3rd Angelversary

Mom wrote a sweet letter to Ali today for her 3rd Angelversary. 3yrs..can’t even wrap my brain around that. Well written, Nonni!


Here we are again revisiting a day that changed all of our lives so drastically. Speaking solely for myself…life will never be the same…tears will always be a part of it now. Yet as I am on the receiving end of so many daily signs that you are next to me, I sometimes have to pause and laugh to tell you that “I get it” and “you can let up a little after 4 times in one day”! You promised if God allowed that you would inundate me with them so I would never be without you. Oh what a blessing and comfort they are but that hole in my heart is never to be healed, Allison. Would I ever dream of questioning the Good Lord???…never. He has His plan. We discussed that many times. We are here to do His work only and to go Home to Him and rejoice. I believe we are on loan to our families on earth. Could I ever believe that someone would want to come back here from Paradise?…never. But it is soooo hard without you. I just miss you soooo much. I sat and watched a courageous 19 year old today help change the world through her gift of sports and bring more people to The Lord. And the tears flowed. She reminded me so much of you, Ali. She also has an elevator waiting for her when she passes soon. Please be there to greet her and ask the Lord to wrap Himself tightly around her family, they have no idea how much harder it will become. I feel so totally blessed here with all our family around me, especially all the grandbabies, but heaven is enviable. Life isn’t easy. The kids keep me hopping and I truly love all the time spent with them. ( You better be there lots when those twin boys arrive tho!!!) While Olivia was with us this weekend I just watched her and saw how much she really is like you. She can’t help me enough and loves doing all the artsy/craftsy stuff too. She’s very sensitive and plays quietly by herself just like you used to and loves reading her books to me and vice-versa. Her dolls are her world too, changing outfits ten times an hour! You would absolutely love being with her, she such a girly-girl. One big difference is that she stands still while I’m doing the creative hairdos…never to move at all when a curling iron is near!!!! If I remember correctly, I wasn’t even allowed to get near you with a brush for one whole year, hence those great photographs that remain!!!! Olivia and Ben have such a great relationship and he has been bitten by your clothes buying bug so she will always be in style. I know you had your hand in his hiring Jaclyn too. What a gem nanny she is and how she loves O. She is doing everything that you talked of doing with Olivia as she grew up. Olivia loves her so much and all of us as well. Your daughter talks of you constantly and we share stories about you every chance we get. A day doesn’t go by that you are not mentioned. I promised you that and I can’t imagine how it could. I have to say tho that I still see her looking like Ben and his family but the words out of her mouth are yours. And the dramatic body and hand motions are definitely you too. Guess we’re going to be sitting as her audience soon watching her plays and dance steps too. She soooo inherited your love of dancing and she already has the moves! Ben started her in ballet classes so recitals are in the near future too. Yes, all of life keeps us busy and I haven’t changed in that department, but you are the missing link in all of our lives. I see something and my mind throws me back to when you did that, or how you did that…from a baby on to motherhood. It’s etched in my head. My memories are so clear that I think that you’re really being gone is impossible. How can it be three years already? When all of us are together we each secretly still wait for you to arrive, allowing us the moments to have a little peace of mind. But then that damn reality hits again. If it’s not me then someone has to bring your name up. We can’t exist without you, Allison. Then the funny stories begin to make us all laugh. I know that’s what you want us to do, laugh not cry. Just keep staying next to all of us and all of the signs help so much. Besides each of the family now, your friends can’t wait to tell us what happened to them. I don’t understand how some people can’t see what is put infront of them. I am so proud of you and God sure blessed me when He allowed me to carry you to birth. I have to keep concentrating on the fact that I will see you again someday because I sure miss seeing that beautiful face of yours daily. I find respite in all of the pictures and videos of you but the most peace is felt knowing that you are with God. No harm, no pain, no sadness and only paradise is yours. Thank you Lord. I love you Ali Burger.

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3rd Annual Rock Pink Par-Tay

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Fernbank park off Rt 50 on the Westside. 12-4pm

Bring a new book or $5 a person.

Join Ali’s family and friends for an afternoon of family fun at the third annual ROCK PINK PAR-TAY and support a great cause. Ali Tracy Nunery’s life was cut short at the age of 31 yrs. in 2011 after a short battle with a rare form of lung cancer. Only married to her husband Ben for 2 1/2 years she also left behind a 1 yr old daughter Olivia. Ali changed the lives of so many people in the Cincinnati area and around the world through her passion for service and library education. In that spirit of service, the Rock Pink 4 Ali Foundation is dedicated to the mission of spreading literacy and education by donating books to schools, libraries and hospitals locally and beyond. Please help us by donating a new book for ages 6-20 yr olds and allow us to pass on the gift of literacy to libraries and children in need and continue Ali’s legacy.
So put on your favorite pink threads and tutus and come out to Fernbank Park on July 19th for a picnic grill out to celebrate the life of Ali Tracy Nunery. We’ll provide the music, the food, and the fun. There will be split the pot, auction items, and much more. Admission is a donated new book or a suggested donation of $5 per person.

See you there!

Love, Ali’s family!

3rd Annual Rock Pink Partay!

Who is ready to PARTAY again?

DadAli Mark your calendars for the next annual ROCK PINK PARTAY! It’s going to be a great time! We are celebrating the day after Ali’s 34th (wow!) bday!

JULY 19, 2014

We had a great time picnicking last year and hope you will come to Fernbank again! And don’t worry, we will all be rockin’ our pink again!

benBahaha. This image was in the beginning of their relationship. I really didn’t know Ben well at all when we took this image at our old loft photobooth. So glad I can finally use it for something other than blackmail. Thanks for the smile Uncle Ben! :-D

Anyone who wants to help or donate items/food/your talents/water balloon throwing skills/breaking down table skills…please email Nonni. mamabam@zoomtown.com

thanks! Love, Melanie.

Saying Goodbye . . . Again.

The last two years have been a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least.  There have been ups and downs to such extremes that it leaves me wondering how I’ve managed to piece together anything that resembles a normal and happy life.  But, hindsight being what it is, I can look back now and recognize the progress I’ve made as a grieving widower and a single father to an amazing little girl.  These past two years have had no shortage of emotional hurdles to overcome, some small and some large, but none as big as saying goodbye to the home that Ali and I built together.  The home we started our married lives together in.  The home we brought Olivia to after she was born.  The home we turned from a shabby little fixer upper into an award winning showcase property (according to the Price Hill Press!).  In many ways it felt like the last vestige of the life that we set out to build together.  It felt as though leaving that house would be the first step in a new life that Olivia and I would build together. . .without Ali.

We said goodbye to Ali two years ago but her presence has remained undeniable in that house.  Every square inch of it was carefully and thoughtfully decorated by her and it was as if she had never left.   I remember, in the days and weeks after she died, it was impossibly difficult to live there day in and day out with constant reminders of the loss we all suffered.  I walked around the house with blinders on just trying to avoid looking at every little item that she left behind.  And slowly those reminders of the pain turned in to little moments of comfort.  I knew she was gone but I could look at her things, all those untouched little artifacts, and know that she was there with me.   I found comfort in bottles of shampoo and drawers full of socks and jewelry still neatly organized.  But always in the back of my mind I knew I would eventually have to say goodbye to the shrine that I was building up in my mind just like I had to say goodbye to her.

Ali and I bought our house on the day before our wedding and we thought that having some of our wedding photos taken in the empty house would be an appropriate and memorable way to commemorate such a big step in our lives (see the original wedding day session here).  As wedding days go, it all happened in a blur, but those images represent some of the happiest moments in my life.  It was the beginning of what we planned on being a long and happy life together.  And so, when it came time to pack up the house and schedule the movers, I struggled with the thought of saying goodbye and walking away without something to commemorate such a big step in mine and Olivia’s life.  Having world-class photographers in the family is a nice perk that I try not to abuse, but I managed to sneak into Melanie and Adam’s busy schedule and we set out to once again do a photo session in that empty house.  Only this time I would have a different partner, although one just as beautiful.   It was fun and strange and sad and comforting and just about every other emotion you can think of.  And, it wasn’t until I drove away that the significance of what we had just done hit me like a ton of bricks.   These would be the last memories in that house.

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Side by sides from the original photo session on our wedding day.nunerys023 nunerys022nunerys014
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I did it for me.  I did it for us.  I did it so I would have something to show for the love and beauty that occupied that house for a short time in our lives.  I wanted to be able to show Olivia the place where her mother and I started our lives together and dreamed of raising children.  I thought it would be much harder to say goodbye in this way, but as I sat in the driveway, ready to drive away for the last time, I realized that it’s just a house.  The memories of Ali don’t live in that house.  They live with us, in our hearts.  We take them with us wherever we go and they will live with us in our new house too.  A house is just a house.  Yes, I will miss it but I still have the memories of Ali and I still have Olivia, the most precious evidence of the love Ali and I shared and still share.  Since Melanie posted the photos on her blog, many people have asked me how I felt while doing that photo session.  What I want them to know is that this isn’t a story about grief and loss and hurt.  Yes, I’ve gone through those emotions and still do but that’s not what I want people to see in these photos.  This is a story about love.  The pain is nothing compared to the love that I feel for Ali and Olivia and that’s the story I want these pictures to tell to Olivia in the years to come and anyone else that sees them.  The pain will subside little by little but the love never will, no matter where we live.   Our lives will continue down a curvy and uncertain path but Olivia and I will be able to look at these photos and know that for a short time there was a place where I was the luckiest man in the world, even if just for a little while.

- Ben

See the full photo session here


2nd annual Rock Pink Par-tay!

It’s that time of year! Mark your calendars now for a fun memorial for my sister! (If you click the image, you can see it larger.) Share with your friends and join the event on facebook so you can RSVP. We would like to have a pretty accurate head count for ordering the food.

RockPinkFlyIf you are interested in donating additional items (a basket for our raffle, food, drinks, etc) please contact Denise. mamabam@zoomtown.com

Thanks! Hope to see everyone there! Love, Melanie.

Welcome Home.

I have so much to say but words are escaping me lately so I will get out what I can. 6 years ago this month, we bought our first home in Westwood. We poured our hearts, souls and a shit ton of money into making it our own. I loved that home. It was so good to us and we were so thankful to have been gently eased into homeownership.

When we decided to list the house I just knew I would sell in 2 weeks or less. It was priced cheap for a fully renovated house on a great street. In fact almost every single one of the inspectors/contractors/appraisers/whoever else I paid money to that had to come into the house immediately said how perfect and beautiful it was. All were floored at the selling price and THREE of them were mad they didn’t see it listed because they wanted it!  As most of you know, my sister Ali lived with us there. (She’s the real reason the front yard no longer looks like the forest shown below. She insisted we tear it all out and plant new. She was good at spending our money.)  But I was also confident Ali would see to it that the transition from one home to the next would be as easy as possible on me. Sure enough, 2 weeks and a lot of prayers later, we accepted an offer. Packing up began and the (stressful) buying process began.

Now I knew leaving the house would be hard but I had been so anxious to get into the new house that I wasn’t feeling very emotional. And then came moving week. Gah. Ali barely lived with us for a year and a half. That’s not even a long time. But in that short period, loads of memories were formed. Unforgettable ones. When my sister passed, at least I still had our house full of memories. I could close my eyes and see her on the couch next to me. Hear her footsteps above me. Hear her yelling at me from the kitchen that Adam didn’t do his dishes again. See her out the living room window cutting not just mine, but our neighbors grass at a jogging speed (to get exercise) as she crossed through 3 yards back n forth. All of those memories were readily available when I needed them just by looking around.

When I started reorganizing and de-cluttering (like a million diff times) pre listing, I would find things she left behind at my house that I didn’t realize. Mostly just piles of crap in the basement that was once were her super cool goodwill purchases and needing to be taken back, immediately. But then there was the bin full of college photos and other randoms where her smile was ear to ear. I could hear her laughing. Then there was her Michael Jackson memoribilia board with a record, sequin glove, cassette and a printed autograph. My tears turned into laughter and I was able to go back working. On the last night at our house I laid on our mattress on the floor next to boxes and my broken down bedframe just absorbing as much as  I could. It’s so silly to think the memories weren’t coming with us to the new house, but it was the feeling I had over closing my last open chapter to her life, with me.

The second day after we closed, I went alone to a mostly empty house to clean for the new owners. Wouldn’t you know the only things that remained hidden for me to find were Ali’s! I know she did that just for me. Closure I guess? Upstairs I found her round brush wedged between the sink and the wall. The back of her old closet was open to crawlspace. There I found a couple of her (14 thousand) totes. (I actually left them there, just because. And also because they were ugly, which is probably why she originally left them.) As I vacuumed the upstairs one last time, I was not really shocked to see glitter from her over dramatic Christmas tree still stuck in the wooden floor boards. I cried. A lot. I was very thankful the new owners didn’t come to get the keys then, because they may have thought I was a real nut job. And after I finally gained my composure I went to the basement to gather up odds and ends and I caught a glimpse of color wedged behind some old door frames resting against the wall. It was one of her many $2 hula hoop impulse buys. If you know her, you can easily understand why that’s funny. Again my slow falling tears turned to laughter and I called Adam to meet me at the house because I couldn’t walk out the door alone, forever. So just like he carried me through the threshold on our wedding day, he carried me out. And I say that laughing because we aren’t romantic. I actually wanted to gag just writing that sentence.

Here were are 6 years ago. (I’m pretty sure I just finished playing 3 back to back soccer games.) Lilo looks like a baby fox. HA! I really REALLY wanted to get an updated picture of the 5 of us with the sold sign but unfortunately that didn’t work out. Wouldn’t that have been adorbs? BOOO.

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And now we start a new chapter. A very exciting and overwhelming one. Our house is much bigger and has a lot more space for the kids to mess up and for me to clean. Really, just more space to lose them and for them to do bad things that I can’t see. And now we have 3 floors that we use daily. Both Nori and Adam complain about the amount of steps they have to walk, but I’ll tell ya, I’m appreciating the extra exercise. (Sad that I consider that exercise?)

I’m SO happy the buying process is finally over and we are settled in. Shout out and many thanks to Frank at Option Financial for busting his ass to allow us to close on time! I’m pretty sure no other lender lets clients meet til 1030pm on a weeknight and responds to phone calls at any hour of ANY day. Anywho, we love it already. Took a couple weeks but I kinda don’t feel like I’m house sitting anymore.  Bonus is, I’ve known a handful of our neighbors for 10+ years and on top of that, there are kids everrrrrywhere! Over the weekend there were some school age boys hanging out on our retaining wall. I went out to introduce myself and they’re response was, “Hey. We just like to hang out here. It’s our spot. You got kids for us to play with?” I love it. Nori is in kid heaven. Adam and I are back on our old stomping grounds and he picked up his old running route from college. I can’t believe we are those people but we really are, Westsiiiide fo life. :)

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I’ve been instagraming bits and pieces of the house interior. Maybe one day when it looks more like what I want, I’ll share here. :)

Ps. The old owners told us after closing that the bushes in the back were rose bushes. It was a very pleasant surprise to wake up yesterday and see them full of PINK blooms!! So I guess Ali did find her way here after all.

Heart, Melanie.

Ps. Brittany and Brian are moving too!

pmhs walk 2013

Thanks Purcell Marian for donating some of this years walk proceeds to the library in Ali’s name again! We had fun bringing up the rear AGAIN. :) pmhswalkps. Adam is missing because he had to go play golf that day and leave the walk early.

pps. We are still planning on doing an event this year on Ali’s bday weekend (july 20th), we are still talking about what we want it to be like, perhaps not a walk…more of a picnic?

Love, Melanie