Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...Please come with an open heart.

This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

Please cry if you need to.
Please connect with others who are in your same space.
Please email me if you feel led to
Please comment so we know what you need
Please tell your story

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Show and Tell - Refrigerator Surprise

I don't love venison. It's not necessarily because of the vegetarian point of view and I'm not even bothered so much by the perspective of the hunting community. I just don't like the taste. The fact that it is leaner and therefore, healthier for you than beef, doesn't persuade me.

Honestly, I feel the same ambiguity about beef. Interestingly, I am often asked as I order a 'veggie sandwich' or a local venue's creation called 'the asparagui', "Are you a vegatarian?" To which I reply, "I could have been, but I married into the wrong family".

For, this, is what one of our chest freezers looks like, nearly empty.

In a few months I will be mentally thrown back to my retail days in the dairy cooler as we rotate the 08 meat to make space for the newly wrapped sirloin, hamburg, chuck steak, stew meat and top and bottom rounds of 2009.

And so, it is not uncommon for the inside of my fridge to look something like this:
as a variety of beef and pork selections naturally defrost to meet the requirements of my menu planning for that week.

Yesterday, I opened the fridge to see a stack of meat taller and wider than I remember taking out for the week. I pulled one package after another - venision...the whole bunch. Eyebrows furrowed, I tried to make out the markings R.K.

You see, when we slaughter it is a very old-fashioned, men in the basement with sharp objects and women upstairs with paper and tape kind of process. We, the women that is, write things on the packages like the date, what variety of cut it is, and the initials of the person who owns the chest freezer the package will call home.

C.T. would have made sense. J.T would have made more sense. D.T, his brother, could even have cause me to stop mentally searching as they often trade cuts depending on what is left in each other's stock. But R.K. I couldn't place.

And then, with a clarity and connectedness to rival Keyser Soze, it hit me...

The dent in his brother's car

The phone call Sunday morning

The glimpse of a ribcage in the back of a truck as I dropped the girls off for church


Road Kill

There's got to be a redneck joke in there somewhere, but right now I am hardpressed to find the humor in it. Ick. Just Ick.

What are you showing and telling?

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Rainbow Baby or Two...Now What Do I Do?

Thank you to all of you who responded to my last post with some compliment to my parenting skills, my ability to impart the truth about death to two littles. Truly I appreciate your words and want so much for them to be true - but doubt myself, still.

I have read book after book after book.

I have searched blog after blog, reading similar laments that made me feel slightly better about the "if - then" consequence I had doled out earlier that morning.

I have asked therapist after therapist for 'sound advice' on parenting children in the wake of loss.

I emply empathy and compassion, trading them for the 'tried and not so true' strategies of the past.

I am continually told that I am doing the best I can and my kids will be better for it.

But nothing really solidifies it for me. In the wake of loss... that is the permeating factor here for to live in the shadow of a sister you never knew, regardless how light and pretty and non-reflective the visage is - is a shadow none-the-less.

For as I often say, parenting Emma is easy. She doesn't wake me in the dark hours of the night or fight vehamently about her dislike of green vegetables. She doesn't beg for 'just one more movie' or strike me down with a vilified look when the timer goes off on her computer time. No, she fills me with joy and light, with purpose and desire, and - of course - with sadness and longing that I wish her perfect self was here to do all those same things.

And there is the problem. On some fantastical level I truly believe that she would be this easy to parent. That if miracles could reverse the tragedy that was her death she would be filled with the resulting gratitude and embrace her life as a gift; eating all her vegetables, offering help to all in need, sailing through pre-teen years with grace, and infusing me will all the afore mentioned emotions.

Rest assured, I do live in the real world. I live with two subsequent children who are, as siblings go, as different as night and day. They see the world through different eyes. They each possess their own intrisic set of rules for living. They feel the world filtered by opposing anxiety thresholds. One is flexible to a fault, the other rigid only able to bend at the ankles. The fir tree and the oak tree if you will.

And, as any parent of siblings will tell you, it takes a different skill set to parent one than the other. But what if that toolbox was orginally filled with hope and wonder and blissfill ingnorance that the worst thing babies can endure is diaper rash has been stripped and repacked with grief, and disapointment, and reality, and an image of perfection that is unattainable at best?

Funny. My biggest fear in having rainbow babies was that I would be unable to differentiate my visualized experience of Emma from their reality. That I would compare and question and wonder until I had blended my tangible child with her angelic sister. I fought hard against this. I have not done this.
But I think, without realizing it, I have failed at a more organic level. Although I put no obvious pressure on them to achieve, I clearly enjoy them differently. I prefer to venture into the world with them individually, embracing whatever they have to offer on that day; leaving the other one to do the same with daddy, or nana, or Grandma.

Perhaps it is a natural response of an only child raising siblings. Or perhaps it is a natural consequence of living intense joy after life-altering loss. I don't have answers, only questions - as ususal. But now, these queries are laced with doses of guilt that I might prefer one reality to another, one self-made fantasy to the facts that are placed before me.

This is hard. Really hard. I am doing my best, and - without saying too much about what our family is currently going through - I hope that the best I am doing is what they need, what will allow them to flourish.

So thanks for your words - and if you are having, or have a tiny rainbow baby and want to remember who they are in connection to their angel sibling check out this awesome link. I wish I'd had one or two!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Show and Tell: Birthdays and Deathdays

I suppose there really isn't much of a difference in this show and tell.
We celebrated Emma Grace last Tuesday on what would have been her 9th birthday.
No pictures of her thined out, well past little girl face. Just those of our everchanging ones that transform annually in her scrapbook.

The cake, strawberry - just as Bear said it should be.

Days later, the phone rang. "Great Gram has passed" my mother in law said, continuing with details about the funeral this week.

"Your Great, Great Grandmother has died" I told the kids, next day over breakfast.

"Is that the lady that Gram took me to see?" asked Bear, "The one who was 100 and sooooo old she couldn't even get out of bed, or walk, or talk?"

"Yes dear" I said, "that's her. Great Great Gram Brown". "Oh," continued Bear, "Well I still have a Grandma and a Great Grandma and Emma was waiting for her so I guess everything is just fine."

Oh Yes my sweet girl. A long and happy life ended by age is what I would call 'just fine'. And, although it took me a bit of time to find this picture, it was worth it to remember when she could walk, and talk, and hold newborn baby girls with the love of family still intact in her mind and heart.

What are you show and telling?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eeeek - There's A Louse In The House

Or, a few hundred...

Seriously. I'm that lucky.

Perhaps I needed a distraction to navigate my grief this year. A mission comprised of mountains of laundry, magnified by loads of patience. Whatever the reason when the phone rang on the first day of my second week of school - on Emma's Birthday - I looked up, instantly knowing it was for me, and that it wasn't going to be good.

Another teacher held the phone out to me.

"Cara" my mom said, "Um, I hate to put this on you today of all days but Comedian has been sent home with lice."

No. Seriously. Cause I'm just that fortunate.

"I already sent dad to the pharmacy to get two treatments. I'll do both girls for you. Bear only had one nit but I'll do her anyway... Don't worry. It will be okay."

She said that for my benefit because I had burst into tears, protected from the flock of preschoolers by a small, rug-resembling makeshift wall. And, once again - without the sarcasm - I am that lucky. I don't know too many nana's that choose to sit and de-louse their grandchildren's hair.

And, it has been okay. I mean, aside from those mountains of laundry and bagging all the stuffed animals in the house and changing Comedian's sheets everyday, and having to call in to work on my second week because the fed.e.rally fun.d.ed preschool she attends has their own 'no nit' policy. I kinda get it. No, I do - because if I was on the other side of this fence, I'd get it. Still, it isn't called a nuisance condition for nothing.

Even so, I must say that I have enjoyed my time with Comedian. I know that might sound strange, but she has been amazingly patient with me, with this whole process. In fact, compared to the cranky, my glasses don't feel right, my body is uncomfortable, I can't possibly ever wear clothes again child I have been bemused by for the last couple weeks the new version sitting quite still with a smile ear to ear Did you get another dead one mummy? is quite lovely.

We chat while I pick nits. She has watched more 'tiny movies' than I could have ever believed I'd allow. Her hair is cleaner than its ever been. Can I see? she askes as I squish yet another sticky egg like sac onto a piece of tape, can we save them to show daddy? They are soooo coool.

Um. Yeah. I'm really that lucky.

So, the long and short of it (HA! Just cracked myself up as her hair was halfway down her back and now grazes her ears!*), anyway -the long and short of it is, it could have been much, much, much, much worse.

Like - Bear having it. Which she doesn't. *Whew* she says as a thank you to the big man above.

But, it has - once again - consumed any available time I had for me and all that other time I already had designated for other things.

A Lesson In Patience was my other potential post title. Damn, if ever I needed's the time.

See you when every last, cottin' pickin', sticky little nit has been removed from my child's head and she's been readmitted to school!

*pictures at the Bear and Comedian as soon as possible.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Emma Grace

There is a plan for today wrapped in the kind of traditions we created to measure unquantifiable things.

We will measure her burning bush. How tall would you be.
We will take pictures of her grave with a newly potted mum. What would your new look be?
We will eat a strawberry drip cake with vanilla pudding frosting. What would your favorite flavor be?

Most of the time I have made peace with these answerless questions. In fact, most of the time I just make it up in my head, creating a satisfactory picture much like a sketch artist in a police station. But yesterday my living children, her sisters, posed the questions in such a way that my bland answers of third grade kind of tall just didn't seem to cut it.

"I know" Bear said, "She be just about as tall as the Maddie in third grade, you know, the skinny one and she'd have long straight dark brown hair kind of like me, but longer and her favorite flavor of cake is definately strawberry cause daddy's the only one who really likes it and he needs someone on his side."

So, there you have it. A picture of Emma I've never seen sketched with words by her little sister.

After crying myself to sleep last night I woke to messages from around the globe filled with loving words, supporting advice, and reminders that I'm not in this alone - that the supporter needs to allow herself to be supported every now and then.

I'll take that with me to work today. I can do this. I have to do this.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Day of Labor

September 7th.

Otherwise known to be called: the day before the day, the day when everything happened

Annually - the day I fall apart, the day the world becomes a movie theatre and everywhere I look images of my past appear, hospital scenes laced with self doubt lead to an affirming, silent climax play on a revolving screne.

It has taken nine years, but it seems the world has finally got it right. "Happy Labor Day" they will say as I drop a memory box off to a volunteer woodworker, visit a daycare where Comedian will go a couple hours a week during the gap when preschool ends and my job doesn't, and spend some special moments with my mother celebrating her birthday - belatedly.

I will smile in return. No more. For their words hit my heart, fit my memory with an accute precision they can never understand. Yes, I did labor on this day. My body riding wave after wave of contractions while my mind lived in a deluded science-fiction, hollywood ending type haze that if I endured enough pain for my allegedly 'expired' baby, she would emerge alive, a miracle capable of wiping those pitying looks off all their faces.

This has always been my labor day. It always will be.

The images have faded, a little. The movie, syndicated, so I only seem to see certain, select scenes.

For I must labor today.

I have been away for two days. My children need love and attention. My house needs the same, The errands must be run. The tomatoes must be canned. The press releases must be drafted, the events are only one and two months away respectively. New parent packets must be made for the meeting on Wednesday. Mothers are still laboring. Babies are still dying.

There is work to be done. laboring.

Perhaps I'll wear my pin today, my necklace too. Maybe they are meant to don my body two days a year.

Emma Grace entered this world, September 8th at 3:30 am. Her birthday - eternally. I knew, resisted, felt certain, doubted, was told, went delusional, then labored on September 7th.

Happy Labor Day to all...I'll never forget.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

When The Warm Wind Blows...

When the warm wind blows...all the 5 years old go to the middle.
When the warm wind blows...all the kids having hot lunch go to the middle.
When the warm wind blows...go the middle if you like the color yellow.

We used to play this game with the Kindergarteners. They loved it, flowing from the outer rim to the inner circle and back. It was an exercise in listening.

Present Day:

When the Warm Wind Blowed...I followed it, through the rolling mountain hills to a little town called Eden, Vermont - where, it turns out:

  • there is no cell service
  • there is no wifi
  • there are no motels, or hotels, or campgrounds.

My original plan had been to sleep in my van, seats submerged. Jer talked me into taking the truck.

I showed up at Jeff's house unannounced thanks to a forsightful moment when I hit print on the mapquest directions to his address.

"Know of any good places to stay?" I asked, a smile playing on his bemused face. "How about my daughter's room?" he relplied, "She can sleep in with us for the night."

And so, I came to sleep in a very comfortable bed of a highly-articulate 2 1/2 year old surrounded by pictures and memories of her older brother, Simon. His life had been short. 99 days to be exact, before he flew without reason in his sleep. SIDS they call it. Tragedy on another family.

Yet, like so many other families struck down before, they rallied years later to reach out, to create awareness, which is why the warm wind blew me here to this sleepy little town.

Today I will set up Share Southern Vermont's booth and tell our story over and over. Today I will walk five miles, surrounded by others who have their own story.

My Story...

Nine Years ago today I awoke instinctivly knowing something was wrong. Orginally written for my book (another long story in itself) I plan to publish my day to day, mini countdown to Emma's birthday.

In fact, it would have been this post if the flighty attendant at the C.opy C.en.ter had remembered to give back my thumb drive after running 200 copies of our brochure and contact cards.

Ah - well, the wind sure it blowing this weekend. And, shockingly, I have finally learned to listen. A few stolen minutes on a friend's computer is enough. Reading blogs will have to wait - again. *sigh*

Home this evening - after I pick up my memory stick and the store credit I demanded...cause I'm like that!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Meaning of Work

It isn’t work if you love what you do…

I’ve heard this over and over, throughout my life. Find your purpose and working will feel like playing.

I found my purpose. It doesn’t feel like work.

I love working on Share, reaching out to families, planning awareness events, pulling together fundraisers, writing press releases, networking and collaborating with other support groups, even sending condolance cards to newly bereaved families.

It feels that that thing I'm supposed to do. With one very obvious exception. Noone has knocked on my door yet smiling ear to ear saying, "What a lovely job you have done starting this outreach. My boss would like to be your benefactor and pay you a healthy wage to keep doing it!"

My guess is he's not coming.

Last Tuesday I went back to work. You know, the kind where you have to arrive on time and stay until your contract says you can go? I love that work too, truly I do - but this job is never far from my mind.

And, with it, the fact that I am getting more behind as each pre-school, water stays in the cup, no - you may not throw trains, um - we need clean up in the bathroom, again - minute passes.

My rigidly organized spreadsheets ensure that familes will not fall through the cracks, that newspapers will get the press release before the deadline, that all volunteers are on the same page, and each monthly meeting reminder goes out exactly 7 days prior to the gathering. No, it is my lack of time for blogging, and consequently reading other blogs, that has me in a mental tailspin.

I am having a Pam.p.ered C.hef show later this month. (Not really my thing but I promised hubby as soon as the kitchen was DONE I would. He finished it about a year ago...*sigh* promises must be kept) Anyway, as I was compliling my list of invitees I found myself writing all YOUR names and it was a long minute before I realized that you can't come. You don't live here. We can't just hop in the car and physically see each other. Moreover, you might be a little cranky with me for lack of 'hanging out' with you lately.

I am going away alone this weekend. The point of the trip is to attend The SIMON Project's Ride to Remember. I will be networking as they are a SIDS awareness and prevention group. I will also be alone with my computer during down time and I am very much looking forward to catching up on your blogs and your lives.

Know this as my days meld into weeks working out of the house! Even if I missed a big announcement, a healthy delivery, a slight scare, a rough day, an all around crappy week, I have been thinking of you, praying for you through it all.

My best friends in the world are ones I see but two or three times a year. The conversation flows like the break never existed. This is how I think of you. Although, rest assured I won't dissapear without letting you know!!

Be seeing you this weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Show and Tell: The Tell Is Not Always The Show!

For example:
The closest we made it to Mt. Washington was here -

the up and down, so narrow I thought my life might be in danger more than once trail road of Smuggler's Notch.

And, our ride up the trail? These,

two borrowed, and not-so-cushiony I might add, bikes that left my arse feeling might sore for days to come. Still I managed 8 scenic miles, ooohhing and ahhhing all the way. FYI - The bike path along Lake Champlain in Burlington is gorgeous!

And, our version of camping?
We DID have the tent, air matress (without a way to blow it up, but would have figured it out), a shovel, food, and tp - but then we saw the clouds roll in and heard someone say the word 'hurricane' with some disscussion before and after and decided to call Jer's cousin who happily took us in!!

So - have you guessed our dream weekend vacation? Yup - we played tourist in our home state!!
And, it was FUN!
There was a little bit of this. Um...a chain resturant is like crack to us have to drive 45 minutes to think of reaching one.

You KNOW I can't resist this two-word phrase. We visited three winerys on this trip, yeah - in Vermont! And Jer doesn't even like wine. I guess he must love me ...

Did a little fishing...

Made a kickin' meat sauce, that added the right taste to the homemade lasagna.

Procured all the necessary ingrediants for making our OWN fruit wine. See, I told you he loved me!

And took a slight detour on the way home to taste some icccce -creeeaaam!

All in all - one of the best weekends in a long time. So how's that for flying life by the seat of your pants?

Not bad for a girl that used to make a spreadsheet just to decide what movie to go see. Now, what is the rest of the class showing and telling?

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Time Is Both My Best Ally and My Worst Enemy: My Meltdown 8 Years Later