Sunday, April 5, 2009

Random Sunday thoughts.

I sometimes feel like every morning I go through the trauma of realizing my daughter is dead. It makes me feel like that dude in Memento, I need to write myself notes.

"Your daughter is dead."
"You realized she is not coming back yesterday."
"You put away her clothes except for a pair of socks. You did that on purpose."
"You saved her picture in a hidden folder on your computer, so you don't happen upon it. The folder is entitled "Christmas"."


My house is decorated with balloons and streamers and monkey stuff. Beatrice turns two on Monday, and we are celebrating her birthday today. She wanted "ice cream. sushi. pizz-y." I am still undecided about the sushi, but life seems too short not to indulge. I keep thinking I should have cleaned more, or done more, if I had the energy, if my youngest daughter hadn't just died, but I am what I am. I'm not hosting the Queen, just my mother, step-father, and my sister, her husband, and their kids. I can only warn them that the dust bunnies are mostly harmless.


Lucy died on December 22nd. It has been a little over three months ago, and I'm not sure how I am. Some days, I feel human, and other days, I feel like the "Undead"...terribly aware of the horror of my existence, and yet hungering for human brain. I am in the zombie daze. Am I dead, or am I alive? I just can't quite be sure, because I am walking. One leg in front of the other, arms outstretched for what? I do not know.

Spring is springing here, and I try not to read omens in every popping bloom in the garden. My daffodils came up pale yellow this year, as opposed to say bright yellow. Not exactly sure why, but I'm trying really hard not to see it as a sign of something...well, you know, not science-y.


Yesterday, I had breakfast with the beautiful Molly. She is amazing. Colden and Lucy died within four days of each other right before Christmas. We began writing within two weeks of losing our babies. I'm not really sure where I would be today without her in my life. Wherever it would be, it would not be pretty.

I also filled out the paperwork to adopt a lab puppy. I am trying not to get too attached to him just yet. It isn't finalized or anything, but I woke up in the middle of the night imagining our house with a puppy. I'm really excited. Sam and I have been talking about getting a dog since we met. In fact, our first date we went on a bike ride, and then ended up at the dog park, where we sat and talked about how awesome dogs are. (We have simple conversations.) We talked about how much we both wanted a dog, but it was unfair in the city when we both worked so much. When we moved to the burbs, we were having a baby. It seemed insane to try to figure out a puppy and a baby. Last summer, we really started looking and talking about it. At the end of the talks, we decided it would be too hard with a newborn. It makes me so very sad to think that right now is the perfect time to get a puppy for us.

Still, a puppy!


My amazing friend Sid came to see me about a six weeks after Lucy died. She took the train out to the burbs with her ukulele and song book. That meant the world to me. We were going to drink mulled wine and play music together. Though incredibly well-intentioned, we both couldn't really figure out how to play the uke and guitar together. On the same song. At the same time. I think it is because we both were trying to play didn't really matter. We talked all day, and it was wonderful.

I just needed it, so much more than I realized. In the beginning, people asked me all the time, "What do you need?" How the fuck am I supposed to know what I need? I need my baby. Beyond that, a little food, a toilet, bourbon? I had no idea. So, those very nice offers of "call me if you need anything" were just sort of empty phrases to me. They meant, "I want to help, but you still need to be in control." Sid came to see me without me having to say, "Come. I need you." That was a godsend. She told me about her twin nephews Zachary and Nicholas who died after coming a little too early. It made me so incredibly sad again for her family. It made me cry again. I had ached for her back then, but in my anemic non-babylost way. I didn't really know what it meant, I mean, not in the way I now know.

A few weeks later, Sid's sister-in-law sent me the most amazing email. I hope she doesn't mind if I quote from it, because I think of some of her words often and I wanted to share them with you.

I remember the constant realization of "still dead" -- that it was actually a surprise to me, the immutability of it, the fact that it was never going to change. I kept getting the kind of sudden adrenaline hits that wake you up from nightmares because my subconscious was screaming at me to end the bad dream. And the deer-in-the-headlights look that people got, the silence that surrounds the death of a child. It's conveyed even in our language -- if a woman loses her parents, she's an orphan, or her husband, she's a widow, but her child.... there isn't a word. Our culture can't bear to look it in the face. And like you, I know many more people who have lost a baby than I ever imagined I would.

Before Nicholas & Zachary died, I saw grief as something that could hit hard but gradually healed every day. When I was where you are now -- about three months out -- I felt like people were expecting me to be well on the path to healing, and it just wasn't happening. I was like a marathon runner who discovers that the next six miles are all going to be uphill. Oh, and you get to run the course ten more times right after that. I also remember thinking that I had no idea what crying was before my sons died. I thought it was that thing you did at sad movies -- tears running down your face, maybe a hitch or two in your breath. Not keening, howling, screaming into your drenched pillow. I imagine you know.

Yes. Yes, I know.


  1. Oh Angie. Three months hit me almost harder than the every day before that. The shock began to wear off, and the true depths of all that I lost began to sink in. For months I woke, as you, thinking Ezra couldn't possibly be dead and gone forever, until I'd have to remind myself that he is indeed dead and will be forever. I don't feel like that in the mornings anymore, but it took lots of time. I am still awakened to new depths of the loss daily.

  2. Ugh. That's what I have to look forward to in two weeks? My daughter turned one three days after my son died. I still had her birthday party the day after he died. I think I was in such shock that I just kept going through the motions of my life at that time. Good luck.

  3. Angie, thanks for coming up for breakfast yesterday. It means so much to me to get to know you in person. I'd like to meet this puppy you'll hopefully be getting soon!

  4. "Not keening, howling, screaming into your drenched pillow" ... yes, we know.

    May Bea have a special day tomorrow ... dust bunnies and all.

  5. Oh yes. This is all so familiar. I too have felt like the walking dead. And I also hated "call if you need anything". I needed plenty, but hardly anyone could just come here and actually do it for us. Those who did - are like gold. That email is amazing. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. Oh yeah...that line about "I felt people were expecting me to be well on the path to healing..." Yeah.

    At some point I just got really clear that there is a HUGE difference between care and cure. Those who wanted us cured (and maybe I even expected it of myself on some level), though there would be a fix, a healing, a getting over, something concrete we could ask for in the way of help, they give it, done. But those who understood that the integration of this new reality -- a true addressing of grief -- came with *Care*!! They were blessings indeed. They show up coz they care. They sit and let us cry as a way of caring. I began tending myself out of a sense of care instead -- being gentle with me, allowing the rollercoaster of grief and love flow thru me.

    In the "cure" model, I had to get better and have no more "bad" days. In the "care" model, I got to just BE present, whatever the day was like. Even now, 10 years out from Kota's death, in *caring* for myself and my relationships with others, the days are "good" or "bad" or "inbetween" -- doesn't matter as long as we feel whatever we feel in the moment -- and my partner and I are present for each other in that. If that makes any sense at all? :)

    Lots of supportive vibes to you!!

  7. Angie,
    There's so much in this post that compels me to comment. But, I think the most compelling is the part where you talk about the people who say things like, "If you need anything, call. Let us know what we can do." The best people are those who say, "I'm bringing you supper. I'm taking you to coffee. I'm watching your child so you can lie in bed." I'm not saying I want somebody to RUN my life. But, those who realize that we all need food, a listening ear, and rest are truly gems. They simply announce they will provide that. They don't put back on us to ask.
    My mother asked if she could do our laundry this week. I finally agreed because it seemed like she REALLY needed to our laundry. But, I told her that it's really not all that helpful to make us bring the laundry to her and come back to get it when it's done. It'd be much easier for us to just load into our own washing machine instead of hauling it across town and back. She agreed to come get it. I thought this might work. But, now she's giving us a huge bowl of guilt to go along with our grief. Thanks, Mom.
    I think what I'm saying is it's so hard to find friends or family who are able to just bring a meal or make some other gesture without acting self-important or behaving like a martyr.
    I can't even express how 'spot on' that email was. She nailed it.
    P.S. THANK YOU so much for your support the last few days. Don't you just feel like the actions you must perform and the face you must put on to simply exist in the world these days become nearly impossible after awhile?

  8. oh angie, i remember those mornings all too well. i thought maybe i would finally wake up from this nightmare. but each morning i would remember, remind myself that he died. i would feel my flabby belly. remember all the horror that had happened and not want to wake up. not want to live.

    once in a while i still wake up hoping that it was all a terrible nightmare. but now i'm pretty much used to it being my shitty new reality. it's still hard to believe that all this happened to me. that i was pregnant. that i grew a beautiful baby boy. for what? for his body to lie in a grave. it's too awful. but it is our reality.

    what struck me in the email is how she says she never knew what crying was... i so relate to that. i did my fare share of crying but nothing like this wailing of my soul for the loss of my own flesh and blood.

    i'm here with you angie

  9. Happy birthday, Beatrice! Angie, I hope today that you can find at least a few minutes of happiness when you reflect back on the joyous times two years ago.

  10. Thank you for sharing that email... three months - shitty time. Well its shitty all the time but you know what I mean. xxx


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