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I do not normally dream, but I had one, two nights ago.

In the dream I saw Lyra cycling into the river, she was about as old as she is now, maybe slightly older. I watched in shock and then I saw R jumping into the river, yelling that he was going to get her. In my mind’s eye I saw her sinking like a rock right to the bottom.

I turned and ran. I was screaming but no sound came from me. I was running to find towels. Why? I had no idea.

I found towels and I ran back, thinking, “She is dead. She is dead.”

And then I woke up. I could not believe I had such a dream. She turns two this Sunday, it almost seem like an omen, a bad one. I willed myself back to sleep, wanting to know what happened afterwards in the dream. Did R get her in time? Or did the thing I fear happened?

I could not shake it off. I told R the following morning and he tried to brush it off, saying it’s a common parenting fear and it just manifested in my dream. I wondered if Life was trying to warn me to be more vigilant, or to be ready for cruelty.

How I wish I could go back and erase the dream. For I could not convince myself that it was the brain getting confused and playing tricks. It did not feel like a random thing to me and I just could not shrug it off as my latent fear and nothing more.

She will be two this Sunday. I plan to make her a tall, colorful cake. And I intend to bake her a cake each and every year, until she is sick of my cakes.

Please, let me bake her a cake every year, until I die.

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Those rocks that travelled all the way from India were not all for me. It took me a while to realize.

After some time, I had a sense of that. The rocks spoke to me, or something like that.

A woman in one of the circles I move in had a stillbirth a few weeks back. I hate this, I hate when things like this happen. I really wish Ferdinand was the very last stillborn baby because it kills me to hear of this happening to others. Anyways, I do not know this woman well but I was approached by a mutual friend and asked if I will be willing to talk to her. Willing? Of course. (although we have not really spoken, yet.) But I also wanted to give her something. I wondered if she journaled, then I could buy her a journal. I also know she’s a crafter, but did not know exactly what, and I thought maybe I could find out and buy her some things that she can craft with.

Then I realized if she already journals, then she probably has a journal. If she is a crafter, she probably has tons of stuff on hand and I really need not tell her to craft, whether for healing, or to do something in remembrance.

One day as I sat, I realized that the rocks were sent to me not for my exclusive possession. (Of course not, you moron, was what I said to myself.) They were meant to travel on. I knew I have to part with at least one of them, for that bereaved mom. Why? I don’t exactly know why. A sharing of the grief, perhaps. And I think I heard Ferdinand whispering, Yes, mom, exactly.  it’s really not all about you. I love you.

::

Sometimes I think I wanna take a rock and pound my grieving heart with it, and my grief will be stronger than the rock, reducing it to powder, instead of the hard rock making a pulp of my heart.

::

It is Summer Solstice, and I have not planned anything to celebrate. I just don’t feel like. No energy, and sulky, and drained from the anticipation of yet another anniversary.

I thought of July 29 and I still feel like cursing. I also realized if I wanna register the girls for some fun art classes, registration begins on July29 and that is when I should call them. And I thought, Why must you set the date to July 29?! On that day I will be as good as dead and the last thing I wanna do is speed-dial and redial your number a million times and be all chipper and polite and register my girls for art classes.

And then I know, it does not matter, because every day, somewhere out there, someone is touching his or her hand to the heart, feeling that throbbing pain and ache, and missing, and asking why? Every day, someone is hurting. Every single day, every single second.

Such a wide-eyed look Ferdinand’s death gave me of this world. And I mean this in a good way. So much beauty, so much hurt, so much pain. This is why we wanna escape from samsara.

::

Lyra looks exactly like Ferdinand, when she is sleeping. It kills me. But I love to watch her sleep, it is so peaceful and sacred. It is loving that makes us hurt so much.

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For some reason, tonight my heart is heavy. And I feel like having a good, long bawl.

I cannot truly put my finger on it, as to why. I know it has been an accumulative effect, that’s what I know.

It is Lyra being devastatingly adorable and a goof-ball. It aches my heart because I wish Ferdinand is here too. Some moments I feel a bit angry with myself when I think of Ferdinand as I look at her. It is not that I always think of Ferdinand when I see Lyra, but when I do, I ache, and then sometimes I feel angry.  And then I feel sad. Extremely sad.

It is the losses I see other parents endure. And there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t even have the words to soothe their hearts.

It is seeing fellow bereaved going through difficult times, cursing anniversaries, re-living that awful, fateful day, and grappling with it all, being the survivor.

It is the wind howling outside, throwing things about; a reminder of how frail I truly am.

It is these children who have recently lost their mother after she fought cancer for five years. They are aged 6 and 8, almost the age of my two oldest. That mother is a cousin of our friend L. I told the girls when they see L at the event yesterday, they should give her an extra big hug because she is feeling terribly and they asked why and I told them. They asked how old are those kids and I told them and their eyes opened wide and they said, “We are almost the same age!” and I said yes, and then we were all quiet. You cannot imagine what movie I played in my head.

I told L I remember some resources for children that I can pass along to her but our computer is kinda dead so I have been using R’s work notebook so I don’t have the bookmarks. I tried to do a search to pull together some things for her but then I started to heave. And the screen started to blur.

It is driving towards that vast blue sky yesterday, re-living the sensation of surging forward and being able to drive through to another dimension, where the dead and living can meet.

It is working hard to be social again, after a long period of self-imposed isolation.

The thing is, even amongst people, I feel isolated. Alone.

Sometimes all I want to do is to fly back home to the computer, so I can get online and see what everyone else has been up to. And that feels kind of pathetic.

I care about my real-life friends, too. But it is just, different.

It is R hinting to me I need to lose weight. Really.

It is not knowing what lies ahead.

It is embracing what is, the aching beauty of it all.

It is the realization that Life is really about letting go; it is not about having, not accumulating, not possessing.

It is knowing that as a mother, I have so much to let go of.

It is the admission that I have not let go of Ferdinand. Still clinging.

It is the sensation of spending hours with a fellow bereaved in the same room, searching for her grief, wondering how she feels to be doing what she was doing. I have never met L but her daughter died last year at about 17 months to malaria; at that time she was expecting their second child. Yesterday she presented about a geography topic to our homeschool group. After most of the crowd had gone, I sat down on the couch next to her and we idle-chatted a little bit, and strangely she asked me, “Do you have more than three kids?” And I kinda spattered and fumbled and I paused and then I looked at her and said, “No, no, I have four. One had passed.” And she nodded and said, “I also have a daughter who passed.” and I told her I knew about that and… I can’t remember what transpired after, except when they were leaving she told me “Thank you for sharing with me.”

It is sometimes feeling so heavy. It is sometimes having this weight of grief so heavy I feel like crumbling under its weight.

It is the joy and happiness that life can sometimes bring, providing such stark contrast to grief and sorrow.

It is knowing that this will keep happening. The swirling of joy and sorrow, for this is life and that it cannot be any way else.

It is writing all these down and still needing a big ol’ bawl.

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We’ve all been there… we’ve all said, yeah, we could plan, right down to every minute detail but of course we have absolutely no control. Control is an illusion. Especially when it comes to living babies.

This lesson cut really deep for me when Ferdinand died. We planned for the two girls to be playing with a little brother, and they shall teach him what a true gentleman is, and how a knight will behave towards the ladies. We shall have a lovely family time up at our cabin for the six weeks, because R has six weeks of paternity leave, and he had planned to take full advantage of it. (After Ferdinand died, that leave is revoked. Instead, we filled out papers for him to go on “sick leave” so as to take care of a “sick family member”.) We had planned for a waterbirth out in the beautiful natural surroundings of our cabin.

We had planned, we had planned… and we had worked hard for our plans to come through. We did not just sit and dream wishful thoughts, thinking all will be well and aligned for us.

But sometimes even dedicated hard work has to go unacknowledged.

**

So, when we discussed about trying again, we talked about whether we should try to do a homebirth again. R was adamant that a hospital birth is the way to go. A lot of monitoring, he muttered. I had asked him, “Do you no longer trust in the human body to do what it needs to do?” I think in fact I was asking him, “Are you doubting what my body can do? Do you think I killed our son?”

And he said No, but now I trust technology.

Later, we agreed that technology only gives an illusion of control. Sure, it had helped save lives, but it had lost its grips on many lives too. How often have we seen in movies, the patient dying, as the machine keeps on churning and chiming? It beeps urgently that something needs to be done, but what can be done? Nothing but to pull out the plug and pull over the blanket, and say, “I am sorry. We tried.”

So, with my twice-weekly monitoring, I have been asked, “Does it give you assurance?” — Not one bit. Sure, I see the baby on the ultrasound; I watch her little heart diligently and miraculously pumping along. I watch the fluctuating number on the fetal monitor that tells me her heartrate. I watch the black squiggly line as the paper spit out from the machine, showing me the pattern of her heartrate. At all those moments, she is real and very alive. But, I know too well now anything can happen at any given moment. And I will not be counseled for a decision in advance. I have been bracing, expecting to see the heart suddenly stopping, or that the machine no longer registers a heartbeat.

Death is a certainty. That I am sure of now.

Yesterday, my CNM was on vacation, so I saw the OB. Since we don’t know who will be on-call when I go into labor, I see the OB from time to time, just so he knows I exist. He suggested that I consider an early planned induction, right at 37 weeks. That means, two weeks from now. Given we do not know what happened the last time.. better to get the baby out early, he said.

But, I argued, my body may not be ready. The baby may not be ready. An induction could result in complications.

He nodded and agreed. Very fair, he said. But he said to think about it. Earlier is better.

We drove home and then I sat down and bawled. I was totally keeled over. I felt I was dealt a hard blow right in my belly. My nose felt like someone had punched me brutally.

I am not ready yet. No, I mean, I am anxious to see her. I am dying to hold her in my arms and smell her and love her and hug her tightly. I want to see her sweet little face and I want to hold her fingers and stroke her feet. I yearn to touch her warm skin, feel it next to mine. I cannot wait to have the girls’ faces bowed over hers, admiring her every feature and singing and cooing to her. I want R to finally be holding a live baby in his arms.

But, dare I call the shots? Dare I be insolent again?

Who am I to decide? How am I supposed to decide?

If I say yes, will my body cooperate? Will our baby be ready to meet us? What if it all goes wrong and something disastrous happen (again)?

If I say no, let her come in her own time, will it all go smoothly then?

I have been sitting and trying to visualize. It is hard, because I am getting flashbacks so often. Too often the ending I see is yet another death.

I have slowly come to surrender to the outcome, which is beyond my control. I have prepared myself for a long, brutal labor, full of anxiety, trepidation, tears and all kinds of crazy emotions.

But now suddenly, I have been asked to take control. Not of my emotions, but of the outcome of this pregnancy. To decide when and whether to do it.

I can’t.

Either way I know I have no control. But no matter what, I have to make a choice. Even to choose not to make a choice is a decision in itself. At some point, I have to make some kind of decision, and be held responsible for it.

I’ve been trying really hard to listen for an answer. But all I hear in my head is a jumble of that distant screaming, a newborn shrieking and a river of gushing tears.

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My friend Marybeth, said in her comment on my previous post, “as i don’t know your grief and you don’t know mine, the thought that it can transform into beauty, that it’s ugliness itself is actually beauty…makes those moments when i sometimes can’t forgive myself for choices i have made, or let go of the tight heart that i myself choose to have, well, makes even them beautiful in some way.”

I have been thinking about this a lot. This, about whether we truly can reach across and understand each other’s grief. I remember, when Ferdinand first died, I received an email from a fellow bereaved, whom I did not know before. Her second son was stillborn about nine months before. She reached out and she wrote, “I know how you feel.” And I spat back at my computer screen, “Oh no, you don’t!”

Can you imagine, that kind of blatant insolence? That kind of burrowing, narrow loneliness that descended upon me? I am sure every other soul on this planet can wag their fingers at me, shaking their heads and telling me, “But you also do not understand my grief… do you know how it is like to… …” and there will just be no end. Walls crash down between us, vines sprout and climb, the distance spread, and it seems there is no cure, no hope.

It seems, when something horrible like this happens, we all just wish someone will understand. We wish they were inside our bodies, experiencing every sensation and thought and every wave of pain that hits. The bereaved wants to be left alone, because there is so much to process; suddenly nothing makes sense and we have to re-navigate and re-negotiate this world, after it had been completely shattered. I think the worst thing really is having to explain our grief, like we need reasons for our behavior and wants and needs. Like we need to justify and validate. That is the worst part, I think.

I had thought, when Ferdinand died, that the world just totally collapsed and snapped around me; I was wrapped with pain, grief, devastation in a most suffocating manner. My world totally contracted. I could not see beyond this tunnel that was just as big as I was, and this tunnel only seemed to be inching in every second, squeezing and throttling.

But slowly, I am starting to realize that, my world has also expanded. I got to understand how it can be. I got to see that others had their own griefs too and it is possible for them to understand. Maybe not 100%, because I am not sure I can even completely fathom myself, let alone others. I saw my potential, my children’s potential and that of others. I see people in their different lights, and I witnessed much beauty. And, of course, everything requires contrast to be seen and understood better. There have been ugly moments, which makes the beauty shimmer even more. There had been deep moments of hurt, which makes the moments of beauty heart-bursting.

Probably, I had felt small because I had been cowering in the corner of a big world that exploded in expansion, almost at the same time when I felt the grips of loss and grief snapped around me, wrapping me up skin-tight, with no space to breathe. I probably needed that strangling, bundled up feeling, because it felt too scary and unsafe to reach my hands out and feel if there is something ahead of me. So I backed up against the wall and squat down, and rocked myself and learned to adjust myself to the darkness.

Slowly, slowly, light came through. I realized there have been people waiting with me in the dark. Silent, and noble. Suddenly, I knew I was not alone. I mean, yes, I am alone. I have always felt, even though we find friends and relations and companions, we are ultimately all lone travelers on this journey of life. But we all have little sparks of light with us, and in walking together, we make light.

It is still hard. Especially in these last weeks of this pregnancy, everything a big unknown, it is hard. But I am able to spread my limbs a bit more. I mean, I dare to now, no longer cowering. I have been thinking about this poem (quoted below) that wonderful, sweet Leigh sent me, not long after the event. I read it and cried uncontrollably, because upon reading it, I realized I was a corpse. I had died, when the nurses dimmed the lights and said “I am so sorry” and left us alone. I was a walking carcass, moving, but my heart was dead. Dead with grief and pain, unable to feel, refusing to feel, and not daring to feel. When I read the poem, it told me that I will come alive again, and every cell in my being shuddered at that thought — that it could be possible. That there is the possibility that one day I will cast off this carcass, this dead skin, and emerge into the world again. Perhaps even soar, instead of hobbling and shuffling, crouching and limping. It’s incredible, how painful Hope can feel.

Maybe it is never really possible to understand the grief and pain for others, we can only choose to hold and accept, to be patient and abide and wait. So long as a heart is alive, it can feel, not just in oneself, for oneself, but also for others as well. As the saying goes, “The biggest grief is for the heart to die.” I feel my heart, warm and throbbing. I am sure you feel yours too. We are not alone.

The Phoenix Again

On the ashes of this nest
Love wove with deathly fire
The phoenix takes its rest
Forgetting all desire.After the flame, a pause,
After the pain, rebirth.
Obeying nature’s laws
The phoenix goes to earth.

You cannot call it old
You cannot call it young.
No phoenix can be told,
This is the end of the song.

It struggles now alone
Against death and self-doubt,
But underneath the bone
The wings are pushing out.

And one cold starry night
Whatever your belief
The phoenix will take flight
Over the seas of grief

To sing her thrilling song
To stars and waves and sky
For neither old nor young
The phoenix does not die.

~ May Sarton

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“Other people made birds.” R blurted out as he came into the kitchen behind Val, who was skipping into the kitchen, eager to show me the fruit of her labor- a pop-up card made that morning at a (free) art workshop.

When my gaze landed on the pop-up card, poudly held up in Val’s hand, my heart ached.

Amongst the various elements of the card is something that flies in the sky. Most kids in the class followed the instructor’s example of a bird.

Val told me, “One girl made a bee, and there was a boy, he made a helicopter.”

Valerie, she made “an angel” and that angel has a name– Ferdinand.

I don’t know how to put into words the many emotions that went through me. But it was only in the middle of the night that I sobbed into my pillow.

And I thought, “Oh, and people think it should all be over already. Time to pack up and move on… only they have no idea all the time we have been moving, only that Ferdinand comes with us. We do not bury him ten-feet deep under the ground, cover up the hole, dust our hands, adjust our compass and be done with it. New day, new direction, new life.”

Which is why this paragraph from “An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination”, Elizabeth McCracken’s memoir about her stillbirth and the subsequent pregnancy resonated with me:

I want a book that acknowledges that life goes on but that death goes on, too, that a person who is dead is a long, long story. You  move on from it, but the death will never disappear from view.

How true, how true. And how often we are subjected to double-standards when the person in question is a baby who died too young, or who did not even live long enough to exit from the womb alive. We can talk about Shakespeare and van Gogh and Andy Warhol. But a dead baby? Goodness forbid! It is time to move on. I don’t understand. Why? What is the rationale? Because dead babies do not leave behind any legacies? They do not warrant the remembering because all they did was to exist in the womb; dreams of theirs known only to their parents? If you wrote, if you drew, that is great. Many years later, we are still going to toast champagne in your rememberance. But, if all you did was to live in the womb and then died, hmph… ….

What makes a life worth remembering?

I guess, again, McCracken hit that nail right on the head:

A stillborn child is really only ever his death. He didn’t live, that’s how he’s defined.

That’s how most people see it. It’s a dead thing, like an insect accidentally squished under your shoe. The end. Over. Dead. Pick it up, gingerly, with a paper towel, throw it in the garbage can, walk away, forget about it. Forget that it ever happened. That sticky, gooey mess under your shoe.

And, that’s what grips us bereaved mothers of tiny babies. Our babies, born so silent, so tiny, so still, a life cut way too short. Forgotten. Thrown into the bin. Handled with masked disgust and fear, gingerly. Defined by his brevity of life.

Only we all know it is more than that. Our baby was also the pregnancy, the tremendous joy, the hope, the dreams, the names, the plans we made, the anticipation, the silly secretive giggles, the list we furtively made and hid away about the things we are going to do together when he is five, or ten, or twenty… it is the building up and the shattering of dreams, picking up the shards and not knowing how to ever fit the pieces back again. It is the after, the coping, the questioning, the trying to find an answer, the surrendering, the moving on… with death a constant in our rear-view mirror. Maybe our babies are now but death, but they are still our babies. Still carried with us.

And that freaks people out.

McCracken wrote, “Closure is bullshit.”

Boy, she hit the jackpot, once again.

As I read her book, I realized we all talk about the same things, only we may say it in different ways. She too wrote about the people who cared incessantly, and then there are those who took too long to respond….. or who never wrote. I’ll tell you, there is this mom, she joined this book discussion group but dropped off after a while. I stayed on but later I joined an online group that she started, about eating local. She had to approve me (to join the group) and she personally answered a few questions I had. We share similar parenting ideals. She knew I was pregnant with Ferdinand. When Ferdinand died, I sent her the death announcement too. She never wrote back. Just silence.

Then, a while back, she emerged on the homeschool groups I am also on. And a few weeks back, she saw me when I turned up to pick up my share of locally-raised meat. She approached me, all smiles, saying “We have met before…” you know, that book discussion group and all that stuff. And she told me how she is in the homeschool groups now and she and her son loving it all. I just said, “Oh yes, I remember… …” and then I took my meats and crawled into my car and left. I did not say goodbye, she was busy checking her order. Back in the good old days, when I was polite and considerate, I would have sent an email later that afternoon- so nice to have to met you! Sorry I had to take off! Hope to see you around soon!

Bah.

I was not going to do that. I just felt… I dunno what’s that word I am looking for. Like, a convenience item? Before, when we did not have to “see” each other, I was conveniently forgotten. Now, chances are that we do see each other, so suddenly I am “remembered”? Sometimes, when I talk to Ferdinand, I will tell him about incidences like this, and I will say, “This is so crappy, you know? Glad you don’t have to deal with this sh*t.”

++++++++++++++++

When I saw Val’s card, my heart ached and cried, and it also made little heaps of gladness. He has never left us. He is always here, although not here. The girls, they are sad that he died, but they also demonstrate great joy for the brief time that they “knew” him and anticipated him. He is an easy sibling to live with. He will never spit, snatch, argue, whittle away the portions of dessert or destroy their toys. He is often seen in their pictures, hovering in the sky, as a fairy, an angel, a bird, a butterfly. He is the sun, the moon or that bright star in the sky. But they do not forget that he had died. I never remind them of that, but they never do forget. There are others though, who wish to hush them on that.

A couple of weeks ago while in San Diego, we met up with a couple for dinner. They were friends who had relocated out of state. Incidentally they were both in San Diego for a conference too and we had to meet up. Afterall, it had been four years since they had moved away. Last fall, we thought we would be in LA, with our new baby of course, and they insisted that we visit them and stay a few days in their new house. That plan fell through, as we all know by now. This fall, without planning, we converged in San Diego and ended up in a Persian restaurant. They had left their three boys at home so the girls received all their attention. Val talked to her about this new baby, and said, “I hope this baby will be alive. Ferdinand died, you know?” and she hushed her, stealing a glance at me and whispering, “Don’t bring that up. It makes your mama sad.”

At that time I pretended not to hear, neither did I respond. But I really wanted to tell her, despite her best intentions, my children never forgot. Even if we have not a single physical reminder of Ferdinand in our house, they have never forgotten. Moreover, say it loud or say it soft, mama will always be sad. There is no antidote to this poison of pain and loss.

So, when McCracken wrote that “You can’t out-travel sadness” she spoke for me again. She found the words for me, again.

When in San Diego, I wrote to a fellow bereaved, also awaiting with abated breath for a new baby to arrive. I told her, “Oh, D., here in SD, it is beautiful. Blue skies, warm sun, cool breeze. But every moment is tinged with sadness.” Here is how McCracken described it, as only a brilliant writer and a pained heart can:

Of course you can’t out-travel sadness. You will find it has smuggled itself along in your suitcase. It coats the camera lens, it flavors the local cuisine… You may even feel proud of its stubbornness as it follows you up the bell towers and monuments, as it pants in your ear while you take in the view. I travel not to get away from my troubles but to see how they look in front of famous buildings or on deserted beaches. I take them for walks. Sometimes I get them drunk. Back at home we generally understand each other better.

Yes, exactly. You cannot get your grip on sadness’s claws and throw it off your back. But you can learn to understand it (and yourself, and the people and world around you) and it becomes a pal of sorts. You realize that it has always been by your side, and actually, not an enemy, nothing despicable; not something to be afraid of or to run away from.

So these days, sadness, and death has become a part of my landscape. At first, it is like a smudge on the window pane, truly annoying and you grab a cloth and try to rub it away, only that is not possible. How could you? It is as essential to life as air is. So, I learned to live with it. But I cannot say I am fully comfortable with it yet. And so, it makes people around me fidget too. But there is nothing I can do about it. When people ask me, why are you taking so freaking long? I really have not been able to explain. I have tried, but it seems, unless you have your baby died, it is almost impossible to understand what this life of mine is like. So, after some attempts, I have thrown in the towel, spit in the dust, gotten angry and hissed through my teeth. And I screamed back, why do you so not freaking understand?!

Well, there are people around me who understand, and their babies did not die. What makes the distinction between these two groups of people? I do not know. I only think it is a matter of whether people wish to understand or not.

++++++++++++

I tell you, nothing will ever assure me again. Never. Ever.

We had an ultrasound this morning. Checked to see if the placenta is still healthy (yes), if the fluid level is normal (yes) and if the baby’s kidneys look fine (yes). The technician chirped, “Everything looks great!” And I mentally added, “For now, yes.”

Every nanosecond makes a difference. Every nanosecond a myriad of things can happen, including my baby dying, again.

I wait, not daring to exhale. I realize there is not much I can do. I can do yoga, meditate, eat well. But I am nothing in the monumental force of life and nature.

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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!!

+++++++++++++++++++

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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