Philip, August 2011

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Two more portraits taken August, 2011:


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August 2011 - My Loves


                          Philip at a fencing meet, 2011 (3rd place and still the tallest ;o):

                IMG_0040         IMG_0042

                                                                  Natalie’s Graduation 2011:

DSC01683     DSC01687


Philip and Natalie on our stoop in Brooklyn, June 1995 (he was 4, she, almost 2):


                                                               Sweet Natalia, Philip’s Girlfriend:


July 4th, 2009, working for Applegate Farms at the Fireworks in Montclair:

IMG_0759          IMG_0763

                                        Summer of some year or other…


                                     Philip and me, November 2011:


                                       My beautiful daughter, 2011:



                    Philip and Natalie, Brooklyn, maybe 1994?

Scan 3     Scan 4



44 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tersiaburger
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 09:41:57

    What a handsome boy! Natalie is beautiful and definitely takes after you.


  2. kmlagatree
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 10:53:47

    Wonderful photos. He is, indeed, handsome. And the goodness and depth of his spirit shine through.


  3. behindthemaskofabuse
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 13:59:51

    Beautiful children.


  4. elichtman2013
    May 02, 2013 @ 13:05:59

    You not only have beautiful children, but you’re a beautiful person yourself! Considering all that you’ve written (I’ve been reading lots here), I can see your heart and your absolute love for your family and children. I found you because I recently joined You are an insiration to me. Just by reading what you’ve written, it has given me the permission I’ve needed to grieve in the way I was meant to. God Bless You and your family!


    • Denise
      May 02, 2013 @ 14:14:56

      You and yours, too, and thank you for the kind words. It’s so hard today; I don’t mind the clouds much as the days the sun is “supposed” to make one feel better…


  5. Aimee
    May 07, 2013 @ 00:17:51

    What a beautiful family! I love the one where they’re so little 🙂


  6. Denise
    May 07, 2013 @ 06:18:53

    Were they ever that little? Well, I’ve got the pictures to prove it… ;o)


  7. Lucia Maya
    Jun 18, 2013 @ 22:59:29

    I love seeing these photos. It helps bring your sweet son through in a whole new way – I see his softness and kindness, and the depth of his soul. What a lovely young man, I’m so sorry for the loss of his presence, I can see why you miss him so.


  8. Denise
    Jun 18, 2013 @ 23:14:50

    He is the light to my dark. When I say his light is gone, he says no, it isn’t; have a little faith. But for all I feel from him – I am still aching for him here, next to me.


  9. complicatedwaltz
    Aug 08, 2013 @ 22:45:57



  10. shetall
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 01:07:03

    What a cute boy 🙂 Be glad that he came in your life and gave a new direction to your life:) I can’t say much as a stranger but yes you have very cute family


  11. lensgirl53
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 16:28:58

    Wonderful pictures of you and your gorgeous children. Phillip is so handsome as Natalie is beautiful…but then you know that 😉


  12. Denise
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 19:19:18

    Thank you for that; I love them so.


  13. behindthemaskofabuse
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 20:33:16

    What a powerful photo this most recent one you posted. Standing with you, in your heartache. xo


  14. Denise
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 21:37:10

    Love you Zoe; you’ve a heart of gold and a spirit that soars.


  15. lensgirl53
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 13:45:57

    You look like you could be your children’s sister! WOW..what a head of hair on your handsome Philip. So adorable. I do like the picture of Philip in Wyoming, too.


  16. Denise
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 17:36:42

    Thank you; I’m blushing ;o) Philip had long, curly hair past his shoulders for the longest time. I’ve a story about his hair – it was a “thing” between us and it has to do with letting go. I’ve said this before: the more I let go, the longer our bond became. I love him and I miss him so. I still find this shocking and incredible; you know what I’m talking about.


  17. lensgirl53
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 18:21:12

    It most certainly is shocking….still….even after 41/2 yrs.. We adjust but there is no time table for this kind of loss. To me, I see it lasting until….but I thank God for the peace that does come my way even for the briefest moments, hours, and days. It changes. I hear the same love and missing in your writing that I know very well.


  18. Denise
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 21:32:26

    Yes, “lasting until…” Today I tried to remember that it’s just for this moment. Can I bear this just for this moment? I have to force myself not to think, “The rest of my life…” because it’s always only now and I will drive myself crazy, yes I will.


  19. tersiaburger
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 04:56:38

    Denise I cried for you, Natalie and Phillip. What a beautiful family you have!! I wish I could reach out and hug you. I know that we share one another’s pain – in a weird way I FEEL your pain. Much love my friend.


  20. Denise
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 08:13:52

    It’s not weird, Tersia. When I read your blog I get unbearably upset because it stirs up what I suffer about Philip, mixed up with what I can feel of what you suffer; I don’t want to presume I “know” exactly what you feel, but we both know the worst despair a parent can know. And much as I say it “upsets” me, I’ve a connection to you that stays alive through what you write. Much love and hugs back to you, my friend.

    (And by the way – I keep meaning to say thanks for all the pictures you share – such a wonderful insight into you and your family.)


  21. lashley328
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 15:36:17



  22. gracielynne62013
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 23:13:02

    Your blog tears my heart apart. I can not imagine the grief or the pain you have gone through in losing your son. Thank you for sharing with others as you walk the painful journey of grief. You are brave, so much more than most. My heart is troubled because of your story and when my heart is troubled I talk to God. I hope you don’t take offense if I talk to Him about you, asking him to dry your tears and comfort you.


    • Denise
      Sep 29, 2013 @ 23:21:36

      Your kindness went straight to my heart; thank you doesn’t cover it, but it’s all I’ve got. You should know you’ve just comforted me and believe me – I’ll take all the comfort I can get.


      • gracielynne62013
        Sep 30, 2013 @ 09:59:08

        I am so glad you received comfort from my words. I wish I had the power to bring your son back to you. I believe that he knows your depth of your love, even in the afterlife.
        I know that I have lost two babies to miscarriage and I saw both of them in heaven through the avenue of dreams.
        They were so very happy and beyond beautiful. I hope with all my heart that Phillip is in the same realm.
        Much love to you my dear. You will be in my prayers as you are already in my heart.

      • gracielynne62013
        Sep 30, 2013 @ 12:22:25

        As I pray for you the phrase “You have done nothing wrong” keeps coming to my mind.
        In grief many times guilt may come after us with a vengeance.
        You loved your son with all your heart and there is never any error in love. Sometimes no matter how much we love someone we l are forced to let go.
        It is heart-wrenching pain. I had to let go of my sons when they were 14 and 16 because they chose to go live with their father.
        Although they did not die I thought that maybe my love would. It didn’t and neither has yours. Love is all good. You have done nothing wrong.

  23. Denise
    Sep 30, 2013 @ 10:57:03

    Again – thank you. I know Philip’s okay. We’re in touch all the time. It’s me that has to accept this…


    • Denise
      Sep 30, 2013 @ 12:51:16

      Thank you. The guilt was overwhelming at first – if I was a good mother – a good person – how could this happen? But that’s reducing Philip to a prop in my life instead of realizing he had his own life and made his own choices.. Still – it’s hard. See, I’m an addict, and I thought if I loved my kids enough they’d have no worries. I’m not done wrestling with that one yet, for sure.


  24. nancym1955
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 17:01:32

    Gracie, you have brought so much to all of us with your words. Honestly, it’s so hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving and you seem to have this intuitive sense for what we all need to hear. When you said the blog was tearing your heart apart, I could feel my own heart freeze. Even after nearly 5 years, I still feel as though — just like Denise — I should have done more, something, anything, that I should have been able to prevent this. You said it so well. Denise has done nothing wrong, though we so often feel compelled to blame ourselves. I know I do this, too. Much love to you today, dear lady. And Denise, you are an inspiration. What is keeping you going?


  25. Denise
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:23:38

    I put one foot in front of the other. I have a daughter, thank God I have her. I get how much she needs me and I’ve got to be here for her. Writing my blog keeps me going, keeps me close to Philip, sends his spirit out to the world. You, Nancy; reading and commenting; that keeps me going. I recently moved, and I’ve been unpacking books for hours. Then I got to the box of frames. Philip, all over the place. My heart’s bleeding again; and so I come here and read what people have written and I feel like I’m not so alone.

    As much I can, I don’t think about the future. Because that’s when the dark takes over. It’s hard enough to deal with Philip gone right now; I don’t need to make it worse by thinking about some future that will never come, except as now.

    I know you’re there, Nancy; you’ve no idea how that helps. See – THAT’S what keeps me going.


  26. Becki Duckworth
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 14:28:22

    Denise, I love ,love the stoop in Brooklyn 1995 picture. Phillips eyes are beautiful and his adorable face, you can see his personality. And your daughter makes me want to just cuddle her, so precious. Thanks for sharing your beautiful family with all of us.


  27. Denise
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 20:20:18

    Thanks Becki; you’re right – you can see what kind of kid he was. He was always sweet, for sure. Thank God I had his whole childhood, you know?


  28. Miss Fanny P
    Jan 21, 2014 @ 13:58:55

    i am so sorry for your loss. I came across yoru blog because you were nominated for a liebster award.
    My heart and prayers go out to you


  29. Lorrie Romanello
    Oct 03, 2015 @ 03:31:15

    I appreciate your blog and expressing your feelings regarding your son’s passing. I can totally relate, my son passed away December 3, 2014 from a methadone overdose. The only difference is I found my son, I tried to wake him and save him. I have a hard time expressing my feeling around people. I want to scream, yell and totally breakdown. I can’t though, if I did I would be considered crazy. I have seen the good, bad and ugly since his passing (I can’t say death or dead), I lost people who I thought were my friends, I have walked away from family, family were the biggest disappointment. I have gone though this by myself. 8 don’t know who I am anymore…. As I look at pictures of your son, I see the same expression in his eyes just like my son, it is if he is not looking at the photographer, he looks lost, as if he is looking at something we cannot see.. I am so sorry for you and for myself, because forever is a long time……


    • Denise
      Oct 03, 2015 @ 08:19:03

      How awful to have found your son – it was a tiny source of comfort that I didn’t have to suffer that particular torment. You aren’t crazy, no matter what you do. All I did for a year was sit and cry, sit and wail, sit and moan. I hated and I needed; I was out of my mind with grief. Oh, I wish I could say something to you – it’s been nearly a year for you, and it’s coming up on holiday time. I do know how utterly miserable it all is. I have found grief quiets down. It doesn’t go away, I am better able to live with it. To let it open me into the what-else. My heart is breaking all over again for you – losing a child is the WORST thing in the world. People “say” that’s so, but you don’t get it if you haven’t gone through it. I wish you didn’t have to, I wish I didn’t it. There are far too many of us out here – we know what we each carry. I hope you stay in touch, I hope you find some comfort in those who love you. I am always here if you need me.


  30. Lorrie Romanello
    Oct 03, 2015 @ 23:18:15

    Dear Denise,

    Thank you for reaching out to me. To be honest, I did not expect a reply. You do not know how much better you have made me feel. My story is so so long, I could never post what happened to my life after my precious son passed. Life can really play tricks on you.


  31. Denise
    Oct 04, 2015 @ 10:32:18

    What’s that saying – “We make plans, and God laughs.” That sounds so callous – I don’t think God’s “laughing,” the point is we just don’t know what’s going to happen. For that I am grateful. Neither of us would give back the time we had with our sons to avoid this – but would that we could have died before they did.


  32. Lorrie Romanello
    Oct 05, 2015 @ 11:03:52

    You know I woke up this morning reliving his death, I went shopping after work, the day after he passed and I felt so guilty that I went. If I would have gone straight home. I knew in my heart that I would have saved him. I tried and tried to wake him up (his girlfriend and their baby were with me.) We gave him CPR. I looked at her and said, stop Samantha, he is gone. A total nightmare……. My husband was home at the time and he was sleeping in his “man cave”. I wanted to blame everyone besides myself. My marriage is not really a marriage anymore, this was not his son, and I will never forget the horrible things he has said to me. One that really got me was about 3 months after his passing, my husband said I need to pick up the pieces and move on, people die everyday. I tend to be with men that really aren’t that great. Should of, could of, would of……. Yes I am aware of that, but my son passed, not his children that I raised…… My son’s girlfriend is doing drugs again, and I found the baby on May 11, 2015. I asked if I could take her for a couple of days (this precious baby was in a drug house without electricity or water). I had to play a game in order to take her. My ex-husband (who was a horrible father figure to my son besides being an alcoholic, drug abuser, philander and physically and abusive (I divorced him when my son was 5), have custody of her. What really aggravates me is that people say, at least you have her. That does not take the place of my son. I love her so much, don’t get me wrong, but people are so stupid sometimes I just want to punch them. My son’s father was a piece of shit, but I tried in vain to keep my son away from him, and unfortunately he turned out like him, to be honest I wish it would have been my ex-husband instead of him. I feel like I have lived a “Jerry Springer” episode. I was not raised like this…… To make matters worse 4 months after he passed, I was accused to doing drugs int he workplace. They took me out of the building like I was a common criminal, I drug tested and was negative. Then they decided that I needed to take a leave. I have worked for the School District of Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida for 31 years. I was hysterical. Work was no better when I went back, my boss who cheats on his wife stated to me on my first day back “That I needed to just forget everything that happened and go on with my life.” On employee told me, that I was a contributing factor to his death, because I did not let him grow up and be a man (she professes to be a Christian). So many mean people. We celebrated my granddaughter’s 1 year old birthday recently. Of course I do it all. But it keeps me busy, the days I don’t have her I don’t know what to do with myself. I have basically reverted to a hermit…. I don’t go anywhere, I have walked away from so called “Family” who were not there to support me or help me. I do go to therapy… It is helping to some extent. I have been asked to do a article with the Tampa Tribune. I don’t know if I will do it yet. I have too much anger……


  33. Denise
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 03:00:35

    There is no such thing as “picking up the pieces” or “moving on.” I think when people say things like that it’s their own fear, their own refusal to face death. We don’t live in a society that discusses death and are so unprepared for when it happens. Your son’s death is now part of you as he is – and will always be – part of you. We have to figure out every day how to live with this. I barely went out for a year after Philip died. I still stay home a lot when I’m not at work. I’m still vulnerable, I still ache. I refuse to spend time with anyone who creates needless drama. I just can’t take it. When your child dies, you see what’s important real fast.

    I am so sorry for all that you’ve been going through, as if your son’s death wasn’t enough. I have a daughter, and I kept reminding myself she needed me. You have a granddaughter. I think having someone you love and have to take care of helps – but nothing is going to take this away from you. And you wouldn’t want it to – your grief is because of your love for him. You can’t have one without the other. We don’t realize the risk we take when we have children. We wouldn’t change it – better to have known them for a time than not known them at all.

    Trust that whatever you have to do to deal with this, you have to do. If you can, try not to listen to those who are uncaring. If you have to stay in, if the only person you can tolerate is your granddaughter, if you’d rather watch TV to escape or spend the day crying – it’s up to you. There is no wrong here and you are not here to hide your feelings because it makes anyone else uncomfortable. People will always say stupid things. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know what else to say, sometimes it’s because they want to control your actions because they can’t deal with grief. When they act like that it has nothing to do with you – it’s all about them and you need people who are about YOU.

    I wish you some small peace – my heart is with you. Please don’t hesitate to stay in touch if you need to – if you want to email me, it’s


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