Okay, Then

When my grandmother passed away this past December, we prepared to take the girls to Maryland for her wake and funeral. Saoirse just happened to have a doctor’s appointment around this time, and I asked her pediatrician for advice on explaining what we were about to do. He told me simply, “You don’t have to explain anything to her. If she asks, just tell her that Grandmom went to heaven.” I remember looking at Saoirse, then back at him. But she’s only three, I told him. Isn’t that sort of an abstract idea for a three-year-old? The good doctor shrugged before he replied: “Isn’t it an abstract idea for any of us?”    Flash-forward to today. We were at Arlington National Cemetery paying a visit to the grave of my dear dad (who’s parked right next to the visitor’s center, by the way. Cannot imagine a more appropriate place for my über-friendly father). Saoirse spotted the powerful Air Force Memorial as we moved through the cemetery. “I remember that!,” she exclaimed, eyeing the soaring spires. &#8220…

Three Years

It was three years ago today, around 4:16 in the morning (yes, 4:16 on 4/16. We really should play that number in the lottery) that my father died in an ICU at Hershey Medical Center here in Pennsylvania. I don’t say “passed away” or “passed on,” or some other tidy little term for the ending of his life, because he didn’t just fade away. He died. Pancreatic cancer got its gnarled, evil hooks into him, and even though he fought it–fought it hard, fought it gracefully, fought it with more strength and class than I can wrap my head around yet–the cancer won. I watched my dad die. I wouldn’t recommend it. It was kind of hard. I miss him. Every day, I miss him. My dad and I butted heads a lot (any of my family reading this right now probably just snorted their agreement), but my gosh, I loved him. He was my go-to guy for books, for talking about writing, for cooking. I remember what a hard time he had when I decided to turn vegetarian at the age…

From Battle Sites to Baby Names

My brother sent me a link from CNN.com today that had me thinking about our girls’ names (I realize that I think about their names often, but this time I mean think-thinking about them–you know, really thinking, not just calling out a name when I need someone to grab a baby wipe). Apparently there are tours being developed of the hot spots and murals that came out of the three decades of fighting during “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland. That’s right, folks, just like at Gettysburg, you can now trace the steps of a revolution…even if those battles didn’t work out quite so well for the ones revolting. If we can learn anything at all from witnessing this particular battle site (Cemetery Hill, say) or that riot (Bombay Street,1969), then by all means let’s keep that vigil. But I’m not here to talk about wars… …because as usual, I’m talking about my kids. More specifically, my babies’ names, which is why you’re reading this in the first place (right? Or did you google “Civil…