Monday, April 30, 2012

little packages.

My table piles high with items in small packages. Little oatmeal packs. Small shampoo. Teeny maple syrup containers and Bisquick in a pourable container. I keep small packets of toilet paper and wipes.

We like to camp. We have a wee little pop-up with a propane stove and a sink that leaks. A king size foam cushion, a double, and a table that folds down into a bed. We have a propane stove, and a sink that leaks if you fill it too high. We have a drawer filled with card games and backgammon, teas and non-perishable items.

I fantasize about homesteading, living on a large swath of land without plumbing. No one knows us there. I'm tired of all this civilization. A burbling stream runs through our land and the children stop wearing shoes. They run silently through the trees and high grasses, and deer don't notice them because they are woodland creatures. Sprites or fairies or gnomes. No one can find us. We are a family, working together, raising a house and growing vegetables and homeschooling and wearing long skirts.

We meet TracyOC's family at the campsite. My lone homesteading family turns into a commune. Maybe we can make it work. Maybe no one will annoy each other. Their skill set can complement ours. We sit quietly together, and I wonder if I could ever leave our creature comforts. I checked Facebook in the camper, uploaded a picture. It is terrible. Tracy and her husband actually know a thing or two about communes and living outdoors. I have a camper with a space heater, and I complain if it gets too cold and my husband seems too contented in the freezing temperatures.


My wings are frozen in place. I am too small to fly here.


We like to camp. We hike over rocky terrain and I listen to TracyOC tell the kids about fearsome creatures like Splintercats who tear the treetops into deep spikes and Hugags, the kneeless creature who knocks over whole barns or trees, just for a respite from the endless standing. Beezus giggles. She has never heard of these creatures. She looks at me wondering if it is true. I nod and smile and wonder if it is true. In these woods, it looks true.

The girls skip on the rocky terrain. They are tough cookies until they aren't tough anymore. Then we are tough cookies, carrying gangling arms and long, stretching legs. They become wiggly creatures brought back to life our concession to carry forty plus pounds of girl. I imagine never coming back to New Jersey. Our house would become part of the environment, covered in moss and ivy no one was around to pluck from the flowerbeds.

Even in the woods, there is civilization everywhere. Large RVs with televisions. Bi-planes, and orienteering ranges. There are paved paths and boat launches. Yet still I crave the stillness of the woods, the endless stars, the rustling of other things moving besides us. I crave quiet in my head, but when we are out here hiking, I keep talking--about this about that about here about there.

I am a FAKE! My meditations are amidst plane noise and the garbage truck and grass cutting. You found out! They are suburban meditations! They come with a soundtrack! This place is so profane that any quiet seems sacred!

It helps the quiet to grumble about the noise. I fill the quiet again and again. As I warm myself against the fire, I feel the cramping in my belly. It tightens and releases. I wonder what next year will look like. Will there be another baby? Or will this little package in my uterus become a woodland creature too?

I am eleven weeks pregnant. Eleven weeks of being almost okay. I'm not nauseated or sick. I'm not frightened. I am just waiting for my belly to grow and a baby to move and a doctor to tell me she is okay, or she is not.

I haven't seen a doctor yet. It is why I am not frightened. I cannot control anything. Even if she dies now, there is nothing they can do. There is a kind of liberation in that thought. Next week, I meet our new midwife. Until then, I live on this stretch of land with wildflowers and feral children able to hunt and build barns for the neighbors miles away. I walk through the woods barefoot and pregnant collecting wildberries for our breakfast. I manage to handle the cold without electricity. The children talk like yearlings to the animals, clucking and yelping and howling into the night. When the children come home to me, wrapping themselves in my skirts, I hold them and feed them wild honey, blackberries, and root vegetables. After harvesting all morning, I tell them the baby is coming, and the children fetch the water from the spring down the meadow. They boil it for me, and my husband runs into town to tell the womenfolk. I do the hard work of finding a place to birth. I imagine birthing alone in the cabin we built. No heartbeat checks. No monitors. No blood pressure. No weight checks. No ultrasounds. The women stand around and wait, watching for too much blood. But mostly it is just me, knowing there could be a chance she dies and another chance that she lives. Just like in history when the chance of your baby living seemed fifty/fifty, just like it still does to all of us who lost children.

It seems irresponsible, even to me, but that seems perfect and magical right now. A place to not worry, a land of freedom from fear.

I don't know if this baby is a she, but I keep calling her a she. And because she is in there, I will be prodded and poked and let them draw blood every time they ask. In nine weeks, if she is still alive, they will tell me if she is a he or she really is a she. I will watch her in the monitor and cry. I will drink some sweet liquid and pee into a cup. I will go into the city and birth her. Horns will honk. Machines will beep and whirl and they will make sure every single moment that she is not dead.

I adore small things. Packages that tuck into corners. The baby is balled up in a tiny little package right now tied up with yarn. She fits in my belly, as big as a lime. So small, no one notices her. I carry her in my pocket. A little package of hope and fear that smells exactly like love.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Awake settles on me, covering me in dew. I sit still and listen, half-lidded. I sit still and stare at the wall. It doesn't move. I sit still and turn off my brain. It turns itself back on like some haunted kitchen, roaring a blender and percolating some imaginary coffee.


I meditate with my hot coffee next to me. It smells like home and comfort. I revel in the smell without having to drink. I hear a woodpecker in the distance, drilling into an old tree. I close my eyes and see him. I see his red head drilling into the dead tree behind my house. He is trying to find bugs in a dead thing. It reaches up, the tree, pretending to be healthy, but the woodpecker gives it away. 


The garbage truck roars down the street, and Thor screams truck and scrambles to the window. The birds descend on my backyard and eat my seeds. The squirrels run from Jack. 

A few weeks ago, a pounding noise woke us all. Beezus whispered, frightened, "What is that? Our house is falling, Mama."

It was a woodpecker on the outside wall behind our bedroom. He found the wood shingles. If he pecks long enough, a bug might emerge. He might eat. We banged on the wall. 


And it stopped, moments after it began. I already missed being mistaken for a tree, part of the landscape, the natural world of suburbia. Beezus told me a few days later that she felt a drop of water on her head. I turned my head to the ceiling, afraid of leaking roofs and burst pipes, and she said she was certain she got wet from the hole the woodpecker made through our wood siding, the plaster, the lathe, the ceiling. "It is impossible, my angel. He could not have made a hole that big in so short amount of time." Rain is coming in! Get umbrellas! Get a rainjacket! Hurry!


A man shot himself on Saturday night. He stared me in the eyes on Saturday morning and said, "Don't worry about me, Angie. I am fine. I feel good. I feel strong. I am fine. I am better." But I was worried, he looked tired and sad and could never say he was anything but fine.

There is a woodpecker burying its beak in my skull. It is incessant. Knock. Knock. Knock. It is exposing the writhing thoughts that turn over themselves. I shoo them away. 


We all wrestle with wondering what we could have done. Knock. Knock. Knock. How could we have saved him? Knock. Knock. Knock. What words would have saved his life? Knock. Knock. Knock. How much more love could we have given him? Knock. Knock. Knock.  How much more compassion? Knock. Knock. Knock. I think about their questions last night, the night before, the community reeling from the after effects of the suicide of someone who only said he was fine.

I stand. I wipe the morning off my face, scratch the sand out of the corner of my eyes. I make breakfast and finish the coffee, and dress the children, thinking about the moment between fine and not fine.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I feel empty of words now.

There is nothing to say. I feel emptied out, shelled, as it were. A pea pod, closed up, looks filled with meatiness. But I am an empty thing, torn in half. There is a stubbornness that is gone. A fight someone flicked from my insides and threw into a bowl for a soup.

It feels good to have no fight left in me. When a soldier surrenders, he sits, places his weapon behind him, and doesn't look back at it. He is done. That decision is made, and there are no second thoughts about overpowering the soldier he just held his hands up too. He just sits and waits for direction. 

The rain started this morning after midnight. First the wind, then the rain. I heard it coming, pulled another blanket out of the cupboard, and covered the boy and myself before it reached us properly. I thought about the meteor shower behind the clouds, and how all those wishes only come to those who see them. 

I can't sleep. My mind races, then I read and grow tired, then I put down the book, and my mind races. It starts again, the racing and reading and racing and reading.What I am thinking about is an unwinnable war. An endless war. A pointless war. A war from which I surrendered, but keep thinking of how much I loved my fucking rifle back when I would use it. So I listen to the rain and wait for direction.

I am sometimes in love with my defects. They are spicy and meaty and get me things I want, even as they come at the expense of others. I am a pacifist now. It feels empty, but I know it is filled with something else entirely. I sit beside the road and wait for an enemy to give me direction. I try not to give into the voice that tells me to turn around and look the man with the gun in the eye. Stare him down, defiant even as I am submissive, my mind saying, "I had a gun once. And when I had a gun, I should have used it."

There is nothing to be said, because I am empty of bitter fruit. I cannot rewrite the recipe that made me who I am. I cannot even say anything about it, because it is gone into the soup.I forget which spices. Which veggies.

The soup is unpalatable. The one made out of me. It contains a pound of flesh or six for a crime I committed lifetimes ago. She is gone. Into the soup. I kicked the witch into the fire and danced in the forest following a trail of bird scat in place of the bread we dropped ages ago. I am home, carrying the cauldron of me. It needs salt, or sugar. Perhaps both. I keep trying to take things away. Once something becomes part of a soup, it cannot be extracted. So, I add counter spices. Chants and spells and a candle for the new moon. It is a banishing spell. But the parts of me are still there, waiting to be shot despite the surrender.

I have no words left. And yet these fall out of me, like the man at a crossroads telling riddles to adventurers. One pathway leads to the beautiful princess and the pot of gold, or the other leads to certain death. I am either the one that always tells the truth, or never does. I don't know why I write like this when I am distressed. This was just about not having peas in me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I had been having trouble sleeping. Lying in bed watching the night sky change as the hours pass. Planes fly overhead of our house, all hours of the night, low and coming in for landing or taking off from Philly. Heading somewhere else, or from somewhere else to here. I wonder who is gripping the armrest. Who is crying? Who is drunk and doesn't want to be? Who is annoyed? Who is grateful? Who is excited? Who is content? Who is indifferent? Where are they going?

I say up to them:

You are not the only person in the world to feel like this.

Perhaps I should write it on the roof of my house.


That is the first step of tonglen, if it is a meditation practice you want to cultivate. Just to think that you are not the only person to suffer in this particular way that you are suffering. And further, since you are feeling it, perhaps you should feel it for all the people suffering from that particular brand of suffering. That is a kind of immediate tonglen practice.

Perhaps it is not comforting to be one of the many sufferers. I find it comforting to think tribally, act individually. By thinking as a tribe, I know someone has gone through what I have gone through and they have figured out a solution. All I have to do is ask for help. I find comfort in knowing that things will change, that my emotions do not come with a tattoo artist.

I have been thinking about suffering a great deal lately. As my friends suffer from differing experiences. I have been thinking about sitting in discomfort, anger, sadness, grief, resentment without reacting to it. And honestly, I don't know how to do that well. I think I linked to this piece once before by Pema Chodron about Anger and Aggression and she says that anger is such an uncomfortable emotion, it literally shakes us until it comes out. We want to change anger so desperately, we are willing to fight, yell, hurt people, just because dealing with having to make amends is easier than sitting in anger.

I have been fascinated with this idea of self-compassion since I got sober and realized self-pity is one of the defining characteristics of me and of most alcoholics. As they say, "Poor me. Poor me. Pour me another drink." I think of self-pity as self-compassion run riot. I'm trying not to let anything run riot in my life anymore. So, I am trying to change my self-pitying tendencies to self-compassionate habits.

Every time I call my sponsor about a problem, or a resentment, or an issue, she says the problem is me. It pisses me off, because I want people to agree with me. She is nice about it. She says she loves me. She listens, but then she tells me the problem is with me. And you know what, it is me. She said I have not accepted that life is exactly as it should be. Honestly, I never believed that life was exactly as it should be. I always thought that I should get the boy I want, the job I want, the house I want, and if I didn't, life wasn't as it should be. Hardest to accept is her death. I wanted Lucia here. And I thought she should be here. But she was not here.

People said it all the time to me in this community, "Your baby should be in your arms." I believed them, and I believed me. No amount of magical thinking, or righteous indignation, brought her back. I rewrote that book a thousand times in my head. And it always ended the same.

Conversely, everything that happened after--the bridges I burned, the people I hurt, the bottles of bourbon I drank, the tears I cried, the resentments I cultivated, the angry emails I sent, the self-pitying and unfair blog posts I wrote, the victimization--I cannot change any of those things. Even as I was plotting my course of isolation, I thought it shouldn't be this way. I thought I should be given a wide berth to be an asshole, grieve angrily, self-righteously, demand better behavior from people. I thought my bad behavior was justified and everyone else should be held to unrealistic standards of saintliness and compassion.

None of those things helped me grieve. None of those things helped me accept Lucia was dead. They distracted me from feeling the depth of her death. I couldn't control her death, so I tried to control everything else. It is not something I am proud of. I will not repeat those behaviors again, but I cannot change that part of my story. I could only be who I was. I didn't know what I didn't know.

And so three plus years out, my nights up late involve self-forgiveness. Apologizing to myself for being such an asshole. For not knowing what I didn't know. I am learning about my incredibly complex self-denial, and the ways in which I tried to deny feeling any kind of suffering even while I was in the middle of suffering.

Monday, on our local NPR station, Dr. Kristin Neff was the guest of Voices in the Family, talking about self-compassion. (You can listen to the show here. It is a good show. When Dr. Neff was speaking, she was asked how you sit in suffering, anger, resentment. And she said, you feel the emotion.

I made a Scooby-Doo sound, and twisted my head. And then it was like all of me felt afire. I don't feel. Not nearly at all. I don't let myself feel almost anything. I wiggle out of emotion. I tell the story over and over. I write it out. I pray about it, but I never quite feel it. I can't even quite describe my emotions. It is just flaming, brightly lit emotion.

And she said, you detach the feeling from the storyline. You stop telling yourself the story that led to the emotion. Despair resides in the storyline. She said every emotion, anger in particular, lasts at most twenty minutes. That is, if you don't feed it. If you feel it, and detach from the storyline, and sit with it, maybe you will stop feeling it in twenty minutes. You give yourself unlimited self-compassion because you are human, and all humans deserve compassion. Remove the judgments you have about your own behavior and sit with it. She said feel where the emotion resides in your body. Do you feel the anger in your ribs?

It was like she was speaking a different language, but one I wanted to learn and understand. As they say, "Suffering is inevitable. Misery is optional."

I thought I would share these thoughts as I am going through them, because in this tribe, someone else might be suffering in this way. What about you? What are you thinking about lately? Also open to answering questions, I haven't done that in a long time. Questions about religion, life, parenting, baby loss, art, writing, or anything really. You can leave it in the comments or email me directly, or Facebook me. And also wondering what everyone thinks about doing Right Where I Am again this year. I thought it would be cool to revisit it a year later. What do you think? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I am not playing flute. I am not sitting still.

My head is going a mile a minute.

I am not not-thinking. I am twitchy.

My organs wind around my soul. They are covered in moss and other plants that thrive in damp dark conditions. Everything is dark green and smells of dirt and tears in me. If a surgeon cuts me open, moths burst out of the hole, rushing toward the lights of the operating stage. A tree is growing in there. It is a weeping willow.

I know women like me, whose insides are forest floor and a labyrinth of grief organs. But we don't wait for our children together in front of school. I used to dream of a city-state of the babylost. It would be a large swath of land in the middle of nowhere. We would set up a small town with dirt roads and be surrounded by a large fence made of recycled soft things. We'd build a jizo garden and cry and hold each other, and just know that babies die. And because babies die, everyone knows that nothing is guaranteed. There is a kind of freedom in that, and at times, an oppressive fear. The town accommodates you wherever you may fall on any given day. No running with sharp objects in Dead Baby Bloglandia. We abide here, unless you can't, then we take you to someone who can. I drove into this town and imagined each of you. We boiled herbs in a large cauldron. We chanted and held the one grieving hardest and then the one grieving least, but we held each other. We created the rituals I craved after she died.

I have no right to count my grief organs anymore. It feels that way. My living out number my dead. She is just one. And my two are bouncing on rubber horsies through my house, giggling. But there is something unsettled in me, something that is drawing me out of this house, into the wild. A homestead in a grove of trees. It is a lie that I keep telling myself--that I am like no one here, and no one likes me here. It's when I feel like this, that changing my space will change my head space that I need to remember all I have been through and how deeply that rewrites your insides. It plants terrariums in you. It makes you a mountain of a creature, carved and alone. That is okay. There is a beauty in solitary land, so empty of humans it exists without its story being told.  And yet, I am human. I craved storytelling. I crave connection. That is exactly why this space exists. And why I still need to write.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I dreamed her before I met her. She told me that she waited for me to have babies so I could be her mommy, and she was so happy. She had curly blonde hair and blue eyes and she was a newborn that looked like a nine month old. A television newborn. I had such a strong sense of her in that dream. She told me that her name was Stephanie, but I could call her any name I wanted. And I coaxed her into nursing. She told me she liked chicken noodle soup, and I laughed. I woke and thought it was a silly dream. Me? Having a blonde blue eyed baby?

It was the Pink Moon.

Beezus kept reminding me that on her birthday, the Pink Moon was coming. It will rise in the windows as we read books together and talk about what animals we can find in the knots of our heart pine ceilings. We will light candles, and chant, and smudge ourselves on the Pink Moon, that is what she said. We will make spells like good witches. We will make a wish on the stars, and the giant orb of princess pink.

She paints the world glitter and love and unicorns and a kind of magic that makes me want to shout her word's from the highest point in the suburbs, like my rooftop. "SHE SAID WE ARE MADE OF DANDELIONS AND GIGGLES! BELIEVE HER! SHE IS FIVE ON THE PINK MOON!"

She thought the moon would be actually pink, and when it came up and we stepped outside in our jammies, searching the sky she said, "IT IS PINK! THE MOON IS PINK ON MY BIRTHDAY!"

She still sings her favorite song as she skips. She always skips.

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

When she was born, I was not afraid. I was strong, brave and thought I could do anything I wanted to do. I labored for 21 hours, feeling every contractions, slowly building to a place of pain-chaos and then she was born. I don't remember much of it, except that my eyes were closed most of the time, and I think I fell asleep in fifteen second intervals. I hung onto my husband's neck and he kept asking me if I was sure I didn't want an epidural. I said, "No, I'm meditating." And I was as present as I have ever been. I don't know if that is meditating, but it was something.

I bounced on a ball, and walked around, and took shower after shower, but they were never hot enough, or long enough, or helpful enough. She was a full back labor, and I couldn't find a perch, couldn't sit, couldn't lie down on the bed. I didn't know that babies die in labor. I mean, I knew, but I didn't know. I didn't know what that would mean in every day life, after her birth. I didn't know they could die in me during labor. I was ignorant. I was having my first baby. I am grateful not to have known, and now grateful I do know.

I birthed her sitting up, and held her hair in my hands before she came out fully, and she was so blonde and blue-eyed, I laughed in spite of myself.

When you are five, you remember. You remember every part of your life, if you want. Beezus doesn't remember a time before Lucy died, or Thomas lived. She doesn't remember being three, not really. She was always the big sister. She doesn't remember not grieving Lucia. She said she remembers being born and thinking, "YAY! That is my mommy!" But I'm not sure I believe her.

Last year, I wrote this about Beatrice:

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.

I could write it again in other words, but that is all I want to say. I want to keep each moment, capture it in a jar, hold it and shake it and stare at it, but like the butterfly, the moment needs its lid opened, or it will die a horrific death while you watch. It needs to move into the next moment and the next until you are holding a precocious, empathic, lanky, lovely girl in your arms who tells you the future and the past and who you think is the most amazing creature you have ever met.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


His name isn't Thor, but when I write about him, Thomas Harry just doesn't quite fit. It is too adult, too grounded. And yet in life, as he runs around the house, I can't quite call him Thor.

Thor means something in this space. Thor is my hope. Thor is the baby I imagined alive. Thor is my dream of a preternaturally strong and otherworldly son, one who can bear grief out of the womb. Thor wriggled in me while I read Madeline, and tickled in me when I drank orange juice. A totally sentient being in utero. Thor held a lightness that was the exact opposite of what I felt. If he were named how I truly felt when I was pregnant, he would have been named some old dead name with too many consonants, a name used only in manuscripts of historical accuracy that is so serious and uncomfortable that no one pronounces it. They just point to the paper. But Thor, Thor made me smile in spite of myself.

Thor grabs my face, hands cupping each cheek, kisses me square in the mouth. Then licks my cheek, giggles. He scrunches up his nose and shakes his head and laughs, like he is a big person, but he is just my big little Thor. My baby.

He is still Thor here.

I remind myself that if he doesn't die, he will be a man someday. A big man, like his father, but with olive skin and dark hair and deep greenish brown eyes, and wide shoulders and strong tree trunk legs that ground him. A man quick to laugh and blush. People will know women surrounded him and taught him something of nurturing and kindness. Perhaps someone will look at him, like I looked at Sam, and think with that back and that very good posture, he would be a wonderful man with which to dance to some old standard, like Cheek to Cheek. And I will embrace her, and whisper in her ear, "Love him to the moon and back. Just like I love him."

His feet give him away. They are still little baby brick feet, strong and thick, same width and length. He runs now, hard and fast. Sometimes he jumps every other step in a mock skip. He tries to keep up with Beezus. He tries to catch her, but her long legs carry her farther faster. He never surrenders. But she slows, eventually, lets him catch her. Chase. Tackle. Tickle. Bite. Kiss. Pinch. Smile.

I call her Little Mama, because she nurtures the boy. She picks him up, wipes off the grass on his knees, kisses his boo-boos, says, "It's okay, honey. Bibi is here."

The women at school smile at him, and he flirts. Subtly. They tell me he will be trouble with the girls. And they tell me about their middle school sons and the girls calling, riding by the house, sending home notes. So handsome, they say. So cute, they pinch his cheek. He gives me lots of hugs, and hides behinds my legs when there are people around. My children are shy. Did you know that about my children? They clam up, hide themselves behind me, kiss my neck and whisper about going home. Both of them still are shy, and use sign language so they don't have to speak in front of strangers.

Two is something.

Two is an Associate's degree. Two is half of high school. Two is a substantial entry on your resume. Two crammed in a lot of evolution--head lifting to rolling over to wiggling across the floor to sitting up to scooting across the floor to crawling to standing to cruising to walking to running to skipping.  Two is talking and eating with your mouth closed and carrying your dish to the sink. Two is stomping and knowing exactly what you want to wear. Two is liking broccoli but not potatoes. Two is sentences and thoughts and philosophies about what Santa is and where monsters live.

I have a degree in my boy now. I have studied his feet, in case...just in case. You know. I don't have to tell you why I study his feet. I inspect his little hands, which still have dimples for knuckles, and I kiss each fingertip, which have a mixture of marker and dirt and car goo under the nails. I analyze his two little boobies which I would draw with the smallest nib of a pen. Two wee little dots atop a Buddha belly. His back is muscled and strong, like his arms. People see him naked and screech, "He's cut." He is. He is strong.  He has a mass of thick dark hair that grows like a weed. I call him Shaggy and he smiles. "Should we cut your hair, Shaggy?"

"Nooooooooo," he howls, clutching onto his hair like a mini-Samson. But then we cut his hair tonight and it didn't hurt. Not one bit, and he noticed right away and stopped crying and said, "HEY!"

When he was born, someone sent him the book Oh the Places You'll Go! He pulled it off the shelf last night and asked me to read it for bedtime. I keep kicking it around in my head.  I just want to infuse him with the truths in that book, but I can only keep reading it and hope he gets that you just have to keep walking, trusting, suffering, learning, and knowing you are who you are with the kind of courageous honesty that isn't popular among high school boys.

Two years ago, I gave birth to a boy who I never quite believed would live. He came in spite of my doubts and fears. He lived though my brain believed him dead already. I hold him in the night now, his legs kicking off the covers as he radiates a kind of warmth that seems divinely given. My little polar bear. My little thunderbolt bearer. My little hammer-wielding pumpkin. For two years, I have watched him outside of me, amazed that he is here and happy, still not quite believing I have a son. I lie on my left side, like I did two years ago, waiting for him to kick, his reactions immediate and comforting. I still rest my hand on his chest in the middle of the night, make sure his chest is still rising and falling. It is a habit I cannot break.

I remember him in me.

I tried not to get too attached back then, and the disconnect with the attachment already there and the fear severed something important in me. I couldn't tell anyone what that was like, so I lost most of my friends during his pregnancy. It's not their fault. It's no one's fault. I am just wired for self-destruct when I am vulnerable. Most everyone who has gone through this knows what I mean. It feels like you are damaged, never going to recover from that space between believing there will be a death and hoping there won't be. Sometimes, in spite of myself, in the last few months of pregnancy, I would whisper to him "I love you, baby Thor. Don't die."

I love you, big boy Thor. Don't die.