Monday, June 15, 2009

don't cry

Alone. I said I feel alone in my last post, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling guilty, because when I say alone, I mean, us. We feel alone.

Which isn't really alone. I know.

I try not to take Sam and Beatrice for granted, and yet I must. I said it after all. I adore my little family. I experience the enormity of this life with them. We travel those vast rolling hills of grief together--its ugly shadowed valleys, its sunny moments of peace amidst chaos. I almost compared to grief to Sisyphus, but it isn't like that at all. It is not up and down endlessly. Then the lows, well, I would know when they were coming. It is more like I have some vengeful bully following me around, kicking my rock back down the hill indiscriminately. And he mocks me at the same time, throws questions at me about why Lucy died, telling me stories about other children who weren't wanted who survive. Sometimes the bully goes away, and I can roll my stone up the hill, and then, suddenly, it rolls down on its own accord. Not even gravity can account for falling in love with a dead daughter and all the heartbreak that comes with it.

Last night, I began reading the Children's Mythology book to Bea for sleeping time again. We read the story of Diana and Actaeon. The mortal hunter Actaeon unwittingly happens upon the goddess Diana bathing. She turns him into a stag deer, his hunted, and his dogs rip him apart. The story ends in this anthology with a sentence something like, "And this story shows how the goddess Diana could be harsh and cruel in her punishments." You think?

And when we headed to our room, I said to Sam, "Sometimes this is what I think happened to Lucia. Without proof of any other reason. It is like some bitchy, vengeful God, mad at me for seeing his beautiful naked body, took my baby." And I sort of see it that way in my mind's eye. A large hand and a pinch of the forefinger and thumb over my belly. Outten the light, as they say in my neck of the woods. But maybe in my own Greek myth, it was because when I was pregnant with Lucy, I was so happy. I felt everything fall into its rightful place. I touched the bliss and happiness of the gods. And Hades snuffed her, as I desperately tried to feed her pomegranate seeds. The Myth of Angelica.


Yesterday, we saw our friends who also have been grieving. My friend is 34 weeks pregnant and she is grieving the death of her sister at age 39. So young. So tragic. It makes me shudder, and feel such sadness. After I found out she died, I was fairly inconsolable. I paced and sobbed, and punched things. I was only two months out from losing Lucy. The world is so fucking cruel. I couldn't conceive of how we were supposed to survive these losses. Yesterday, our grief was less raw, but no less present. I think it beautiful the way that women relate. We cry and laugh together seamlessly. Though our losses are very different, there is an ease simply by understanding the multi-layered ways in which grief affects us. One minute is very different than the next. It is comforting to be with someone who understands that.

I imagine most of my friends have no idea what life is like for me. What I am like grieving. If they read this blog, they must think it is all insights, and being felled by harsh words from strangers and friends. And it is true. I do have insights. I do write poetry, and appreciate every nook and cranny of what I have. I do cry when someone says an insensitive remark. But also this part of me that I don't like has shown up. The short-tempered one. The impatient one. The nagging one. The anxious one. Yesterday, all of my sides were out, like raw nerves poking out of every bend in me. Sam and Beatrice sat on a skateboard and rode down a Mt. Airy sloping sidewalk. I barely could handle it. I tried to make nice-nice in front of our friends. I turned around, and walked in the other direction. "He is her father. He can make decisions." They had no helmets. No pads. And I could only see catastrophe.

I licked my finger and wiped the blood off her scraped knee. "I need boo-boo sticker, mama."

I seethe sometimes.

And then, they wanted to go to the pool. More children die in pool accidents than gun incidents. And then the men wanted to play tennis. And I would have to take her in the pool, as I trembled in the only suit I own, maternity togs. I felt like the entire visit would be me saying "No." No running. No jumping. No. No. No. No, Mama cannot go in the pool right now. No fun. I am not proud of who I have become, but I keep imagining that this will change. It is a small time of trembling and fear. My anxiety will lessen. I will stop seeing death in every corner. Bea, bless her cranky internal nap clock, was melting down at every turn, and I could opt out easily. And yet, I couldn't stop this nagging feeling of being so freakish, so different...I hate the reflection I see in other people's eyes sometime.


I got home and ran in the afternoon heat. I just wanted to run away. Keep going. Keep running and not look back. When I did get back, I felt better, more whole. I was nicer to Sam. We watched Pema Chodron's This Lousy World, which always makes me smile. We did a sage smudge and cleansed our house. Something we hadn't done since Lucy died. We lit her candle for the first time in weeks. We ate Panamanian food, and listened to salsa music. I painted a picture after dinner.


  1. I too hate that I have become a person who is afraid. It sucks. Hang in there, Ang.

  2. But do cry when you need to Angie. I know you do.

  3. Hey Angie

    I know that loneliness and that fear. I am a new person. I lost my son, I lost my forever carefree, happy nature. I see things in a new light, sharper somehow, I see thing that were not there before.

    And new thing happen to me, I have new friends, Those friends are forever close and I love them dearly, and it rips me apart. I hate this conflict, because they are only with me, because Fionn died. But that's the way it is. There is a goodness in all this. Love.

    I once thought life was easy. Life happens, whether we want it, like it, plan it, are thrown by it, cradle it, are cradled by it. It's breathing, we can't stop it, even if it hurts, we can try holding our breath but you can't stop it. Love is like that, too.

    much love and a big hug

  4. ah, fear.. it sucks, but so does everythng else we have to deal with. I'm more terrified of bad things happening to Gwen now too, will that feeling ever go away?

  5. oh angie. so very true. I hate that I've become a hoverer - seeing only the potential accidents in Claire's exploration...and that her daily language now includes 'don't cry mama', and sings the sunshine song to make me smile.

    grief is a bitter gift to give our children, isn't it?

  6. I am so neurotic now and every time I let my guard down something else happens. I think once you know the feeling of having the rug pulled out it is hard to stop checking to see if it is ready to be pulled out another time. Cuz it can be.
    I hope you feel less alone here where we are always with you.

  7. Angie.

    Anxiety sux. I read so much of myself in your words.

    I am so paranoid and anxious that something might happen to my girls that I sleep in the same room as them. In fear that one of them might stop breathing in their sleep or that someone could break in and take them.

    I don't like some parts of myself that grief has changed about me.

    Keep breathing and loving :)


  8. I relate to the beginning of your post - sometimes, I wonder what they $#!$ did I do to deserve this?! Like someone decided - not you, no, you don't get to have a baby. Then I try and remember that I don't believe in that, even if there is a Creator, God, whatever, I would like to think they're the not the type to mete out that kind of justice (I hope anyway).

    And we are changed people. I can only imagine how difficult it is to parent in the midst of all the grief. Somehow, I bet you are doing it with grace and love.

    And you reminded me that I haven't smudged in a long time...I hope it was cleansing for you.

  9. Angie - such a true post.

    Our experiences, our Angels have changed our very souls. It's hard not to be anxious, nervous, and overbearing with our children. I feel the same sometimes. We know all too well how quickly and unexpectedly something horrible can happen.

    Chin up.


  10. thinking of you angie. i relate to so much of what you wrote here- the fear, the anxiety, the anger at god/the universe and the unfairness of it all.

    love you pictures

    sending you love

  11. I too struggle with how different it is raising Lil' Mama now. I was much more laid back before. I now know that it is possible for children to die. I believe being aware is the first step in dealing with this. It is all so different now.

    Keep painting and running.

  12. Ah yes, I'm the crazy lady running bare foot into the street, wooden spoon in hand as I realise, while cooking, that I haven't heard my happy, perfectly safe playing outside children for at least 30 seconds ...

    ...and the pinch of thumb and forefinger - I have had a recurring image since Emma died of a hand reaching down and squeezing her heart until it stops. I tell myself daily that's not how it was but the image is pervasive and strong.

  13. "I will stop seeing death in every corner."
    I hope this is true, because I see death around every corner as well.

  14. Ha Ang, when I first got into the pool recently on my vacation, I thought I would sink. I thought I'd forgotten how to swim. I thought my heavy, pregnant body would make me sink. I sometimes let my ever-present fear get the better of me. Of course I didn't sink -- I'd forgotten that I've been able to swim since I was five years old. It's just that nowadays I only ever see the dangers ...


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