Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've written to you over the months about Dylan Moore. He died yesterday in a familiar place. How hard must it have been to type those three words, "Dylan is gone."

I don't remember the Meditation Place on the 7th Floor at Fairview. Maybe it's new. I once went into a chapel in one of the hospitals where we stayed, but just to check out what it looked like inside.

Dylan was from Roanoke, North Carolina. He was 8 years old, just a little older than you. I love the photo of him in the cowboy hat that is on the website and in all the news stories about him. He looks like he can rope a calf and do cowboy things. He must have been into cowboys the way you loved Batman.

I am sure that Hope for Henry gave him a gift at some point. I'll check with Mom and see what he got. I hope it gave him some happiness.

I know that Dylan's parents have a strong belief in God and that will help them through this.

You know, so often when I write to you about something terrible like this I am on the verge of saying, "I can't imagine...."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yesterday we were in the car heading to the pool when Joe said that he wished you were around so he could do sports with you. He says that a lot. Mom suggested he talk to Jake, Ari or Simon to learn more about you. I piped in and suggested that Joe could always ask Jack.

Then Joe said that he can ask himself about you. He said he knows a lot about you, like you were bald. I laughed hard at that. Mom explained that you were only bald for a few months from the medicine.

I know that he'll be able to one day read Mom's book and all of this and get a good sense of who you were. You guys would have really liked each other.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mom went up to get Jack at camp, so it is just me and Joe. When I got home from work last night he wanted to play charades. I can't remember his first turn, but it was a movie and three words in the title and I just couldn't figure it out. It kept looking like he was flying, but that wasn't in the title.

Then I went. Even with my great acting and mime skills, I couldn't give him good enough clues to guess my movie, Monster Versus Aliens.

When it was his turn, he went with a book with two words in the title. I was a little suprised by this, 'cause we usually stick to movies. I figured a book would be easy since one of the words in the title had to be "baseball" or "hockey."

His first clue made had me guessing, "sick," and "dying." He was dragging himself across the living room clutching his chest and then falling to the ground. We decided to skip straight to the second word in the book's title. Joe made muscles and swung an imaginary baseball bat. I guessed "Babe Ruth" even though that is two words.

Then Joe found a book or magazine on the coffee table and put his fingers over some of the printed words on the cover, so that the only word showing was "children." So then I started to try and guess books with a title "____________ Children."

Joe said, "no, no, no." Then he ran into the dining room and picked up one of the copies of Mom's manuscript and pointed to the title.

Saving Henry

I told him that it was hard for me to figure out "Saving" when the clues he'd given me for the first word had to do with "sick" and "dying."

I did like the "Henry" clue, though. Don't know how I missed that.

You were in my dream last night. You were in the hospital. You looked gaunt and post-transplant. I was in scrubs. There was a doctor with me. You were big but it was almost like you were in an incubator - the ones they have for preemies. You were curled up. We were testing your breathing - and you were passing the test.

I think part of it was because I heard about 2 minutes of an interview with J.K. Rowling last night on TV. She is the woman who wrote Harry Potter. If I heard her right (and I may not have), she was talking about her fears of when her daughter was born. She had that normal parental worry that made her check to make sure her daughter was breathing when she was sleeping. That was part of the inspiration for the dementors. You remember them from the Harry Potter books - they suck the life right out of someone.

I think watching you do the pulmonary function tests in Minnesota (I don't think Mom was with us) played a part in the dream too. Mom went up to pick up Jack this weekend so I was sleeping alone. I think that contributed to the dream as well. I should have had Joe sleep with me.

Twice in just a few weeks. I am glad you're showing up in my dreams. I'd prefer the healthy Henry, but I will totally take - and am happy with - whatever I can get.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hey, check this out - http://www.dearhenrymusic.com/. I bet they were bummed that DearHenry.org was taken. Oh well.

I'm gonna email them and see if they sell any merch. That's the groovy way of saying merchandise. I'd go for a bumper sticker or t-shirt. A good thing it is the kind of music I like or it would be a bummer. They play a bluegrassy cover of Sweet Child of Mine. I've talked about that song to you in the past.

The funny thing is that I almost hosted a show on XM featuring their kind of music. It would have been cool to play them on the radio.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This is from a post I wrote a long time ago that I never published. I updated it a little tonight.

Speaking of divorce...

I just finished a book by a writer named Hayden Childs, who wrote about a favorite sad album of mine. Both the album and the book are called, “Shoot Out the Lights.”

The album was written and performed during a really difficult period for this musician, Richard Thompson, who was going through a divorce from his wife, Linda, who sings on the album.

When I read the dedication at the beginning of the book I perked up when I saw Hayden Childs thanking his "little nephew, Henry." But it was the sentence that followed that I read a couple times over.

"I dedicate this book to the memory of my baby brother Michael."

From what I found on the Internet, Hayden Child's brother Michael died in October last year - a few days before your birthday - in his early twenties. He was "profoundly retarded" and blind and a source of joy to his brother and his parents.

I often wonder how your brothers might choose to honor your memory, if at all, when they get older. Will ESPN do a profile on Joe – with video footage supplied by me of his early years on the diamonds of Northwest DC - as he prepares to capture his first American League MVP trophy, and talk about the fact that he wears your initials, HSG, sewn into his uniform (against league regulations).

I don't know if I've told you what a crazy hockey fan your little brother has become. He LOVES the Washington Capitals. There is one incredible player on the Caps, Alexander Ovechkin, who Joe (and everyone else in Washington) really loves. Ovechkin wears the number 8, which I know was your favorite number 'cause of Cal Ripken.

Well Alex Ovechkin lost his big brother Sergei when Alex was only 10 years old. Whenever Ovechkin scores a goal - and that's a lot since he is the NHL leader in goal scoring - he kisses his fingers and points them to the sky to let his brother know he is thinking of him, and scoring for him.

Joe understands and appreciates what Ovechkin is doing. Joe is so passionate about the Caps that he dislikes any team that has the temerity (I'll explain that word later - I just saw a cool site called Wordnik which gives good definitions and other stuff) to beat them. Here is some of his artwork inspired by the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Caps in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

There is a player on the Penguins whose name is Sidney Crosby. His nickname is "Sid the Kid." You'll notice your creative brother Joe figured out a good way to heckle Crosby - even though Joe's spelling differs from mine a bit, one poster reads, "Sid the Kid Sucks a Pacifier."

And maybe Jack name a character Henry in the hit sitcom he writes, directs and stars in. Perhaps, he’ll mention you when he picks up his Emmy. Lately, he says that he'd like to be a doctor and I don't doubt he could do it if he chooses that path. I hope it doesn't take that long, but he could end up curing Fanconi anemia. Wouldn't that would be a sweet way to honor his big brother and your memory.

But as we always say, it is up to them. They should just do whatever feels right, and it might just be looking at old pictures and thinking about you.

Thank you for this morning.

I woke up at 6:15 am, which is a little too early to wake up on a Saturday morning. I looked over at Mom, who was snoozing away, and I was determined to get some more sleep. I've been really tired lately. I started a new job - which I know I haven't mentioned, but I will - and I have been getting up a little past 5 a.m. I could sleep to 6 a.m. and be okay, but I am waking up early without an alarm because I want to get to work on time (the job is way out in Virginia) and because I am thinking about this new job and what I need to do.

Well this morning I decided I should catch up on the sleep I've been missing. So when I went back to sleep I had a dream and you were in it. That's why I said thanks. Thanks for spending time with me today. In the dream, you were post-transplant and sick, but you were okay at that moment. We weren't dealing with all your medical stuff. I don't remember many of the details, but one strange thing sticks out. We were driving in the car and you handed up to me from the back seat a huge clump, almost a round ball, of your hair. But you had hair - it had grown out - and this was just some extra that was in the back of your head. Not sure what that means.

I woke up at 7:15 am, an hour later. It was great to see you again. I haven't dreamt about you in forever. I bet I could look it up on here.

We are in St. Michaels for Nana and Papa's 50th wedding anniversary. I drove in by myself last night because Mom and Joe went earlier with Andrew, Tracey, Emma and Sam. For some reason I had the best drive. I was listening to Todd Snider, remember the Beer Run guy. I did something I don't normally do and that is play the same songs over and over. Joe used to do that a lot driving me a little crazy, but now that he is getting older he is expanding his repertoire. One of the songs is called Money, Compliments, Publicity.

Money, Compliments, Publicity (Song Number Ten)
From The Excitement Plan

A man once said that the pinnacle of success
Was when you finally lost interest
In money, compliments, and publicity
A noble enough idea I suppose
How on earth he does this heaven only knows
I know I need a lot more of all three of those
Before I'll ever have the nerve to turn up my nose
At any money, or compliments, or publicity

I'm broke as the ten commandments
Sometimes I'm harder to follow
I don't know whether to walk to school or take my lunch
____ wearing my watch, it's true
You may think you see a man who was looking for attention
But you're looking at a man who has lived through a little bit of
Poverty, some anxiety, some scrutiny

If I ever do get my money together
I'm gonna take care of all of my friends
I'll buy an island run a phone line
Call them tell them all to get fucked...oh
That oughta take care of them
Just be me and my money and my compliments and my publicity
Sing with me
Money and compliments and publicity

It's an issue for me
I went to see this therapist
She said just do the best you can do
Do the best you can do
I was hoping for something more specific

A man once said that the pinnacle of success
Was when you finally lost interest
In money, compliments, and publicity
Many years later
Another man will say all that again
But not for the sake of inspring men
But rather cause he's got nine songs and knows he needs at least ten
Before he can go back to town and turn them all in
And get the money, the compliments, the publicity
Money, compliments, and publicity

Money, compliments, and publicity...

Nana and Papa's anniversary is a big accomplishment. It is amazing that people can be together for that long. The ceo at my new job suggested that I walk around and introduce myself to people so I can learn about them and what they can tell me about the company. When I walk to their offices and I see photos of just kids and no husband or wife I get pretty sad. I end up thinking about how hard their lives have been and how hard they must be now.

Death is bad enough; we are truly fortunate not to know divorce in our family. Maybe it's all the hugging and mugging.

I love it when you get mail. I guess no-one informed Mickey.

For me, that's okay. I like it when someone thinks you're alive.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yesterday was the anniversary of your transplant, otherwise known as your new birthday if things had turned out okay. We used to celebrate with a party and a cake. We were right to be hopeful.

I guess it was appropriate that we had a guest over for dinner last night, Jacob Grossman's mom, Rachel. Jacob has FA. He and his family live in Chicago. His mom is visiting Washington with Jacob's sister Talia. Jacob has had a really tough go of it. I think his mom told us last night that he is the only kid to have had both a bone marrow transplant and a kidney transplant. He must have 3 different birthdays then.

We gave Jacob an iPod iTouch from Hope for Henry. He is an interesting kid. He loves Barry Manilow's music. I can't think of a whole lot of 10 year olds who even know who Barry Manilow is. It was weird to read in the newspaper this morning that Barry Manilow is in Washington, DC right now.

We told Rachel that she is in Mom's book. Mom tells the story about how you got on the phone with Rachel and advised that they get a "Magic Closet" for Jacob's transplant room at Minnesota. Rachel had called looking for advice, pointers, support, whatever prior to their family going to Minneapolis for Jacob's BMT, and you insisted on talking to her when Mom was done.

Rachel told us last night that they indeed had gotten a room with a built in Magic Closet, and it constantly produced gifts for Jacob that helped him get through all those rough days in the hospital.

Monday, July 06, 2009

We went to the beach last weekend to spend Fourth of July at Aunt Abby and Uncle Andy's beach house. Everyone had a lot of fun. So much fun, that Aunt Abby said to Mommy and me that we should do it every year - make it into a tradition.

I told her that it kinda is already. We've been coming every year since you died. This was our 7th year straight in Rehoboth at their house without you. I get kinda sad around the Fourth every year, and I think it is because of the anniversary of your transplant, and the family is together in one of your most favorite places without you.

You'll see that your little cousin Noah isn't so little any more.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mom and I both got this email the other day from Matt Brenner. You remember Matt from VarsityBooks. He is in the club of people who I think I look a little like, which includes Dave O. and Jeff Levy. When Mom and I talked to each other about the email, aside from being excited for Matt and Sarah, we asked the same thing, "what's the baby's name?" I thought maybe it is is a Jewish tradition/superstition that you don't announce the name until the bris. Other than that, we couldn't figure it out.

Then we got a call from Matt and it all made sense.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sarah Brenner
Date: Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 4:25 PM
Subject: A New Son, and announcement of Brit Milah on July 1
To: Matthew Brenner

With great happiness and joy, we are delighted to announce the birth of our son.

Born: June 24, 2009
1:33 a.m.
9 pounds, 4 ounces
And a full head of hair!

We will be naming him according to tradition at a Brit Milah ceremony (ritual circumcision), eight days following his date of birth. As is customary, no formal invitation is issued -- all are welcome to attend.

The brit will take place on:
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Ceremony begins at 5:45 p.m., followed by a Seudat Mitzvah (celebratory meal for all in attendance)
Congregation B'nai Israel
2111 Bryan Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782

The commandment for the Brit Milah was the first God gave to Abraham. There is a tradition that this mitzvah should be performed zealously, and so on the eighth day, many people look to perform the brit as early as possible in the morning as a sign of their devotion. While the Rabbis and scholars espousing this view were certainly well-intentioned, it is unlikely that they ever commuted on a freeway. Indeed, successfully attending a Brit at 8 a.m. by commuting on either the 5 or the 405 would not constitute a mitzvah, it would constitute a miracle. So make no mistake: we are excited and blessed to be here today, no matter the time, and thank all of you for joining us.

We are naming our son Hersh Shlomo, Hersh for my father, and Shlomo for Sarah’s paternal grandfather. In English, his name is Henry Sidney, also for my father and Sarah’s grandfather, with thoughts of two others as well.

The name Henry is for my father Harry Brenner. Harry spent his working life as an engineer, beginning at the Navy Department in Washington DC and later starting his own business in Los Angeles, focused on testing and confirming the safety of the critical parts that hold our buildings, airplanes, spacecraft, and even golf clubs together. He also valued Judaism and Jewish life, beginning as an international leader of B’nai Brith Youth and continuing on with constant yet unassuming involvement in his synagogue and B’nai Brith. Most importantly, he was fully devoted to his five grandchildren, babysitting, attending little league games, and generally doing everything he could to support and love them. While he didn’t make it to see our children, his devotion to them is unquestioned. He would get a real kick to know that his grandson is named for him. Long ago, the name Harry began as a nickname for Henry, and so while the names come from the same place, they are different. My dad would have certainly encouraged Henry to be his own man, and not be bound by any path that my father himself had taken.

In naming Henry, we also remember Henry Strongin Goldberg, the son of our friends Allen and Laurie and the toughest guy I ever met. Henry faced overwhelming odds from birth, due to a rare disease that subjected him to medical challenges and procedures beyond anything that any of us can comprehend. During his seven short but full years, Henry did not allow the disease to define him. Instead, he showed constant strength and courage in facing any surgery or treatment thrown his way, all in a fierce and determined battle for what we all take for granted – living a normal life. You only needed to meet him once to understand what it means to completely embrace life, from mixing it up with his brothers to idolizing Batman. His gravestone quotes Harry Potter – The Boy Who Lived – and it could not be more apt. In his short life, Henry taught that one must confront obstacles head on and appreciate all of life’s possibilities, particularly the routine that we take for granted. For our son, we wish some measure of the strength and positivity Henry possessed.

The name Sidney is for Sidney Musher, Sarah’s grandfather and husband to grandma Hadassah. He made great contributions to all of our daily lives and our most important interests. When you look in a supermarket aisle and find food that’s remaining fresh, you see the results stemming from one of the 200 patents Sidney obtained in food and pharmaceutical technology. When you read of Israel’s technological innovation and entrepreneurship, you see an Israel that Sidney envisioned when he initiated the Israel Research and Development Corporation, served on the Prime Minister’s Council for Economic Development, and was a philanthropist and dedicated supporter of Hebrew University and all technological development in Israel. And for the extended Musher family, you see it in the close relationships that all cousins have with each other, made possible by the annual vacations that Sidney and Hadassah sponsored that continue today, most recently in honor of Hadassah’s 97th birthday.

Finally, in naming our son, we also remember Sidney Daye, the father of Henry’s Aunt Sandy who passed away a month ago. Sidney was a man of quiet strength and devotion, married to Selma for 63 years. Sidney, together with Selma, was a marvelous grandparent not just to his two granddaughters Morrisa and Yonina, but also to their cousins Ariel, Zachary, Jordan and Tali. Henry would certainly have been included in this group. Sidney’s low key demeanor meant that his resourcefulness and dedication might not be readily apparent, but I know first-hand of these traits, following the invaluable and timely assistance Sidney gave to me when my father was dying.

Henry, you begin life honored by the memory of generations, your great-grandfather, your grandfather, extended family and friends. You are surrounded by a loving family, including your sister Tali, Savta Esther, Grammy Ruth, Grandpa David, Great-Grandma Hadassah, and Great-Grampa Morris, over 100 years old and born while Teddy Roosevelt was President (we’ll talk a lot more about TR as you get older). Your broader family of uncles, aunts, and cousins, many who we’re lucky are here today and others who can’t wait to meet you soon, are thrilled that you have joined the family. And you are welcomed by friends near and far, including Tali’s good friend Karen who came over for a midnight sleepover with Tali last week that allowed Mommy and Daddy to make it to the hospital in time for you to be born. Barely in time – Mommy certainly would encourage you to complete projects with plenty of time to spare, as cutting it close to deadlines can be really painful! But whether you have tight deadlines, tough situations or any hardship that may come, you will know that you are surrounded by people who love you and a community that supports you, truly, l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hey big man. Mom, Joe and I just got to the beach. We are staying with Aunt Abby and Uncle Andy for the Fourth of July. Jack is at camp - and it appears he is having a good time.

We just showed up and I gotta go eat dinner. I want to take this weekend to catch you up on everything. Let's see if I can do it.

Thinking about you. Loving you.