Monday, September 1, 2014

On Being Robbed

I had planned to write here about that September feeling that never fails to hit. Back to school, although filled with so much anticipation and excitement, always makes my grief over losing Grace sharp and terrible and fresh. My own personal calendar always marks September as the start of a new year. And after Grace died, that new year reminded me of all she had been robbed of: first grade, getting her training wheels off, losing a tooth; choosing a middle school, taking art classes at RISD, finding friends and getting crushes on boys; growing tall--the same pediatrician who accurately predicted Sam would be 6't predicted Annabelle would be 5'11; growing beautiful; going to high school and making her art; college visits. This year we would have brought her to college for her freshman year and mourned her absence. That seems ironic. That seems as it should have been. Instead we were robbed of her and all her beautiful life would have been. Sam was robbed of that sister he adored, of making more memories with her. Of sam and grace, that dynamic duo.

Almost everyone I love most was born in September (with a nod to my two April babies): Gogo, GJ, Gina, and Grace. So that even her birthday is wrapped up with the joy of celebrating so many people I love. Ah. September. 

Saturday I flew to Atlanta for the Decatur Book Festival (absolutely wonderful!) and came back on Sunday (yesterday). I went from the airport to Gogo's to spend the afternoon with her, then met hubby and annabelle in Jamestown for a party. They'd camped out the night before. 

We got home some time before midnight and I went to the kitchen to set up the coffee maker. First thing amiss: the Jambox on the floor. Second thing, a window open. My heart immediately sunk because in the 15 years we've lived here, we've been broken into twice, both times through a kitchen window. As a result, I am neurotic about locking up, closing windows, etc. I asked Annabelle to please close the window (right around the same time I noticed the coffee maker was facing the wrong direction). Annabelle said the lock was broken on the window, and puzzled, I stacked cans of tomatoes on it to keep it closed. Upstairs, I went into the dressing room and saw the top of my bureau was empty: beautiful Mexican jewelry box gone. I ran into the bedroom where hubby was calmly reading and began shouting, "We've been robbed!" And babbling about the window and my jewelry box. He squinted and pointed: "isn't that your Mexican jewelry box?" And there it lay, emptied, on the bedroom floor. 

I immediately thought of what was taken: my Mexican necklace. My mother's pearls. My father's wedding ring. My Grace earrings. You see, I don't care for diamonds or emeralds. I wear the same chunk of turquoise on a cord that I got in Guatemala a few years ago almost every day. I'm not one for fancy stuff. But what I have--had--was sentimental and important. To me and only me. 

By this time, we started running around, taking measure of what had been taken. Hubby's great grandfather's gold cuff links. The necklace he made me from a stone from MtKilimanjaro. He climbed that mountain after Grace died, a way to keep grief from making him insane. 

Annabelle cried, "Did they take my violin?" I remembered that long ago, our Japanese exchange student had her clarinet stolen from a bus. So maybe instruments were something thieves take. And that violin? We rent it. I imagined how much it would cost to replace it. Annabelle was crying and scared and I ran to check downstairs. 

And fell down the stairs in my panic. 

The violin was not taken. But I have a pulled bicep, a sprained ankle, a sprained finger and thumb. 

Today was spent swallowing Advil, talking to the truly wonderful Providence police, taking inventory, fixing the window. The thief removed a window box and crowbarred the window. He wore gloves. He knocked over the Jambox as he climbed inside. 

My combination if sadness and anger has fluctuated all day. I've cried. A lot. What's been taken can't be replaced. I don't usually cry over things. Like I said, I'm not fond of fancy jewelry or labels. And I've lost so many people I love that I've come to understand what really matters. But in this month of sharp grief, as I'd already been thinking of what we've been robbed of, this seems especially cruel. 

Tomorrow, my arm will hurt a little less. School will start. September will begin in earnest. Tomorrow, I will still be measuring what we've lost, as if it could ever really be measured. 


  1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear this. I understand how upsetting it is, as a couple of years ago, we were robbed, and my father's watch and my mother's engagement ring were taken, among some other things that had sentimental value.

    I tell myself that they were things that represented the people, and that they shouldn't have been that important. But they were.

    Hope you are feeling better and recover soon.

  2. ann, sorry. sorry . about the break in. try the pawn shops and CASH for gold places in the area. you might get lucky. keep your chin up . xo

  3. Oh, I'm so sorry. And the bicep/ankle/thumb are insult to the real injury. Offering you more Advil from afar.

  4. Dear Ann,
    I am so sorry for your loss, and for the pain on top of the pain. You have my kindest thoughts and my sweetest prayers for healing, and for the recovery of the dear things taken.

  5. Well that sucks. And I know that's not very poetic, but it's what comes to mind. Sorry we share the planet with people like that. I, too, should be dropping Noah off for his freshman year of college. Instead of one more slightly used mortar board found discarded on a closet shelf, I'm left clutching this keyboard instead. Carry on, chica, one breath at a time. Yet one more cruel reminder that there is always more to lose. And more to gain as well. Besos y Abrazos.

  6. Oh, Ann, I'm so sorry to hear this news. We were robbed once--on our son's birthday when we were off with a party of boys to bowl--and I'll never forget that feeling of something being violated to what felt like the core of my soul. Gone were our son's new gifts, my jewelry (including the pearl necklace my father gave me after he'd had a heart attack so I'd have something to remember him by should he die from another one and I still hide my remaining jewelry and therefore most of it I never think to wear), our music components, and CDs. Interestingly, the thief was very selective on the CDs and only took the very best jazz and left the rest. Anyhow, this wasn't meant to be about me but about you and your family. I hope your faith in people and peace within your home and heart are restored soon. And take good care of that sprain. All best from Ted and me, Annie

  7. Anne: Third try to respond to this blob. So so sorry for your losses and your pain. I hope you heal up quickly and are able to overcome the loss of your family heirlooms which have no sentimental but only monetary value to those creeps that invaded your home. And, my Sicilian blood hopes that they get what's coming to them, and pay for the pain they have inflicted upon your and your family. At least they were too stupid to notice Annabelle's violin, and that it is safe. On a lighter note, I cannot wait to read your new book, I am waiting for The Park Slope Community Bookstore to get it in on special order for me, as I did not want to buy it from Barnes and Noble. And there I will be able to use my ten dollar discount that I earned from all the other purchases I've made with them. Also, looking forward to seeing you at The Italian American Museum on Sept 22nd, I used to live on Lafayette Street for a short amount of time in the late '70's, and have never visited there, so it'll be interesting to me as I am of Italian heritage. So take care, and rest up for this upcoming book tour.

  8. so so so sorry, Anne. I'm glad today was better. But oh how I hate that thief who wrecked your serenity coming home from Decatur. Feel better - useless words - but I mean them. You're in my heart.

  9. I’m sorry to hear that you had to go through all of this unfortunate events. I can only imagine the grief that you’ve been through. But I hope things are turning up well for you and the rest of the family now. Take care!

    Jerry Brady @ LambertAndWilliams