Friday, May 31, 2013

right where i am 2013: four years, five months, nine days

Two years ago, I launched a project called Right Where I Am where I asked other babylost parents to write about right where they were in their grief. And it also was about how wherever you are, it is right. I asked people to only talk about the present moment in their grief, not where they were yesterday, or tomorrow, but how they were feeling today. I asked each person to title their piece with Right Where I Am: followed by the time since their child or children died. Here is  the first year's post. Here is last year's post. One hundred and seventy-nine people wrote about right where they were the first year, the second year, it was one hundred and thirty-two. It was more than profoundly interesting. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, lovely, powerful. I found it fascinating to read last year's and compare where I was last year to this year. But also just to think about what grief is like for me now, and what I am wrestling with these days. Also know that if you are new to this community, we want to hear your story too.  I hope you decide to join in. If you do write, post your link in the Mr. Linky below. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, I'll answer them as soon as I get them. 

Sometimes where I am feels not right. Something more should be pouring out of me. My daughter is dead, after all. She slipped from my body on a cold December evening four years ago, her skin torn and white. My heart broke open, the last of that innocent, young me flowing into her. I felt an overwhelming compassion for all suffering. It was a few weeks of tremendous pain and understanding, then I closed my heart, and waited for someone to work hard to open it.

But that wasn't the worst day of my life. I don't even know which day was worse than finding out she died, but it wasn't the one where I held her. There were random days in that first year, days of darkness and crying and anger so overwhelming all I could do was scream. There were days when people told me that they could no longer abide my grief. Those were bad days. The worst of them maybe came at year three, because the effect of three years of grieving barreled back at me. My blog and writing has never been the same since that day. The worst days.

In the worst days, there were also the best ones of my life. Ones of grace and serenity. Ones filled with gratitude and recognition. This community held me so many times, and I have watched it hold all these people at different times. Those moments of grace, which I have witnessed for four years, humble me. I am privileged to be among such incredibly amazing, creative, funny, smart, deep people.

Here is the thing I dare to write. I grieve Grief. This thing I was so sure of, that drove every moment of every day for those first few years. The aching, the longing, the sadness that rested its head on the shoulder of every joy.

I was absolutely certain of grief, as though it were a person I could commune with, blame for the spilled milk, fight with, bathe with. I could photograph Grief back then, standing in every family shot, right behind me shooting up two fingers behind my head, whispering, "Bunny ears, bitch."

I knew Grief. I could define it. Write about it. Paint it. It looked like me, and it looked like a saint, a bodhisattva, a darkness, an ache, the Angel of Death. Grief looked like weeping, felt like a grenade. And now Grief is gone too.

My daughter's death lies just beyond reach. It was there. She was there. Or rather her absence was there. I was so sure of the negative space that was just the size of her. I could see the place where she should have been, the mother I was supposed to be, but now, it is only this one life I'm living. I'm too far down this path to remember any other path that once opened for me.

She is gone. Poof. Presto. Ala-Kazaam. It is the most terrible magic trick ever. A black sheet thrown over my grief, and it is gone, and so is she.

Perhaps I grieve the immediacy of her death, raw and pulsing. The certainty I had of what people who loved me should do or be or what I needed and didn't need. Do I grieve my bad behavior too? I suppose I do. I cringe and miss the certainty is all. Now, I expect nothing. I don't have a particular burning desire to talk about Lucia Paz and the way her nose was just like Thomas' nose. It just is. Anyone else's acknowledgement of her death, her life, or her absence affects nothing of my feelings about her death, life or absence.

There is a hole in my years, one of grieving, like the years of a drug habit, gone into oblivion. I can recall those months, the darkness and pain almost too much to revisit, so I don't often. It was hard. My baby died. I wrote and wrote and emailed and wrote. I do feel different, like I will always be the woman whose baby died, who behaved badly, who grieved out loud for too long. I protect my heart. Constantly. Always. It will be a life long practice to trust people again, or rather to not care if they are worthy of my trust. I try to make friends, but the ones that I am drawn to are the ones like me, who have something that profoundly shifted everything about them. Mostly now, I am friends with others in recovery. So many of the people I have met through my sobriety have lost a child, or a spouse, or both. Truthfully, I have trouble being a mom in the schoolyard waiting for my kids, making chit chat. I do it. I try, but I can never quite get over that hurdle of "BUT THE BABY DIED." I don't even think it consciously. It is just there. Waiting to be said.

Last year, I was still bleeding from my twelve-week miscarriage. It had only been a few weeks when I wrote this post last year. When my heart chakra broke open then, bleeding the blood of my fourth child, pouring all the love I could into his passing, I knew of this fleeting, precious time with him. This is it. This is all I get.

I let my heart stay open. I let people hold me and pour their love into me. I realize now the heart breaks open to accept the love from others, not to give it to others. I had it all wrong when Lucia died. It is why I had so much hurt and pain from small things. This time, I let myself be loved. I let my circles of women hold me. And in doing that I healed the pain and hurt from Lucia's death. Not the pain of her death, but the unforgiveness and anger I had for the ones who could not abide.

At four years, I have forgiven all those who couldn't be strong. I forgive myself for her death. I forgive the euphemisms and the wrong things said. I forgive all those years. I forgive all those who never said what they wanted to say. I forgive the people who think stillbirth is not a big deal, or that I should be over it, or that anyone should. I forgive myself for drinking too much, and being a rotten friend (even if I could not have done anything more than I did.) I forgive my husband. I forgive.

I am free of unforgiveness. This has been the practice of the last year and it has been incredible to live in healing and reconciliation, to open to the Divine and my own Higher Self. My wings beat hard and strong. I soar. I can tell you that I was not ready for that at year one, two, three, even. But this year, I feel like myself again, the one that I always knew I could be, or was. The one full of forgiveness and love.

There is a different grief in my family right now. I have no desire to write about it. It is something I sit with, turn over in my head. I grieve with someone else now. I open my heart to her, and lay my hands on her, listen and talk. To abide is the great gift of these years of sobriety and grief. I am now capable of being the friend I needed.


Now, it's your turn. Where are you in your grief? Emotionally. Physically. Psychically. Spiritually. You can compare your journey from last year's post (don't forget to link last year's post to this years.) Title your post, "Right Where I Am 2013:(Time since your child's death)" then come back here and link your blog post on the Mr. Linky below. Click other participants and read about right where they are. Comment if you can. 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. If you do not have a blog and are a regular reader, you can post your essay on this very blog as a guest writer. Send me an email at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. 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. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I trucked the kids to my mother's for the weekend of Munay-Ki and meditation, and dressed and chatted Friday morning with Jess, wrote a blog post here. Prepared with a reading and some coffee, packed up my mesa with a rattle and cross and crystals to make a little grid for ascension. As I drove, I prayed, as I always too, talking to my guides.

Please help keep me focused. Please help me recognize when to speak and when to shut up. Please, Guides, if this is not where I am supposed to be, make it abundantly clear. Help me to roll with the weekend, with no expectations, that I may follow your will for the Highest Good of all. Amen.

I arrived and the rites had been canceled. Only I signed up, apparently, and the lady said someone called. Except no one called. Not on my caller ID, or on my voicemail. And I wondered to no one in particular, "Why would I show up if I knew it was canceled?" The children, and the dog were two hours away, and my day was open suddenly, and my prayers clearly answered, and suddenly, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. While I was disappointed, I decided to roll with it. I drove to my sister's house, and sat with her. It is a hard time for her. We decided to call a friend for a spiritual counselling session, and when we talked, she asked me to paint ten paintings for a party on Thursday where she is channeling angels and guides for ten grieving mothers. She asks me to paint Archangel Azrael, the archangel of grief. And then I remembered an email asking me to do some green prints of the labyrinth I had done.

The universe wants me to paint, and so I put on music, pulled off my sweater, and got down to the business of art, my tank top and dirty brick-laying boots stained up with printing ink and mud, I painted angels and printed cards and felt whole.

I need it all. The art and writing and guitar playing and meditation and crystals and husband-sex and tarot readings, all of it together. That is my density. That is my center. All of it, not one more than the other. It was a wonderful couple of days.

On Saturday, we drove to my mother's house, and talked about places and money and the rest of our lives and responsibility and failure and all that we can be and all that we are and our children, we talked a lot about our children. When we landed, it was before nine, and my mother drove us to a little gem and mineral show, where I oooed and aaahed crystals. I shopped with my mother later, and we stopped for lattes. This morning, there was a flea market, and I bought a few wooden boxes, which I admit are my weakness. Old wooden boxes that smell musty and full of secrets. We came home and my mother, daughter and I painted from strange Chinese Painting How-To set my mother found at a thrift shop. I painted wisteria in dirty purple, and my mother painted blue pod lupine, and my daughter painted fruit in a row on the table. And it was a moment, after a long weekend of beautiful moments, that I felt this was exactly where I needed and wanted to be. I didn't have to comment on it, or ruin it by pointing it out, but it reminded me of this story my friend Carol told me. She was down the shore with her children and friends, and she sat in morning light, in a sweatshirt, sipping coffee with nowhere to go, nothing to do, the waves crashing ashore, her favorite people in the house sleeping, and she thought, "Is this the happiest moment of my life?" I wondered it, and dismissed it, but wondered it nonetheless.

I sip tea and try to remember this story I wanted to tell that was funny to me. It's gone. It's the whole reason I sat down to write this afternoon. It's a bitch getting older. The white hairs are wiry and stubborn, but the long black ones are just as tough but lie flat and submissive. You could weave something magical out of the combination of them, I imagine, like a weaver bird's nest, low and cocooned. My children would climb in and exclaim, "Sing us a funny old song, Mama, while we whistle."

I kick my shoes off, singing Josephine Baker Madiana in fake French. I make some ladybug thumb puppets dance the tango in the hole of their nest, as they squeal in delight. It's the happiest we may ever be, but nevermind, we are too happy to take note. It's almost summer, and the mosquitos haven't come out yet, some workshop was canceled and we have a whole day to fall in love with each other.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

meditation on the tower

I wish I had a sister that didn't die.
Me too, Beezus.
But your sister didn't die.
No, I mean, I wish your sister hadn't died.
Me too, Mami.
I know, Thomas.
I want a sister, Mami.
I know, baby.

Off they run, to their play fort and behind the big tree where they create a fairy library with index cards and stamps. All fairy and gnome books, and they too are fairies, dontcha know? But always it lingers. I want a sister who didn't die. 

I didn't know what siblings would be like. It ached in me before Thor came. Sisters. Brothers. What happens with two of them? They play all day together with nary a whimper or fight. It is nothing short of miraculous, watching them negotiate and pretend and talk to their fae sister of the wood. As I watch, I am removed from that relationship in many ways, and that is so beautiful. Their universe, its wonders and phenomenon, I know nothing about. I am the gatekeeper to the real world. I call them back from beyond, feed them real food, scrub the dirt off their knee and kiss their foreheads. I keep thinking about siblings and soul contracts to hold each other.

My sister had a mini-past life meditation a few weeks ago, and saw us together in another life. I, her father, she the daughter. She saw us first playing in a field behind our shack of a farm in rural France, perhaps in the 19th century, then she fast-forwarded to the end of her life, and I was holding her. She wasn't much older. A devastating injury to her belly, and I am crying over her. It felt absolutely true, like, "Oh, yeah, that life." How many lives have I lost children? How many lives have I been a grieving parent? And as she said it, I understood finally the reason people want to know of past lives. It sheds so much light on our own relationship dynamics--we were born perfectly equal, same day, relatively same weight, same home, no power dynamic, and yet me mothering her, bossing her, trying to save her. We have learned to stop that dynamic, finally. in our middle age. Perhaps this is part of my life lesson--to stop trying to save people and worry about saving my own ass.

When the Tower card comes, you never quite figure out what the event is going to be. Mostly the Tower has a bad reputation in the Tarot. That, the Death card, and the Ten of Swords. When people think of Tarot, they say, "I'm afraid to get those cards." And I think those cards are the cards of enlightenment, the cards of rebirth and change and understanding. Lucia's death was a Tower Card moment of my life, a car accident can be. A fire. The sudden revelation of infidelity. Or it can just be the way you look at life, like it is all falling apart. Generally, though, it is unexpected and sudden, a calamity of unimagined potential. It is always outside of yourself, nothing you can control. Except your reaction to it. It harkens to the serenity prayer. You must practice the wisdom of figuring out the difference between what you can and cannot control. When it comes, and you will always know when it comes, the worst has happened and you can move forward now with all the information.

I began reading tarot when I was sixteen. Innocently interpreting everything according to a book. I have grown since then, and had many years off from reading, but I still refer back now and again. Books have the limitation of not intuitively knowing what the other person sitting in front of you is going through. I read for some people regularly, and I have had the privilege of seeing their readings change from devastation to enlightenment. It is so cool. And I have seen that happen with myself. One afternoon, I was reading for a friend, and my carpenter friend stopped by. He said, "Tarot reading is devil worship." And I guffawed.

No, it is.
No, it's not. The symbols are all symbols of the divine. They are a language I have learned to read about energy in the universe, about intention and the soul. It has nothing to do with good or bad, just what you want help looking at.
And he laughed. I'm just fucking with you.

But it made me think about tarot and why people think it is dark or strange. But to me, tarot is a language I learned, the language Spirit speaks to me in. It feels funny to speak this bluntly on my blog about my relationship with Spirit and my psychic abilities. I have always been in the closet. In fact, I think I drank away that sensitivity for many years, afraid of feeling so much all the time. In early sobriety, I would just cry when anyone expressed tenderness or growth. When someone would stand in a meeting and say they had a month of sobriety, I would sob. Or when we prayed together holding hands, it was all too much stimulation of my anahata, or heart center.

This weekend, I am receiving the Munay-Ki rites. My children are going with my husband to my mother's home and I am using the weekend for meditation and assimilation of the rites. Throughout the last few weeks, I have begun the Certified Crystal Healer course work through Hibiscus Moon, so work with my Reiki training and other healing work. All of it is falling into place. As I move into this sacred weekend, I keep thinking of this Tower card, and how so many of my friends and loved ones have gone through Tower moments in the last few weeks. I have not. My life has been absolutely fine, predictable, rooted. I think about when Lucia died, and when I got sober, and when the person I considered my closest friend told me that she wanted me out of her life and further she hasn't really wanted to be in my life for a long time, those were Tower moments in the last four years, and all of those things have changed me, I think, ultimately for my Highest Good. I have learned such valuable soul lessons; I cannot even quite resent those events anymore. These are the things I bring to the weekend--the ability to be torn down and rebuilt over and over again, closer and closer in alignment with who I have always known I am. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

mother's day

Boulders stretch further than my eyesight. It is something to behold. Me and hearts and people climbing, bouncing from rock to rock. I sit on a granite boulder, quartz and rhodonite, ommmm slightly. There is a man yelling at his young son to be a man and stop crying about spiders. Something dies in him that someone else will revive, someone will tell him that it is okay to cry and he won't know who to believe. 

But I am a heart, weeping and meditating in a group of boulders. I am one of them. Grounded, yet unsteady as others walk on me. I am sick. My lungs ache and my nose won't stop clogging up, making speaking damned near impossible. So I ohmmmm, and remember being here last year, Thor on my back, my belly full of baby.

My friend tells me that the blog is dead, and we are now a twitter culture. I believe her. I see it happening in spaces I thought were eternal. Where to live now? How do we get strong? Uncluttered? How does literature exist in this universe where writing is concise and more clever than honest? How do we gather when we do not have the attention span to sit and read a thousand words anymore?

The trees hold no wisdom that doesn't already lay dormant within your heart. You are part of earth and nature. In that way, we never die. Not just the wise ones. Even the unwise ones. They too are part of nature.  Do not forget. 

My belly is big and lays low. I have swallowed a boulder. BURP. TOOT. I never birth it. It just sits over my womb, resonating with a vibration of iron and hematite, the center of our earth. Nothing is in me that didn't already stand waiting for my activation, even the boulder. My crown opens, and my heart sings, and my belly remains big and full of sugar, even when I say no more sugar and no more big. But my womb, it is closed and achey remembering last May.

I throw a quartz stone in my water bottle and fill it with filtered water, sip on it through the day to make my belly small and full of superficial things like eyelashes and gossip. My husband clears out all of our plastics and contaminants and estrogen-producing chemicals, and asks me to stop wearing make-up. It fucks with your body, Ang, he says. And I stop. It causes a kind of shock to my sense of self, throws me into a feeling of vulnerability, self-consciousness, or rather self-centeredness. No one noticed I don't wear make-up, but me. I am wrinkled. And splotchy. And maybe it seems I don't care anymore, what with my big belly and lack of make-up. I stop putting on big gawdy earrings and hanging stones around my neck. And I sit with that feeling of less-than. I am this. Right now. Big bellied, and lacking in womb power. No war paint. I am a boulder without adoration. No bling. No shine. No color beside earth and rock. And yet I am still the same boulder as before.

We will camp this weekend, pack up the kids and dog and walking sticks. We are returning to the place we were a year ago, when the raven and hawk fought overhead, and I bent over in pain, bleeding from the death of my last child. Darkness moves over me, not in fear or anger, but in a reminder of loss and middle-age and wisdom. The baby is dead. We cried our tears last year. We grieved. We don't think about him much, even. He died. I couldn't control it. 

It is Mother's Day after all, and we want to go camping. We will walk to the falls, and swim in the mountain stream, though it is cold and the sun is not high in the sky. We will let the water wash away those boulders in us, take them downstream. We will ask the sky to remind us of our love and our family which is beautiful and whole, though we are missing some. We will open our palms and walk barefoot in the woods, and lay in the moss.  Spiders will crawl near our faces and we will blow them to another place. Later, after a meal, we will sit around the campfire and tell the story of our last child's short life and long death. We will ask him to come to us in a dream and say hello. We will not imagine what it is like to have a six month old, because that path closed to us while we were in the woods and a hawk and a raven fought overhead, I bent over in pain, whispering, "Farewell, my love."