Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I planned to write a holiday blog.  That was my intention on December 14th, when I arrived at Panera’s for my usual Friday afternoon writing session.  I’d been running around all morning, delivering cookies to a friend recuperating from surgery, going to my yoga class, to the post office to mail goody tins to family.  An ordinary Friday in December.


But when I opened my lap top, I immediately saw this was no ordinary Friday.  The headlines on Yahoo glared out at me.  “26 Killed in Elementary School Shooting.”  At first, I thought it was a hoax.  I mean, how could this be possible???  But I knew in my gut that I was hoping for a miracle.  It had happened, and the world had become a darker place.


That’s all I can say.  There are no words to express my horror and grief…so I won’t even try.


On Saturday morning, my daughter, Leah Speer, had an op ed published in the New York Post, and with her permission, I’m going to share it with you. 


After the Massacre: What We Can Know


After tragedies like the Sandy Hook massacre or the Clackamas shooting, you try to make sense of the world you live in. You find yourself trying to find answers. You are needing an answer to the why.

Through it, you come abruptly face-to-face with what you do have, what you’re so thankful for.

But you fear that you can never be sure.

You can’t be sure when you tuck them into bed tonight that they’ll be running down the stairs to climb on your lap tomorrow, way earlier than you had wished.

You can’t be sure when they roll their eyes at you in the school drop-off line after you shout “I love you” embarrassingly loud that you’ll hug their warm, soft bodies again.

These days, you can’t even be sure you’ll be returning to their soft kisses after a quick run to the mall.

So what can you be sure of?

You can be sure that tonight, when the entire house is quiet and his little lips are allowing such sweetness of small breaths to exit his dreaming body, that you are so very thankful for all of your blessings. With his blue satin blanket laced between his little fingers, grab his face and kiss it — don’t be afraid that kiss might wake him!

You can be sure to let go of the three meltdowns from earlier and the spilled Crystal Light on your newly steamed carpet. When you look down at her body snuggled comfortably in her bed after she’s exerted all of the day’s energy, really see the depth and the magic of her being.

Exhausted from that 2:00 a.m. wake-up call? Be sure to snuggle with your beautiful baby, hold her tighter than ever. Be sure to let go of the stress that you feel being behind on holiday shopping.

Let go of the guilt you feel when you lay in bed with your child until they fall asleep because some book told you not to. Be sure to grab your children in a tight embrace.

In the madness of an ordinary day, it’s so hard to take the time to visit those questions . . . to really take it in. The magnitude of what you truly have. Every lesson taught; every kiss sealed onto their forehead. Every “I love you” realized.

In every waking moment, be sure they know they are loved.

While your heart is aching for those affected by such horrible tragedy, pray for them. And in every single moment you wish you could have just a little space to breathe, a little extra sleep, or have it be just a bit quieter — be so grateful for all that you have. And breathe . . . you can be sure of that.

Leah Speer, a Sandestin, Fla.-based writer, is co-author of “Must. Have. Wine. A Toast to Motherhood.”



To all of you, I wish a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with Peace and Love.


Carole Bellacera

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful for the Kids I Raised

Today, hours before Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for so many wonderful things in my life.  To name a few—my wonderful husband, Frank, of 38 years, my beautiful daughter, Leah, fantastic son, Stephen, two gorgeous grandsons, Luke and Zealand, my loving sisters, Kathy and Sharon.  Family, of course, is foremost, even though I have many other things to be thankful for.  But if you don’t have a family you can depend upon, especially in times of need, not the greatest of career success, the best of all the material riches in the world, can ever make up for it. 
I am so lucky to have the kids I do—Leah and Stephen not only appreciate me, they would move mountains to help me in my time of need.  That, I am 100% certain of.  Not every mother is that lucky.
That point was driven home this week when I took a friend in for her doctor’s appointment after she had hip replacement surgery.  Last year I’d done the same thing for her after her first surgery.  At that time, I hadn’t realized she has a daughter who lives in the area. But that fact came to my attention a few months later, and I remember wondering then why the daughter wasn’t taking her in for her appointments.  It just seemed weird to me. 
So, when I received a phone call from my friend last week, asking if I’d take her in for her appointment this week—the week of Thanksgiving when I have a million things to do, I couldn’t help but wonder again.  Why was the daughter MIA? 
But it wasn’t my place to ask. 
But me being me, I asked.  My friend told me, rather of matter-of-factly, that her daughter couldn’t take time off from work to take her to the doctor.  But then she added dryly that she seems to have no trouble taking off for things she wants to do, though.  Well, I was just appalled.  But it got worse.  Apparently, this daughter hadn’t even come to the hospital when her mother was in surgery.  I just can’t fathom that.  I lost my mother when she was only 63.  I can’t imagine ever living close to her and not being there for her when she needed me! At the very least, it’s called obligation, on the other side of the scale, it’s called generosity and love.  What I wouldn’t give to have my mother with me right now, even if I had to run her to the doctor twice a day.  Maybe I’m sounding sanctimonious here, but I think unless your mother was a monster—someone who abused you or, worse, allowed someone else to abuse you, a daughter or son should be there for their aging mother. 
I feel so bad for my friend—and so lucky to have children like Leah and Stephen.  As far as I’m concerned, I won the lottery when it comes to family.  Frank, Leah, Stephen, Luke, Zealand, Kathy and Sharon, God bless you.  He has already blessed me with you.