Monday, November 30, 2009

That Love is a Verb--That's What's Most Important

This may surprise some, but this is another statement that no longer rings true for me.

"I know that the only important thing is whether or not the baby is born healthy."

Here's what I know. That's not the most important thing, either. Because when your child isn't born healthy, as mine was not, the most important thing is that you become a mother and that you engage in love as the verb it is, in all it's messy and scary and difficult and powerful and beautiful ways. Most parents hope for health above all, though some must come to an understanding that health cannot be the most important thing--especially when your child isn't born with health.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Take Care of Yourself

I've been meaning to write about this for a bit. I joined a weight loss group and lost 35 pounds. Big whoop really. Well, no, it was a "big whoop" and I am and was truly happy about my efforts and my seeming success at taking care of myself. I recently took a quiz to check my "habit profile." And my score sheet says that I need to work on "taking care of myself." The second item that was "revealed" was that I need to "manage my feelings."

Ha! You think! @#$%

I don't really want to take care of myself sometimes. I don't want to know what my feelings are sometimes. I just want to anesthetize with food and drink. But, at some point, I have to keep going don't I?

I hear this statement frequently, "If that happened to me, I could never survive."

It does encourage me to know that my efforts are recognized. That some growth and healing and strength in carrying this grief is acknowledged by others. I suppose I'm surviving, but I don't really have a choice do I? Though, sometimes, I think, "Ah, so here I am surviving something that others couldn't. This something must really suck." And it does. As I said, it can be nice that they seem to want to recognize my "strength"? My "courage"? My "what" exactly, though? The world keeps turning, the clock keeps ticking, and death goes on with my life in tow. I feel frustrated that there is this comparison resulting in me "winning" the survival game. UGH. Who wants to win anyway? It doesn't help to feel more courageous than another. She's still dead. It doesn't help to feel stronger than another. She's still dead.

If it happened to you, you would survive. I don't know how I know. I don't know, really. I do believe it, though.

Blogging has been a help in "managing my feelings," but now it's time to get to the "taking care of myself."

Well, to that end all I can muster is a "Gone with the Wind" Scarlett sigh, "I'll think about it another day."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gone Two Years

Missing Caitlin today. Still can't call it an "anniversary," but it is an important time marker; she's been gone for two years. Now she's forever in our hearts--it's not enough for a parent, but it's what we have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Quote

Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.

--Dorothy Thompson

It's Happened Again; Politics Intersects with Grief

"The U.S. ranks 31st in life expectancy (tied with Kuwait and Chile), according to the latest World Health Organization figures. We rank 37th in infant mortality (partly because of many premature births) and 34th in maternal mortality. A child in the U.S. is 2 1/2 times as likely to die by age 5 as in Singapore or Sweden, and an American woman is 11 times as likely to die in childbirth as a woman in Ireland."

I simply do not want any other mother's babies to die.

I read a lot of opinion pieces, but what usually grabs me are facts. Not the typical way of responding, though, most people are moved by stories and emotions, and in fact we make our most important life decisions based on feelings and not facts. But the facts above frighten me--children die and mothers die more here than countries with less than we have. Then I get angry, to be told that this is a government take over of health care, by the very people we pay to take over running the government on our behalf. I desire politicians to act on statements that they care about the American people, but so far, I hear that they are willing to accept the deaths of children and their mothers for the sake of who?--the very children and women who die? No, I suspect it's for the power or security or profit for themselves. I feel discouraged that some try to tell me it's OK to not want to contribute to the health of others, and encouraged me to think that only other people's children die for lack of care.

Please vote compassion and care, not greed. Please read the facts. We don't have the greatest health care system in the world. We seem to value money over life. And still with the latest bill that restricts health care for those who would have an abortion, the conservative population does not support reform . . . I'm stymied. Please, vote compassion and care. Let children and women live.

(Ah..... DH reminds me that Jesus was a liberal! Love DH. Matthew 25: 34-40. Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the king will answer them, "Truly I say to you as you did it to the least of my brothers (and I say sisters) you did it to me. Matthew 5:43-47. Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But, I say, Love your enemy. In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.)

[Oh crap . . . . . . OK, I've done what I can't stand, I've bible-versed you. I'm sorry and well, there it is. I'm simply saddened that we can't see to the prevention of the deaths of future children . . . . I'm saddened. ]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Like Slog

It's like slog inside my mind, when I'm thinking along and all is going smoothly. The words flow as I articulate what I mean, and then my thinking runs into a thick swamp of dead reeds, murky water, mud, and a toxic oil spill. And I must step forward and slog through, dragging myself through the thoughts, searching wildly for images within my mind, and reaching desperately for sounds to make words to string together. All the while, I push down the panic that I won't survive it. I won't survive this grief moment. Hoping the tears will wait as I slog my way through to the other side, with the sludge still clinging to my body as I open my mouth and eventually successfully speak. The damage is apparent, and it's embarrassing and frustrating. The experience resolves itself first with emotions of relief, then sorrow and anger, and finally the unsettling fear of the next swamp to come.

Another grief moment at work, that rendered my lecture a lesson in what it looks like when the mind succumbs to grief and the brain doesn't function as it should. I have amazingly supportive students, but I hadn't planned on explaining to them what I struggle with periodically. I planned on teaching them, but my stammering made me appear like someone who had no business teaching them, and so I told them--"I've experienced a traumatic event in my life that left me with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A trauma causes very real chemical changes in the brain, and sometimes it affects how I speak." Then I said something like "Oh crap, I didn't mean to tell my students that."

A new fear is creeping in--will this grief destroy my career? Will a bereaved mother be relegated to only grief as her work? I worry. I worry.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saint's Day

I went to visit Caitlin's grave yesterday, and thought a lot about All Souls Day coming up, and celebration of All Saint's Day today. According to my religion, I need not pray for Caitlin's soul to be purified in purgatory, as she entered the kingdom of heaven with no sins to purge. I supposed I am to be comforted by that, but I wish that she were here and could be well on her way to racking up some "sins." She deserved to live here on earth with her mama and daddy. At the same time, it is comforting to think of her in paradise with the saints.

I played some of her songs on my ipod as I sat at her grave. All her angels and other items I've brought were still there, which always makes me relieved and grateful. The frog toy still makes noise, but the smiley face one has succumbed to elements and no longer makes the bird and squeaky noises it used to.

Today has more special meaning, as it's Caitlin's grandfather's birthday. So, I'm remembering him holding her and remembering the hope I felt in those days of her life. Perhaps she has already whispered a gentle "happy birthday, Papa J" with her angel voice on the wind. If not, I'll relay the message soon.