a sucker punch

I was talking to someone the other day. It doesn’t matter who it was. It could have been anyone in Jack’s life. A teacher, a babysitter, a friend, a grandparent, his father, his sister, one of his aunts or uncles . . . we’ve all been there. Ill-prepared for a blow.

This person shared that something had happened (something relatively small) and suddenly the reality of Jack’s life – it’s limitations, it’s complications, every fear, every worry – all became magnified. Before they even knew what was happening, their heart started to race and tears fell.

“If only I’d known it was coming, I could have protected myself.”

That’s the problem. You can’t always be prepared and ready for pain. That’s no way to live.

No matter what gets you to your soul. Worry over your kids or your parents or your job or your mortgage or who is going to be our next president – it’s just too exhausting to walk around “prepared” all the time. And, you would miss out on so much of the fun stuff.

We’re all Jack’s cheerleaders, supporting him as he enjoys his life. And he does – he enjoys his life. Despite all the things that got stripped from him, JACK ENJOYS HIS LIFE. So the rest of us, follow suit. A good mood is contagious, and when you are on the Jack-train you can go along for quite a while and forget that there is anything other than rainbows and good music.

Unfortunately, it’s when you don’t have your armor up, that little stuff can really get to you. Someone asks when Jack is graduating or you find an old picture from “before” or you see a kid riding his bike down the street with the same look that Jack used to have as the wind blew his hair. Things that some days can roll off your back, suddenly stab you. It’s a sucker punch.



I’ve had my share of these moments the last year. Graduations, proms, college letters – all reminders of what Jack is missing. I’ve found myself out having fun, when the littlest comment hits me. My behavior becomes erratic. Awkward moments with friends and family with my only excuse being that I’ve just been hit and I need to catch my breath. Don’t ask too many questions, don’t get on my bad side, don’t be late for dinner, and don’t tell me that YOU’VE had a hard day. I have very little patience when I’m recovering from a slap.

So that’s what I told this person who loves Jack. First, we cried together for a while and then I reminded them that they are not alone. Everyone who loves Jack (every human for one reason or another) has those moments. We are allowed to be angry/sad/frustrated, we just can’t let those emotions win. The next time they feel their mind racing about how unfair life can be, they need to find Jack. Let him give one of his magic hugs and go back to focusing on the rainbows and the music.

After all, we can only really enjoy the good times if we allow ourselves to really enjoy the good times. We all know that we will be hit again, but walking around with a helmet on is no way to live.

Love, Jess


Traveling is like childbirth

Traveling is like childbirth. Once you look at the result, you forget about the pain.

When my parents announced last year that they were buying a house in Santa Fe, I thought they had lost their minds. “Santa Fe? All the way in New Mexico?”. They pointed out that it was closer and easier to get to than Chile (where we have a family home). They didn’t seem to appreciate how ridiculous that sounded, so I gave up. I assumed it was some sort of late mid-life crisis and that they would come to their senses.

Thank goodness they didn’t.

Getting to Santa Fe was a journey. We left the house before 7:00 am with three suitcases, two carry-ons and a diaper bag. An Uber took us to Newark Airport where we flew to Denver, took a tram to grab our luggage, found a bus to get our rental car, and drove to Taos, NM. In Santa Fe’s defense, we did add Taos to the trip and we did drive the long way through Colorado. Sounds like an odd choice for us and our diaper-wearing/medication-needing boy, but we wanted to see as much as we could. It was worth it. Colorado is spectacular. The layers of mountains and color made for a bearable six hour drive and some pretty amazing photographs (of corse, I only drove for an hour . . . ).


We arrived to Taos around 8:30 pm and found a local restaurant. We were exhausted, but did enjoy a nice dinner before finding our hotel and collapsing quickly into bed. Unfortunately, I drew the short straw and had to share a bed with Jack. It’s not something I would recommend, especially when you’re really tired. He wiggles and kicks and pees. A trifecta that doesn’t lead to a great night’s sleep. I woke up cranky, wondering why my parents couldn’t have gotten a house at the Jersey Shore like everyone else. Santa Fe is really, really far away.

We had a light breakfast at the hotel and did our best to see as much as we could around Taos. Then we had lunch and, between the food and the charm of Taos, I started thinking that maybe New Mexico wasn’t so bad. But, we still had a couple of hours before reaching our final destination. Why is Santa Fe so far?


Back in the car heading to Santa Fe we enjoyed the landscape, but had our fingers tightly crossed that we would’t need any emergency diaper stops. Our journey just kept going on and on, until finally WAZE told us that our exit was in .5 miles. We’ve never been so excited.

We pulled off the exit and suddenly the interminable trek to get there seemed to evaporate.

Santa Fe is not the easiest place to get to, but once you arrive, it’s breathtaking. A perfect combination of art and food and shopping and hiking and really good spa treatments. If only it were closer to the ocean, it would be called heaven.


So now I get it. My parents aren’t nuts. There is something magical about Santa Fe (New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment). It also looks a lot like Chile and the quiet pace of life out there is a wonderful balance to my parent’s busy lives in New York.

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating 50 years of Juan and Jean. Although there were hours and hours of planes, trams, and automobiles to get there, it was worth it. And, Jack managed to NOT create any sort of funny/awkward/smelly stories along the way – or no more than in a normal day in Maplewood.

Love, Jess

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50 Years!!!! Thank you Nonno and Mymom for a wonderful weekend and sharing Santa Fe with us!

. . . dear, dear, dear, dear, Santa Fe



I act as if we’re moving to the moon every time we’re going away on vacation. I feel the need to travel with enough medication to get us through a year, and find myself cleaning the house frantically before we leave town. Our dear friend, Maria, is holding down the fort while we’re gone, and I can’t imagine she would care of the basement closets were organized — but there I was this morning, tackling the unnecessary job. And, I kept adding to the pile of “things that need to be packed”, having no idea how we are going to manage getting everything into those suitcases (and is 5 pairs of shoes really necessary?). WHY is vacation so stressful?!?!

No one wants mom going into the trip anxious and cranky. Deep breath. It’s going to be a great vacation.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is where we are headed tomorrow. A long overdo Cappello family reunion to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary. 50 YEARS! We’re looking forward to being with family and finally seeing my parent’s new home-away-from-home. Having never been to that part of the country, we’re excited to explore and see as much as we can. For that reason, we decided to fly to Denver and drive to Taos on the first day of our adventure. It seemed like such a great idea months ago when we planned the trip, but now my heart is racing as I imagine a day where we added a six hour drive to the journey. I need to breathe and remember that getting there (can be) half the fun — ONLY IF I LET IT.

Deep breath.

In my defense, most of the packing and organizing is left to me, and traveling with our boy is rather complicated. Add planes and long car rides and there is a bit to think about. It’s not just our constant bathroom concerns (a theme for our family), it’s that we need to make sure that we have enough of everything necessary to get through the trip. Medicine, diapers, chucks, wipes, clothes, sunscreen, more clothes. We also can’t forget to request a wheelchair for the airport. Walking with our hop/skip/jumper (AKA JackO) through terminals is tedious AND his curiosity can be hazardous. Imagine a security line, tightly filled with people. Jack can’t help but pat unassuming heads and lick attractive arms. A wheelchair prevents some of these embarrassing exchanges and allows people to understand that we have a “special” situation. There is the added benefit that it also often expedites the security lines, but it’s tacky to discuss the benefits of putting your teenage son in a wheelchair. Shhhhhh.

So, I’ve been packing, cleaning, confirming flights/hotels/cars/wheelchairs, and primping (Jack and I both needed manicures). We’re almost ready for the trip. I’m not sure why my heart is still racing. I need to relax and focus on the wonderful adventure that lies ahead. It’s time to breathe and think about Santa Fe.

“Santa Fe, dear, dear, dear, dear, Santa Fe.” Bob Dylan

Love, Jess

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Sorry. I do have a good excuse . . . really good . . . but I will save that news for another time.