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Archive for June, 2008

I just got off the interview… still shaking from excitement and not knowing how I am going to fit everything into a post of sorts. The interview will be for GITW… maybe it will come in two installments, I am not sure yet. But I will definitely let everyone know!

Of course, during the interview the girls plotted and took my small bowl of chocolate-covered cranberries from me (which I had not a chance to munch on), in exchange for peace and quiet. ok, maybe it’s not a big price for peace…

During our conversation, Lorraine Ash mentioned that Obama recently proposed a bill “aimed at improving the way America investigates and accounts for sudden infant deaths as well as stillbirths.” Read about it here and go here to see how you can take action. This is heartening news, after New York killed the bill that would give stillbirth moms their Certificate of Birth resulting in a Stillbirth. Lorraine said this is how we can use our pain to make things happen- systemize the information, and studies; write letters, make things happen.

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update

My grandma’s surgery went really well, THANK GOODNESS! It took even shorter than anticipated, with minimal loss of blood. She still needs to be at the hospital for a week for monitoring… but so far seems to be recovering well. I am grateful, falling on my knees grateful.

My mom, should have had her surgery. Due to time difference, it will be at least half a day before I get any news. But I think everything will be ok; I spoke to her before and she sounded mentally strong. Not like me, I am the wimp, everywhere I go.

(Thank you for all your good thoughts, thank you so much. It means A LOT.)

I also just deactivated my Facebook account. I joined it because a good friend had photos there she wanted me to see, but I could only see if I joined. But soon, people found me and I received friends request… I am not unfriendly (even though sometimes I do BITE) but I just don’t have the time…  I never even set up a profile page for myself, what with my hate-hate relationship with the camera, and just really, not in any plain mood for such fun stuff. So, instead of feeling guilty everytime I get some email that someone sent me something blah blah,.. and not reciprocating, I decided to evaporate myself from Facebook. Poof!

Good. Now I feel a bit like a magician. kinda witchy, heh.

Now, I have a small rant, but decided to puree that into a lunch for myself, eat it and just digest it and eliminate it.

I have an interview with Lorraine Ash this afternoon and i am nervous and excited. Hopefully I can get the interview transcribed by…. November. ok, maybe August.

I am weepy, impatient and I keep having hives. But I’m hanging in there.

Now, I slither back to my rock in the cave.

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life cycle

Sophia likes me to read this book about a little girl and caterpillars. It’s kinda long and not too exciting for me but she finds it fun. Towards the end the little girl took the baby caterpillars out to her apple tree and said soon the caterpillars will turn from small black things to fat green ones, then they eat and eat and then they form a cocoon and then they become beautiful moths and then everything starts all over again!

In school we learn this in Science class and it is called “Life Cycles”. We also learned how tadpoles are hatched from eggs and how they then undergo metamorphosis into an adult frog, or toad. Likewise, chick from egg to hen. That is what we learn is a “life cycle”.

Except, what about the aging and sickness part? The adult animal always goes on to lay more eggs, birth more young in the textbooks, but what about getting horribly sick and dying?

When I was pregnant the first time, I marveled every week at how this little life that was forming in me was growing. This week, little wads of tissues form that will become ears. Stumps grow into hands, and then are further defined into fingers. How in the world do they know what to do next, I was always asking? At some point, the heart is fully formed and then at a momentous moment it will start beating. Miracle. I was awed. Floored. Little life forming in me, knowing exactly what it needs to do. (Of course, now, there is also the mystery of how life can malfunction, or just give up, at any given time.)

The other side of that is the process of aging, the body getting weak, succumbing to outside attacks of all sorts, surrendering, and dying.

That part, usually does not induce awe.

But then, why not? Nature’s design to help us die. Because nothing lives forever. Of course, Nature is random, as we all know.

This evening, morning on the other side of the globe where my grandmother lives, she will be operated upon. Her left leg had been giving her hell. Pain, unable to walk. At one point she could not walk straight, she was doubled over. Hospitalized for the second time in a month, they did an MRI and found that one of the discs on her spine has degenerated, decompressed and is pressing on her nerve, thus the issues and the pain. Because of her age, the surgeon will do a simplified procedure and just remove that dsyfunctional part. Because of her age, she will take double the “normal” time to recover. Of course, there were those things they put in on the forms you need to sign to warn you that some things can happen during surgery- heart attack, infection, etc. Reminds me of how I got scared shitless when before my wisdom teeth surgery they told me I could have my whole face collapsed due to the procedure, or that I could die from it. It’s legal stuff, they have to tell you all these, to cover their own asses. Plus, Nature is random.

So, I sit over here, the other side of the globe, and await the news. And ponder the life cycle.*

* And wish to let my friend M know that she is in my thoughts as she drives forth to attend the funeral of her grandmother.

* And Bon got sent back from Halifax. Phew. I am relieved but I also felt like punching her a bit for making me look like an ass. But I am elated to be looking like an ass. (ok, she did not make me, I made myself. But still.)

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We came home, out of the heat, into the cool cave of our house, after 1.5hrs of shopping. Shopping with two little girls at Target? — No. Fun.  I was ready to tantrum.

We were trying to find Val a new swim suit. Finding a new swim suit for a seven-year-old? — No. Fun.

We tried every little skimpy thing they have there. Tie-dye, polka dots, stripes, daisy, pukey pink, hearts, flowers, etc. Pulling on the suit, squint eyes, shake head, pull off suit. Repeat. Reminds me of how it is like trying to find a decent pair of jeans. Hard, this is hard. How can finding a swim suit to wear be so hard when you are seven-years-old?

Then there was one that seems to fit her body type good. “I like this one very much!” Val declared. Good. It was a bit on the loose side, so we just need to get back to the racks and pull the next smaller size and we can go home!

Of course, they did not have the next smaller size.

But finally I found something that she could wear, that she was happy with, that was in her size.

The white-haired old lady at the check-out asked me, “Did you find everything ok?” and I looked at her and contemplated for a second yelling, “Hell, NO!! It was dang hard finding a swim suit for my daughter! I just wasted an hour and a half of my life pulling swim suits on and off her!” But no, I nodded my head and said, “yes.”

Relieved to be home, I plopped in-front of the computer and opened my Google Reader. I saw Bon has a new post. I read it. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO!!!

I am over-reacting. It’s just a trip. It will all be OK. But I was worried. Worried to hell. Again, I am over-reacting. Of course it is going to be OK. Tell me it is going to be OK.

I have never met Bon, just like I’ve never met Kate. But, I have spoken to her on the phone, I know what her voice sounds like, I know what she looks like (beautiful). I have run my palm, gingerly, carefully, over her scars. Her scars like a map, of her grief, her hurt, her courage, her beauty. I read her words and i do not understand how can someone still write with such beauty after all that had transpired. Her heart is still soft and gentle, not hard and angry. (Although of course, if need be, she will give you the finger and ask you to eff off.)

I just do not understand- why pick her again? Why let her go through the meat grinder again? Why is it so hard for some women to just have a baby? Especially, why do it to those who do not need any lessons in “life is precious”; “Life does not come easy”?

Crap. Shit. SHIT.

***********************

Had to run out to M’s house just as dinner got on the table, because that food co-op delivery truck was late. When I arrived I saw S. Last summer, her daughter was due about the same time that I was. She talked to me a lot about her daughter’s pregnancy, comparing notes; she was going to California for a month to help out after baby comes. I last saw her in June, last year. After Ferdinand died, I did not show up to pick up my co-op order. Could not face those people. Did not want to answer questions. M graciously took my order, chuck my cold items in her refrigerator, and let me go pick up my order at a different time. I cannot believe this, I have not gone personally to pick up my order for a year now. Chicken.  I know, without having to ask M, that people have asked and she had told them about Ferdinand.

I smiled at S, albeit weakly. She stared at me. Smiled weakly and stood there. Is she going to ask? Does she remember? Is she going to say  something? I braced myself, just in case she would say anything. I was already choking.

But she did not say anything, did not talk to me. I picked up my two boxes of stuff and drove home.

Dinner was cold and the table a mess. I was hungry and heaped the tortellini onto my plate, added the works and sat down to eat. Sophia came to the dining table and sat with me, with markers and a piece of paper. She drew (another) picture for Ferdinand.

“I love him, Mom. I want to burn this picture too so he gets it.”

“I am sad, Mom, that Ferdinand died.”

“Will we have another baby who will be alive?”

The tortellini was cold, hard, and tasted like tears. I could not eat anymore.

I cannot do this anymore. Somebody needs to take my heart and put it in their freezer… … until, until, until…. things can be calmer.

I cannot take this missing, these questions, those words anymore. And that ability to feel… …

I have not even been sitting around wiping tears. I have been at the computer working on a translation assignment. And there my daughter is busy picking the scab, missing, expressing her tender sadness.

And over there is Bon, her heart exposed and vulnerable again.

And there is nothing I can do.

So I disposed the tortellini, left the kitchen in a mess and brought everyone up to bed.

*****************************

I could not fall back to sleep, after waking up feeling warm, and went to take a sip of water.

I laid there and wondered what time is it in Halifax. Where is Bon? What is she doing? How is she feeling?

I laid there and wiped my tears and spooned Sophia into me, kissing her fine, soft hair and whispering to her that Ferdinand feels her love and misses her too.

For a moment there was an impulse to get on my knees and just pray.

But I did not do that. I tried to erase all thoughts, all anxieties, empty my mind and fall back to sleep.

The answers will reveal themselves when the time comes.

I felt a bit silly, being invested in other people’s affairs. But I could not help it. She is no “other people”; she is fellow medusa and fellow companion on the path.

My heart hurts, for everything. It wants to believe that it is all going to be good. It really wants to believe.

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my mother

I did not expect myself to cry over her pending surgery. The one to remove her entire left breast, because it’s lining is cancerous.

Does it mean that blood is always thicker than water?

My mother and I had never really been close.

I was born eleven months after my brother was. The two of us is all she has.

That I was an accident, was an open secret in the family. Unplanned, unwanted.

She had a stressful pregnancy, issues having risen in the marriage.

When I was born, I was not only tiny, I was ugly. On top of that, there were suspicions that I may turn out to be dumb, because my crying sounded off- odd, weak, unsettling to those present. No one dared to hold me, afraid that I would just crumble and be gone. (My brother, on the other hand, was the most adorable baby. Gorgeous, big, dark eyes; charming smile. Looking at our baby photos you will not guess we came from the same parents.)

Our breastfeeding relationship, that lasted a whole of one month, was fraught with tears and disappointment. I could not do it, and it hurt her, physically and emotionally. Every day, in that little rented room that she stayed in for a month, she sobbed. Weeped and asked, why did I look so… unpresentable.

At the end of the month she returned to Malaysia with my father and my brother, and my grandmother raised me for the next ten years. Well, to be accurate, she is still raising me; I very much feel like her child still. Like she used to call me- my last little child.

I lived with my mother, and my brother, for four years. That’s all. And two of those years were good. She did not have to work, stayed at home and simply cooked and made sure we were doing well in school. Then, the money stopped coming, and she had to go to work, and a cloud of dark settled over our home. I braced for screaming and physical violence when she came home. My way of surviving was to do well in school; be a good student. That kept me safe.

Over the years, she has changed. Mellowed, and lost her fast temper. She saw that there was nothing to be really angry to get about. Just enjoy life when there is the chance. She found a circle of fun-loving, and true friends and they go on trips together, having a hell of a good time every time, whether it be skiing in Korea, or snorkeling in Malaysia. She tried many new things in her fifties, laughing her head off, having a good time with her pals. Her nasal cancer stayed in remission for twenty years. She did well with her job, clinching a “Best Customer Representative” award last year.

Some times, she had been short-changed, and she just shrugged and said, “Whatever.”

We could talk more on the phone. Not heart-to-heart, but civil. It is not that she did not love me, she just could not express it in a way I could relate to. I cannot honestly say I love her, but she is after all my mother; she had cared for me as best as she could. She has tried her utmost best. For that I love and respect her; for trying hard, for holding her head up. I love most my grandmother, whom I co-slept with until I was ten. Grandma was my idol, my mother, my everything.

When she came to help out after I had my first child, we bristled at the closeness. We had many opportunities to talk about many things. That led us to discover our differences, and our greivances. After a month she left, with the unsaid regret between us that we did not get to grow closer.

But we still cared for each other.

When she told me she had discharge from one of her nipples, I was alarmed, but she shrugged and said the doc said it was nothing to be worried about. A few months later she found lumps in her breast tissue and they took those out and found them to be cancerous. More tests later her left breast needs to come out. The other option was six months of radiation, and then see. She decided it should come out now.

She said, “You don’t have to worry. I am strong. I can get through this. I will be ok. Don’t you worry about me.”

And I cried. No she is not strong. No I am not strong. No I have to worry. No I don’t know how to roll with this.

Sure, health throughout life is an illusion. Sickness will find us, whether we like it or not. We need to get sick, attacked, in order for our immune system to develop antibodies and in order for it to strengthen its ammunition. If we never get sick, we will also never learn how to fight back, we will never learn who the enemies may be and what to do with them. Of course, some of us never even got one fighting chance.

She has one now. I hope she wins.

And perhaps we will both succeed at keeping our tears from each other.

A strange kind of relationship, what I have with my mother. A strange kind of love.

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It was almost 6pm by the time we got done with gym class, and errands. Sophia wanted to read a bit in this book on Space, so we did, and then I went off to make dinner, and she went off to do her own thing.

After ten or fifteen minutes she came and gave me a piece of paper heart that had been folded in half, like a card. She told me, “Mum, we’ll have to burn this for Ferdinand.”

I took the paper heart. On the front, is a picture of a little girl, with a heart drawn underneath. Inside the “card”, were scrawled the words, “I love you Ferdinand. From Sophia.” and beneath is a heart with stars drawn all over it.

“I miss Ferdinand, mum.”

“Yes… I miss him too…. …. and he misses you too, Sophia.”

“We’ll burn this so he can get it, ok?”

“OK. Should we wait till his birthday, or do you want to do it now.”

“We’ll wait.”

The tears gushed, fast and violent. My heart, it bled. In the blood, red and warm, was love, hurt, pain, joy, comfort, remembrance, missing, anger, peace… everything.

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Most times over the past eleven months had felt like absolute ex.cre.ment, and the craziest part is, still finding much to be grateful for. From family, to friends (IRL and “virtual”); from our house, to our cabin. From still having our limbs to still being able to stumble through life, bloody and grimy.

I have at times sat and wondered, that means, this is not the depth of the deepest shit yet. Like how many of us have said, “It could have been worse.”

I shudder to think, what can be worse? I dare not think. Once my brain begins exploring in that direction, I shut it down. No, don’t go there.

So, despite everything, I am still grateful. So, I just want to say THANK YOU. To one and all, including all those crabby stuff, including the Utmost master.

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