Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I have a special love of terrariums. The self-contained atmosphere. A jar of world. Moss. Layers of rocks, charcoal, peat, ash, dirt and green. Staring at the terrarium, I sometimes find myself daydreaming of living in this humid, wet, mossy world cut off from the outside. The smells of loamy earth and damp existence. I breathe it in and ingest all of the greens and soils.

My terrariums are slowly dying. Be it too much sun, or water. Too much neglect. Too small of a jar. Too big. I fumble. Spray it. Move it to the office. I add a glass ladybug. Sing to it. I put my kitchen gnome in one. Spray it again.

Why are you dying, Moss?

Part of the appeal of terrariums is that only idiots manage to kill them and I am just such an idiot. It is simply moss. Moss grows uninvited between the bricks of my patio, or in the wood under my deck. And yet, in this space, they are sad, wilted, angry. Glass keeps them safe. Glass separates out the bad air, wind and water. Glass separates life. Glass separates the other beings who may trample their delicate, unnoticed beauty. They are not thriving in this world of separation.

I have layered a glass with dirt, water, air, love and planted my heart, far away from the reaches of those who ignored the last crack right through its center. Now my heart's edges are turning rust-colored, drying out, and smelling of emptiness.




Shit, my chat is on. A name I remember like a dream. We haven't talked in two years. A lot has changed in two years.

"I had a dream about you."
"Weird. What happened in your dream? Please say I wasn't naked."
"Well, you were. We all were."
"I am married and can't have this kind of chat."
"Ha, no. I was a polar bear, and so were you. Well, all my really important friends who I have known for twenty years were polar bears."

We have known each other twenty years and you said nothing when my daughter died?

"We were all speaking polar bear which I understood. And the cool thing is that even though every polar bear looked exactly the same, I knew which one was you."
"Yes, everyone was arguing about which ice floe to be on. You were wise."
"Polar bears are good mojo. I heard about your friend's death. I am just so sorry."
"Yeah. I am really angry. I don't know why he did that when so many people loved him."
"Love doesn't always penetrate that kind of dark place."
"I know. I owe you an apology. I'm sorry I didn't say anything when your daughter died. I didn't know what to say. I'm an idiot."
"I didn't know what to say either."


It is just too much energy anymore to be angry. Perhaps this is a good place to get to. People trickling back into my life are met with Defeated Angie, not Raging Angie. Or Confrontational Angie. Or Raw Angie. Just Defeated, Slightly Bitter, Angie

For so long, I was obsessed with this idea that my friends didn't realize how much their silence hurt. That they didn't get it, or me. That my daughter's death was among the tragic events they heard of everyday, but not something that required anything of them in particular. Sometimes they seemed to react as though it were my job, and not my daughter, that I lost. I was not sacked. I was stripped of my safety. I birthed my dead daughter. I was robbed of the family I had always dreamt of.

As friends sheepishly contact me again, I realize that they know exactly how much they hurt me and how big of a deal it was that they said nothing. Nothing seemed enough, they say now.

Nothing is enough and anything is adequate.

I have no more energy for umbrage. I have no more patience for living in the State of Righteous Indignation: Population 1. I have a lot of single friends. People already confused how to deal with the choices of me with house/wife/kids. Throw stillbirth into the mix. We no longer speak the same language. We stand facing each other like the Victor dog. Heads cocked.

I feel like declaring some kind of Angie Amnesty Day. I am in a particularly forgiving mood these days, willing to translate for those on the other side of the divide. "If you didn't know what to say after my daughter died, come. Say something now. Let us get that one awkward exchange out of the way and get to the business of being friends again." But am I? Am I going to be able to really forget that they said nothing? I will never know unless I try.

And so, tell me, what are you willing to forgive these days? What is the name of the land in which you reside?


  1. This is an interesting question. I find myself still too exhausted by the grief to stop and look at a map . . . but I wonder.

    A few weeks ago I got an invitation to my father's adult cousin's youngest child's college graduation (follow that one?! exhausting.). Anyway, these are far-removed family members, and I really don't know their children. All I could think was, "Well, you found my new address for this gift-harvest invitation, but couldn't send a card when my daughter died?"

    And then I felt like an ass. But it felt stronger to be mad than to flop on the couch, head in hands. I ignored the invite all together.

    I feel lucky because my closest friends have really been wonderful, as have most of the outer onion skin layer-friends. But the ones who've forgotten me, or who find it too hard or awkward to say anything . . . well. I try to be understanding, and someday our paths will cross, and I'll be nice, but I won't forget. I really wish I could.

  2. What an awesome post. I feel the same way. But, for me it is if they don't say anything now. If they don't understand my tears. If they don't get that I lost a piece of me that day. But, like you the grief is so exhausting that I can't fight it. I can't stand up to it. I forgive them...but, I wish they would just acknowledge he was here.

  3. I think the Amnesty Day idea is actually a really good one. You'd better make it more like a week though.

  4. Nice post. I know grudges are never good for the soul. But I've had some really mean stuff said to me when I was ttc, got pregnant, lost Shealyn, and in weeks/ months afterwards, by friends and family. I almost wish the didn't say anything at all. Maybe then I'd be past it by now.

    An amnesty day..huh...sounds interesting. I think it should be the other way around that was I could tell people what I really think rather then keeping it bottled inside.


  5. I am currently the mayor of "Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don'tville", which borders on "How the Fuck Would You Know Junction". Were I to offer an amnesty, it would be to those offering me suggestions on how to proceed from here. I am so quick to see their suggestions as referenda on our chances of having a family and a dismissal of our grief that I sometimes miss their entirely earnest and heartfelt wishes to see me out of limbo and out of pain. (If you can be in pain, can you be out of pain?)

    In case it counts for anything, the terrarium you sent me is about the only thing I have ever been able to grow in this house (in any category), and I am beyond grateful to you for giving me something that I can keep alive and thriving. That matters to me more than you can imagine.

  6. Well, as you know I'm your next door neighbour in Righteous Indignation. (If only we were neighbours, hey? But that's a different story)

    I think the amnesty is good idea. I think that loving people when they're good and proper, and when you're good and proper, is easy. It's when things are shit, or when they do something shit, that love really matters. And people are glorious in all their fucked-up-ed-ness. They are, I think.

    And as bitter as you feel, that's a tiny part of the Angie I know. But it's a beautiful part too. I can't explain it, but they need bitter Angie, these people. And all of the other Angies you care to be.

    I'm trying to move to Passion-and-Purposeville at the moment. Moving is fucking stressful though. Packing up and labeling my mental boxes and shifting them around can be exhausting. I'm scared to break stuff. I'm finding stuff in my attic that I'd forgotten about. The normal stuff.


  7. Oh this post really speaks to me. I live on the "Island of the Bereaved". At first I thought I was the only inhabitant, but by now I have found all the others that live close by (and are walking in the same shoes). It has become a much nicer place since then...

    I would love to forget the grudges I have towards friends. I forgave (mostly) but somehow I can't seem to forget it. There'll always be that "Why didn't you say a word?" going around in my head... It just feels so disrespectful, even though I know it's mostly the helplessness. Still though...

    Good luck with your terrarium! xoxo

  8. A lot of the time, I still reside in the Land of the Bitter and Twisted, but mostly these days, it is the Land of the Perpetually Exhausted in that I am perpetually exhausted from almost two years of grieving and that I am also sick to death of being perpetually exhausted by people and their failings (even if they don't mean it). I absolutely admire your willingness to forgive and forget (well to at least give it a go). I am still stumbing in that department and I'm holding on to so much hurt. Some bridges in my life will just never be mended.
    Great post, as always, Angie.

  9. I don't know where I live... but maybe I'm Co-CEOs of Schizophrenics, Inc., manufacturing a broad array of toxic emotions in the grieving subsidiary and packaging and disposing of them for the normalcy division.

    I want to hold Defeated Angie and cry with her, though. That much I do know.

  10. hey Angie

    I don't really have an answer for where i am at the moment, other than right here, right now, with dirt, water, air, love, sunshine, plans, life...

    Today I had a most remarkable experience in the garden, I found a lizard/gecko kind of creature, tiny he was. And he looked so dead but, well, he wasn't. I made him a terrarium but was terrified to harm/kill him so i did release him after a couple of hours. But it was fun, I felt like a kid with a fancy glass of slugs and bugs except well it was a lizard. And I did have a sense Fionn and I were having a great time.

    peace my friend and lots of love

    PS read more about my instant terrarium here: http://forwardtumble.com/?p=504

  11. i love the idea of amnesty day. instead i have a lot of days that are, "oh who gives a f*ck days," which are not quite the same thing.

    "lost my safety." that's it exactly, and it is so hard to explain to other people just how profound a shift that is. they just look at me like i'm a drama queen. but you put it just right.

    i heart terrariums too - my sister's place is full of them. xo

  12. Amnesty Day is a brilliant idea.

    It's easier for me to forgive (really forgive) a stupid attempt at comfort than the refusal to acknowledge my boy's existence. I often pretend to forgive those refusals (and I fake it pretty well) but real forgiveness comes hard, even though I was the sort of person, before Teddy's death, who would have been paralyzed into silence myself.

    So I'm working on more real forgiveness, partly for my own peace of soul and partly so I can stop being such a giant hypocrite. Hypocritopia is not a place I want to stay any longer.


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