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Nine years

All this week we folded cranes. We are going to the Peace Pagoda again, as we did last year, and bring Jun-san the cranes. She had said they always needed cranes, and if she was not hard at work maintaining the grounds, she was folding cranes or stringing up the cranes that others have brought to her. We imagined that she would be delighted. And though we felt some sadness in missing Ferdinand, it comforted us to think that the cranes may bring comfort or a smile to someone when they find a new home.

Sometimes I just want it to all stop. I do not want to do it anymore. Do not want to be a bereaved mother, thinking of how to honor life and my son. I want to drop out, quit, run away. But this grief is like a shadow, it is always with you; you cannot shake it off, cut it off or run away from it. It is just always with you. Sometimes just silent and barely discernible. Sometimes it is like an annoying mosquito. And sometimes it’s an invisible oppressive force that threatens to swallow you up. But it is there, and mostly, by now, I have grown used to it. Comfortable. Might as well get cozy, for it will be with me till I die. And I do need it. I need to feel that grief for it is the only way I can connect to Ferdinand. It is perhaps more than just grief, but also a longing.

The girls want to arrange all the cranes into some form or shape. So I may take another photo later today, after we are done folding for the last time.

This morning I wrote the following:

Nine things I learned since July 29, 2007

  1. People are amazing. I am still bowed over by the kindness of people around me. People who just stepped up without fuss or words and just held the space for us. Walk along in respectful silence, sat with us and shared in our grief. I will never forget our neighbors at our cabin, who took the girls into their home soon after the dreadful reality broke on us, and just took such good care of them during all the time when we had to be at the hospital. And all those cranes, and flowers, words, food, and hugs. I still feel overwhelmed with gratitude.
  2. It is hard to not have a reason. It is hard to not think, “I must have done something really awful.” But along my journey I have met many fellow bereaved who are just the most amazing people. Bright, beautiful spirits with big, generous hearts. Yes, awful things happen to good people. No reason required.
  3. Pain is a part of life. I think, pain is a part of being alive, and living, of loving and being loved. It wouldn’t hurt so much if you hadn’t cared or loved. Sometimes it seems to be the only way I can connect to Ferdinand, and I lean deeply into the cut.
  4. Grief is sneaky. Some days feel so light, as if a storm never ever descended. And then the heavy hands of grief come and grab you, from behind, right on the throat and all memories flood back like a tsunami and you sink under. Often, it’s best to just surrender.
  5. One can never explain how you miss someone whom you never knew. We never saw his eyes or hear him speak, but we miss him sorely.
  6. Grief is not just about death. We all experience grief in one way or another. Different forms, and shapes and sizes. We lose something, tangible or not, and we grieve. It is a process of growing and understanding. Accepting and letting go.
  7. It is extremely difficult to find the right words. I still am at a loss.
  8. Love is so short, forgetting is so long. (Pablo Neruda) One of my favorite poetry lines, ever.
  9. Oh yes, life does goes on. Even when you felt it never can. I was incredulous that the earth still spun on its axis; the sun dared to rose and cars still ran on the road. But the truth is there is death every second, somewhere. And we have to keep moving. But we also have to take the moment to bow to it. To appreciate that there is death, so we may live more deeply.

 

I really wish he is here.

Miss you so much, Ferdinand. Loving and missing, always.

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tribute

Over the past months I have essentially disappeared from the cyber world. No time for FB, or any of the blogs. Never mind the streams of thoughts marching through my brain, some hoisting exclamation marks on their shoulders, others dragging a series of periods behind their feet. I do not know how to find the time to maintain my blogs, or follow up on others.

Thankfully there are some souls who kindly keep them in their orbit. Among them the impossibly beautiful, amazing and graceful Jenni. Today I come back here to write because I am twisted with grief and sadness, my heart breaks for Jenni and her family yet uplifted in a most bizarre way because of the magnitude of grace with which she had faced her journey.

In February 2009 Jenni bid goodbye to beautiful Angel Mae. She had abide with her grief since then, while reaching out to the community in her beautiful gracious ways. Last year after many trials she finally found herself with child again. Except her baby son Owen Christian was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 a month ago. Does heaven not have eyes? Does fate not know when to cease the tribulations? Does mercy not exist?

Yet Jenni and her family decided to continue with their journey, and with love. They vowed to surround baby Owen with as much love as possible. And the community rose to hold them.

Today is the day of hello and goodbye for Jenni, her family and dear Owen Christian. May they be surrounded by impenetrable peace and love. May Jenni and her son travel safe on their journey today. I am sending love and strength, even as I feel what I have is so paltry, wondering what do I have to give to a beautiful woman experiencing a monumental loss.

Welcome, Owen, welcome and be surrounded by so much love. You are sorely missed already.

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If you read the book

If you have read “They Were Still Born: Personal Stories on Stillbirth,” please consider posting your review.

Thank you so much.

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WindCoral (my soul sister I have yet to meet physically)’s response to my previous post made me think of a Hopi Prayer. It is probably not new to many:

HOPI PRAYER of The Soul’s Graduation:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there,
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight
On the ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there.
I did not die.
My Spirit is still alive…

==========================

I understand, I understand.

This truth sometimes feels like a knife’s edge, thin yet sturdy, a sharp line. This truth draws me to it, entices me to lean into its edge and let the blood flow.

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carry

Image from Woodmouse

I wish to carry you, just like this. On my back, skin to skin, so tight no breeze will whisper through. I will gladly take you on my back, and walk, and walk, and walk — through meadows, and snow, and fallen leaves, through oceans.I will hum you songs, you will play with my hair, and drool, and nod into sweet slumber, knowing you are safe, I would not let go.

If only I could carry you like this.Your heartbeat thumping on my back.

I yearn to.

But in my heart is where I can carry you.

Where no one sees.

But it will be forever.

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the moral of the story

I wanted to title this a fable, but I am not a God, or an animal, and though there may be a moral, it will not be short. It can also not be a parable, because it will not be exactly short, or allegorical.

So it is just a story, and maybe there is a moral. At least I try to find one.

::

Did I tell you I burned to have a baby for about a year after Lyra was born? I intensely wanted to have another baby, because I felt the missing even more, and experienced even more what I missed. I know I can never replace Ferdinand, so that intense wanting felt irrational for me.

But, we decided to stop. Our lives were put on hold after Ferdinand died and we needed energy and focus to get our family moving again. I was not totally convinced, just almost. And since it cannot be accomplished by myself alone, I began to make peace with the fact that we were done. Clothes were given away, dvd’s sold, the yearning smothered and sewed up. Tucked away.

And I settled into a new rhythm, and made peace.

Except this early July I was late. I told R and he asked if my dates were wrong. I looked and looked at my calendar, and counted the days, and I was sure I was not wrong. But I had to be wrong or it would have been impossible. I put my foot down – I was always prompt in recording the dates, because for a while I was sure my cycle was getting shorter and I was hurtling towards menopause, and so I was watching my dates like a hawk. So then maybe I have a tumor or something.

Except we saw two lines.

We looked at each other in disbelief. And then we smiled. Because we had recently felt that Lyra could really use a playmate- a sibling or a dog. Something, or someone. I told R I had given away almost everything and he said that’s a small matter. What’s big is we would also need a different car, and lots more.

We did not forget the “if” part. No we did not. We remember still, how long and hard the wait for Lyra was, and braced ourselves for another nine long months.

However. At 8 weeks we did not find a heartbeat. Yolk sac- yes. But no heartbeat. And there were two amniotic sacs. Possibly twins. But only one of the sacs had a yolk sac, but it had not developed. The doc said it looks like I will miscarry, but let’s wait a week and see.

A week. Two words. Seven days. Endless hours. Long wait.

A week later, another ultrasound. The amniotic sacs grew, and a yolk sac appeared in the previously empty sac. But still no heartbeats. Very dark, fuzzy, and silent.

The doc said, “I am not sure what to make of this.” Wait another week, was the prescription. Come back for another ultrasound to see what is going on.

Two weeks of wondering, and waiting.

Waiting. It is what I am least virtuous at. You can kill me with waiting. But there was nothing to do but to wait. And think that I might die. And think that they may die. Those two little sacs. Those two little souls- do they want to come through? Is something wrong with them? Is something wrong with me? Something is probably wrong with me.

Just before the third ultrasound, blood. I stood by the toilet and watched, as red swirls disappeared into a vortex. My back ached. And more red came.

I have another ultrasound next week. But I do not need the verdict. I know it. But for them, they need to make sure the miscarriage was “complete.” Irony, isn’t it? For now my life is even more incomplete.

And I am tired to the core of my bones, and badly bruised.

I remember how the nurse told me after Ferdinand died, that it was to show me the lesson of love, and I wanted to slap her. Because she was wrong. Some people showed love. Only some. Others walked away, slunk away, turned away.

I laid in the dark, and I thought, there must be a moral to this story, too. I felt the past three weeks could not have been more torturous in the waiting, and I had always loathed to wait, but I had to. There was no other way of getting to the end of the story, albeit an unhappy one. There was no choice but to wait. The ultrasound could not conclude anything, only my body and Fate know. And my body took its time, it had to. It made me wait, because I needed a lesson in waiting.

And perhaps I also needed a repeat lesson in You are not in control.

Of course not. And I totally understand and know it. But it does not make the hurt less.

“It was just not meant to be.” We said to each other, again. The last time we said it, was after Ferdinand died.

Yet another chapter of my life, closed. It felt short, cause it ended too soon. Yet it felt very long too, with the brutal waiting. A friend told me, “I hope you can start healing soon.” But I am still in mourning. They were so tiny, them both. The hope was big, we felt we were blessed, but it was simply a lesson.

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ten years

This morning I came down to a bouquet of roses in a vase on the dining table. R never buys flowers, ever. Then I saw a large photo with the words “Happy 10th Anniversary!” written on it. There is a couple in the photo. — The two of us, ten years ago on this day, the skyline of Hong Kong behind us. You could tell there was a breeze when the shutter snapped. I wore a green dress, a color I seldom sought out, but it fitted well in the boutique and the green unique, like the tenderness of leaf buds, but tempered so it wasn’t overly eye-catching, but pleasing to the eye. R wore a necktie the shade of olive green, to match.

I can’t believe it has been ten years already. It had been a road that curved and swerved. We’ve had bitter fights, and sweet make-ups. We’ve sometimes wondered what brought us together, and we’re amazed that we’ve made it through all. Ten years. How time flies.

“We did not change much,” he joked, pointing at the photo.

Only of course we did. We have aged. And if I think of Ferdinand I feel my spine bow towards the ground in immense grief and sometimes it feels I can never straighten myself up again.

I feel joy today, and disbelief, and missing, and grief. I wish he is here to celebrate with us, even though we are not formally celebrating today. I don’t feel like baking today, so I bought a cake. Tomorrow night we will go out for dinner. One day maybe we will go on a cruise.

There has never been fanfare for our anniversaries and today likewise will be quiet. My heart is full, overflowing. I am amazed and grateful, sad and tender.

If you will, pour yourself  a drink and raise it our way.  Thank you.

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