Dead, dead

On the first day of school this year, Elena showed up to the lunch line with her twenty-five cents for milk. The cost of milk last year was thirty cents but a nickel subsidy meant that we needed to send her to school each day with a quarter.

"This year," the lunch lady told Elena, "it costs thirty-five cents for lunch." Not only did the subsidy go away but the cost of milk went up by a nickel as well.

"Well," said Elena still offering her quarter, "my mother was unaware of this change."

The woman smiled and took her quarter and gave her milk. I'm sure they were prepared for many of the children to come in a dime short on this first day of school.

As it turned out, Elena's mom was unaware of this change. It's much funnier to hear it from an undersized six year old.

There are many changes we are unaware of and some that I'm looking forward to. People have written to tell us that at some point the times during the day that we remember something about Elena will become some of the happiest times in our day. We haven't made that transition yet. They always make us smile but then there's a beat and we remember that this supply of stories is not endless.

Patti posted a comment on the blog about a transition that her son Jack has gone through that I have just noticed myself going through as well. She reports that Jack told his teacher,  "I just didn't think she was really going to be dead, dead, you know?".

Yeah. I know.

Published in: on April 20, 2006 at 8:56 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The supply of stories is limited. The amount of times you can listen to them is not. Celebrating the memories is the most important part of keeping Elena alive in your hearts in my opinion.

  2. When I see “0” comments after your entries, I worry that you might think no one is reading/listening, so I hope there is some way that you can see how many “hits” you get, because I expect there are a lot of us still reading and touched by your wonderful writing every day.

    When my father died, after some time had passed, I remember the sense of loss became more intense in some ways and it caught me by surprise. I remember telling my husband that at the beginning his death was “surreal,” but had now become “real.” The result of what I think is a protective disconnect between our intellect and emotions.

    There is a book that I understand addresses this issue in a very personal way (I have not yet read it). It’s called “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion, who lost her husband suddenly and then her only daughter soon after. I don’t suggest it for now, but maybe later. It came out around the same time my dad passed 8 months ago, and I am only just feeling that I might want to read it.

    I know that, at this point, I do smile when I think about my dad, reminded of things he did or said, or wondering what he would do or say if he were still here. I expect that is easier in my case because he was my father, not my daughter. I do hope that you can eventually come to that place.

  3. Dan,
    Dear Elena is the first thing that I read every day. I have been reading your blog from the first day that you wrote, but I have never posted a comment. Every day, after I read what you have written, I have been more moved to reflect than to write…. and so I have never written to you before. But I want you to know that I think there are a lot of people like me lurking around out here who are learning so much from you, your thoughts and experiences & the way that you bravely share them — people who are not necessarily leaving a comment after reading what you’ve written. I never had the chance to meet Elena, but I must tell you that through your writing, I definitely have a picture of her in my mind — and the face that I picture is always smiling, always up to something, always so full of life.
    Thank you for sharing so much with all of us.

  4. Daniel:

    Stephen Fuld, from our WBRS days at Brandeis, looked me up recently and informed me of the tragedy you have experienced. I’ve been reading your blog ever since, and like others, i’m quite touched by what you are going through, and how you are handling it. Don’t know if you even remember me, but nevertheless, heartfelt condolences from my entire family in this difficult time. I have two little boys and I can’t begin to imagine your difficulty. But, as I’ve noticed in your postings, and from being a parent myself, I do understand your little girl is forever a part of you, and you are a part of her, and that is a good thing, in my view. Anyway, please feel free to send me an email if you are so inclined during this difficult time, or any time. I would enjoy catching up with you some time. Those college days, I now realize, were fairly easy compared to what we all have to deal with in adulthood, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Anyway, good luck and best wishes.

    –Michael Goldman

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