Goodbye Mom.

Our mom and wife, Suzanne, is gone.  She left us at 8:17pm this Monday, November 4, 2013.  She died at home after a peaceful day surrounded by her family.  

I will update the journal soon about ceremonies.  As per my mother’s and our family’s wishes, my mom will have a small memorial service in Fort Dodge on November 16, 2013, and her ashes will be buried with her dear father, Pesho.  We will have the main memorial for her in DC in December.  DC is where our family spent the largest parts of our lives. I will give you more logistics and tribute information soon on both memorials.

I am grateful that people have appreciated the journal.  They have told me how it must be so difficult to write.  But I have to confess, I loved writing this journal.  I love my mom. It was rarely difficult, perhaps tiring and emotionally intense, but that is not the same as difficult. In fact, once I got started, it was usually soothing.  Of course, the recognition also helped.  I’m 29, but sometimes I still need to hear I am doing a good job. My mom knew this.  She teased me with a twinkle in her eye, “You have this whole captive audience. Such power.”

I know there are people who might not understand such intimate detail written on a public page, but I hope that they will see it as my way of coping.  And that they will come to understand there really was not much harm done.  If it helped me and it helped my mom and grandma and apparently our friends, then they will be at peace with it.

My journal came down to this: If I could just find the beauty in all of this, if I could just write it down, maybe it would all end up ok somehow.  Maybe it could comfort me.  Maybe I am at heart an optimist blind to many things.  But I have been amazed at how much beauty there is through all of this, how easy it is to see if I am looking. Even in all of this pain.  In this beauty, I find comfort.  I hope I will carry this learning about life with me.

This journal has been my four month long goodbye to my mom.  I am truly grateful to have had this time with her.  I have heard it said that people prefer to remember loved ones when they were healthy which thankfully was the case for my mom until these last five months. But I want to remember it all. 

I was able to say what I wanted to her through this journal and in many conversations and just in sitting next to her on the couch reading the newspaper or watching TV.  I have that peace.  Things in life can happen so suddenly, and not everyone gets that.  I don’t know how I would have said goodbye to my mom in any other way.  As many people have told me, it was precious time.

I guess this entry is my goodbye to the journal.  As long as I had the journal, I had something to do. I’ve been scared of this moment.  Now, I don’t know what I will do.

Who will I buy flowers for at the Santa Monica farmer’s market?

Who can I show my new work clothes to and see a special smile because she thinks her daughter is beautiful?  

Who can I send things to for thoughtful editing comments and despite the fact that the journal entries were often finished at 1am, who will point out in the morning that I always make the same grammatical errors with pronouns following prepositions- “Jen, you wrote for James, Josh, and I. NO, it's for James, Josh and me”? Geez Louise!

Who will I call when I forget what temperature to cook the salmon at and for how long?

Luckily, Mom we have a great family taking care of us. Aunt Loretta made us catfish gumbo for dinner.  It was one of my mom’s favorite’s- a Christmas Eve tradition.  An avid reader of the journal, she of course headed to Santa Monica Seafood for the catfish.

Diane has also been here taking care of us and comforting her older sister.  She sat with Mom on the side of her hospital bed even though it ended up giving her a backache.  She, Aunt Mary, and my mom used to share a room when they were little.  It’s hard to find a place to fit all six kids. Yesterday Diane texted Mary, “My back hurts. Sue still hogs the bed!”  That is the Bianchi humor my mom loved in her siblings.  My mom is smiling.

I don’t think this has really hit any of us yet.  Although I do I think I have accepted everything as it has come, right now it simultaneously has a dreamlike quality. I’m in a sleep-deprived haze.  We all are.  It partly feels like I will wake up, and everything in my world will be back to normal.  I will hear my mom’s healthy voice.

Diane said my mom is visiting us already.  Diane and I got the uncontrollable giggles tonight. I’m pretty sure my Aunt Mary would have a different interpretation and say, “That Diane, she ain’t right in the head.”  And if she had also seen me, she would have added, “And Jen too, she just ain’t right.”  My mom is laughing even harder now. Her mind can be at ease since Mary and grandma were together tonight.

But then there will be tears.  I believe tears are not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of emotional strength.

My mom and my family were deeply touched by how two other mothers and their families reached out to us and thought of our needs in the midst of their own illnesses.  Everyone as has prayed so very much for us.  I’ll ask you to please now pray for  my two dear friends Betsy’s and Grace’s moms tonight.  I hope they don’t mind me asking.

Forever modest and underestimating herself, my mother was surprised at all of the outpouring of support, the number of people who came to visit and the many who were still planning to come.  She said, “It’s been great.  Affirming.”

So from my mom and our family, we would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.  You have provided such support in the form of guestbook messages, text messages, cards, prayers, thoughtful gifts, food, visits, and reading this journal.  It made this difficult time special for my mom and for all of us.  

Mom, we love you so so so much.  We know you loved us.  We miss you.

Mom, it’s going to be another gorgeous, sunny day here tomorrow in Santa Monica.

Love,

Jen, James, Josh, and Mark


I offer a poem and a song with translations.  I had to memorize this poem by Victor Hugo when I was in 10th grade in Ms. Bezaka’s French class.  It is about his daughter.


Demain dès l’aube  

Demain, dès l'aube, à l'heure où blanchit la campagne,

Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m'attends.

J'irai par la forêt, j'irai par la montagne.

Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.


Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,

Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,

Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,

Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.


Je ne regarderai ni l'or du soir qui tombe,

Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,

Et quand j'arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe

Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.


Tomorrow at dawn

Tomorrow, at dawn, at the hour when the countryside whitens, 

I will set out. I know you are waiting for me. 

I will go through the forest. I will go over the mountains, 

I can no longer remain far from you. 


I will walk with my eyes fixed upon my thoughts, 

Seeing nothing around me, hearing no sound. 

Alone, unknown, my back curved, my hands crossed, 

Sad, and the day, for me, will be as night.


I will not watch the golden close of evening, 

Nor the sails that glide towards Harfleur, 

And, when I arrive, I will lay on your grave 

A bouquet of green holly and heather in bloom.


/// Sometimes I will feel this deeply blue, but I promise Mom, that I will also laugh too: ///


Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu) 

Penso che un sogno così non ritorni mai più

Mi dipingevo le mani e la faccia di blu

Poi d'improvviso venivo dal vento rapito

E incominciavo a volare nel cielo infinito


Volare, oh oh...

Cantare, ohohoho...

Nel blu dipinto di blu

Felice di stare lassù


E volavo, volavo felice

Più in alto del sole ed ancora più su

Mentre il mondo pian piano spariva, lontano laggiù

Una musica dolce suonava soltanto per me


Volare, oh oh...

Cantare, ohohoho...

Nel blu dipinto di blu

Felice di stare lassù


Ma tutti i sogni nell'alba svaniscono perché

Quando tramonta, la luna li porta con sé

Ma io continuo a sognare negli occhi tuoi belli

Che sono blu come un cielo trapunto di stelle


Volare, oh oh...

Cantare, ohohoho...

Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu

Felice di stare quaggiù


E continuo a volare felice

Più in alto del sole ed ancora più su

Mentre il mondo pian piano scompare negli occhi tuoi blu

La tua voce è una musica dolce che suona per me


Volare, oh oh...

Cantare, ohohoho...

Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu

Felice di stare quaggiù


Nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu

Felice di stare quaggiù con te


Flying (Blue Painted in the Blue)

I think such a dream will never come back

I painted my hands and face blue

Then suddenly I was being kidnapped by the wind.
And I began to fly in the endless sky.

Flying, oh oh...

Singing, ohohoho...

Blue painted in the blue

Happy to be up there


And I was flying, flying happily

High up to the sun and even higher

While the world was slowly disappearing, far beneath

A soft music was playing just for me


Flying, oh oh..

Singing, ohohoho...

Blue painted in the blue

Happy to be up there


But all the dreams fade away at dawn, because

While setting, the moon takes them away

But I keep dreaming in your beautiful eyes

Which are as blue as a sky quilted with stars


Flying, oh oh...

Singing, ohohoho...

In the blue of your blue eyes

Happy to be down here


And I keep flying happily

High up to the sun and even higher

While the world is slowly disappearing in your blue eyes

Your voice is a soft music playing for me


Flying, oh oh...

Singing, ohohoho...

In the blue of your blue eyes

Happy to be down here


In the blue of your blue eyes

Happy to be down here with you

I love this picture.  I think it is from a ski trip in Colorado.  We went for many years with Aunt Diane and Uncle Bill and our cousins Justin and Marissa.

I love this picture. I think it is from a ski trip in Colorado. We went for many years with Aunt Diane and Uncle Bill and our cousins Justin and Marissa.

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