Monday, May 30, 2011

wild is the wind.

Today I am over at Glow in the Woods. I felt inspired by Nina Simone's song Wild is the Wind, and feeling wild and windy and sad and loving and everything in between. Maybe it is like grief jazz.

Here is the song if you are interested.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Right Where I Am Project: Two Years, Five Months.

ATTENTION: Reader Readers, the post includes the project I mentioned a few months ago, the one where you talk about right where you are in your grief and what it is like now, so new people can get an idea of the experience of grief further down the road, and so people further down the road can reflect on how far they have come in their grief.

"I want to write about Lucy, but I feel lost in all that I have said in the last two and half years. Haven't I said it all already? She died. I grieve. I don't know. What do you think I should write about?"
My sister looks down at her tea and back up again. "Don't ask me. I think you should write about dragons."
"Yeah, dragons."

"Grieving dragons?"
"No. Angry ones. That breath fire and whose eggs are magic."
"You are a thirty-seven year old woman."
"I still like reading fantasy stuff. Why did you ask me?"
"I don't know."

Sometimes I want to write about her, there is a longing to connect with her, but I just don't know what to say. I feel like I have written everything one can write about a little baby that lived for 38 weeks, in my belly, and then died.

And so, today, longing to write about her and my grief, I impulsively decided that today is the day where we should share about our grief, right where we are, right now. I mentioned this a few months ago. That maybe we should write about what it is like on the road of grief--from the earliest stages to the ones further down the road. So, here it is. I don't want it to be a bunch of posts where people say, "It gets better. Just wait." But rather posts where you just talk about where you are right now in your grief, and the daily ways in which grief rears its head, the things you can do now that seemed impossible, the obstacles you are facing. There is a Mr. Linky at the bottom to connect here. Please title your blogpost: Right Where I am: (Insert the Time Since Your Child's Death). Look at mine above. You can use the comment section of this post if you don't have a blog yourself. And please comment here to let me know if you are participating. I hope you decide to join in.


After two years and five months, I still feel sad about Lucy's death. It is heartbreaking. I imagine I will always be sad. It sometimes comes out of left field, and sweeps me up in a moment. I cry and then get back to whatever I was doing. It comes in pockets of suck rather than a glue leisure suit of suck that sticks to my form for days until the sweat and tears loosen it. It still comes when I think of what we have been through in that remarkably short amount of time, or see another two point four year old child with dark hair and blue eyes, or I see sisters just 20 months apart in age playing together or just when I push that particular hurt because I want to mother her and I don't know any other way to mother her than to paint and cry.I guess my point is that it doesn't knock me out all day. It is just a moment in my day.

I have integrated her death and life into our lives. My daughter talks about her, and I answer without crying. We have Lucy rituals and certain things that were Lucy's in our every day life, like a towel I bought for her that she never used. We still call it Lucy's towel, and Beezus asks to use Lucy's towel and it is fine. It is more than fine. I like that Lucy can lend something to Beezus. That makes me feel comforted rather than creeped out. I couldn't have imagined that two years ago. This paragraph might have been the creepiest paragraph I could think of two point four years ago.

Yesterday at the market, the cashier remarked on how much Thomas looks like me. Almost as much as Beatrice doesn't. Genetics are funny, huh? We all laughed. And I thought about what Lucy might look like with her brother and sister. Who would she look most like? What kind of remarks would she get? Maybe she would have been the dark-haired, blue-eyed middle ground. I fell into the 100-yard stare and didn't mention that there was one in the middle. It didn't seem right to drop the dead baby bomb in middle of some small talk. It was awkward whether I mentioned Lucy or not, because I fell into a trance, staring in the middle space between focusing and not focusing, right above the head of the cashier, remembering her nose, her hair and everything that was as impermanent as her. My eyes might have welled up a bit, but I didn't weep. She would have turned into a baby that looked nothing like the picture I have of her, and yet, her face is permanent now, fixed, in a newborn state. My eyes moved my head from one to the other. Where does Lucy fit? Where do I fit? Not even in the most benign of conversations, or situations. I still don't fit back into the life I once had. That is okay, though, because I created a new life that I love.And so that is it. I fit into this life. It isn't the same. And somewhere in the past two years and five months, I abandoned that idea of my old life, and the new one, or what things should be like. This is the way things are. And truthfully, I made a good life despite Lucy's death, not because of it.

That is what grief is like for me now. My life is good. It is beautiful. Lucy gave me many gifts. I can say that now. I can feel gratitude for her and the way she taught me about love. My life is also completely different than two years, five months ago. I write about grief and parenting. I paint most days, or create something crafty and/or artsy. I light candles on an altar of babyloss that I have. I have a whole new set of people I go to when I am sad or happy, even. They also lost babies. Who I am on the blog is pretty much exactly who I am in my daily life, in the same way that talking to a therapist is pretty much exactly like I am in my daily life. I don't go around wearing my heart on my sleeve, but I am honest. Most of my friends from before don't email me anymore, or call. I am okay with that. They did what they needed to do, and me too. I am not bitter about it anymore. Or about much anymore. There are certain hurts, but mostly, I take life right where it is right now. I don't expect people to be there for me anymore, and in that way, they never let me down. That sounds depressing, but it is very liberating.

When I was in the market, I felt like someone recognized me. Not from another life, but from this one, the on-line one. She pointed and whispered and smiled, but said nothing. And I wondered if she knew me because her child died. It was a strange feeling, not unpleasant, but strange. Another moment when I remembered that Lucy died and that things are different, but again, that moment didn't floor me.

I feel lost with the people in my every day life. When I interact with this loving, supportive, compassionate community, and the other one I developed in the last few months, I am finding it hard to deal with the cattiness and weirdness of interpersonal dynamics among people who haven't walked through hell. I guess I have been thinking a lot about blogging and what drew me to put my private life out there so publicly, particularly the grieving, vulnerable part. I felt like reading about other people grieving and processing in the early days, it saved my life. Maybe precisely because I am not that emotive in real life. I hug. I express gratitude. but I don't express my vulnerability well. I can't ask for help comfortably. Being a crying, grieving wreck was a particular kind of hell, like a condemnation of some Greek God of emotion, or something, but it was also good. I learned to ask for help, be vulnerable, know my limitations. Some events I still cannot go to, and I forgive myself about that. I became disciplined with my writing, and my life. Writing here was a way to be emotive without sitting with someone's pity. I can't stand pity. I realize now that at times in the last two years I confused pity with compassion.

I did the best I could at the time.

That is something I can say is a huge sea change. I wanted to be the best griever in the beginning. Appearing strong, brave, resilient, but then I crumbled onto myself, and beat myself up. I don't beat myself up nearly as much as I used to. I really did the best I could, even at my worst moments. At two years since her death, I don't need this space as much to process my emotions, but I still need it. I love talking to grieving women. Lucy's death brought all these amazing women into my life. And when they came into my life, I learned what it is to have a community of people like me. I stopped being Latina, or fat, or athletic, or itchy. I was just this set of emotions on a screen, and that felt/feels authentic and right. I feel normal here, and weird out there. Because the shell of me is not me. Lately, I have felt gawky and outsiderly in my day-to-day life. Maybe because I am not drinking, and I am a stay-at-home mom, and I am a writer who observes people and I don't know anyone else like that in my neighborhood. I have been cut out of my neighborhood activities lately. I see the posts on FB, but then I'm not included. I feel soul sad about it, because my neighbors have always included us. I can't, for the life of me, figure out what we did. I don't know why, but I find myself responding in the same way I responded in seventh grade--to cry, feel bad about myself, and demand that we move away from this place as soon as possible. Then it occurred to me that people in my real life might be reading my blog without telling me. I have talked about a lot of heavy, hard shit in the last five months. Stuff that might keep people from asking me to parties.

I have read about this happening to other people. I remember from my early days reading about it with people years out. When their real life peeps into their online diary, and then have things held against them. They went private or password protected or went anonymous with a new blog name. I don't know how to deal with it, because I never thought I would care or not be able to just ask someone if they were reading my blog. I don't want to ask now and draw attention to my blog, and on the other hand, it feels like a violation if someone is reading about my emotions on a day to day basis. And that is just it. In the beginning, I didn't care if people read because I knew that grief was trumping everything. Now that people expect me to be normal again, I can't quite figure out why I ever thought telling anyone about my blog was like a good idea. And yet, I have come to rely on this space. So, that is the awkward grief place I am at now. I don't mind if people in my day to day life comment, or let me know they are reading, it is the awkward place of me not knowing what everyone knows. If they read here, they know way more about me and my weird hiccups in life than I know about theirs. It feel unsafe sometimes. It makes it sound like I dwell in grief, but this is the place I process that part of my life. And it is so important, I can't give it up. Blogging is strange, because the temporary feelings become permanent, and little dalliances with the annoying take on the gravitas of epic angers. Nothing is ever permanent with emotions. Nothing, except people can pull up a specific blog post and say, "But you feel like this."

I have had a subsequent baby since Lucy died, and think about another here and there. I think I romanticize the pregnancy of my "before time," not Thomas' pregnancy, which was insanely difficult for me emotionally. And sometimes I think that more time between Lucy's death and another baby will make it easier, but then I know myself too well. So probably not another baby, but sometimes I entertain the thought.

All in all, I have a good life now. I miss Lucy every moment of every day. It has become part of my being, the missing, but my writing and art involves her and connects me to grief which connects me to her and that feels right and good. I love hearing from babylost mothers just coming into this community and those who have been around for a long time. Quite often, someone will comment on my blog in the first weeks/days after their loss, and I try to respond, and get a no-reply email. Then, they like never comment again. I am sure it seems like I don't care, but I do. I did the same thing in the beginning of my blogging experience, just because I didn't really understand all the ins and outs. And I thought I was too new to talk with if someone was years out. But on this end of things, I can only say that I just miss comments sometimes, and am not terrific on follow-up if it isn't easy, but I want to talk to everyone directly. I pull something from each comment that comes in. I don't email directly with very many people, and I love emailing and keeping in touch that way, so hit me up, if you want. I also am on Facebook a lot, and Twitter here and there. I am on google chat  and am available on skype. Email me and we can chat. I don't mind talking on the phone anymore. Just know that you are not alone. Lots of times in the early days I felt so lonely I thought I would burst. I thought that I would like to die from the pain, though I wasn't suicidal exactly. I just wanted it to end. I don't feel like that ever anymore. If you want an email back, leave either your email, or comment with a respondable email, or email me directly at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. I read lots of blogs and love to add new ones, so leave yours for me. I'll add it to my reader.


Now, it's your turn. Where are you in your grief? Emotionally. Physically. Psychically. Title your post, "Right Where I Am:(Time since your child's death)". then come back here and link your blog post on the Mr. Linky. Click other participants and read about right where they are. Comment if you can. Just a thank you for telling me about right where you are. If you don't want to write a full post, why not just comment here and tell me the time since your loss(es) and anything else you want to share. Spread the word around the community by linking back to this post, so people can find out what grief is like on all stops on the road.

Monday, May 23, 2011

slamming doors


“Please let me in, Thomas Harry.” The door opens three inches before the boy slams it again, and I hear her voice break. “I just want to be with my family. Please.”

I’m on the toilet in this scene. The boy pushed his way in the bathroom and is sitting in such a way that he can slam the door and peek out of it when it is cracked open three inches.  He has recently discovered the simple pleasure of slamming doors—fridge doors, bathroom doors, shirt drawers, kitchen cabinets—he is an equal opportunity hooligan. He just likes to bang. Slam. Smash. Wrestle. The girl is gentle in her way. “We don’t slam doors, Thomas Harry.” 


“Thomas Harry, please let me see Mama.” He peeks out at her and smiles, then slams the door. She is being pushed beyond her limit of patient, so she tattles. A lot. There is a particular aching to her pleadings that I recognize:

Please I just want to be with my family.

Recently, it occurred to me that I hadn’t called Thomas Harry Thor in a while. When he was first born, he wore his birth certificate name like it was a 42 Long man’s suit. Too bulky, long and cumbersome for his little body. He was still Thor for many many months, and I frequently toiled about our name decision. Sam would muse, “We can change it, if you’d like.” And I would think, “Well, that is just impossible.”  It seemed impossible. Or rather, impossibly fussy. I didn’t think he was going to stay when he was in my belly, and so names, well, names seemed secondary, so I picked something easy, familiar, comfortable, because that is what I wanted everything to be--easy, familiar and comfortable. But then he did stay. And it fits him, this long man name. 

He is still here.  He walks across the floor like a mini-drunken orangutan, arms above his head, giggling. He just stood and walked one day, smiling the whole way. He figured it out. I watch in amazement of how much I cannot control about their babyhood. I stood him for weeks, trying to hold his arms to walk with me, and he always slumped against my legs to crawl away. He just wanted nothing to do with being a bipedal. And so, I thought, eh, I don't care if he walks, really. He gets around. He is happy. I'm not pushing this. And then one day, his legs in kung fu horse position, he balanced himself up and walked to the truck he left across the room.

I don’t know how to write this without sounding melodramatic: Sometimes life just hurts. It is just suffering, an ache deep in your soul that can't be touched by a bath or a cup of herbal tea. I don't mean the kind of suffering that Lucy's death brought. That was acute, exacting, justifiable, and excruciating. I am just talking about the every day existence suffering. It hurts to be self-conscious. It hurts to not be included. It hurts to try to be included and fail. It hurts to be human.

I feel so fucking human these days.

It’s not that anything is terribly bad right now, truthfully. I feel like a deep soul happy with my kids and my husband. We are more peaceful and comforted than we have been in a long time. But when I leave the confines of my house, I feel unsettled by the uncertainty of other people. I guess I am just learning the same lessons over and over again. I have no control. None. I don't even have the illusion of control. I can't control who likes me. I can't control who doesn't like me. I can't control other people doing the right thing. I can't control who sends me anonymous packages and letters, even if they are great. I can't control who reads my blog and doesn't tell me. I can't control when someone gets exasperated behind me in traffic because I drive like an old lady. I can't control people's thoughtless comments. I can't control, well, anything but my behavior. I should feel liberated by that realization, but it feels groundless and unsettling.Vulnerable and exposing.

Thomas Harry woke in the middle of the night with a 103 temperature. Or rather, I woke him because he was moaning in his sleep and extremely hot to the touch. I walked downstairs to the large bathroom and I could still feel the heat of him on my hand. We gave him medicine and put him in a cool bath, and he thought it was awesome. He really had a good time at half-past midnight, playing in the bath by himself. And so the fever didn't worry me logically, but the thoughts still popped into my brain that I couldn't control--he's going to die. Tonight, he is going to die. I felt so far away from the reality of the situation. I felt myself sliding back into myself, like the lack of control over anything was slamming the door in my face, locking me outside.

He is fine, by the way. Thomas Harry. He stands like a little Hotei Buddha, smiling at me as a write, hands over his head. He is pure love, that boy. But as the hours ticked back last night, me listening to the cadence of his breathing, feeling his face and hands in the dark to check his temperature, I could feel the wall between me and the comfort of the night.
Please, Fear, just let me in. I just want to be with my family.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


She is strong. She is brave. She can do anything she waaaaaaaaaaants to do. She is strong. She is brave. She can do anything she waaaaaaaants to do. She is…

What are you singing, Bumble Bea?

A song I made up.

I like it very much.

Me too. She is strong. She is brave. She can do anything she waaaaants to do.

I want to bottle her up. The song catches me at the oddest times—walking into a meeting, waiting endlessly at a jewelry counter, in the middle of the night.

She is strong. She is brave.

She runs now, all gangly legs and pumping arms. Up and down the house, jumping over the dog, under the table, singing her song. She laughs with her whole body.

She can do anything she wants to do.

I fix myself on her. She is magic. I am convinced. If I stare at her long enough, she might not disappear. If I keep her under my wing, tuck her behind my leg, tell her stories about princesses and ladybugs, brush her hair gently, touch her nose, smell her neck, maybe she will stay. Maybe she won’t trust the person she shouldn’t trust. If I just watch her chest rise and fall while she sleeps, if I study every crease on the bottoms of her feet, she won’t leave and never come back. The other one disappeared, and never came home. It seems a strange habit to try to control the passage of time by sheer will. I tattoo each moment on the sand of my neural pathways, only to watch them wash away with the tide. There she goes--my baby turns into a girl. My girl turns into a woman.

Ironically, the only permanent thing I know in my life is that Lucy is dead. Everything else I can hold in my arms is a lesson in impermanence and that scares the shit out of me. It humbles me, rather. Fear is something I am trying to let go of, though I am a house of cards built on fears. Time blows through the room. And suddenly, Beatrice is eating her sushi with chopsticks, and telling me jokes, and washing her own toes, and her brother’s too.

This morning, Beezus and I headed to the pediatrician for her four year well-visit. Just the two of us. We sit together and read books waiting. We are the first appointment of the day, and we are there for the long haul. Hearing. Vision. All of it. She follows the rules. To a tee. And she gets upset if others don’t as well. I am exactly the same way, so we sit together quietly nodding at the others waiting. We keep to ourselves. She is precocious in that way, and sometimes I forget that four is still so damn little. She pulled out her yoga mat before the appointment to stretch and then meditate. She never admitted she was afraid, just that she wanted to be calm before the doctor. I couldn't help but wonder when she became a little woman. She wore a bright yellow dress and a little bright pink sweater and bright pink maryjanes. She dressed up for the doctor she said, because she is a big girl now.

For a week she has asked me if she is getting shots, and I didn’t know. I really didn’t. But I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I don’t know, love. Maybe? 

Oh, okay. I’m just wondering.

Are you scared of shots?

No. I just want to know.

Four shots. The nurse gave her the option of taking two this year and two when she turned five, or all of them today, and she opted for all of them today. I just stood by her. I explained the choices again and nodded as she made her decision. The nurse asked me to put her on my lap, and she sat absolutely still for each shot. She didn’t cry, or flinch. She just remained still. And the nurse remarked on how good she was at following the rules. She remained staid, like a soldier almost. She is getting too big too fast.  

She is strong. She is brave. She can do anything she wants to do.

And then the nurse looked in her face and saw something I couldn’t see with her back towards me. “Oh, Beatrice, it’s okay to cry.”

And she let it go.

Her face broke in a huge cry just as the nurse walked out of the room. The cry of my newborn, my one year old, my grieving sister, my little baby...What made Beezus think she couldn't cry? What made her wait for permission to be afraid? I don’t know. But when she started crying everything she held in for the hour and a half, maybe for the week before, came pouring out in torrents. She is still a baby. So delicate and little and I’m the mommy that wipes away tears and explains what bravery is—to be afraid and still do something. The song snuck into my head.

She is strong. She is brave. She can do anything she wants to do.


Monday, May 9, 2011

a day.

It's just a day. Another day.

Yesterday on npr, I heard that that only fifty percent of women in this country are mothers. I mean, that qualifier could easily be changed--a whopping fifty percent. In the end, it is half of the women who wrestle with this complicated holiday because they are mothers, which I would guess babylost or not, tends to get muddied and weird by awkward husbands and estranged parents. Or awkward parents and estranged husbands. There is a focus on it being YOUR DAY! (Cue the whistles and clowns and confetti.) My day, my ass.

If it is my day, then I am not wiping a single butt, except possibly my own. I am sleeping until I can no longer sleep. I am taking a bath, then draining the tub, then bathing again. I am not eating real food, just picking on exotic foods with hot peppers and stinky cheese. I am watching a marathon of something crappy and girly where people compete for either a modeling contract, or to lose weight, or a reality show of undisclosed suckiness. I am not cleaning, or making the bed, or doing any laundry. I am most certainly drinking coffee until 2pm in which case I will switch to herbal tea with cream and sugar. I am maybe laying in the grass for a nap. I am doing a face mask, possibly paying a charlatan to read my tea leaves. I am not paying attention to who is running with which scissors.

Then there is this other half who are expected to do the mother thing for other women. The other half has to hear all these platitudes and hyperbole bestowed on mothers for weeks leading up to the day, some that truly are insulting to other people who love and care for children, but can't be called a mother in any traditional sense. I mean, I think mamas are great, wonderful boo-boo kissers, and all that stuff, but other people love children and care for children, and sometimes all this focus on biological functioning and mothering is fucked up. In my humble opinion.  We are women with faults and weirdness and sometimes we are not great mothers. Lots of my friends wrestle with their own relationship with their mama. Anyway, all this feels like it is destined to be a day where expectations, imagined to be drawn with a strong dark line in Sharpie, are now kind of a shaded pencil blob, and no one knows what the hell to do. And everyone is disappointed.

But it is just a day, like any other day. And I try not to think of it as something fraught. It is just another opportunity to express my love for my mother, and for my kids to take a moment to remember who wipes whose butt and why that is important. I like milking the day. I especially like doing it in a way that makes my husband laugh, yet succumb. My husband is an amazing man. He wakes up on Mother's Day and says, "It's your day, what do you want to do?"  He always gets my children to draw me a card, and buys me something for the garden. This year, I came home Saturday morning and there was a beautiful bench under my Japanese Maple, a pail of Gerbera daisies next to it and a woodpecker feeder hanging off the tree. It was magical and perfect. As my bike rolled up, I was bouncing in my seat. It is gorgeous, and exactly, exactly, the kind of thing I wanted. I was just in awe of how wonderful my husband can be. And it does feel good to be listened to and heard. We loaded the kids into the car and drove to my mom's. Even in traffic, I was grateful to be with him and have the luxury to talk while the children slept behind us. That was my Mother's Day, which wasn't on Mother's Day, or even a day. It was just a moment of being in love and happy and contented.

I missed Lucy, sure. I noticed that Beatrice didn't draw her in our family picture in the card, but I also don't think I should keep pounding Lucy into everything. Lucy is part of our lives. Beatrice talks about her, but she doesn't always add her into everything. And that is okay. Her relationship with Lucy will change through the years. She is four. I need to accept wherever she is. And not impose my adult need to have Lucy onto my kids.

This year was the first year since Lucy died that I decided I should be a dutiful daughter and accept the invite offered by my own mother--to come to her house for Mother's Day weekend, to see my aunt/Godmother who is visiting from Panama, to talk with my cousins, hang out in her house with the beautiful sprawling property with woods and creek and eat delicious Panamanian food. We love going there for the most part, even though it can be chaotic and crazy and I tend to drink too much, eat too much, bitch too much. Jack the dog becomes a different dog--a permasmile and an impossibly joyful disposition. It makes me think my dog is depressed by living in New Jersey with a fenced in yard and no creek to swim in. Come to think of it, that makes me depressed too.

My mother decided not to invite my aunt, after all, rather she invited my sister's inlaws who have a child the same age as Lucy would have been, because there is nothing that a babylost mama loves more than being around a shadow baby on a day that is already fraught with grief and anxiety and thoughts of what would be. But it wasn't about me, as I kept repeating in my head. This is just another day, like any other day. This is what my mother wanted. This is what my sister wanted. It isn't about me.

It is ironic, because I never really do that in my head--imagine what she would be doing, or guess at her age and her milestones. It is all too heartbreaking, and yet, when this little beautiful girl came by, making "ribbit" noises like a frog, it took every ounce of strength not to implode and scream and lash out at people who did nothing but successfully breed. I isolated. I walked down the hill to the creek and I turn around and the entire party followed me after hours of not noticing the stream.  I kept moving forward until I had to turn around and pass the child. My heart broke again then, and I cried again then. I think watching Beatrice play with her, hold her hand, love her was the hardest part of the entire day. I tried to ignore all of it, but my daughter was so beautiful and kind and I can't help but stare at her.

But I am a self-centered person full of grief and raw emotions, pretending I was something else was my first mistake. And it isn't just a day, like any other day. It is a day about mothers and all the crap that comes with them. I read this quote by Kara on The Facebook the other day, ""I'll celebrate with you as long as you will first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mothers Day." And that is it. Exactly. I felt like I had no place in the day unless I was willing to let go of my grief. That is why my body and brain rebelled I guess, because I cannot let go of a part of mothering for me. I mother all three of them. Maybe I have to expect any mothering experience to be a third Beezus, a third Thomas and a third Lucy.

I finally just left. I may not have been pleasant. Probably not. I felt pretty betrayed, honestly. My mother told me that Lucy would want me to find joy. That Lucy doesn't want me to be sad anymore. That she lives in my heart. And I am so sick of people telling me what Lucy wants. Lucy is dead. Allow me to be sad on a day that reminds me that my baby girl isn't with me. I am not sad everyday, or even most days, but let me BE when I am. Being around much-adored children makes me miss Lucy with an intensity that sometimes still surprises me. It caught me all off-guard, the Mother's day, because it is just a day. I don't generally subscribe to that school of thought that Hallmark holidays should get more than a polite mention at the market checkout line. But the meaningful coming together of intensive advertising and marketing, party, two year old, grief and happiness resulted in a pretty emotionally raw day, couple that with early sobriety and the acuteness of my usual way of dealing is numbing myself out with wine and power-eating, I had to eventually call Uncle and just take care of myself.

Driving home, it occurred to me that maybe Mother's Day is supposed to be a day that is fraught and complicated and emotionally difficult for everyone, because that is exactly what it is like to have a mother and be a mother. Maybe it is a day where we should be bringing cards to our therapist, or just having therapy. But maybe the cathartic thing about the day is that it is not easy and we have to think about our relationship to that word and that state of being.

When I got home, I went right into the bathroom and drew myself a bath and did the crossword puzzle, then I drained the tub and did it again, and Thor crawled up and tried to get in himself, and so I put him in with me, and we played and kissed and got wet. Then I made a cup of herbal tea, and the kids jumped around the house, and I felt okay again. I could see Lucy's heartbreakingly small urn in the secretary, and it felt right to be with her there. It all meshes so easily when I don't try to be so fucking normal. I may never leave my house again.

What was your mother's day like?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Conversation with Painting.

Oh, Mother of Pearl, you scared me. You were just in the office, how did you get in the living room so fast? Don't answer that. Just stop following me around.

We miss you, Ang.

Oh, don't start with that. Shut up.

But you love us, remember how many hours we spent together? It was good then. You felt better after us. Now, you just have us all color coordinated and organized. We hate being clean.

Yeah, yeah. That was the past. I am not the same person as I was before.  I don't know how to approach you now. I don't know how to touch your grace. You are so annoying.

We are the same as before. And so are you.

I can't hear you.  La-la-la. Wait, I'm the mama. Just go into your room.

You are the child. Come play with us.

I don't know how to play anymore. Everything is serious, and hard. I just want to focus on putting on my oxygen mask. You feel indulgent.

We aren't indulgent. We are the oxygen. We are your thread to the divine. The further away you get from us, the further away you get from God. The further you get away from other people. You can't even write. We know. We watch you struggle everyday on that chair. We can help you with it all, if you just pick us up.

Oh, shut up.

You made promises you haven't kept. You have a list a mile long you need to fulfill. A journey around the world starts with one step and you need to make fifteen of them today.

I know, I know. I just don't to. Can't you leave me alone? Why don't you go bug some other person wearing black and listening to Joy Division?

You can't use the drinking thing as an excuse, you didn't even drink with us.

I know. It's more like I am holistically choking. I am too self-conscious. I can't quiet my brain. I have too much going on. And I am gone from the children too much right now. It's like my insides are all in stasis--my brain and my heart, at least. I can only focus on listening to drunks talk about God. That is it right now. That is the best I can do.

Don't use that shit on us, we are you. You can't avoid living your life forever. You got sober to be better at all of your life, not just the easy parts.

Stop making sense.

Remember we are all one--your sobriety, your grief, your art, your intellect, your soul.

No, you aren't. You are separate. You are beauty and muses and light and love. I don't feel those things right now. I feel raw.

You felt raw when you first visited us. That is precisely why you visited us. Just start with something for you, like a jizo. You love jizo. I promise it will get easier once you paint one little painting.

Yeah, I do love jizo....just leave me alone, okay. Maybe I want to suffer.

No you don't. You made promises you need to keep.

Man, you are annoying.

We are going to keep having this conversation with you until you paint. And we might start singing, "Live for Today" as well.

But I. Just. Can't.

Did you try?

Shut up. It's morning. The kids need to get dressed and we need to brush teeth and start our day. I can't paint now.

They like to paint too. We could, you know, paint together.

It's just not the right time.

It will never be the right time. You just need to do it. Listen to the birds, what are they saying?

Wow. They are saying, 'Do-it.Do-it.Do-it.Do-it.Do-it.'

So, just sit down, come on, give it a go.

Okay, maybe just a quick little painting to see if it comes back to me. But if it doesn't, your whole scheme will backfire and then I will never paint again. Possibly never write again.

Atta girl.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

International Babylost Mother's Day.

May 1st. International Babylost Mother's Day. Though this "holiday" is only two years old, it feels ancient. I see the goddess statues marked with deflated bellies and broken hearts standing in love and light together holding hands. This has been happening since children were born, because since children were born, children died. And we women stand together and speak of it. We light fires and candles and remember birth and death in the same breath, braiding daisy chains to wear in honor of people only we think of as people.

It doesn't make it any less tragic that it happens now less than it used to, nor am I trying to diminish our losses. Simply, it is such an ancient grief tied into the myths and legends of the beginning of the world, that it feels deeper to say we are connected to the sisterhood of the babylost, masters of the ancient art of grief.

Today is Beltane, which is the festival of fire and fertility and life. It seems ironic, I suppose, that we also mark the occasion of our motherhood into grief. Lucy gave me a way of being a mother that I had never known before. She would have done that had she lived. She would have made me the mother of two girls, not just one, but when I gave birth, I also gave birth to the language of grief, which had been forming in me since I was born.

Lucy freed me with her death. She made it impossible for me to ignore the emotions I stuffed into the corners of my being. I'd rather have her alive. I would do anything to have her alive. I'd trade every ounce of wisdom. Were we to barter with the universe that way, you may think me evil to know what I would trade. I can't even fathom it. God's blessing is that I can't make those deals. There is no pound of flesh to make this right. And still, I can see now what I have because of her, I mean, also because of her death. That is one of the worst sentences I can think of, but there it is--a truth I cannot ignore. I am different and better because of her. And I do not know what it would be like if she lived, so I can only say I am different and better because of her and her death.

I am a cynical bitch. I admit it. I get annoyed with all the holidays we have to get through, all the occasions we mark without our children. It is hard enough some days to get through the days when nothing is expected of us. Then we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, birthdays, then the days in our community on top of it, the ones where we remember in groups with each other. Those days I don't mind so much, it is the time when I can speak my grief.

I think I love this day best. I don't have an obligations to anyone but me. I never expect a civilian to remember this day, or to say anything really. Not even Sam. It is just a day that I can reflect on what this community is about for me. How blogs and grieving people saved my life. I wrote this poem for Carly last year in honor of what she explained for her vision of the day. I remember when Carly was coming up with this idea, and I wondered, with absolutely no disrespect to Carly, why we can't reflect on being grieving mothers on Mother's Day? I wanted Babylost Mother's Day to be on Mother's Day, because I am a fighter, and I wanted to fight with people about whose day this was. Then I realized I was absolutely missing the point. This day is not about fighting. It is our day. OUR DAY. A day to put aside the living children caveat. A day to put aside honoring our own mothers. A day to put aside the expectations of society and marketing and advertising and everything. There isn't a Hallmark card, or a gift written about by Emily Post. This is a day about one kind of heartbreaking, painful, beautiful mothering--the mothering of grief.

This day is a way to acknowledge that the kind of mothering we do, while different, is still mothering. We tend to graves. We dust urns. We light candles. We write about what this experience is like. We grieve. We mourn. We remember other people's babies, because their babies like our babies live when we speak their names. We hold hands. We cry together. We lament. We write poetry and draw pictures, and sculpt. We put together photo albums and find signs in nature. We say silent prayers of gratitude and regret. We fearfully tell people about our baby when we want to show pictures, write in baby books. We don't quite fit in. We do math quicker than other people--the math of loss, how old she would be, how tall, how loving. We read books about death, grief, parenting, fitting in, fitting out, love. We cry. We sometimes become so consumed with the missing we need to climb into bed and weep. And that is a job too.

I don't know. This day for me is also about the sisterhood in and around babyloss. And so, this day is also about compassion and self-compassion. Grieving for my new friends and their children, and then saying, "I too am worthy of compassion, because they are worthy of compassion." Maybe I am babbling now. I tend to do that when I am speaking of important things.

As these things go, I wanted to do something and yet I do something everyday, so two years after planting her tree, I made her stepping stone yesterday. I made one that I have fallen in love with. I wanted it to say more, her birth date, and the words missing and loving, but cement writing is a bitch, so I focused on the mosaic. And so, my gift to myself is this project. Her stepping stone. I included a ladybug given to me by the beautiful Mother Henna, a heart in the middle with one purple stone, a milagro in the bottom, and her name, like it matches my wrist. One thing I have learned in the past few months is that nothing is forever, and this stepping stone is exactly what I wanted it to be right now. Someday, I may do all the things I imagine her for garden, but for now, this is a perfect gift for myself for International Babylost Mother's Day.

This is the way I mothered Lucia today.