Thursday, June 28, 2012

to all and everything

My husband invited a rather large green bush-eating monster who despised all things wild and untamed into our yard. The beast ate our wildflower beds, and our butterfly bush. The monster snorted and huffed up in a slightly savage British accent, "All the wild things in the world make me terribly sick." He chomped the bottom first, then pulled up the gladiola. Lavender caught in its front teeth and caterpillars hung from its lips. The brute stomped through our yard muttering about radicals. He waddled off, farting and muttering about chaos and the proletariat. 

There was almost nothing left of the butterfly bush after the monster left. It was in full bloom with flowers just a few minutes before the monster came, a ton of butterflies visiting and circling. My husband stood proudly by. "Now we look like everyone else. Let us rejoice!" The bush is a weed to most people, but not to me. I see universes in its branches, her arms stretched wide beckoning all the flying creatures to come forth and live together in harmony. "Workers of the yard, UNITE!" Their signs read. Fairies and hummingbird and butterflies and moth create unions and collectives in her branches. Now it it looks like an amateur bonsai hackjob, sad and withered, forced into a subdivision of barely anything resembling bush. My wildflower garden is digesting in the belly of the brute, the leftovers put into yard sacks to sit on the curb until next Thursday. I cried, deep guttural moans, an incessant wave of mourning all day. "My nature, they killed my nature," I tell my sad story to anyone who will listen. It is unlike me to weep, but I raged and ranted, keened and screamed Mayakovsky from our front step.
An eye for an eye!
Kill me,
bury me -
I’ll dig myself out,
the knives of my teeth by stone —
no wonder!-
made sharper,
A snarling dog, under
the plank-beds of barracks I’ll crawl,
sneaking out to bite feet that smell
of sweat and of market stalls and eat the flowerbeds of writers!
I vow to replant. I give speeches in the streets.

WE ARE PAGANS!
WE VOW TO WORSHIP UNSANCTIONED GROWTH AND NATIVE TENACITY!
LET YOUR YARD GO WILD, HUMANS! LET IT BE NATURAL, STINKY AND MUSKY AND FULL OF SEX AND HEAT AND DEATH!
RISE UP WEEDS!
EMBRACE THE REVOLUTION!

I am a wild thing. My nest is gone. My sanctuary ripped out for order. The absence of those beds makes me feel misunderstood. I should be woven into a daisy chain and worn as a crown, rather than cut down with a gas-powered mower, the last bits of me grasping for earth as I am pulled out of the ground. There is nothing left for me here. Summer is oppressive and solitary. Without nature, it is empty. All my places are lost to suburban pressures. Grass is cut once a week. The neighbors wear khakis and eat Hamburger Helper. I feel weak for weeping, but suburbia is stronger than me.


I feel like I will never forgive my husband. It is stupid to be upset and sad about some plants, but I scream the Russian's words anyway and play pretend revolution, but I am just heartbroken and telling tall tales about monsters and Russian poets who cry for better working conditions for the people. The bush is gone and my flowers are gone. I screamed at the children today, because they were screaming at each other, then I wept about breaking that boundary in me. I don't have the strength to stay quiet. I am an coyote. A crow calling his friends, annoying the neighbors. No, I am a cicada whose deep hard shell is stuck to a lawn chair, broken open so delicately that it is hardly noticeable. In fact, I don't think my husband noticed I wasn't in there anymore. I almost looked alive, but I was not there. When the bush left, so did I. I will never understand flower beds and weeding and suburban ethics and I need to stop trying. 


When I am like this, I sit in church basements and drink shitty coffee and pray constantly. 

God, show me your path and grant me the strength to take it. God, help me accept. God, help me grieve. God, save me from myself. 

It is the opposite of grief season here. The wind is hot and wet, my hair sticks to my neck and I beg for a breeze. It is a prayer tucked between strength and guidance. The dog knocks the wind chime when he bounds down the stairs, and I mistake it for wind, then I stand, open armed, waiting for the shell of me to be carried to a garden full of foxglove and butterfly bushes far away from green monsters, fibs about grief, and the bourgeoisie.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest Post: Right where I am - 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days


Veronica sent me a beautiful email describing the birth of her first son and about what her life has been like since Alexander was stillborn February 27, 2012. She was 41 weeks and two days pregnant. So much rang true to me in her words, helped me connect with Lucia's birth, again. That is what is so beautiful about this community--someone else's story helps you grieve your own story. I was so humbled and honored to bear witness to her experience. (Kind of keeping my fingers crossed that Veronica starts her own blog.) She also included a guest post for Right Where I Am. She describes herself this way, "I'm Veronica. I turned 28 this past December while I was pregnant.  I was thrilled to be having a baby before my big 3-0.  I live in southern Ontario, Canada, and have worked meaningless, well paying jobs for the majority of my adulthood.  I own a home with my ..boyfriend, or no…partner, or ahhum… MAN who I spend my life with who I’ve been with since...forever..." 

Wherever it is, I am exactly there.  And with every day that has passed and with every day that will come, I will be right where I am.  I have often mulled over where I could be or should be, but in looking at this process, I with all my heart accept myself right where I am, all the time. 

I think about him – my son who died – every day, every second of every minute.  I feel like he exists alongside me in exactly where he is supposed to be and where he actually is – sometimes in life, and sometimes in death.  He is here, as the growing infant he was supposed to be and simultaneously he is here, always dead and only almost born alive.  Sometimes I feel him nowhere, as my missing him takes his place.  If I let it, the missing lives heavily in my heart, and throughout my day.

My emotions on a page seem microscopic in comparison to what they really are.  They are enormous and uncontainable.  I have wicked day dreams of jarring them all up, and sorting them all out, and placing them in the proper place in my life… one day I’ll label them when I figure out what they’re all called.  But instead, they whirl around me, sometimes causing havoc, and other times letting me sleep soundly.

Today, three months, three weeks and three days after he died – it doesn’t seem too heavy.  Today, it seems more a part of me than something that was done to me.  My observant self can attest that this feeling is fleeting.  But myself that sits here in front of this computer tells me it is how I feel today.  I’ve never known of someone who has the ability to take part in my every waking thought – but he does.  I didn't know someone was able to be the life behind every emotion, every smile and every tear – but he is.

We just picked up his ashes last weekend.  Horrible, I know.  Three months to pick out an infant urn.  I’d say if I had to do it again… but then I stop and hope that I won’t.  So three months to pick out my first born dead child’s urn is exactly right.

We got the full autopsy results back the week before the urn was ready.  Seemed fitting how the timing worked out.  From the outside looking in, it could seem comforting to have his remains knowing why he died.  Closure if you will.  Nah, still just shitty “to-do” aftermath.

A love note slips out of my subconscious…


My heart belongs to you.  You have it without my will.  You have me in true love with you.  I long for the time where we’re together at last, but I’ll try to enjoy this in between.  I’ll love you to my death, as I loved you to yours, and forever and ever after that.


I’ll meet you on the other side.  I promise I’ll be there, but we’ll both have to wait patiently.  I love your mid night visits in my dreams, as you rest on my chest.  I’ll see you soon my baby boy.


Love Mommy

I am light-as-a-feather… floating … floating … curling in the light wind.  I am a speck of something mixed with nothing all wrapped up in mystery and clarity for all except everyone to see.  My extensions are followed by glowing dust… I didn’t know I was so magical.  If I touch it, it will sparkle … so go on, turn the moss into emerald green.  Do anything you want.  He must be here with me now, because I could not be doing this on my own.  I didn’t posses this power before.  I thought, one day maybe I would, maybe I could, but now I truly can, and I truly am.  I had magic in my belly, all that time.  Why should I be sad?  It was only the human expectation that got let down.  But not me, not now… now, I can finally fly.

Who was that?  My spirit talking?  Or just a childlike emotion bubbling to the surface who wants out?  I don’t know.  But who ever that is, she is right where I am too.

I know how simultaneously liberating and captive losing a child can make you feel.  I walk along side both all the time.  Right where I am now is looking to have this inactive state transform.  Looking to have all of my everything finally channeled into something that means something to me, and maybe to someone else.

I am sad.  I am sad he is not here.  But everything that’s been said about the feeling getting lighter, and softer… I can concur.  I do face plant every now and again into really hard emotions, and sometimes the turnaround feels harder than it did in the early days.  But when the turnaround comes, it feels less foreign.  And staying in the turnaround feels, dare I say, normal.   It’s ok to DO things I like, and not just go through the motions.  My creative side is budding up again.  I don’t know when it was originally planted (at my conception I assume), but I haven’t seen it in bloom since long before I was even pregnant.  Even if my release these days is ignited by grief, and my will to create is steamed in losing a child, I’ll take it.  Because I love her blossom, and I haven’t seen her in a while.  And it’s been a real shitty road to get to her again, but right where I am, I’m glad to have her back.

I’ve made a promise to myself to not do the things I know are not worth my while.  When you know better, you do better, right?  I’ve always known that – but it’s time for me to start acting like it.  I know what kind of work makes me happy – so I’ll do that.  I know what kind of social life is empty and pointless, so I’m not going to take part anymore.  I know what kind of emotions are not healthy to dwell on, so I’m just going to feel from now on… no more dwelling.

I don’t look ahead these days, right where I am.  I don’t plan.  I let go of timing things in my life according to the way I’m supposed to live.  I’m not going to live recklessly!! (Even though sometimes the urge is there) But it seems exhausting to plan out what I’m going to be doing in the years to come after my baby died.  My plans got pretty turned around a few months ago, and I didn’t have a back up.  So maybe it’s better to just NOT HAVE A PLAN at all.  Today is Wednesday, in the month of June, the year is 2012, and I’ll probably have dinner later, and would like to do some more writing tomorrow, and I’d like to see D when he comes home tonight, and maybe I’ll go back to school one day, and I look forward to when I’ll be spending more time with kids when they’re at a cool interactive age telling me about what they like about school and baseball games, and man wouldn’t I love to have Alexander here while I think all these things… but right where I am right now, that’s about it – and I don’t consider any of it a plan.

I didn’t plan to become pregnant, and there I was.  I didn’t plan to have a baby boy named Alexander, and there he was.  I didn’t plan to have him die while I was 41 weeks and two days pregnant, but there it all was.  And I didn’t have the slightest plan as to how the hell I’m going to come out of all this, but here I am, right where I am at that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

summer solstice

Summer solstice passes without a mention. For I am the keeper of time, the marker of the passing seasons. I am the one starting bonfires, and lighting candles, and creating altars. I am the shaman of myself, for I am the only one in need of medicine.

Lucia is dead another half year. Another blazing hot day. I still want a fire to honor the closeness of the sun, the farness of the daughter. My family is sick of solstices and rituals and candles. We lived through her death, they seem to remind me. Let us carry on. Let us eat ice cream with whipped cream. Let us go to carnivals and parades. Let us go to the community pool with our suits and gummy bears. Let us wrap ourselves in joys instead of sitting still in grief. But I am a sentient stationary being--thinking, constantly thinking, perpetual motion thinking, about all we lost and gained and how to make it different by telling a different story.

I still miss her, though. The missing changed, but it is missing nonetheless. Last night, I carried the baby to bed, though he is no longer a baby and the bed can scarcely be called a place where we sleep.

We roll. We kick each other. We read novels and children's books about fairies and queens and big bad wolves. We dream. I met the devil in my dream last night. I called the angels to protect me. They banished him, but I woke panicked anyway.

I carried the baby and whispered, "It is summer solstice, Thor. It seems like yesterday, but it has been three and a half years since she died. Lulu died. Lulu was your sister."

"Sis." He whispered back.

We cuddled in bed and watched the extended twilight sky. The longest day passed without a notice of its length. It was night, then, and I told her story to myself. It is terribly sad, this story. It is about losing. And gaining. And reinventing. It is about sobriety and drunkenness. It is about family and grief and friends and not friends. It is about our good fortune. We are fortunate. We gained so much after her death. Those things may have come anyway, but they came this way, so we are grateful to Lucia.

I don't have a long post in me. I am worn out and sad, exhausted from the week behind me with a house guest and staring at another in front, but she died, and I feel like I have to say it again here where solstice and remembrance is welcome. Every two seasons I remember that one solstice where ravens perched outside our home. The coldness cut into our faces, scarring them into long streaks of grief. We left without our girl. Sat in a car with an empty newborn car seat. It was winter, then. The cold felt hot and oppressive. Everything did. The hardest thing I have ever done was leave that hospital knowing she was in there. That night felt like every day we ever lived rolled into one extremely long and lonely night. It was a year in a blink. I light a fire to remember. 

+++

I appreciate all the guest posts rolling in for Right Where I Am 2012, as I hope my readers have. I had intended on providing the space for regular readers without blogs, but the call went out on b*bycentre UK, which generated many more guest posts than I thought would come in. The pieces that came in are so moving and beautiful. Thank you for sending them. I will have a few more coming up. Since this project has been going on for a month, I decided to close that offer to the public. If you are a regular reader and still want to publish, please email me. (I'm not a heartless bitch.)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guest Post: Right Where I Am - 4 months, 2 weeks

Fliss and her husband found out following the 20 week scan that their daughter had Edwards syndrome and was destined not to stay with us. "It felt like it was presumed we would go down the alternative route, which for some is the right option, but my husband and I could not be the ones to stop her heart and we both felt we had to give her a chance. The rest of the pregnancy was hard to say the least but I don't regret it," shares Fliss. Ayla Hope was born 40+6 on 1st February 2012. As she goes on to say, "We were able to spend time with her and bring her home, she took her last breath in my arms on 4th February at 9:10pm. My heart broke never to be mended. We have a son who is 2 1/2 and he is the only reason I have managed to get up every morning, him and my husband, my rock. "


Where am I now? I don’t know, to be honest.  A state of confusion, loneliness and fear, occasionally hope and positivism.  Desperately trying to maintain the positive persona that I often feel I am.  The person who has energy, wants to make a difference in the world because of our beautiful daughter, who can play with my son without a wedge of unhappiness stopping me from connecting with him completely.  Does he know I’m not completely there when we play? Can he sense that Mummy’s heart is not completely in it? I don’t know, I hope not.  I feel like I’m a worse mother because of my loss, not a better one.  A more grateful, less na├»ve mother but my patience isn’t what it was, my energy levels shocking and my ability to cry at the drop of a hat quite immense.  My boy wipes my tears away for me now and fetches a tissue, he’s so used to Mummy crying he knows what to do, normally a little dance or something that will make me smile or laugh again.  My heart bursts with love when I think of him and screams in agony when I think of my girl. She should be here with us.

People have told me how ‘brave’ I am, what an ‘inspiration’, so ‘strong’.  Like I’ve chosen to walk this path, suffer this pain and forever have a hole in our family where Ayla should be.  I’m not any of these things, I have no intention of inspiring others, I often hide from the world; that’s not brave or strong.  I am simply a Mummy.  A Mummy who loves her children more than words can ever describe.  I remember when I was pregnant and we knew our daughter was destined to leave us I had to go into hospital with a suspected blood clot (I knew it wasn’t, funny how carrying a baby destined to die but not knowing when can leave you a little breathless at times) a paediatrician saying to me what a brave thing I was doing, I simply looked at her and said ‘I don’t really have a choice do I?’ and she replied ‘There’s always a choice’.  How was there? A choice on how soon she leaves us or how she leaves us, maybe, but the outcome would be the same.  For me, giving her a chance was all I could do; we have memories, photographs and videos of her, mementoes that have to last us forever now, they are all we have.

I feel like a kite, attached to the world by a string. I float above everyone, watching them carrying on with their lives, moving forward and I’m there, watching, I’ll sometimes swoop forward, looking like I’m going somewhere and then a gust of wind grabs me and pushes me back, sometimes I let it, sometimes I try and fight it and I can push against it for so long and it may ease or it can slam me down so hard, so fast I can barely catch my breath.  Then I have to get back up again but I’m not allowed to find my feet, I’m back up into the air to watch and continue my slow, painful, spiralling journey.  What of the people on the ground? Some are desperately clinging to my string so I don’t go too far, keeping me as lifted as they can, calling messages of love and support, but not truly understanding.  Others scuttle by, their heads bowed low so they can’t see me, they don’t want to look up, face the pain, it’s too much for them.  There are other kites too.  Some just bob past, on their own journeys, others become entangled with me and we are bonded through our tragedy, our heartache, our children.  All of them bring comfort for just being there, as much as I hate that any of us are here it is always a comfort knowing we are not alone.  The strength, understanding and support gained from baby loss Mummies is a force so truly immense I often find myself in awe of it all.  How can so much love, friendship, understanding and support come from such pain? How? Our children, that’s how.  Their love for us is all consuming, just as much as if they were in our arms like they should be. As is our love for them.  That love has to continue somehow and we humans have to do something practical, so we extend our love for our babies, our children into other baby loss parents, to reassure they are not alone, what they are feeling is ok and that we are there to support each other whenever that wind of grief slams us so hard we struggle to get back up.  My daughter has taught me so much and brought so many wonderful people into my life, it is an honour to be her Mummy, I just wish she were here with me.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Post: Right where I am: 9 months and 4 weeks

Nicole describes herself as "a thirty-something charity worker from the North East of England. Xander was our first baby, conceived after years of trying, and just when we were about to give up. After an uneventful 'text book' pregnancy, I was nearly 2 weeks overdue when I went to the hospital thinking I was in labour, only to be told he'd died in the 10 hours since we'd last heard his heartbeat. He was born silently on Tuesday 16th August 2011, just before midnight." 

 Where am I now? Not where I should be. My son should be nearly 10 months old. He should be here in my arms, not existing only as ashes in a tiny box. It’s a funny word, ‘should’. I often catch myself using it - it’s when I temporarily exist in the make believe land where my boy is alive and my life is whole and complete. Where our house is full of noise, and smells, and Jim stubs his toe on the baby things left on the floor. Where the cats run away from our little lovely boy, to avoid getting their tails pulled. Where we’ve had to move things off the bottom shelves and fit stair gates, to keep him safe. This land doesn’t exist. Our house is quiet. The cats undisturbed. Our lives are much the same as before, but forever changed.

 I think of him a million times a day. Everything reminds me of him. Sometimes that’s comforting. I can remember the love I felt when he was growing inside me and the joy I felt every day, and I feel warm and content in the memory. Sometimes it’s as far from comforting as it can possibly be. I miss him so much. I ache to hold him and I rush round the house trying to find something of his. But I’m thwarted at every turn. I have nothing that was his – nothing he touched. We bought a soft toy for him after the 20 week scan, and I sat with a couple of times on my bump, telling Jim I was letting them bond. This is the nearest thing I have to something of his and sometimes I sit with it, to try and be close to him. But it’s a poor substitute for a living boy. Sometimes I take the glass off the frame that holds his footprints, and run my fingers over the marks his feet made, desperate to touch something he touched. Nothing quite does it. Nothing can ever satisfy the need to see him, hold him, to mother him.

 I keep having to remind myself I am a mother. It’s hard to feel like one when the object of my affection has ceased to exist. I am a different mother to all of my friends. I can’t possible understand their reality, and they can’t ever understand mine. I feel separate, different. I am a freak in a world full of normals. The sense of isolation is enormous.

 I would love another baby. I hope that one day it’ll happen for us, but I’m not so sure. It took so many years before we had Xander. Sometimes I think he was our only chance at having a family, and I swear I can almost feel my heart breaking all over again. The road ahead is filled with danger – if we ever conceive again, will I miscarry? Will the baby be stillborn again? Will they die of SIDS? Will they die at age 2, or 5, or 15? The innocence of pregnancy is gone, and I can never feel it again. Sometimes I wish I could see the future, other times I’m glad I can’t – because if I knew more loss of this magnitude was coming my way I think I’d fall down dead. I worry about everyone in my life, especially my husband. If he has a headache, or a cough, or comes home a little late, I’ve half convinced myself he’s gone. I know that having one loss doesn’t protect you from another – there’s an unlimited amount of bad in the world, as there is of good.

 People ask me how I am and I say ‘okay’. I’m coping. And I am. I’m not staying in bed, not avoiding the world, I’ve not lost my mind and I’m not trying to kill myself. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about all of those things, many times. But I get on with life. Hell, sometimes I even enjoy it. I go out, see friends and family - sometimes I enjoy things so much, or I laugh so hard, that life feels wonderful. Other times I am so sad I can’t stop crying. I want to sit very, very still and hope the world goes away, or spontaneously ends without me having to do anything about it. Apocalypse? Deadly virus? Gigantic asteroid on a collision course with earth – bring it on! Sometimes I’m so mad, so filled with rage at the world that I want to kick things over, shout at people, punch god in the face, or scream until I have no voice left.

 So where am I now? I am coping. I get by. Sometimes I’m even living. But my reality is forever changed. Nothing and nobody can bring my boy back. I read somewhere that life goes on, but so does death. I know this to be true. I’ll carry the strength of his memory, and the weight of his loss, with me until the end of my days

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post - Right where I am – 10 months 23 days or 328 days.


Gemma sent me a lovely email a few days ago, asking me to share her Right Where I Am post. I am always incredibly grateful for emails and connections and to share stories about this experience. Gemma lost her son Isaac to a cord around his neck. As she shares, "It's been a hard and lonely road, I must say." Hopefully, this experience will help ease that loneliness. I know it does for me. 

I had no idea where I was until I sat down and started to write; my son should be approaching his year birthday and instead he is still gone.

I’m not in a very good place at the moment – I have lived through the last year getting through; I keep thinking to myself – I’ll just make it to the funeral and it will get easier, I’ll make it through to the post mortem results, and Christmas, and new year and my birthday and now the next event to live through is next month – the date I found out Isaac had died; literally my life changed forever. At the moment I am questioning the relationship parents have with their children – it takes up lots of my energy wondering about how much is written, how much is an unbreakable bond.

I try not to focus on the bad and instead look at the good things I do have;  I have tried to embrace the spiritual side of life because it means there is a chance that Isaac is still with me in some part, it means the feathers I see are really little signs from him , each day I work on my positive thinking, and I try to be a better person. For example my father told me yesterday to be good to my husband as if anyone loved me more than he did it was my husband – and he really is my rock; I have a lovely family and some really cracking friends – the sort I can really rely on and hope will still listen to me in years to come when I am still grief stricken; and I have my horse who is my delight – I am immensely proud of him as I bred him myself, when I am with him the pain is dampened for a while – it never goes away but it lifts the fog for a time. This is important to me – it fits in with everyone’s wise advise of “Just stop trying/worrying about it and you will get pregnant again” well-meaning people who have never had a child die inside of them and have no experience in what that would mean – how forgetting about it would simply be impossible. However I am working hard to attract positive things to my life, its taking more work than I had hoped to think about good things, I’m finding it very tiring but I know it’s what I need to do. My life hasn’t changed too dramatically which means I have attracted the right sort of friend into my life – that’s a positive a massive positive and one I am grateful for each day. In hindsight those who have been the best for me  have been friends I haven’t been as good to as I should have – I hope to make this up to them when I’m feeling more together.

I am finding the stages of arrive as and when they feel like it and at the moment I’m sitting next to anger, sadness and despair – they are like a dealer I guess  always hiding and waiting to rear their head when I am feeling weak, they visit me often these days and it makes me sad to see them but yet I welcome them in like an old friend calling, I know for me these emotions are all linked to the fact I have been unable to get pregnant again; have discovered un expected fertility issues and these weigh heavily on my mind. Isaac was a miracle baby, he was my personal miracle – its having loved and carried him that picks me up and makes me smile – I did that; I made a perfect little man and yet each day that goes by that I don’t get pregnant I am a day further away from being a mother with a living child.

Much of the time my grief for Isaac is tied into my sadness about not being a mother to a living child, I know that I would cope better if I was pregnant – not that it would replace him but I miss hope – I wish she would visit me again.

I can put on my outfit and get by most of the time, I don’t like to look in the mirror since he died – when I catch a glimpse of myself I feel like I’m looking at a stranger – I just look normal and this always amazes me; to all intents and purposes I can pass 99% of the time for a normal person following my daily routine – no one would know that my child died unless they asked; and they should know, because Isaac – well Isaac was everything to us. I feel quite out of place amongst smiling happy people.

I am a survivor – I have always been one of these people that breezed through life, oh yes I had some disasters along the way but they never really stuck; I was convinced therefore that I would survive this – I would do this the right way – I embraced all the stages of grief and I have grieved openly and fully; it has since come as a shock to me that I’m still struggling – this wasn’t part of the plan and then I’m angry again. I want to grab grief and shake her (grief must be a woman; she is simply too clever and manipulative to be a man) and tell her “look lady, I’ve done everything that was expected of me – I took time off, I read books on grief, I sought support from other baby loss mothers, I’ve publically grieved, I am not afraid to cry or mourn; I accepted that my son has gone and won’t be coming back and I accepted it wasn’t anyone’s fault – not even mine. So cut me some slack and let me get on and heal” but she just waves the caveat that grief has no rules and can raise her head at any time and opens the door to let anger, and sadness and despair in again.

As I mentioned before I am currently fascinated with my relationship with my father who left us when I was very little; I’ve never minded too much about this and I have a wonderful step Dad who I just think of as my Dad; and I never blamed him for not calling as often as he should – I just seemed to accept him for who he was – oh yes my relationship with my father has been a tad tempestuous at times – and yet he has been so insightful since Isaac died – saying to me only yesterday to stop trying so damn hard to be better and that “Only I could imagine that I could get through my grief in Guinness book of records time” and “I spout the right things but I need to believe in them” and I wonder how he knows exactly what I’m feeling even when I pretend to myself ? I wonder if Isaac and I would have had that, or Isaac and his Daddy perhaps?

I wonder about the kind of mother I would have been had I had the chance; I look at my husband and I know that he would have been a wonderful father – a little too soft and easily wrapped around the finger with cute eyes but it would have been the making of him – it has been. I wonder if I would be been short tempered after a million “why” questions and know that next time I will be a better mother because I know what it is like to lose the chance.
Now I just want the chance again

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Post: Right where I am - 1 year and 2months followed by 1 month and 10 days


I always offer my blog as a place to share your Right Where I Am for those without blogs. Claire emailed me the other day, asking if I would oblige. Happily. Claire describes herself as a "wife, angel mummy and teacher from Scotland with four losses. Molly born sleeping April 2011, Grace born sleeping May 2012 and two little stars lost at 6 weeks." So grateful to welcome Claire to still life with circles. 

At this moment, I don't know where I am anymore. Back at the beginning of a nightmare and doing it all over again I guess.

We faced Molly's first birthday in April knowing that her baby brother or sister was fighting a losing battle inside me against the same condition that took Molly from us. Four weeks later, we buried Grace alongside her big sister. I have now lost 4 babies. Molly, Grace and 2 little stars lost in early pregnancy.

So I am back in the early days of grief. Once again, my confidence is gone (although I don't think it ever properly came back after losing Molly). I am afraid to leave the house. I am afraid to face people - they'd rather not be faced with me anyway. A stark, sad reminder of something they would rather not think about. The guilt is overwhelming - I feel like such a failure. I feel that I have let everyone down, especially my husband. He would be a wonderful father. I watch him with my niece, who adores the ground he walks on, and it breaks my heart. Even amongst friends I have met on this journey who have also lost, some of them don't know what to say to me as they just cannot imagine having to life through the nightmare again.

I sometimes feel I am living an out of body experience. I do things, go places but I am not really there. I tune out, I can't always cope. I still don't think I have fully let myself realise that I am going through this again. If I stopped to think, I don't think I would start again. I have become so good at putting on a face. People tell me I am doing so well, that I am strong and brave. I don't feel it.

I try hard to count my blessings every day now. My wonderful husband, our supportive family, my friends, new friends met on this journey of loss, my sands group... I am lucky to have these things. I have met so many brave and inspirational women on this journey who have lost children in many different circumstances and who, instead of drowning in their grief, have used it to support and reach out to other women. This inspires me. Supporting other women in this situation has helped me. I was sent a poem last week written by a mother who lost her child recently and who I had reached out to. Instead of thanking me, she thanked my girls - because of them their mummy was able to offer empathy, support and advice to another bereaved mother. I loved this. It meant my girls had meaning to someone else. Last week also, a fellow bereaved mummy and wonderful friend, wrote my girls' names on the beach in Costa Rica. I love it when someone thinks of my girls, I love to see their names, to hear their names. These things mean so much to me.

My hope is still flickering somewhere and I really don't want to give up but I think another loss would destroy me. Nobody can say to me anymore that 'it'll be alright next time', we lost our next time. I can't give up though, I want so much to be an earth mummy. I don't want my girls to have died for nothing. Without them, we would not have met such inspirational people. People who have now given us access to research which shows a way forward for us. Strong women who, after many losses, now have healthy rainbow children in their lives or are pushing forward with the strong belief that their rainbow is on the horizon. I am trying to cling to this, desperately.

I look out for my girls and I see them... in rainbows, sunshine, stars, little coincidences. I feel them still and, though I miss them dreadfully, I find comfort in knowing that they are still with me in my heart.

A friend once said to me that losing your child was like walking in mud. Some days the mud is thinner and you somehow manage to drag yourself through it. Other days, the mud is so thick that you are stuck and can't move...... the thick mud days hurt your heart even more.

Right where I am... stuck in the thick mud and looking for a way forward.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

feather


This past full moon, the Strawberry Moon, I sat down to write again. Full moons always make me write, but I grew pink at that impulse to write about another full moon and grief. Maybe my grief is cyclical like the moon, growing large, then whittling down to nothing again. There is a longing there when the moon hangs full and heavy in the night. An excitement in me that translates toward insomnia and a pull towards more grief and introspection. My baby died. I give myself the moons.

It is strange to edge into summer solstice and not feel a bottomless pit of darkness. She will be gone three and a half years. We will have a house guest. We cannot even dance in the late sunset by a bonfire. Undress like pagans. Drag charcoal across our faces like warriors. We won't plait our hair, dance until it knots and we look like tramps. We cannot burn charged candles and draw totem. And cry, scream, sing. We won't wrap our regrets and the people we want out of our lives around sage and burn them.

We will be proper people, nodding and forgetting. Toasting to the summer! Long live the summer! Short death for our daughter! May she come back next life soon! May she find us and hug us and be our friend!

I feel so obligated right now. The dog wants to come in. The baby wants jimmies for breakfast. People need to know now. The garbage needs to go out. Bags of our Lucia's almost-future need to go to donation. The school needs a paper bag and a board game and a short day, but still a day. So and so needs their whatsit. And I am just tired. The baby died again, albeit she was not a baby at all, just an empty sac we thought of as a baby. We heard she died, or never lived, at 12 weeks, but it could have been eight, or six, or anything, really before twelve. She was small and not quite a baby yet, but she died. She came out of my body and I bled on everything. Then I had to clean the toilets, using the brush to scrub the blood from around the rims, because I am the mommy. I felt lost in my role at those moments. Or rather I felt found. I didn't imagine it our baby I was cleaning, or the toilet, or the bathroom, or the blood I kept wiping from my palms. It was just a job I do everyday. Like parenting and grieving.

Beatrice cried the other night because all her sisters are dead. Though we never knew if our little dot was a girl, we assumed. Another gypsy sister, all curly hair and the color of Thor. And I teared up too. "I always saw you with little sisters, Beatrice. I'm sorry they aren't there to play with you, honey."

"Me too, Mama," she said, "I'm sorry your sisters aren't here to play with you."

I feel like I'm grieving the loss of Thor and Beezus' little sister. It feels more their loss than mine. I only grieve Lucia and all the life that came with her, which is quite a lot, and might have included another little sister.

To be honest, I hadn't called anyone in the first few weeks of my miscarriage. I have spent three years thinking now that I know better, I will do better. But I just couldn't call. I let people call me--people with issues bigger than mine, like people who wanted to drink, or who lost their jobs. The calls helped, even. There was a palpable lightness of being after talking, particularly when the person on the other end didn't mention the miscarriage at all. I really do not want to talk about it. I don't want to hear her name, if she is even a she, because she doesn't have a name. We only called her little dot, because that is all she was--a dot inside of me. One that never grew.

This pregnancy was destined to fail. I absolutely willed it to exist. I gave our family one try to expand, and it did. It expanded, a nova, came together again, stronger, denser than before. There is no more baby. There never was. I wanted the little sister, sure. I wanted another child in my home, but when she left, I found myself looking at my living children and exhaling. Ahhhhh, no newborns. Not anymore. No worrying for nine months. No anxiety. No comments about how big or little our family is. No sleep deprivation. No blow-out diapers. No all the things that come with newborn life that was scaring the shit out of me.

I told my friend that I saw ravens before the miscarriage. I saw them all over. And she said, "I see death birds before my people die too." I nodded. That was it. She isn't a raven. The death bird was there to tell us she was dead. She is nothing, but the sister that never was.

I bought a three buck feather earring at Target. It was black and looked like a raven feather. I wore it, because it reminded me that my babies died and death birds come. Someone said they dug the Native American thing I had going on. And I wanted to scream. Just scream, like a wild thing, a scared thing, a terrifying thing.

STOP MAKING MY GRIEF INTO A FASHION STATEMENT!!

But it is a fashion statement to someone who doesn't understand. I find comfort in symbols that belong to my babies, even when they weren't babies, just empty sacs where babies almost grew. I want to cover my body in the symbols of all my children. I wear a feather and a deer antler and a wooden moth in my hair. Golden locusts in my ears that remind me of Jess.  I wrap myself in long gauzy skirts and chanclas from Panama, and nursing bras, because some times, I still nurse. I make necklaces out of beads, and I want another tattoo. The tattoo would scream:

THEY DIED!!
MY OTHERS LIVED!!
I AM A MOTHER!!
WIDE HIPS AND LONG BREASTS!!
STOP GAWKING AT THE GRIEF GYPSY!!
THE MOON GUIDES ME!!
THEY DIED ANYWAY!!

There would be a moon and an old woman weeping. Maybe there would be a raven.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

curios


When my daughter died, I kept all the cards. There is a manila folder that says "Lucia" on the tab. Every card and note that came to my house, I tucked into the folder. I didn't look at them again in the months or years since. I know they are there. That is enough. The condolences were never lost on me. They were there, the words meaningless and important. What it did was made me love, feel love, feel loved, because of that, they did the most important job ever. Things change, some of those people are gone. But those condolences were the possibility of them staying, and it meant something.

There are so many things about the time of early grief that I want to study. The way I reacted to normal life, for example, or the feeling of being skinned alive and sent on my way. "Your baby was born dead. Then we removed all your skin. You are now free to leave the hospital. Watch for sharp corners, lemons, and salted foods."

I soak the photographs of the girl I once was in formaldehyde. I add in the compassion I had before, and the belief in me and my body. I have another jar entirely with luck, fortune, and giggly spirits. And one for good behavior and doing what I am told. I have a jar filled with the callouses that protected me from holding grudges. They fell off after she died. I put all those little fancy parts of my grief in jars, and keep them on the internet.

I tuck that grief away in yellow liquid, because it feels so unnatural, like a disease. It feels like it needs to be extracted, even though I know my baby died and I am supposed to feel this way, even three years later. I want to study my grief. To float it in liquid. I want to dissect it, pull the blackness out of the moldy chambers of me, weigh it, examine it, pluck out the lungs of it. I want to find the source of our fevers and weeping. I want to find ourselves in the lostness of our lives. I want to lose ourselves in the finding. "We are animals," this strange Victorian curio cabinet of my grief seems to say. "There is a natural connection between us all in this grief, even as it feels lonely and strange." I admit that there is a strong desire in me to make this grief feel natural and beautiful and at the same time, wrong. I wrap it in beautiful, curious words, nature scenes, very tiny spores even. It makes me invent scenes involving organic matter in formaldehyde and science labs. But the truth of it, something in me is dead and floating in dirty liquid.

There is a curio cabinet inside of me. I collect things in it. Symbols and full moon names, like tattoos on me. Strawberry Moon, Harvest Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Hunter's Moon...Lucia's Moon. I see them in script across my back. In the cabinet, there are the jars of who I was, and all these bits of grief. The grief looks like animal fetuses, unformed yet sleeping. They are the emotions I stopped and replaced with anger. There are also bones of animals. Any animal. The ones I crossed in the woods and saved, just because they were some other animal's child. And I would want a wolf to pick up Lucia's bones and keep her somewhere, gnaw on her and think of all we missed. There is a raven feather, because death birds surround me. And there are locusts dipped in gold. They are for Jess and the plagues that seemed to come to my home. There is a deer antler found in a bed of moss by a hippie girl who makes necklaces. She says they are naturally collected by her. I want to believe a caftan-wearing urbanite with Frye boots and a beaded headband tramps through the forest foraging for deer horns, rubbed off in spring, then strings them for grieving mothers. That seems like part of this mythic world I created on the internet after she died. We are magic here.

I am leaving for the weekend. It is a retreat with nuns and prayer and artwork and meditation. It is nestled in the woods. I might have a cigarette, even though I haven't smoked in a seven years. But I might. I always think that when I am around smokers, but I probably won't. I am not grieving this miscarriage. Not a right and proper grief like Lucia's death. My friend said there is a space in this community for not-grief too. The space to just be with a death. It just makes me think about all these years of grieving, collecting jars of the more curious parts of me. I still don't quite understand what happened to me in the last three years. I am different. Not better or worse, just different. Since I began bleeding a month ago, I have been expecting to wake up and be in early grief again, keening and uncomfortable, but it hasn't happened. I remember reading Monica saying that first miscarriage was harder than her son's stillbirth, because she wasn't expecting it. Or maybe I got that wrong, but what I said makes sense to me.

I drink down those jars of the old me, some days, expecting to be that person again who looks welcoming and smells good. I know it would work the same way as if my severed finger were in a jar and I tried to drink it back on. And maybe I don't even want to be that person, it's just sometimes this person's head is too loud, too morbid, too dark. And so I write in jars and put them on the internet.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

glow and etsy

Yesterday, I was up to post over at Glow in the Woods. I wrote finding lost things and losing things I thought I found. I talked about cleaning out my basement, getting rid of all my maternity and baby clothes. I admit, I kept one wee box of super cute clothes for my "grandchildren." Yeah. And I talk about the Fibonacci sequence and finding a little broken snail shell that reminded me of my insides. It made sense at the time. Go over and join the conversation.

Also, I decided to begin creating and selling art again. My sister and I closed our shop the Kenna Twins earlier this year. We both found it difficult to maintain our custom orders in the midst of every day life. Mainly, I stopped so I could write a novel, except I never did quite get to the novel, yet I continued to fill my time with other shit that was not as spiritually fulfilling. Art is my passion, my spirituality, my touch of the Divine. I meditate and create, so I lost a bit of meditation on a day to day basis. So, after talking to my twin, thinking it over, consulting psychic and spiritual advisors, and then meditating a great deal, I decided to open my shop with the focus on sacred symbols, images, and meditation paintings. Everything in that shop is spiritual in one way or another. I have been focused in the last few months on linocut block printing, and I did a series on the elements--air, fire, water, and earth. Anyway, I am selling a ton of greeting cards, prints, original paintings of mizuko jizo and meditating mamas still. And in the next few months, I will be adding saint paintings, ex-votos, Day of the Dead altar paintings...slowly they will be added. ANYWAY, here is the link to my shop. 

You can like me at angie yingst studios on Facebook.

For my opening days, I am offering free shipping to all my blog readers. Use the code: stilllife. 

Love you all. xo