Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Thor stares at Beezus' post-nap fake oreo like he has been hunting cookie for weeks. I put him on his belly, and he arches his back, mouth extend------o. Or while sitting up, he swipes, and misses. Beez, she of the ninja reflexes when it comes to anything with *sugar*, darts left, inserts cookie, and she smiles at him, tauntingly.

It reminds me of my favorite Onion article, "Hey, You Got Something to Eat?" by a Goat. "Uh, you gonna eat that, sis?"

It's not that he has mastered the solid, or even the mushy food. Cripes, I feed him like one meal a day, if that, so he doesn't even really eat much real food, it's just that deep in him, like an instinctual, genetic memory, he knows the cream-filled chocolate cookie are the way of his people.

I delight in him. His perpetually moist bib, his drooling lip, his faint scent of milk and bread. His chubby feet. His absolutely insane nom-nom thighs. His smile and giggle and even his scared little scream when the dog barks too loudly. I am still amazed he is in my lap most days. I still feel like I am borrowing him and some angry archangel is going to knock on the door and demand him back.

"Do you have a really adorable baby who is perfect? You don't get him. We made an error."

Today, a torrent of tears came. The emotions I mostly push into a ball in the back of my head until they finally build up and explode out tear ducts and nostrils and open mouths in one rush of everything. I cried because he is really here. I cried because I love him. I cried because he is happy. I cried because he lived. I cried because Lucy didn't live. How did Lucy not live?

Recently, I have tried to friend some other mothers from around the hood and other kid-like venues. Hey after three kids and four years or whatever, it is time to have a lasting mama relationship. I have no fucking idea what I am doing. Did you ever realize you were coming on too strong when you were coming on too strong and not quite be able to stop yourself? And my brain rationalizes it all. I want them to know that we are flexible and want friendships and also have no idea what we are doing.

We are installing a woodstove which means building some slate thing for the stove, and then a stacked stone backdrop and this meant moving everything around--all the furniture and altars and rugs and toys. We also moved the antique secretary that houses my daughter Lucy's ashes. I hate moving my daughter like she is one of my things, even though she is in one of my things. Is an urn something you own? You buy it, certainly, but is it yours to own? It feels otherworldy, somehow, like sacred and profane, and it bothers me that someone inscribes their maker name on the bottom of it. I didn't notice that before. That the inside of the urn was touched by someone before it housed the ashes of my baby.

I moved her and tried to keep to business, even though it still surprises me that she is dead. Now we simply put hands on each others' shoulders, look at the ground and nod, "I know, honey. I know." I keep going, putting the ashes somewhere they won't knock over until we move everything. I realize today is the 22nd. It has been a long time since I have thought about the 22nd as her day of the month. Funny that. Like babies, you mark their weeks, then their months, then only their years of age, and same with Lucy, I guess, I mostly only mark her years now, except when the seasons change it reminds me of her death.

So many things changed after Lucy died. I both lost and gained a sense of the holy. Marking her death by the seasons have given me a kind of earth-centered spirituality and seasonal mourning. Delighting in and appreciating the seasons in a way I never have before.  I took that a step further by buying some pagan seasonal activity books with Beezus. Yesterday, we made a Mabon altar. It suggested going into the wild and picking some plants going to seed for your altar. And we headed out into the backyard, Thor in the backpack, Beezus with scissors, and we stared at our weed-y yard. Christ, it is a mess back there. But suddenly, with our eyes open to beauty and flowers and the seasons, those weeds transformed. We had goldenrod, and butterfly bush, and even our fuzzy grasses looked stunning together. I was in awe of how truly beautiful our bouquet became. Then we had a basket of our Lucy altar (from moving everything to build a hearth), and placed things that meant something to us on the altar. Beatrice put a glass heart from her shiny rock basket on the altar. "This is for my family," she said.

We then collected acorns and pinecones, and grape leaves from our vines, and colored leaves, and created a centerpiece with candles to remind us that autumn is here. We ate earthy, fall foods, and drank red wine, and told stories and laughed. Later, we lit our firepit and said things that made us grateful. The moon was bright last night, and yet the stars were clear and alive. I couldn't remember a day that was happier than yesterday was for me. I remember my friend relating a story of morning. It was a simple morning, where she had a cup of hot coffee and sat on the porch of her rented beach house, watching the sun rise over the ocean. At that moment, she thought, "Is this the happiest moment of my life?" She told me this story in her sixties, and she still isn't quite sure, but she thought it might be. And yesterday I had this sense of that, touching a contentment of adulthood that seemed unobtainable even five years ago. And I wonder if the profound grief and sadness of losing my child has given me the ability to feel content when all is content.

I fought against the world for taking my daughter. I felt like by taking that one baby, the universe took everything. I can admit this now, but I tried to manipulate the laws of physics and the universe with my mind. I tried to turn back time, and save her. Magical thinking and superstition haunted my every move. I crossed myself, and threw salt and promised to never do anything bad again. I starved myself. I meditated. I wished on every fucking star, and blew every dead dandelion head to bring her back. I pushed my eyes so hard some moments, watching the stars behind the lids, wondering if I punished myself enough, if I could bring her back. Now, when a star streaks across the sky, I wish for a long life for my kids. May they outlast me. Oh, I am still fucking angry, but I also am grateful for what I have, the abundance of love and good fortune, even at the end of the harvest season when all the sweet fruits dry up and we eat roots for six months.

The little I have is enough. That is what the point is. The little I have, not all of what I thought I should have, not with all my children, but the little beings I do have, and the love with my husband, and a chill dog, and a little hearth, is enough. And it is not just a little. It is a fucking lot.

Autumnal equinox is a time that people read the story of Persephone taken to the underworld--kidnapped and raped, really. Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the grain and the harvest, searches for her. She hears she is in the underworld, taken by Hades as wife. And Demeter's grief causes the crops on earth to die. She mourns, and wanders the earth. And it is said that she is taken in by a family who asks no questions of her grief, but simply sit and love Demeter as the old crone. They simply abide in her grief, and she blesses them. The world's abundance dried up and Famine roamed the lands.  Persephone holds out in the underworld, tries not to eat, hoping to be saved, but eventually she sees her husband as a good man, a decent man who tempts her with six pomegranate seeds. She eats them so is doomed to spend six months in the underworld, without her mother. Mabon marks the time she travels with her husband, and her mother Demeter, the goddess of abundance, mourns again.

I have spent twenty-one months mourning my daughter, roaming the land, causing famine and anguish. Honoring my daughter with the change of seasons feels so right and important to me, that this is what feels soothing, I think, to imagine that a mother controls the world, a grieving mother at that. This is my season of mourning. This is my season of grief. And it is right to come into it through a day of pure contentment.


  1. Cream-filled chocolate cookies are the way of my people too. And brownies.

    I really like that picture with Bea just peeking through in the background.

    I'm missing Lucy with you today, and every day.

  2. Hm, contentment is my goal. There is something to being grateful for what we do have.

    I feel fall coming too.

    I am also trying to figure out how to get neighborhood mom-friends. There must be some secret handshake....

  3. I love this post. You always write so powerfully and beautifully.
    I'll be thinking of you as the seasons turns... xo

  4. As always Angie, beautiful perfect post! I wonder about the ability to be more content now too.. I have had those moments more often since Dresden died, feeling complete and lovely. I'm sure coming from such a deep loss, we have the ability to feel so much more.

  5. You write beautifully.

    I've been attacked by a grief ball these last few days, attacked so hard I can't even seem to write it out of me.

    Thank you for this.

  6. Beautiful, poignant post. The seasons are real markers for me as well and I never looked at them the way I do now when I was one of the innocents.
    Like the others here, I am remembering Lucy today, as the seasons change for you. But I remember her every day, though today she just lingers a little longer in my thoughts.

  7. There's so much here and it's all so perfect. I'll just use Millie's words of highest praise--Angie, you are very awesome.

  8. Gorgeous post again. I'm struggling right now, and this post just calmed me for a moment, thank you. x

  9. This is my season of grief too - and it is a wordless one this year. But this said such a lot of what I would want to say if I could.

  10. I had the same cry today Angie, it came from no where. I cry because I'm so grateful my happy adorable baby is here. I cry for the one who is gone. Beautiful post. Xo

  11. Same here. I had that cry too as I held Jasper in my arms and rocked him to sleep...cherishing the moment with him but also looking over his shoulder at the picture of my Jordan on the boys bedroom wall.

    There is gratitude, pain, contentment, and loss... always loss.

    Beautiful post Ang.

  12. Beautifully written. I feel for your search for momma friends. I'm outgoing and find it easy to make acquaintances (well, I'm normally outgiong - this grief thing has turned me into a hermit), but friends are a little tougher. When I try, I find myself saying something stupid and then I start thinking about how stupid the thing I said was only to realize I'm still talking and making things worse...phewy. Thank you for your honesty - your magical thinking and self punishment are such humble things to talk about. I'm only 10 weeks away from my daughter's death. Her due date isn't here yet. Thoughts are magical right now.

  13. Blogger just ate my comment and I can't type it all over.

    Great post though. Can relate to much of it although I must add that I always feel guilt after I feel content. I guess I think I must be offending my sweet my daughter somehow since she is not here when I feel happy. Gotta work on that.

  14. I love this post. I love the way you brought in Autumn at your house.

    One of my not-so-secret fears is that I will never be able to make friends with other moms and that Dot will never have a good play date or a happy social life because her mom couldn't get off her butt and stop licking her wounds.


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