Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Midsummer Afternoon's Post


I know.

Mid-July and not a peep for the month yet, huh? Dude, I've been busy.

You may ask yourself, "How exactly does a stay-at-home-parent REALLY expect me to believe she's totally swamped? She STAYS. AT. HOME."

Exactly. Things just come up all the time and then the dog's paws need wiping and then someone's behind needs wiping and then it's dinnertime and boom, it's bedtime and then I'm too tired to write or it's the no-computer time or something.

So anyway, hello.

Also this: I keep thinking about last summer. When I was newly out from Calla's death and pregnant with O. I couldn't bring myself to do much more than turn on "Yo Gabba Gabba" and sit on the couch while E danced and sang and told me not to bite my friends.

Like I could have mustered enough energy to bite anyone.

I did the bare minimum, parent-wise, last summer. I was sad and uncomfortable and anxious and, pre-airconditioning that we now have, really, really hot. I mean, E was well-fed and clothed and cleaned, had plenty of books and toys and shows and games to keep him happy. And I could entertain him enough, could read the stories and do the voices and cook the dinners. I was, however, a bit of a basketcase behind his back.

So I phoned it in. And all of a sudden this year E had his third birthday and the same summer festivals and parties and concerts are rolling around and I'm all, "Wait. How did I miss this last year?" So I've decided to do as much as I possibly can with the boys, and with C as a family, all day and on the weekends and at nighttime--even if that's just running around the yard or taking a bike ride or whatever. Because I missed so much last year. I was living with my hands covering my eyes and ears, rocking in the corner muttering, "I can't believe she died, oh please let him live," over and over and over.

It pretty much sucked, and I was not the most fun mother on earth.

All this to say, I've been busy. But happy, because I wake up and think to myself, "Homey, I can DO this."

We've been taking the boys on bike rides through the cemetery. It's right across the street, pretty much, from our house, and it is beautiful. It's super hilly and quiet and once you're in, you'd never know you're in the middle of the city. We've found some old parts where the stones date back to the mid 1700s. And then there's the deer who we see now and then. He's curious and cute and it's like a real-live game of Where's Waldo?--he blends. Baby O refuses to keep his helmet on in the trailer, so our rides are frequently punctuated with me freaking out and adjusting his helmet, only to have him yank it off four seconds later. It's a process.

We stop at Calla's spot--it's a nice hill where E can run up and down and burn off some energy. There was an open grave nearby once when we went, so of course most of my energy was spent keeping him far from it. I tried explaining why we were there, whose name was on the stone. He was far more interested in the truck that lowers the casket into the earth. So he's not really ready yet.

(I'm making this sound like we were frolicking as a funeral and burial were going on feet from us--don't worry, that wasn't the case. We were alone--except for the truck and its driver.)

I think people sometimes confuse my ability to function as a normal person with being, ahem, "all better now." Yes, we have our beautiful baby O, too--clearly another marker of someone who's completely healed, right?


I mean, yes, of course, things are far better than they were eighteen months ago. (But even just writing that, "eighteen months ago," it could be eighteen seconds or eighteen decades ago.) The hole in our lives is not the raw, ragged, gaping maw it once was. But it's still a hole. She's still dead and always will be. Calla's still our daughter, still E and O's sister, who is not with us. And that will always hurt.

But it's strange, being a year and a half out from her birth. I've met new people; they don't know. And I'm mostly OK with that. But there are days when I want to scream, "What about HER?! I have a daughter and she's dead and I'm sad and I MISS HER and you don't even KNOW IT!"

That would make things all about me though, wouldn't it?

Every night before I go to sleep I sneak into the boys' rooms and give kisses and whispers and just feel their chests rise and fall. I listen to them breathe and imagine what they're dreaming. Now that E is in a big boy bed I can kneel next to it and, if I'm careful, put my ear against his chest and listen to his heartbeat. For these tiny moments I am ever so grateful.

Last night I gave myself a good cry, long overdue and possibly facilitated by the red wine I had before bed. I have Calla's pink knit cap under my pillow, and it's been there for eighteen months. I try to hold it in my hand all night long, but I keep it between the pillows in case I roll over or lose my grip.  And last night it made me sad that all I get for her goodnights is some donated yarn, the only thing I have--not packed away-- that touched her. No kisses, no dreaming, and definitely no heartbeat.

Life may get easier, but living without her never does.


  1. This epic post was worth the wait. It was so nice to hear from you again; your writing and spirit and insights and subtleties are so rich. I'm grateful to have stumbled on your blog and I check my feed every day. I think I could write a whole post just responding to this one, but I think I'll just mention that I loved all of it. There is peace in this post and a certain amount of contentment. Thank-you.

  2. I think in many ways, I am where you were 12 months ago. Though my grief is not as fresh, I feel like I'm giving Angus the bare minimum of parenthood and just hoping this one makes it. I'm so close, but it all feels so bloody far away. And of course, there are no guarantees. Being winter is not helping. Too cold and wet to go outside and her birthday is now just weeks away. I don't feel as if I'm living now, just existing.
    Thanks for writing this. As Josh said, worth the wait. Shit I need to blog.....

  3. So much here that I could've written, thank you, it's good to know when others feel the same way about so much. x

  4. This post summed up so many things that have been running through my head. I also have and older child and a rainbow baby. I feel like I missed almost a year of my daughter's life after her baby brother died. Yes, I fed her and clothed her, but I also laid on the couch and cried a lot. I often wonder what she will remember when she grows up. I just hope she can forgive me and see that I truly tried to make it up to her.

  5. Oh my. Last summer must have been so tough. I know that Yo Gabba Gabba has done a fair bit of babysitting for me too, whilst I was pregnant. I quite like the 'don't bite your friends' song. it is the kind of stuff that toddlers need to have spelt out to them. That life lived with your hands clamped over your eyes and ears, rocking and muttering . . I certainly recognise that description, just slowly pulling away from that territory myself.

    Having recently had another baby, I do find that people expect something to have changed, that I will be "all better now." I do find that deeply frustrating, whilst it is understandable. And meeting new people who don't know and will never know because I'm never going to tell them? That is tough, I think I have the same internal screams.

    And that little knit cap. . . oh, it just breaks my heart. Your sweet little girl.

  6. Great post. You made me cry. I am sorry that all you get of Calla is that damn yarn. I wish we both had more. Life isn't fair, I know it. But seriously, dealing with this forever sucks, no matter how happy my boys make me.