Thursday, September 26, 2013

second birthday (a sorta farewell)


Well, it's been a long time, and a lot’s happened.

I rediscovered my love for writing.

I wrestled with God and I lost.  Lost God.

I gave birth to a baby boy.

I’ve come to some sort of peace with Sunrise, and I’d be lying if I said it had nothing to do with the birth of my second son.

It was a tough nine months, filled with anxiety, fear, dread.  Not an experience I ever want to live through again.

But now I have another boy, and he’s the spitting image of his big brother at the same age.  My days are filled with breastfeeding and numerous diaper changes.  My arms are full.

I am overwhelmed by motherhood once again.

And I’d be lying if I said I never take it for granted.

Because I do.  When J. wakes up in the middle of the night or when he cries and seems inconsolable, I grumble, I stress, I complain.

But then I picture myself standing over a little grave.  And I shut up.

And so, when all is said and done, I’m grateful.  And humble, because I know how quickly it can all fall apart.

And this baby-time is so short, really.  Before I know it J. will grow up, and my heart strings will be tugged at and lengthen as he and his brother make their way further and further out in the world.

So I savor it.  A wine whose year I will never taste again.

As for Sunrise—she seems almost an anomaly to me now.  A small, piercing blip on my lifeline.  A wonder with a full head of blonde hair.

She’s marked me.

She’d be two years old today.  I miss her desperately.  I hold J. in my arms and think:  He would not be here if Sunrise hadn’t died. 

But I’m not happy she died, and yet I’m happy he's here.

I’m learning to live inside a paradox. 

As you can see, much has changed.  I look back on my old posts and see how far I’ve come.

Her second birthday. So different from the first.

We did nothing overtly special to mark the occasion.  I didn't go out.  The day started out cloudy yet bright, and then the sun came out.  Autumn is starting to touch our yard.  I made some lemon squares (I like to think she would have had a weakness for lemons and sweets—like her mother).  I gazed into my new son’s eyes and told him about his big sister.  I made sure to say her name out loud.  We talked about her, D. and my husband and I.

It was enough.

I know every year will be different.

So today I sit at home, holding my new baby in my arms, and think not on what I have lost, but what I have gained.

                               *                              *                            *

And so, my friends, where does that leave us?

The past year has been so busy, so fraught with heavy emotion, that I’ve neglected this little blog.

I’ve kept myself occupied with other things, things that helped me get through the hardest months.

Reading like crazy.

Working on my postpartum doula course.

I’m also finishing up an apprenticeship with elephant journal.  It was a much appreciated opportunity to learn about something I love to do (edit and write) and I’m grateful for the experience.  Curious to see where it will take me.

I wrote a piece about Sunrise which I’m especially proud of.  You can read it here.

I won’t be updating nine months and a day anymore.  Or at least, not consistently, and not for the foreseeable future.  I’ll probably keep the resource page up to date, but other than that...

I will leave my Facebook page up for now...but I’ll probably delete it after a time.  I’m not so enamored of Facebook, really, and I don’t think the page really serves any purpose if I’m not going to be updating regularly here.

Writing helped me get through a lot, helped me sort through a lot of conflicting emotions.  This was a safe space for me to retreat to, to come and grieve for the enormous loss I endured. But I find I don’t need that space anymore.

If you'd still like to hang out, and you like to knit, you can find me on Ravelry.

If you'd still like to hang out, and you love to read (I hope you do!), you can find me on Goodreads.

Whatever the future holds, I will leave this blog here, in perpetuum.  Maybe a grieving mother will come across it someday and find something I’ve written resonates with her.  Maybe she will find a resource that can help her through the toughest days.

I like to think of this blog as my memorial to Sunrise.  Any good that comes out of it honors her.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.



Sunday, June 2, 2013

my daughter's keeper

Today, June 2, is a day of spiritual solidarity, where we can come together to write, to pray, to weep, and to speak out on the issue of gendercide.  Many girls are aborted or killed at birth, or cast off simply because of their gender. 
As the mother of a girl--as the mother of a baby girl who died, who I would have loved crazy much had she stayed with me here on earth--I write for all those girls who never given the chance to grace this earth with their light, and I weep for the mothers who had their babies torn from them.

I hope you will speak out too, in whatever way you can.

To learn more, you can find more information at the link above or on the Facebook page for this event.

Monday, April 22, 2013

outside, looking in

Do you remember high school?  I don't remember much from my time there (or try not to), but certain things stick out in my mind.  And not in a good way. 

Lunchtime was particularly painful.  It's one of the few situations in life that I've found TV shows actually do a great job of mimicking.  You had the jocks at one table and academic overachievers at another (they would be the kids who always raise their hand in class and want to get into the Ivy Leagues).  Girls, in particular, all had their own Groups.  And if you weren't in their Group, you'd get the Stink Eye if you tried to sit at their table.

(There was a shocking lack of nerds at my school.  I think if there had been nerds, then I could have had a Group, too.)

Here's how painful high school was for me:  I used to skip lunch entirely.  I would wait out those socially awkward 25 minutes in the hallway outside the cafeteria, usually with my nose buried in a book.  I had one, maybe two, people I could call friends.  But we never seemed to have lunch scheduled at the same time.  So I sat by myself, stomach starting to growl, hoping no one would stop and ask what book I was reading.  I just wanted to get through the day, honestly.  Head down, books crushed against my chest, never making eye contact.  For me, if I could make it through the day with as little human contact as possible, I could get out unscathed. 

I don't know if the phrase "born again" is right for my situation, but since I can think of no better words, I'll use it.   When I was born again a few years ago, when I had not one, but two, amazing spiritual experiences where I knew, without a doubt, that God existed, I was so happy.  I felt, above all, that I belonged.  I finally had a Group.  I could eat lunch with everyone else; I no longer had to sit outside, all alone.

And I felt comforted.  Here, I thought, is something bigger than me.  Bigger than the world.  And He cares for me.  He protects me.  He's the most amazing Father/Big Brother/Lover/Everything that anyone could ever ask for.  I made it, I finally made it:  I found true faith.

What are you, Dejah? I finally had an answer, and I was proud of it: I'm a Christian.

                       x                        x                       x                        x

I can't pinpoint exactly when I lost my faith.  It's been quietly slipping away from me over the past year.  So quietly, that it's only in the past month or so that I've noticed I'm not the same anymore.  Something is missing.  Where I was once so sure, now I have only a nagging doubt. 

Isn't this the opposite of how it's supposed to work?  You face tragedy, your faith wavers, then it grows stronger.  That's how it goes, right?  Not:  You face tragedy, your faith is made stronger, then fades away into the night. 

That's how it was, though.  When Sunrise died, at the moment of her birth, I felt God's presence in the room.  I felt bound to him forever.  We could never be separated.  He would always be there for me.

Now I feel left behind.  I feel I'm supposed to be seeing something, but I just can't.  So many of my blog friends are Christian.  I admire and respect them, and read their words humbly.  So many of them are bereaved mothers, like myself.  But when I see their posts about how much God loves all of us, how Good and Great he is...it's like a switch has turned off in my brain, and no matter what I do, I just can't turn it on.  My Bible lies, unread, on my bedside table.  I haven't set foot in church in months and months.  Every time someone says "The Bible tells us..." I'm like "blah blah blah" in my head.  Every time I try to pray I start "Dear God, please help me..." but my voice fades and my heart's just not in it.  Most of the time what I really I feel like saying is "Dear God, you are a righteous jerk."  But my mother always told me, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Thanks, Mom.

I can't say I don't believe in God.  I know he's there.  I just don't know how much he actually cares for me.  For us.  For everyone.  I have trouble reconciling this crazy world, and us--his crazy children--with his supposed Love for us.  I have trouble knowing Jesus.  I have trouble seeing his Love.

And I know it seems like I'm just throwing my spiritual encounters with him out the window.  I'm not.  I still hold and treasure them as gifts, incredibly rare gifts. But they are gifts I'm not quite sure what to do with.  And most of all, I'm confused as to their meaning.  Why did he come to me?  What is he trying to tell me?  I feel like I'm failing him by not understanding more completely.

I don't sit at his table anymore.  I keep my head down and plunge through this teeming ocean of life as best I can.  I keep close that small grain of hope, that one day God and I will meet again, and it will be a beautiful, sweet reunion.  But right now, I just don't know what to believe.  I'm starving for something, and I don't even know what that something is.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

tree of life



I've agonized about posting this for over three months, but I guess I should just come out and say it.

I'm pregnant.

Which is both a "Woohoo!" and a "dear-God-I'm-scared-please-don't-let-anything-go-wrong-this-time" loaded statement.  I haven't made some big Facebook statement (I have some friends who are going to be "Whoa!" surprised when they start seeing baby pictures in August) because, honestly, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up.  And it's so weird to feel that way, to not feel this instant "Yay!  I'm pregnant!  I'm going to throw myself a baby shower!" kind of joy.

And I didn't want to post it here because I was almost in that other place: secondary infertility.  It seemed like everyone around me was getting pregnant and there I was, not.   It took us exactly 12 months to get pregnant and I'd almost given up hope.  I don't think people realize how much agony infertility brings: it stressed my marriage, and I felt my own peculiar kind of grief every month when my period came along.  I was constantly mourning the missed opportunities, the child that could have been.

And I know how much it hurt to read about rainbow babies on other blogs, and I don't want to generate that kind of hurt here, however unintentional it may be.

At the same time, this is my life now, and I can't just ignore it.

So I don't know what I'm going to do now.  I won't be posting about the pregnancy here, other than this post.  I'll announce when the baby is born, I'm sure...but really, this blog is about Sunrise and I want it to stay that way.  I've thought about starting another blog in addition to this one, which would incorporate all of my life, not just grief, loss, motherhood.  But that's still in the early creative planning stages and I'm not even sure it will ever come to fruition.

That puzzle above...it will eventually turn out to be The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt.  I've never been much of a puzzle person, but I received it for Christmas and Klimt is one of my favorite artists.  I work on it now and then.  I began it shortly after this baby was conceived and it has special meaning for me. I hope to finish it in time for the baby's birth.

I'm almost twenty weeks along.  Most women would probably be rejoicing that they made it this far.  And I am, but...

There's always a "but" now.

I'm happy, but I'm sad.

I'm eager to meet this baby, but I miss Sunrise.

I'm calm and know everything will be fine, but I'm stressed and I know how quickly everything can go wrong.

There's no peace, is there, in pregnancy after loss?  I was so naive, really.  I had convinced myself, during that long year that I was struggling to get pregnant again, that everything would be made right with another pregnancy.  That once I had another baby growing inside me I would be filled with joy and grace and everything would be rosy.  That my grief would magically ease and I could look to the future, easily, oh so much more easily than I'd been able to before.

I never expected to be here again.  Sunrise was supposed to be our last child.  I would have been happy with two.

Now, I have three children.  I never expected to be here.

This is a strange place to be, too.

So here I am, navigating these waters for the third time, looking for a nice island to build a nest on.   I temper my hope with a strong dose of reality--anything can happen, right?  You can be almost there and then, poof! you're lost again--but it is there, the hope.  I can almost taste it.

Just 20 more weeks to go.

Friday, February 22, 2013

get over it

Wow, almost March and this is my first post of 2013?  There's a reason for that, and maybe I'll get into it in my next post.  But there's something I want to talk about, and it's been weighing heavy on my heart lately. 

I've had more than one person tell me recently that I "need to move on".

Those of you who've lost a child know what a loaded statement that is.  It's the equivalent of "you need to get over it". 

And these were family members telling me this, and you'd think they'd know better, or be more understanding...but maybe they simply feel comfortable saying to me what others, who are not related to me, are thinking.

But what does it mean?  What do these people expect of me when they say something like that?  Because I'd truly like to know.  I'd love to know this magic secret to moving on from my daughter's death.

I think that's what makes me mad.  They tell me I need to move on, but then have no clear answer as to how exactly I can do that.  And you know why they don't have an answer?  Because there is none.  It's like trying to make 2+2=5.  It's an impossibility.  The laws of physics won't bend for this equation.

The mean part of me wants to tell them to shut up.  They can tell me to "move on" when they've lost a child themselves, but not before.  The rational part of me wants to explain it to them thusly:  I'm a vase that's been broken.  I've been shattered, and through lots of hard work (which includes hours of counseling) I've been able to pick the pieces up and glue myself back together.  I'm still a vase, still have a vase shape, but I'm not the same as I was before.  You can see the cracks, if you look closely.  But I'm still beautiful, I still hold flowers.

But I'm not the exact same.

I get up in the morning, and put my son on the bus.  I tuck him into bed at night. I love watching him grow into a fine, happy, handsome young boy. I love to read, listen to music, post on Facebook, browse Pinterest, study to be a doula, and sing really loudly along with Cee Lo while driving in the car.  I love to kiss my husband.

See?  I'm still the same. Just not quite.

A year and a half ago I wouldn't have thought any of those things was possible.  The fact that I can live my life as I did before is a small miracle to me.  So what's the difference?  What are these small cracks that freak people out?

Maybe it's the fact that I can't get excited about pregnancy.  Or rather, I don't get excited in a rainbows and unicorn farts sort of way.  I know, better than anyone, just how fragile the little life growing inside a womb is.  So forgive me if I don't feel like going to baby showers.  Baby showers anticipate something that might not happen, and it scares me.  I get fearful for the parents.  Maybe in ten years it won't scare me, but for now it does.  For some reason, all I can think when I see a pregnant woman is "I really hope that baby makes it."

And really, I do.

I think pregnancy, and babies, have become even more sacred for me now.  I know how deeply intertwined life and death are for that young life, and I know just how shockingly fast life can become death, and everything--hopes, dreams--can be lost.  I see it as a deeper appreciation for what is termed the "miracle of life".

But apparently that's just weird to other people.  And I should get over it.

I shouldn't cry anymore.  I shouldn't try and incorporate Sunrise into my life and family.  I shouldn't bake a cake on her birthday.  I shouldn't mention her.  I shouldn't wish for her to come back to life.  I shouldn't yearn to be with her.

Is that how I will move on?  Is that how it can be accomplished?  Because I'm going to say it now, and it will be a final say, and it will not change now, or 10 years, or 20 years, or any number of years from now:

 I'll never get over it.  I'll never move on (and I still don't know what that means!).  I lost a child and I love her deeply.  She'll never go away, and neither will my love for her.  I will always bake her a cake on her birthday.

And yes, a part of me will always be sad, and never be the same.

But that's normal.  Don't judge me for it.  Just let me be who I am.

This is who I am.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

snow

I feel very sad today.

I watched my son playing in the eight inches of snow that fell yesterday and it just washed over me:  Sunrise isn't here to enjoy this.  She will never play in the snow with her Papa and big brother.  I will never kiss her chapped pink cheeks when she comes in from the cold.  She will never throw snowballs or drink hot chocolate.

This is something that will never happen.  This is final.  This is it.

It doesn't sit well with me.

It's one of those days where the tears are always there, at the surface, and they fall unbidden, and I can't do anything to stop them.  It's one of those days where Hubby tries to calm me down but it only makes it worse:  I see how he grieves and how different it is from the way I grieve and I just want to scream and tear things apart.

This holiday season has been so, so hard for me.  I think about why that is.  Perhaps because last year I still felt some of Sunrise's spirit hovering near me.  But this year I don't feel it.  And that's the way it should be.  I don't want her to feel that she needs to be near me, to watch over me.  

But honestly, it is very hard for me to bear.

I miss her so much today.  This is one of those days where the Devil could appear at my door and instead of slamming it in his face I would bargain with him, just to be able to see her again, just to be able to hold her in my arms and tell her I love her.  Because I can't say it enough.

I love you I love you I love you

It's one of those days. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

the world can overwhelm


I'm sure most of you have heard the tragic news today.

I came home this afternoon from a visit with a friend and checked my Facebook page.  The first thing I saw was someone posting condolences to those who were killed at the Connecticut elementary school.  They didn't specify which one.

My heart stopped beating.  I thought of D.  I panicked, I prayed, I immediately put on the news.

Not D.  Not his school.  Thank you, Lord.  My heart started beating again.

It's beating, but it's breaking.  I feel like I've been punched in the gut.  I know (and you know) that there is no greater pain than that of losing a child.  That's it.  That's the end.  Do not pass "Go", do not collect $200.  Your life as you know it is over.

I know there will be a lot of talk, a lot of debating, a lot of navel-gazing in the days to come.  How can we prevent this from happening again? 

People talk about change, but they never do anything.  There is a lot of compliance, or everyone gets angry and yells at everyone else, but there is very little change.  Most people (in this country) are comfortable.  We want what we want and no one (and no law) will keep us from having it.

But we must start looking at the bigger picture.  Because honestly?  I don't ever want to hear about a mass shooting again.  Not in a school, not in a mall, not in a movie theater.  I'm tired of it.  I'm tired of people who are so angry/full of despair being able to pick up a gun and mow down whole families.

The answer to guns isn't more guns.

We're human beings. Our brains are equipped to handle the big questions, but somewhere along the way we've gotten lazy.   We're a species on a blue planet in a universe full of stars, we are a rare and wonderful confluence of life, intelligence, and morality.  And we're throwing it all in the gutter.  And while I believe God loves us, I can't help but think that at the same time, tonight, he's very, very disappointed in us.
 

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