I cut and pasted my entire blog into Word. Just the cutting and pasting part took a half an hour or so. When I was done, I saved it, and an error popped up. "This document has too many spelling and grammatical errors to display properly. Use the spell check feature to rectify." Or something like that. It was 765 pages long, single spaced with one inch margins. That first year, I could have written fifteen posts a day. I would write them, then save them as drafts. I published nearly every day. I often wrote, then did my duties as a babyloss clicker for Mel's Lost and Found Connections Abound, which meant that I read all the blogs on the blogroll everyday, leaving comments, sending stories to LFCA. That is how I met HereWeGoAJen and I adore her to bits.
I've published 464 posts and 82 unpublished pieces that will probably never see the light of day. still life with circles has documented all of Thor's life, and most of Beezus' life and all of my grief. I began still life 365 as an idea here, and conducted many community projects, like Right Where I Am, and the Spoken Word round-ups. Jess helped me come up with the first community poem, which was started on this blog. I have answered a shitload of questions, and shared my struggles with alcoholism and recovery. I've shared my artwork here, and my Etsy shops, whatever their manifestations. I've talked about nearly everything in my life. I've lost friends after blog posts, and gained many through the comment section of this blog. This past year, I have played some cards closer to my chest, maybe the ones about school and career. Just because I want it to stick, and be in the midst of it, and besides it is all so new. I have to process before I can write about it. Grief hasn't been so demanding these days, and I don't always know how to blend all of these things in a graceful way. I've annoyingly opened up about my spirituality and my psychic experiences, and I know it has driven readers away.
In two weeks, it is my blogoversary--four years writing about grief and art and my family and me. It hasn't always been pretty, or well-written, or interesting, but it has been a kind of discipline in my personal writing that helped me believe I could write a novel or three, even though I haven't quite written three novels. Writing in this public way is so strange, humbling, scary, right-sizing, intimidating and liberation, self-centered, compassionate, supportive, strange. The best word is strange. I often start at nature, or whatever is around me, because I try to write even when I don't know what I'm going to say. And it grounds me in place. Certainly nothing profound is pounding in my head to come out. I just want to keep writing, the momentum of it, the discipline of it, the insistence of it...Write. Write. Write. Write. I pick oracle cards that say WRITE. I hear it from people constantly, "What are you writing?" Write, Angie.
Sometimes I wonder who is reading, yet write for nobody in particular. Does it matter? It doesn't, but I still wonder. Does everyone? I wonder if anyone cares or relates to anything I write. I wonder where the conversation went, and if this space matters without readers. And yet, I know still life with circles has to change, because I am changing. And in the changing, I just have to write about what I know, which is not always grief.
When I write this is what is happening behind the scenes:
When the baby died in May, I doubted I could write again. I didn't think I could adequately describe the heartbreak and freedom I felt. Heartbreak at the end of my pregnancy days. Heartbreak at the death of our fourth child together. Heartbreak at the sadness of my children. Heartbreak that I won't shower another child with love and kisses and artwork and music and all of it. Heartbreak for my physical body which seemed so broken and damaged and diseased. Then the freedom to know that I am pouring my being back into my body now. Freedom in release from being a vessel for little beings to come into this world. Freedom in knowing that I am more than boobs and a uterus and warnings about jumping off of furniture and running in socks. Freedom to figure out what the last six years of pregnancy, mothering, wifing, grief, daughtering, sistering, losing, gaining, praying, releasing, resenting will mean. Who am I now? There is a freedom in the not quite knowing, but being sure you are someone better than before.
The part of me that wasn't lost in Lucia's death was drowned in bourbon. I pulled her on shore, and dried her off, and told her she is okay. Maybe even a decent human being. When the baby died in May, I didn't think about drinking, or resenting people. Each call that came in, each email soothed me in a way that I didn't allow when Lucia died. Back then, I just saw the words not said, the gestures not performed. I flush deeply at the thought of how broken I was even before Lucia died. How ill-equipped I was to deal with grief and parenting magnified under the lens of absolute destruction. This blog, beyond all the therapy and steps and talking to friends, this blog gave me the space to work through that, to articulate who I was in a way that helped me figure it out, to be a better person. Sometimes it was through a piece well-received, mostly it was through my mistakes, my hand-gnarling in early morning hours over a bitter blog post, and wanting to run away from my exposed skeletons and broken heart.
Reasons. And it was a project I took upon myself during that time of my pregnancy with Thor that I felt most out of control. I wrote down each time I thought, "Don't do that--that is why Lucia died." I wrote them on napkins, in text messages to myself, in emails, in a notepad of my phone. I wrote it on the back of receipts, and on notebooks in my doctor's office.
Now, when I write, I sit at my art desk, light my desk altar candle and incense, I smudge the space, and stare at my inspiration board. It has paintings from Sky's mama, and Rachel and Amy, and Mother Henna, and my friend Saralee, and my daughter. The sacred images flood my heart, remind me of the sacred connection all of us grieving parents share. I have a deep gratitude for this space, for the people who send me emails after their babies die and tell me their story. I have a deep gratitude for all of you who sent me notes and emails after my miscarriage, for Lucia's anniversary, even though I am terrible about remembering anniversaries and birthdays. I have a deep gratitude for any comment. It reminds me that I am not alone, and neither are you.
It's been a long time since I have answered questions on this blog, but please if you have any about any topic, either personal, about some thing you think I might know about, alcoholism/recovery, religions (hey, help me use my major) or about a personal issue you have that you want advice about, post them here in the comment section or email me at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. I love questions, even if Brooke believes I do not write like Dear Sugar. (Still stung from that comment, Brooke! [I'm just joking. I have no delusions of writing grandeur.]) And the other part is that I have been feeling a deep need to do a tonglen mizuko jizo session to reconnect with my artwork and this community, so if you are interested in a mizuko jizo (free to anyone who asks, even if you have received one), please comment here, or send me an email at the above address. I usually charge $25 for them in my Etsy shop, but here they are free. You can read about mizuko jizo here. And then the other topic I wanted to bring up is this: How many people would be interested in another babyloss retreat? I did this in 2009. Comment here and let me know. I am just putting out feelers. Trying to figure out what kind of space I could find for us. (I'm based in Philadelphia, so I'm thinking an East Coast location.)