Wednesday, May 19, 2010


May 19, 2010

God full of mercy who dwells on high
Grant perfect rest, on the wings of Your Divine Presence
among the holy and the pure
who shine in the brightness of the firmament,
to the soul of Maura Cassiana de Souza,
who has gone to her eternal rest,
as all her family and friends
pray for the elevation of her soul.
Her resting place shall be in the Garden of Eden.
Therefore, the Master of mercy will care for her
under the protection of His wings for all time
And bind her soul in the bond of everlasting life.
God is her inheritance and she will rest in peace
and let us say Amen.

May His illustrious name become increasingly great and holy
In the world that He created according to His will,
and may He establish His kingdom
In your lifetime and in your days
and in the lifetime of all the house of Israel
Speedily and soon. And say amen

May His illustrious name be blessed always and forever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled
Honored, raised up and acclaimed
be the name of the Holy one blessed be He
beyond every blessing hymn, praise and consolation
that is uttered in the world. And let us say amen

May abundant peace from heaven, and life
Be upon us and upon all Israel. And say Amen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

from Kei

I got a note from Thad Bell, the photographer whose blog I linked to a couple of weeks ago with pictures and video of Kei wearing the Live Teal bracelet. He tells a neat story about Kei:

I have always meant to ask Kei about the Live Teal bracelet he wears but now I know. One of Kei's best friends on the team is Teal Bunbury. Kei has even tweeted that they were meant to be friends since he wears the Live Teal bracelet.

He definitely does still wear it. Look in and you can see a bunch of shots of Kei with it on. In the middle of that gallery Kei was goofing around and playing goalie. He borrowed some gloves and was blocking shots barefooted.

When he got done playing around, he took the gloves off and left them by the goal for the keeper that owned them and walked in to the locker room. About 30 seconds later he came running back, the bracelet had been pulled of by the gloves and when he noticed it he ran back and found it quickly.

He definitely still wears it.

Kei Kamara tried to post a note to Maura on the blog then, but he had some trouble posting, so he sent his note to Danielle. Here is his letter to Maura.

Hi Maura its me Kei ur fav soccer player...haha, i got a lot to tell u. 1st i hope u r in a better place and just no that u r loved. so the Live Teal band u gave me made it a long way. i always had it on, as u can see mummy stalked my photos and found it...haha. also this yr KC Wizards drafted a play in the 1st round and his name is "TEAL Bunbury" so he always tells ppl i wear it cuz of him haha. but sadly couple weeks ago when i was in Houston for a game, i took off my Live Teal band and left it in the lockroom so i tell myself that i left it in good hands, "in houston and at the Dynamo Stadium."
well you keep resting and your friends and Family love you.
God bless


This week has been full of meaningful moments and meaningful memories, all with the fast-approaching anniversary in view.
May 12:
2009.One week before she died. SHSU came to confer the Bachelor of Music degree. I think it was as meaningful for them as it was for her, maybe more so.
2010. I fell apart and couldn't make it past the parking lot to work.
May 13:
1997. My mom died. My first experience with grief.
2008. Got pathology slides and reports to MD Anderson for review.
2009. We began to talk about hospice. And choices.
2010. Me, hanging on by a thread.
May 14
2008. Spent my birthday waiting with Maura and family and friends for news from M.D. Anderson, not really expecting an answer so soon. I received a homemade card from Maura that I will cherish forever.
2009. Spent my birthday waiting with Maura and family and friends, but this time in the hospital, waiting for her to die, wishing it to be delayed. Houston Dynamo came to visit.
2010. Spent my birthday with family and friends at Maura's high school. The Spring High School Choir named a scholarship after her: the Maura Cassiana De Souza Memorial Scholarship. Katie gave a speech about Maura. Her former choir teacher, Mrs. Eaton, spoke about her, and we were asked to present the plaque to the winner this first year. The plaque is beautiful. Dark wood with a center photo of sunflowers. The winner's name will be added each year on a separate nameplate and the plaque will be housed in the choir room. I didn't look to see how much the scholarship was for.
May 15.
2009. Channel 13 came to interview her in the hospital for something completely unrelated to Maura and her condition. Rather, the hospital had imposed a quiet hour to help patients rest, and they asked to interview Maura, since 90 % of the guests on the floor were there to visit her, and 100% of the time, there were people in her room. You can see that video here
2010. Joao and Lydia treated us to a night and day in San Antonio. We ate at the restaurant at the top of the Tower of the Americas. I love spending time with them.
May 16
2009. The Saturday we brought her home. They set up her bed and equipment in the middle of the living room. She was positioned for maximum visibility. Twenty people stayed in our home full-time during those days. So many more visited.
2010. Sunday, this year. Quiet.
May 17
2009. Last year, May 17, was a day of goodbyes and the Sunday Concert. So many of her friends visited that evening and sang all her requests. Everything from arias to Broadway to a simple lullaby. She asked for iced tea from Sonic and took just a few sips. That was her last truly coherent evening. The pain crisis that night was frightening.

Friday, May 14, 2010

H.B. to Me

Last year on my birthday, I was in the hospital with Maura and the Houston Dynamo came to visit her. And they sang Happy Birthday to me.
Yesterday, May 13, marked the 13th anniversary of my mom's death.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


For years Joel has entertained me by recounting his adventure dreams to me. About five or six times a year he has the most exciting dreams, with plot lines and twists and surprises that rival, even surpass, the best action films. I have always been content to just vicariously enjoy his adventures in the morning, over coffee, safely ensconced in my kitchen, in my jammies. But this week, he has been riding on a euphoric cloud as a result of his best ever dream. And for the first time, I am jealous.
I hope I can retell it accurately.

Joel is flying (no plane...just him) above the city when he decides he wants to fly to see Maura. He begins to fly higher when he senses risk and the question coming from within asking, "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes," he replies, and shoots upward.
A light appears in the distance, but grows as it quickly approaches.
Again, the question and warning from within. "Are you sure you want to do this? It's dangerous."
"Yes, I do. I want to see Maura." And he continues to climb higher. As he does, the light shines more brightly. "Was it like the sun?" I asked him. "No, it was much much brighter than the sun. I can't even describe it."
As the light sparkles more brightly, completely enveloping him, the warning comes again, even more harshly spoken. "Are you really sure you want to do this? It is dangerous and you could get hurt."
Yes, I want to see Maura!" And he feels that he is lifted, aided in some way as he continues to journey even higher.
The light is now shining so brightly that he can hardly stand it. It is different than any light he has ever seen and it draws him in like a magnet. It is glorious and powerful and wonderful.
Joel is acutely aware of the risk he is taking, and he insists that he want to continue. But in that instant, he sees that he is surrounded by angels who whisk him from the awe-inspiring light back to earth in less than the blink of an eye.
"Were you disappointed that you did not get to see Maura?"
"No," he replied, "because I know she is in that place."


Today's milestone: One year ago today Sam Houston State University moved mountains to bring Maura's graduation to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The link to the graduation video is on the right. The best graduation ever and the only ten-minute graduation you'll ever see. Even today I am moved by the generosity of the SHSU staff, faculty, and administration who put it together and made a four-hour round trip to do this for Maura.

I truly thought that I would get to this time of year and be okay. Not "over it" because I'll never be over it, but I thought that I'd be able to get through this specific time of year, with the anniversary approaching, without being completely overwhelmed. Wrong! Uh, for the first time since returning to work in August, I arrived at the staff parking lot, and I could not pull it together. The ride to work has often been a time to cry and mourn--not recently, and never on purpose, but just because of the solitude, I guess. Yet I've always managed to compose myself, put on some makeup, and go to work. Not so today. I had to call my co-worker from the parking lot and let her know I wasn't going to be able to make it. I could not stop the tears.
Why is this time any different than the rest of the year? I know that the anniversary is approaching, but can I possibly mourn her more than I already have during these last eleven + months?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

Nikki reminded me that Maura had taught her daughter the art of making and taking breakfast in bed for mom on Mother's Day. Just last year. Is that possible? Could it have been last year? The day that everything started to fall apart? I hadn't realized that it was Mother's Day just last year when I spoke to Dr. Benjamin on the phone. I remember that phone call clearly. I explained her symptoms. I had suspected that her kidneys had shut down. He said it could wait until the first thing the next morning (Monday) and that she did not need to go to the emergency room. The previous visit to the emergency room had not done her much good.
"Have her kidneys shut down?" I asked.
He answered in some incomprehensible and non-committal doctor speak.
"Dr. B., let me ask you another way. Her dad and sister are in New York right now. I want to know what to tell them."
"I think you should tell them to come home."

And just that morning Maura had taught Savannah how to make an omelet and the importance of breakfast in bed on Mother's Day.

This Mother's Day was a day for wallowing. Joel was at work; the girls, in New York and Australia. Yes, a perfect wallowing day--the kind of wallowing that I still need to offset the "normal " behavior I engage in most of the time. Sort of a like releasing a pressure valve.
Church mostly sucked. A woman walked up and down the aisles with tulips that she handed out to moms, and she just passed me over. Tulips to my right. tulips to my left. No tulip for me. I did not look like a mom, I guess, with no husband or children or grandchildren flanking me. I was already in full "mental wallow", so that must have shown on my face. Minutes later, she was at my side. asking if I was a mom.
"Yes." I croaked. I put on my best plastic smile.
She gave me my tulip, and I immediately felt anger. What if I had not been a mom? What if I had said no? Would she have said, "Oh," and turned on her heels and left me there, forlorn and tulipless?
I felt immediate compassion for every unwillingly childless woman. What a painful day Mother's Day must be for them.

But I came home, and there were flowers from a thoughtful friend addressed to both Joel and me, and encouraging notes from internet friends, and lots of good wishes on facebook, and phone calls from my daughters,and a visit from my niece, and skyped calls from Australia and Korea---all of which slowly prodded me out of my funk, gently pulled me from the mire.

Maybe wallowing is more like a mud bath: dirty and yucky, but it cleans out your pores.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Back Post: Kei Kamara interview 09/17/09

As I write this, the Kansas City Wizards are playing the Houston Dynamo in soccer. One of KC's best players is Kei Kamara, who played for Houston last year. He was one of the six Dynamo players who visited Maura in the hospital last year (on my birthday, just five days before she died). He blushed when Maura confessed that Kei was her favorite player. I believe he was truly touched. After that day, he wore her LiveTeal bracelet to several games. I just found these pictures and interview from shortly after being traded to the Wizards. (click on the link) He is wearing her bracelet in each shot and in the video. Actually, he is wearing the LiveTeal band in lots of the googled photos.
We had planned to go to tonight's game, but Joel wasn't feeling too well, so we skipped it. Too bad. I would have liked a chance to see him again. I wonder if he still wears Live Teal?

The Back Post: Kei Kamara interview 09/17/09