Monday, June 29, 2009

Be Present

This weekend while I was sitting with my mother drinking wine, we were talking about my grief. And I said, "I just try to be present." And Beatrice began bouncing up and down.

"Bea presents. Bea presents. YAY! Bea presents."


There are two mourning doves and a hornet's nest that live under my kitchen window. The mourning doves scatter when I walk to the car. I watch them fly off and wait for me to go quiet. After I leave, they fly back and nest again in the river rocks around my house. Their soulful moans echo through the open windows. They make me always remember my grief, even when I try to wash my grief away with the dishes and forget for a minute or two that I should be sad.

I refuse to turn on the air conditioner this year. With the rain and the cool nights, I haven't felt the urge. But particularly, this year, I want to hold out as long as possible before we turn on the fake air, and I once again get closed into our home without the baleful coos and the wind chimes. I'd rather be sweaty than insulated from the outside world. I used to defer to my polar bear husband who begins getting too hot in May, and doesn't stop complaining until autumn, but this year, I want to experience every season--no matter how uncomfortable. A summer without shivering. A summer without sweaters.

I had a dream last night that Sam and I were doing yoga together. Stretching and reaching, and one of my babylost mama friends walked up beautifully pregnant, and I began crying. And she held me and said, "Just cry. It is okay. You just lost your second pregnancy. It is right to cry." And I said, "Yes, sometimes I cry for all my losses." Was this an anxiety dream? A premonition? An expression of our many layers of loss?

Sometimes I don't want to believe in omens and signs, and yet I look for them in every corner. The hornet's nest, the mourning doves, the feelings and premonitions, dreams of my friends and little Lucy acorn girl got eaten by Jack the dog. Here is what she looks like:

Surprisingly, I didn't cry. I didn't lose it. Beatrice screamed, "My acorn baby. My acorn baby." And as I comforted her, I said, "We'll order more." I tried not to think too hard about it. Is that progress? I don't know. I can say in that moment, I was present. Taking care of my heartbroken daughter, not looking for meaning in the dog's chew toy. I wasn't looking for an omen, and that felt good.

I jumped on Etsy and ordered two more acorn girls, and tried to put the loss behind me. She is a thing, not a she. Not my baby. I had seen the signs of Jack's growing interest in the acorn babies, in the little meaningful toys around our house. But I decided to integrate them into our household, it also means I chose to take the chance of them getting eaten, lost, thrown away, stepped on, dipped in paint...a whole host of painful endings. And maybe, if I really look for meaning in things, I should think about why I did that. Why did I let the household with a two year old, a dog and two absent-minded adults in charge of delicate little dolls with acorn caps? Maybe I wanted them to have an ending, not just a beginning and a home in a box on a shelf opened on sad mournful occasions and nights rife with an extra glass of wine or three.

They arrived today, two more acorn babies, and a magic fairy ring.

"Bea presents. Bea presents."

This weekend we headed to the Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival, which is basically a large festival of Pennsylvania Dutch crafts and food. It is hands down my favorite festival of the year. We always pick up some pottery. This year I bought a witchy broom for my house. I have always wanted a handmade broom to use. So beautiful, it leans against our front door. I am still figuring out how to ride it.

Having new acorn babies makes me want to leave some of this expectation behind, makes me want to discover new ways of being present, (and giving Bea presents) also makes me want to leave behind these "things" I covet what I think connect me to Lucy when I know that everything connects me to her.


  1. Oh, Angie. You take my breath away. I love the acorn girls. All of them. Even the one missing her cap. But, you're right. They are things. They are not Lucy. And of course you connect with Lucy everywhere in everything you do. I guess that's one beautiful aspect of all this. She's always with you.

    I want to go too. Next year I'll hit some Dutch-oven-food vendors along with you. :)

    Why do our puppies chew everything? I could buy a boat load of Nylar bones and C would STILL eat my couch. And the kids wooden toys. And pillows.

    What's your favorite wine? (Somebody once told me she's never met a red she doesn't like) Email me and let me know. I'd like to branch out a bit.

    Peace, my friend.

  2. Can I just say, your Bea sounds like the most wonderful little girl. I wish Lucy was here to learn from her, Angie.
    Lots of love to you, my friend.

  3. Bea's presents are beautiful. I know they aren't Lucy, but I think it's nice to have certain reminders that are stronger than others, if that makes sense.

  4. The things - I really try not to put too much meaning into the things that remind me of Sam - for awhile I wouldn't wear the socks I was wearing when giving birth (and that's all I wore, I tore off the gown they gave me, I've always preferred to be naked and have no shame) but then I realized - they're just socks. Plain, old socks. I love the acorn dolls and am all for Bea getting more presents. Much love.

  5. that first paragraph really made me laugh...i love that...the present. my dad used to read me a book called the precious present.

    i look for signs and omens everywhere too, i think back to all of them before lev died.

    i;m glad you got to go to a festival and get new acorn dolls and a witchy broom- i love that.

    sending you lots of love angie

  6. You are so right! Everything connects you to Lucy! We can always keep our babies close to our hearts.

    BTW.. when you figure out how to ride that broom.. I'd love some lessons! ;)

  7. Oh the omens, the dreams.
    I still see omen everywhere and think back to fitiful sleep and the chaos dreams.
    I think that you didn't lose your cool because you are more at peace. You made a choice somewhere in there to not be upset, to take it for what it is instead of attaching a deeper meaning this time. I have found things to be less raw lately.
    Angie, I still think of you often.
    The way you put words together is so beautiful.

  8. Looking back, I can see a few "omens" of what was to come but at the time, I had no idea. Or maybe they were not omens at all but just random things that happened and in my desperate attempt to make sense of it all, I interpreted them as such.

    I hope that you can continue to be present - unfortunately, it's all that we can do for now.

    Sending love...

  9. How sweet Bea sounds. Sweet little girls...

    I held onto so many little things that had been there when Alice was born. The clothes I wore, the hospital bands I wore. I have to say I kept them all. Once I had a melt down because Minnie had my hospital band. Now, I try not to get so worked up about it. She is here always.

    Sending my love, xxx

  10. hi angie. what a beautiful post. i always miss your writing when i'm away from it too long. i am with you on the natural air, feeling everything and of course, being present. its so challenging but so important.

    your daughter sounds so precious and i love the acorn dolls. its so interesting to think about why we did something - like leave the dolls around knowing something can happen to them like that. its like you want to prove that everything is precious no matter how little or how much you try to take care of it.

    we all need to remember that our babies who are not here are not attached to any "thing." its hard though. i don't have many thing attachments for some reason. though the box from the hospital with all the stuff is totally torn apart by one of the kitties. she was so drawn to it for awhile and i would keep putting it back in the same place. so strange.

    have a breezy weekend xo lots of love


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