Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Discussion Topics up on Glow

On For One and All, we're discussing the concept of healing and how it looks and feels.

Join us here:

On TTC/Pregnancy/Birth After Loss, we're discussing the shift in perceptions about ttc/pregnancy after a loss.

Join us here:

And this weekend will feature a new discussion post specifically for friends and family of the bereaved, so come by on Saturday if you'd like to take part.

Love and peace to all.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Once upon a time

"I'm tired."

"Do you want to go to bed?"

I shake my head. Because there is no escape from what I'm tired of; tears, regrets, guilt, sadness, longing unfulfilled.

"I wish I could do something," he says, fretfully.

"Me too," I say with a watery smile.

My eyes are burning - disuse? I haven't cried in a long while, not like this. My head aches. Everything is exacerbated by a bad day filled with setbacks, disruptions and frustrations. Until a late dinner, all I'd consumed all day was a venti mocha, a v8 fusion, a cup of water and a bite-sized Snickers. Certainly the intersection of dates and calendars and memory and this current incarnation of life is enough to produce this reaction without the anniversary weighing oppressively on me.

I don't understand it, not really. Gabriel will be no more dead in three hours - his official birthday arrived - than he was a week ago or than he will be a week from now. Why it should produce this tidal wave of emotion that embarrasses me (haven't I gotten past this yet? Will I never move beyond it?) . . . I don't know. I don't like it, because I can see how sad J is and I feel that I am making it worse.

I feel both self-indulgent (for taking a day off work when I can ill afford to do so) and ungenerous to myself (I'm going in tomorrow morning anyway, a crisis having arisen after business hours). It's only a day, a marker, yes, but a single day. Why should I mourn this day any more than any other in which Gabe is loved and missed?

And yet, all night, the tears have fallen, and I've been left whimpering as we opened the mail to find so many kind notes and remembrances and acknowledgments I am overwhelmed with gratitude and feelings of undeservedness.

Gabriel's name in stars.

A Library of Congress call number that is Gabriel's name and the year of his birth.

A letter filled with love.

A donation to March of Dimes in his name.

And a plush stuffed sage green kangaroo, with a soft creamy corduroy belly, because he had such long limbs and large feet.

Happy birthday wishes from all over, acknowledging the birth of a loved little boy a year ago.

Tears fall down and J asks again if I want to go to bed.

"No. I want to go far, far away."

"To where?"

"Some place where once upon a time still has a happy ending."

Given that any mention of his birth must be followed shortly by acknowledgment of his death, these token are treasured, and bittersweet. Like Gabe himself, I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Still, I'm sad. Perhaps it started when I re-read the blog entry from August 20, 2009. The beginning of once upon a time, the fairy tale I thought was unfolding. So much love and optimism and hope there that it physically hurt me to read. Because I know what happens next, what monster lurks at the end of that particular book. And I want so badly to reach through time and stop it there in that moment of happiness, in those four days of perfection with Gabriel before he was born. Or speed up time again until I am back where I was two weeks ago, sad, but calm; his death as close to integrated as I think is likely to happen.

There is no chance for either, though. I struggle with the notion that if I had a choice or a chance, I might do something differently. Bargains in fairy tales rarely work out the way one might wish. And while I'm changed and different, I can't say that I am all bad. There are things about me that I think I like better, even. There are things in my life that I know with certainty would not be here if Gabriel were instead.

And yet. . . for an hour more with him. . .

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Gabriel, who had large feet and a vibrant personality, and his parents loved him very much.

Maybe, as fairy tales go, it's not so bad.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


This week has been awful. And not for the reasons I might have predicted six months ago.

I started my new job - the one I'm doing in addition to my current job - and I feel like I'm drowning. The learning curve is steep, I'm present only half-time, there are only so many hours in the day, and I've quickly learned why the problems exist in that department. Everything is a goddamned crisis oh my god I need this now put out this fire (ignore the fact I set the fire) this wasn't done falling through cracks sky is falling auuuuuggggghhhhh!

There's no time for regular work because one is always putting out fires.

Additionally, everyone has their hands in the money jar. And no one has a budget. For a variety of reasons, not assisted by not being available and present full-time, people are going directly to the financial assistant for payment and assistance. That has to stop. Making that happen though . . . sigh.

I do think I can do it. Truly, I do. My attitude is one of grim determination. Certainly, I can't make it worse.

But this adjustment period is killing me. This shuffling back and forth adds about a mile a day to my walk (seriously). In the current heat, it's killer. I haven't jogged in a week (though J is encouraging me to do so tonight). I have stayed late every single night this week - by hours. I haven't eaten lunch in the last three days, because there's not been time. Hell, today, I didn't even go to the bathroom.

I come home exhausted, and terrified I've forgotten something - after a mere few days, I'm already feeling infected with crisis-mode thinking, feeling flustered and behind and the fact I am behind the curve and scrambling to figure out really important things (the predecessor's notes were . . . lacking) is unnerving. I have good support, but figuring out how to best utilize it whilst still doing the job myself is a balance I've not mastered.

Add in to all of this the fact that Tuesday is what it is . . . sometimes over the past week it's flared up and hung over me and I've gasped.

The oddest thing . . . they don't know this about me. This thing that is such a huge part of my life and my identity. They had no idea that a year ago, I was finding out my baby was a boy and cautiously beginning to look ahead because we felt we were out of the woods. They had no idea that four perfect days were upon us and then our world was shattered.

At such a time, with everything else, it's such a jarring sensation and sense of unreality.

So I'm doing what a did nearly a year ago. Breathing, and trying to emotionally understand what I logically know. It won't feel like this forever. I'll get used to splitting time between two offices and I'll get used to organizing and prioritizing my time. I'll work out better systems to get things in the department on track and get things running more smoothly. I'll learn their budgets and funding sources and become conversant in their issues and know their staff.

That's one of the side-benefits of a dead baby; you learn you can survive just about anything, if you breathe and keep plodding on.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some of the best people in the world

are my friends.

I have been blessed over and over throughout the past year by the kindness, gentleness and understanding of some of my friends. The things they have done to try and make it easier for me are nearly too numerous to mention - and many are recorded here in more real time.

The thing that has been hammered home though is that they loved Gabriel too. They may not have known him, but they loved Gabe because he was my son. They mourn his loss too, and they miss him.

Coming out of the dark waters of my own grief, I've been gratified by theirs. They have helped me see that he was - and is - real. A real little boy, loved and wanted and missed. Not just a figment of my imagination.

They have been amazing and wonderful and perfect. Gabriel's impact on this world is so much bigger than his time here was, and they let me know about all the little ways my little boy has touched their lives and changed them. About how often they think of him and wish him well, the prayers they've prayed for them, the departed friends and family they've asked to look out for him. They've listened to me, in all my moods and have been there.

Awhile back, on a particularly bad day, I asked my friends to please send me images of his name, because I needed to see it. And they did. Pages and pages of Gabriel's name all over the place.

My friend D just sent me a lovely photo in which she wrote Gabe's name with a sparkler and captured the image.

My friend Kate (of the kangaroo feet) wrote a lovely letter to him and sent it to us.

Those are just recent things, lovely examples of the countless things my friends have done.

But I have to tell this story, because it's touched me so deeply. My wonderful, amazing, inspiring friend Stephanie ( two of the awesomest kids ever. And she's a pretty kick-ass mom. And one day she was sad, thinking of Gabriel and me. And her daughter asked why, and Steph explained it to them. And they left for awhile. And then her son came and asked to borrow the camera. And they took a picture of what they'd created, which was Gabe's name written out in stones and surrounded by flowers. Because Steph told them how much I loved seeing his name.

That photograph arrived last night. The story arrived this morning. And all I can do is touch my heart - that poor, wounded, battered, pieced together with glue and scotch tape thing that continues to beat in my chest - and blink the tears from my eyes.

Because I love seeing his name. And two pretty fantastic kids made his name for me.

Some of the best people in the world are my friends.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Really fantastic post on Glow

Chris posted this today on Glow:

What beautiful, powerful words that so perfectly say what has eluded my grasp in the past couple of weeks as I stumble closer and closer to that day again.

This especially resonated with me:

"It shouldn't be possible in so many ways, but the simple fact of his death is a proof of the geometry of life. It is something that is absolutely true in a world that is filled with gray areas and half-lies. There's no way to hide from it. No way to reason with it. No way to change it or fix it or alter it in any way. It is simple. It is final. It is true. He's dead. I'm alive. And now I get to spend the rest of my time here trying to reconcile those 2 truths even though they are perpendicular lines --true forms-- that intersected once and never will again. Or at least, not in this world.

Part of me went with him. Part of him stayed with me. Now it is an impenetrable nugget that lives inside me that is impossible to explain. It is a single point of existence, a raw, elemental dot that is painful and compelling and beautiful and terrible. His death is not just a moment, not just a period of time in my life, rather it is an ongoing experience that continues to alter my entire life and everyday experience."


That's how it is.

Oh, Gabe. Darling, how I miss you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Discussion Topics up on Glow!

This week on For One and All ( Perceptions of Time

Last week we went back to the beginning to recall how we felt in the immediate aftermath of our losses. Now we are exploring where we've come from and how it feels now; what has changed for us in our grieving; how we pictured various points out from our loss and how that compares to reality; what we hope for as time continues to move us along.

This week on TTC/Pregnancy/Birth After Loss ( Relaxation

The dreaded and hateful term to those suffering with infertility and many of us in the ttc/pregnancy after loss community - Just relax! Discussion centering on why that is difficult to do; what fears we have; what steps we take to try to relax; and what we say (or wish to say) to those who are offering such advice.

And sneak peek - Coming up this weekend, a new monthly feature on the discussion boards especially for Dads and Partners! If your husband or partner has been seeking a place to converse and talk about their perceptions of your shared loss, send them to Glow this weekend.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Some days I'd like to be someone else.

I'd like to be a size 10 or 12, and be able to shop in regular stores.

I'd like to be a runner, not just someone who is trying desperately not to drop after doing 15 minutes worth of walk/jog intervals.

I'd like to be a person who seeks adventure, does things like travel the world and explore and participate in wacky car rallies and such because they seem interesting.

I'd like to be younger and less attached.

I'd like to be someone who could actually be friends with some of the people I like following on Twitter.

I'd like to be in France right now, eating a croissant and soft cheese, with a strong coffee and a cigarette. And in England, visiting Hadrian's Wall. And in Greece, on the beach with lamb and olives (and to be the kind of person who enjoyed olives).

Or, as my husband so neatly summarized it for me as I was telling him this, I would like to be someone who is not me for awhile. Someone whose life is very different than my own.

And it's not that I don't like my life. The thought of not being married to my husband, or having my Jojo gaze adoringly up at me while wagging his stump of a tail, or having my kitties rub against me and then dart away to play with feathers. . . those sorts of things make me happy and I don't want to trade them.

I just want a break from my life. From my dead baby and the weight of living life without him. I don't want to contemplate the best means of honoring him on his birth and death date. I don't want to wonder how one celebrates the day their child was born to his death. I don't want to continue to struggle with acceptance and appropriate grief and justifications of how I feel to other people. I don't want to be overtaken by tears with no explanation or trigger. I want a break from censoring myself or trying not to offend, and likewise from being offended when I know no offense was meant. I'm tired of needing comfort and needing to comfort others. I want a break from reminders that my life ought to have been completely different. I want a life where I'm excited by my child, not a new piece of memorial jewelry to remember that child. I want a break from putting the pieces back together and from a heart that's been masking-tape-and-glue-stick stuck back together again. A break from feeling guilty when I laugh and when I don't. From the wondering what a mother is and if I count or not.

To not be me for awhile.

The problem is . . . apart from the fact that I am me and I don't want that to change - I don't want to be someone else's wife or mother, I don't wish Gabriel away - is that Gabriel comes with me, everywhere I go. I carry him with me, and nothing changes that.

Sometimes, that brings me comfort. Sometimes, it's a burden that feels heavy. And now, when I am already tired and strained and feeling overstretched because of work and because of August and because it's almost a year and what do you call that day anyhow? Anniversary? Birthdate? Deathdate? . . . I would like a break.

There isn't one, not without giving up the balance of things. But I find myself, in moments alone, escaping into fantasies of a different life, a sunnier life, where presumably there is greater ease and less struggle. Too bad that doesn't actually exist in this world, eh?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Discussion Topic up on Glow: In the beginning and Decisions

I'd like to explore the range of emotions and the pressures of loss through the lense of time. Part 1 will explore the time period immediately after our losses, as we re-examine and explore how we felt then and how we coped. Next week's discussion will move on to focus on how time has changed our perceptions of grief.

Discussion topics are open for all to participate; I hope you'll join us here:

Additionally, the first official discussion topic is up on the ttc/pregnancy/birth after loss board. Focusing on the decision to try again (or pursue adoption, or carry a pregnancy)(or not, as the case may be), and how each of us reached that decision and the biggest motivating factors in our choices.

To participate in that discussion, please join us here: