Friday, December 16, 2011

waning gibbous

It is a waning gibbous moon.

I am a waning gibbous woman. A humpbacked thing half of what I could be. The moon hangs over the tree line, bright and sure of itself. I am floating somewhere else, to the north, cold and unsure. It is day and you can still see me, even though I am a creature of the night these days. Don't let the list of things I do fool you.

I am on autopilot.

Bake cookies. Drive children. Drink coffee. Sweep floor. Make craft. Cuddle children. Wrap gifts. Send Christmas Cards. Chit chat with parents. Pick up girl. Answer email. Go to the market. Send text. Watch Miracle of 34th Street.

I pencil in crying.

Schedule a meltdown. Between pediatrician well-visit and lunch.

I don't know how to feel anymore.

It is the sad truth of my life that I can't quite figure it out these days. I feel happy and like a liar. I am in awe of nature. This morning, I walked out as the sun rose over the CVS at the end of our street. It is the most photographed strip mall sunrise in New Jersey. And the strange lighting, the still illuminated bright waning gibbous moon over the trees, make me feel silly for being all up in my deformed head, pointy and shadowed. See how I am a liar?

I want a mountain top.
Legs crossed.
Palms up and open.
Watching my breath drift out of my nose and my mouth.
I would soak in the sky until my belly puffed out with clouds and nothingness.
I eat the moon, and the solstice and the sky.


There is something pulsing behind my eyes. It is blood and love and moonlight. It is cold outside, but not December cold. The cold pushes against my eyes too. The unseasonable warmth pushes back. It has the feel of the first warm day of Spring. It is confusing my grief hormones.

I lie on the ground, my arms outstretched. The ground is wet and dry, and the points that touch the ground grow cold. Carrying three children within me marked my body, changed my person. I have crow's feet and side saddles, and large sagging breasts. My stomach muscles tore. I carry my weight like I am still carrying a child. My knees ache. My back spasms. My boob leaks milk. My skin's dull and pocked. My hair falls out.

 My friend photographed my family last weekend.

My husband asked me how I like them. "They are all so gorgeous except for the ones with me. I look fat and scabby and sickly." There is nothing more attractive than self-loathing. His eyes go all glassy and he thinks that I am the most charming woman he has ever met.

"You are beautiful, mama." I turn and the girl is standing in the doorway. I am ashamed of my lack of confidence and constant focus on how ugly I am. I want something different for her.

Thank you, my angel.

She watches everything. She listens to everything. She soaks me in like the moonlight. Even if I am a waning gibbous moon, I am still bright to her. Sometimes I think my body beautiful in its transformation into the soft warm pile of mother earth flesh that folds on itself. She sees me differently than every other person in the world. And she makes me beautiful.


  1. I don't even know where to start with a comment, Angie. This post is so rich and full and hard and beautiful. I don't know how to feel this year, either. When I stop to think about how I am, how Emma's birth and death fit into this time, the honest answer is "I don't know" - I can't manage to articulate it as powerfully as you have here.

  2. Something about this time of year makes me feel similarly to how you are feeling. Throw in this wacky weather and it's so very confusing, indeed. I like how you wrote that your grief hormones are confused. Yes to that.

    I would love to tell you to stop being so hard on yourself re: your self-image, because you are strong and beautiful and amazing. But I also know that saying "ease up!" and doing it are two very different, difficult things. Listen to Beezus. She is correct.

    Sending you love and light, gibbous. xo

    PS--it makes me feel a little warmer and safer knowing we are all under this same moon. E pointed it out the other morning as we walked into his school, and I told him about the waning gibbous/phases of the moon--he was all, "Yep, it's the moon. Let's go into school."

  3. The end of this post sucked the breath right out of me with its beauty and promise.

    The way that grief and childbearing and body image entwine is still something that amazes and confounds me. I don't want my daughter to see me hating myself even more than I don't want to hate myself (which is a lot), but it's such a tangle.

  4. After I gave birth to Kai I was a mess. I would look at myself in the mirror and cry. The biggest thing I learned in the first year and a half Of Kai's life was to be kind to myself. I didn't know how. I always pushed myself physically to many of my limits past the point of damage. I had little tolerance for myself postpartum. You can imagine the field day I have had about my body and guilt post death of my daughter.
    One of the crazy things about giving birth to a dead child is that we feel like our bodies failed to protect our children. The failed to keep them alive and then failed us again by allowing us to continue to thrive. The aftermath of birth and depression wreaks havoc on our souls, our faces and bodies. My body is one of the only physical signs that Camille ever existed. 5.5 months postpartum and 20 lbs overweight is a constant reminder. That and the ravaging tears that are aging me decades infrint of the mirror.
    I tell my son all the time how important it is to be kind. That I think he is interesting, intelligent, funny, and a good person. That he should like himself just for who he is. I wish I could take my own advice. He told me I was pretty. He has never said that to me before. It caught me off guard but I wanted to believe him. Right now it is hard to see anything but the war torn country of my life.
    Please be kind to yourself... I will continue to try.

  5. The moon has been amazing—be the moon.
    I'd pencil cookies and coffee and crying with you if I could.

  6. Yes, your daughter is right. She sees through the eyes of love. Your husband also. We lose that as we learn other ways to judge. And then have to spend years re-learning that it is the correct way to see the world and each other after all. Through the eyes of love.

    And it is no wonder you are emotionally all over the place. It has been almost three years since Lucia died. And you have learned so much. But it has been only twice before that you have lived days leading to the anniversary of the date of her death. Only twice. Twice is not enough to have...come to terms? figured out how to handle? become at ease with? the storm of loss and love that Lucia's day invoke.

    I wish for you peace, Angie, today and in the days ahead. May the love that surrounds you settle into your center with peace, even as the storm rages on the surface.

    Love, Jill A.

    P.S. Keep the pictures. 30 years from now you will be surprised at how good you look! And your kids and husband will still think you are beautiful!

  7. Another one here not knowing how to feel, confused with my alrightness, then sudden hot tears from nowhere.
    I know that you have been in my thoughts. I have held Lucia there in my mind with you. Wishing you peace for the coming days. x

  8. Angie, I've been thinking of you & Lucia as we wend our way towards the 21st, then Christmas, then Z's day on the 27th. These gorgeous still girl babies, bracketing christmas with our grief.

    I've felt some of that self-loathing too - my stomach muscles did the same split so that people always thought I was pregnant. But I hang onto that little bit of science about baby cells continuing to circulate in the mother's body, and use that as a reason to treat my own body with the same love and tenderness that I would show my child. You are beautiful Angie. You don't have to be on a mountaintop to be present. I'm glad Beezus and your husband can see it and remind you.

  9. The last bit of this post really got me as well.
    Another gorgeous piece of writing, Angie.
    We love you.


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