Monday, October 31, 2011

So glad October is going bye-bye!

I am very glad it is Halloween.

It is not a holiday to which I hold particular attachment, safe some very demented memories of Vic & I dressed in black, hiding on a darkened door step in Ft.Lauderdale back in the day ...

The rest of the month of October is chock full of traumatic memories, beginning with the first of the month, the middle being both Vic & my grandmother's anniversaries 2 days apart, culmination with Halloween, 2009, the day after Vic's memorial service, which coincided with what would have been his 65th birthday.

"Don't think about the bad things" my Mother loving profers.

"Don't have a choice. Like having events recreating inside my head, except I have the awareness of the observer. I find myself deep inside the experiences of Vic's slow death, unable as I was at the time to feel it, helping him fight off grim reaper who, unbeknownst to us, was already lurking around the corner".


Just waiting.

I wonder when all of this will end?

Does it end? Or does one just learn to adapt?

I am well beyond the stage of wishing Vic back to life. I quite accept what happened.

I think I am just still traumaticized by the denouement that is death & dying.

Vic's death & dying ...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2 years today ...

Victor Carl Mantell III
October 30, 1944 - October 19, 2009

"If I could have a lifetime wish
a dream that would come true
I'd pray to God with all my heart
for yesterday and you.
A thousand words can't bring you back
I know because I've tried
And neither will a million tears
I know because I've cried.
You left behind my broken heart
and happy memories too
I never wanted memories...
I only wanted you."

Always in our hearts ... love never dies ...


Monday, October 17, 2011

Culture in London

Well, I finally got internet connection. Hooray. I was beginning to have communication withdrawals. I searched and I fiddled and I hunted and finally found connection.

I spent my first day in London catching up on much needed sleep. I was not sleeping well prior to my departure and despite the fact that I had a real bed on the plane (major luxury complete with fluffy pillows and a cozy comforter), I slept no more than one hour!

At least I was able to rest laying down with eyes closed, even if I did not sleep.

This evening, Peter, Mummy and I went to see the actor Edward Fox reciting T.S. Elliot's "Four Quartets."

It was quite amazing as he declaimed all four lengthy tomes by heart, no reading from a book.

It is so funny how my sons think I am such a nerd for a) going to a poetry evening and b) actually enjoying it.

I have my first boyfriend, Martin Bergman, to thank for my appreciation of great literature. I wonder if he realizes just how much I learned from him and what a positive influence he was on me.

Now he does!

I shall close with my favorite quote from "Little Gidding".

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all out exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know the place for the first time

Friday, October 14, 2011

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go ...

... sort of. I've thrown everything I would like to take to London into my purple suitcase. Luckily, I still have 24 hours to un-'n'-repack which I shall do with the help of my extremely helpful & practical Kaelin.

I am returning for the first time in 2.5 years. Things were so different then. Vic knew deep inside that it would be his last London visit & saying goodbye to people like Peter & Steve would have a greater finality.

We were introduced to Shay's husband, who made everyone's skin crawl. Time would prove all our instincts all too accurate.

Lesson learned: always, ALWAYS listen to your instincts. Your heart knows what it knows.

We spend wonderful moments on favorite walks through Holland Park & Kensington Gardens.

We ate delicious polish & italian food. Vic & Peter toasted life with vodka & wine. Nicky, Steve, Vic & I all laughed & cherished a few rare, final times together.

Kaelin brought joy to everyone & had a blast window shopping in High Street Kensington just like I did at her age, all those decades ago.

Fast foward: October 14, 2011.

I am preparing for a lengthier trip, this time solo. We are approaching the 2nd anniversary of Vic's death & I will be acknowledging in an apartment that is so overflowing with memories that photos actually cover the entire fridge & freezer, lamp shades, doors, you name it. My mother is not what one would call "low key."

The good news is that 2 years on, I feel that I am finally coming out of the fog that has enshrouded me.

As a family, we have settled down into some kind of loose routine, if that makes sense. With so many different ages & stages living under one roof, we have all had to make serious adjustments & I feel that we have worked out all that pent up frustation, sadness & anger at our individual & communal loss of Vic.

So that's the good news.

The bad news is the shadow side to all the aforementioned.

Personally speaking, to have the realization that I am totally alone at 54, with a life that was completely enmeshed in being part of team, a couple, a partnership, well, it's a very bitter pill to swallow.

Being Vic's wife & mother to our children was my life. Outside of it - almost nothing.

I was happy with that, devoted to it, at times a little stifled but at the end of the day, life was all about Vic & "the kids, the kids, the kids ... "

As the dust settles, I find myself in the novel & overwhelming position of having to create a whole life for myself, myself as the individua.

I am no longer 50% of a team. Rather, I am 100% that is Team Karen.


Mulling what I enjoy, what gives me pleasure, what direction I would like to see myself is big & scary, to be honest.

I have thought about it & so I find myself on the eve of going to London, with a purpose.

For ages, nay decades, my Mother has asked me to commit to paper "her story". Many people have approached her over the years to write her story or make a film of her experiences. She has spent the past 20 years as a most vocal advocate for post-war reconciliation & forgiveness, giving interviews & speeches wherever there is a willingness to hear her experiences.

Steven Spielberg is reportedly rereleasing "Schinder's List" & when I heard this, I had a powerful realization.

Survivors of World War II are diminishing fast. Their voices will be silenced.

Who will help remind people of mans inhumanity to man, 60 years ago.

Can we learn from our past?

To that end, I decided to undertake the writing the story of a remarkable (small) group of ordinary people who, under extraordinary horrific circumstances did extraordinarily brave & humane things.

Armed with tape recorder & a copy of Dragon Speak on order, I hope to do this story the justice it deserves.

I am hoping to write my way through some of this grief, which still grips me like a vice.

I did not realize that I last checked in with the "Crone" in March but so many people have asked me what happened with her that I hope to bring her back with greater frequency.

Unless I can piggy back on someone's wi-fi in London, it is going to be hard to write from there but I will try. I'd really like to send a photo from my bedroom & kitchen - London laid out at my feet. Quite beautiful.

Until next time ... don't forget to share the love now while you can ...