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Archive for April, 2008

Nine months today.

Why keep count? How is one day different from the next? I keep saying every day is precious. Every day is important. Because I don’t know when I will die, every day that I have with my daughters is divine. No need to wait till their birthdays to celebrate them and treat them like royalty. Every day is a celebration of life together. Every day we have a chance to be great, or to be better.

Why are anniversaries important? Why is Val’s upcoming seven-year-old-bash such a big woot-hoot? Isn’t it perfect that today she is six years, eleven months and three days old? She is perfect then, now and in the future.

So why am I keeping my eye on the date three months out, when it will be one year since F died? Rather, it was the day he was born, silent and still. We were not exactly sure when was the moment that his heart stopped beating. So what if it is one year? Does it mean full circle? What does it mean? That Earth is back in the same (?) position again since that day.

What to do on the anniversary? Celebrate? Cry? Thrash about? Eat? Escape? Retreat?

In the early days, I read some books that convinced me that every year we have to celebrate. Have to keep track of his age and every year on that day, imagine what he would have been like. Keep the memory alive; never. ever. forget!!

Then, as days and weeks go by, I read more books. And right now I am not so sure anymore.

Someone asked me the other day if I had planned anything for the anniversary? I do have an idea on my backburner. I received a whole lot of paper cranes after F died. Folded by friends, who, as far as I know, did not take to origami with gleeful pleasure as I do. But they sent me some one thousand of them, and some more. I did not really know what to do with them. I did string some up with beads on a ribbon and gave it to friends who wanted to hang it on their holiday trees, to remember. Even after sharing a whole ton with the girls, I am still left with a whole lot. Some time back I spoke to a nurse at the local hospital, just five minutes from my home. She coordinates the infant loss program and told me she had written F’s name on a butterfly and hung it on a tree in their memorial garden. I have driven past by that hospital many times, but never knew they had a memorial garden. I asked if she would like some paper cranes in that garden and she told me it would be lovely. Of course, they would be exposed to the elements- the desert sun and the monsoon rain (if it rains). But, it does not really matter. At least not to me; they were not meant to be eternal. I am not sure about the thoughts of the person who needs to be picking up soggy paper cranes.

Anyway, I thought perhaps I can invite friends, if they want, to come together on that day to string up the cranes and have them delivered to the hospital. Maybe we will laugh, or cry, or pig out, or pee in our pants. Or forget about the cranes and watch a chick flick.

I told someone-who-asked, I thought on that day I would always bake a cake, light the right number of candles, sing, try to imagine, and wail. But, like I said, I have read more and thought some more and I have different ideas now. I told her, that lately, I actually feel like throwing out F’s memory box. I gasped at my idea. Am I nuts?

But what’s in there? Allow me to divulge: a white teddy bear from the hospital; a piece of blue paper with his perfect and cute footprints; a small plastic bag with a little tuft of his hair; a clay figure I made in the last weeks of my pregnancy- a headless, swollen woman ripe with baby; two cards with his name, birth weight, length and my name on it; two wrist-tags with those same information as those cards; a blue cap from the hospital he never wore; a pair of blue socks from the hospital that he never wore; the velvet bag that held his ashes; a pair of hand-made hand-embroidered shoes that were bought for him, that he never wore. That’s it. Look carefully and you see that mostly they are attempts to hang on to the elusive memory of him.

I told her, I felt his essence had left that box. In the early days I would hug the box and cried me a river of tears. Now, I feel the box is really empty even though it is filled to the brim with all those things. He is not confined to that box; his spirit is not in that tuft of hair and his soul is not in those splotches of ink pressed on blue paper. Just like when we held his body and knew that he was no longer there, my baby son can no longer be represented by that blue box and/or its contents. What purpose would holding on to that box serve me?

He is in my heart. In my everything, my every cell. Sometimes when I smile, I remember how I smiled when I was cradling him inside of me. I think his essence is far from the box, but right in me. Remember my long babble-babble post on No Death, No Fear? He did not arise from nothing, and cannot be destroyed. He arose inside of me, due to a multitude of factors, and then he took on a different form. I don’t know what form, but I deeply believe that he is not gone. Yes, he has died; had no use of his physical flesh body. He left behind that physical body. And the body was cremated. Other than the body, what else is he? Other than my bones and flesh and pus and excrement and mucus, what else am I? He cannot be destroyed. The body turned into ashes, but I also do not think that is his new home. Somewhere he is, but I do not know where. Hopefully near. Some days, it feels very near to me. Like now. So near I feel like I can go get the box now and take it out and dump the entire thing into the garbage can.

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How I am feeling today: peaceful, relaxed, smiling.

Yesterday was stressful with cleaning and preparing to have guests over (our farewell dinner to them as they are re-locating), but the evening was beautiful. The air was so fresh and crisp, the meal was good (prepared by moi, except for the calamari rings, that came out of the freezer section of Trader Joe’s); the kids had a blast and we adults could truly sit back and relax and enjoy good food and sparkling conversation.

This morning, my body is aching from the workout I did with Gurmukh (on DVD) yesterday but I felt good. Monday? No problem. Have an appointment with the oral surgeon this afternoon? No biggie. Ah.

But, things can change. Of course. What did you expect? No moment is stagnant. Don’t ever buy into the “happily ever after” promise. Even with my child dead, I still believe there will be dawn, even if there will be so many nights of just darkness. I will howl and howl and howl, and a sliver of moon will break though. I will howl and scratch, or just sit and wait, and the light will peep through.

So, I was in an angry phase. Right now, today, not so much. You must have read or heard of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model of grief. Of course, it is not Truth, it is not the ultimate thing, but it gives us something to refer to. The five stages of grief (which need not occur in order; can last long or short; can overlap and can go in cycles) are:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

I think I have experienced all five, but in a different order.

And hey, listen. I think you know a true friend when she sits with you through all this. She does not hurry you along, stopwatch in hand, urging, “OK! I think this is it! Five more seconds and on we go on to ANGER phase!” She does not put on her glasses and look at you with an I-have-never-been-through-this-but-boy-do-I-know-what-is-good-for-you look and prescribe some kind of a healing soak for you. Nope. She understands that it is healthy and fine to work through all these emotions and she holds the space for you. She lets you spew and she lets you sob. She eats the chocolate cake together with you (but lets you have most of the cake) and she meets you at the gelato spot at three in the morning. She does not ask you to hurry up for her own sake; nor does she try to stall you. She does not want to see you go to a counselor or healer just so to prove that she was right and was all-knowing all along.

Unfortunately, other than the true friends, and good friends, there are those who are clueless and try to steer your ship for you. I have one of that in my life right now. It’s supremely annoying. Do you have the clueless in your life, trying to tell you what color make-up you need, and all that jazz?

But, as I have written in previous posts before, you need one to know the other. So I appreciate those who sit patiently with me, who let me bounce thoughts off of them. I appreciate those who walk with me in silence and compassion, knowing that I will find myself out of this labyrinth. And I guess, I must have some pretty good people in my life to immediately spot the annoying clueless, no?

I sip my tea. I smile. I know a storm lays ahead, the eye closing in. But right now, ah, chocolate cake is good for the soul.

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Computer’s been acting up so we took to cleaning things up. Backing stuff up, deleting, and all that fun computer house-keeping stuff. Stumbled upon an old post- well, not really that old- which I thought was put there for me to trip over to read again. hmph.

https://ferdinandsgifts.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/standing-aside-and-being/

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So, she stabbed daggers into my heart when she informed me, once again, that you can have more than one baby die on you. That, yes, it is possible- and it does happen- to have more than one baby loss.

And, she is four years old. She turns five in August. She did not understand how a baby can die in a big belly. But now she has it figured out. Sometimes when playing she kills her toys. Then she reassures me that “Everything dies, mom. Remember?” Yes, yes. In an attempt to figure out F’s death, in an attempt to explain to the girls that what happened is “normal”, is a part of life, we read books about how everything dies. Of course. And when i asked why is she killing her toys, she shrugs and tells me, “It’s just a game, mom!” OK. Point taken.

Last evening, she came to me with varying lengths of strung beads, and asked me, “Mummy, is this big enough for Ferdinand? Will he be able to wear this?” And if I say i think that might really be too short, she said, “Oh, it’s ok, he can use it to decorate his cloud home.”

Cloud home. My heart squeezed. Tightened. My little baby has a home. It is a cloud home. Of course, he is a star, you know? He lives in a cloud home.

Then before the lights were turned out, she showed me what else she had in the envelop she places under her pillow every night. Other than a red packet, a dream card and a dollar note, there is this card that has stars all over it. She put her little hand on my arm, and said, “So I will remember Ferdinand.”

That stabbed my heart too, only in a different way. Kinda like killing me softly.

Lights out. Tears flow.

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Well, ok, it’s not that I am surrounded only by nitwits, the insensitive’s, jerks, idiots, and in Julia’s words (and my new fav word)- chickenshits.

Dang, I hope not, because by the Law of Attraction, what does that make me? huh? huh? huh?!

I have some truly awesome friends. Wonderful, beautiful souls. But I don’t think I will name names and detail the deeds. I dunno. Because just in case they are by the door, hand on knob, ready to exit, i don’t want them to feel now they gotta stay! I totally understand because I will admit that I am no longer an easy person to be around with (not that I had always been; my nicknames when I was in school were: She-who-does-not-smile; ice-queen; very-serious-gal and I also think there was one called who-does-she-think-she is?). I mean, I have not much to offer now except the Daily Grief Index, scary statistics and sob stories. Hmph. I don’t think I will even invite myself to my dinner party.

What I wanna say is, there are chickenshits, and there are decent people, and good friends.

So thank you. Because chickenshits make you realize what good friends are. And good friends make you realize what chickenshits are. You need one to see the other. Well, maybe not always. But you know what I mean.

Thank you.

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So, what’s making you laugh these days?

What has always, always, always, never failed to make you pee in your pants, or make your jaws so sore you cannot close them?

I need that kind of laughter, take 2.

After feeling angry, I always wanna laugh.

At the peak of my anger with my husband, or my daughters, I tend to burst into laughter. Mostly because they are staring at me wide-eyed like I am an insane witch, which I probably looked like, crooked nose, warts on chin and all. And they looked like I was going to swallow them whole. And so I laugh. It’s hard to stay angry with loved ones for long. Except, erm, maybe with dh, I can go a few days if I work really hard at maintaining anger. But usually, it has to give, because anger is exerting.

But, anger at Life? at the Universe? at, I don’t-even-know-what? That’s hard to target and lash out at.

But anyways, this afternoon, preparing food for a fren who gave birth recently, and trying not to mess up, I suddenly had the vision I might have added too much salt or something and her entire family spitting out the food. You know, grateful to be able to sit down to dinner without cooking, and then “Bah!” out rained the fireworks of too-salty-everything and, i guess, future offers of food from me will be frantically rejected. Imagining that scenario made me laugh. I think my body yearned for a good, long, hard laugh.

And that was not good enough. I feel we need to fire up our Netflix subscription again and watch some seriously funny movies. Oh, maybe a few meaningful ones too. But funny, definitely.

What’s your pick?

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The last time I had a grass cutter in my hand at the cabin I was about six or seven months pregnant. The crazy growing grass drove us bonkers and we wanted it to look neater. I remember thinking how I wanted to help R because soon I won’t be able to be of much use outside of the house, what with a baby constantly latched onto my boob and all that. I remember that ache that slowly consumed my body as I worked along; and how I stopped often to breathe the fresh air, and to gaze at the butterflies, and how once, the Great Blue Heron swooped down the creek and I was the only soul (in our family) who witnessed its grand, solitary flight.

Almost a year later, I have the grass cutter in my hands again, and this time I understand why R wanted to buy a lawnmower about two weeks after F died. That angry whirl of the engine… driving the machine over the grass and watching the blades fly off as one vents that aggression of anger that had no other place of channeling. This time, this second time I have the grass cutter in my hands, my belly is empty, so are our arms. This void, you know? I took to my task with a vengence, attacking the grass like they were my grief waving nonchalantly in the cool winds of Spring. But, you cannot cut away grief like that. It cannot be attacked like this.

And, what would you know? The grass cutter kept stalling.

As if asking me to pause and truly ponder where my grief is. Within. The work is within, not without. Not by cutting grass.

So, as the grass cutter declined to cooperate with me, I felt the anger brewing in me. rising. swelling. Those chattering, nagging blah-blah thoughts, once unleashed, knew no boundaries. As the engine whirred and panted and sputtered, I asked the angry questions of Why? Why? Why? The engine choked and i choked and the tears came streaming down. It must be the rushing gurgle of the creek next to me. Challenging me to not cry upon hearing watery sounds. They dare me to not cry, when thinking of how I had vainly wished to birth my son by the creek. Oh yes, a natural home birth, in the water, no less. I still believe in natural births. So do. Only I can not go that route. So i read about natural births, and how it should be THE way! How it is the true, only way. How wonderful it is, how powerful, empowering, moving. The power of a woman’s body, blah-blah… … and I have to go hide in a corner and beat myself up for not being able to do it. Such a loser.

So the anger continued to rise and crashed in big waves against the confines of my flesh. I wanted to throw up. Vomit all that anger and let the creek wash it all away.

I guess the morning did not start well. Had breakfast with the girls and they were talking about how they saw F’s clothing in the drawer last night. And they took out a pair of tiny socks each and held it to their noses, their chests, loving it… and then Val said, “It’s alright, mom. When you have another baby, he can use these.” I nodded quietly, not daring to hope. And S said, “Only if the baby does not die.” And I turned to look at her and replied, “No, hopefully not.” And she continued, “But another baby can die.” And i countered, “One is more than enough, S. One baby is enough to make mommy sad for the rest of her life.” And she smiled! She smiled and said, “One baby is sad. Two babies will be sadder, will be worser… and three will be even worser… …”

Those words stuck daggers in my heart. Right in all the spots that hurt the worst. And that’s when my anger started to brew. I was angry at my beloved, sweet daughter. I wanted to tell her to shut up and leave the kitchen right that moment. No, actually, I wanted to pick her up and hurl her against the wall, and scream and yell at her.

But I did not. I reminded myself that children process things differently. Very differently sometimes.

So I stood up and went to brush my teeth. Violently. And I shook and trembled and fought to be still and calm.

And so I agreed to try my hand at grass-cutting again. Anger is energy that had to be used, and preferably not against humans.

I read a movie star interview, about how difficult it was going through her divorce. I wanted to seat her down in-front of me and sneer at her until she shrivel. Life is so tough for some people. You know? They have to marry a few times and all that. Such a headache picking a different wedding gown and deciding the guest list and how many millions to throw into the wedding. I wish my hardship is like this.

I don’t want this anger, nor this grief, nor this pain.

I want to be that air-head that people make jokes of. Who pop out five beautiful babies and who, the month after birth, go on a beach vacation wearing a bikini because she never gets stretch marks and her body just snaps back like a rubber band after birth. Who has no idea how to change a diaper after five babies, coz, heck, she has a few nannies. Who is blissfully ignorant and unbelievably fertile, her husband need only throw her a glance and she is pregnant the next morning.

Yeah, I want that. Totally. Rather people laugh at my luck than people pity me for my….. and it’s not even bad luck. just incompetence I guess. can it just be bad luck? I don’t know. Whatever it is, nothing I can do about it. I mean, I have read of two stillbirths in a row, and worse stories, you can no longer convince me that one bad outcome is all it’s gonna be.

So I became angry. I felt I was flying under the radar and then I was sighted and caught. Put into a ring where I have to run and duck with some other unfortunately-also-spotted-ones and we run and hope that lightning does not catch us. It made me angry that I have to run and duck.

And still fuming. Still spewing lava and still wanting to devour any human near to me.

Now entering: Phase angry. Duration unknown.

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