lig·a·ment ˈliɡəmənt/ noun

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Years ago in Durham while attending an evening Ladies Bible Study the verse was read from Ephesians 4:16 “For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.” One of my best good friends looked at me and pronounced to me – “you are a ligament”

lig·a·ment
ˈliɡəmənt/
nounANATOMY
noun: ligament; plural noun: ligaments
1 a short band of tough, flexible, fibrous connective tissue that connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint.
▪ a membranous fold that supports an organ and keeps it in position.
▪ archaic
a bond of union.

 
Over the years in various situations I have thought about what she said. I was not particularly flattered when she said it, but through the years as I have considered my role I think she may be right.

 
As a wife and mother I hold things together to keep them moving as smoothly as possible. I would like to think I am tough, supportive and able to keep things in position.

 
The archaic meaning – “a bond of union” may not be quite accurate for me. I have kept some things united and sadly (admitting my sin) I have probably tried to drive a wedge between other things.

 
In my family understanding my role helps. It does not keep me from being resentful or from feeling taken for granted. Understanding my role does not keep me from overstepping boundaries or keeping firm boundaries myself . Yet in times of high frustration, tension and anxiety I can remember that my job is not to fix the situation but to provide support so that those who need to make decisions can do so more easily or smoothly.

 
But even ligaments get tattered, torn and frayed when pushed beyond their limit. We can only hold on for so long under some weight.
Over the holiday watching family members cycle through grief I felt myself approaching the limit of my ability. I understand that everyone must handle the grief they carry in their own way. I can’t fix that and quite frankly I feel overloaded – with my own grief in one arm and trying to prop up their elbow. An elbow that often – they jerk away.

 
The love you have for family is unwrapped every time you are in their presence. Even if your reaction to them is annoyance it is probably precipitated by the love you have for them. Every time you serve up their plate at meal time, wash their clothes, shop for Christmas gifts or birthday gifts regardless of the frustration it is fueled by love.

 
When someone you love dies all that love you feel has no outlet. It cannot be shared with someone else or spent on them because, after all it is the love you have for that person now gone. For a ligament it is tough to hold on to thin air. To reach to grip things that have no substance in the day to day world of earth. There is no place to focus this still active love.Creative activities are great along with other ways of being busy but there is only so much time in a day and finally your own internal ligaments say enough – time to rest.

 
We that have grief learn to do emotional weight lifting. We pack it up every day and carry it with us even though the package is bursting at the seams most days. Every time we encounter a place, a smell, a sight, a song, a taste that is linked to our loved one it connects as if wired into that package we are carrying. And being the ligament I am – when this happens – I hold tight to both the package and the thing I have encountered. I let all the gears spin as the teeth line up and I recognize and try to honor the privilege of having the connection, the memory.

 
I do this every day. Every single day.

 
These inevitable encounters may cause us to choose not to venture out into the world much, to stay close to those things we have built up our emotional weight lifting resistance to. That too is a way of coping.

 
The verse of the Bible is referring to the church but is it allowed to be inferred to family? If so then I probably have not taken time to recognize the power adapted to my need, nor have appreciated any growth I have sustained for maturity but I understand the building up of itself in love.
The emotional body building that it takes to lift the tangle that is a mix of both love and grief and bittersweet hope – I get that.

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Leaving Home

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I haven’t been able to write anything to post here for some time. It is not because I don’t have things I want to say. If anything it is because I have too much I want to say and nothing seems adequate.
I keep waiting for something to change, for there to be a shift towards a gentler acceptance of the fact that my son is gone. I keep waiting for all sorts of things because of ideas that occur to me or ideas others suggest. I am just going to be where I am for the unforeseeable future so it is the expectations that may need to be ignored.
I feel like I am bragging when I talk about how wonderful my son was and how close we were. Would that particular closeness have continued had he lived? Would him choosing a mate have changed things? Questions like these are part of those things that I am trying to ignore. Who knows? No one will ever know. Speculation is frustrating.
Remembering is frustrating too. Remembering things you wish you could have done differently, opportunities that were missed, harsh words you wish you had never spoken. Those moments are gone but the impression they left has fossilized now and it makes it harder to ignore them.
There are so many memories.
Those who are left in my life need to be appreciated. How dare I allow grief to interfere with appreciating them and creating memories with them. I work hard at compartmentalizing so that when I am with another person I love I can give them as much attention as they deserve. Perhaps I over compensate. It is exhausting and I second guess myself.
I see videos of military personnel returning home and their dogs greeting them. I picture my son walking through the door and his aged dog seeing him again. Why do we make up such scenarios? As if the reality is not hard enough.
Keeping things that were his and not using them is something I continue to struggle with. I struggle with using his clothes and books or giving them away. It is as if by doing so I have to really truly finally believe he is gone.

He is gone.
My Facebook feed is full of posts of parents who have lost children. I avoid Facebook sometimes because of that. Their new, raw horror is too much for me. I tell them I am sorry for their loss and hate the fact those six simple words are the only words that I or anyone can say. Those words that in proportion to the loss should be stretched across the universe scrolling down eternally like the banner in the Star Wars movies.
Comfort? That is a tough one. Taking comfort in . . . what exactly? There again there is an entire litany of words, platitudes, nice quotes, well intended suggestions, but comfort? Perhaps I have to face the fact that I don’t want any. Perhaps I take comfort in my discomfort and everyone who by exposure to me that finds themselves uncomfortable for that brief encounter will just have to get over it.
Actually, unless you know me very very well, as my daughter and husband do – you might never know. You might forget where I live until someone says something randomly – “I almost broke my neck” or “I thought I would die” or some other phrase.
Yet here is where I live – navigating what seems like a mine field of grief.
Triggers? Let’s see – how many examples do you want? Songs, smells, weather changes, season changes, holidays, TV shows, food, tall young men, guitars, birds, bugs, lizards, silver VW Jetta station wagons, rock-climbing videos or commercials, clothing especially Patagonia clothing, plaid shirts, Birkenstocks and beer.
I bartered for a painting at an art show I participated in recently. The painting is of a murder of crows on a limb. It is entitled “Leaving Home” There are four birds in the painting. Three sit looking one direction and one is facing the opposite direction. I attribute a different meaning to this painting than other’s might.
I am like an electrical wire whose insulation has been stripped in places. I spark and fire and short out now and then – but I try to keep letting the current flow while it can. I try, but you may want to give me some room.

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The questions of July

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Dear Son

I am sitting here in front of the computer.  The coffee is brewing in the kitchen. The youngest pup has come to lick and wallow on me. I watch his antics and think “you would like him, must like him”? I never know exactly how I am supposed to talk about some of things I think.

I have felt you to be so “close” all week. Are you close to me or am I closer to you?  Yes it is the week that marks year four of that terrible anniversary. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for those who continue to reach out to us in remembrance of you. At the same time I find myself hesitating over some phones calls when I look at caller ID. I don’t understand it myself. It is not like I am not used to crying but sometimes when I hear my voice full of tears struggling to talk I feel like I am embarrassing you.

The grief process has been likened to a roller coaster by many . But that description only goes so far (yes that is a pun). On a roller coaster you have a moment to at least acknowledge the fact that the current climb is going to lead to a dip of some magnitude or other at some point. For me most days, the dips and gut-wrenching loops still come out of nowhere.

The term softer is used by some of my contemporaries to describe their feelings with the passing of years. I think I have become harder. I am less tolerant. If you still laugh at me you must be laughing at that. Tolerance for some things was never one of our long suits. I gather myself up, steel myself for the situation and plow through, mow down, bulldoze under?  You get the idea.

I don’t think I am alone with this annoyance factor. I see it in other’s who have lost children. We flare so quickly when someone tries to tell us to move on, even if it is not directed at us personally. We are very quick to defend the bereaved parent. Recently someone accused bereaved parents of “wanting attention.” I will grant you there are a variety of personality types in our sad group who come at the situation with their own particular style and perhaps that is what they are seeing, and turning and running from (because that is what “they” do).

If parents seek attention it is not for themselves, but to draw attention to the child that is gone or to draw attention to the circumstance of the passing in a hope of preventing it for someone else’s child. But really, how dare the world forget their child! How dare anyone who knew you, forget you!

It is Saturday and the 4th of July and the country is pretending to understand what it is celebrating though few would put themselves in a position to do those things to bring about the independence this day is marked for. Independence is an ideal. It is the goal of many and the achievement of few. We are all bound by many things.

Fear binds me and others. Fear is a big one. Fear for the unknown. Grief binds me too and the knowledge that I wield no control. I am not independent of these things.

Your sister saw a juvenile red tail hawk the other day when she took the dogs – your dogs – out to play. She said it sat near by and watched her and the dogs, though the dogs did not notice the hawk. She and I and your dad notice – is that the right word-notice? We look for and anticipate finding the things that are connected with you to remind us and become our sign that we are still connected. As if we really needed a sign. Yet we crave it because we don’t have you.

Living the life I have is a lot of work. Remembering your positive embracing spirit and things you said to me while you were here is a common practice that helps to some extent. I don’t know if living is any more of a struggle than it it ever was, but I have to admit that sometimes I wish I could slap a handicapped sticker on my forehead – just to warn people. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear – something like that.

I digress. I would so appreciate a reply from you.

This has been a tough week. There have been a few other minor losses among those of us who love you but we will gather ourselves up and press on. If you are aware of anything then you understand that that is no minor feat.

Yes, sweet man, you are that important to us. You changed our life and if you did not know that then the attitude you exhibited to us was a great act indeed.  I think – no I know – you were secure in the fact that we adore you.  I hope you are laughing now. You changed my life and I will be forever altered by you. I freely acknowledge no desire for independence from it. I love you and I miss you.

Forever
Mom

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June again

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Perhaps this is the tradition now- every year -this time of year -to revisit this particular memory. Four years ago today my son was home. We had just had a storm rip through the mountains. Our power was out and our generator was buzzing. The huge oak tree that stood at the fork of our driveway had spit and half of it lay across the driveway. It had crushed the arbor my husband had built for his raspberries and blackberries.
A couple of years before the same arborist and his company that now cleaned up the broken tree had pinned it together with a great wire. But this best effort was no match for the wind. Another tree was uprooted, tossed on its side. Its skirt was hiked up exposing its roots and dirty bottom.
The noise of the generator and the chain saws made the dogs nervous. My son said, “let’s go take a hike.”
I was still nervous from the storm and the oak tree made me cry. I fished for excuses not to go. “What if the roads were blocked?”
My son scowled, pressed his lips together “come on,” he said, “it will be alright. If it is bad, then we’ll turn around and come home.” We loaded up the dogs and some water. My stomach churned and I had to stop twice at a restroom on the way. My older Pomeranian was not up for the trip and would have to be carried so she stayed home. We were on our way to Panthertown.
You hike down and in to Panthertown so returning always provides a climb when you are tired after a long day.
Sadie, Asa and Sky in the back seat we drove up and wound our way along back roads that took us in. The sky was blue and dotted with clouds that looked like crumbs left from the storm that had passed.
We stood at the trail head – hesitating only briefly before we began the walk down. Sky was a year old as was Sadie but my son controlled his two better than I did my one. Down into the valley we walked where it finally leveled off by the stream.The path is sandy at times and in the boggy places wooden walks have been provided to keep your feet dry.
The sun filtered through the over hanging trees printing a yellow and green jigsaw on the path. The dogs eager for the trail at first settled into a measured gait as they sensed our intention to press on.
My son knew where he wanted to go.
We arrived at a larger beach by the stream where there is light golden sand and a few stones. The water slides over some rocks at the top gently filling a broad pool. The water was cold, too cold for me. My son rolled up his pant legs and waded in. The dogs were off leash now and hesitated, wanting to follow him. My son leaned down calling them ,clapping his hand gently till one by one they followed.
I pulled out my phone and made a video of the scene. The video is not long enough to suit me now. I always berate myself for not lingering on my son longer. My son had brought a ball and tossing it out into the water encouraged the pups to swim after it. Sadie – the youngest border collie was the only taker. Slender and black like a seal she swam while we cheered her on.
“A good strong swimmer.” I said.
On our walk back towards the car I watched my son as he took the lead. All three dogs were at his heel. They knew who they could trust to follow. I memorized him there, so tall, and thin and strong.
The green light of the tree close over his head, his silhouette against the sunny path. He knew I was behind him. I always had been.
I won’t lie. There are days when I am so weary that I wonder just how soon I will follow him now. I suppose I just cannot see the path as clearly as I did then.
I do marvel that part of him was me. I am constantly amazed by that truth when I see my daughter. I think both my children are the best parts of me and their dad with an extra measure of their own peculiar spice.
Yes, it is a wonderful memory. I never got to rehash that memory with my son. In less than a month after this hike he was gone.
Somehow I keep thinking I will figure out how to do these days, how to equip myself with the tools to staunch the flow. My life startles me at times. What startles me most is that my only choice is to resign myself to the fact that there is no “getting used to” this.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 5 Comments

Dear Son

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Dear Son,

I don’t write here as often as I used to though I talk to you all the time. I remember when people told me in an attempt to comfort  that “you would always be with me ” after you died. I was polite, I told them thanks and I walked away thinking “what are they talking about?” It was an assumption on their part because the people who said it had not experienced a loss like this. It sounded nice and was something I think they hoped would be true.

I know they didn’t know what they were talking about. I know they hoped it could be true. They don’t know the half of it. I talk to you all the time. I think of you as being privy to all my thoughts and all my activities.  As the fog cleared that first year you became clearer and clearer in my mind.

Just yesterday I had a memory of an event that I could swear you were present for. I remember your facial expression and what you said but then I looked at the calendar I realized it was after your accident.

I remember your facial expression in situations where in times before we would look at each other and exchange that nonverbal cue. Or I would look at you and you would be looking away .your body language stating emphatically that it was time to go, move on. I remember things you have said and they apply to the current situation and sometimes more poignantly than before.

I see you in your sister and your dad. I see you in things I do and maybe it is because in some ways I want to model myself after some of those things, those things that I think of as your  better attributes.

I thank you and your sister for allowing me to be your mother. It has been a great privilege. I can’t adequately explain that. There are no words. When the florist industry hit upon the idea of Mother’s Day they hit a gold mine. Thank you for never giving Mother’s Day any credence. Your attitudes about what is and what is not important as dictated by society has held true.

“Mother’s Day” is a Sunday like many other Sunday’s. You and your sister are the only gift and accolade I need. You both in your lives and your attitudes are my bouquet.

I think that this  “holiday” is harder for your dad than for me. He is so fierce about his love for me at times.
We locked in this grief together try so hard not to allow our personal grief to make the other’s grief any harder.

If you do witness anything then you know I have these terrible attacks of yearning. It is a huge whole body contraction. No, it is worse than that. The mind and body and world all contract for a terrible moment , contorts and sometimes I wonder if I will breath again when it comes. I cannot predict when or why it comes when it does. I function so much of the time feeling that you are right beside me. I think it is when I want to touch you, hug you, hear your voice when that yearning sees an opening to hit.

I know, I don’t need to go on. I know that you and I in the short time we had together on this earth said all the words necessary, did all the necessary things to express the deep love and appreciation we had for each other.

That will have to do for now.
That will have to do.    You know I love you.  I know you love me.  That will have to do.

Forever,

Mom

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 4 Comments

Learning to Meditate – finally.

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I hesitated for a moment before posting this -which is probably some sort of indication that this is something I really need to confess especially to my son.  I am exploring mindfulness and the practice of meditation to center my mind.

Meditation like fasting and prayer in the sacred scriptures is not something that is a mere suggestion , it is and was an accepted practice. Meditation is a place to come center. Psalms 1 suggests that it plants us firmly like a tree soaking up the rivers of water preparing the tree to bear fruit.

 
One of the meditation practices is the deceptively simple practice in which you think about breathing. You think about each breath, in and out. When I was a child I remember being asked to take a nap. While in repose I would become aware of my breathing. I remember becoming so aware of it that I became frightened. I worried that if I stopped thinking about it I would stop breathing. I didn’t understand that in that situation not breathing was impossible.

 
You cannot control that part of you. The body breaths as long as all the wiring is intact.
Isn’t it funny that the one central part of you that keeps you alive is something you cannot control? You can concentrate and make yourself breath deeply but you cannot sustain it for long, once you stop concentrating your body assumes its own rhythm. You can get excited and breath quickly depleting your CO2 with the result being that you pass out from hyperventilation. But once you pass out your body begins to breath normally again.

 
What is the result of being aware of such simple things? There are those who encourage us to be more mindful suggesting that we should observe our thoughts as separate from us, acknowledge our moods as something that will come and go like the tide. They suggest that in doing so we might be able to step outside of ourself to act towards others with kindness, compassion and understanding. Could it be so simple and yet so difficult to take time in this world that tugs at us from every direction to think outside of ourselves?

 
I remember my mother complaining, lamenting that she could not help how she felt. The truth is because she did not know how to, she indeed could not. Thoughts are like unruly pups that run away quickly if we do not try to be aware of them. The thoughts nudge our mood and soon we find it difficult to function or function in unbecoming ways.

 
My bouts with grief are intense. The song about something coming in like a wrecking ball seems like a good analogy for the intensity. It knocks me off my feet momentarily and I feel like I truly cannot breath. I am willing to try and learn a practice that will allow me to observe it, recognize it and strangely enough – honor it – even the pain. I may be sitting on the floor where it knocked me when I finally find the strength to honor it but that will be an improvement.

 

 
In the moments after I meditate I am able to picture lighter things. My imagination serves me well. Recently after visiting our beautiful public library I find myself picturing myself like this structure with vast windows that light can flood through. I am filled with shelves of information that I have experienced and seen and learned from others. Not all of the words and ideas are happy. But they are written.

 
They are proof of who I am and where I have been and seen and experienced. Any one of the shelves is at my disposal to visit or to pass by for the time being.

 
Every day, every single day there are moments given over to thinking of, wishing for, missing and mourning my son. It is something that is lodged close to the spot that regulates my breathing. It resides in the space that holds the feelings for my daughter and my husband and all those I care about in life who give me strength and reassure me.

 
Is meditating going to fix anything that has happened? No. It may however help me rest for a bit , to gain my balance, to give me space to think, observe, process and honor.

 
Given the influence the gift of my family has been in my life I do in all ways want to honor them while I still breath. I honor my son , my mother and dad and my husbands parents too. I may be among the last on earth to do so in this time if even only for this day.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, meditation, mindfulness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Todays Prompt: In Loving Memory

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Dear Son,
I’ve been reading and writing a lot of poetry. I escape a little sometimes with some of my thoughts, but most often I return to thoughts of you, your sister, our family. Todays prompt suggestion is “In Loving Memory”. From what I can see we all spend a lot of time in memory at least for those of us that are past a certain age.

 
I read a poem and I think it is talking about you or something you did or something you would have said. I realize it just means that when it comes to human emotion and human activity we are not all that different.

 
I write a poem and suddenly I am once again talking about you or the way I feel. I go up and down, up and down. One minute I am fine and the next I am in tears. Your sister has named it “turbulence”. There are times I experience an almost giddy silliness – almost inappropriate for some situations and within the hour I am sobbing.

 
When I have a cold and I begin to recover there are certain stages it passes through until I don’t even remember having had the cold. I think people who have not lost a child expect my grief to be like that. I think they expect me to gradually recover and I know they don’t understand. I am astonished when I realize that I am not going to recover, that this is it, and you are not here to talk to and discuss this with.

 
In loving memory – that is all I am to have of you? Loving memories? It is not enough and it makes me angry.

 
I want the microwave light blinking where you didn’t turn the timer off for your tea. I want you here making fun of my choice in books and TV shows. I want your lectures on things that I don’t understand. I want your long arm looped over my shoulder and to find you twirling your hair while you sink into a book to read.

 
I went to the library and rounded a corner and there in bold print on the shelf was David Foster Wallace’s book “Infinite Jest”. I stand in the yard with the dogs and a juvenile red-tail hawk circles the yard – flashing its colors in the sun. I open a travel magazine and there is an article extolling the joys of the baths in Budapest. Then your sister changes her profile picture to one of the two of you together or on an old flash drive I find a photo of with Sky when he was a pup.

 
Our lives were woven together as intricately as any tapestry. There is no un-stitching.

 
Today I visited your sister at her new job at the hospital where you were taken after your accident. I drove past the emergency room door. Last time I was there was when the emergency helicopter worker saw me and realized I was lost and escorted me to where your dad was waiting to hear from the doctor concerning your condition. I saw the helicopter sitting there idle – waiting for a call for someone else.Then I entered the front doors I walked through for two years with your sister while she was undergoing chemotherapy. My heart was racing and I wanted to turn and run out. But your sister came and found me – she was smiling. I saw another part of the hospital and from another point of view- hers in the excitement of her new job.   You would be so proud of her in so many ways.

 
She and I talked about how this place was just a building. Just a building where in one instance – with your sister – we heard that she was in total remission from leukemia. In the same building we were told you would not make it and said goodbye.

 
I can’t unravel all that. It is all wound up together in my heart.
Back to the subject of loving memory – it is the predominate memory. I love you and your sister so much. I love the memories and I am thankful I have them, but I loved having you in my life more.

 
Forever,
Mom

 

https://visaverse.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/sorting-day-8-drawerodeapostrophe/

 

Posted in birthday, Coping with the Death of a Child, Family, Memories | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mourning Fog

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I was writing a poem for an assignment that I accepted through WordPress when one of the prompts was “fog”. When I pull up the weather sites one of the warnings that is often posted is “Morning Fog”. If it has been warm and a cool rain shifts in the fog begins to appear. Winter fog is a little less predicable. Yet when either comes it changes the landscape dramatically.
Whole mountains disappear and familiar shapes are muted or unrecognizable. If you are able to drive up and over one of the mountains  you will drive out of the fog into the sun only to descend again once you have crossed the summit.
Most people turn their headlights on and drive slower. A familiar place is transformed into the unfamiliar. The air feels cooler because of the amount of moisture present, sometimes to the point of making everything wet.
Mourning creates its own type of fog that shares a lot of the characteristics of actual fog.
It changes the way everything looks to the extent that some parts of our life are unrecognizable.
The days, regardless of the amount of sunlight do not seem as warm or bright.
It was not predictable or expected and even if we were warned we were not prepared for the reality.
We proceed cautiously – or not at all because we do not know what is ahead or around the bend.
Our days are wet with tears of grief and frustration and even anger.
When we drive up into the sunlight for a bit we never stay long before something – a memory or thought – takes us back down again.
The fog does eventually abate. We trade our mourning for daily grief. We never accept the loss of our child but we do learn to accept the grief. It is never completely comfortable – an ill fitting garment at best – but a part of every day for the rest of our lives.
Still the fog rolls back in again every now and then and we find ourselves bewildered by the fact that we are not prepared to deal with it any better than we did the first time.
Every day challenges come to all of us. What is not so apparent is that some of us are operating at a disadvantage emotionally – we truly are in a fog.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Thirty three years

IMG_0826You have probably had that moment when you have been very busy and the busy-ness stops. You are in a familiar place where you stand still for just that second and the familiar is surprising because of  just how familiar it it is. It as been around you, minding its own business and you have taken it for granted distracted by all the things, stuff, obligations that you have been working on. In conjunction to this moment someone mentions or perhaps you read on a piece of paper a date or perhaps you see a photo and wonder “when was this taken?” You learn the date and a shock ripples through you — has it been that long?
For those of us who have lost a loved one – recognizing every day that passes can be shocking. When we turn and realize it has been a week it seems impossible, a month -surely not! and then a year – unfathomable.
My son’s birthday was this past Wednesday. It was his thirty third birthday, the fourth birthday we have marked without him. I baked his favorite cookies. I made it through the day.
I told a friend the other day I have stopped trying to believe he is gone. Since the phrase that comes to mind most often for me when talking of him or by myself is “I can’t believe he is gone” I have decided that maybe it is best not to bother to try. It doesn’t work.
The shock of realizing that that number 4 on the calendar situated in the grid marked February marks the fourth year this day has passed without him is incomprehensible. Sometimes the shock itself is the thing I find myself focusing on. What is that? I feel like I am in the movie 2001 on that deserted landscape with the monolith standing there stark and foreboding. It is not to be ignored.
The photos, the old papers found become with time like speed bumps. You are moving fluidly through the day, week, month and you bump over those things after a while. It may be during the third year or so that you can do this. And I don’t mean you don’t notice – it jostles you to the point of tears. These are the tears we have all learned to let flow and then mop up and go on. These are the ones that burn at the corner of your eye when in public or you find yourself looking down distractedly pretending to search in your handbag or briefcase so no one will notice.
The Monolith smacks you right between the eyes. It stands there daring you not to notice and for a while you stand agog – and all the familiar, day-to-day will only wait so long for you to move on.
The sense of “has it been that long” feels like it has been amplified.
We feel the touch of the wind as it passes. We stick our hand out the window of our car and we can tell that we are moving through space. We feel our feet as they make contact with the floor and perhaps the ache in our hip joint as we move to walk. We are in one place and now we are in another and we remember snippets of the journey.
One minute we were a family of four, interacting and laughing together, sharing the passing of the milestones of birthdays and growth. In one short day it changed. And that day became a date on the calendar and a hole in our life.
I am very active and push myself to be out there in the world among people. I am swimming along the stream too.  I have no intention of shutting myself off. I am thankful every day for my son, my daughter, my husband, family and friends.
Every night when I go to bed, I think of my daughter- my love and pride for her and I hope that is she is resting and safe. Every night I listen to my husband as he sleeps, my dogs as they turn in their kennels. Every night I think of my son, I think of all the prayers I said on his behalf, of all the hopes I had for his future and I wipe my eyes and I go to sleep.
As I told my friend the other day “I am as better as I am going to get for now.”

I carried him for 9 months.  I watched him grow for 29 years.   He will remain a part of every day I live for the rest of my life.

I love you babe.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Family, Friends, Holidays | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

In honor of . . .

IMG_1821There are situations you cannot imagine. There are circumstances even when witnessed you will not be able to understand. It is true for everyone.
I have seen photos and films of war and I can not imagine how the people feel who have witnessed battle. I can not imagine what it would be like to be told “you can not have a child.” I can not imagine what it is to be a man though I live with one. I don’t begin to understand what is like to be young person in this world today because I come from a different generation.
I am old enough to have experienced being told that because I am female I can not do or expect certain things. I have experienced things that are similar to other women my age. But there are many many things I do not know, will not know, as it is for all of us.
My niece gave birth to twins in December. They were premature being born at 26 weeks. Sadly one died within two days and the second was lost just days ago. It is a horrible and cruel loss. I miscarried at around 12 weeks between the birth of my son and daughter. It was sad experience but very different from my niece’s  experience. I don’t know how she feels and yet in some ways I do.
I do know what deep penetrating grief feels like.
I can’t tell her and her husband what they should do, except that what they choose- is for them to choose. They have a beautiful little girl who will probably not remember any of this sad time happening first hand. She will be told about it as time goes by and she will wonder why there are times when her mother and daddy are sad because of anniversaries they mark. She will learn the reason. She may when she grows up wonder what it would have been like to have twin sisters. Hopefully she will never experience the loss of a child herself.
There will be painful anniversaries. There will be questions and may or may not be the temptation to feel guilt. There will be huge questions that may even involve their faith. There may be people who suggest answers. The answers may never come – at least not the answers they really want.
I accept that I will never receive an answer as to why the accident happened that claimed my son’s life. That doesn’t stop me from asking, however.
I am so sad for them and sorry for their loss. They are in shock and they are feeling cast adrift.
What I hope for them is that people hold their tongue, give them space, allow them to grow up as they are being forced to do.
There are sad grandparents – sister and brother-in-law. There are sad friends and neighbors and cousins and aunts and uncles. None of us know exactly how they feel or what they need even if we have experienced a similar loss. Neither my niece or nephew or anyone else for that matter know how to  “fix” this or make it “better.”
Perhaps they  would  say if they could say  is this  – “I need for this not to have happened.” “I need my children.”
What can I pray for them?
I would have them to have strength and wisdom.
I would ask them to ignore the clock because grief has it’s own timeframe.
I would hope that they will have the strength to be honest with themselves and how they feel and ignore the well meant but sometimes insensitive words some might say.
I hope they do what is best for them concerning honoring their babies.
I pray that they connect with their sweet remaining daughter and are able to not feel the urge to overprotect too much as time goes by.
I pray that they can be kind to each other and stand firm as the current of life continues – as it does so quickly – when they are not ready for anything to move on.
I hope they can endure the pain of the reality they have learned so cruelly – the reality that we have little to no control.
And if they have faith, may it grow stronger.
May the people who come now to console them remember them as time passes and be there for them as the days and weeks and months and years ahead weigh in with the grief they contain.
Today I honor their daughters. I honor my niece and nephew as parents with all the hopes and dreams that every parent feels for their child, that every mother feels the moment that baby flutters in their womb. I honor your life. I honor your loss. I am so very sorry.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Faith, Family, Friends | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments