Monday, August 31, 2009
A day that inherently carries no meaning and yet it means a great deal to me. If you gathered 100 people and asked them to say the first thing that sprung to mind, then uttered "September 1st" they might say things like:
The day I have a haircut.
The day my rent is due.
The day I will get my new cell phone.
It just so happens that I have a few of these underwhelming associations with the day as well.
The day Bear starts first grade.
The day Comedian goes to her friends house - all day!
The day I start my new job.
The day before my mother's and my mother-in-law's birthday.
Ok, maybe not so mundane. Even so, this day holds my heart with gently hands for it is my blogoversary. It marks the moment when a train starting gaining momentum, only to find itself barelling down the track in the New Year, creating projects and goals bigger than I ever dreamed to imagine.
A Year In Review could be done, in fact, it probably should. But not today. Today it enough for me to breath a big, contented sigh of friendship with all of you around the globe.
Suffice it to say, if you have ridden these last 365 days with me you could probably tick off my big ideas on your right hand.
Parenting After Loss Blogging
Founding Share Southern Vermont - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support
Building An Angel Wall
Writing For Exhale Magazine
But being here, being welcomed by this emotionally bonded community meant more than all the achievements put together. The first people to ever comment and say, "Hi. So sorry to meet you but so glad I have" laid the groundwork for all that was to come by giving me the courage to do it.
On September 1st, 2008 I began a countown to Emma's birthday. I went back and read them today. Tears fell. Memory swam. If you would like to take a trip down memory lane with me, your ticket is punched. Just click on over and scroll to the bottom. Hope to see you in the passenger car.
Happy Blogoversary....Happy Blogoversary.....Happy Blog-o-ver-saaaaa-rrrrr-yyyyy...Happy Day To You and Me!
German Chocolate Cake. That's my favorite. Have a slice, then raise your tall glass of milk to the power of the ALI community.
And many more....cha cha cha
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
There is always something to so. There is always an event to be planned. There is always red tape to walk like a tightrope as I prepare the presentation packets for the select board I have to speak in front of on Wednesday night...
Oh, sorry, yet another to-do list crept up on me.
We have a wonderful board of directors, each taking on responsibilities to share the load. Even so, turning to you made sense.
A new post is up at SSV. If you are good with wood or thread, please click over.
If you feel led to help us, please let me know.
You are all such good friends, how could I not ask you?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
you are ok with pictures of living children
you were wonding how that afternoon of swimming I spoke of went...
then you have an open invitation to click over to The Bear and The Comedian.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I don't take the kids to the town pool.
It is twelve miles away. It is crowded. I can't work there. Not to mention that our neighbor has given us blanket permission to use his any time. It's one hundred yards away and vacant.
But swimming lessons have introduced us to the town pool and strirred memories of my own childhood in this little town where our lazy, hazy days of summer were spent swimming and eating popsicles until we were lobster red.
And so, today, lost in my own private nostalgia I said out loud, "Why don't we spend the afternoon at the town pool?"
As we drove there, the kids barely contained by their seat belts for the excitment running through their bodies, I realized just what I had gotten myself into. crowded, social, people I know, people I used to know...
Ah well, I rationalized, at least there are lifeguards there so I don't have to be in the water the whole time.
"Hey Cara! Oh My! It's been so long. Is that Bear? That must be Comedian." I knew what was coming before she said it, "They are so tall!"
Smiling and nodding I sat, settling in. One glance at my girls made clear they were living the life I recently had been remembering.
"I heard you started a group of some sort" the mom closest said, one arm around her nearly nine year old daughter. I immediately recognized her as the wife of our local undertaker.
I should have known I was supposed to be there. I should be in tune enough by now to recognized when I'm being led somewere, even if I have no idea why.
Emma moves in this world. She transcends my experience here as evidenced by so many former posts: one red leaf on her burning bush last fall, the double rainbow appearing on her birthday as we exited the resturant, my Missouri hot tub experience, and how I found our Share meeting space.
She wasn't alone today.
I spoke of Share Southern Vermont. I spoke of my mission. I spoke of the sad tragedies happening all around us right now.
She listened. She nodded. Then she said, "My good friend had a stillborn baby nearly ten years ago. She has more children now, but that was so difficult for her."
We began talking about how hard it is to reach the families who lost babies before the group began. We were loosly brainstorming how to get the word further out when her cell phone rang. She casually glanced at the caller id screen, and gasped.
When our eyes met, I knew. "Would you believe that is her?" she asked, still staring at the screen. I answered her as she walked away talking animatedly, "No, I swear I was just saying your name. This is so weird..."
"Yes, I believe it.", I said smiling ear to ear.
Two angel babies were busy today. Another connection made. Another stepping stone placed. Another earthly connection with my daughter.
Thank you Emma Grace. Your presence in my life is so precious. Guide me and I'll do the rest.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Begins with a boat, well - a canoe actually.
"HEY!" I joked, after not catching about twenty fish in a row, "I'm getting better. I can gauge the size of the WEED I have on!" "Heh" Jer managed, "better take a picture of it then." So I did.
$14 fish number one
And $14 fish number too, where, because I am suave like fisherwoman, I managed to catch the net too!
The Tale of A Beer and a Benedryl
Well, I didn't actually take a picture of either (Ironically it was a Bass Ale) so here's a representative shot of the Shiraz that hides in the back of my pantry for what I like to call, 'executive decision emergency' nights.
Oh, and while I was self medicating the rest of the crew was oogling over their fish:
No, I did not take drastic measures because of my fish tally! I told you it would make more sense if you read the story!
So that leaves...
The Tale of the Blessing Way
Which, because of the tone of this post and the time I will defer for yet another day. But I think the picture says just about all you need to know. We were six connected, in-tune, red-tent sisters by the end. It was just about perfect.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
They are fighting for their twins to be recognized as people.
What's worse, they were still getting over losing a baby girl, Shannon, last year due to "complications at childbirth"
Her voice is strong. Her message is clear. I just hope that we can make a difference.
The video is two minutes and well worth watching.
This is a portion of the message I sent to the production manager at the tv station.
"...I am writing to say a profound thank you for covering and airing the story of Patricia and Randy Blair's twins. The tragedy is not as rare as people believe, but what is uncommon is for it to gain any media attention. It is time to speak of these losses and by doing so, affirm for the parents that their babies are loved and remembered..."
Patricia and Randy - We are so very sorry for you all your losses. Shannon, Kaleb and Harley lived and still live because of you. The ALI community and Share Southern Vermont will always recognize and remember your children. Please reach out when you are ready. We are here to support you as you begin yet another grief road.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I know that the timeline doesn't quite fit. My last post was uplifiting and so was the wedding, mostly. It was a cultural blending of the most gorgeous kind: Christian and Tibetan. The colors burst from every angle, bright reds, deep green and prints of every kind. We danced the night away. I smiled and laughed. Even still, the fog remained so that when I looked at Great Gram or an uncle looking quite elderly before his time my first thought was I wonder how long until we gather again for a funeral.
The wedding was like a bandaid that you put on right before you take a shower. It didn't last long.
And, I am sad to say, that instead of turning to all of you, pouring my soul into the keyboard like I have in the past, I went completely inward. Now that words have returned to me I think of it like this.
Connecting with you has been like travelling abroad. I turn on the computer and instantly immerse myself in your life, your culture, your language, your grief and your joys. Your experiences validate mine but also allow me to be a support. While I was supporting I didn't have to focus on my pain. You were my bandaid. Your adhesive was strong. I said that my grief attacked me like a runner foul-starting on the line, but it didn't. Not really. I just didn't see it coming.
The bandaid was ripped off and I had to walk away - just for a few weeks. I had to live in my here, my now, my timezone. I had to come home to feel my grief. Please forgive me for not announcing my vacation. I had no idea it was coming.
There is, however, great anonimity in not annoucing you are leaving town. I found this out last weekend as we packed for an imprompu fishing trip. We skipped town Thursday morning without intentionally telling a soul arriving at his parent's hunting/fishing camp near the Canadian border at lunch time.
"It might be good for you" Jer said to me, his facial expression clearly saying the words he dare not speak, "Oh Lord do I hope this helps - even a little"
I am not a fisherwoman, but I try. I bought a 3 day fishing license for $28. I caught two fish, total. Yes, do the math, please.
But I was settled a bit by the lake in the wee hours of the morning, the calm of the water as the sun rose, the noise the paddle made as we pushed through the surface.
A BEER AND A BENEDRYL
What stopped any forward emotional progress was lack of sleep. I am a light sleeper. Others (I'll leave it at that to be kind) at the camp are LOUD sleepers. One has earned himself the evening nickname of 'the chainsaw'. Seriously, his snores sound just like them.
After the first night of, and I am not stretching this here, little to no sleep I was in a more I-better-apologize-in-advance-for-my-lack-of-enthusiasm-to-be-here mood than ever.
The next night I discovered an evening cocktail of my own. You guessed it, the beer and the benedryl. I know, I know - you can lecture me on the saneness of my choice later but get this: not only did I NOT hear 'the chainsaw', but I slept in the same room as my youngest daughter (recall she didn't sleep through the night till four years old and still wakes up alot) and....wait for it....I slept through the night without hearing a thing!
The next day looked a whole lot brighter. The trip really did start to lift my spirits.
A BLESSING WAY
I returned home to complete my weekend by attending a dear friend's blessing way. The intense experience I had at this traditional Navajo blessing ritual for momma and baby is far too detailed for this post. It deserves one of its very own.
I will share that during the guided drum meditation I had a profound experience. I felt 'full of the womb' as I shared in the circle afterwards. Clearly, I am not pregnant but the sensation instantly reconnected me to each of you that are or are trying. One by one you went through my mind and like a coach calling off players on his roster your stats appeared: 18 weeks, 4 days - currently in a good state of mind - planning a c-section - lost three babies before, and the like.
My passport had been re-instated and I reveled in the feeling not wanting it to end. When the drum beat changed and we were called back silent tears fell from my cheeks. I grieved having to let it go, that fullness within me. I wanted to keep it, to stay in that moment inevitably. As I sat up it fluttered briefly before dissapearing but in its place I found what I had been missing the last month: renewed acceptance.
The thought of Emma no longer brought immediate tears to my eyes.
The word angel didn't send my into hysterics.
The idea of cooking, cleaning, and righting my home seemed appealing.
The pull to return to my husband and show him gratitude for seeing me though another ugly season led me out of the tent.
I skipped the dinner and went straight home.
Briefly I wondered if today would dawn as bleak as all the other days before it, regardless of the bright sun shining down. It didn't. My drive has returned. My bittersweet love for the mission given me has been rekindled. My passport as been reinstated.
And so, if you are struggling, weighted down by a cloak of unyeilding grief, perhaps you too might find solace in two bass, a beer, a benedryl, and a blessing way. An odd combination to be sure. An effective one for me.
Friday, August 7, 2009
After listening to the sound of his engine dissapear I lingered for a few minutes more. I opened my eyes. Yes, something is a bit brighter today. I realized with minor shock.
I walked downstairs to find Bear calm, happy, surrounded by her barbies and spinning a 'lets pretend' story in song. perfect
My coffee waited for me, just a bit of milk, no sugar. perfect
A few responses from yesterday's show and tells waited for me with love and support and countless hugs. thank you
An idea hits me: perhaps I'll do a load of laundry today, or pay some bills, or finally go shopping in my closet to find a dress for that wedding we are going to tommorrow.
I do so love weddings. They are love and hope and promise all spun into one beautiful day, finished by good food, good drink, and a spin or two around the dance floor.
Could it be, be purging my emotion I've been granted a brief haitus from this grief? I try on my old meditation mantra.
I will embrace this day, I will create this day, I will enjoy this day for what it is.
I'll let you know -- but so far so good. Have to go put the girls eggs on a plate. Yes, I actually cooked eggs. See? Good signs.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Show and Tell: Since I Feel Like I'm There Anwyay We Might As Well Go -- Back To The Beginning, Part 1 - Page 2 &3
The fragile, nearly see through pieces of newsprint say things like:
"Emma Grace ... , infant daughter of Jeremiah and Cara... died Sept. 8th, 2000 at..."
"A private family graveside commital service will be...."
"There will be no visiting hours..."
"Contributions may be made to the Childbirth Center..."
My mind says:
~If you acknowledge that she died then you must recognize that she lived, but you - the collective you, as in politicos and state legistatures, insist that becuase she was born dead there was never life. Although I will argue this point until I join her in heaven, if they are so very insistant with their rebuttal shouldn't it have said, Emma Grace...infant daughter of Jeremiah and Cara...was born still on Sept. 8th, 2000 at... I'm one for details like that.~The graveside service was private?? Really? As in either I, or he, or perhaps even Emma's life touched nearly 200 private people in our lives? Imagine if it had been open to the public. Just imagine...
~ Yes, come to think of it there were no visiting hours. Never occurred to me before. Probably a good choice as the sight of her casket ripped me into a thousand pieces, some real, most fictional. Couldn't have handled a church service either.
~ Contributions may be made to the Childbirth Center. Really? Was this protocol? Could I have trusted my mind to think logically and find a support group or research facility where donations could have been sent? Clearly not...but I wish I had and I wonder if said birthing center ever did receive a donation in the name of Emma Grace. Doubtful.
(Reminder to current self: add a link list on the sidebar of all the locations people can send grieving supporters to donate)
Sorry for the downer show and tell...next time - Page 3, a more honest peek into my early post Emma days.
"9-15-00 : Our joys will be greater - Our love will be deeper - Our life will be fuller - Because we shared your moment...
And they are.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I can feel the hollowness reattaching itself to me.
I can sense sadness nearby readying its attack..
I can smell memory beginning its annual journey to possess me.
I cringe at the sharp tone escaping my mouth, even as the tears well - again.
On one level, that of a parent who loves their child unconditionally, even if it means that I have to love her through grief; even if it dictates that I allow despair full reign of my being for a spell -I welcome it.
On a more cognitive plane, I'm aware that it is a rotten time to be deabilitated, especially when the world sees no outward change in my movements or activities. A person mis-diagonsed with a sprain when they have truly broken their leg gets no support. A bereaved mother, approaching nine years out, with two happy, healthy, active girls to celebrate is spared little intuition from her friends. It's approaching that time of year again. ~~ I can tell you are feeling a bit down lately, understandably ~~ I remember her every year too...just thought you might like to know.
It would be nice, wouldn't it -- to have our inner gutting be reconginzed before the inevietable scene where I lose it, crying hysterically as I run from a movie theatre for no very good (read: obvious) reason.
It happens every year, not the running-from-a-movie-like-a-lunatic part, but the first part of this post, the bulleted vingettes that shape-shift my personality as Grief Season begins.
It's started early this year. I'm thrown. I have no idea why.
Perhaps you know I write a monthly blog post for the Share National Blog, perhaps not. It runs the first week of each month. Below is what will appear this week. It says what I'm trying to much better than I seem to be able through a keyboard that's not mine, tears falling upon it, and longing to hold my baby girl's heavy, red-lipped body just one more time that is nearly knocking me out of my chair.
Every year I expect it to get just a bit more bearable. It doesn't.
July 2009 – Grief Season Opens Early
“They stocked the stream yesterday” I hear annually. Within hours the fishing poles, tackle and canoe have been unearthed, readied for the next days use.
“Got your license yet?” is the popular question months later as clever deer take cover and less intuitive ones end up in our freezer.
Vermont is known for its seasons and not just the classic four: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. No, here we trudge through Mud Season. We sweat through Hay Season. We swat through Black Fly Season. And, this year, the Rainy Season seems to have come to stay.
What is less attended to is Grief Season. This season is a sneaky one. It does not arrive preceded by rain, or mud or sun. There are no marking flowers or distinct temperatures associated with it. No, that isn’t entirely true. If I stop and focus; if I look, listen, and feel the signs are everywhere: a slight chill in the air, the promise of Fall within weeks, leaves starting to look more crisp than the week before, and a slightly red tint on the leaves of Emma’s burning bush.
This is my grief season. Much like J.K. Rowling’s love potion, the signs are different for each of us. Ordinary parts of perfectly good seasons become omens of rough days to come. She was due on the 6th. . I realized she was gone, then labored through a deluded haze on the 7th. She was born on the 8th.
Annually, I have come to recognize these signals, taking emotional cover. Every August, the roughest segment of road appears marked by a bright yellow road sign: CAUTION - SEPTEMBER APPROACHING – 14 DAYS – SHARP TURNS AHEAD.
And yet, is seems my grief season has begun early. Even if the signs are different, its emotional makeover is unmistakable. Without warning my body hurts, aches, head to toe. I am plagued by constant fatigue. My migraines have returned with vengeance. Armed with prescription meds I can keep them at bay, but they are always there ready to attack with the slightest provocation. My mood, so recently light and flexible to match our summer schedule, has become darker, more subdued with the regrettable side effect that I find myself barking at people more and more. Wait! It isn’t time yet. I’m not ready yet. Oh, just breath – I’ll test this theory.
I smell the air. It’s still hot and sticky.
I search the trees. Their leaves still look supple and lively.
I inspect her burning bush. It is pregnant with growth this year, just as green as its neighbor – not a hint of red.
Don’t ask…no, don’t. But I can’t help myself.
Why? Why the shift in schedule? Does this mean it will pass and dissipate earlier than usual too? Doubtful. So, why the assigned extension?
I could attempt to answer this rhetorical query.
Because I am going back to work.
Because this magical year of writing is coming to a tapered end.
Because babies are still dying.
Because my commitments will cause me to be ‘less Emma’s mother’ again
Because I’m sharing pregnancy after loss anxiety with the members of our support group who are trying again.
Because on September 8th she turns nine years old.
They are only guesses. Some might me more accurate than others, but it comes to the same end. I passed the road sign. My Grief Season has come early this year.
What are your signs that grief season has begun? What are your triggers and how do you try to combat them?