Damien "Joey" Joseph Kam

Damien "Joey" Joseph Kam
February 11, 1965 - August 28, 2009

Honoring the great Memories...

Damien's Memorial Plaque was installed January 16, 2010. It is located in the Garden of Reflection Memorial Book. Inquire at the mortuary office if you are not sure of the location, and they will give you directions.

Pacific View Memorial Park
3500 Pacific View Drive,
Corona Del Mar, Ca 92625


One day we'll disappear together in a dream

However short or long our lives are going to be

I will live in you or you will live in me

Until we disappear together in a dream


Damien's Memorial Plaque

Damien's Memorial Plaque


If you would like to contribute to Colin's College Fund in Damien's Memory:

Send a check to:

College Savings Iowa

P.O. Box 55119

Boston, MA 02205-5119

Reference #450079529-01 on the check

Or if you use Online Bill Pay you can issue a check as referenced above.

For more information regarding this type of account please visit: https://collegesavingsiowa.s.upromise.com/

A special thanks to Judy, Cyndie's Cousin, for putting together Colin's college fund.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

And so this is Christmas ...

I managed to make it through Christmas this year, mostly I think by keeping myself super busy. Lots of play dates, baking, hanging out with friends and family, taking Colin to see Santa and Christmas lights and the big tree at the mall. Anything and everything to keep my mind occupied. But in the occasional quite moments, my mind would drift to the obvious. Our 2nd Christmas without Damien. How did we make it this far? Where did the time go? Where do we go from here? When is the hospital going to stop sending me bills? What do I do now? What will our future be? Because our life's path took such an extreme turn, and left us in unfamiliar territory. I always miss him, and think my heart will always have an empty hole in it. Even if it does get smaller with time, it will never completely close. It will just be a part of my life story, and the person I will become.
And all too soon the time will come when I have to start answering the dreaded questions ... "Mommy, why did Daddy go away?", "Where is Daddy?", and "What happened to Daddy?" ... and dealing with all that comes along with that. The cake-topper to all the other "why, what, & where" questions that average parent must answer for their pre-schooler. I haven't even begun to think about how I will handle this.
I will be happy when 2010 is done and over with. I feel as though I just drifted through this past year, a bit aimlessly, helplessly, and with much uncertainty. I hope to spend the next year trying to get back to a certain degree of "normalcy". I hope to get my motivation back. I want Colin to have a wonderful childhood, filled with memories and happy times. This is what I focus most of my time on right now, but I have come to realize that I need to take some time for me too - so that I can get better, be a better parent, and still have a wonderful life. I couldn't do that without my little man, and I am forever grateful for that "parting gift" that Damien gave me.

I hope that everyone has a safe but fun-filled New Years Eve, whether you go to a big party, stay home and watch the ball drop on TV, or sleep through it! And please PLEASE don't drink and drive. Can't stress that enough.

Watching the Boat Parade in Newport Beach with Susan, Laszlo & family

Decorating some Christmas cupcakes

Visiting the neighborhood Santa Claus :)

Reading bedtime stories with Nana

Christmas Eve service at Mariners Church - with Nana and Auntie Sissy

Nana, Colin, and Uncle Richard

Santa brought a play work-bench!

And the two things Colin asked for - a Mavis and a push Percy (battery-operated) - He must have been a good boy!!!

Playing with his Cars set from Nana

Shooting hoops with the new Basketball hoop from Auntie Sissy :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's that time of year again ...

Thanksgiving is over and the winter holidays are here once again. I have to face it whether I like it or not. And I can't hide away in Hawaii this time. No, I'm here, and despite the difficulty, I have to start making new holiday memories & traditions for my little man.

Last week I took Colin to the tree lighting ceremony at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. There was singing and dancing, lots of lights and decorations, and it was nice & cold (just the way I like it this time of year). We ran into some friends there, and Colin had fun dancing to the music and having his first hot chocolate.

Today was our annual Snow Day at the park. The city dumps a bunch of snow at Bonita Creek park and turns it into a Winter Wonderland, complete with snowball fights, sledding down hills, train ride, and of course Santa. Colin really loves the snow - I have a feeling he will get into snowboarding just like his Daddy. He enjoyed hanging out with some of his little buddies and throwing snow at Mommy.

I think tomorrow I will try to get the Christmas tree up. Of course I really want to put it up for Colin, but it will be bittersweet. Damien and I always loved doing the tree - going to pick one out, dragging it home on top of the car, putting the lights on it (he always did that since I have no patience :o) ), and finally decorating it with all of our ornaments. And the ornaments are a particular emotional thing for me. Not only did we pick out a new ornament every year from here, but we also brought home from every place that we ever travelled - the kitty snowman from Harrods in London, the scottie dog with a plaid ribbon from Scotland, the kiwi with the Santa hat from New Zealand, the loon from Canada, etc. Then there's that ornament from our 1st Christmas together ... These are things that I can't bear to deal with at this point - I can't even think about looking at them yet. It's too hard.

So this year I did something that I have never done before - I bought a fake tree from Target, complete with lights and pine cones. I felt a little bad about doing it too, because Damien always wanted a real tree every year - he loved the smell of them most of all. But I just didn't think I could handle getting a real tree on my own with a 2 year old in tow ... it's kind of a lot of work for one person. And even my mom said that I have to do what's best for me from now on ... he's not here anymore. Yet I still can't help but feel a little guilty for putting up a plastic rendition of the real thing. But change is good sometimes. And, in many cases, necessary.

As for ornaments, I'm just going to put a bunch of balls up, and maybe some tinsel or trim of some sort. Simple but pretty. Baby steps.

I'm looking forward to spending time with friends and family this holiday season, baking fun holiday treats, spending time outdoors ... keeping busy. Just getting through it, even if that means slapping a fake smile on my face, much like the fake Christmas tree in my living room. I know that someday it will be real again, and that's what will get me through for now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

May Angels Lead You In ...

Tomorrow is my birthday. So hard to believe that another year has passed, the most difficult year of my life. I don't know where the time went. I miss Damien now more then ever, especially with all the holidays coming up. I think of him whenever I hear this song ...

Hear You Me
by Jimmy Eat World

There's no one in town I know
You gave us some place to go
I never said thank you for that
I thought I might get one more chance.

What would you think of me now,
so lucky, so strong, so proud?
I never said thank you for that,
now I'll never have a chance.

May angels lead you in
Hear you me my friends
On sleepless roads the sleepless go
May angels lead you in.

An if you were with me tonight
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big
God couldn't let it live.

May angels lead you in
hear you me my friends
On sleepless roads the sleepless go
May angels lead you in ...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

~Dr. Seuss~

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The girl in the mirror

I sometimes don't recognize that person staring back at me in the bathroom mirror. Is it me? Or the shell of someone who kind of looks like someone I used to know. I don't look the same, and I sure don't feel the same. I look so much older. Tired. Worn-out. Sad. Pale. Still trying to shake the baby weight. Bags under my eyes and hair thin from the emotional stress. I don't know if I really look like this or if this is just the way my mind now sees myself, if that makes any sense. Is it real or perceived? I think it's a little of both.

Tired Mom. Stressed-Out Widow. Half the person I used to be.

I hope I can find "me" again, somewhere under this stressed-out anxiety-ridden exhausted person that I've become. I hope to become whole again someday.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is my favorite time of year. The air is turning cool & crisp, the temperature is dropping (with the exception of a few freakishly hot days here the past couple of weeks). The liquid amber trees that seem to be on every street start to change from green to yellow to red. The sun moves across the sky differently, and we see the most amazing colors at sunset. The days are much shorter now. The smell of wood-burning fireplaces fill the air at night. It wont be long until we see snow on the mountains again.

This is my 2nd Fall without Damien. Hard to believe. We both loved this time of year so much. Afternoon walks. Warm sweaters. Autumn leaves. The arrival of wintering birds. Sitting on the cool sandy beach, watching the waves. I miss all of it, shared with him.

I can start off having a semi-good day, then all of a sudden, and certain thought or memory of Damien gets in my mind and can literally take my breath away. It's kind of like gasping for air for a moment, followed by a nauseating feeling in my stomach. It's reality hitting me in the face. It only lasts a moment, but the feeling is intense. It makes me think of that song "No Air" by Jordin Sparks:

"So how do you expect me to live alone with just me? 'Cause my world revolves around you, it's so hard for me to breathe ... Losing you is like living in a world with no air."

It's really hard to stand and face the world alone, when I never thought in a million years I'd have to. But I've never once felt angry at Damien. I know that he didn't want to leave us, and if there was any way that he could have stayed, he would have. Despite the pain, I'm really grateful for the 10 years we had together. I'll always feel lucky for that. And of course for having Colin.

We just returned a few days ago from Hawaii - just visiting family. It was a nice trip and Colin had lots of fun with his cousins and Grandma & Grandpa. I had a few of those "can't breathe" moments ... I kept envisioning Damien as a little kid, running around that house. And as a college student, walking down the road. Of course I didn't know him then, but I could still see it, feel it. I saw him in my dreams too. They were so vivid ...

So now we are back home, and it's hard to go from a house full of people to our home with just me and the little man and 2 cats.

It's so quiet here ...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goodnight Moon

Long day today. Colin was begging me to read Goodnight Moon to him in his crib (a ploy to stay up just a little bit longer, I think). It suddenly brought back a memory ... Damien, Colin, and I had gone out to dinner one night ... Colin was still little and in his infant car seat. It was a little late, we were driving home, Damien was sitting in the back with baby Colin, who was fussing a bit, and Damien started to recite "Goodnight Moon" to him, which he had always read to him, every night, since the day we brought him home from the hospital. It had immediately calmed Colin.

I miss sweet moments like that. Especially after a long day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some days I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around everything that has happened ... today has been one of those days.

Miss you so much Joey.

Monday, October 18, 2010


His clothes. They've been quietly hanging in the closet and neatly folded away in the drawers for over a year now. And today I was feeling like it was time to face it. Or at least make a start at it. I spent the entire day trying to make my way through it. I managed to get through the drawers, and it was completely draining. I'm exhausted. Just from looking at them. But I'm not quite ready to decide what to do with the clothes just yet, so I packed them away in boxes and put them in the garage. *sigh*

There are a couple of t-shirts and sweatshirts of Damien's that I like to wear sometimes, so I kept those out. I may give some of the stuff to family and close friends if they want anything. And of course there are some things I will save for Colin. I plan on having a blanket (or two) made from his aloha shirts.

Why does dealing with his clothes seem so difficult? I guess for me they represent so many memories. I can remember what he was wearing when we went here or there, did this or that. And they are the one thing that "looks" like him, if that makes any sense. The pajamas and t-shirts he wore to bed every night, the dress shirts he wore to work, the suit he put on for interviews and special occasions. The jeans and t-shirts that made up his weekends, and his "nicer" button down shirts for when we went out. The aloha shirts and bowling shirts he typically wore when we went dancing. His favorite pull-over fleece jacket. His snowboarding gear. A box full of ties, a drawer full of socks ... a lifetime of memories from every single day we spent together for the last 10 years. How am I supposed to deal with all of that?

Only time will tell, I suppose.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yes, please share this blog!

I have had many people email me wanting to know if it's ok if they forward this blog to someone, usually because they know someone going through the same thing. Please, by all means, share it. I can only hope that I can be of some help to anyone else going through the same thing out there. I have had others reach out to me, and I want to do the same. It's horrible to think that you are alone in all of this, because, unfortunately, there are many others out there going through the same thing.

There is nothing in this blog that I don't want people to read about. I'm a pretty open person. So please pass it on. You can contact me via email as well ... PenguinPatrol@sbcglobal.net. You can also follow this blog ... there is a button on the right-hand column.

And if you are reading this and are in the same situation as me, please know that you are not alone. Stay strong.



There are many days that I find myself saying "where's my head"? I feel overwhelmed by the things I know I have to take care of, and I seem to forget everything that I don't write down. Apparently it's called "widow brain", and functions much like "bridal brain" and "baby brain". Stress & emotions cause you to forget what you are doing, thinking, saying, going, etc. I've found myself driving and not remember where I was headed ... kinda like my brain was on auto-pilot, but sure where we were headed. It's so frustrating sometimes. What did I need from the store? Wasn't I supposed to do something today?

At any given moment, the things running through my head go something like: Where is my cell phone don't forget to return those phone calls Colin has music class tomorrow morning don't let the wet laundry sit in the washer all day my car is due for an oil change how am I going to find health care we can afford I need to call Verizon and turn off Damien's phone service clean out the cat box I can't find my sunglasses don't forget to put gas in the car Colin needs milk call the contractor about the doors what was it that I need to do tomorrow get a pumpkin for Halloween don't forget we're leaving for Hawaii in a couple of weeks make that dentist appointment etc, etc, etc.

Really, it's like that. A lot. All squashed together and going a million miles an hour. It has gotten better, but my mind still feels like its running round in circles. I used to be such a well-organized, put-together person. Having a baby shook that a little bit ... but when I lost Damien, that's when I really seemed to have lost it. I hope to get it back again someday.

Then I find that I just have to give up some of the control, and it's ok. As long as I get the important things done, the rest can wait. I simply need to remember to breathe somewhere in there.

Now, what was I doing???? Someday it will get better.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16

It's hard to believe, but today would have been Damien's and my 6th wedding anniversary. Where does the time go? I feel like I was just facing this date last year.

It all started yesterday, when I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in my friend Tammy's wedding. It was to be one day before our anniversary, on the Queen Mary, where Damien had proposed to me and where we had our wedding reception. For a long time, I wondered if I could do it ... if I would be up to it. I had a fear that I would fall apart while standing up there, have a massive anxiety attack or something. But over time I pushed that out of my head. After all, I was really happy for my friend. She really wanted me to be there, and I wanted to be there for her. And so there I was ...

I actually felt fine being up there, except when the priest got to the part of vows where he said "in sickness and in health". It brought forth a flash of Damien's last days, and just how very sick he was, and how we had no idea what was to come. My stomach started to turn. But I snapped my mind out of it, looking at the bride and how beautiful she looked in her dress, how happy I knew she was feeling, and all was right again. I know he was there with me, helping me get through it. It was a beautiful ceremony.

The reception was a lot of fun ... I got to see some old friends of ours that I hadn't seen in a while. We ate, drank, talked, and of course, danced! It felt strange without Damien there, but I know he was there in spirit. I kept expecting to see him walking back to our table with a drink for me. I could totally envision it ... he'd be wearing his dark grey suit with a red shirt, and he'd have that great big smile on his face that he was known for. And we would have danced ...

I miss him more than ever today, and I have to fight my mind from thinking what we would be doing today, if he were here and healthy. We would be spending this weekend somewhere else, the 3 of us together. Maybe a trip to the Oregon coast, or back east to watch the changing of the leaves.

So I'm having a glass of wine here in Damien's memory. It's quiet except for Bruddah Iz playing in the background. My heart still aches ...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A lost treasure found ...

While Colin was napping today, I decided to try to clean up and organize the garage. I was sorting through stuff that was to go into the "garage sale" and "donation" piles, when I came across something that I hadn't seen in a long time. There, in the bottom of a large shopping bag, was Damien's old light blue cotton blanket. I think he had it since he moved out of his parent's house. It went with his old blue comforter that he had in his apartment when I first met him. The comforter was long gone, but somehow the blanket has always stayed with us. You never know when you might need an extra blanket, right? But we have so many blankets, and it made it's way into the garage over the years. I always meant to donate it to Goodwill. But in the garage it remained. At the bottom of that old shopping bag. It was like it was waiting for me. So I washed it and put it up on my bed.

Damien never had much "stuff". He just wasn't that kind of guy. So it's little things, like this blanket, that mean the world to me.
Happy Birthday to my friend Denise ... she would have been 39 today. I've been thinking about her a lot today ... all the fun birthday parties she's had in the past. Which in turn has lead me to think a lot about Damien.

It's just been one of those days ...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

RIP Marshall Haas

My mom's husband and my stepdad, Marshall Haas, passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 14th 2010. He had been quite ill for a while, dealing with his diabetes and pulmonary hypertension. He had been in and out of the hospital numerous times over the past year, usually due to low oxygen levels. He also had to be on oxygen 24 hrs a day. He came home from the hospital at the end of the previous week and was put on hospice care, as it was determined that there wasn't anything else that could be done for him. He passed away 3 days later, peacefully in his sleep.

He was always happy and in good spirits, never complaining about his ailments. He will be greatly missed.

We had gone over to see him the weekend before he passed. He was sitting up in the living room on the sofa, propped up with pillows. He was having a difficult time eating. Colin had just gotten the movie "Cars" and we brought it over to watch. My mom, sister, and I were sitting at the dinning table talking while the boys watched the movie. Marsh seemed to like it! Even though he was tired, he still managed to play around with Colin, and even picked him up for a hug before we had to go home. I know that Colin is going to miss his PopPop ... they always had so much fun together.

Although Marsh did not want a Memorial Service, my mom decided to have a small gathering where the ashes were located in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cypress, with the Reverend who came to see him from hospice care. He said a few words and prayers and sang Amazing Grace, which was Marsh's favorite song. My mom just couldn't let him go with out something ... and I can completely understand that ... and I'm sure Marsh does too.

My mom with the Reverend.

Marshall's son, Doug.

The three of us with Richard & Angela.

Marsh's neighbors & good friends.

The construction guys who are currently working on Mom & Marsh's house, who became friends with Marsh.

A couple of the employees from Carrows, where my Mom & Marsh would often grab a bite to eat.

Flowers at the Niche

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jamba Juice

One year has come and gone ... a year full of "firsts" without Damien ... first birthday, first wedding anniversary (would have been our 5th), Colin's first steps, and firsts of all the holidays etc, etc. It's been a very difficult year filled with these "firsts".

But come to find out, these "firsts" have not stopped simply because the first year has passed.

Last Friday I came down with a pretty nasty cold, so I decided to go to Jamba Juice for one of their Coldbuster Smoothies. I didn't think about it much really ... just thought it would be good for me, seeing as I didn't really feel like eating anything. I took Colin to daycare as usual on Fridays, and stopped on the way home to pick one up. I parked and dragged myself out of the car and into the front door ... as soon as I got inside, I kinda froze up. It was a deja vu kind of experience. My head was spinning.

Then it dawned on me just why. You see, about a week and a half before Damien was admitted to the hospital that last time, he was having great difficulty swallowing. He had a horrendous dry cough typical of the disease, and terrible mouth sores due to the immunosuppressor drugs. And because of all that, he had a hard time eating solid foods. So I started making the daily trip to Jamba Juice, picking up smoothies for him just so he could get some calories. I would get him a different flavor everyday, all with immunity and protein boosts. He looked forward to it each day.

It's strange how such little things can bring back such memories.

Well, I made it out of there with smoothie in hand. And I've tackled yet another "first" on a long list of many.

And in these moments I continue to remind myself to "just breathe".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One Year

One year ago today, around 9:30am, I had to say goodbye to my best friend. I held his hand as they disconnected him from life support and set his spirit free. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. You have followed our story and given us support in the most difficult time of our lives.

Thank you to everyone who has called, sent emails & messages, or spent time with us on this day. Your words and friendship mean the world to me, this past year, today, and always.

Acceptance ... I think that's where I am now. My day to day life has become easier, mostly because I'm used to the way things are. I've accepted that this is the way things are for us, that I cannot change that, and that I must move forward, for both Colin & myself. But still not a day goes by that I don't think of Damien, or that my heart doesn't still ache for him. It just seems that I can deal with things a little better now. I try to keep a positive outlook. I have hopes for a happy and peaceful future. I continue to strive to heal.

So this morning, a few friends came by bearing bagel sandwichs and good company. I then took Colin over to Damien's Memorial to leave some flowers. This afternoon we will be heading up to L.A. to hang out with Richard & Angela. We've decided that today should be a "Celebration of Life" day. So we will find something fun to do. I know that's what he would want.

More on that tomorrow.

With much Love & Aloha,


Friday, August 27, 2010

My Horoscope ...

I just read my horoscope for tomorrow, and find it quite interesting, given the significance of the date:

Today's experience may be shot through with interruptions, cancellations, or delays, but they do serve a purpose, Sagittarius. This is a time at which things that have no further use are being swept away from your life, and you are going through a transformation yourself that requires you to be a bit more fluid so that it's easy to let go of the old and realign with the new. In these disruptions there will be magic moments to experience if they are what you're looking for.

I've been trying not to think too much on this day last year, although it creeps in a little here and there, no matter what. A horrible memory. An everlasting nightmare. And, although difficult to admit, peace to a person suffering immeasurably. On this day last year, I spoke with Damien for the last time, although I had no idea that it would be the last time. I actually had a nice visit with him in the hospital ... we had no idea what was to come.

I had even made a cute little poster board for him with pictures of Colin & our wedding, etc. I was going to put it on the wall next to the bed for when he came home ... something for him to look at everyday and to give him the strength he needed to fight this thing. Now it sits in the closet somewhere, dismantled and collecting dust.

I am exhausted now, mentally & physically. So off to bed I go, fingers crossed that I don't relive the nightmare ...

I miss him so.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trying to get through

As the one year anniversary is approaching, I find myself trying to push all thoughts of it out of my head, for every time I think about it, I nearly fall apart. I don't know how I've made it this far without Damien.

The kind of strange thing is that I feel more lonely now than ever before. Maybe I just need to get past that one year mark to start feeling better. I need to find my "new" self ... that person who must now add "widow" to all the other things that make up her person.

I know I've said it a million times, but I never thought I'd be sitting here today in this situation. I never thought I'd be a single mom. I never thought I'd be without my wonderful husband. I miss him so much.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Funeral Blues

One year is fast approaching, and I can hardly believe it. While some things have gotten easier, other things feel like they've gotten more difficult. It is a long road, as I have been told by those who have been through it. And as I've said many times before, I'm so very thankful for my Colin, who keeps the joy alive in my heart.

I've always loved this poem, although it is sad. It really expresses the feelings of a person who has lost their partner in life. I've also posted the video clip of the poem being read in the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral". I like the way John Hannah reads it here.

Funeral Blues
by WH Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message "He is Dead",
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In Memorium

How is it that I have a collection of Memorial pamplets already? I have lost some great people in my life this year ...

First and foremost, my wonderful husband - DM

Aunty Jane (Damien's mom's sister) - Stroke

Aunt Cookie (my Dad's sister) - Breast Cancer

Denise (my dear friend) - Heart Disease

~You will all be greatly missed~

A sad day ...

Today I am once again reminded of just how fragile and precious life is. I attended the Memorial Service of one of my long-time friends, Denise Reda. She passed away Monday, June 28th. She went into cardiac arrest on April 5th, and spent 12 weeks in the hospital fighting for her life. Sadly, her heart was just too weak. Denise was only 38 years old.

I will always remember Denise for her wonderful personality and infectious laugh! She was always so happy, and could make anyone in her presence smile. She truly cared about all the people in her life, and it showed. She loved the ocean, and all creatures big and small that lived in it. She loved music, especially U2 and Bob Marley. She had such a zest for life, which makes it so hard to believe she is gone. I will miss her, and think of her often. I hope she has found Damien, and is keeping him smiling :)

I've been sad this past week, thinking about it all. It's been a while since I've actually talked to Denise. It just makes me realize, even more, that we all need to make the time to be with the people we care about. So if there's a friend or family member you've been thinking about, call them. We are not guaranteed our time here. Make the most of it, and live each day to the fullest. I will do that, and think of Denise and her happiness, positivity, and her ability to embrace life.

I don't know if it's Damien or Denise (or both), but someone has been sending "comfort" my way this past week. The day after Denise passed, I got in my car to go run some errands, and I was just feeling upset. The minute I turned on the car, "Where the streets have no name" by U2 came on the radio. U2 being Denise all-time favorite band. Then when I jumped in that car later that afternoon, "Could you be loved" by Bob Marley came on. Probably Denise's 2nd favorite singer. Anyway, I smiled both times ... thinking of the times we had gone to U2 concerts together, and the Bob Marley Day Festival in Long Beach. Good times! The next day, I took Colin for a walk in his stroller around the neighborhood, and I was feeling down again. I turned down one of my favorite streets (Westminster Ave.) ... its a beautiful quiet street with nice houses and big trees. I could hear a loud car stereo playing at the end of the street (unusual), and as I got closer, I could hear Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry, be happy" ... it was blaring from the little old car with the driver-side door open. As I walked past, I could barely see the girl in the car ... the seat was pushed all the way back and she was all but a shadow except for her leg hanging out. As I turned on Monte Vista to head home, the music stopped and the car sped away. That was so Denise! My head was at peace for the rest of the day. And finally ... today as Colin and I got in the car to go to Denise's Memorial Service, my stomach was in knots and my head felt like it had all the pressure of the world on it. Reality setting in. And once again, just when I turned the car on, there was Bob Marley singing "Three little birds" ... and from that, I found the strength to get through. As I turned out of the complex and onto the street, I found myself behind a van with a mural of a mermaid surrounded by all sorts of sea creatures. :) Thanks, Denise!

Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing's gonna be all right.
Rise up this morning,
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Perch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', "This is my message to you"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~ Inuit proverb

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day

Sunday was our first Father's Day without Damien. Luckily, I didn't realize that is was going to be Father's Day until the day before, so I didn't have a lot of time to dwell on it. But that didn't make it any less sad. I took Colin over the the Memorial Park in the morning, and we put some pretty purple flowers by Damien's plaque. The park was quite crowded, with lots of people gathered around their loved ones' grave sites and memorials. In a strange way, that made me feel less alone. Not less sad, just less alone. We shared some milk and donuts while spending time with Dada.

I spent a lot of time looking a pictures on the computer of Damien with Colin, which brings back great memories, although still hard to deal with at this time.

That afternoon, I took Colin to Nana & Pop-Pop's house, and we went out to dinner.

Another "first" has come and gone. I can hardly believe it, but it's coming up on a year. I still have the weird "it just happened yesterday and yet it happened so long ago" feeling. It's hard. There's not much else I can say. Each day comes and goes, each with it's share of joy and sorrow. And it's harder than anyone can imagine who hasn't been through it. And there's no way for me to explain it. It's just hard.

The last two pictures were taken January 2009, before we had any clue what was about to happen. Damien was so happy to be a dad & loved Colin with all his heart ... he truly was the best daddy ever!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Coldplay - Fix you

This song has been stuck in my head for a while now. It was always one of my favorite Coldplay songs, but I never knew how it would hit so close to home someday. It's about dealing with grief (in any of it's numerous forms) ... and in this case, I feel like it's me trying to fix me. ----------------

"Fix You" - Coldplay

When you try your best but you don't succeed When you get what you want but not what you need When you feel so tired but you can't sleep Stuck in reverse.

And the tears come streaming down your face When you lose something you can't replace When you love someone but it goes to waste Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you

And high up above earth or down below When you're too in love to let it go But if you never try you'll never know Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you

Tears stream, down your face When you lose something you cannot replace Tears stream down your face and I...

Tears stream, down your face I promise you I will learn from my mistakes Tears stream down your face and I...

Lights will guide you home And ignite your bones And I will try to fix you.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

moving forward, one small step at a time ...

I continue to ask Damien for guidance in the things that I do, and I honestly believe he gives me the signs I need. It may seem strange, but almost every time I ask, something like this happens ...

A couple of days ago, Colin was playing in my bedroom while I was getting dressed in the morning. I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth for probably less than 2 minutes. I came out to find Colin sitting on the floor, with a bottle of Damien's contact lens cleaner on the floor next to him. I don't know where it came from, but there it was. The bottle wasn't open, and Colin was just playing with his trains ... but at that moment, it just hit me ... I needed to get rid of all of Damien's medications and miscellaneous bathroom stuff. It wasn't useful, and the baby could get into it. It needed to go.

The funny thing was that I had just recently been thinking about this and pondering if I should just throw it all out. I had an entire box full of all of his prescription meds, some of them chemo drugs and very toxic (like Methotrexate and Imuran). Pain relievers, all kinds of cough syrups, stuff to help the rash. And a bunch more meds to off-set the side effects of other ones. It was sad to see them there, all together. There were no happy memories in that box. He was telling me that it was time to get rid of them, so I did just that today while Colin was taking his nap.

So I got them all out, wrote them all down to put in the huge 3-ring binder I have with all of Damien's recent medical info in it. Then I began the process of removing each one from it's bottle to dispose of ... some could go down the toilet, but most had to be sealed in baggies and wrapped up for the trash. I had to removed the Rx label from each bottle or package (for security reasons), then throw those containers away. It was a long and draining task, but I feel a bit relieved to have gotten rid of that stuff.

I decided to go through the rest of our bathroom as well ... I got rid of all his contacts and cleaners, eye drops, toothbrushes, shaving products, etc. I set aside a few things for Colin ... his favorite cologne, which he only wore on special occasions, his hairbrush, the one razor he's had since I met him, his glasses, and an old bright yellow striped towel he always took to the gym. I took photos of everything else, and out they went.

It was the right thing to do ... he told me so. I always keep my mind and heart open, to hear him. I know he will always look out for us and lead the way for what is next ...

Friday, May 21, 2010

a nice surprise ...

I came home this afternoon to a nice surprise ... on my doorstep was an amazing floral arrangement, signed "from your Pimco family" :) Thanks guys, for always thinking about us. I know this would make Damien happy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Life ...

Down the middle drops one more grain of sand
They say that new life makes losing life easier to understand
- Jack Johnson

Today my friends Densie & Alex welcomed a new baby boy into their lives ... Archer arrived @ 6:45am, 7 lbs 19 ins. They had a little scare as the cord was wrapped around baby's neck while delivering, but all is well now. Mama & baby are resting and doing just fine. I had the opportunity to visit them at the hospital this afternoon and hold Archer. He is absolutely adorable! I forgot just how small they really are :o) Andrew & Avrum are happy big brothers.

New life is so very precious. I had a little bit of peace and happiness in my soul today. And I was able to stand in the very hospital where I had to say goodbye to Damien, to say hello to baby Archer and welcome him to this world.

Congrats Mama D - job well done ;o) All our love, C & c

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday ...

Today was slightly better than yesterday, maybe because I spent a little more time out of the house. I took Colin to music class this morning, then met up with Denise & Avee for a post-nap walk to the park and around the neighborhood.

But I'm still dealing with the flood of recent memories of the three of us. Our perfect little family. This time last year, Damien had just started to get sick, but everything still looked promising. We had no idea ...

Now, the memories just keep filling my head ... they are great memories, just very difficult to deal with at this point.

Monday, May 3, 2010

a rough day

It's been a rough day, or actually, a rough week. I'm not exactly sure why. It sometimes feels like just when things get a little better, they get worse. Two steps forward, one step back.

I just felt like I was in a total fog today, I couldn't concentrate on getting anything useful done. I felt so tired and out of it. I was having a lot of memories today too. I took Colin for a walk this evening and saw lots of couple with strollers ... it just reminded me of how Damien used to love to go walking with us when he got home from work. Then I saw a man and his very pregnant wife walking, and that too reminded me of us, just a few short years ago. We walked around the neighborhood almost every day, with little peanut in Mama's belly. Then I started thinking about the morning we went to the hospital to have Colin, bringing him home, etc ... you can see where this is going. I'm not sure what triggered it.

I found out this past week that a good friend of mine suffered a massive heart attack a few weeks ago. She is very sick and in the hospital, and will need a heart transplant. She is only 38 years old. I'm sure that got my mind going to some degree. My Aunt Cookie (Dad's sister) passed away from breast cancer on April 10th. Although this was expected and she was under hospice care at home, it was still difficult to deal with. I have been thinking about my Uncle Jimmy and their five girls and how hard this all must be for them. Damien's Auntie Jane (his mom's sister) passed away unexpectedly January 10th. Another tragedy for the family. Just seems like sad things everywhere lately.

But tomorrow is another day ... another chance to start over. So I think I'll go to bed and try to dream of a better tomorrow. Another day to spend with my amazing little man, who can bring a smile to my face of the bleakest of days.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My thought of the day ...

No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again today. - Buddha

I say this to myself everyday as a way of coping. It helps, even if just a little bit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 6th

Today, our baby turned 2, and I can hardly believe it. I can still remember his first birthday like it was yesterday. Damien was just starting to have some problems. It's strange to not have him here with us today.

We went up to Richard & Angela's house, then took Colin to Chuck E Cheese's for the first time ... he really liked it. We just got home and I'm exhausted ... so I will continue to blog about this tomorrow, and post some pictures too!

Goodnight all. Damien, I've been thinking about you so much today ... I miss you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tomorrow is another day ...

Tomorrow is another day ... so many people have told me that, and it's something I really do believe in. Especially on the bad days, and today was one of them. It's not that there was anything particularly bad about it, it more of a sad day really. Melancholy. Filled with too many memories to bear.

I was leaving Trader Joe's on 17th Street this morning when I was struck by a memory so vivid. I remember picking Damien up from Hoag Hospital after he had a colonoscopy done, which I think was in June. They wheeled him out to the car and he was a little groggy after the procedure, but in good spirits none the less. I had Colin with me and Damien was just so glad to see the baby. He had sheet after sheet of digital pics from his colon, which made for some good jokes ;o) We got home, and Damien just rested for the remainder of the day, watching Colin play. It was just such a strong memory. We were glad to have one more procedure out of the way. I was just happy that he was home.

I miss him not being home anymore.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The 7 Stages of Grief ...

There are basically 7 stages of Grief that a person goes through when they lose a loved one. They are:

1. Shock & Denial
2. Pain & Guilt
3. Anger & Bargaining
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
5. The Upward Turn
6. Reconstruction & Working Through
7. Acceptance & Hope

I've been thinking about these stages a lot lately, as I try to move forward ... I say "move forward" as to opposed to "move on" ... there is a difference and I am in no way near the latter. So for me, thus far, it has kind of gone like this:

1. Shock & Denial - Shock I've most definitely experienced. Right from the beginning, and lasting maybe 3 months. I think it's a way your mind "protects" you at first, and allows you to get stuff done. There's so much to think about in those first few weeks and months. As for Denial, I've never experienced it, and being 6 months + out, I don't think I will. I believe this is mostly due to the fact that I was with Damien when he passed away, holding his hand. I saw the doctor remove him from life support, and felt his heart stop beating. There was no way for me to deny what had happened. It is only occasionally in my dreams that I see Damien, "here and now".

2. Pain & Guilt - I've most definitely experienced this. The guilt of wishing I was a better wife somehow, that I could have predicted what was going to happen and have spent more quality time with Damien, instead of worrying about the household chores, etc. To take back any arguments over the years. But I think that's fading a bit now, which is good, because it is a horrible feeling. The pain continues on, some days being worse then others. But when it comes, it is a deep heart-clenching pain, indescribable to those who have not felt it before.

3. Anger & Bargaining - This is a new one for me. Somehow I thought I would sail past the anger part. But it showed up yesterday for the 1st time. I didn't even recognize it at first. I was trying to play a DVD, something I hadn't done since Joey passed away. But I was eating my lunch, and just wanted to unwind a bit while Colin was napping, and there was nothing good on TV. I put the DVD in the player. Then I couldn't figure out how to make it play. Which button was it to change from the cable to the DVD? Could it really be that hard? Apparently, especially when your head isn't completely "here" anyway. I tried everything. Then the TV went to snow, and I couldn't get it back. So I fell apart, right there on the floor. Sobbing uncontrollably, wondering why I couldn't fix something so simple. I was angry that I was alone, and the person I would normally rely on wasn't here to help me. I was helpless. And angry. And messed up. Over the television. If someone would have walked in on that, they may have thought I was crazy. I know I'm not, and it's part of the process. So after about 20 minutes of "calming down", I called AT&T, and they kindly walked me through the very simple steps of how to play the DVD. At this point, I would add a sub-category of this stage of grief, called "Loss of Control". That's exactly what it felt like. As for Bargaining, I've never felt that, and probably never will. I know it doesn't work. That's just my logical mind taking over.

4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness - Yes, yes, and yes. That's what I'm really in right now. Lots of memories, sadness, and that feeling of being alone. I'd been with Joey for almost 10 years ... it's a difficult adjustment. And so it continues.

5. The Upward Turn - not really yet. Little glimpses of it here and there, but that's all for right now. I know Damien would want me to be happy again. That just seems a long ways off.

6. Reconstruction & Working Through - beginning this stage, just barely. Trying to organize stuff and do the necessary things to keep life moving. There are still things that are difficult for me to deal with ... like his car, his clothes, etc. Not ready just yet, and that's OK.

7. Acceptance & Hope - not there at this point, although I do find that I have some "hope" for the future. I think a lot of that comes from wanting to give Colin a great life. I do find some positive things to focus on. Or I try at least ...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A day in the life (part 3)

A lesson in single parenthood: It doesn't matter if you get sick, you still have to take care of everything.

I got a fever Saturday night, then I seemed ok the past two days. Then I came down with it again this morning. Fever, chills, sore muscles, sore throat, etc. It's been going around, plus it doesn't help that my immune system is probably sub-par due to stress. Couple that with a toddler who's feeling fine and wants to run around everywhere. "Sit down Mama" (finger tapping the floor beside him - what he does when he wants me to play with him). Mama just wants to lay on the sofa for a little while and watch you play. No way. Colin grabs me by the sleeve of my shirt and pulls 'til I get up. Then it's "Outside Mama". Really? Ok, I guess. I take him into our small back yard area with some toys to play with, while I sit in the sun, shivering with a jacket on. "Eat Mama". That's right ... I have to make lunch ... I almost forgot. Didn't I just make breakfast? It's a Mac-n-Cheese kind of day. That's ok, he doesn't mind - at least I gave him the good organic kind from Mother's Market. "Watch choo-choo Mama", because he wants to watch Thomas & Friends. Oh, wait ... I think Mama can handle that. Then I let him watch a few episodes that I have on the DVR. That's more than I usually let him watch. I feel a little guilty. He already watched Sesame Street this morning. Bad Mama.

So while he naps, I try to clean up. And catch up on emails. And pay some bills (that may or may not be late). I'm completely scattered, and have been for months. I keep trying to pull it together. I'll get there someday I guess.

When Colin wakes from his nap, I feel bad that he's been couped up all day. I decide to take him over to Fashion Island (an outdoor mall) and walk around a bit. Driving down the hill on Jamboree, I could see Catalina Island and the shimmering water of the Pacific Ocean as the sun is just starting to go down. My mind wanders to the time Damien took me there for my birthday. We stayed the weekend and had so much fun. Watched a movie in the old Casino, took a tour of Wrigley Botanical Gardens, ate at this funky old restaurant/bar ... then *snap* ... back to the present. Then of course the PIMCO buildings came into view on the left as we neared the mall. Little pangs of nauseousness hit me. This has how's it's been lately ... lots of memories. He is everywhere. It's a good and bad thing, but right now, it's more of a sad thing.

We went to Barnes & Noble and I let Colin get a book. Then we went over to the koi pond, where he proceeds to feed ALL of the crackers that I packed for his snack to the birds. He is happy, the birds are happy, I still feel not-so-great, but I'm outside at least, and Colin's getting some exercise. Not-so-bad Mama.

As we drove home, I could see all the snow on the mountains, and my mind wanders again. 8 months pregnant and spending the weekend in snow-covered Big Bear, tromping through the snow & ice to get a pizza, looking for bald eagles ... then *snap* ...

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's these little things ...

Valentine's Day ... it's a day to celebrate Love. And not just the love of your significant other, but also the love of family & friends, those who are here & those who are no longer. I expected it would be especially difficult for me this year. And it was, but my friends make sure that I wasn't alone.

I received a lot of cards/emails/texts/phone calls for Valentines Day. I received flowers & the gift of a spa treatment from all of my wonderful Mama friends, and a card that read "you are loved by many". Colin & I were treated to dinner by Richard & Angela, and given two red roses and a box of chocolates, and lots of laughs. Just the way Damien would have wanted it. It's these little things that made all the difference in my day.

I took Colin to the cemetery in the morning to bring Dada some flowers for Valentines Day. It's an amazingly peaceful place, and I find it comforting to be there, especially on such a pretty day.

I was cleaning up the garage (which literally looks like a bomb went off in it) this afternoon, when I came across a box I didn't recognize. When I opened it, I found all the stuff that used to be in Damien's car (sunglasses, Thomas Guide, misc. papers, Cd's, etc.). It just stopped me in my tracks. I put the box aside as I just couldn't deal with it. then, just a little while ago, I was watching the Olympics and they had a special on all the places to go in Vancouver. I started to feel nauseous as I watched. We went to Vancouver for our one year Wedding Anniversary. We had the best time there! And as I watched all the awesome snowboarders, I thought of how much Damien loved to snowboard, and how his board is sitting up in the attic, just collecting dust. It's these little things, these little glitches in the day, that are heartbreaking.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One year ago today ...

~Life can change in the blink of an eye~

A happy, healthy Damien on his birthday last year.

Celebrating Damien's Birthday ...

Today was Damien's Birthday ... he would have been 45, although most people thought he was closer to 35. He had that young look about him ;)

It felt really weird today ... mostly sad & empty. For Damien's Birthday, I would always make him my homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, which he got to eat all by himself (ok, maybe he would share a piece or two with me!). It was his favorite, and he would be happy to just have that. Then I would make him dinner, or we would go out to a favorite restaurant. We would always get together with Richard & Angela (and sometimes a few other friends) for dinner, usually on the weekend. Sometimes there was a party at the house. We always had so much fun!

I really didn't know what to do this year. My mom came over, and I took her & Colin over to the cemetery, where we put some flowers by Damien's plaque ... I put some orchids since they were always his favorite. We then went to have lunch @ Champagnes, where Damien would sometimes go for lunch during the work week. I picked up a piece of carrot cake there to bring home. Seemed like the thing to do. I ate most of it and put a small piece by his ashes. I also put some more orchids there. I just thought that's what he'd like the most.

I also received a lot of kind messages/emails/phone calls from friends, which means a lot to me. Thank you all for looking out after Colin & me.

This weekend we'll be going over to Richard & Angela's to go out to eat for Damien's Birthday/Valentines Day. I think he'd be happy to know that we were still getting together to celebrate, the same way we always have for each of our birthdays :o) A strange & sad day, but I somehow got through it. Hopefully I'll get some sleep. Tomorrow is waiting for me ...

a beautiful view

Colin by the waterfall

My Mom by Damien's plaque

Mama & Colin

Flowers for Dada

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ask, and ye shall receive ...

I've been dealing with a lot of fears lately ... afraid of being alone ... afraid of not being a good enough parent ... afraid of not knowing what to do in about a million situations ... afraid that something will happen to me. Fear, stress, anxiety - they've all but taken over my life lately. I know longer have my other half to consult and draw strength from. So I do what I do every night ... I ask Damien for his help & guidance ... to point me in the right direction ... to let me know that somehow I'm doing the right thing. That I'm going to be OK.

Today Colin & I were at Trader Joe's, and there it was. As we were walking to our car, there was a large rectangular bumper sticker on the back of a car. It was bright yellow and had large black letters that read "Don't be afraid". Period. Nothing else. No reference to religion or UFOs or anything else. Just simply stated. I just stared. And I knew. He was talking to me. Giving me the sign I needed to see. As we drove away, I saw a girl walk to that car. She was young & pretty, looking at the ground as she walked, with a smile on her face.

And I just knew.

Many things like this happen to me & Colin ... it's how I know he's with us. It's what gets me through the really bad days, along with the comfort of family & friends.

I might just sleep a little better tonight ...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Facing the future ... by myself

As I stood at the Toyota dealership today, waiting for my car, I was struck by just how much Damien always did for me, and for us as a family. He took care of the cars. And the house stuff. And so many of the little details. He repaired stuff. He would magically fix the computer just before I launched it out the window out of frustration. He gave Colin his bath so that I could have 15 minutes to myself. He let me sleep in on the weekends as he quietly got up to feed the baby. He planned out our vacations. For nearly 10 years he did this.

Now, the cars, house, computer, and repairs are mine and mine alone to figure out. Forget about sleeping in ... at least for a few more years. And Colin ... he is 100% my responsibility now. If he wakes in the middle of the night crying, I have to figure it out. Alone. It's scary sometimes. I try to tell myself that I am strong, that I can do this, that I have to do this. But I don't always believe myself. There are many nights that anxiety and depression set in. Sometime I can feel my heart pounding out of my chest. But I just keep telling myself that I am strong ... I am strong ... I am strong ... and hopefully, one day, I'll believe it. Just breathe ...

So here I am, facing the future, by myself, with my little man by my side. I'm still trying to figure out my new routine, and how to take care of everything. I don't know what the future holds, but I strive to believe that it holds good things for us. That's what Damien would want for us. It's so hard to do it without him, but forward we must go. For Colin's sake if for nothing else. Sometimes I just have to remind myself ... just breathe ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

5 months ...

Today marks 5 months since Damien passed away. It is so difficult for me to believe. One year ago today, we were a happy, healthy family with our whole lives ahead of us. I would have never believed that something like this could happen to us. But it did, and I'm doing the best that I can to pick up the pieces, though often I'm not sure how to.

Things are definitely more difficult now, mostly likely because I went from being in shock to living in reality. I've been hit hard the past month or two. This place I'm in right now is very painful, lonely, and sad. I just really miss him ... there isn't much else I can say. I miss him so much, and can't believe that he's not here with us anymore. He was my soul mate, and I am but half now.

Damien's Memorial Plaque is now up in the Garden of Reflection at Pacific View Memorial Park. The details are given above. It was placed on Saturday, January 16th. Richard & Angela went up there with us to see it for the first time. It was hard, but I'm glad that it's finally there. I feel like there is a special place for him now, surrounded by trees, flowers, and birds, and overlooking the ocean. I also feel it will help me to move forward, if only a small amount.

Touching Dada's plaque

Angela & Richard

The Family

The space to the right of Damien is for me

Sunset over the Pacific

You are so missed!