Tuesday, September 27, 2005

inappropriate, yet effective

To Kitty:

Thanks for your words of support. I had no idea the words "slanty vagina" would have the effect that it did, but I'm glad you were prescient enough to know. Was it the specificity that was achieved by adding that one modifier that did the trick, or that it was an unexpected pairing? You get me, you really get me. Kinda like how Alec Baldwin really knew that wasn't Meg Ryan inside Meg Ryan's body in Prelude To A Kiss, that it was an old man inside Meg Ryan's body. I feel that if some old man inhabited my body, you wouldn't have to kiss me deeply and with a little bit of tongue to know it was an old man and not me.

Monday, September 26, 2005


I'm back in Los Angeles and I'm still not sure how I feel about that. Laura's internment in Hawaii was one of the hardest things I've had to go through and I'm glad it's over. I'm still feeling a little wrung out.

Friday, September 16, 2005

honolulu, then havana

At long last we got the word from the cemetery in Hawaii - Laura's burial is set for Wednesday, September 21st. I fly out to Hawaii this Sunday and return in a week. I'm not sure I want to come back to Los Angeles, not for a while. I just don't know where else to go. My brother-in-law James has told me more than a few times that he can't go anywhere in this city - everything reminds him of Laura. I understand too well.

Maybe because we were in a Cuban bakery/cafe, but at lunch the other day I told James and my brother Angel that I wanted to go to Cuba for a month. I had just polished off this amazing pastry - a ball of ground beef inside a mashed potato ball, deep-fried - sort of like shepherd's pie but because of the shape, more like shepherd's balls. I finished one of those, started on a chicken empanada and thought, "I could eat nothing but Cuban food for two weeks straight. With desserts, rum drinks, good music, and a copy of The Snows of Kilimanjaro, I could stay maybe a month." More importantly, I have no memories of Laura and Cuba.

We stopped short of ordering one of each pastry in the display case, but just a little short. Hopped up on sugar and dreaming of sultry nights at El Floridita, I made my way back downtown, mentally packing for Honolulu and Havana.

I need to be more careful with what I eat these days.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

300 lbs by christmas

My neighborhood never lets me down, I can always rely on it to keep me in check. I was walking to Cole's last week and I happened to fall a few feet behind this pimped-out, Jheri-curled, street Lothario walking in the same direction. He kept turning around to look at me. We were almost in front of Cole's when he turned around and said, "Excuse me, I don't mean to keep turning around to stare at you, but, I see you have hips."

If I don't lay off the alcohol, ice cream, truffles, creamy potato salads, french dip sandwiches and other goodies that kind friends and roommates are offering me to stave off the sadness, I could, at my current rate of expansion, weigh 300 pounds by Christmas. That may be a slight exaggeration, but just the same, I better take the feedbag off. I probably shouldn't have eaten flan for dinner.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

hawaii postponed

I'm still in Los Angeles and I don't know what to do with myself. Laura's funeral in Hawaii has been postponed due to problems with permits. I have no idea when I'm flying out to Hawaii, no idea when Laura can be placed in her final resting place, and no idea when I'm coming back.

I'm okay. This past Thursday I slept for the first time in I don't know how long. I had been waking up with that fuzzy, cotton-mouth that you get when sleep is induced rather than achieved naturally, but it's getting better. If I concentrate on Laura's memorial service at Adam's instead of the awful religious ceremonies that my parents guilted Laura into before she died, I'll be okay.

There was a reception after the mass on Wednesday, I headed straight for the bar at the Knights of Columbus Hall. It wasn't Cole's, but I didn't want to sit in that tacky fluorescent-lit hall filled with people who didn't even know Laura. Okay, I didn't head straight for the bar. I headed straight for the ladies' room for a relaxing smoke. Then I sat in that bar with James for hours, drinking and trying to ignore the idiocy around us.

Afterwards, James wanted to watch a stupid movie so we could not think about everything for just a little while. So Lynn took James and me to see The Brothers Grimm at the Arclight. We got there just in time for previews, but Lynn and James wanted popcorn and soda. I was so glad they missed the previews, the first one was for Corpse Bride and the last one was for The Exorcism of Emily Rose, neither one anything that James would have responded well to. I just shut my eyes and went to my quiet place. The bourbon took its toll and James fell asleep for everything but the last 20 minutes. I was, unfortunately and despite all the alcohol and controlled substances, wide awake for most of it. Afterwards we sat at the bar, drinking and debating whether we should watch The 40-Year Old Virgin. But we opted to go home and medicate ourselves even further.

The cousins have gone home and my friends needed a break so I've been alone the past few nights. I think needed a break as well, back to solitude and what life was like before. Then my psychic told me that I shouldn't spend so much time by myself, that I should be around friends. James told me last night at Cole's that it doesn't take a psychic to figure that out. What I am trying to figure out is what to do with myself now that Laura doesn't need me anymore.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

letter from senator boxer

At Laura's funeral service yesterday, Tom Bohigian (from Senator Boxer's office in Sacramento) said some wonderful things about what it was like to work with Laura and the contribution she made to the Boxer office in downtown Los Angeles. I wish I had a transcript of his speech, but here is a copy of Senator Boxer's letter to the President of the U.S. Senate, entered into the Congressional Record for the 109th Congress, which Tom read yesterday:

Senate - September 06, 2005

Mr. President, today I pay tribute to Laura Esguerra Adams, a member of my staff who died last week after a valiant struggle against cancer. I want the Senate and the American people to know about this extraordinary young woman who served us all so well.

Laura was my Web designer, in charge of my Senate Web site. Over the past several years, she transformed "boxer.senate.gov" from a simple, nondescript Web page to a modern, cutting-edge site that has won awards for its clean look, comprehensive content, and accessibility.

Today thousands of Californians visit this site every week to get up-to-date information, express their opinions, and obtain help from my office and Government agencies. Laura's many additions to the site included video updates from California and the Senate floor, contests for kids on Earth Day and the Fourth of July, and dozens of links to other sites providing news, information, and assistance.

Laura was not only a tremendous asset to my staff; she was also a joy to work with. She was smart, funny, and most of all big hearted. She was both tech wise and user friendly, always willing to share her knowledge and expertise. In our Los Angeles office, she organized great potluck lunches where she cooked well, ate prodigiously, and shared her eclectic taste in music of all kinds--good, bad, and strange.

A truly urban Angeleno, Laura lived in a downtown LA loft and recently led her new husband James and their wedding party on a candlelight procession through the center city.

Laura was a highly skilled and devoted public servant who believed that technology can and should add to our understanding of Government and give more people the opportunity to participate in our democracy. I deeply appreciate her service to the Senate and the people of California.

I know Members will join me in honoring the memory of Laura Esguerra Adams and sending our thoughts and prayers to her husband, family, and many dear friends.

Laura was so happy working for Senator Boxer. She loved her co-workers, she told me funny stories about them all the time. It did my heart so much good to see so many people from the Boxer office at Laura's bedside during her last week with us, at her memorial service, and at the mass. Her picture is up on the Senator's website, check out her work if you get a chance.

Monday, September 05, 2005

mass, memorial, and funeral services

Following please find the schedule for the mass, memorial service and funeral service for my sister, Laura:

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Viewing/Visitation – 1:00pm to 6:30pm
Rosary Prayers – 6:30pm
Downey Zrelak Family Mortuary
10229 Paramount Blvd.
Downey, CA 90241

Memorial Service – 7:30pm
Home of A. Martin
533 S. Los Angeles Street, 7th Floor Penthouse
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Mass – 10:00am
St. Raymond Catholic Church
12348 Paramount Blvd.
Downey, CA 90242

Reception – 11:30am
Knights of Columbus Hall
11231 Rives Avenue
Downey, CA 90241

Laura will fly to Honolulu, Hawaii where she will join her maternal grandparents and uncle at the Kaneohe Family Plot.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Blessing – 10:00am
William Funeral Services Chapel
931 Hausben Street
Honolulu, HI 96826

Followed by Funeral Procession to Memorial Park in Kaneohe.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity in Laura's name. If you don't have a favorite, some of Laura's were:

American Cancer Society
Los Angeles Public Library, Adult Literacy Services
National Endowment for the Arts
National Democratic Party
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

coming together, going to pieces

Last night my dear, smart, funny, beautiful sister lost her fight with cancer. Laura stopped breathing at 10:35pm while she lay in bed, sleeping peacefully.

Flanked by my two favorite cousins, I said what I am sure is just one in a series of final goodbyes to a sister I love so much. I spent the rest of the night drinking to Laura with friends and family - admiring her strength, courage, spirit, love, and uncompromising pursuit of a life lived artfully. But right now I'm alone and my heart hurts.

Information on the mass, memorial service and the funeral will be posted as soon as we figure it out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

laura comes home

My sister Laura is at home now after two very difficult weeks. She's had two hospital stays in those two weeks. Initially she was admitted for pneumonia and an infection in her lungs. Last Wednesday, she suffered a pulmonary embolism, which left her even weaker and in more pain than ever before. She came home for two days, but it was the most difficult two days that she's had since her diagnosis last July.

This past Saturday I received a phone call from my brother-in-law James. He asked me to come over right away - Laura pulled out her gastric feeding tube. I don't know how long it took me to run the two blocks to their loft, but by the time I got there the paramedics were already there, and Laura was already inside the ambulance. She was lying there looking at me yet her eyes registered nothing, not recognition, not relief - nothing. It felt like the earth had opened up beneath me and my legs were giving out from underneath. Somehow I made it inside the ambulance for the ride to the emergency room. The ambulance ride was just the beginning of a long hellish weekend spent at the hospital.

While at the hospital, Laura made the decision to not have the gastric feeding tube reinstalled. After many tearful discussions with friends, family, doctors, and social workers, she maintained her decision. On Monday her doctors told us that her cancer was so advanced that even if she reinserts the feeding tube, she would most likely still have the same amount of time with us. So now Laura has come home to spend her last days with her family and friends. The doctors say that she has anywhere from a few more hours to a few more days before she leaves us.

James and I talked about how to break the news to her friends and loved ones. We planned on spending Wednesday calling everyone then posting the news on our blogs. But every time James tried to think of what he was going to say, he broke down and cried. Every time someone called to ask how he and Laura were, he was a mess. So I took his cell phone and Laura's, then told him with every confidence, that Adam and I would take care of calling everyone and that I would screen their calls so that he could spend the time watching over her. I dialed the first number calmly, thinking of all the phone calls I needed to make that day, intent on crossing this off my to-do list and quickly getting back to spending however much time I had left with my sister. I think I was on the second sentence of that first phone call when I lost control. I heard my voice crack and it was downhill after that. I sobbed through the call then dialed the next number to do it all over again. I don't know how, but I made it 2/3 of the way through the list before Adam came home from work to help. We slogged through the rest of the list and then I tried to figure out who wasn't on the list that needed to be called. I can't help but think that I'm forgetting someone.

Except for immediate family and a handful of friends, Laura hadn't seen anyone or ventured outside (except to the hospital) since her wedding in May. In the past few months, Laura hasn't had the energy to receive visitors, but everything was different now. Although we tried, no amount of preparation helped ease the shock of friends seeing how emaciated she was (she currently weighs 75 pounds), or how her pain medication rendered her virtually unresponsive to visual or aural stimulus. Every time someone came to visit Laura, it was fresh hell all over again.

After the last visitor had left, after Laura drifted off into a drug-induced sleep, we all went to Cole's. I tried so hard, but no matter how much I drank, I remained stone-cold sober. No matter how tired I am, I still can't sleep. And although I may think I've shed enough tears, that I've been wrung dry and cried out, the tears still keep coming. I think this is what it means to come undone.