Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our Woodland Creatures

My son looks like a woodland creature. Big eyes. Small nose. Cheeks stashed with something milky. And he has the disposition of one of those beer-brewing Trappist monks. Eternally happy and silent. Smiles here and there, but mostly, his arms stay crossed over his ever-increasing belly and he just lolls in blissful happiness. I, Duchess of Histrionics, asked at his one month check-up, the kind of question pediatricians roll their eyes about after they ask "So, do you have any questions?"

"No, not really. Um, well, one, uh, he doesn't cry much. My older daughter cried for three hours every night with no consolation, and he just doesn't much cry. Do you think he is okay?"
"He doesn't cry ever?"
"No, no, he does cry. Just not for long periods of time. He cries if he is hungry, or wet, but when he is changed, he stops."
And the doctor flicked Thor's heel a few times, progressively harder and harder until he screamed bloody murder.  "Well, he can, in fact, cry. So he just appears to be happy."

Touch wood. "Stay happy, kid."

I wonder if that is in his medical record now. "Child, happy. Mother, crazy."

Often, after staring into Thor's zen chipmunk-like face, I am drawn to his belly. It is mesmerising. He looks like a boa constrictor that has swallowed a little baby pig.  All animal comparisons aside, Thor looks so very much like me superficially. Dark hair. Olive skin. In the same way, he looks like Lucy with her dark hair and olive skin. But Lucy looked exactly like me in features, in coloring, in everything. Thor, on the other hand, looks exactly like Beezus in the face, who looks exactly like Sam.  Now, when we are all out together, people say things like "What a beautiful family." It is like we suddenly look complete. Bea looks like Sam. Thor looks like me and Bea. To be honest, Bea looks so much like Sam, I think people were afraid to say things to us before. Strangers would ask me if I was her mother, then tell me she was beautiful. But Thor is our own little familial missing link tying each of us together. An obvious little combination of Sam and Bea and me.

Sam confessed to me that he chokes back tears when people remark about our family, because we are incomplete. No one can see Lucy. "We can't argue with a compliment, but we should argue," he said. "'No, we are not beautiful. Our daughter is dead. Lucy is not here.'"

Without forethought, I responded, "But our family is beautiful because of Lucy. Lucy made our family beautiful. Lucy made our family look like this." And then I thought about what I said. It was perhaps the most positive thing I have said in seventeen months. She does make our family beautiful. And it made my mind wander to last summer when I was obsessed with finding joy in my daughter's life. But I was so mired in grief, so mired in sadness...her short life, her beautiful face, her perfect being, while wracking me with complete unconditional love, also made me blindingly sad. I couldn't think of Lucy and conjure smiles, and puppies, and balloons. I could only feel bereft. The only image I could conjure was abyss.

But Lucy made our family beautiful.

I do not care to engage in the Choose Your Own Adventure novel of my life. "If Lucy dies, turn to page 345. If Lucy doesn't die, turn to page 125." Lucy did die. Pages 125-344 were ripped out of our book. We never got to peek ahead and read how that path ends. Thor is here. And he fits in perfectly. Whatever magical combination of fate, sperm meeting egg, timing, careful planning and readiness for another pregnancy happened, Thor was born right when he was supposed to be born--into a family ready for his little monk-like spirit bearing stout.

I asked Bea the other day is she remembered a time without her brother, and she said no. Thor has always been here. And Lucy has always been here--the daughter we miss.

Thor in his papa's arms, getting ready for a bath. 
Saralee, can you see your painting of the broken pier in the background?


  1. Glad he's happy. Glad for the magical combination that brought Thor into your arms and family. I nod along and am smiling.

  2. Happy like a Trappist monk indeed! He's so squishy and lovely and clearly loving all that mama milk.
    Lucy did make your family beautiful, but I know you were already a beautiful family before she arrived, and now even more beautiful with Thor in it as well.
    Enjoy every moment of peace he gives you, Angie. I think Angus makes up for all Thor's lack of crying, here on the other side of the world!

  3. Awwwww. I'm so happy that you can now see happy and not just abyss. Thor is so perfect - what a cutie! I just want to touch those gorgeous cheeks! It's nice to read an uplifting BLM's entry -it's so encouraging.

  4. What an awesome post about a beautiful family! He looks so - wise and zen! I am happy just looking at his happy-
    wow- I can see that work and it takes me back to the time it was created- the Jersey shore and the beginning of summer- right before Memorial day.

    A long time ago and good memories-
    I hope that you guys are having a great sunday-
    much love,

  5. What a beautiful baby boy. He is just precious. Your family is even more beautiful because of having had Lucy, even for a short time. xxoo

  6. I feel that way too Angie. xx

    He is absolutely adorable. I laughed about the first bit. My Jasper is like that too. Didn't cry much at all in the early days...


  7. You know, Angie, it was just yesterday that I pieced it all together- I mean, that Thor looks just like all of you, and how he looks like each one of you. Although Lucy is not with you, I always see her when I see pictures of your family- and having Thor here makes me see her more, not less.

  8. Thor is gorgeous.Thank you for this post Angie, you've given me hope that one day I will see Florence in a more positive way.x

  9. Oh Angie, he's just such a gorgeous chub of a babe. David burst into tears last weekend as we drove to have our first formal photos taken as a family with M, because of course E is missing from those photos, and he's as much a part of our family too. The photos are indeed gorgeous, I'm sure everyone will agree...but D & I won't ever be able to look at them without seeing a hole.

  10. What a happy (?) fat baby! (Mine slept all day yesterday and I was ready to run him to the emergency room. "Baby sleeps, per usual. Mother fucking psychotic." They don't understand, my kids don't sleep -- they're either up, or they're brain dead.)

    I like that you think that about Lucy. I wish I could about Maddy. Maybe someday.

  11. he is a peach! this post is so full of love, angie. i love the idea that somehow thor has made lucy more present in your life, in his own gorgeous, zen-like way. xo

  12. Love it. Love that face. Love that having your new little man helps you see your baby girl every day. Wonderful.

  13. He's the most gorgeous little monk I've ever seen, and I'm glad he's happy, and I'm very glad he's right where he should be as part of your beautiful family.

  14. He is so cute! You do have a beautiful family. I am glad you are seeing the bright side now. A baby like Thor could only bring happiness. Lucy is not here, but you can still have a beautiful family and you all can still be happy.

  15. Thor is gorgeous angie and what a head of hair. and Lucy will always be part of your beautiful family. and will always be missed and remembered.

  16. He's simply lovely. 'his little monk-like spirit bearing stout', such a wonderful description.

    I remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books. You are right. We simply do not get to see those pages where our children don't die. Those pages are gone forever.

    But that doesn't mean that other, magical combinations aren't written on the others. x

  17. Thor is so scrumptious.

    I feel similarly about Emma - I couldn't force anything good to come out of something so horrible. In the end, that was missing the point. In the end Lucy, Emma and all our babies are the beauty and the good, in and of themselves.


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