Monday, August 30, 2010

How You Go.

Before they brought in the ultrasound machine, they moved the girl in the other bed.

I just remembered this the other day. After the nurse left our room, unable to find Lucy’s heartbeat with the Doppler, but before the ultrasound team came in, they moved the loud girl next to us. She had been speaking Spanish on a cell phone, complaining about being stuck in the hospital to be monitored. My husband always asks me if I know what people speaking Spanish are saying. Sometimes I just say yes and I completely make something up, and the punchline involves him. Sometimes I just say no when I really just think it is too complicated or rude to explain what they are actually saying. Most of the time, I am just not paying attention. It sounds like someone speaking another language to me too. I have to concentrate to understand, unlike English. But I knew this woman was complaining about being in the hospital, and she was asking her sister when she was picking her up.

What struck me about this weird little memory of my time in the PETU is that I realize now that everyone knew. They all knew Lucy was dead. They pretended not to know. They pretended she was going to be okay, until we were alone and we could see it for ourselves on a screen. The screen that showed my beautiful girl with nothing moving in her ribs. Fuck.

These flashbacks on those minutes come back to me like a montage…the girl talking on her cell phone watching shitty Sunday night television. Complaining. Her baby is fine. She can go home soon, says the nurse. Another nurse patting me, saying she is somehow deficient because she can’t find the heartbeat. The girl alone, waiting. She checks me out. Gives me the barrio nod. My husband and I hold hands. Our hearts beat wildly.  Though our curtain is closed, through a crack, I can see she doesn’t look in our direction when the nurse moves her. Feeling vaguely foolish for being in PETU, thinking that Lucy would be fine if I just wasn't here. Right now.

Did they tell her why they were moving her before or after she left our room? Did the shitty bitching lady next to me know Lucy was dead before I did? Did they say, “It is so sad.”? Maybe she told the story when she got home,  I was next to a lady whose baby died. I think she was Puerto Rican.

Why does this even matter? Why am I even thinking about who knew before me almost two years later? Maybe because I believed everyone when they said it was going to be okay. Or I at least believed that they believed it, like I did, and that when her heart was not beating everyone was as surprised as me.

There seems to be a common thread in the birth stories of the stillborn. One of those things is that the nurse looks for the heartbeat with the doppler, then says she will get the doctor. And then the ultrasound rolls in the room, and at that point, some people realize the baby is dead, and other times it takes seeing the still chest. I have set Faces of Loss on my reader, and they usually publish at night after I have gone to bed and am unable to sleep. And I read each one. I force myself to do it, just to meditate on the universality of child loss and daughter death. Just to bear witness, perhaps.  All these beautiful women from all over the country went through this same thing that I went through. They also felt like the only person in the world to lose their precious child. Sometimes I am rooting for their story to be different when they explain their joy at getting pregnant, and seeing the second pink line, but then I remember what and who I am reading. They know what it is to keen into a pillow. To imagine a thousand scenarios that may have changed the one sad fact that you cannot turn back time. To cruelly have to give birth and labor after being told your child will not be crying. Or maybe I read it just to remember the way it was back then. Grief was easy and immediate and unconfused. I felt no guilt over my screaming tortured way of being. I felt no self-doubt about whether this was healthy. My emotions were so demanding. I could do nothing but honor them.

I read blogs of the babylost. I write blogs of the babylost. And the words I use changed over time. There were words like healing and closure in the early life of my blog, or finding or making peace, and later I came to a sort of resignation that this shit does not get easier, you just get better at living this life.

Lately, I have found the quality and timbre of my life to be one beautiful and lonely chord. It is a magical ethereal moment without context. I search to figure out a way to capture and share and talk about the quiet beauty, but have realized that I have no adequate words and no one to show it to. And in the end, it is almost like a butterfly flying over the ashes of a house fire.The juxtaposition of it makes it haunting and beautiful and almost sacrilege to mention to anyone. You just watch it float away. I have lost my last real life friend. Maybe that isn't quite true, but it is almost true. It happened a month or so ago. It is both disconcerting and liberating to be in this place. I felt liberated because for the first time in this grief I felt like there was no one else to hurt by my sadness.No one else to think about when I write, I can just write. And this beautiful and lonely chord, it isn't because of Thor or Beezus, it isn't because of what is here, but maybe because of this way that Lucia's death has integrated into the other parts of me, and made me accountable to living authentically. I have found joy in her grief. It sounds terrible to say that. It is like saying I saw a beautiful yellow butterfly flying through the burnt remains of your parent's front porch. But in my moment to moment existence, her death and my grief have given me permission to create and pursue the life I always wanted to live.

When I saw the stillness of the ultrasound machine, I had no idea what the path looked like from that point. It was a moment that I cannot describe, but that forced me into a place of immediacy and Otherness. I could only keep thinking at the time that I would always be the woman with the dead baby. I remember laugh/crying because it was too much to take in and sometimes I laugh when I am absolutely nervous. I remember being aware that my marriage could fall apart and I remember promising Sam that that would never happen. I remember thinking that after telling my mother her granddaughter was dead that I couldn't ever talk on the phone again. But I didn't really know what Lucia's death would mean 20 months out. I didn't know who would be standing with us, or who would be gone. Hint: it is not who you think it is going to be. Thinking of it now it reminds me of the Fischli and Weiss film, The Way Things Go. I had no idea that the pregnant woman passing me in the PETU would spark off a fire of memory in me twenty months later that makes me remember that at some point I had hope for healing. Or to remember that there was a time when Lucy's death, my grief, my motherhood and my sense of community were all distinctly different beings.

Sometimes a moment is supposed to be savored rather than captured and reported. Maybe those moments that make up your life--the still ultrasound; the obnoxious PETU roommate; the sunset with coffee and a dog's head in your lap; the butterfly is the dark, smokey ash of a house fire; or watching a child roll over and giggle-- maybe those moments make you deeper simply by not being shared at all, but simply as being part of how you go.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


A few weeks ago, Sam was working a twenty-four hour shift. I was sitting in the living room with Beezus. She had just woken up from a nap, so she had a cup-full of water and a cookie. I was doing the crossword on my handheld device and talking to my sister on the phone. Besides the noises from meddling kids on the television, the house felt still. Since Beezus was sitting in front on me, I could tell she hadn't moved, even though I was not quite focused on her. The air between us remained unchanged.  I looked up, as I was talking, and her face was covered with thick red blood. It was everywhere. In her hair. In her mouth. And she was still staring at the television.

It took me a moment to process the scene. It seemed so incongruous with what the second before had just been. I gasped, said something desperately awful to my sister and hung up the phone. "Did you fall, Beatrice?" And she was suddenly startled too. Her huge blue eyes were like saucers. I tried to temper my worst freak-out instincts. She gauged me gauging her. She stayed silent and unsure. I picked her up in my arms. My feet wanted to run back and forth and back and forth going no where in particular, but I ran to the bathroom repeating questions, "Did you move? Did you fall? Were you just sitting there?" Even though, I know damn well she was just sitting there.  It was all I could think--something fell on her, or she fell off of something. And all she could say, finally, was, "Mama, I think there is blood."

My daughter has never had a massive nosebleed, and being that she is my first child, that means I haven't seen one since elementary school when Danny Dolly punched himself in the nose to make my sister vomit in fifth grade. (She has always had a rather weak stomach for blood.) Beezus later sheepishly explained that she thinks that, uh, maybe, she was, perhaps, or might have been, you know, picking her nose, even though she is not supposed to pick her nose, but that perhaps she pulled a booger from it, and that it began, as she describes it "itchin'." Reconstructing the scene I was just part of, I can see her feeling the run of blood down her face, then rubbing her nose, and suddenly, it got everywhere, but for a second, it was like my worst nightmare. It is so disconcerting to lift my head, knowing damn well no one was moving, and seeing my daughter covered with blood.

It is funny the things you think to do in such a moment. I took a picture with my cell phone which was in my hand, so that I could send it to her father at the hospital. I wonder what I thought I would write: "What is going on with her?" Like that would have helped him solve the mystery of why his daughter was covered in blood.

This may be one of the biggest things that has happened to her. After she was cleaned up, I called my sister back. I didn't want to just forget that I left the conversation shrieking in a stage whisper, "BEA IS COVERED IN BLOOD." Click. Beatrice, on the other hand, had her own calling to do. Straight away, she went into the play kitchen picked up her play phone and called everyone she knew and told them. Connected to nothing, she wandered around the house with her little phone calling all her friends and relatives and telling her story, "Uh, hi, Uncle John, yeah, my nose was bleeding. Uh, huh. Yep. I'm fine, but I was scared."

This may seem like my story, because I have told it to you here. But it isn't. Not really. It is her story. One day, part of her story will be Lucy died and it made her mother crazy. Or perhaps she will say, "My sister Lucy died and it made my mother (fill in the blank)." Distant? Kind? Driven? Sad? But these stories are not mine. Not really. I am just borrowing them until they become hers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Magical thinking.

The baby sits in his Bumbo, mouth wide open, in his favorite expression. Readying for a giggle that never comes. It is just an eternal smile. I tiptoe into the doorway when I hear Beezus talking to Thor. I just want to know what happens when I am not in the room. What does she say?

I love you, Thor. You are the best baby brother in the whole wide world. That's why I am going to give you a kiss right on the forehead. Do you want to bounce? Yay. You are the most beautiful baby on the whole wide world. I want you to have this--my whole basket of shiny rocks.

I have no idea how I have a happy baby and a kind three year old. I was convinced I was warping him in utero with all my nail-biting and insomnia. And creating a bit of a fusspot toddler with my lumbering near hysteric pregnancy screeching--DON'T STAND ON THAT CHAIR, CHILD!  Sometimes I see Thor scratch his eczema and wonder, "Is that how my pregnancy anxiety is manifesting itself in him? Eczema?" I keep trying to figure out how I messed or am messing  up my children with my overly protective way of being and my anxiety. During my pregnancy, I wondered if there was a problem with him because I couldn't dream of him. I couldn't see him in my mind's eye. And so I touch his nose and chin and belly and he smiles at me. I burn some sage in his room. I hang the planets of our solar system above his crib, and put a doll under his mattress. My great-grandmother's rosary and a Virgin Mary prayer card on the bedside table. He is safe, I think. For now.

Watching from this distance, divorcing myself from my own frenzy of adoration, they look beautiful and normal and happy and in love with each other. And I don't take credit for that. I only blame myself for their problems, and see their happiness as a divine gift, or the result of magic. Where does the gene for magical thinking come from? How did I get that? Are all mothers like me--quick with the guilt, superstitious about reveling in the good? I was writing to my friend Danielle, talking about prayer and magical thinking. I had a prayer or two answered once. I went to the Vatican to pray. And I knelt, opened my arms, closed my eyes, and prayed. I prayed with all my religious being. I tossed aside my agnosticism, and tapped into that childhood place where I believed God rewarded prayers with new Strawberry Shortcake figurines. Except this time I didn't beg. I humbled myself. And I became wrapped in that sense of the holy, like when I meditated at a zen monastery, or talked with a weathered, kind priest about liberation theology, I touched that place of sincerity and humility.  And I knew, like you know it is raining without looking out the window, that my prayers would be answered. And they were.

It shook my whole belief in cynicism and bitterness. It jolted me out of that selfish, adolescent place that I had lived for so long. Danielle reminded me of these studies conducted a few years ago on prayer. "Do you know about the study in the New England Journal of Medicine some years ago? They took a group of equally ill patients and divided them into two groups. Half of them had strangers praying for their health and recovery, and the other half didn't.  None of the patients or their doctors knew who was being prayed for and who wasn't, but in the end the patients who had others praying on their behalf had a faster and fuller recovery than the other group."

In fact, after my experience, I read an article about just this study and magneted it to my fridge. Prayer works, I would remind myself daily, and so I would pray for others. Never for me. Never for an "A" on a paper or to date the cute cyclist I passed on the way to work, but for those suffering around me. I felt if I could be humble and sincere in my life, I could truly change the world.

One cold night, my husband and I drove to the hospital with a bag on the floor of the backseat, and a carseat strapped up without a child. I closed my eyes, rested my hands on either side of my belly and prayed: Hail Mary Full of Grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for our sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Please let her be okay, God. Please. I won't ask for anything again. Please let her be alive. Amen.

Since Lucy died, I kind of instantly feel my shoulders tense when someone tells me they are praying for me, because "I am praying for you" seems to be shorthand for "This is between you and God, kid." And yet, I want to believe that it is also some people's way of saying, "I am thinking of you/holding you in my heart/wanting the best for you," I also feel so let down by my prayer for Lucia. I want to be worthy of accepting someone's idea of divinity, but I can only see her death as my fault. No prayer can help me. I am far away from the Divine, even though when I see my children alive and happy and playing, I touch that feeling of grace. I feel so delicate these days, so precariously perched on this place between belief and unbelief, bitterness and selflessness, the holy and the profane.

Time is supposed to soothe that, and just when I feel strong, I feel weak and powerless all over again. Sometimes I see this crossroads clearly. I face it like a riddle. One direction you will only hear the truth. The other only lies. How do you know which way is which? What one question do you ask the keeper of these paths? You ask one how the other would answer the question, "Which way should I go?" and then do the opposite. And that is where I am right now, I do the opposite of the opposite, turn upside down and right my way. This place of grief is a place of lies and truths. Of magic and prayer. Grief warps the truth and the lies, and it all gets jumbled together in one gigantic heap of confusion.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Keep your head down.
Text me.
Friend her.
Don't take it personally.
Join us.
Buck up.
Talk about it.
Don't mention it.
You don't say.
Keep your mouth shut.
Don't apologize.
Tell me about it.
Remind me later.
Go ahead.
Change the subject.
Count sheep.
Close your eyes.
Let it out.
Read this.
Just take a bite.
Admit you are powerless.
Don't feel bad.
Tell me what's wrong.
Get me some juice.
Remember not to forget.
When you are ready, holler.
Write it on the schedule.
Call him.
Stop emailing me, fat people.
Say you are sorry.
Take me for a walk.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Babylost Conversation

I have been really losing it over some of these new xtra normal movies going around. So friggin' deadpan and funny. So, I asked some of my fellow My Face babylost mama friends what some crappy things people have said to them after the death of their child and I put in some I remember hearing other people talk about on blogs or in forums, or that were said to me and made one myself. This was intended to be funny, but I can't really tell if it is too pathetic or bitter. By the way the f-bomb is dropped once, so you may want the children to be out of the room, or not. It is hard to tell it is the eff word. Anyway, hope it gives you a chuckle.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On being fat

This week marks five weeks of elimination dieting. Almost at that golden mark of six weeks. I have brought back a few things: wine (it makes him itchy, sonofa.), cheese (it makes him itchy, Jiminy Christmas), wheat (it makes him itchy, Baby Jesus please), and nuts of the non-peanut variety seem to be okay. Same with corn, though to be frank, I don't eat much corn because it is sort of empty nutrients. I have been happily eating eggs again. I do love eggs. Mostly, I eat this amazing raw chia and ginger granola. I eat salads. And quinoa. It is not terribly varied. I do like me a good salad. With this summer's bounty, I have been grilling lots of squash (zucchini and golden squash and Tash brought me an photogenic eggplant which is getting et this weekend. [that is me eating the shit out of the eggplant in my art studio/office]) And I am juicing with my gorgeous Omega juicer in the morning (celery, ginger, wheatgrass, apple, lemon, romaine) or making a coconut milk yogurt smoothie with raspberries. All in all, it isn't so terrible anymore. I find it easier to eliminate things completely than try to regulate what I am eating.  I'm not so good on moderation some days.

Last night, I ran frozen cherries through the nut butter squeejee thing on my juicer to make cherry sorbet. Or rather cherries all squished. I added some rice milk to it. It was really quite good. This is coming from a woman in a desert of options, so if you are allowed ice cream, go for it in my good name.

I have been saying that I am not losing weight, and to be frank, that isn't exactly true. I was not losing weight fast enough for my impatient self, which is really not fair to be bitching about. Definitely, the eliminating thing hasn't brought as huge weight loss as one would suspect, which I have come to the conclusion is a good thing. But, actually, since Thor was born April 1st, I have lost forty-five pounds. I still have forty-five pounds to lose, so you know, that sucks. But I want to begin focusing on the positive of the situation. I have wanted the support of talking about my weight loss and also suffer from a great deal of embarrassment that I had to lose almost 100 pounds to begin with.

Still, I lost forty-five goddamned pounds in four months! I need to celebrate that fact rather than focusing on the self-loathing voice that says, "But you are still fat." It is true. I am still fat, and I am only halfway to my goal, which is pre-Beatrice weight, but until then, I need to allow myself to feel slightly proud of what I have accomplished. I am slowly taking it off, and that is okay. That is the healthy way.

I think what echoes in my head is the disturbing post I read a few months ago, linked on Jess' blog with a brilliant post by her. Even though I have lost forty some odd pounds, and eat like a monk, people still don't want to see me in a bathing suit. They will still say, "Gross." Or this dude will. They don't care about my back story, or how much I lost up until this point, or what I looked like before my babies were born. I often think about the comments from this post and what people think of people like me. I cannot write on my fat legs, "My baby died." Or "I eat only salads." Or "My cholesterol is less than yours."

I have worn jeans all summer. Long sleeved shirts. I would wear a burqa if I could. Actually, it is ironic. When I pass no mirrors, or see no pictures of myself, I think I look good from eye-level down. I don't mind it so much, but then I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface and I loathe my body. "That's me?" I can't quite believe it. I imagine this is what old age will be like as well, looking in the mirror and wondering who that old lady is. Still, I wish I could accept me at this weight. I consider myself a feminist. I consider myself someone who has examined the female in pop culture and said, "Fuck you, Society." I want my daughter to grow up without ever thinking she is fat. And yet, my inner voice is the worst of those comments on that blog post about fat people. It is ironic because I see other women my size and think they are gorgeously stunning. I am attracted to people like me especially if they are confident in their skin, but when I look at me, I see dead baby and depression and not working out and all the things that have come with this weight. And so, I read the vitriol directed at people who have accepted their body and it makes me seethe. Do any of those skinny people realize how fucking difficult it is to accept yourself at any size?

I want to be a fat peaceful person. Being comfortable in my skin would be lovely. Being at peace at any size would be amazing. Considering I have eaten fast food less than a handful of times in the last two decades and am one of those people who I think most doctors would consider healthy despite my weight, I am not fat for the reasons those people think I am fat. Far from it. I am meticulous about my food intake. In fact, last year, at 200 pounds, I was told that I had an eating disorder. I can't remember if I have talked about that on here or not. It was hard to hear--to be fat and have an eating disorder is impossibly heartbreaking. And yet, it is not rare. My cousin-in-law's wife is doing research into eating disorders and obesity. He linked this article a few months ago.

At the time, I just kept thinking that the end justifies the means. The end justifies the means. Does it? Really? I kept a detailed food journal, ate only raw foods and was vegetarian, became slightly obsessive about checking my weight. In fact, it all happened so subtly, I didn't realize it was happening or what it was called. I was facing an undiagnosed thyroid disease, so I was facing an uphill battle with my weight. With a moderate calorie intake (1400 calories/day), I wasn't losing weight. So, I looked at a cleanse and raw food diet to figure out what was going on. I managed, the first month of a raw food diet to drop 14 lbs. It was addictive to have that kind of momentum. I was eating less than 800 calories a day, and I was at 200 lbs. I checked my weight four-six times a day. I just wanted to drop the weight, then I could go back to normal eating, I thought. I would look at my bowl of greens with sprouts and cry some nights. And I would put on my previously fat jeans which had now become my skinny jeans and feel justified.

It took finding out I was pregnant with Thor to abandon the starvation technique, or rather the orthorexia. I owe my children a mother without all these hangups about her weight and her looks. I know I have to watch my weight and I know I have to watch what I eat. Truth is, I know where my fat comes from--I eat large portions of very good food. I eat like the athlete I once was. Before I became pregnant with Beatrice, I rode my bike 150-200 miles a week, and worked out most mornings. My job had a full gym and showers, so I utilized it. I needed to ride my bike 200 miles a week to maintain my already kind of larger frame. I cannot harp on the injustice of  genetics and being one of those people whose metabolism needs so much exercise. Or who never quite feels full. Or who gains fifty pounds each pregnancy, whether I took the last weight off or not. I just am. I have to start working with my nature rather than against it. Maybe accepting that part of my nature will help me accept the other part of me that droops down my middle.

At this point, I have to face the next part of this equation of getting healthier which is adding in exercise. Or regular exercise. I do hike here and there. Ride bike here and there. Yoga here and there. But nothing that is part of my routine. Sometimes I think that is where the self-loathing comes. I know I should be exercising and am not. And I love working out. I love sweating. I love being muscle sore, and sleeping from physical exhaustion. I am thinking very seriously of doing the Couch to 5k, even though I loathe running. I need a goal. When I cycled every day, I found running torturous. My knees were cycling knees. I actually saw an orthopedic surgeon about it. He basically said my thigh muscles were pulling my kneecap off center, and running would only make the pain worse.

I clearly do not have those issues anymore. That was three kids and almost four years ago. I am imagining my body as a clean slate ready to take to the run. And so, I have to figure out how to add this to my day. How to manage raising a three year old and a four month old, run three blogs, work on my marriage, paint for my Etsy shop, be a dutiful daughter, run a household and finish writing a book...I am not manic. I swear. I have a lot going on, but I do integrate quite nicely. Well, I hope I do. Exercise and meditation are the last two hurdles for me and probably the most important.

You cannot write all the things I just wrote and think about food, weight and self-esteem in black and white. My goal has always been to be healthy. I put a number to that idea, because truthfully, with my eating, I am confident that I am healthy. I know the red flags for watching when I eat too little to hurt my body in the long term. It is complicated and annoying and still there it is. I am striving for health, and the weight, hopefully, finds its happy place. Whatever that number chooses to be. And that is it, maybe. I have this number goal in my head. One that is probably higher than most of you reading would be comfortable with, but is good for my frame and body. And I hope it gets there. It is my pre-Beatrice weight.

Still, for now, I am going against my self-loathing nature to just say HELLS YES. I lost forty-five pounds. I am halfway there. Halfway.


And a total non-sequitur, I have a couple of things to share. I was surprised and honored this morning to wake up to a Google alert telling me I was picked as one of the "Must Read Moms" on Parenting Magazine's website. Thank you to whoever sent my blog that way.

Also, Thor is four months old and practicing with the volume of his voice. I love the screams, screeches and giggles coming out of him. I just want to eat him up. So, I owe y'all a picture of my little stinker.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

fear and sharing.

I am over at Glow in the Woods today talking about when your beliefs go bump in the night and daughter death makes you afraid of shadows and gravity: afraid of the dark

While you are there, check out Tash's newest addition to the cabin library: how to plan a baby's funeral. We are sharing our experiences with funerals, cremations, and all the options in between to help others that might be searching for choices no parent ever wants to make. Maybe your experience might help someone from a hospital bed think through their own decision at a crucial time.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On blogging

I haven't much written in this space lately. I want to. But I just haven't managed much time for myself to write. Or rather, I should say, that I choose to paint, or draw, or email rather than write on here. Sometimes, particularly this week, I admit, this space feels really unsafe.

Well, actually, the problem is that this space feels really very very safe. Most of the time. And then, someone calls me out about my blog, and confronts me about something I have written, and it feels very very unsafe. After blogging for almost eighteen months and existing without my daughter for twenty, I have some insights into blogging about one's worst moment followed by a thousand more moments all with little daggers of awful. If someone was starting a blog about grief, I would advise these two little things:

Do not tell anyone in your real life about it.
People want to understand and help you and think that your blog is their way into your brain and grief, but they sometimes read only themselves in your words. You need your blog space to be wholly your own and safe. Once you tell them, you can never take that back. But you can always tell them. It is like virginity in that way.

Do not use your real name, or your children's real names.
Everything is google-able with the right combination of words. And the anonymity of Google for the searcher makes combinations of words virtually untraceable and heartbreaking when they end up in your site tracker. And your friends, no doubt, will be clever about finding out if you are blogging, particularly if you are talking about reading blogs.

And now, here are my insights into blogging as a whole:

Any jackass can tell you that a blog is an on-line diary or a journal. I remember my diary from junior high school--"I HATE So and SO. She totally thinks she is a hotshot." Next day, "SO and So is my best friend. Forever." Yeah, a blog can kind of be like that. Hopefully more mature, but I admit not always. It is still a diary. The beauty of this kind of diary, though, is that brilliant, smart, funny, kind grieving women respond, feedback and tell me--"Uh, honey, that is not about you being crazy, that is grief." Or "I feel that awful emotion too." And it feels soothing to be validated, even if y'all agree that the said negative emotion is not the goal, but a step on the path, maybe even a step backwards some days, but a step nonetheless.

The permanence of the interweb gives each post the gravity of an eternal emotion, but on my blog, at least, my emotions and feelings pertain to that one blog entry on that certain date regarding that one experience. This space was never meant to be a bible of how or what I think. This is not the inside of my brain. Each entry is the inside of a moment of grief, an insight into how I am feeling at the exact moment of the time stamp, not any longer.

Part of the brilliance of the blog is the time stamp. There it is. You can edit your words, but once a post is live, there is a moment connected to it. Some people might not think that time stamp is all that important, but I do. When I read through March 2009, I cringe. Such a different voice than I have now. The grief was different. The tone was different. I think I wrote more for an audience then, even if I engaged with the audience less. It was just different. As well it should be, it was three months out from my Lucy's death--storytime was a form of self-flagellation, the playground a minefield and my mother hadn't talked to me in five weeks. I couldn't quite conceive of how to be, let alone what blogging was all about.

Not one experience from my first year would I imagine to experience in quite the same way I did back then. Am I proud of all those thoughts and feelings? Not particularly, but they are mine and they are true. My blog deals mostly with the worst of those single, isolated moments and feelings. I was angry she was gone. I felt vulnerable, heartbroken, defeated, detached from my surrounding world. That is why I channeled this experience into writing and art. As a writer, there was something soul-soothing about writing about the good, the bad and the ugly of grief.

I feel I have been clear about what my blog space is, and very forthright in taking responsibility for misplacing emotion or feeling those ugly parts of the human psyche. I try for insight. I work towards growth. Do I fail? Yes, I fail. Miserably sometimes. I am not objective. I am not a bastion of justice. I miss my daughter. I miss being able to engage with the world and its humans like one of them. I miss every little part of the life I once had. Some people might see this experience and my insights garnered from loss as negative, I don't see myself or my writing that way.

It might just be something that you cannot understand if you have not lost a child. I never believed that before. I believed that each person had the capacity to feel empathetic about grief and the loss of a child, but now, I think there is just some parts of this experience others will never understand. How narcissistic it feels, for one. How the world seems to be absolutely aiming directly at your heart. And frequently hitting the bulls eye. Like Robin Hood, an arrow split by another arrow. Rinse. Repeat.

But the other side of blogging is that there are issues when you read someone's private diary. You read about their demons. You read about emotions and thoughts that are private. You either grow to like their inner life, or you grow to dislike their inner life. Some friends in my real life, I believe, have grown to dislike me through my blog. Not everyone likes me and I am comfortable with that. I, like most people, show people a very palatable part of myself. I have opened up and explored the nasty nooks and crannies of my grief and my personality through this blog. I have admitted things here that I am not proud of. Never with the intent to simply bitch about someone, though at times I have indeed bitched about something or someone. Never with the intent to hurt someone, but I know I have hurt people here. I guess my small snippets of hard times was really a way of me engaging with this new world after losing my child. Here is my gut reaction to a scenario. Sometimes I just need to vent about it. Other times I am just working through it. Some blog posts are the first reaction, others are the fifteenth. I wish I could say there is a formula, but there isn't. This is just me grieving. It is not pretty.

What I write about on my blog is about me. I know there are other sides of every story, believe me, I know them. I have justified every thoughtless word, hard scenario, unkind interaction. But the truth is, I don't really care what caused someone to say something insensitive. I am concerned with my reaction to their insensitivity. One thing I have come to realize is that you cannot protect yourself from every errant, empty, soul-piercing comment or dismissive platitude. You can become agoraphobic and not interact with people, but you will still read a book that guts you with insensitivity. So, for me I am interested in rebuilding myself within this world. This exact world full of hurtful comments and silly advertisements.

I can only compare losing my child to having all my skin removed. The world, though it looks exactly the same, is a dangerous world of bumps, vinegar, salt, and things that irritate and harm. As your skin regrows, you need to figure out how to reengage with the world around you. That new skin will always be sensitive to some thing or another. But as I am regrowing my own skin, judging my own immediate and sensitive reactions to the world and very normal human experiences, so I learn to engage with those immediate and sensitive feelings. So, if someone says, "It's in God's plan." The first time, I may blog about that experience and how I immediately felt about hearing someone say that. I develop nasty, angry responses. The second time someone says it, I am say, "I just don't agree." And engage that person. Maybe the third time, I see that it isn't worth the effort. But I need that blog experience to figure out if that will always be a tender spot and help develop a kind of band-aid to protect my wounds.

For me, the blog is not about getting attention, but gaining connection. There is a massive and important difference. The need and desperate pull to feel connected to other women going through this hell consumed me in the beginning. I feel normal and funny here, even if I look broken and sad to everyone else. I am not at the point, nor can I see one, where I would stop writing here, even if it stops being about grief at some point. Mainly because other blogs, especially those further along my path, gave me the strength to examine my grief, and society's engagement with daughter-death, and talk about it. I wasn't saying, "Poor me", but rather what can I learn in this moment of desperation? Why did I do that? Why did she? How do I go on living without my beautiful second daughter?

I have never answered those questions for the long term, but sometimes, I have answered them for a moment. And that...that is invaluable.