Thursday, July 17, 2014

right where i am: five years and almost seven months

A few years ago, I launched a project called Right Where I Am where I asked other babylost parents to write about right where they were in their grief. And it also was about how wherever you are, it is right. I asked people to only talk about the present moment in their grief, not where they were yesterday, or tomorrow, but how they were feeling today. I asked each person to title their piece with Right Where I Am: followed by the time since their child or children died. Here is  the first year's postHere is the second year's post. Here is the third year's post. One hundred and seventy-nine people wrote about right where they were the first year, the second year, it was one hundred and thirty-two, the third years, there were seventy. I haven't written here since last year, but I thought this might be a good project for me. Also know that if you are new to this community, we want to hear your story too.  I hope you decide to join in. If you do write, post your link in the Mr. Linky below. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, I'll answer them as soon as I get them. 

Today, the wind blows through the house. The children play in the basement, as the chimes call to them. Come outside, children. Ride your bike. Slowly, they emerge from the earth, barefoot. "The sun," they say. "We see the sun." I don't follow them outside. Since we moved last fall, we don't have city issues to worry about. We live in a rural community far from a main road. We have a few acres, sixteen chicks, and Jack the dog roams free. He sticks close to the house. The stables fill with feathers and entrails from the owls eating rodents at night, and then the other animals scoop up the guts for dessert. My children find this absolutely fascinating. Death in all its gory, life-affirming mess.

It's been five years. We left it all behind, as was our instinct when she first died--to run to the middle of nowhere where no one knew our story. Far from the tree I planted on my first Mother's Day without my daughter. Far from the place where she died and was born and where a funeral director walked with her ashes in the smallest jar I'd ever seen. Far from the people who remember me locked in my home for months on end, and who later whispered, "I remember when you wouldn't talk to me." Far from the hospital where I held Lucia's dead body in my arms, kissed her nose, crying, " I don't want to forget her." The nurse and everyone treated me like a child, then.

"There, there. You will never forget your daughter."

That is not true. I am far from her now.

I don't forget that she existed, but I forget what she looked like and smelled like and whose hair she had. I doubt my eyewitness account. I vividly remember seeing the Easter Bunny fill my basket when I was four; I am a highly unreliable witness. I cling to these things like what color eyes she had, or what color I thought she had when I briefly lifted her eyelids to peek--a color that would have obviously morphed through the months, settling on something else by age one. That color is blue almost purple, but that cannot be. My baby's immutable eyes are a color that does not appear in eyes. Or her hair, it seemed black, except it was wet from birth, and all hair looks darker when wet. Maybe it was brown, or something else. Maybe I should forget those things anyway. They lack the essence of her. And the pictures of her show a dead baby, not my daughter. I don't even look at them now. All those things I thought were important seem meaningless. The things I remember now aren't my memories at all. They are the things that five year olds embody, the things I am missing.

Five is kindergarten and bike riding. Five is writing your name and singing songs Mamas didn't teach you. Five catches frogs in the pond. Five tells you dreams, and sometimes fibs, and often says the most profoundly simple statements that change the way you look at the world. Five is ballet dancing, beauty, curiosity. Five runs and skips rope and tries the hula hoop. Five has baby dolls named Jane and Purple and Apple. Five collects rocks and feathers in cigar boxes. Five kisses and tells you that you are the best mama ever. Five thinks farts are hilarious and helping to sweep is a treat. Five is all arms and legs and not baby anymore.

But Lucia will always be a baby. It is what I grieve most. That she will never be five. That she never lived a life of mistakes and grace.

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my friend. We've met since I moved here, and she never knew me actively grieving. We talked about our respective grief. She asked some beautiful, honest, straight forward questions about Lucia's death and birth. And I welcomed the space to think about how much my life has changed since her death. And to talk about my silent daughter. Lucia gave me many gifts in this life. At five years, I can appreciate and voice that gratitude for her life and death without diminishing the real sadness of her death. Her death split me into two, and forced me to exorcise my demons. My sobriety directly came from Lucia's death; my grief drinking pushed me to look at the ways I use alcohol in my life. I am sober over three years. I wrote about my friendships that have been lost, but I have so many friends who have come into my life because of Lucia's death, or through my other work as a direct result of Lucia's death. These people are my soul family, I think, not just friends. My best friend Jess at after iris comes to visit each year, and we forget we have the dead baby thing in common. It comes up so easily in conversation, we don't even realize we talked about stillbirth right before Run-DMC. I have grown closer to my family through the years as they abided our suffering, then swooped in to remind us they have always grieved with us.My lowest points afforded me my most valued spiritual lessons, and I have gratitude for those lessons.

Because of Lucia's death, I lost the spiritual center I thought I had. I had constructed it of half read books and a respect of faith that I never quite understood. My religion was a mix of Buddhist bravado with dropping acid and running in the desert. But her death brought me to a dark desolate place. There was me. And something had to give, or I too would be nothing. So, I found my true spiritual self, and began healing myself, then others. If you didn't know, I have left this blog for my spiritual writing, but it so often is informed by my experience with grief and in this bereaved community, learning about unconditional acceptance, suffering and abiding. I have made a career of my spiritual work. It satiates me in a way that no other job has, even writing about my daughter. This is another gift from her.

On Vernal Equinox, a week before my husband's scheduled vasectomy, we talked about our last days of fertility. Ruminating about how much we wanted another child, and how silly that would be, and then why would it? And then how we are old now, and sleeping through the night, and out of diapers, and how ridiculous another child would be and how we probably wouldn't get pregnant anyway, we talked ourselves into trying one last time. Just once. On Vernal Equinox. The day marked by bunnies and other horny little animals making littler animals by the thousands. Centuries of people worshipped the day for its fertility. Not surprising in retrospect, we conceived our fourth child on that day. I am now nineteen some weeks pregnant with another boy. We are due on Santka Lucia day in December, only a week before she died.

Life is strange.

Grief seemed like this heavy jacket I would never shake or take off, the cumbersome thing I would carry forever. And anxiety, like heavy rocks, seem sewn into the pockets. And yet, I have either gotten so accustomed to the weight, I don't notice it. Perhaps through the years, worn from salt water and a relentless wind, it shredded without me realizing, falling at my feet as I trudged to the next milestone. I carry a child in my womb with almost no worry of his death. If he dies, we will survive. We will grieve. We will cry. But I control nothing. It is as though I have turned it completely over to the universe--whatever happens, we will face one moment at a time. I eat right, take my prenatal vitamins, see the midwife on my monthly appointments, avoid radiation poisoning, but I don't obsess on his death, like I did with Thomas in my tummy. My anxiety rests comfortably in a lounge chair down in the field. I could call it up, reacquaint myself with its seductive obsessiveness, but I don't. Life is too good without grief and anxiety as constant bedfellows.

My children have grown up without a sister. Beatrice doesn't remember a time when Lucia wasn't dead and I wasn't a grieving mother. Her memories start after Thomas was born. Beezus tells me, "I want a little sister who doesn't die." And I say, " Me too, love." Thomas recounts the little brother he might have had if I hadn't miscarried two years ago, or the big sister that isn't here. He knows they died, and says it like he understands all things die. Raising children in a home with grief means we talk about death fairly often, maybe more than one that hasn't lost a child, but not daily. Unlike other bereaved parent friends, my children have never asked me about their own death, or my death, or Sam's death. They don't seem to have fear around death at all. Of course, I always say things like, "Everyone poops. Everyone cries. Everyone dies." Beezus and Sam grieved when they found out the baby was another brother. "Now, I will never have a sister who lives," she wept into my shoulder. There is no replacing Lucy, she says, but still, she wants a little sister.

When we moved last fall to the middle of my home state, we faced all those old scenarios as though facing them anew. How many children do you have? What kind of writer are you? What did you do when Thomas was born? And those flippant comments about having a rich man's family--a boy and a girl. Or the assumption that we know no grief. That our happiness simply exists because we have money and a house, and not because we fought damned hard through years of therapy, writing, arguing, crying, seeking, meditating, desolation to be happy. But that stuff doesn't phase me anymore. I sometimes say three children, other times two. I don't force it to be my stance, or political issue with every glib question in the grocery line. Once in a while, I go to coffee with new friends, and find myself recounting the story of my daughter's death, telling people who I was and how I survived. And they shift uncomfortably, but also stay open. And I decide to ignore their cues of discomfort and accept their words of reassurance to continue. That they want to know. I allow my vulnerability to be present. I learned that by writing about my own grief on this blog. I learned that when I grieve, I am not a monster. Rather I am a human in its fullest expression.

And though I am far from all the things I once did to remember her, I have grown closer to her now than I ever was. All those things distracted me from feeling the weight of what I didn't have, which was her in my everyday life, and all the ways children change each part of you. I see her everywhere now. It isn't painful. Lucia has become an integral part of our family story, and our family. She is in the lady bugs, and the lush garden, and the chicks who peck at the ground. She is the sigh we have when we see a beautiful baby, and the way we hold each other before bed. She is the kiss we give eyelids, knowing full well the color beneath them. She is the wind and the chimes and the full moon and the prayers and the stardust and atoms and the fireflies. She is everything. Because of her we are here. And here is beautiful.

So, where are you? Tell me Right Where You Are, and share your blog and name below.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

to linger on hot coals

Some mornings, I ache to visit this space. Lucia lives here. She lives here, there, everywhere. 

We moved.

Fall pushed against me, and I collapsed into the flow, gratefully, moving with it all. We are well. The lot of us. New jobs. New schools. New homes. And my perspective lightens in this place. So close to my childhood home, and my people in every nook here. Quiet German stock. Salt of the Earth, which always sounded like an insult to me. It's not meant as such. It is meant that they are my preserver. The one that keeps me fresh and tasty. Familiar. Sturdy. Welcoming.

I write still, create artwork. I mostly pour my energy into my business, the Moon + Stone Healing. Part of the reason I am here writing today is that I am heading over to the Mulberry Art Studio in Lancaster, PA, today at 1p. I am reading some poetry for the new book of Stephanie Cole and Catherine Bayly. I am honored to have some work in their collection called To Linger on Hot Coals. The book's website is right here. You'll recognize many of the contributors: Dr. Joann Cacciatore, Kara Jones, Sherokee Ilse, Laura Seftel, Carly Dudley, Tara Hart, Beth Morey, Amy McCarter, Hannah Logan Morris, Anne Morris, and Devany LeDrew. If you are in Pennsylvania, or in the area, please consider coming by to say hello and support this amazing collection.

I have a book I'd love to give away to one of you. And I will take it today to get signed by my colleagues there for you. So leave a comment. Let me know how you are.

In other news, I am also honored to be in another book coming out this Spring called Three Minus One, which is a piece about my miscarriage after stillbirth. Again, you will recognize some of those names featured. I will give away another book when that comes out, sometime in April. But you are welcome to pre-order it.

I am always here, even if I am not here. So send me an email (though I am crappier about emailing. It takes me days, sometimes weeks, but I do catch up!) Or connect on FB. I am pretty active there. Love to you all. 

Monday, September 2, 2013


There is still so much I think about in regards to Lucy's death. Like the fact I never had a funeral, and that small non-funeral gesture sent out such enormous messages to friends and family. Perhaps that we didn't want to speak of her, or publicly mourn her, or maybe even that her loss, and further our grief, was only ours, not meant for anyone else. We prescribed how others should grieve with us. We told them not to send flowers, or to wait to call. It was all isolation and silence. We did that. No one else did.

We didn't want to ruin anyone's Christmas.

It sounds ridiculous when I say it now. It was two days before Christmas when we returned home without her. Gifts under the tree for her, new ones, and a nursery set up for no one. Our child just died. We made thousands of heartbreaking decisions while I was in labor and she was dead. The hospital demanded it. And I, cramping under the grief, spoke to funeral directors without any emotion. Did we want to have a funeral for our dead daughter the day after Christmas? The week after? Would it matter to us at all in five years?

Throughout the years, I have created many rituals in her honor and her name. All my work has orbited around her death in one way or another in the first three years. Perhaps because all those rituals for the four of us could never make up for that one ritual for everyone else.

December will be five years since I held my daughter. The weight of her I can no longer remember. The smell of her, the look of her, gone like her. I see her in Thor, constantly. I kiss them both when I kiss him. But I wonder if this is the time to bury her, invite the family for a memorial on the winter solstice, include others in our rituals. Is this the time for a funeral?

I imagine it as a huge bonfire on the solstice, us gathered around, remembering there once was a girl who held our promise and love, and she is missed, not just by us, but by all of our family and friends.

I don't know if I had a religion before she died. My religion was me, I guess. Nothing so holy. It was about my enlightenment. My serenity. My peace of mind. And she taught me compassion for others on a global scale. She taught me what it was like to suffer. And not the suffering I had already done--the suffering of a broken hearts and feeling different and letting go of things. Or the suffering of being a normal adult lady taking care of her father, drug addict friends...she taught me that universal suffering, the suffering of grief. To grieve. To let go. To mourn. To be kind in the face of suffering. (I learned that by not being kind.) She taught me all that. I started writing about her and ended writing about everything else, and finding a religion that had nothing to do with a church, and everything to do with everyone else. Through all that wisdom, I would give it all up to have one more day with her. But that is not a choice I am allowed to make. And besides, I wonder if I truly would, knowing she would be gone again, and I would grieve again without any of the lessons I had learned about grief, life and love that I had before that one day.

I will always ache to be her mother, and I will be comfortable with the way life went. It is one of those paradoxes that I would have cringed at in early grief. She is always in my blood. That little smidge of DNA makes her permanently part of my water,  my blood. And so that is how my baby is the water, and this people ash, the bones that are white and grey and sit in my secretary, that makes her the earth. And the fire that consumed her, that makes you the fire. And the prayers and mantras whispered to the wind, calling her for, that makes her the air. And so she is all things to me. I can't imagine her any other way, but esoteric symbols of the infinite--the directions, the light, the dark, the spiral, the labyrinth, the heart expanding infinitely back and forward until it emcompasses all life. But I can't imagine what she would be. Little sister. Big sister. Middle child. Daughter. Grand daughter. I am sister. I am mother. I am crone and I am maiden. And so are you.

I finally am burying her here too. I have to put my grief writing to rest. Put her spirit to rest. I sometimes wondered if I summoned her each time I write her name on my computer or in my journal. Does she come, all put out and rolling eyes?

Alright, Mama, I know, you miss me. Can I go now?

I burned her. (Her body only housed the Lucy I came to love.) And she went with the wind. And what's more..she became the wind  blowing through my hair, a moment of caress, a lover reaching an intimate place in plain site.

Today, I publish my final post on Glow in the Woods. I will be there editorially for a while as we transition a new editor. My grief writing ceased serving me or anyone else. I didn't mind the lack of comments, they made sense to me. There is nothing to say about her death anymore. It was sad, so sad, and now we are here. I don't know what will become of this space. I hope to revisit and use it as my space to write about grief, her death, but mostly about our family. I have paintings for people. I just haven't sent them out yet. Life seems too fast these days. And I am writing at the moon + stone blog every week. But about crystals and tarot. Love to each of you.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kindness Day Crystal Grids

If you have a moment, use these grids for a tonglen meditation or prayer session. I have decided to share this before I go into my painting meditation session, so others can hold these parents, themselves and those they love in healing light and energy. If we are doing this together, the healing energy will be amplified, cascading through the universe. This year, I am painting over thirty paintings. I will be in meditation all day, and through this time, I will be holding these people in prayer and meditation. Later, I will send each person a painting. I do this once a year (sometimes twice). And I am honored to do this work.

As a crystal healer, I feel it is important to set this intention and sacred space with crystals, and create grids, as you see above, to amplify the prayer, reiki and meditations I am doing. These can be used by you as well. You just use it as a soft gaze point in your meditation.

The heart grid is for grief and healing of the heart chakra. It is held for all parents, siblings and families grieving the loss of their baby or babies. For a tonglen, you can breath in their suffering, let it sit in your chest, and breathe out love, or healing, or compassion. This is a meditation to help alleviate suffering. I have written about it a few times. The term Tonglen means giving and taking, and as we meditate with take the suffering into us and give relief, even temporarily, to the sufferer. I have been meditating tonglen since my daughter died. My therapist, a Buddhist, taught it to me as a way to have self-compassion. It has worked. I began using Pema Chodron's CD, Good Medicine. This changed my life. I share tonglen with people whenever I can, because it is so powerful, so healing, so invites me to get out of my own way.

In the bottom grid, the medicine wheel healing grid, it is for all healing and connection. I have spoken the names of the people who specifically requested they be included, but I also included all those who I have forgotten to mention and all of humanity. (We all suffer.) I am also performing tonglen for this session.

I do these paintings and spend this day in prayer and meditation in memory of my daughter Lucia Paz, who left us far too soon, but who connects me to so many around the world. Her grace and life continues to ripple through the world. You can do a MISS Foundation Kindness Day Random Act of Kindness. It is a day specifically set aside to do anonymous and out in the open random acts of kindness in your child's name. Find out more information here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


First things first, July 27th is the MISS Foundation's Kindness Project, and I am participating for the third year. Last year, I made a video of my work, which probably everyone has seen a bazillion times, but if not, this describes what I do and why.

So, again, this year, I am performing a tonglen meditation for grieving parenting, and painting mizuko jizo for grieving parents. If you would like a painting, please leave a comment here. This year, I am also adding an additional tonglen meditation and painting session for general healing. It will be directed to those suffering from emotional, physical, mental or physical dis-ease. In that painting session, I am painting angels. This will be an intuitive session, so I'm not sure what is going to come out. Again, this is a 4"x6" watercolor painting, and it is open to anyone. You can leave a comment here if you would like a healing angel painting. Along with both of these sessions, I am setting up two crystal grids, which will be infused with Reiki and prayers--one will be a grief heart chakra grid, and the other will be a healing grid. If you would like to be included in either grid (or both), please leave your name (or the name of the person to be prayed for) in the comment section of this post. for these grids, I write the names out to be placed under the stone, after I pray and speak the names and issues out loud. For the healing grid, you can include the specific issue you are asking for healing around.. I am sending it out to the universe, so that helps (though please know it is not necessary.) No issue is too small to ask for healing around, so please do not be shy.

Grief and healing grid from last year as I painted mizuko jizo.
It is my distinct honor to paint in memory of my daughter on this day. I spend the entire day in meditation and prayer, communing with grief and Spirit. And I paint. It is a beautiful recharging day for me, so just know if you have ever wanted a painting, do not feel you don't want to burden me. On this day, I mother my Lucia by painting in her name. I just ask that you please please please be specific in the comment section of this post about what you want. Here is what I need to know. Do you want to be included in the healing grid? In the grieving grid? Do you want an angel painting or a mizuko jizo painting? Whose name you would like to be included in the grid, and in whose memory (if that applies)? And what you are asking for prayers for? Please send me a private email with your address which is never shared or disclosed. If you are too shy to leave a comment, then send me an email with all this information. uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com.

Secondly, as you may or may not, I am opening my own practice called the Moon + Stone Healing. I am going to be writing at a blog there twice a week--Monday and Thursday. Mondays will be the Tarot card of the week. Hopefully, this will be a great series for those who are learning tarot and interested in going more in-depth with some of the cards. Thursday, I will be picking a crystal to discuss and share ideas on how to use in every day life, in grids, or with healing work. This week, I covered the Ace of Wands (which I picked randomly), and today, Black Tourmaline. I'm not going to link here every week, so bookmark. Feel free to ask questions there about crystals or tarot or anything that comes up for you. I'd love to field questions around that work there. You can like my new Facebook page for the Moon + Stone Healing to keep up on that work.

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions on this blog that you might have, or that you might think I have insight into, or write about any topic that might interest you. (Clearly, I am begging you for some blogging inspiration!) I have some parenting posts bopping through my head. My favorite thing recently is this picture my daughter drew at yoga class the other day when her yoga instructor asked her what made her happy.

Happy Kindness Day! Go pay it forward, and do something amazing in a baby's name.

Update: comments are closed on this post and all names and paintings have been completed for the July cycle.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


I cover the tarot spread with a silk. Nothing suspicious here, Gas and Electric Meter Reader. We are certainly not gypsy fortune tellers here. My sister laughs as he shuffles through our house, dodging the swings in the dining room. She gives me a side glance.

Who cares what the fuck he thinks?

I don't care. I just don't want to freak him out. He's a minister, he told me once. And he speaks three languages, lived in South America as a missionary. You have the Devil crossing the Star, there is almost no more satanic looking card combination than that.

I suppose I am still in the closet, and still anxious about judgment around being intuitive and using tarot. I am a good reader, though. I can see it now after reading out of the closet for a few years, and seeing how the cards change for people, and how I intuit the cards for people. There is the ridicule, which some say to my face. It's funny, this thing you do...I don't believe in it. I don't believe in New Age. 

I nod.

That does not offend me in the slightest, or alienate, or make me feel bad about my life. There was a trap in my writing. I tugged on my foot incessantly.

How can I get out of writing about Lucia's death when all I write about is Lucia's death?

I have to chew it off. That's the only way. Start a new blog. Under a pseudonym. Or continue to write as the large metal teeth bite into my leg. Even though grief doesn't bite me anymore. The garish accessory weighing me down, attaching it only to grief. No one even resonates with my grief writing anymore, because the grief writing isn't so desperate, raw, important for me. It isn't my oxygen mask, like it was four years ago.

The letters on my keyboard were worn black. I have written the story of grief and loss a thousand ways. I type blindly, but here and there, I forget where the B is located, and it, along with the N, V, C, X, all gone. Typed away.

ealing was never my goal of grief. To integrate this experience, understand it, to learn, grow, become spiritually connected...that was my goal. her death opened the door for me. Not the first year, or even the second really, but later, when the grief drinking got more profoundly overwhelming. I stuffed the grief while simultaneously welcoming the darker emotions,  like anger, resentment, self-pity, the ones that jump on grief like a hobo train to some desolate migrant town in the desert. Anger, resentment, fear, self-pity--I called those grief. And maybe those emotions were justified, but these ceased being useful for me. They became the hindrance to integration. The missing her part was barely there. I never felt her. I lacked the imagination to see her at the age she might have been. I just was angry that no one seemed to understand the hole in me where she was supposed to be.

This spring, I was off the moon cycle after nearly two decades of vleeding, I mean bleeding, in the darkness and opening in the fullness. It was the harbinger of having an autoimmune attack. I grew ill again this Spring. Something foreign I was putting into my body. I was so conscious of it, in a way I had never been, feeling the illness grow in me, spread within my abdomen and my muscles. My doctor has finally diagnosed this as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, rather than allergic to everything. I have found a diet--without sugar or caffeine, or grains--that is making my stomach less grouchy, almost tame and loving. But this attachment to illness, I don't understand it...I hate being ill. Curse it. Spit on it. Refuse to give it power by saying its name. And it still rules me. It is no mistake that I became interested in healing my physical self through my spiritual and emotional selves. I soothe the wounds that lie deeply beneath the surface of me, and talk to my inner child self-consciously, embarrassingly. But it is working. Somehow.

I know my writing is strange and loamy, bones and rocks litter spaces between the words. I have a terrarium for writing, and it is why moss shows up so much in my posts. The truth is I can never remove Lucia from my writing--she is the catalyst for my spiritual growth. She brought up my proverbial bottom. Her death began the deep journey of sickness and dis-ease, and ultimately healing. And the grief trap, no longer feels like something holding me back, it is something I am slowly opening, pushing the secret tab that opens the jaws like a flower unfolding.

And all this searching for healing the spiritual sickness that lay dormant in me for decades, it brought me right here. I am opening my healing studio. It is called the Moon + Stone Healing. I invite you to check out my website, and give me feedback. If you have received a tarot reading from me, I'd appreciate a testimonial, if you can. Something I can use on my website. I'm going to be writing over there at the Blog, which is now empty. Each week, I am going to pull a tarot card, and a crystal to discuss. Maybe other things I'd like to discuss around spirituality and healing. So, come check it out. I'm not sure I will link here for there. Don't quite know what I am doing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Life feels nuts and wonderfully delightful. Summer camps and circles of women and tarot readings and reiki and thoughts about when and where we will be in our life. My vision board keeps catching my eye. "WHERE TO LIVE NOW," it screams at me.

I just don't know, Vision Board.

There are pictures of dirt in our hands and our feet, mindfulness, and uncluttered wisdom, no credit card debt, and a nice little nest egg. We think we have a state we'd like to move, something we have fleshed out through years of discussions and passionate arguing about it. Truth is I need a community who will be open to my particular brand of kookiness, and hikes of spectacular beauty, and a place we can build a huge garden to feed us, maybe some chickens. I welcome the change, and I love my home, my feet in this mud here. My community of drunks and kooks keep me sane. But things are a-changing. No moss on this old croney stone. And, amazingly, the changes feel deeply true. Finally.

I have finished all my coursework for my Crystal Healing Certification through Hibiscus Moon. Laying on of stones, and whatnot, and who's it. The work is so peaceful, so right. Reiki and crystal healing and tarot readings. I am working on developing the offerings of my practice. I followed this path laid out before me, just followed it. It unwinded, unfurled, like a fiddlehead become a fern. I doubted the moisture was good for me, but I walked still. I feared walking too far from what was familiar, but I kept walking. One foot in front of the other--taking classes, signing up for weekends, reading books about things that seemed so esoteric as to be nearly useless in suburban New Jersey.

When I quit drinking, it wasn't easy. I craved a drink nearly every day for eight months with the kind of craving that makes you cry and shake and wish you were someone else. IT was another refrain in my head, "Bourbon. But no bourbon. Bourbon. But no bourbon..." I was afraid to drink and afraid to not drink. I hadn't felt anything but anger and fear in a long long time. I didn't drink, instead I listened to someone with more sobriety than me. I did everything she said, and she told me to do all kinds of crazy things--pray. Meditate. Make my bed. Go to church basements. Call people. Stand in front of a room of drunks and tell my story.

Telling my story is part of my recovery. And sometimes my story coming out of my mouth hardly sounds like my story. It sounds like a novel I once read, a dark tome about sins and redemption. I had a baby once who died. It is only a part of my story. Until she was in my belly, I never knew true happiness. I was abstinent from alcohol then, but not sober. She was this light in my life that drew me to a holy place. I was finding my spiritual footing again, and feeling grounded, lovely, beautiful...sacred. When she died, I lost my spirituality along with my daughter. They were incinerated, and I was given a heartbreakingly tiny urn filled with something that no longer was my daughter or my God. My drinking became dark and overwhelmingly not fun. There was no illusion of social niceties, or the sophisticated sipping of wine. It was bottles of wine and bourbon. I wrote and read about death, breathed it into my lungs. I covered myself with black signs that read, MOURNING. FUCK OFF. Sloppy cries and a existence that can hardly be called existence, and I would know I had to stop drinking. It wasn't my solution anymore to the gigantic hole in me. I'd stop, but then the drink seemed like it had to be better than the pain. And this went on until I decided that I wanted another baby. And then I didn't drink, and my life got worse. My solution was gone, and I was bereft.

Grace. Amazing grace...that saved a wretch like me.

There is a path we walk that unfolds in front of us, like a palm opens in the jungle. Coiled in on itself until it is not. It is wide and broad and accepts the sun and rain in equal gratitude. I had no idea where I was going. Nothing seemed connected. I quit drinking and people told me to pray and remember that deep within me lay something Divine. In each person, they whispered, is the memory of God. And when it felt right, I did it, and when it didn't, I gracefully demurred. And suddenly, it all falls into line and makes sense. This is exactly where I am supposed to be, I realize later.I learned what I was supposed to learn. I walked the path I was supposed to walk, and for the first time in my life, I didn't fight it. I didn't fight me. I was unnerved at times, wanting to know how, when, who, where...and then it was over, and I was right where I am supposed to be, not seeing the end, not quite, but feeling settled in my own old bones.

I have completely upended my diet again. It is upside down--all meat and veggies. No grains. No sugar. No caffeine. Some nuts and berries.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRROWL~there is something distinctly bear-like about the food I am taking in. I have gone inward, taken a hibernation of sorts. I scratch against small trees, knock them over, moan loudly at salmon. Knock down beehives for a little sugah, and never really getting any anyhow. But I feel good, not so padded and slow. The grains make me lumber, on all fours, itchy and pimply.

I have decided to go for my healing business, and what I mean by that, is not wait for things to come, and maybe I get some clients trickling in, but to go for it. Advertise. Write copy. Start a website. Try. I've also begun the process to be ordained as an Interfaith Minister, so I can do spiritual counseling. It is such a strange thing to get an email addressed to Rev. Angie. This drunk. This grieving mother. I may start a religion for grief--it is a compassionate one, where we learn to cry and pray and lean on each other. One day, I realized, after trying all the religions I encountered, that they are right. I had tried to fit myself into one Church, one path, but what if it doesn't work that way? What if that limits God and the Divine? Maybe it is all the paths. Each one is right in their way. The Prophet of Pluralism, I once wrote about myself, like a self-fulfilling title. When I began inquiring, I wrote the ordination committee, and told them about Lucia. I told them about my writing and about the other women and about sobriety and about the circles of people I have joined, the way we sit and abide and speak and make sacred. And she wrote back, "WOW, what a perfect candidate for the ministry you are!" And I sat staring at the note, thinking "Me? Yes, of course, me."

I stare at this enormous black tourmaline in matrix sitting next to my computer, absorbed all the bad juju from my computer. And I think about nourishment and healing and how full you feel when you walk the path set in front of you, lined with berries and prayers. There is a soft candle always lit around my house--it started with her, and continued on a path of its own.

Friday, May 31, 2013

right where i am 2013: four years, five months, nine days

Two years ago, I launched a project called Right Where I Am where I asked other babylost parents to write about right where they were in their grief. And it also was about how wherever you are, it is right. I asked people to only talk about the present moment in their grief, not where they were yesterday, or tomorrow, but how they were feeling today. I asked each person to title their piece with Right Where I Am: followed by the time since their child or children died. Here is  the first year's post. Here is last year's post. One hundred and seventy-nine people wrote about right where they were the first year, the second year, it was one hundred and thirty-two. It was more than profoundly interesting. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, lovely, powerful. I found it fascinating to read last year's and compare where I was last year to this year. But also just to think about what grief is like for me now, and what I am wrestling with these days. Also know that if you are new to this community, we want to hear your story too.  I hope you decide to join in. If you do write, post your link in the Mr. Linky below. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, I'll answer them as soon as I get them. 

Sometimes where I am feels not right. Something more should be pouring out of me. My daughter is dead, after all. She slipped from my body on a cold December evening four years ago, her skin torn and white. My heart broke open, the last of that innocent, young me flowing into her. I felt an overwhelming compassion for all suffering. It was a few weeks of tremendous pain and understanding, then I closed my heart, and waited for someone to work hard to open it.

But that wasn't the worst day of my life. I don't even know which day was worse than finding out she died, but it wasn't the one where I held her. There were random days in that first year, days of darkness and crying and anger so overwhelming all I could do was scream. There were days when people told me that they could no longer abide my grief. Those were bad days. The worst of them maybe came at year three, because the effect of three years of grieving barreled back at me. My blog and writing has never been the same since that day. The worst days.

In the worst days, there were also the best ones of my life. Ones of grace and serenity. Ones filled with gratitude and recognition. This community held me so many times, and I have watched it hold all these people at different times. Those moments of grace, which I have witnessed for four years, humble me. I am privileged to be among such incredibly amazing, creative, funny, smart, deep people.

Here is the thing I dare to write. I grieve Grief. This thing I was so sure of, that drove every moment of every day for those first few years. The aching, the longing, the sadness that rested its head on the shoulder of every joy.

I was absolutely certain of grief, as though it were a person I could commune with, blame for the spilled milk, fight with, bathe with. I could photograph Grief back then, standing in every family shot, right behind me shooting up two fingers behind my head, whispering, "Bunny ears, bitch."

I knew Grief. I could define it. Write about it. Paint it. It looked like me, and it looked like a saint, a bodhisattva, a darkness, an ache, the Angel of Death. Grief looked like weeping, felt like a grenade. And now Grief is gone too.

My daughter's death lies just beyond reach. It was there. She was there. Or rather her absence was there. I was so sure of the negative space that was just the size of her. I could see the place where she should have been, the mother I was supposed to be, but now, it is only this one life I'm living. I'm too far down this path to remember any other path that once opened for me.

She is gone. Poof. Presto. Ala-Kazaam. It is the most terrible magic trick ever. A black sheet thrown over my grief, and it is gone, and so is she.

Perhaps I grieve the immediacy of her death, raw and pulsing. The certainty I had of what people who loved me should do or be or what I needed and didn't need. Do I grieve my bad behavior too? I suppose I do. I cringe and miss the certainty is all. Now, I expect nothing. I don't have a particular burning desire to talk about Lucia Paz and the way her nose was just like Thomas' nose. It just is. Anyone else's acknowledgement of her death, her life, or her absence affects nothing of my feelings about her death, life or absence.

There is a hole in my years, one of grieving, like the years of a drug habit, gone into oblivion. I can recall those months, the darkness and pain almost too much to revisit, so I don't often. It was hard. My baby died. I wrote and wrote and emailed and wrote. I do feel different, like I will always be the woman whose baby died, who behaved badly, who grieved out loud for too long. I protect my heart. Constantly. Always. It will be a life long practice to trust people again, or rather to not care if they are worthy of my trust. I try to make friends, but the ones that I am drawn to are the ones like me, who have something that profoundly shifted everything about them. Mostly now, I am friends with others in recovery. So many of the people I have met through my sobriety have lost a child, or a spouse, or both. Truthfully, I have trouble being a mom in the schoolyard waiting for my kids, making chit chat. I do it. I try, but I can never quite get over that hurdle of "BUT THE BABY DIED." I don't even think it consciously. It is just there. Waiting to be said.

Last year, I was still bleeding from my twelve-week miscarriage. It had only been a few weeks when I wrote this post last year. When my heart chakra broke open then, bleeding the blood of my fourth child, pouring all the love I could into his passing, I knew of this fleeting, precious time with him. This is it. This is all I get.

I let my heart stay open. I let people hold me and pour their love into me. I realize now the heart breaks open to accept the love from others, not to give it to others. I had it all wrong when Lucia died. It is why I had so much hurt and pain from small things. This time, I let myself be loved. I let my circles of women hold me. And in doing that I healed the pain and hurt from Lucia's death. Not the pain of her death, but the unforgiveness and anger I had for the ones who could not abide.

At four years, I have forgiven all those who couldn't be strong. I forgive myself for her death. I forgive the euphemisms and the wrong things said. I forgive all those years. I forgive all those who never said what they wanted to say. I forgive the people who think stillbirth is not a big deal, or that I should be over it, or that anyone should. I forgive myself for drinking too much, and being a rotten friend (even if I could not have done anything more than I did.) I forgive my husband. I forgive.

I am free of unforgiveness. This has been the practice of the last year and it has been incredible to live in healing and reconciliation, to open to the Divine and my own Higher Self. My wings beat hard and strong. I soar. I can tell you that I was not ready for that at year one, two, three, even. But this year, I feel like myself again, the one that I always knew I could be, or was. The one full of forgiveness and love.

There is a different grief in my family right now. I have no desire to write about it. It is something I sit with, turn over in my head. I grieve with someone else now. I open my heart to her, and lay my hands on her, listen and talk. To abide is the great gift of these years of sobriety and grief. I am now capable of being the friend I needed.


Now, it's your turn. Where are you in your grief? Emotionally. Physically. Psychically. Spiritually. You can compare your journey from last year's post (don't forget to link last year's post to this years.) Title your post, "Right Where I Am 2013:(Time since your child's death)" then come back here and link your blog post on the Mr. Linky below. Click other participants and read about right where they are. Comment if you can. Thank you for telling me about right where you are. If you don't want to write a full post, why not just comment here and tell me the time since your loss(es) and anything else you want to share. If you do not have a blog and are a regular reader, you can post your essay on this very blog as a guest writer. Send me an email at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. Spread the word around the community by linking back to this post, so people can find out what grief is like on all stops on the road. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I trucked the kids to my mother's for the weekend of Munay-Ki and meditation, and dressed and chatted Friday morning with Jess, wrote a blog post here. Prepared with a reading and some coffee, packed up my mesa with a rattle and cross and crystals to make a little grid for ascension. As I drove, I prayed, as I always too, talking to my guides.

Please help keep me focused. Please help me recognize when to speak and when to shut up. Please, Guides, if this is not where I am supposed to be, make it abundantly clear. Help me to roll with the weekend, with no expectations, that I may follow your will for the Highest Good of all. Amen.

I arrived and the rites had been canceled. Only I signed up, apparently, and the lady said someone called. Except no one called. Not on my caller ID, or on my voicemail. And I wondered to no one in particular, "Why would I show up if I knew it was canceled?" The children, and the dog were two hours away, and my day was open suddenly, and my prayers clearly answered, and suddenly, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. While I was disappointed, I decided to roll with it. I drove to my sister's house, and sat with her. It is a hard time for her. We decided to call a friend for a spiritual counselling session, and when we talked, she asked me to paint ten paintings for a party on Thursday where she is channeling angels and guides for ten grieving mothers. She asks me to paint Archangel Azrael, the archangel of grief. And then I remembered an email asking me to do some green prints of the labyrinth I had done.

The universe wants me to paint, and so I put on music, pulled off my sweater, and got down to the business of art, my tank top and dirty brick-laying boots stained up with printing ink and mud, I painted angels and printed cards and felt whole.

I need it all. The art and writing and guitar playing and meditation and crystals and husband-sex and tarot readings, all of it together. That is my density. That is my center. All of it, not one more than the other. It was a wonderful couple of days.

On Saturday, we drove to my mother's house, and talked about places and money and the rest of our lives and responsibility and failure and all that we can be and all that we are and our children, we talked a lot about our children. When we landed, it was before nine, and my mother drove us to a little gem and mineral show, where I oooed and aaahed crystals. I shopped with my mother later, and we stopped for lattes. This morning, there was a flea market, and I bought a few wooden boxes, which I admit are my weakness. Old wooden boxes that smell musty and full of secrets. We came home and my mother, daughter and I painted from strange Chinese Painting How-To set my mother found at a thrift shop. I painted wisteria in dirty purple, and my mother painted blue pod lupine, and my daughter painted fruit in a row on the table. And it was a moment, after a long weekend of beautiful moments, that I felt this was exactly where I needed and wanted to be. I didn't have to comment on it, or ruin it by pointing it out, but it reminded me of this story my friend Carol told me. She was down the shore with her children and friends, and she sat in morning light, in a sweatshirt, sipping coffee with nowhere to go, nothing to do, the waves crashing ashore, her favorite people in the house sleeping, and she thought, "Is this the happiest moment of my life?" I wondered it, and dismissed it, but wondered it nonetheless.

I sip tea and try to remember this story I wanted to tell that was funny to me. It's gone. It's the whole reason I sat down to write this afternoon. It's a bitch getting older. The white hairs are wiry and stubborn, but the long black ones are just as tough but lie flat and submissive. You could weave something magical out of the combination of them, I imagine, like a weaver bird's nest, low and cocooned. My children would climb in and exclaim, "Sing us a funny old song, Mama, while we whistle."

I kick my shoes off, singing Josephine Baker Madiana in fake French. I make some ladybug thumb puppets dance the tango in the hole of their nest, as they squeal in delight. It's the happiest we may ever be, but nevermind, we are too happy to take note. It's almost summer, and the mosquitos haven't come out yet, some workshop was canceled and we have a whole day to fall in love with each other.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

meditation on the tower

I wish I had a sister that didn't die.
Me too, Beezus.
But your sister didn't die.
No, I mean, I wish your sister hadn't died.
Me too, Mami.
I know, Thomas.
I want a sister, Mami.
I know, baby.

Off they run, to their play fort and behind the big tree where they create a fairy library with index cards and stamps. All fairy and gnome books, and they too are fairies, dontcha know? But always it lingers. I want a sister who didn't die. 

I didn't know what siblings would be like. It ached in me before Thor came. Sisters. Brothers. What happens with two of them? They play all day together with nary a whimper or fight. It is nothing short of miraculous, watching them negotiate and pretend and talk to their fae sister of the wood. As I watch, I am removed from that relationship in many ways, and that is so beautiful. Their universe, its wonders and phenomenon, I know nothing about. I am the gatekeeper to the real world. I call them back from beyond, feed them real food, scrub the dirt off their knee and kiss their foreheads. I keep thinking about siblings and soul contracts to hold each other.

My sister had a mini-past life meditation a few weeks ago, and saw us together in another life. I, her father, she the daughter. She saw us first playing in a field behind our shack of a farm in rural France, perhaps in the 19th century, then she fast-forwarded to the end of her life, and I was holding her. She wasn't much older. A devastating injury to her belly, and I am crying over her. It felt absolutely true, like, "Oh, yeah, that life." How many lives have I lost children? How many lives have I been a grieving parent? And as she said it, I understood finally the reason people want to know of past lives. It sheds so much light on our own relationship dynamics--we were born perfectly equal, same day, relatively same weight, same home, no power dynamic, and yet me mothering her, bossing her, trying to save her. We have learned to stop that dynamic, finally. in our middle age. Perhaps this is part of my life lesson--to stop trying to save people and worry about saving my own ass.

When the Tower card comes, you never quite figure out what the event is going to be. Mostly the Tower has a bad reputation in the Tarot. That, the Death card, and the Ten of Swords. When people think of Tarot, they say, "I'm afraid to get those cards." And I think those cards are the cards of enlightenment, the cards of rebirth and change and understanding. Lucia's death was a Tower Card moment of my life, a car accident can be. A fire. The sudden revelation of infidelity. Or it can just be the way you look at life, like it is all falling apart. Generally, though, it is unexpected and sudden, a calamity of unimagined potential. It is always outside of yourself, nothing you can control. Except your reaction to it. It harkens to the serenity prayer. You must practice the wisdom of figuring out the difference between what you can and cannot control. When it comes, and you will always know when it comes, the worst has happened and you can move forward now with all the information.

I began reading tarot when I was sixteen. Innocently interpreting everything according to a book. I have grown since then, and had many years off from reading, but I still refer back now and again. Books have the limitation of not intuitively knowing what the other person sitting in front of you is going through. I read for some people regularly, and I have had the privilege of seeing their readings change from devastation to enlightenment. It is so cool. And I have seen that happen with myself. One afternoon, I was reading for a friend, and my carpenter friend stopped by. He said, "Tarot reading is devil worship." And I guffawed.

No, it is.
No, it's not. The symbols are all symbols of the divine. They are a language I have learned to read about energy in the universe, about intention and the soul. It has nothing to do with good or bad, just what you want help looking at.
And he laughed. I'm just fucking with you.

But it made me think about tarot and why people think it is dark or strange. But to me, tarot is a language I learned, the language Spirit speaks to me in. It feels funny to speak this bluntly on my blog about my relationship with Spirit and my psychic abilities. I have always been in the closet. In fact, I think I drank away that sensitivity for many years, afraid of feeling so much all the time. In early sobriety, I would just cry when anyone expressed tenderness or growth. When someone would stand in a meeting and say they had a month of sobriety, I would sob. Or when we prayed together holding hands, it was all too much stimulation of my anahata, or heart center.

This weekend, I am receiving the Munay-Ki rites. My children are going with my husband to my mother's home and I am using the weekend for meditation and assimilation of the rites. Throughout the last few weeks, I have begun the Certified Crystal Healer course work through Hibiscus Moon, so work with my Reiki training and other healing work. All of it is falling into place. As I move into this sacred weekend, I keep thinking of this Tower card, and how so many of my friends and loved ones have gone through Tower moments in the last few weeks. I have not. My life has been absolutely fine, predictable, rooted. I think about when Lucia died, and when I got sober, and when the person I considered my closest friend told me that she wanted me out of her life and further she hasn't really wanted to be in my life for a long time, those were Tower moments in the last four years, and all of those things have changed me, I think, ultimately for my Highest Good. I have learned such valuable soul lessons; I cannot even quite resent those events anymore. These are the things I bring to the weekend--the ability to be torn down and rebuilt over and over again, closer and closer in alignment with who I have always known I am.