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Archive for September, 2008

A family in need

** ETA Oct2: Someone queried the authenticity of this event, especially since money is asked for. I went to the UU Church website where the benefit dinner is to be hosted and did not see the event listed on their events calendar and panicked a bit, and pulled this post off my blog, while I emailed the church to check. Thankfully, I rec’d a swift reply that indeed there is a benefit dinner for the family. Phew. Next time I will do the “detective” work first. **

Sorry for the diarrhea-like posting, but I have to get this one out. I just heard about this and I would like to help spread the word. Please.

http://sites.google.com/site/benefitdinner/

The Cabezas Family

On January 8th of this year, Allison Cabezas and her husband Marc welcomed baby Lucy to their growing family that already included 18 month old Nathaniel.  Just five days later little Lucy died of SIDS, leaving the Cabezas family tormented by incomprehensible grief.  Allison was unable to return to her job as a 1st grade teacher, adding financial stress to a family already struggling with the immense grief of losing a child.  In July Allison announced she was expecting their 3rd child due in March ’09. Allison and Marc were overjoyed by this news.   But on the morning of September 14th, the excitement of this new life was dulled and Allison’s world was once again shattered when she awoke to discover her husband Marc had died suddenly in his sleep.  Allison is now, at 30 years old, a widow and single mother of a toddler with a new baby girl due in just a few months.

If you would like to give…

If you cannot make the dinner, you can also donate money by check made out to “For the Benefit of Allison Cabezas.” All checks can be mailed to 50 Brookfield Road, Seymour, CT 06483.  This charitable bank account was opened at the Wachovia Bank in Seymour, CT.

Click here to donate online using PayPal or your credit card.

We are also collecting any donations of goods or services to use as raffle items at our benefit dinner.

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Back from our weekend at the cabin, raring to catch up on emails, only to have problems logging into my Gmail, ack!!  (And it’s been five long hours…) That means, no catching up on blogs either. I am rapidly wilting… so I am going to spew out my thoughts over the weekend…. I hope Gmail gets functioning SOON!!

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I want to thank all of you who took time to comment on my previous post about selfishness. I did not mean to put my friend out there for slaughtering, just trying to get a reality check. I will also tell you I finally could sleep better again after I wrote the post, because her words really kept me up for a few nights, during which I alternated between feeling terrified, appalled and sorrowed. Terrified that I might be morphing into a selfish monster, and before I know it, will get out of bed one morning flaking off stinky scales, swinging a clubbed tail behind me, with blood drooling out of the corners of my mouth. Appalled that my friend said those words to me, feeling grossly misunderstood. Sorrowed by… well, many things. His death and the aftermath, mostly.

The good thing is this recent melodrama did give me pause to sit and think long and hard about myself, or the animal I am evolving into. Have I been selfish? Hell, yes. But was I selfless before? Not exactly either.

I do realize that, I need to tread carefully and not turn this into an excuse for my sorry self. To not carry a shield around with me that says, “But my son died!” Lightning strike me now if I use my son’s death as an excuse to become a selfish, bitter bitch, thinking I have the right to lash out at others and make their lives (and their children’s lives, for that matter) miserable. Actually, I think I have been curling up myself in a corner for a lot because I don’t wish to touch others with my little personal tragedy. I have a few friends who also had babies that were due around Ferdinand’s birth/death. I know they had a hard time. Do they talk about their babies and thus remind me of my loss and void? Or do they not talk about it and pretend they are not enjoying their bliss with their babies, while perhaps secretly relieved that tragedy did not strike them? Either way, it is going to hurt. Crap. So, they have faded away… just be “busy” and avoid that dilemma of talking about baby, or not.

I also, in my pondering, can honestly say to myself, that, even though I have not been a great friend, I have never, ever treated my friends as disposable. Sure, I expressed my needs and wishes for space, for support, whatevers. But they do too. I think this is a natural in a relationship, no? To express your needs? But I do not dictate a relationship, and I do not see how I can do so. Like I’m Queen of England or Mistress of the Universe?

And this morning reading Lisa’s comment (#15) about compassion, I can only say I find it difficult to do so for said friend right now. As I’ve said, my compassion wears colored glasses, and I am having a hard time with that. I am not saying though, your child needs to die in order for me to feel compassion for you. I can feel compassion for other people and other situations too. For said friend, I think, like Rosepetal said, she has her own issues that I am unable to fathom right now. And I know I am not the first person that she has friendship issues with. But I am not sure I feel sorry for her. I actually don’t feel I have the right to feel sorry for her, and I am not sure why. But as for generating compassion for how she felt about my “treatment” for her, I can only say I reacted to my own situation, and then later to her words and actions, that first befuddled me, and then later (to be honest) annoyed me. So, I do need to work on my compassion.

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Another thing that got me all flustered was how there was a need for me to explain my need for space. Ferdinand’s death was not enough, because it begs the question of “Why do you need so long?”, for which I have not enough energy to answer. And truly feel embittered that I need to give the world an answer, when there are more atrocious things out there that I would certainly like a good answer to, and I am not getting them.

Yet, when I spoke with Lorraine Ash, she was very passionate about the need to put our experiences in words. The urgent necessity for us bereaved to talk about our experiences, put words to it, and set the parameters for the conversation. This experience cannot be let slip to be a silent one, or others will never understand, or be aware. And think of all those women before us who suffered in silence because there was no conversation. People were not talking about it. Not like today, where there are discussion boards and blogs; authors publishing books about their experiences and journalists putting such news in the media.

Indeed it will be up to us to help others outside the circle understand this grieving and healing process, what it feels like, smells like, looks like. This takes energy, courage, grace and so much more. And some days, I just want to close the door, pull the shutters and slide under the blanket. Some days all I can think of is this: This is me now. Take it or leave it. I don’t really care.

What’s your take on this one?

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I am taking this out of context but when my friend told me it was not fair for me to “dictate” our relationship “based only on my needs at whatever emotional place I was at”, I really had a lot to say, a lot to refute. But the word “fair” jumped out at me.

It made me want to climb onto my roof and screech– “Fair?! Fair?! Fair?!”

I don’t know what is “fair.” Oh, in the early days I also felt unfair, that Ferdinand had to die. That my family has to go through this tragedy. That drawers full of his clothing that we spent so much time picking out, then washed and lovingly folded, will never be worn. That my daughters now know the reality and fear of babies dying. (I am queried daily, faithfully and without fail- Is baby still alive? Do you think baby has died? I hope baby is not dead already? Will this baby be born alive or dead you think?) I should attach a big horn to my vehicle and drive around chanting and screaming, not fair! not fair! not fair!

The thing is, I know, deep down, that what happened was dictated by chance. Yes, screw that thing, but it was chance. Every pregnancy is but a chance. Every life is but a chance. Russian roulette. EEnie minnie mynie more…. every time I go out and sit behind the wheel, I participate in a lottery for auto accident. Isn’t that charming?

I feel, my existence is not fair to so many others. Why didn’t I die? I was a premature, low birth-weight baby who did not even have the strength to cry; they thought I would not make it, or perhaps I was dumb, in every sense of the word. But I made it. Despite my parents being unable to take care of me for so many years, I freakin’ made it. T’is not fair.

My two daughters are not fair to others too, I suppose. So many people could point their fingers at me and hiss- what did she do to deserve this? She has not one, but two healthy daughters, I have none, I may never have any child of my own. How fair is this world?

It is not fair. I live in my own house; I need not sleep outside exposed to the elements. I have water running from my tap; I need not walk miles every day to carry water. I have sufficient money to get food for ourselves; I need not line up with my girls outside a soup kitchen. I am educated (er-hem); I can read, I know what those papers are saying that I put my signature on.

So what am I supposed to do?

I only think it is not possible for this world to be “fair.” I read the news (sometimes) and I just want to bury my head in the sand. I can only do, to my personal best, what I feel is “right.” (And that’s another tricky word.) I can only endeavor, to my best efforts, to take what I need, use what I need, and not abuse the privileges that I now have. Try to tread lighter, leave smaller footprints, maybe not exhale so strongly… … but no matter how much I try to do, keeping a good conscience in my heart, I know I cannot be fair to the rest of the world.

And, I can honestly tell you teaching “fairness” is not my priority with my own girls, because I am not sure “fairness” is always “right” or the best thing. When one of them have four cookies, I ask if she is willing to share, and how many does she desire to give to her sister? I do not demand that she gives HALF of her cookies to her sister, because that is FAIR. I don’t, because, I do not think she is wrong for wanting to only give one to her sister (I personally may just keep all four cookies to myself, really!). And, what if she chooses to give three cookies to her sister? That is not “fair” but that is a good thing. I can tell you I have been surprised. There have been occasions when they do not just think to give to the other, they think of us, the poor ol’ parents, and even Ferdinand, and even their friends.

Despite my trying to keep out the concept of “fairness” out of their little heads, they have encountered it. At the park, at other people’s homes… … and they have sometimes wailed to me “That is not fair!” What do I do? I try to understand what made them say that and what would have been “fair”, but trying to get to the bottom of the emotion. Because, I am not going to create the illusion that this world is “fair.”

What does “fair” mean to you? Is it good? How do you deal with this issue yourself? I would love to hear.

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And, finally, in being made to feel small with said friend’s comments, I did have to ask myself the hard question of- what am I becoming? What will I become?

And I hope, to be a better person, and not a bitter one. Just a difference of one alphabet there, but a world of a difference. I have felt this bitterness in my mouth, I will not deny. So bitter nothing makes it go away no matter how much I swished and spat, swished and spat, and put sweet things into my mouth. I tried so hard, but that bitter feeling, that hurts like hell, took quite some time to go away.

How to become a better person? Hopefully without realizing it. Does that sound corny or what? I do sometimes feel inspired to get out there and do something. I mean, look what others have already done! Establishing support organizations, funds to support cancer research, groups spearheading the rights and needs of bereaved parents… and here I am, fretting like a monkey who has way too many fleas than she can handle.

I think compassion is going to be a big part of it. I mean, to be able to cultivate that not just for myself, but for every other human and animal as well. In some sense, I think I did not forgive myself for what happened, even though there was nothing I could have done, or not done, to have prevented that. Still.

You see, I still have a long way to go. But, slow and steady I am going to do it, and hopefully be heading in the right direction. Hopefully I have not, some miles back, mistook that direction sign of “This way to Bitter” for “This way to Better”, or vice versa. I pad along, and lemme tell ya, your company has meant a whole lot to me. Thank you for putting up with my shit, saliva and blather. You make my heart expand, and my days brighter.

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While in Las Vegas, making our way through the Bellagio (probably my fav hotel of all that we had seen, at least they’ve got their own little museum with a decent collection of modern art), S and I had to step into a restroom to relieve our petite bladders. While standing in the cavernous and bustling bathroom, looking up and down, left and right for an empty stall, a woman spotted me and immediately launched into an obligatory baby-lovey mode– “Awwww….. your belly looks soooo cute!!”, with the mandatory high-pitch rendition, complete with a squeak at the end. While I worked harder to find an empty stall to escape into, she waved for her friend to come, “Just look at her cute belly!!” I smiled/winced/grimaced as I got S and myself into an empty stall that opened up.

Why? Why this seemingly irrational behavior? Why not stand and bask in the lovey-dovey attention? Why the need to escape and just be alone? Why do I act like it is wrong for people to comment on my belly? Why is it hard to have people be so light-hearted about this baby, does she not deserve ooh-ing and aah-ing over? Why let her brother’s shadow fall over her? Why act as if any attention showered upon this baby will bring her ill luck? Why think that excessive attention on this baby may kill her? Why feel that not talking about her publicly will make the pain of her loss (which I hope will NOT happen, but i just gotta assume; a coping mechanism) less?

I don’t know. My only excuse will be the pregnancy hormones. It makes you cranky, emotional, aggressive, unreasonable and just plain nuts and absolutely bananas.

Note to baby: You are loved. You are wanted. You are treasured. You are honored. You are unique. You are precious. Your mother may be a crazy nut, but whatever she says, feels, or thinks, all roots from her deep desire to have you alive and warm in her arms. It has nothing to do with your individual and uniquely divine being. Your mother freaks out a lot, it’s just her way of coping. Enjoy the OM when she finds it, she does try so very hard.

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Selfishness

It’s been uttered in this circle before, this incongruent feeling of selfishness that can arise, when, in the aftermath of our children’s death, we are able to feel deeper, and feel such profound compassion for others. But, it seems, the compassion we are able to feel, are towards people in similar suffering. It sure is hard to affect compassion for someone in painful recovery from a massive cosmetic surgery or such likes.

I feel the same, and sometimes it scares me, to be honest. I can weep on demand, easy peasy, no problem. My heart wrenches for others who have to suffer a loss, who have to endure the pain of a child’s illness and death. Every time after the end of my meditation I offer thanks and gratitude for all that I have (baby, the girls, husband, family, friends, the chance to be on this earth) and then I offer healing (to myself, to my children, my husband, my family, fellow mums with broken hearts, anyone on earth who needs healing). Oh, I am here for you, I read your words, I comment, I think of you often, I hold you in my heart. I re-assure, I concur, I shake fists at the clueless intruders. There are also times when I have no words, just don’t know what to say, but I put my chin to my chest, thinking of you, mightily.

Some will say I am not living in the real world. Heck, but what is “real”? Some will say I am escaping to a virtual world of grief and moruning. Well, this is all I’ve got now, and I see the beauty of it, and the beauty in it.

But what about my “real” friends? People who exist around me, within driving distances? How do I treat and regard them?

All I can say is, I am trying my best. Really my utmost best. But I know it is far far far far far far far far from who I really want to be, yearn to be. Yes, I have been selfish. I have been guarding my space- pacing up and down, a low growl in my throat, like a wild cat; my eyes piercing into the dark, my ears pricked for any curious intruder. Any movement and I am ready to pounce, swipe and de.vour.

I don’t know how else to be. This is who I am now, and this is where I am now. Some days I feel ok, I welcome the warmth I feel and raise my face to the sun, my arms and heart wide open and overflowing with so much gratitude, love, and all those good lovey-dovey feelings. Some days, the rock falls and shuts out that hole in my cave, stealing away all the light. And suddenly, I feel sore and tender all over again. I realize, sometimes with a pang of shock, that, I am still bleeding, still hurting. Then I double over and writhe, tears flowing, heart throbbing, and not really understanding. But I know, when a time like this comes, I have to stay there, because no matter how far and how fast I run, I will slam into the wall. I try to listen, feel, accept, integrate, work that scab over again, while trying to remember all the time- breathe. And in yoga, they say the longer and deeper you breathe, the faster it will go by.

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The truth is, I do not see myself as being always good at articulating my needs. I’ve sometimes said “yes” when really I wanted to scream, “Hell, NO!!” I am also not especially good at asking for and accepting things. I hate to admit it, but I like to think I am above all needs, wants and desires. (I guffawed at this last sentence. Who am I fooling?? Send me a good box of truffles and I am your slave. I am also looking for some ideas for good, cute shoes, by the way. And oh, the (cook)books I have been eyeing? Long list I’ve got there. And really, chartering a private plane to Las Vegas just to watch Cirque du Soleil’s “O”, with the best seats possible? I would like that very much, thank you thank you!)

The truth is, ladies (I don’t think there are gentlemen who read this blog), I have been selfish. Yeah, shoot me. We are no longer active (except for an occasional squirm) in any of the homeschool groups we are in. Before, I would be organizing trips, suggesting activity ideas, doing this and that. Now? I could care less if it’s Peace Day or Justice Festival or similar such lofty events. I just want to get through my day unscathed. And that, I tell you, is no mean feat.

I have also created a lot of space between me and my friends. Well, I am not sure I am still considered a friend, or I have been relegated to the status of mere acquaintence, given my bad behavior the past months, but anyways.. yes, I had right from the beginning asked for, and begged for space. I know this has made for many wringing hands. Usually, when something happens, the first thing that gets organized is a food brigade. It is a tangible way of showing love and concern. But food was the last thing on my mind back then. So, my friend M got together some friends to make a whole lot of origami cranes for us. At least they can be doing something, and I do like origami quite a lot. I’ve already written about this elsewhere before, but I’ll repeat here, this was such a sweet gesture and really made me cry. I was not without guilt though. I felt as if I had spread this plague of sadness through my circle, and now people have to work through it as well. Those paper cranes, they are so light… yet so heavy, with love and sorrow and empathy.

It took me a long time to come out into the light, to slowly meet a few people. It was damn bloody hard. I felt disfigured by grief, in every sense of the word. My body betrayed signs of extra weight, those of a previous baby and the heavy weight of mourning. My face, I was afraid, was often contorted and twisted as I tried to smile a bit when all I wanted to do was to wail and scream. Like a worm afraid of the light, I came out a little bit, then immediately burrowed back in.

Up till now, I have not been able so sustain any regular contact with any single person. Not that I do not treasure my friends, but simply because I am unable to revert to “normal” yet. I am trying to find that new normal, and I think I am making progress, albeit slowly. But as we all know, not everyone around us bereaved are patient.

I got to writing this because recently I have been accused of dictating my relationship with a friend. She told me it is not fair for me to dictate our relationship based only on my needs at whatever emotional place I was at. She said this week I want support, and next week I do not want it, and she is forced to abide and for her, “my relationships do not function only on one person’s needs.”

Well, now I do wish there is a Justice Day around here. I have never at any point felt I can dictate any of my friendships. And I have always asked for support. I have always asked for space, I so need it. I’m a private person in this sense, with regard to my grieving and dealing. It sounds contradictory, since i am writing a public blog about my grieving journey, except I do not know how else to find people who understands the pain that I feel. So, I am puzzled by my friend’s words. And, it did make me wonder about what a selfish person I have been.

But you know what? I feel good being selfish during this period. I need to be. I don’t want people calling me and knocking on my door delivering meals, stroking my back, handing me tissues while I sob, or anything like that. I just want to be in my own space to process everything, and boy, am I still processing! Back and forth, back and forth, meandering here and there, I am trying to forge a new life, and a new identity. I need your support- here, hold the space. But she felt by asking for space I am pushing her away. I don’t know how to explain to her, and I am starting to feel tired about having to explain. You know all those things people claim about how the world can be divided into two groups of people, based on different things? (love/hate chocolate; love/hate artichokes; love/hate ABBA, etc) I have my own black and white theory on this one- people who get it; and people who don’t. Although, I don’t think it is a matter of intelligence we’re talking about here, maybe it’s got to do more with one’s life experience, or even whether people want to understand or not.

I do not wish to air my dirty laundry too much, but I am really, really discombobulated. I feel I can sit here all day and make excuses for myself, but perhaps I should ask- am I just a selfish jerk? Because you know what else? I have also been informed by said friend that I have damaged her kids, during those weeks I had asked for space, starting back in June. I have been told her six-year-old is confused by the “separation” and she did not understand why we are not seeing each other. In her words, “My children depended upon your love and the love of your kids in their lives. And, you took that away without even considering or asking them about their feelings.”

Should I be flattered that somebody else’s kids are dependent upon my love? Please do not be misled. I am no Mother Teresa. I try to pay attention to my friends’ kiddos, and I try to engage with them as best as I can and I try to treat them with respect. Whatever best I can do. But I am pretty sure I do not love them as my own, and never had I attempted to create that illusion that I was doing so. I am floored, if you can’t tell. As for taking my love away from them and “separation” and all that jazz? I. Just. Don’t. Know. What. To. Say.

When I asked for space from my friends, I was speaking to the adults, not the kids. I had faith in my friends that they had the maturity and capability to explain that period of our non-existence in their social world to their kids, however they deemed appropriate. I left it up to their discretion as to how much or how little they wished to discuss with their children what this space is all about, why we are needing it, if they want to discuss about grieving/mourning/healing, if they want to bring Ferdinand into the whole picture.

I don’t know, now I think maybe i should have handed out bulleted lecture notes? Pamphelts that suggest “How to explain about grieving space to your children”?

Because, I do not even want to think what said friend told her six-year-old. I can only use very wild imagination, and I am not liking what I am fantasizing…

I guess, what I am trying to find here, is your honest opinion. Have I become sick in my grieving? Am I destroying other people’s lives, especially those of a kid?!?! (I really do not dare to have such a high opinion of myself, to have such capabilities.) Is my selfishness unwarranted? Is it time for me to get over it already? (Coz, I am not ready.)

Because, to be honest, at least within the confines of my domestic realm, I think I am doing pretty ok. Really. My kids have not had a whole lot of social interaction (which I sometimes feel is over-rated, but that’s a whole other discussion) these past months but I don’t think they are warped. Yet. I try to be there for them, I try to be present for them, as much as I can. It is hard, given my elder is a babbler, she can talk your ears off, totally, and sometimes sound grates on my nerves. But I try. When we are not out being social creatures, I stand in as much as I can. And the thing is, I have observed my children need alone time, sometimes from each other, sometimes from me, you know- the omnipotent mother. I’ve found the joy in cooking again, and it has been nice getting compliments from my girls. I am able to let go and do some silly things together with them. I try to be their mother as best as I can, though I will admit I still selfishly guard my space sometimes.

But I am more generous with my own children. With my friends, I will freely admit that I have learned to be unabashed in asking for space, being absent, and not showing up (I asked a fellow mum if the girls can go to her daughter’s party unchaperoned because it was Ferdinand’s month, and I was starting to show and did not desire idle conversation with strangers about my pregnancy. She graciously said yes and the girls had a blast and this mum, whom I only got to know a few months back, did not even harp further on the fact that I abandoned my girls at a party). I am ok showing up empty-handed, whereas before I had to bring a baked something. I don’t think I celebrated much with my friends the past year, although I will take up arms with you if you say I totally do not care for my friends at all. I actually do, and I try my best possible, but it is still far from where I was, and where I would really like to be.

During my interview with Lorraine Ash (I know… the interview will be live on GITW November 4. I promise. If you go visit today, you’ll know why, and what we’ve cooked up for the coming weeks..), she mentioned it was only now, at her nine-year-mark of losing her daughter, that she is able to feel strong in her heart. She talked about the necessity of oneself healing first, before reaching out- that time in the cave is truly needed, she assured me. She talked about friends who could not deal, people who could not face up to this kind of grieving. I am being a big spoiler here now, I’ll stop. But I think if you will be patient, you will like that interview, but I’ll let you tell me then!

Now, talk to me about selfishness… …

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Oh-kay

OK, so today Tash posted a link to a song, a dedication to us all aching hearts who.just.wanna.be… O.K.

I liked that song very much… and here are the lyrics.

I just want to be OK today. I just want to feel something today. I just want to know something today.

Sounds like asking very little, but as I commented to Tash, some days, even just to be ok is darn bloody hard.

A lot of the times when I am asked “How are you today?” My answer tends to be “OK” or “Hanging in there.” Some day I will try out “Awful but functioning” for size, except I feel I am stealing from Tash, and such a brilliant answer it is too.

What I want to say is, the “OK” I often mutter is nothing like the “OK” that Ingrid Michaelson sings about. It really means, “Kinda close to hell, but I’m not gonna tell” or “I don’t really know, I have not connected to my heart today yet” or “I don’t know what else to say” or “I guess it could be worse.” Sometimes, I may mean “It is too painful for me to tell you everything, but thanks for asking; I guess I am doing ok, because you cared to ask.”

I realized, in those early days of the aftermath,  I was not OK when I said OK, but I had nothing else to say. I had no brilliance nor homor in me. No smart-ass come back; no black-and-witty humor to hand out.

Today, when I am “OK”, I am begrudged about it. I feel greedy; I want more. I want to say, “Good! FABULOUS!! can’t complain, can’t have it better. The Universe loves me and gives me all I need and more than I want for!” But most days, I guess I do feel grateful to just be able to feel “OK.” Shitty moments come, and go. Joyous moments come, and go. I guess I have to be OK with all those. I guess I have to be OK to sit with every OK moment. Some days, just to be OK is huge.

Today was an OK day for me, made brighter by Tash’s sharing; made crazier with the girls’ question about whether this baby will be born alive, or dead? How was your day??

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bur-lah bur-lah bur-lah

We’re back. Back from our four-day whirlwind experience of Vegas. We’re all ok, still in one piece, did not lose our shirts gambling (I did gamble- threw in one buck and cranked the handle- lost every penny), and, we got a heart-rate this morning, still. The last fact most important.

Las Vegas- not my kind of place. Nah-uh. Too much fakey fakey stuff, trying too hard- and for what, I ask? Before we went, I told the girls, when we go to the Strip, it will be kinda like taking a mini world tour, as many hotels are modelled after, say, Paris, Egypt, Venice and so on. But really, it’s not even close, and it verged on the ridiculous. At least, that’s what I think. I would rather be at the real place. And by the way, so many places had that fake ceiling with the fake blue sky and fake white clouds they all start to feel the same. Everyone tries to be original, but in the end they are all the same- trying to be something they are just not. I mostly yawned a lot, because that place has no soul, no spirit. I have no idea how those gondoliers in the Venetian managed to serenade their gondola passengers with the passion that they did, drifitng through the fake canals, under the fake ceiling sky- the acoustics were terrible, the spirit of place was lacking. Oh, I dunno. Maybe I am too jaded, and not able to just relax and enjoy.

The best thing of those four days- seeing our friends again. You know, catching up and just gabbing about mostly nothing, just enjoying each other’s company and watching the kids immediately falling into joyous play. We also have some really good meals while there. We had lunch buffet at the Paris and stuffed ourselves beyond bursting. We had a late supper at a Taiwanese place that served up home-cooked style dishes that were truly scrumptious. We had Dim Sum, yum-yum. We went to a Bavarian restaurant that was, by R’s judgment, pretty authentic. And the best- R and I went to a Malaysian restaurant after we watched a Cirque du Soleil’s performance (Mystere) and they had all the foods I miss from home, all very well done and downright delicious.

We did not do the entire Strip or went into every hotel because after seeing the first one or two, our motivation was not really that great. We went to the Natural History Museum and the two hours we spent there felt much more fruitful and enjoyable.

Last evening we ate dinner while watching a documentary called “Sacred Planet.”  It fell below our expectations but the narration really did get us thinking. It explored the theme of the earth as one big living organism, the inter-connectedness of all things, and our relation to Nature. It talked about living humbly in this world, taking and using only what we need. Contrasted with the Las Vegas experience, it felt so noble to just be taking what one needs and simply stopping there. Then, compared with the natives who lived simply off the land, I felt like a Vegas girl, with my endless (and whiny) wants and “needs.”

Anyways, just babbling! Thank you for your comments for my previous post, I really appreciate it all. As for the gender question… it does seem we are going to have a girl! I don’t really care, so long as this little one comes through alive. That is ALL I ask for and that is A LOT, I know… …

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lifetime

After Ferdinand died, we explored some books about death, or grieving, with the girls. Actually, I did. Because R preferred not to talk about it. We talked about this and he said he would not stop them from talking about Ferdinand, or death, but he just could not handle a discussion on that with the girls.

Truth is, the girls did not react much to the books. They seemed to be processing it all on their own, in their own way, and did not feel the need to find comfort in books. Contrary to me. I buried myself in books. They kept on living life. This is how mighty these little girls are.

I found comfort in the book Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie. I like how it so simply and beautifully explain birth, death and living through the concept of lifetimes. I got an older edition of the book and the title was “Beginnings and endings with LIFETIMES in between: A beautiful way to explain life and death to children.” Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

The text begins with:

There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive. In between is living.

And it ends with:

So, no matter how long they are, or how short, lifetimes are really all the same. They have beginnings, and endings, and there is living in between.

In between the book explores the different lifetimes, long and short, of plants, animals and humans. Tiny, big, plain-looking or breathtaking in looks, no living thing is an exception. There is always a beginning, an end, and a lifetime in-between.

The in-between is the hardest part to negotiate. What kind of a lifetime is it spent connected to tubes and machines, never feeling the sunshine warm on one’s skin? What kind of a lifetime is it when one was never held live, breathing and crying, in one’s mother’s arms?

The best thing we can comfort ourselves with is that- they knew love, they only knew tenderness and love. They may have had to start fighting the very second they burst into this world, but for every second they were so wanted and loved. They may slid out of the mother’s womb limb and perhaps with the skin already falling off, but while in the womb, they were much anticipated and loved.

Little ways to find solace. Which strangely, sometimes lead to more heartache.

For me, right now, I am just assuming that this baby’s lifetime is whatever time she has in my womb. Of course, I want her to have a very, very long life. I want to watch her hair grow so long and brush it lovingly and hold that tender silkiness in my hands and braid it. I want to watch her limbs stretch and grow; I want to watch her legs first puttering across a tiny lawn, and then making inroads into the big, wide world. I want to hear her go ga-ga and then form words and sentences and I want to argue and discuss and fight big verbal wars with her. I want to feed her for a long, long time… first the precious breastmilk, then mashed up food, then once possible, we start on the gourmet training. I want us to moan over decadent cakes together, and create memories of feasts with love.

But right now, her lifetime is whatever time I have with her. Each and every second. This is her lifetime, with me. This is her lifetime with me cradling her in my womb.

I think of the day that I hope will never come. The day when everything crashes and the world goes dark. The day when they tell us “Sorry” yet again. I hope this day will never ever come. But as I wrap my arms protectively around my swollen belly, trembling with fear and courage at the same time, I live like every second is birth, and death.

So, I will love her every second and every day. When I am able to feel joy, I amplify it. I reach deep, and savor with glee, greed and gratitude. When I feel fear, I remind myself that everything is fleeting. I tell her I am feeling fear right now, but it is going to pass. I will nod to it, and tell it to move on, because I have no extra guest room for it. But for joy, I throw open the doors and windows and it pours in and fill every crevices that we have in this house.

That is how I want to do it this time. If she lives, if she comes to us kicking and screaming, determined to wreck havoc upon our lives, I will laugh, and I will tell her stories of when she was in my womb- those weird things she did, those stories we spun, those things her sisters did. If she does not live, and chooses a different path, then I think I will tell her about the lifetime she had in my womb, how I spent it. How it was damn bloody hard, how the seconds flowed by like thick sticky glue across a cold surface, sometimes seemingly standing still and freezing. I will tell her, it was hard, assuming death at every death; feeling joy and dread at the same time, but I dared to love, and I dared to hope, even if blindly.

Fearing and worrying is essential. Mechanisms for coping and for sanity. Feeling fear makes one search for the courage within. But I will try to feel the joy more, and send out the love more. Because, her lifetime may just be these moments of fleeting joy and anxieties pieced together.

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