Archive for May, 2009

Val spent her eighth birthday with a fever skipping between 105F and 108F. She also puked, had some very explosive diarrhea and many long, loud farts. She was weak, her stomach hurt like crazy and there was nothing to be done about it. She had a strep throat infection on top of gastroentritis.

Still, she did not forget to ask for her little clay pig. She did not forget. She wantd me to unlock that glass display cabinet, take that pig out, and hand it over to her possession.


You see, 2007 was the year of the pig in the Chinese caldendrical cycle. It was not just the year of the pig, but the year of the golden pig. very special. Couples flocked to get married in that auspicious year and couples tried in earnest to bear a child that will be born in that once-in-a-lifetime-very-lucky year. Although we said we would have a third child, our plan was (and I had to snicker at myself here) to start trying towards the end of 2007. Well, I was already pregnant before 2007 even started. Bur it was ok, with all the excitement over the auspicious porcine year, we thought, it all turned out well after all. (except it did not)

So, I saw this idea in a magazine about making clay pigs with children to celebrate the porcine year. Cool idea! Neat craft!  So, we bought air-dry clay and set about to make a family of pigs- papa pig, mama pig, pig girl one, pig girl 2, and of course baby pig. It was not as easy as the magazine article promised, just slapping a few shapes together. There was a lot of groaning and complaining, and we had some fantastic-looking creatures that did not looked the way Nature had intended. Still, we managed to get the little pig family together, and painted them, with a lot of fun.

After the paint dried, I proceeded to put the pigs into our display cabinet. Except Val protested that she did not want her pig (that is, pig girl 1) in the cabinet- it belonged to her and she should keep it herself. We explained about not wanting it to break, how it looked nicer, this little family of pigs together in the cabinet and all the usual nonsense, and in the end she consented that chances are she could break it but we have to give her pig to her when she turns eight.

OK. Deal.

(Although I did secretly think she might forget, or she might come around to wanting to see the cute pigs, all five of them, huddled together, never to be separated.)

Oh, but she did not forget. Not even when she was so sick, we were getting ready to go to ER. Clearly 108F fever did not burn her brains, as we feared, but instead gave her clarity of mind to remember and demand that pig from us.

I unlocked the cabinet, removed the pig, and gave it to her. Later I saw she had left it carelessly on a table.


My grandma has said so often, Empty hands come, empty hands go.

Life, when I come to think of it, is sometimes so ridicuous in how we gain something in order to lose it. How we acquire something only to lose it. Like, we are born to die. We mature into (hopefully useful) adults and then deteriorate into senile, bothersome creatures. We grow up in order to age and die. We learn, and forget. Flowers bloom, to wilt. And so on, and so forth… … Life is really about learning to let go. To learn to let go, first we need to possess, to gain, to have. Then, we have to let it go. We will find loved ones, and then be separated, by death or otherwise. We acquire dear possessions, only to have them tarnish, break, or lost in the shuffle of life.

Life is a series of letting go.

(With Val’s uprising, Sophia decided that she wants to have her pig too, except she wants it when she is ten.)

So, while I initially had cunning arguments to persuade Val to keep the family of pigs together. I let go, gave it to her, allow life to dictate the fate of that little clay creature.

Now in the cabinet stands papa pig, mama pig, pig girl 2, and baby pig.

(And one day, it will just be papa pig, mama pig, and baby pig. And I guess it will stay that way.)

Baby pig, of course, represents Ferdinand. And so much more.

It was our idea of our family complete. It was our longing to experience what it would be like to have a little boy in our family. It was the dream of so many things, crushed.

Now, it is a reminder of, so many things. Of our family tragedy, of the horror, the grief, the pain, the long ache that lingers. It is a reminder that we cannot plan, that we have no control, and that we gotta let go.

So, when I handed the pig over to Val, it was also an informal ceremony of letting go. I let go of my dream of a beautiful birth in water, surrounded by Nature. I let go of the idea of having a son. I let go of the original plan of having three children being just perfect and wonderful. I let go that Ferdinand cannot be made to stay. I let go, I let go. I let the dreams go poof, I let everything unravel… memories flooded back, tears surged.


In some ways, that handing over found me some peace. But first my entire being was flooded with pain, anger, sadness, deep grief, intense longing and so many questions and internal screams.

Then I realized it was a chance to let go.

So I did.

I know I have much more to let go, in so many aspects of my life. And I know I have yet to truly let go the ache of Ferdinand’s absence (and truly, the idea of impermanance), but I am making small steps. tiny, tiny, tiny steps.


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not funny

erm, so some time back I posted about a supposedly funny book called Such a Pretty Fat and I am here to tell you that I have read five chapters of it and I am returning it to the library.

I didn’t think it was so funny.

Even though she is supposed to be, you know, famous. This is not her first book, and from the review excerpts I read on the back of the book, she is supposed to be so wickedly funny.

I’m not so sure.

I’ve read five chapters and I had barely chuckled. Maybe a few times I snorted cynically, but only because I thought what I read was not funny at all. I desperately wanted to rave about this book, to tell you that it is true that you will lose five pounds from reading this book coz you laughed so hard. Well, fat hope.

Don’t take my word for it though… I am thinking perhaps I did not get the jokes coz I am not a true-blooded American, or maybe because I rate poorly in the popular culture/media category. Or maybe I just plain have no sense of humor.

Anyways, just wanted to let you know my stinking opinion, after reading five chapters (and hoping at the end of each chapter that the next will start to be really hilarious).

If you have a really funny book, pretty please let me know.

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You know that song? — There were ten in the bed and then the little one said roll over, roll over… ..

Except in my life, I mean, life after Ferdinand, people keep telling me move on, move on…

And I want to just step out of my shoes and tell them, “Here, you wear these shoes and walk a mile and then come talk to me while I go suck on a lemon under that shady tree over there.”

Except, of course, those shoes are power-glued onto my feet. You’d better not envy those shoes. They ain’t made for walking.

Just this evening my very own husband had told me, It’s time to move on!

Holy crap, are the stars finally properly aligned for that? Is everything in place, and I am ready to blast off? Is there really exactly a time for moving on? Haven’t I been moving all the time?

Some people think we bereaved like to waddle around in grief mud. Like, it’s fun and glamorous. They think we are masochists who put our fingers under whirling chain-saws and chew on glass chips. They think we actually like being sad and mournful.

Oh, come on already.

My uncle, thirty years after my grandfather had died, still tears up talking about his father, whom he did not have enough time with. Does anyone ever tap him on his shoulder and say, “Move on already, move on now… …”

I am sounding like a broken down recorder but of course we move on, and death moves on with us. We carry our little ones dear in our hearts. And they ain’t heavy. They are our children, of course we remember, and of course we feel sad that they cannot be licking the batter out of the mixing bowl and strewing the house with stinky socks and leaving smudgy finger-prints on our mirrors and embarrassing us (loudly) in restaurants.

Of course I move on. I am cooking meals from scratch again. I am even finding energy and courage to try new recipes. I even make a wish-list for myself. I dare to plan (not exactly ten-year plans, but you know…) and I even tell disgusting jokes. I don’t know what makes some people think I am digging myself down a hole right here.

It’s just I move differently.

We were having brunch at a nice restaurant at a resort. I was enjoying myself. It was good food. I relished observing the two older girls trying to eat civilly with a fork and a knife and not with all ten fingers. I looked out to the beautiful setting of the resort and thought what a wonderful day this was. And I also thought of Ferdinand. I felt sad. I missed him. I felt like howling. I felt like bawling. The food in my stomach scrambled around trying to find space as grief began to swell in my core. I glanced at Lyra in her car-seat, sweetly asleep. I shuddered as a feeling of deep intense love overcame me and I wanted to just lean over and kiss her except I did not want to wake her. I saw, in my mind’s eye, how one day I will be old (yes, I am simply assuming things here) and I will be washing some fresh-picked tomatoes in the kitchen and as I turned off the faucet and wiped my hands on a dish towel, everything will come back again, like a movie right before my eyes. I will sigh and I will sit down and remember and re-live that horrible summer of many years ago. I will wish things would be different. I will see that no matter what, I lived.

I know this is how life is, and will be for me. I will find joy, of course, but joy and sorrow are sworn brothers. If you never know sorrow, how can you know joy? If you never tasted bitter, will you crave sweet? If you take time to let a bite of very bitter dark chocolate sit on your tongue, you will notice how the bitterness melts into a hint of sweet.

It just is. Memories weaving in and out, coming to the fore-front of our thoughts from time to time. This is normal.

We move on, of course we move on. We just do not forget. How could one expect us to forget our very own flesh and blood? We may allow our lives to fill up with other things, but we do not forget. I know I will always remember how close I was to the joy of holding my son, and then losing him. It is that hair-breath proximity to joy that gives such stark contrast to the devastation. So, when I recall it all, there is always that haunting shadow of the promise of sweetness somewhere, and I think I will spend the rest of my life chasing down that almost-taste.

But, yes, I am moving on. Stop standing in-front of me and telling me to move on now. I am moving.

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new post over at Glow today.

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continuing the story

Jessie wrote this comment in response to my last post:

Can I just tell you how happy I am to read your post. I have been struggling with writer’s block because I am beginning to be more immersed in my anticipation of my new baby and less submerged in my grief. And it is harder to share these new feelings!

I have started thinking about my son someday reading my blog, and I want to write to him, for him, about him. I have thought about starting a second blog and letting Encouragement of Light stay as it is, a loving tribute to Sage and Dad. It is hard to let it go, though. It is all a continuous story for me. Not sure what I’ll do.

>>> which spurs me on to write this:

it is not without hesitation that I posted that last post. I did not want to come across as some insensitive idiot, blatantly parading my new little baby in-front of fellow bereaved, some still struggling with decisions, what lies ahead, and just being. I did not want to come across as that asshole who is flashing big neon signs of “I HAVE A LIVING BABY! WOOT! WOOT!!” before some who are still aching and missing.

No, definitely not.

And as we all know, even if there is a living baby after, even if I have ten billion dollars landing in my lap and I can finally be traveling the world with my children, eating gourmet truffles every day and whatever-not’s, things are never really A-OK after you have lost your child. And it is not that I revel in holding on to that pain. I am in fact surprised that this year I am already feeling sinkingly low, more than two months before Ferdinand’s anniversary comes up. I did not think that with Lyra’s birth it would be easier. I just thought I would be so much more distracted. But grief has a way of finding itself to the very fore-front of your life, to the front-page of your personal newspaper, blinking right there once your brain switches on.

And while I writhe and grovel and try to hold myself chin-up in the face of the storm, I cannot lie that I also feel a great deal of joy. Oh, Lyra. I love her to bits. I love her so much I have to be careful not to squeeze her too hard when she is in my arms. oh yes, some days I am just giddy with joy, so happy I can die. Almost like life is complete now, except it isn’t.

I have thought about changing this blog’s name, more than a year ago. I have thought about what I will write here if I ever give birth to a living baby. I have thought about the longevity of this blog. What do I continue to write? I have considered not posting that previous post here, because I was afraid I was being stupidly and outright insensitive in sharing about Lyra and all that streams through my mind and body about her.

I have a lot of tears to write about.

But I also have a lot of joy to write about.

In the end I decided to not lie (by omission) but to write what transpires. The sunshine days and the full-of-shit days. The days when I just want to lay down and ignore everything and just crumble into air right in my living room. The days when I feel like I can go out and change the world for the better.

I decided that if I do not post about Lyra, not only do I do her discredit, I also do Ferdinand discredit, because it would seem that he hindered Life, but he did not. I can feel joy and sorrow at the same time, and I am really OK about that now. Like I’ve said before, that joy is not tainted because I still miss my son and still hurts inside. The sorrow is just there, a way of remembering. It just is, and it is also a way I am loving my son, because I miss him so.

I decided that I will just continue the story- what life is after. The good stuff, the not-so-g0od, the really bad and ugly. Like Jessie said, it all truly is a continuous story. Like we all agree, life goes on, and so does death. Everything comes together and gets weaved into a somewhat messy-looking blanket that tells a story, or many stories.  Life is not to be pigeon-holed. I can create a pseudo sense of order writing about Ferdinand here and Lyra there and so on, but it will not be a true story and it will not be a true continuation.

I will continue, I don’t know for how long yet, and I hope you don’t mind.

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  1. I am not writing a weekly “update” of you like I did with your eldest sister.
  2. But that does not mean I love you any less.
  3. I love you so much sometimes I’m afraid that love will crush you, tender little one.
  4. Every parent think they have the cutest, most beautiful, sweetest little one, and I am no exception.
  5. I love you, did I say that for the 345,670,829th time today already? I love you.
  6. Thank you for being here. I am so grateful, and so honored.
  7. I love each and every of your expressions.
  8. I love seeing the light in your eyes.
  9. I love how your drool flows down my arms when I carry you.
  10. I love every single inch of the goof in you.
  11. I am sometimes afraid of losing you; afraid of our time together cut short.
  12. At times I will watch you nurse during the night and plead for you to stay.
  13. Even though I know I do not own you.
  14. Even if I know I have no control over destiny.
  15. I can only hope for many, many, many days with you.
  16. To cuddle, to hug, to coo, to bake, to read, to sing, to love.
  17. I don’t want you to grow so fast. Please don’t.
  18. Every single cell of you, it sparkles.
  19. Beautiful sparkles. Like scales on a mermaid’s tail.
  20. Gentle, colorful sparkles.
  21. You move, the scales shake off, the light dazzles, and I am totally in bliss.
  22. I love your belly laughs.
  23. I secretly try to imitate that, but I have failed miserably.
  24. Your sisters try to imitate your coos and ga-ga’s, and sometimes they get a little close.
  25. But not like yours.
  26. Yours, are unique. And just sweet.
  27. Like a watermelon popsicle on a hot, hot day.
  28. How your sisters love you! I can’t wait to see the three of you with heads together, scheming on us. It will be so fun.
  29. I need to take more pictures of you.
  30. Except it seems you do not like the camera.
  31. Or perhaps you do not like my face behind a camera.
  32. I sense you even feel suspicious about what I am trying to do with that black object.
  33. I am trying to capture those divine moments, sweet.
  34. It is a moving moment, when your body totally relaxes in my arms.
  35. And your eyelids flutter close, your cheeks droop and you let sleep totally cocoon you.
  36. I love to watch that.
  37. I wish I can sleep like that, like a sweet baby.
  38. I have many wishes for you, my dear little daughter.
  39. I will find time to write them down.
  40. There are others who love you and have wishes for you too.
  41. We are going to write them all down, in a journal.
  42. One day you will grow up and read those wishes for you.
  43. You are such a gift to us all.
  44. Just by being you.
  45. You don’t have to swallow knives of fire or even move your cute little toe any tiny bit. we just adore your presence.
  46. Sometimes when you sleep, I do wonder if you are talking to your brother Ferdinand.
  47. I love how your little hand rests limply upon me as you sleep. So relaxed, and trusting.
  48. Every time I carry you, you grab a tuft of my hair and hang on tight to it, your primal instinct alive and well. I enjoy that feeling of my hair being pulled by you.
  49. We all enjoy you, we are crazy-ga-ga over you. It does not matter if you are snorting, scrunching up your face, breaking into the brightest grin, pooping, or drooling. We just think it’s all awesome and falling head over heels. Aren’t we silly?
  50. I am moved, when I observe how you take in the world with your eyes.
  51. You look around, with such intent, such desire to know.
  52. You are finding contours to your world, and I wonder what it looks like.
  53. Your immense curiosity brings me to my knees.
  54. And I am eager to see this world through your eyes.
  55. Teach me. Give me a new perspective. Gift me.
  56. The other day I told someone I named you Lyra because Lyra travelled through worlds, realms.
  57. I am not sure she understood.
  58. But please know that I name you so because I love you.
  59. With no expectations.
  60. Only with great gratitude and acceptance of this precious gift who is you.
  61. I can’t wait for the day when you will be running around with your two older sisters.
  62. I can’t wait for the day when you will open up your fist to show me a treasure you have discovered.
  63. I can’t wait for the day when your chubby fingers will eagerly be turning pages of books with vintage illustrations.
  64. I can’t wait, yet I want to wait.
  65. I want time to slow down, to slowly flow like very thick honey.
  66. So I can truly savor. And pause, and close my eyes and find names for that very specific sweetness. And savor again, and pause, and savor some more.
  67. Oh, goodness, I hope I will be afforded all that time.
  68. I am glad I can nourish you with breastmilk.
  69. From the early days, every time you nurse, I bless the milk. I tell the milk to go on and nourish you and fill every of your cell with golden goodness. I infused my milk with blessings for you. I whispered, “Drink, my little one. Drink, and be so blessed.” Be blessed with beauty, joy, wisdom and health.
  70. That seemed like the only thing I could do for you.
  71. It was the only thing I wanted to do. To just hold you and nurse you and nourish you.
  72. Such moments are not forever. But they are etched in my eternity.
  73. You are such sweetness, nothing but sweetness.
  74. I am waiting for the day when we will hold hands and skip across the globe.
  75. Trying to pronounce weird names on foreign menus and sharing drinks and exchanging bites from our plates.
  76. Folding paper cranes.
  77. Watching shows, star-gazing and gathering rocks.
  78. Listening to the waves pound at the rocks, our hearts beating together.
  79. You have no idea how elated I am that you are here. Welcome, my sweet little one, welcome, again, and please do stay.

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Last night my friend Mani (who literally squats outside Etsy all day long, seriously) told me the artist whose print I “featured” on my blog a while back put up a batch of lace-covered stones for sale last night, at 7pm EST. By the time she got home, two hours after the fact, all the stones have been sold, every single one of them. Bwah.

Still, I went to poke around her little shop, hoping perhaps that suddenly a new listing would open up whilst I was there, and I would grab the next lace-covered stone to exist in this Universe.

Instead, I saw this:


Pod necklace by knitalatte

A necklace crochted from vintage crochet cotton, over a smooth rock. Since I cannot crochet to save my life, I have no idea how one even crochets over a smooth rock. But the result intrigues me. To me, it looks like she has crochetted a hole.

It made me almost want to email her and ask if she can custom-crochet a necklace for me, the shape of the hole in my heart, missing.

I have been poking quite a bit around Etsy because, of late I feel maybe I want to wear a necklace in Ferdinand’s memory. I have never been an accessory type of person. I do not wear a watch because it feels restrictive on my wrist and I do not wear my wedding ring either because it feels restrictive (in the physical sense). But lately, the idea of a necklace has been floating in and out of my consciousness so I went look on Etsy. I have some marked in my favorites, almost all with a tear-shaped pendant because that is my favorite shape for so many years. And also, Ferdinand feels like a tear drop to me. But none yet has said, this is it.

But oh, this idea that a hole can be crocheted, how intriguing. What do you think? Can you crochet a hole? What jewelry do you wear?

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