I’ll See You In My Dreams

My mother and father.

“I’ll see you in my dreams

When all the summers have come to an end

I’ll see you in my dreams

We’ll meet and live and love again

I’ll see you in my dreams

Yeah, up around the river bend

For death is not the end

And I’ll see you in my dreams” –Bruce Springsteen, “I’ll See You in my Dreams”


I’ve written a fair amount about my father over the years, but not as much about my mother.

In the wake of Mother’s Day, I’d like to remedy that.

My sister Sharon and I lost my mom, Fay, in October 1998. She was 59 years old, a year older than I will be after my next birthday.

She would have celebrated her 83rd birthday on May 4 and I often wonder how my mom would have aged. She always looked 10 years younger , so in my mind’s eye she’s forever young.

I must admit it feels odd to be approaching the age when she passed. You start to really realize how young she was when she died. How much of life she missed. I can’t help but feel that she –and we—were robbed of so much.

My mom passed away after a 50-week battle with cancer. We had a bird’s eye view to the cruelty of that disease because my parents had moved to Delray just four years earlier. We were there to witness. Thank goodness we were able to be with her.

My mom and dad were young retirees anxious to enjoy a long retirement in the sunshine with their children and grandchildren. It was not to be.

So much of what we plan, tends not to happen. I don’t mean for that to be a negative statement, it’s just the way it is. Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.

But I still believe that we need to be intentional. I still believe we must plan, aspire, and strive even if life can level us in a heartbeat.

Losing my mother was a shock to my entire family. It was a dagger through our hearts. It’s hard when everyone you love is so sad. Who do you go to for comfort when everyone you know is in pain?

Today, as I think of those agonizing 50 weeks, I realize that I have never felt totally safe since hearing the news that the person I loved the most was diagnosed with something that had no answers—only bad options —radiation and chemotherapy designed to prolong the inevitable.

But on Mother’s Day, I won’t let myself dwell on a life cut short. When you love someone and that someone is special, they live on. They stay with us for all the days of our lives. Their essence and their goodness endures and continues to shape the people they knew and loved.

For the longest time, when I thought of my mother, I couldn’t shake the image of her being sick. I thought those awful snapshots were seared into my brain

I was wrong.

The wonderful people at Hospice by The Sea in Boca told my sister and I that in time those images—while never forgotten—would give way to happier memories. Thankfully, they were right.

It took awhile, but now I can hardly remember those images because they are crowded out by a million memories of a mother who was so good, so loving, so kind and so gentle that her essence crowds out all the bad things in this world.

If I had one wish, it would be that everyone should have a mom like mine.

I only had her for 35 years, Sharon for 33, but her love shines through and lives on in our lives and the lives of all those who knew her.

My mother personified goodness. She had one purpose and that was to take care of those she loved. She was everyone’s best friend, never said no to a request and made everyone around her comfortable and happy. She had a good sense of humor, adored animals, and loved nothing more than to spend time with my dad, her children and grandchildren.

She enjoyed the simple things in life—Mah-jongg games with her friends, lunches out, shopping, hanging out with her bichon, coffee and Entenmann’s cake with my dad after a long day at work. Oh, she loved Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers too.

There’s a lesson in that kind of simplicity.

On this Mother’s Day, I hope you treasure your mom. For those of us who have lost our mothers, may we continue to carry their memories in our hearts forever.

A Bright Light Lost

Jose Fernandez played with a Little Leaguers enthusiasm.

Jose Fernandez played with a Little Leaguers enthusiasm.

Yes, we know there’s no crying in baseball.
But yesterday and today the tears are flowing.
Jose Fernandez, the 24-year-old Marlins superstar pitcher was killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach. And just like that a bright talent was lost–forever.
Fernandez was more than a baseball player to Marlins fans of all ages. He was an inspiration. He fled Cuba at age 15 and saved his mother from drowning during the dangerous trek. He made it to America on his fourth try after being jailed and shot at–the lure of freedom so great that he was willing to risk his life repeatedly.
Later, when asked if he feared facing a great hitter, he shook his head. After being shot at what could a hitter possibly do to him.
He went to high school in Tampa and emerged as a rare talent. The Marlins snagged him in the first round of the draft and gave him a $2 million singing bonus. He rocketed to the majors and had immediate success. Two-time All Star–strikeouts galore. A preternatural talent with Hall of Fame written all over him. His passion for the game made him an enormously popular teammate. South Florida loved him. He was special and he was ours. And now he’s gone.
My son broke the news to me Sunday morning. It was a shock and he was very distraught.
“He’s my age,” he said and implicit in that  comment is that Jose Fernandez was too young to die and  also acknowledgement that yes tragedies can happen–we are all so fragile, tomorrow is never guaranteed and even when you are on top of the world you can lose it all in a flash.
It’s a helluva lesson.

Yes, we know all that intellectually but emotionally it’s hard to wrap our minds around unexpected tragedy.
The permanence of it and the unfairness.
My son is a lifelong Marlins fan. He’s a native Floridian and this is his team. He loves them as much as I love the Yankees and the Mets (yes, I grew up a fan of both).

So I started to follow the Marlins. It was something I could share with my son.
We’d talk about the team and its players and go to some games. In fact, my Father’s Day gift this year were really great seats to see Jose pitch against the Mets. It was a great day and he mowed down the Mets lineup with strikeout after strikeout.
Jose Fernandez was my son’s favorite player. So this hits hard.
I flashed back to when Thurman Munson was lost in August 1979 and how it felt surreal.
I was not yet 15 and Munson was one of my favorite players. The team captain and seemingly indestructible.
It hit me hard.
A year later, in 1980, all of my friends were devastated by the murder of John Lennon. That too hit hard. How could these icons, seemingly larger than life, be gone?
A small contingent of us went to a vigil in Central Park just to be with others who were feeling the same sense of loss.
Most of us never get to personally meet the athletes that we admire or the rock legends whose music shapes our lives but we feel a connection and so we mourn.
When people die young we are left to wonder what they would have accomplished. How many Cy Young Awards would Jose have won?
Would a few more good years from Thurman Munson have put him in the Hall of Fame?
Would John Lennon, gone at 40, and just back in the game after five years away from the studio, have written another song like “Imagine.”
We will never know.
It’s trite (but true) to say we should be thankful for each day. It’s cliched (but important to hug our loved ones and reconcile with those we need to reach out to). But today, right now. It’s just feels lousy and unfair.
We lost Jose Fernandez. He was a bright light. And now he’s gone.