22 months

It’s been nearly two years since Dad died, a lot longer since Mom died, and a lifetime since my little sister died.  A couple of therapists and a few grief groups later I’ve finally sorted through all of the charts that describe the cycle of grief, the poems that are supposed to help, and the stories that other people took the time to write down.  I have 4 pieces of paper left that didn’t end up in the recycle bin.  The second one was something that Dad gave me shortly after Mom died.  I can’t truly let these pieces of my grief go, so I’m putting them here….

Death is Nothing
Henry Scott Holland, Oxford, 19th century

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.

I am me.
You are you.
Whatever we were for each other…
we still are.

Call me by the name you’ve always called me.
Speak to me as you always have.
Do not use a different tone;
Do not take on a solemn or sad air.

Life means all that it has always meant.
Everything is the same as it was.
The string has not been cut.

Smile.  Think of me.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you.
I am not far;
Just around the corner.

All is well.  Nothing is lost.
All will be as it was before.

Gone From My Sight
Henry van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts out for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come together to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at that moment when someone says: “There, she is gone,” there are other eyes watching her arrival and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,

“Here she comes.”

And that is dying.

Gifts from your mother…..
Write a letter to your mother and talk with her about the gifts she gave to you during her lifetime. You might consider:

What you treasured about her
What you admired in her
How did she enrich your emotional or spiritual life
What talents or interests did she spark or encourage in you
What are you most proud of in your mom
What traits of her would you like to have for yourself
In what ways are you like her

If you could choose one thing which embodies your mother’s essence, what would you choose to keep her close to you?

Who am I now?  What do I want?

What I want is my parents back.  But I’m not sure why (exactly).  I love them both deeply in very different ways, and relied on them to help me to see clearly what wasn’t/isn’t always so clear.  They loved me in a way that only a parent can love a child~and this I now understand as a parent.  I don’t need them the way I did when I was young.  I can make decisions and live my life without them.  But I want them.  I want their level heads, their courage to look me in the eye and disagree with me without ever feeling their love of me was in danger, I want to hear my name on their lips, I want to talk about ‘our family’ in the way Dad always did~ with Dad~ as if we had the secret to happy family, I want to see Mom’s love in her eyes and hear it in her voice, I want to get Oreos from their cookie jar, I want to ask questions and hear answers.  I want.


26 days, 9-1/2 hours

For over a decade my people have been dying. Getting sick and dying. The last 26 days are the first in over a decade that I have not scheduled my days around doctor appointments, hospital visits, caregiving. It’s a paradigm shift for me and I don’t know how to be this Leslie yet. I don’t really want to be this Leslie.

So today I’ll sit on Dad’s grave and enjoy his newly planted lawn, the just dropped camellias I found on the walk up, and the beautiful February sunshine. I’m glad Dad’s at least in my neighborhood now.

XO forever Dad. I miss you every moment.


Dad’s obit in his hometown paper

Thanks, Donny, for writing this. 


 January 26, 2012
Stanley David Laskin of Napa, CA, who grew up in Cochecton Center, NY and always considered it “home,” died at his daughter’s home in San Rafael, CA on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 after a courageous fight against cancer. He was 75.

Stan was born on November 30, 1936 to the late Harry and Frieda (Markowitz) Laskin, who lived in Cochecton Center, NY and raised three sons there.

A retired missile engineer since the late ‘50s, Stan’s work took him around the country from Vandenberg AFB in California to Cheyenne, Wyoming to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

He was a graduate of Narrowsburg High School, (class of 1954) and Broome Tech in Binghamton, NY, and attended NYU and Syracuse University. A member of Sports Car Club of America for 50 years, Stan was a champion race car driver and served as a track steward at many events. As late as this summer, he was given the honor of driving the pace car at Thunder Hill race track. While he raced many different types of cars, he had a special love for Corvettes and owned one since the 1960s, picking up his last one at the factory and driving it cross country to California.

With his late wife Pauline, Stan enjoyed traveling to China, Australia, Greece and Turkey. Their house was often filled with friends from an eclectic mix of backgrounds. But Stan never forgot his high school classmates and, in the last few years, kept in touch via email.

Stan is survived by his daughter Leslie Edie Reese-Laskin and son-in-law Steve of San Rafael, CA; brother Don and sister-in-law Marie Laskin of Sunnyvale, CA; grandchildren Emily and Benjamin and his late daughter Carol Lee’s children, Andrew and Abby; nieces Liana Laskin, Stacey Laskin, Jody Rosenberg and husband Stuart and Lori Bloom and husband Mike; and grand-nieces, grand-nephews and many cousins.

Stan is also predeceased by his brother, Allen Laskin, who quoted the aphorism, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” Though they lived in other parts of the country, all three brothers felt that way about “back home.”

Burial is in San Rafael, California.

so much to do

There are so many things I should be doing right now, but I’m not.  Dad is in my head and in my heart.  It’s been two weeks this morning.  Two weeks of mourning.  Some of the raw pain is gone or going.  Now the deep hurt sits in the pit of my stomach and sometimes up in the crown of my head.  I re-decorated the living room and put up pictures from long ago.  Dad’s high school trip to DC.  The picture of Mom and Dad that hung over the stairs in Cupertino (that’s the one Emily and I keep posting).  It helps to walk over and stare at the pictures sometimes.  Sometimes that just makes me cry.

My friend Joanne says this is normal.  She lost her whole family over the course of just a few years as well.  She says it’s normal to feel sad and to have trouble concentrating.  Normal.  Yippee.

I’m planning a memorial service, but I don’t really know what that means.  Maybe divine intervention will prevail and step in to direct things.  Maybe divine intervention will send over some deli platters.  Maybe divine intervention isn’t paying attention or Dad would still be here, listening and loving and telling me I’m doing okay.  Cause right now I’m definitely not doing okay.

Dad’s Memorial Service – donations

I forgot to mention….in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Dad’s name to the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Hospice by the Bay, Congregation Rodef Sholom, or your favorite charity.  I appreciate all of your wonderful support and the beautiful words and memories you have been sharing.

Dad’s Memorial Service

Sunday, February 12 at 1pm

Congregation Rodef Sholom
170 N. San Pedro, San Rafael, CA

memories of Dad

The last time I had to do something like this, Dad was by my side and we did it together.  Every day I realize how big a presence he was in my life and how huge the hole is that he left.  I am in the process of planning a memorial service but don’t have a final date.  In the meantime, I started a page for Dad here.  Please add your memories.

Gone at 5:30 am

Dad quietly stopped breathing this morning after a day and a half of gulping breaths with violent effort. I had just dipped a swabbing sponge in fresh water and put it to his lips. When I swabbed his mouth I talked to him because sometimes even through closed eyes people can hear. If he couldn’t hear my words over the sound of his breath he could certainly hear my love through the touch of my hands. I put the swab to his lips and he stopped for a moment. Then he took a gentler inhale as I rubbed the sponge around his mouth. And he didn’t take another breath. I waited, but he never took another breath.

So I laid my head on his arm and I cried. His pain was finished. I know that mine has barely begun.