August 25, 2004

Sophie - Signs

It's been 6 months, today. How can this be? Look at him smiling out from all the photos, so alive.

This Wednesday the 25th dawned bright and clear, and Rose & I did our 8th "practice walk" to prepare for getting to kindergarten on time. She's so excited -- new clothes, new shoes, a backpack, a new lunchbox, a new routine, new friends to be made. Ray would've been so excited too, the two of them, like a daddy & baby dog, shaking with eagerness for life's adventures.

Rose's new school is called Alvarado, and she'll be in a Spanish immersion program, taught all in Spanish. We did so much research and just agonized over the decision of which schools to request, how to rank them (SF's system is pretty complicated). The three of us drove around to about a dozen options throughout the City, taking notes on the neighborhood, the school site, narrowing it down to 7 or 8 to tour. Ray would come meet me for the morning school tours, roaring up on his motorcycle, leather jacket & construction boots, so handsome. He'd hang on the tour guide's every word, had to see every classroom, ask a million questions, of course, be so enraptured with the art projects, science labs, friendly teachers, kids laughing. Wish we could go to kindergarten again. Such a major decision for us, who gets to spend each day with our beloved girl? Who will love her, encourage her, intrigue her, keep her safe and help her grow? We were happy to find several really good options, and of course had a hard time making the decision. Some of the immersion schools seemed so great, and we loved the idea, how cool will this be? Rose fluent in Spanish & English. Ray was studying Spanish with a tutor, Carlos, and was confident that he could get by (he always managed to communicate, no barriers for Ray, he'd just walk up to any stranger & start talking, who cares if he didn't know the language, he'd make it just through sheer will & friendliness). Then we can move to Spain or Mexico or Costa Rica for a year or two, as we'd talked about so often. So we researched immersion programs, I'd bring home statistics & studies, he'd surf the web at home, and the more we read the better we felt that this was a really good education option for Rose. But still the decision was hard, we were both terrible with big decisions, questioning our instincts, changing our minds. Ray had made a spreadsheet for us to keep track of our notes, and I made it into a matrix, put in all the factors we'd talked about for us to rate the schools. Then he one-upped me, turned it into a weighted matrix! (who knew, how obsessive were we both), and the numbers came out with Alvarado on top. Plus it's only 5 blocks walk down our hill, and a few blocks from the house his parents lived in when he was born. Good karma. But it's a very popular school, reputed to be nearly impossible to get into, we were worried. Ray being Ray just decided it was going to happen. He'd take detours just to drive by it, point out to Rose "there's your new school", brought home more Spanish kids books. I can still hear him reading "Eres Tu Mi Mama?" to Rose.

We got the notice a few weeks after he died, I screamed when I opened it, cried. Ray's will prevailed. No one else I know got their child into their top choice school, nowhere near. He'd be so happy.

Yesterday, as I was walking to work, thinking about true love, I saw my husband's name in the sidewalk. RAY Oil Burners. A very old plaque. I've walked that street many times, never noticed. That's the thing, when your love dies, you get to take any unexpected goodness, anything beautiful, magical, small glimpses of wonder, and consider them as signs. That's my rule.

Remembering Ray, indeed. Every minute. Today and every day.