Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dear Martha

Hi Martha. How is Heaven? We sure miss you here. You had a beautiful service today. I know how you didn't want a funeral and it wasn't one. It really was a celebration of your life. Kate MC'd and shared some stories of how you conducted scientific studies on her, including finding out what would happen if she believed that ring worms were radioactive. I hadn't heard that one before and it made me laugh. Mom was amazing. She was steady as a rock, like she always is, but she shared her vulnerability with everyone there and you could see in her face and hear in her voice how much she loves you, how you were not just her sister but also her friend and how sad she is that you're gone. Sara spoke about how cool and fun you were and how she always wanted to ride in your car when you went to St. Cloud. Mary Jo told stories about your youth together. I remembered the story about swimming in the quarry and you leaving your bra in Mary Jo's dad's car that you two had "borrowed", only to have it be found by her mom! It was fun to hear her tell it again and know that I heard it before while you were still there, interjecting little pieces and laughing a lot. Everybody talked about how you made them feel special. You laughed at everyone's jokes and made them think they were funny. You cared for people, helped them calm down when they were scared, cleaned up a lot of barf and gave so many the gift of sight - both literally and metaphorically. Dr. Bennett and Mary Evans talked about how steady you always were; how knowledgeable and skilled and ready to help and oriented toward the most important goal of caring for your patients. When Mary Evans asked who had been mentored by you, so many hands went up that there was an audible gasp in the chapel as we were all so impressed.

I was touched by how many people were there. They came from all over and every part of your life. They came to remember you and they came to support us. It was very special. Terri sang Blackbird with Vin playing guitar and I sang Bist Du Bei Mir. I was nervous that I wouldn't get through it and that my voice would crack or I would start crying, but I knew how important that song was to you and Fred and I made it. I was pretty proud of myself and I feel like I can still see you cheering me on and telling me I can do it. Coco spoke, too, and she was so wonderful. She talked about you being kind and supportive and having the heart of a servant of both humanity and the Lord. She's always been such a good writer and able to put her thoughts and emotions into words that everyone around her can feel. I was a little irked at Kate and Margaret - the producers - for putting me right after her. Fred spoke second to last and told us how much he loves you, how proud he was of you every day for the past 18 years and how much he misses you. The very best part was the last, though, where you spoke to us. Mom played a video she took of you, her and Fred in Captiva around this time last year. She asked about your day and what your favorite and least favorite things were. You said how wonderful life is and how grateful you were to be able to spend it with the people you love. I know you didn't want to have everyone cry at your service, but we couldn't help it when you spoke such beautiful, true and poignant words.

Tonight I was brushing my teeth and washing my face as I got ready for bed and it finally hit me that you're gone. I just miss you so much, Martha. I miss having you around to spend time with and to laugh with. You really had the best laugh. John hugged me while I cried but then he asked me if I knew where you are. I looked up at him and he pointed to my heart and said, "here." You're in my heart, you're in his heart, you're in Mom's and Dad's and my sisters' and the hearts of all the Mooses. You're in the hearts of your friends, your coworkers, your mentees. You're in Fred's heart and in Scout's.

I know you were there today with us so you don't really need me to recap it for you, but it feels good to do, so thanks for bearing with me. I have a feeling you like to hear it. John said Val videotaped the service, so if you want to rewatch it, you might be able to get it from her. I don't know the logistics of that, but I'm pretty sure that you could figure it out.

Thank you for always, always being there for me. You showed me how to be an aunt, how to be another mom. You taught me songs like What Makes the Lightening, Flea Fly and Tell Me Why that someday I'll sing to my kids. You showed me what it feels like to have someone support and love you and cheer you on constantly and unconditionally. I want to do that, too. I want to pass on the lessons I learned from you to the people in my life now and the people who will be in my life someday in the future. I'm sad that you won't meet my children, but I'll tell them all about you and how special you were. How special you are. I miss you, but I do still feel your presence and I think I always will. You are so loved in this world and I know you are even more in the next.

Love always,

Your niece Erica

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stroll for Epilepsy

The morning air is cool as I wait at the bus stop. I think how the summer is waning and am glad I wore a long sleeve shirt. My feet still hurt in the same sandals I wore last night, but I like the reminder as I savor the afterglow.

Around five o'clock the pavillion at Como started to fill up with people in tennis shoes, workout pants and matching t-shirts. Some had the grey shirt from last year's Epilepsy Foundation walk, some the blue shirts from this wear. Still others wore the colors, logos and names of their teams. Red shirts with ladybugs, dark purple shirts with T-Rexes, pink with tiaras and the ever-present yellow of Hannah's Bananas bonded them together around the person for whom they walked. Vibrant greens, navy blues and Superman capes represented the clinics, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies that help care for us. Foundation employees and volunteers with name tags ran around setting out signs, checking in teams, giving directions, making sure people knew where to get water. And me: I stood behind a table of books with John, watching and enjoying it all as a large smile graced my face. 

Last night was the largest Twin Cities Stroll for Epilepsy yet, and we're so happy and grateful. Thank you to everyone for your advocacy and support for such a wonderful organization!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Living In a Brainstorm the book now available!!

Opening a new window in my browser, I cautiously typed in the address for Amazon, careful to choose each letter correctly; no spelling mistakes to slow me down. The logo appeared first and I read the sign under it, cajoling me to Try Prime as the rest of the page rendered. Finally the cursor blinked in the search box and I typed in my name, quickly this time, my caution replaced by impatient excitement. E-r-i-c-a E-g- the auto-complete filled in the last two letters and I thrilled that the electronic behemoth knew my name. Two seconds might have been an eternity as the search list populated, and there, right there at the top, was my book: Living In a Brainstorm. Available in paperback and Kindle. My book, my story, the six months that changed my life.

I decided to split the book into three parts: Part I Decisions, follows my decision to have surgery and all of the testing - both physical and emotional - that went into it. Part II Surgery is comprised by the eight days I spent in the hospital having two surgeries to hopefully cure my epilepsy. It's told partly by me but also in part through the emails and messages that went back and forth between my parents and my family and friends as they kept everyone updated and drew strength from each others' love. The last section, Part III Recovery, includes my first excursion out of the house, figuring out how to go up and down stairs again, getting staples taken out of my head and learning how to depend on other people let them in.

I want to thank everyone for all of their love and support throughout this amazing, terrifying, thrilling, painful, wonderful journey. I couldn't have done it without each and every one of you and I will be eternally grateful.




Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I watch the wind blow the red, white and blue British flags hung on the rooftop of the pub across the street as I sit in the waiting room of the clinic at work. It's been humid and cloudy here for a week now and it feels like ages since I've been dry. My skin feels wet, the clothes on my back and in my dresser (read: my floor), the couch, the kitchen, everything. I'm hoping for the sun to come out soon, the flapping fabric of Her Majesty to blow away the muggyness.

It's been about 20 minutes since I handed my lab order to the man who came into the room and introduced himself in a mumbling I couldn't understand. Apparently you can't just bring in an order anymore, they need to call your doctor for a diagnosis code before they can even draw your blood.

Ooh, I heard a chart slipped into the rack on the door - maybe he's coming back!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


It's amazing how time flies. The dichotomy of a vivid memory: so crisp and so clear it could be yesterday, yet so far away that you hardly recognize the you that appears through the mist of the mind. I think less and less about my surgery these days and I'm grateful I wrote it all down when I realize its ability to leave me, the sands of time running through my fingers into a pile on the ground from which it came. So much has changed from those days, yet somehow I feel the same. Changed. No longer who I used to be, I'm complete. Whole. Erica 2.0.

I made a friend last night who's only beginning her journey. I recognized the fear, anticipation, excitment, anxiety, elation and terror that played across her face in concert, all at once. She's going to have my surgery, our surgery. Anyone who's followed this blog has gone through this surgery with me; I was never alone. Whether it was prayers, good vibes, healing energy or something else, all that you sent me forever altered my life in such an amazing way. Now I pray for her, I send her good mojo and healing energy. I had such an amazing experience and I can't wait for her to have the same, for her to find her new life.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Double Tap

Twenty minutes later my stomach is still churning. My hands are shakey and my face flushed. My mind races, always waiting for the second shoe to drop. I feel like I've been waiting for things to fall apart for a year and a half now.

My computer screen rushed through systems and sheets on its own while I waited. I checked my phone as I do when I can't do anything but wait. I tipped the thin, blue phone over to look it in the face and my stomach dropped: two missed calls from the doctor. Why on Earth would they call twice?! It must be something really bad. This is finally it.

I pressed the voicemail button and waited, holding my breath. "Hi, Erica, this is the MRI department. We found a pink water bottle that we think you may have left here last night. Give us a call!" beep. Okay, maybe it's alright. But I braced myself as I pushed play and the second message: "Hi, Erica. We got your labs back and your Lamictal level is right in the middle of the therapeutic zone." beep. I'm okay. I repeated it again, trying to force it to sink in. I'm okay this time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mississippi River Boulevard

Each morning I try to memorize the route we take to work, winding, following, twisting our way across the Mississippi. I watch for cars from the passenger seat and tell mom she can turn after this red car goes by. After thirty years of living in St. Paul and working in Minneapolis, she knows all of the back ways. I, on the other hand, started my job only three months ago. The only way I know is the straight shot highway, which clogs up every morning at 7:30 like clockwork, so if I leave the house later than 7:20, I'm S.O.L.

Most days I ride with mom, commenting as we walk to the garage that I like her suit, she responding that it's the same as mine. The air is no longer crisp and we leave our jackets in the hall closet. I carry a red nylon bag with my lunch and heels to switch into at my desk. She carries an old Jo Malone shopping bag that perfectly fits a Tupperware and half a toasted pita with hummus in a ziplock sandwich bag.

We talk or listen to MPR as we ride along the trees and big houses that line Mississippi River Boulevard. We've worked out the most effective verbiage to use when telling her if she can merge onto the highway for the last stretch of the trip. We have a nice routine and I'll be sad to lose it.

Thanks for letting me drive with you, mom.