for myself because I miss her — when that comes over me, I just let them watch the iPad for hours and just cuddle them and squeeze them and nuzzle their arms and legs and cheeks. It helps.

Lately, Zoe has been sleeping with the Matryoshka doll my mom bought her on a trip to Russia. She holds it tenderly with her orange security blanket, which is funny because the doll is made of wood and is totally not cuddly in any way. This feels symbolic of Judi somehow, she wasn’t cuddly, and she was enigmatic and intricately designed. A multi-layered person within a person within a person within a person, who held my sisters and I inside of her all of her life.

My job now is to embody her, and to never forget the moments and objects and stories and values that made up that life, and to share it.


I’ve been wearing a piece of mom’s clothing most days. Like her stretchy AG teal and black polka dot Petite cords, white drawstring pajama pants with frogs on them (she collected frogs – a seemingly random collection decision with no real story behind it that I can uncover), and crisp white and pink cropped cotton pajamas from the Petites department at Saks. Colorful striped knee-highs. Pashminas. Jeggings. Clothes I would never have chosen, but I find myself weaving into my wardrobe now with a certain amount of urgency.

I look down at my legs, my arms, or my feet shorn in these totally familiar fabrics and patterns and they remind me of her doggedly upbeat approach to life and how she embraced color up until the end. Let’s just say the woman loved her some salmon and turquoise.

Each season, as I gather the clothes the kids have grown out of and figure out the best place to donate them, I don’t usually think of the pants and dresses and shirts with much sentimentality. But if, years later, I see something worn by a friend’s daughter or son I’ve passed them on to, I acutely remember all the moments that Z or M rocked those outfits. I think about when I bought the pieces, how many times I washed them, and all the places we went when Z wore those purple clogs or M that striped blue and white sweater.

And so now these mundane items of mom’s feel precious and crucial. They are mostly comfy clothes, which add a layer of poignancy. Because of her illness, which initially manifested itself as a skin disease, the last few years she would only wear the softest cottons that didn’t irritate her skin. She favored leggings and turtlenecks and soft wrappy sweaters. Her style adjusted to her sickness.

Mom had this amazing attitude that we used to make fun of. She had an obsessive need to see the positive in any situation and to spin every story to a good outcome. She would not tolerate self-pity or delving in the negative. She was not interested in being depressed or anxious. She was able to shrug. A lot. But she always knew who she was. I admired this in her, but never truly understood the amount of strength it took to undertake.

That’s why now, wearing these clothes, these Judi-like pieces she wore next to her skin, imaging her choosing them from a store or later, when shopping wasn’t something she wanted to do, from the internet, sitting at her desk or lying on her bed, feels so important. Like she is trying to encase me in love and show me how to be strong and how to go on without her guidance and be there for those who need me. I am taking her in while she hugs me in lycra and modal cotton.

Wearing her clothes feels like a mantra is making itself known to me. It’s not quite her mantra: “Don’t worry, Be Happy.” Mine is still cloudy, but the words are building from a feeling I get each day when I put on her scarf or her socks or her t-shirt. The words are not obvious, but the fabrics and the memories are there to fold into while the intention makes itself clear.


My daughter’s recent birthday has ignited my memory of being her age. Her intonations, tics and tricks are so familiar to me. The pouting, the scary emotions that overpower her sometimes, her otherwise infectious enthusiasm and mostly good nature that result from a happy home and mostly good natured parents who try their best. I remember trying all on all of those moods and attitudes I see her working through myself, like outfits, or hats.

Besides being my daughter, Zoe is this dimension of my own childhood self, just as I, as a mother, am a dimension of my mom’s mothering self.

I have my baby book that my mom made. The title on the cover is “Your Baby Age 0 – 7.” I look at it a lot lately, in sadness and in wonder, because the idea of the book is such a contradiction to what I thought was her lack of sentimentality in later years. It’s filled with details about my lost teeth, my doctor’s visits, my first words, and upbeat descriptions about each of my birthday parties. I was glancing through it yesterday, looking at a photograph of my mom at 26 holding me in the front seat of the car coming home from the hospital, searching her eyes for clues about what it felt like to be her, holding me in her arms. Ready for the adventure and not knowing what the future would bring.

And today, as I look through pictures of myself bringing Zoe home from the hospital on my computer, with my hopeful and much less worried looking eyes, I simply can’t believe Zoe is the age I was when I was no longer my mom’s baby. This loop of life, moving through it sometimes seems truly miraculous.

Seven was also the age I turned when my youngest sister was born. I remember what our house on Linden Lane felt like physically, the light in the downstairs hall and the smell of concrete and Tide in the basement and how the house was changing. Rules, once rigid, were becoming less so. I imagine my mom was tired, maybe overwhelmed? Sugar cereal, once outlawed, began creeping in.

The office with the yellow, brown and green wallpaper was peeled down and painted, yellow I think it was. Or pink? There was a gilder. A slide. A changing table. We were intrigued, but after a bit, bored and ready for the next thing. Nine months seemed an interminable amount of time to wait.

I remember going to the hospital at the end of the summer to meet her, and it all seeming unreal to me, how tiny my sister was, and like, where the hell did she even come from? I remember we got to go to Sea World with my dad the week right after she came. I know it happened because there’s a picture of Lanie and I on my dad’s lap holding twin Shamus, pink faced and white-blonde haired. And I remember too that it was my birthday five days after Lex was born, and I was extremely pre-occupied with what I would get when we returned from Sea World. Because that’s seven.

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