It’s been a summer.  A good summer, in a lot of ways.  Sam is SO much better, and we’ve been able to do a lot more.  Everything came screeching to a halt last Thursday when we had to put Lucky to sleep.

We’ve regressed to where we were last summer.  Part of is that it’s so damn hot that nobody wants to go outside and do anything.  Part of is that I want to save all the money I can towards school shopping and getting a new dog.  But a bigger part of it is that Sam has stopped sleeping.  At least at night.  He sleeps GREAT during the day.  But, as you can imagine, that doesn’t lead to a lot of quality time.

Jessie and Julie went back to bunk beds earlier this summer, and that involved a few days of cleaning and rearranging.  Then Jessie’s hanging rack, with all their clothes, toppled over under the weight of said clothes, which led to a few more days of cleaning.  We had to dig out the closet – and get rid of THIRTEEN bags of clothes that they had outgrown, stuffed animals that we were able to give up (it helped that Julianna was in the living room for most of that discussion).

Marc has been training all this summer in his new job – and while he’s much happier and more relaxed, he’s never home anymore.  Leaves the house before anyone gets up and gets home long after Julianna goes to bed each night.  But this is the last really rough week, I think.  Starting next week, he’ll have half days of actually doing the job, and half days of training.


Less than a week.

We’re adjusting to the loss of Lucky.  It’s hard.  Jessie and Julie are grieving in easier ways, if that makes sense.  They get sad, they talk about it, they move on.

Sam’s stopped sleeping at night.  His appetite is off.

The not sleeping at night thing is the hardest to deal with.  He tries, but at night is when he misses the dog the most.  So he starts off okay, and then wakes up after an hour or so, and is up until after Marc gets up for work.  Then he crashes for the bulk of the daylight hours… which sets him up for being up again all night again.

I’m at a loss as to how to deal with it.  I’m worried about him all the time, but then Marc pointed out that there’s a reason that Judaism has the ritual of sitting shiva.  When you lose someone, you need time to exist outside of the world’s expectations.  To miss him and be sad, to do what you need to do to get thru the day, or the night.

It’s been less than a week.

I’m trying to give him this time.  We took a break from homeschooling (we’re on a reduced schedule during the summer anyway).  He’s focusing on audiobooks and youtube videos.  He’s not depressed, at least not presenting that way.  He smiles and laughs, is openly affectionate and loving.  But he doesn’t sleep anymore.

We’re not done with childrearing.  Obviously.  With a seven year old, we’ve got at least another eleven years before she ships out for college.

But we’re at the point where our kids are becoming adults.  With Lilli heading off to college this fall, Sarah going into her junior year and Jessie starting high school, our biggest kids are either out of the house, launched into adulthood, or at least with one foot out the door.

I’m trying to adapt to being a mom with older kids.  With adult kids.  Because that’s what we’re talking about – adult kids.  They aren’t just older, we’re not just talking tweens and early teens.  Lilli is actually a bonafide adult.

I’ve still got my baby.  My little one, who whines too much, and pushes the limits of my patience sometimes.  The one who still curls up into me at night and won’t fall asleep unless she’s got my arm wrapped around here.  I’ve still got Sam, and while he’s older than Julie, he’s still within the “kid” range.  I still do a lot of hands-on parenting with him.

Lilli and Sarah – it’s a little different with them.  I’m the stepmother – so I’ve never really done the nitty-gritty parenting stuff.  Not the doctor’s appointments and school conferences, not the planning of after school activities and nagging them about homework.  What I did do was provide a safe space for them to be themselves.  To play and run and create religions on my porch, and sell homemade perfume, and race tricycles down the hill.  That’s what’s ending.

I still have my Jessie – and fourteen is not eighteen.  While she may be edging ever closer to adulthood, she’s still mine.  But Lilli and Sarah are, for all intents and purposes, grown up now.  Sarah is still in high school, and will still need rides around, and she’ll still come for Shabbat dinner – but the days of playing outside with my kids are over.

I’m not done with childrearing yet.  I’ve still got a ways to go.  But more of it is behind me than in front of me, and I’m wistful and sad.  And proud – because we’ve done a good job so far.  The kids have grown up together, with a sense of belonging and togetherness.  The three Cohen girls are a unit, and I’m incredibly proud of that.

I’m also incredibly glad that I’ve still got a little one who needs me to wash her hair in the tub, a boy child who still calls me “Mama,” and a fourteen year old who might be within walking distance of adulthood, but isn’t there yet.

It was very sudden, and we’re all still in shock.

He got sick on the way home from Hermit Island, and seemed to be getting better the next day.  But by Thursday morning, he was non responsive, and by the time I got to the vet’s office, he had slipped into a coma.

We’re all so sad.  I know I miss him, so much.  All the time.  Everywhere I look, I see reminders.  My day revolved around giving him his meds and walking him, and I’m perpetually having to tell myself that he’s really gone.

The kids are all handling it.  They’re all sad, and they cry, and then pick themselves up and move on.  Sam, in particular, is really struggling.  He’s not sleeping at night anymore – because that’s when he misses Lucky the most.  So he stays awake, later and later, and then finally falls asleep when he can’t stand it anymore.  Today, he slept almost all day, just to try and catch up – so he’ll be up again all night.  I feel almost powerless to fix it – because I know that it’s that he just misses his dog so much, and facing that empty bed every night is more than he can bear.

I’m looking for another dog.  I was thinking that I’d like to wait until after Jessie goes to camp at the end of the month, because it’s going to be all sorts of crazy trying to get her in and out of Cambridge every day, and I didn’t want to try to add getting a new dog acclimated to us at the same time.  But I’m almost thinking that the sooner the better – if for no other reason than I’d like my son to sleep at night.


Parenting a kid with a disability is so much harder than I think it will be.  And in some ways, it’s easier than I anticipated.  I’m always aware of how lucky we are – that the accident only damaged his eyesight.   An inch higher and his face would have been so much more hurt.   I miss his chin, before the scar, but it’s still his face.  His sweet, sweet little face.  And inch lower and he would have broken his neck.  We could have been dealing with paralysis or worse.

I alternate between thinking I’m super good at this.  I’m in tune with my son, I catch his moods and can usually fix a panic attack within a few minutes.  I reassure him, and can make him feel safe.  I know I’m not magic, he’s made amazing progress from where he was mentally just before and after the accident.  But the reality is that Sam responds to me, all the time, and with my help, he’s usually able to get thru whatever he’s struggling to do.

I adapt what I’m asking – I find the curriculum that suits him best.  I know when to push and when to step back.

I’ve managed to get him a computer, a desktop CCTV, an ipad and a portable CCTV – all without the help of the school system or the MA Commission for the Blind (although to give them props – they did hook me up with contact info for the Memorial Fund, and they provided the ipad and portable CCTV).

But then I find a website, for the National Federation for the Blind, and their sister site – for parents of blind and visually impaired children, and kick myself because it’s been fifteen months since the accident and I’m just finding this now?  And I can only handle reading one or two articles before I have to stop because it’s just too much and I get too sad.  I’m not strong enough to do this – to fight for him, to figure out all of his needs and make it all happen, when the entire world seems stacked against him.  I’m all he’s got (and I know that’s not true, because I couldn’t do any of this without Marc – but in the moment, it all feels like it’s me), and I’m not good enough.  I don’t know enough, I miss things, I don’t push hard enough for what he needs because I don’t know.  I accommodate the anxiety, which means that I’m not doing enough for the visual impairment.

I spend most of my time – going between these two completely different feelings.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve got it all under control, and I know what I’m doing and he’s thriving.  And then I feel like I’m missing EVERYTHING he needs, and he’s going to end up with so much less than he should have, simply because I failed on a core level to do my job as his parent.  I’m supposed to protect him, to guide him and teach him, and encourage him.  But what he needs is so much more than just sending him off to school every morning with a healthy lunch, and making sure that he’s got warm clothes and doesn’t lose his mittens.  I have to figure out every aspect of his education, with the added complication of a disability that may not impact his ability to walk down the street, and he might even be able to drive a car someday – but he’ll never be able to grab a paperback and sit and read it.

No more website reading for tonight, I’m too sad.  Too fragile for tonight.  Because tonight, I’m just beating myself up that I haven’t taught him braille yet, or gotten him a white cane.  That I’m not pushing him to write essays or do standardized tests.  Tonight, it’s all I can think about – and reminding myself that he went thru hell over the past year, that taking the time to deschool and figure out homeschooling is okay, that’s he’s brilliant and motivated, and I shouldn’t be terrified by the statistic that 70% of people who are blind or visually impaired aren’t able to find a job.  Tonight, I just feel like crap, and I’m terrified for the future.



He’s my baby, my boy.  And he’s eleven years old today.

I find myself struggling for words.  The accident dominates everything, still.  I try to put it in some sort of perspective, and see it as part of the process.  It’s just one more detail in your life

Things will be harder for him in a lot of ways.  He can’t see as well as most people.  But in a lot of ways, he’s got advantages that a lot of other people don’t.  He’s incredibly bright, and sweet and kind.  He’s got us, all of us.  His dad, who works so hard to support him in every way possible.  He’s got me, and not to brag – but I’m doing my best, every day to advocate for him, to anticipate his needs, to push him to do his best and try harder.  He’s got four sisters, all of them love him and tease him and laugh with him, and want him to succeed.

At eleven, he’s halfway to adulthood.   I look back over the past eleven years, and I’m so grateful for all that Sam has brought into my life.  Sam taught me how to be an advocate, how to stand up for him and to trust his instincts.  The hardest lessons I’ve learned, as a mother, are how to trust the process, to take the long view instead of the immediate one.  Sam is one of the best people I’ve ever known.  He’s endlessly kind and thoughtful, and stronger than any eleven year old should be.

Happy birthday Samilicious Boy.  I love you more than you’ll ever know, and I’m forever grateful to be your mom.