Saturday, April 12, 2014

You Are So Beautiful

Good morning.  I'm on my third cup of coffee, Piper is napping, 
and Steve is out picking up balloons for a very special day.  Today is Piper's birthday party.  Twelve days after her real birthday, but man, are we thankful we picked the date we did.  I remember saying "Is it weird to have her party almost two weeks after her real birthday?"...
And now, here we are...April 12, 2014.  And it's not weird one bit.  It's a damn good date.  And a damn good thing we didn't have it the weekend closest to her birthday.  

To the left of me, sits a pretty little mess of cards - both "Happy Birthday" and "Sympathy"...
And I find beauty in that.  

Two weeks ago, we said goodbye to my dad.  We celebrated his life and our love for him.
And today, we say hello to year one for Piper.  We celebrate her life and our love for her.

Well, I'm crying again. I cried when I picked up and laid eyes on Piper's birthday cake(s) this morning.  I cried when I drove past a work truck from my dad's old company.  
And now, I'm crying just happy, grateful, king kong emotional Maria tears.

I could go on and on about all of the events that have taken place these past few weeks.  And I definitely will be taking time to sit, write and remember over this next month, but today...

Today is for Piper.  
And really...for all of the amazing people who have shown my family and my daughter a love so pure and sweet.

Thank you all so incredibly much for the thoughts, the prayers, and the love.


I took these photos when Piper turned eleven months, and used them for her birthday party invites.
GiGi took us to Longwood Gardens for the day.  It's funny, because I used to call Longwood Gardens "Brokeass Gardens"...I didn't appreciate all it had to offer.
Piper has taught me so much this past year.  She helps me see the beauty in everything.  
And that day...well, it was far from brokeass.
When I watched my baby girl stare at the colorful flowers, wave and smile at strangers passing by, and squeal with delight (and gulp the water) at the fountains...I felt overcome with such emotion.

Oh, how we love her.

Piper Grace, when you look in the mirror, I hope you always see that beautiful, spunky, funny, bright  girl that I see when I look at you.
I love you.  Happy Birthday Party Day! <3

Have a wonderful day, everyone.
Celebrate Life.

Tons and Tons of Love,

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dear Dad

Dear Dad, 
It is the night before your services.  Well, the morning of.  It's late, and I can't sleep.
I don't want to sleep.  I want to talk to you.  Excuse me if I ramble and make no sense.
It's been one hell of a hell of a past ten months for you...for us.
Oh Dad, I miss you so much.  I've missed you for a long time now.  
I sat here last night, at the computer, gathering pictures from years past. 
And I lost it.
I cried and cried and cried.  Loud tears.  Angry tears.  Sad tears.  Brokenhearted tears.

I screamed "No!" until I couldn't scream it anymore.  I told you I loved you and missed you one hundred and three times.  I cried because all of the photos staring back at me were ones of the man I had trouble remembering since last May.  But there you were...
Your distinct smile - a smirk almost.  Your full face, a nice head of hair, meat on your bones and clothes on your back.

You always cleaned up nice.

It's been so tough, seeing you in so much pain...especially these last few months.
I remember the day of your heart attack...the day after Memorial Day. Piper was just shy of turning eight weeks old and had just slept through the night for the first time since being born.   
She must have known what was coming.
I had just laid her down for an afternoon nap when Steve came home out of the blue.  I swear I knew what he was going to say.  He had such a look in his eyes.  He told me the news and I fell to the floor, trembling and sobbing.
It wasn't much different this Tuesday.  
Tuesday, March 25th was the saddest day of my life...the saddest day of my brother's life.
Oh Dad, I know this past year has been beyond tough for you.  I know how hard you fought.  
There were many times I'd tell myself to stop my grumbling about being tired or achy or hungry.
I'd remind myself of the battle you were fighting.  I'd think of the strength it must have taken to get through each day, even each minute sometimes, for you.
There were so many times last summer that I wanted to sit and write to you.  But I just couldn't.  I wasn't there yet.  And now, I feel like I could write until the sun comes up.

I remember late May, being scared we were going to lose you days after your heart attack.
I remember the doctors and nurses not putting the odds in your favor. 
I'll admit it, Dad.  I thought you were going to die.
I didn't know how to process it all...
I was finally a mother after years and years of fertility chaos.  My dream finally came true and I was just figuring it all out.  And then just days before Piper turned two months, I thought I was going to lose my father.  Talk about going from the most extreme joy, to the most intense fear and pain.
I was lost inside, but oh, how my daughter saved me.
She's been the light in all this darkness.  I've sung "This Little Light Of Mine" to her every day since your heart attack.  Mom calls her "the bright spot" in all of this.  She's certainly right.

 I remember the moment you met Piper.  You walked into my room so quietly.  You said "Hi, Maria" and kissed me.  You looked down at Piper, and without a word, sat down so you could hold her.  You were silent for a good five minutes, just gazing at her tiny face as you held her swaddled body.  You sniffled the entire time.
You didn't have to say a word.  I knew what you were thinking.
You were happy she was finally here.  You were happy Steve and I were finally parents.
And I bet you were thinking back to thirty-one years ago, when I was just a baby.

Steve always told me that he could just see the crazy love you had for me by the way you looked at me.  And now, I see him look at our daughter that very same way.

 You always told me I was beautiful.  You always loved my long hair.  (Please don't be mad at me, I chopped it all off a week and a half ago.)  
I remember every Sunday, after C.C.D. (and after you literally having to scream and pry me out of bed to get movin') you'd take me to the "corner store" in town and let me pick out a few treats.  Is it weird that I can remember those times so very vividly.  You'd run into friends and acquaintances and introduce me every single time, as if they didn't remember you had a daughter.  You were proud of me.  And even as a little girl, I knew it.

We both know growing up wasn't always easy for me and Nicholas.  You and mom certainly weren't what most would consider a match made in heaven.  But you know, Dad, the lessons I've learned from you and Mom...they've made me who I am today.  The good and the bad ones.  I truly wouldn't wish for it to be any other way.  I grew up fast.  But I grew up strong.  And I have both of you to thank for that.  How would I ever get through all the trials life had in store for me?  How would I get through this very trial right now?  I didn't speak to you for about five years.  And please don't be upset with me for saying this, but I'm glad it all happened the way it did.  Because these past ten years were the best ones with you. 

 Forgiveness is one powerful s.o.b.

I had to throw in a good old s.o.b. in here somewhere.  I mean, it was one of your favorite outbursts.
I'll miss your signature "Nick Foresta cursing and swearing."  I can count on more than five hands, the people that will.
You had such a way about you.  In fact, I've often said, I don't know anyone like you.  But that's not a bad thing.  Different is good.  Different leaves an impression.  And I know you have, on so many people.  I can't tell you how many people have told me stories about you this week...stories of your childhood...when you were in grade school...when you met Mom.
You know the main word that has been used to describe you...


With gentle and quiet coming in second and third place. 

Now, I think many of us can laugh our asses off when we hear the word "quiet," because let's face it...
Sometimes, you were far from quiet. 
But I know exactly what they're saying.  You were so nice.  Maybe even too nice at times.
You could never discipline me or Nicholas, no matter how hard you tried.  And maybe that wasn't the best way to raise us sometimes, but oh, you were such a softie.  
I brought a big, giant F home in Chemistry...Mom wanted to send me to Camp Dumbo.  And hugged me and told me "It's okay, try better next time, Honey!"
I'm actually laughing out loud right now.  Because, you were so damn nice, Dad.  You had such a gentle heart. You treated me as if I was a Daddy's girl, though I never was.
You loved me, Dad.  And I always, always knew it.

Speaking of that s.o.b., forgiveness...
You and Mom taught me the greatest lesson in forgiveness.
Your marriage wasn't roses and rainbows, your divorce was downright ugly, but the years that followed...
They were kinda magical, I guess you could say.
I never imagined that you both would walk me down the aisle one day (without killing each other).  In fact, I never imagined myself walking down the aisle at aspect of the whole wedding thing that "weirded me out."
But with you on my right and Mom on my left, I did it.  And I'm so grateful
 I had both of you to lean on.

You might not have been the perfect match as husband and wife, but these past years...years where I've seen you two not only be civil, but be loving towards each other...
They've meant so very much to me, and I know, to Nicholas, too.
Mom was by your side these past ten months.  She admired your strength to keep on fighting.
She kept so much faith.

That son of yours.  He loves you so so SO much.  Steve always referred to you and Nicholas as the "muppets on the balcony" - bickering back and forth and arguing about anything and everything.  But, you were still the best of friends.  You two were the same person. 
 Same name.  Same gentle heart.
I'm so proud of Nicholas.  I know you know how hard he fought for you these past months.  
 I can promise you that if Steve and I ever have a son one day, his middle name will be Nicholas.  In fact, I told you that a few minutes after you took your last breath on Tuesday.  I'll let Nicholas be the "only" real Nicholas.  After all, he is Uncle Nicholas.  Sweet, Uncle Nicholas.

I miss you, Dad. 
There are just so many memories...
I'll always remember you driving me and my friends the mall, dance class, late-night grocery store runs when I was having a sleepover.  
I remember your music always blasting and being embarrassed.  It was either ultra cheesy, elevator-style jazz or hee haw country.  And now look at your daughter...she has a blog called 
"Every Day Is A Country Song."
I always loved your music.  I always loved the way you let it totally sweep you away.
I loved the way you'd rock in your rocking chair and sing so horribly off key.   

I'll always remember back-to-school shopping when I was a teenager.  You'd ask me how much I needed.  I'd give you a number and you'd come up with it...even if it was more than you had to give.
You always asked me "Is that enough?"  And even though I was a teenager, I always knew it was your way of asking if you were enough.
You were, Dad.

I never once questioned your love for me.
You were a hard worker.  A good man.  And great father.

Thank you for my life.
Thank you for my stubbornness - it has helped me more than it has hurt me these past years.
Thank you for my brother.

Thank you for food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads growing up.
Thank you for welcoming me and Steve into your home six years ago, so we could save money.
Thank you for gladly carting my butt around wherever I needed to go when I was a teenager.
Thank you for allowing me and Nicholas to make up immature nicknames and songs about you when we were younger.  It was our way of dealing with the chaos, and you took it like a champ.
 Thank you for my loud mouth (though, I think you can agree, I get that from Mom, too)!
Thank you for letting me know I could always come to you, no matter what.
Thank you for loving me, Dad.

I know your life was full of loss and lost your parents within years of each other, when you were just a teenager/young adult.  I know their loss is something that stuck with you always.  I remember all the Christmases that haunted you, reminding you of your father's tragic death.  I remember Mom crying at Nani's funeral as we said our final goodbyes.  And I remember crying on you, as you shed tears. 
 I'll never forget the words you kept repeating - "It never goes away!"
And I'm willing to bet you're right...I will always miss you.  That, I know will never go away.
But either will my love for you.
And either will the memories.

 I'm so so very thankful you and Piper got to spend the time you did together.  
You are her Papa Bear.
Every visit, no matter how badly you were hurting, you'd smile so big at her...and she, right back at you.  You'd always tell Steve that you wished you could hold her.  But always when I left the room, so it wouldn't upset me.  I always wished so badly that you could truly feel her in your arms.
But I cling to the times that you did.  I'm so thankful for those moments.

Dad, when you had your heart attack last May and I feared I was losing you right then and there, I remember crying to Steve every single night, for weeks straight.
I would tell him how badly I wished I could just lay beside you and tell you everything that was in my heart.
This past Tuesday, I got to do just that.  You took your last breaths, as the people who love you most surrounded you and shouted out their love for you.  
I laid next to you, cupped your face and told you I loved you.  I know you heard me.  I know you heard us all.  That is such a deep comfort.

I know you're not longer in pain.  Your body, mind, soul, heart...they are no longer aching.
You are somewhere beautiful.
I know you're with your mother and father.
And I know you're happy.
Because you're there...
You are at peace.


"The Very Last Country Song" - Sugarland

 "If memories didn't last so long
If nobody did nobody wrong
If we knew what we had before it was gone
If every road led back home
This would be
The very last country song"


Life is a big, sometimes messy, beautiful book of songs.
And I'll never stop singing, Dad.

I love you.
My love for you will never, ever go away.

All my love...your daughter,

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