Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Makes You Vulnerable Makes You Beautiful



Vulnerability--"It appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love." -- Brene Brown

Just loved watching this as a researcher confirms some of my own thoughts about the necessity of vulnerability.
I wrote these thoughts two years ago. They seem as fresh to me today!


Vulnerability
You must be open to the possibility of being hurt, betrayed, gossiped about, and prayed over
If you wish to receive help
For you cannot be aided in the trials of life
Without leaving your heart-door unlocked and your soul-windows open

Without the cry of "I am weak"
You will get no scaffolding
Without the confession of "I have nothing left"
You will get no match from another who will also bring the candle
of hope to light in your home
Without the wail of "I am imperfect"
You will get no one to sit with you in your failings
making you whole

You must be open to the possibility of being judged and condemned by another
equally malformed human spirit-body
If you wish to be healed of your wounds and
guided to more loving ways of being human
Without truthful disclosure of what you think, feel, wonder, reason and pray
Without willing vulnerability
You cannot be loved

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I am Not Blessed

I know that I am not blessed. I was not blessed with meeting my husband in my child-bearing years. I was not blessed with a healthy baby who now is everything I live for. I was not blessed with a birth family who picked us to parent their child. If these are the blessings that some attribute to God, then I am not blessed. Blessings, you see are relative, one knows to call something a blessing when one knows the antithesis. I live the antithesis so that others know what to call their blessings.

People generally, don't like it when one self-describes herself as "not blessed." When I articulate my reasoning, people say to me, "ah, but you should count your blessings." That makes me cringe too. Because what they are really doing is "shoulding" on me. They assume, and wrongly so, that I am not grateful for what is good in my life. I love my husband. I love my work. I love my family. I love that Caitlin made me a mom. I'm grateful that I am loved when I least deserve it.

But, I won't "count my blessings." Why? Because when I'm told that I "should count my blessings, that means that I should be grateful that I have some things that others do not have---and therein lies the problem. I don't like the use of blessings to mean a favor of something that others do not receive. I reject the notion that finding "blessings" that someone else was not "worthy" to receive, should make me feel better. I can be grateful for what I have without feeling happy that others are less fortunate. And by the same token, I need not aspire to having what others claim are their blessings. I reject the comparisons. Once I sever that thought that someone's fortunes--someone's blessings--have meaning for me, then I am liberated from needing to be blessed. I am not blessed--I am happy, I love, and I am loved.

I will not be uplifted by the misfortunes of others, and I will not be diminished by the fortunes of others.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Note for Family and Friends Who Read

Dear Family and Friends in Real Life,

If you've discovered and read my blog then you might be wondering, "Hey, is that woman the one I know?" or "Why is she so angry?" or "Why does she write such personal thoughts to strangers?""Will she ever get over it?"

And if you're thinking you should treat me differently or ask me about this or talk it out with someone else without me there  . . . . it's OK, go ahead. I mean that with no sarcasm or snarky insincerity. Your life and how you may or may not respond to this space and my words belong to you as does my response and rumination of my grief experiences belong to me.

Remember that I love you. Remember that anger ebbs and flows--as do all other emotions. Know that I sometimes don't want to burden family and friends of real life with "such personal thoughts," because I know some might be offended, or hurt, or feel obligated to try to make it better, or try to get me to be happy. And well, I am happy, though it's a complicated life happy.
 

And this space allows me to express the positive and the negative and that helps keep me in some kind of equilibrium.


AND so if you are reading, feel free to comment or not. It's OK. I love you.

Peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

May Our Children be Remembered this Holiday Season

When our children die, what we have is their memory and their name. We know no words can help us through difficult holiday times, but those who share their memories of our children and let us know that they remember our children are of great comfort. Hearing and seeing our child's name is also of some comfort. If tears flow, one need not feel bad, as they are natural and the result of love for our child, not a result of others saying "I'm sorry." Including their names in Christmas cards and seasonal family update letters helps us weave their death into our lives.  When someone is comfortable sitting with us in our pain, we feel held. And we feel held when others pause, however briefly to remember our children.

May each of my fellow-bereaved parents feel held this holiday season. I'll be hanging my angel ornaments and ornaments with Caitlin's name on our tree this year, and lighting a candle for all those children gone too soon.

Peace.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Congratulations on Surviving Another Thanksgiving

OK, here's the thing. I'm done with Thanksgiving. I'm done with the whole, "what are you thankful for?" malarky. I am grateful that I had Caitlin. I am grateful that my DH and I are solid as a rock. But, I resist the persistent forced "be thankful" spirit of this season. This season for me is a season of mourning, of remembering, of reverence, and sadness. Thanksgiving is a big "suckage" holiday for me. I put it second to Mother's Day. And that's OK. It's just the way it is.

The day before Thanksgiving we had Caitlin's funeral. I'm grateful for the many friends and family who made the trek, for some an expensive trek, to be there with us to say "goodbye" to our daughter. I'm grateful for the friends who postponed their holiday travel to attend my daughter's funeral instead. I'm grateful. They held us through that awful day. But, I'm not on board with Thanksgiving holiday. I'm done with it. Done with forced smiles and forced happiness.

I should have phoned in "bereaved" this latest holiday gathering. I'm just not strong enough all the time. The babies and the baby stories just about did me in. The "cooing" and the explaining every move and sound they make was unbearable. And the comment of "Well, we just have to trust that God knows best" was not helpful. Really, God knowing best that my daughter should die instead of live is just not how you comfort a bereaved parent. It has the effect of negating the feelings of the bereaved. Like, "Well, too bad, 'cause God knows best." What I heard was, "It was best that Caitlin died." Yup, when you pull a God plan on me that's what I hear. I know that's not the intention, but that's what it feels like. So, if you could just kindly keep the God reasons to yourself to comfort yourself--protect yourself from the horror of understanding what it feels like for your child to be dead---that would be great. And, if you meant it, that it was best that she be dead, then shut the F up, and spew that crap at coffee with the other gossip mongers.

I'm done. I'm done with this holiday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Hello" hello . . . hello . . .

That's me calling out to the blogosphere to see if anyone is still out there, and by anyone, I mean me! It's been a long hiatus from writing and sharing this grief journey with those who choose or stumble upon this place of pause for reflection, story telling, and sharing.

It's October and I'm still in the season of my daughter's life. And during this period of 11 weeks of remembering her gift of motherhood to me, I've reflected upon where I am on this journey. I've come to a place in this grief, that I think most "normals" (those who have not experienced the tragic death of their children) would expect comes at about 2 to 6 weeks out from the death of Caitlin. I work with vigor and focus. I laugh easily and I "fit in" in social gatherings. Each moment is no longer filled with the presence of acute grief. The desire to be not dead, but not here has dissipated. And the ever-present and overwhelming sadness that engulfed me subsides for long periods of time.

For me, this is how long it took--about three years.

Let me be clear though. I'm not back to my old self. I am quite different. I took some of the old me and threw it out, some was kept, and some of it I'm still working with--molding and shaping to be the kind of mother Caitlin deserves. Though, she' not here on this earth, I honor our relationship of mother and child. Caitlin's life and death catapulted me to new places, literally with a new job and figuratively with new and refined insights, beliefs, and understandings, as well as new and refined behaviors.

I'll speak to one I noticed most recently. With my new work, I'm meeting many new people. When they talk about their children, I listen and sometimes find occasion to respond with "I know what you mean." They might look at me "longways", but I don't notice if they do anymore, 'cause I'm a mom and sometimes, I do know what they mean. I rarely skip a beat with saying my daughter's name. "Yes, when I held Caitlin, I felt . . ." and skip even less time to respond with "and we, sadly, experienced the tragedy of her death." When people say, "you are just like my mom," I say, "thanks, that means a lot, especially since my daughter is no longer here. It feels good to be recognized as a mom." I believe Caitlin should as easily be part of my casual conversations as she is a part of my deeply personal and profound discussions.

I tend to be fearless of possible shocked, saddened, or uncomfortable reactions. I no longer try to save others from emotions that might be painful. This response is not out of some desire that others should hurt as I have hurt, but out of understanding that sorrow lives with joy. I do no one a favor by sweeping pain under the rug. I live as an example that one can experience and survive and yes, thrive, even after the tragic death of my daughter. And I strive to be unafraid to LIVE that. When someone experiences an empathetic response to our story, that's a good thing. If Caitlin's story is part of fostering empathy in others--then that's a good thing. If Caitlin's story prompts an emotional response for someone else, an emotional response of sadness that is all too often considered wrong or bad in this culture of "life's too short to be anything but happy" then we will be participate.

On a related note, I understand that parents of living children do not expect that they should not celebrate their children's birthday each year, and so I expect that others should "get over" me celebrating my daughter's birthday each year--even though she is dead. I don't expect that any mom should get over the birth of their living children, and so I operate on a principle of reciprocal acknowledgment. If parents wish to sign the average holiday card with their children's names, then I may do so as well if I wish.

BTW, I have no complaints of my friends and family. I hit the jackpot there. Sadly, I'm one of the luck few. ((((hugs))) to fellow bereaved moms who must educate each year that their child still matters!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Death and the Mother

A fellow bereaved mom's blog post made me think of this video. Here it is with (((((hugs)))) to fellow bereaved moms. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Her Name


























When your child is gone, what you have is her name. Her name is tangible and in a small way, writing it places her here in this place with me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don't Panic Take Two

I'm re-reading the third in the series of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and given my last post, smiled when I read these words.
There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
So, that's my plan, will take a leap and forget to land. New motto:

Have Risk: Will Fly

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Panic

are the words written in friendly letters on "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Wish the "Book 'O Life" came with this friendly suggestion. As I get closer to my new job, I find that panic is a occurring far to frequently. Perhaps I will find that the answer is 42 and that even though the new job won't be the life I had hoped for it may be "not entirely unlike" fulfilling.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Early Bloom

This is far to early for the season Caitlin's tree to bloom, but one lone bloom showed herself in this oppressive heat. Blooms are supposed to occur in November!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tired

That's all. Sometimes that's all I got. Today is one of those sometimes.

Folk Song of "Farmer's Curst Wife"

So, I've been perusing through folk songs from long ago. One in particular I found amusing and particularly at the final verse, I found my self silently nodding, . The opening verse is:

There was an old man at the foot of the hill, 
If he ain't moved away he's livin' there still, 
Sing heigh, diddlei, diddlei fie!
Diddlei diddlei day!

As I sing through the verses and the story goes
Devil shows up.
Farmer fears Devil will take his son. 
But, the Devil wants his wife.
Wife goes to hell and fights back so much that the Devil brings her back.

The final verse made me nod my head.

There's one advantage women have over men: 
They can go to Hell and come back again. 

Sometimes that's just what it feels like we do. We get drug to hell by agents out of our control, but somehow through shear force we fight our way back. I don't know how, but somehow it happens.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bumper Sticker Rage

"My baby was born at home"

---Big 'effin deal. My baby is dead. She was born and then she died.  My bumper sticker should read:
My baby was born in a hospital where they repaired her heart
and
WE BROUGHT HER HOME.
Consider editing your bumper sticker, perhaps . . .  
"I'm grateful my baby is alive."


Expressions of superiority suck, and are usually evidence of naivete or an inability to consider other points of view.

OK, rage released. Sorry if I offended home-birthers. I'm sure parents who want a more natural entry into this world for their babies are passionate about home birth. I'm sure it feels like an accomplishment for their children to be born at home. From my angle, it's an accomplishment for any child to be home alive.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Unexpected Sad Lyrics

Well, the fourth of July has come and gone. I watched and participated in many a sing-a-long of patriotic songs, but found that lyrics that once held pride unexpectedly brought a lump to my throat this time. God Bless America has some sad lyrics this year.

"from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam"

I do hope they are successful with relief wells to stop the oil from spewing into the Gulf. We need to work on bringing the ocean back to "white with foam."

God may have blessed America, but we're sure doing a nice job of screwing it up. UGH. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Update on the "R" Word

Thanks to M at The Maybe Baby (Babies), I came upon some information about removing the "R" word. It's called "Rosa's Law," and it PASSED.

Professionals and laypeople will be using "intellectual disability" instead of "mentally retarded" in school and government-related business. You can bet that I'll continue trying to spread the word. In Caitlin's memory.

Words

Names hurt
Labels break the spirit
Strike the heart like sticks and stones
Dare deny this truth with silence
Find it affirmed with words
Words can heal
Words matter

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Exploring Mindful Grief: MISS Foundation Conference

“Exploring Mindful Grief: A Journey for Families and Professionals”

* Online Early Bird Conference Registration – VISIT the Conference Website, by clicking here!

This unique conference is an education of both the mind and the heart. It is a rare opportunity for bereaved children, teens and adults to come together with compassionate professionals in a rare learning experience.

Who Should Attend?
Anyone bereaved as a result of a child's death should attend this conference. Additionally, social workers, psychologists, nurses, physicians, first responders, funeral directors, professors, school counselors, clergy and spiritual leaders, and anyone else who may encounter families experiencing a child's death should attend.

Speakers include:

Dr. Robert Neimeyer
&
Dr. Joanne Cacciatore 
&
Dr. Laura Umphre


(and little ol' me)
  
If you're planning to attend and part of this blogging community, I'd love to organize a way to connect. Send an email to a5thseason@gmail.com and we can plan a morning coffee or evening beverage at the conference.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Day Visit to the Cemetery

I went to the cemetery on this beautiful summer day to visit Caitlin's grave. The sky was that picture perfect blue with white clouds to let you know it's real. I watched the clouds then moved to my car to listen to Rutter's "Mass for the Children." It was a peaceful visit, with no walkers, runners, or baby strollers. I was able to focus on my daughter. Then I kissed her stone and went home. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Words Come More Easily

The doorbell rings and I quickly answer it, hoping it's Keith to clean our gutters. Trees have been growing in the troughs again, and neither DH nor I have a love of ladders. It's not Keith, it's college undergrad selling children's "educational" materials.

"Hello, I'm here to talk with folks who have children."

"Ah, sorry, we don't have children." I step back to close the door with a smile.

"Well, then," he offers me an elbow, "congrats you escaped that."

"Oh, no," I keep my elbows to myself, "We had a child, but she died. We don't have any children living in our home."

He drops his elbow and stares at me, and stammers.

"Oh, oh, I'm sorry. I . . . "

"Thank you. How can I help?"

There's some part of me that tries to save the individual who's drowning in his/her own assumptions that if you have children--whoo hoo, and if you don't--whoo hoo. No one expects someone to merely explain that they have a dead child. But, you know what, I'm not silent anymore. Screw you, public. Live in your own sterile world. Mine is not sterile and I won't participate anymore. Words come more easily now. Caitlin has been gone nearly 3 years, but she's firmly entrenched in my life.

"Well, I'm a college intern, selling these children's educational books. Could you help me with which of your neighbors have children." He shows me a map of my neighborhood.

I predict he will be fine, if not highly successful, in his business endeavors. After all, he just learned to ask the dead baby mama about all the other parents with living children in the neighborhood. I comply.

"Neighbor next door is single (just suffered a divorce). Across the street and behind us are two widows (both who lost their husbands tragically after our daughter died). The neighbors next to them moved away because they lost their house in the flood, but the house next to theirs, the one that's for sale---they have loads of kids (that mom, dad, and in-laws yell at constantly, and the youngest screams daily at the top of his lungs)."

"Ah, thanks. . . I don't mean to be a pain, but we didn't bring any water with us. Do you have a bottle of water?"

I give him a bottle of water and send him on his way. Next time I answer the bell, I hope it's the college interns who offered deck washing and staining---oh, and powerwashing for siding.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Performing in Summer Pops in the Park--My Perfect Moment

I took this picture from the top of the choral risers before our gig began. It was a lovely evening.


There was a moon and I thought of Caitlin. You can see it in the upper left hand corner of the pic below.


If you'd like to check out more Perfect Moment Mondays go to Weebles Wobblog by clicking here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

RePost for DH on Father's Day

For Her Father

For the one who held me as I wailed
Who waited to release his pain
To be present with mine
Who understood
As I clung to his breathing body
That I was trying to fold myself into him
Searching and aching to find my child
Within him
Draining myself into his soul
Resting for a moment there

For the one who then
Entrusted his sorrows to me
Released tears that bathed my naked arm
Buried his head in my neck

I cherish you
for
Within
Each other we find our child
For her essence
Lives in us
Together

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Keep an eye out, especially those of you in the Pacific Northwest area. The tip-line is (503) 261-2847.

Dear Pregnant Women

Dear pregnant women who are friends of friends,

Ladies, I barely know you in real life, so please stop friending me on FaceBook just so you can increase the number of people who know that you are pregnant. I'm happy for you, but a bereaved mother is not the person who needs an update on your heartburn and other pregnancy troubles. I wish you a healthy pregnancy and a live baby. And now I must unfriend you. Peace.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Be Happy---No, I don't have to

There comes a time in life when you have to walk away from all the pointless drama and the people who create it, and surround your self with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus on the good. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Repost if you agree.

This is one of the latest FaceBook virus posts going around. But, as usual, I take everything at heart-level.
While I think walking away from pointless drama and those who foster it and surrounding oneself with creatively funny people who love life is a good thing, I DON'T think that "Life is too short to be anything but happy."

Joy lives with sadness. People who tell others how to feel with "be happy" are missing an important step toward feeling happiness--honoring sadness when it visits. It's unreasonable to think one can "be anything but happy"and a myth to think that one can abolish sadness.

Acknowledge and honor the sadness that enters your life and sit with those who feel sorrow and you'll find release. You'll find that neither sorrow nor joy stay forever, and then you'll be living----and you'll be happy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We're Destroying our Mother

The images of oil poisoning our ocean has a visceral effect. We've developed technology that can destroy our oceans. So far it's destroying a good chunk of the gulf. Companies have done little research on how best to clean up our waters; they're using the latest--what was developed in the late 70s. They invested plenty for deeper drilling, and invested in marketing a novocaine of sorts for the general public, lulling us to think that they're taking their "stewardship" seriously.

We've demonized regulation and convinced our populace that "government is the problem." We've let the market decide and supported commerce over our environment. Government is made up of people with individual and collective interests, but it's the social mechanism that we have to take care of our populace and the mechanism we have to seek justice. It's not perfect, but I'm not ready to "take it back"--whatever that means--and give it blindly to commerce. Commerce can be healthy within confines.

Water is a symbol for life, as well as a necessity for life. I'm comforted by the knowledge that Mother Earth can self-correct over time. Many generations may pass before she self-corrects this one. But, I'm worried this time. Perhaps this latest assault on the earth will slip, as others have, into history, and we'll merely accept it the way it is.

But, I can't help but think that we are destroying our mother, and rendering her barren. I can't help but feel pain that the Earth has lost the role of nurturing what was once alive.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

If I Could

I would personally invite every person on this planet to stop using the "R" word as a punch-line. Next time it's about to escape your lips, use your own name---that's what it feels like to be berated for just being you. There are plenty of other words; get a thesaurus. ARGggggggg.

Here's what the National Down Syndrome Society says:
Use of the "R" Word
NDSS uses and encourages the use of person first language (i.e. 'a child with Down syndrome'). NDSS exclusively uses and encourages the use of the socially acceptable term "intellectual disability."
NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory or inappropriate context. People with disabilities, like all people, deserve to be treated as valued citizens and not referred to in a hurtful manner for any purpose. Using the 'R word' is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent. Negative and inaccurate public perceptions are the greatest barriers the National Down Syndrome Society faces in achieving acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Question Changed

After Caitlin died, I didn't cut my hair or get those gray-hiding highlights. Not for any reason other than, all I was capable of doing was grieving. Crying, writing, reading, visiting her grave, pouring over condolence cards, holding her blanket, her cloths, and pictures. Grief work.

About a year later, the first visit to the hair dresser brought with it, unfortunately, fodder for more grief work. Sitting next to 8-month pregnant new mom, I tried to avoid hearing the conversation. I could avoid her answers, but I remember hearing the questions. "What is it?" "Is this your first?" "Did you pick out a name?"

My hairdresser, absent minded, though understandably so, asks me, "Do you have any children?" I told her yes, but that my daughter died shortly after birth. "I'm sorry" was followed by more questions, that I'm sure new mom was desperately trying not to hear. I left emotionally beaten--with an external look that no longer matched insides--a great cut with beautiful blond highlights.

Nearly every haircut since is accompanied by the question, "Do you have any children?" I always answer the same and then listen like an academic to how they react, what they say or ask or advise. Gratefully, everyone of them responded with a sincere "I'm sorry." Some will automatically recount someone they know or who knows someone who has lost a child . . . or lost something like a house or a pet. Some brush it off with suggestions that I "just have another" or "get a dog" or "you can always adopt"--they have no idea how difficult adoption can be.  Some gently ask what happened. They ask for her name. They ask how I'm doing.
Two days ago, I walked into a salon and sat down to get my haircut. But, this time the question changed. "So, how many children do you have?" "How odd," I think, "how could she possibly know that I was a mom? No one recognizes motherhood in a mom whose only child is dead." I give my usual answer and then settle into my academia. She was mortified and the "Oh, I'm sorry" nearly made her choke. I felt bad about that, but reason that empathy is good for people and helping people avoid a natural and appropriate response by lying and saying that I don't have children is bad for the human race. What I mean is, it's OK for her to feel. In short she recovered with "Are you going to have more? You can always adopt. Or get pets." While I wish that these statements could make me feel better. But until a hairdresser can bring my child back to life, I will forever endure their need to reach their own equilibrium upset by the knowledge that they now know someone whose baby died. I endure it because they need me to hear their efforts, it relieves that rock in their throat. I don't mind--anymore. I gently respond to each question, with silence. It's the best I can do. I'm at last successful with releasing both of us from the conversation with "Well, when you experience a tragedy like this, you learn to let life be as it is."

Then I leave the chair with a great haircut and smiling. Why smiling? Because someone assumed that I was a mom. She may have done this as a result of my non-highlighted hair--translation--because I'm old. But, "belief makes things real" and I'd like to believe that the assumption was a result of seeing that I carry Caitlin with me where ever I go.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chocolate

I need say no more. Chocolate. The food of the gods that will cure my ill---well for the moment! Here's to simple pleasures of life. 'Cause sometimes--that's all we got!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Threnody


 This, from Word of the Day. 
Threnody: a poem, speech, or song of lamentation, esp. for the dead.

Plenty of that here, and appropriate for those who remember a lost family member who served in the armed forces. You can find Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous threnody for his son, who died at five from Scarlet fever here and an explanation of his words here.


Wishing peace upon this earth, this Memorial Day.



Friday, May 28, 2010

Spent

Ever feel like, you got nothin'?

Beautiful day.
Low cholesterol.
Low blood sugar.
Good kidney function.
Glass of wine.
High hopes.
But, spent.

Wrote like a crazy person these last couple days. Grateful that my mind can focus like before Caitlin died. But, now I'm stuck, and feel like I got nothin'. Deadline in five days. I need something.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thoughts on Mother's Day

In list form, because I love lists, here are a few thoughts on Mother's Day:

1) When I was a child and young adult Mother's Day was about going to church and then breakfast and wishes and hugs for my mom. I have a few images in my mind of having my younger brother and sister pick wild flowers and give them to my mom. That's not a Mother's Day memory, but it's about my mother. (I pretty much have a crappy memory, and I know it. I try, but frequently fail.)

2) Becoming a mother is the most powerful emotion I've ever felt. It's pure interaction with evolution; the fierceness of a mother protecting her young motivated by love. Love that's surprises even those who are pretty good at loving and nurturing others to start. 

3) The death of my only child, threatened to destroy my new role as a mother. Caitlin Anne lived for 11 weeks, and her death made me unrecognizable to myself. It's a struggle to find that new normal, but I'm on my way.

4) Society doesn't like to remember the tragic death of a child, and assumes that bereaved mothers "shouldn't be reminded of 'it'" because it will cause pain. That's bullpucky. Ignoring our children (not 'it') is what causes the most harm. If you can't say "Happy Mother's Day," say, "I hope you have a gentle Mother's Day" or "I'm thinking about you and your child, today."

5) It's true that you don't know what it's like to be a mom, until you are one. But, I maintain that once you're a mother you don't know what it's like to not have children. To be ever viewed with a mixture of apathy and pity when the answer to "Do you have children?" is "no" is so easily forgotten or worse, used to measure the worth of your women hood over another's.

6) (This one may be viewed as mother-sacrilege.) Giving birth to a child doesn't make a woman an automatic "saint." Moms don't get automatic points for giving birth; "best mom of the year" requires the ability to love fiercely and nurture. Women who don't give birth are capable of nurturing to a degree that, in my opinion, equals that of the average mom.

7) Although, Mother's Day, seems to be about pampering and cards and flowers, it began in connection to grief, which I find to be remarkable, and well, empowering. Reading about Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis might give plenty a different perspective. http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/about-mothersday/history/
8) I remain grateful for my daughter's gift of motherhood to me; and humbled really.

9) I remain grateful for the fierce love and nurturing of my own mother.


10) I remain grateful for the nurturing women in this world, who know that it is the ability to nurture and be compassionate with others that is most important.

Monday, May 3, 2010

International Babylost Mother's Day

International Babylost Mother's Day is the first Sunday of May each year. IBMD recognizes babylost women all over the world as mothers. When a woman loses her first baby it does not mean that she is not a mother. She will be a mother for the rest of her life. We come together to celebrate our connection, our children and our hope for the future It is a day for love, peace, remembrance and recognition.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Forty Steps--Such a Short Distance


Such a short distance, forty steps. But how steep, and how high, and will our feet be bare and the pavement hot? No matter, we climb. Not because we're strong, or brave, or courageous, but because it's the direction we must travel. Peace to all those whose journey is tiresome.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

No More New Beginnings

Been thinking about how life changes and perhaps this is because of my age, but I'm inclined to think that it's more connected to my life experience of losing my daughter. You see in the wake of changes in work and other life events, nothing seems like a new beginning anymore. Just seems like a continuation of what is since her death. Everything gets measured by what life was like before and now what life is like after. Ah, so there are no new beginnings---just more steps on the journey.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"C'hello" Kitchen Concert

For "Perfect Moment" Monday, I share my kitchen concert for DH. You can't see it very well, but Caitlin's blue bracelet is on my bow hand. This avenue for music making for me continues to provide some healing. I'm grateful.

Go to Weebles Wobblog for more Perfect Moments

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No Words

Tears Have Dried

There are days when I feel that the tears have dried
Nights when I wipe away phantom tears
A stoic heart evaporates what should be wetting my cheeks
A conscious mind soaked the moisture away from my skin
I sometimes beg for weeping
Then I'd feel my own heart beat
My own soul be
Sadly, in this moment
I feel that the tears have dried

Ironic, it's what others, and yes, me too, had hoped for
That one day, hours would pass without falling tears
That one day, I'd laugh and think again
It's here --- But, I'm not sure I like it that much more than
the tears

No words
I don't taste them anymore
When they're not seasoned with grief
I just hate this ambivalence
This life, after the death of my daughter

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Politics Again (Sorry)

I'm convinced that more children will live if pregnant women have health care. I'm convinced that more children will live if children have health care.

Pro-Life Groups Support Health Care Reform

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Moon

I sat in an orange chair in our sitting room when the full moon caught my spirit and compelled me to looked up at her through the skylight. She was breathtaking, bright, a reflection of the sunshine --- like my daughter as she lives within me now. Her life now reflected in my own. I call for her dad to come and see. We shut the lights out so that the only light that comes through is what shines from the moon. We squeeze into that orange chair together and watch her in silence. Dark clouds cover her and we see, not hear, the tumultuous wind fight to keep her covered. But she remains and when a break in the clouds appear, the light is bright and piecing and beautiful. We exhale together. "Miss you."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cello Stories

An update on my new music learning endeavors. The cello rocks! I play three scales and a rendition of "Rueben, Rueben," that would make one weep. Ha! I wanted to share how energizing it is for my mind. The synapses must be firing in ways I can't imagine; after practicing for an hour, I went back to WORK---writing an article. That's right instead of being too tired, I was energized. Making music (not just listening)---that's the key. [Pun intended!]

Here's something else lovely, when I look down at my bow hand I see a blue and yellow "buddy walk" bracelet with Caitlin's name on it and it makes me smile inside. I wish she could hear me play the cello.

"Miss you baby girl. I'm working on your songs."

Friday, February 5, 2010

False comfort

The desire to have someone feel as bad as you feel is a false comfort.

Ah.....I should provide more insight. Yes, an understanding is a comfort, but a need or a desire for someone hurt the way one does provides no comfort----both merely hurt. Still.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gifting Music To Myself


 . . . and for my birthday gift to myself I went to a strings class to learn how to play my cello. My lovely cello that I've had for a year, that DH gave me as a gift so I could engage in music again, because I wasn't able to sing after Caitlin died. But I still didn't have the brain power or confidence to learn anything new. Ah, but, I went today and committed to learning to play my cello. So far, I know how to hold, how to tune, and how play with up and down bow on open A, D, G, and C strings.

Life is good. Looking forward to playing Caitlin's songs someday on cello and discovering another way to make music!


Peace.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wrestling with A Shadow


It's what we do, wrestle with a shadow. Our first shadow match is death. Death takes our child, and we wrestle it with the hope and intent of bring our baby back to life. It's not a crazy endeavor; it's real. Have you truly listened to the prayers and needs of bereaved parents. They mean it. Whatever it would take to bring their child back to life---they would do. Only they lose the match to Death, but get to know Death and come to know that to be connected to their beloved child, they must embrace Death.

Now after two years my next shadow match is in play. Wrestling with Sadness. Sadness is more aloof and less remorseful for the role she plays in my life. She's not really sure why she's here. After all, "others have more than you, how dare you be sad." And others have learned to "move on," or "understand it's God's plan," and your child is "in a better place," so she's family now.

Death will sit with me and talk about Caitlin and remember with me and recognize that love couldn't but should've saved my daughter. Sadness merely sits on me, weighing me down and wishing to be anywhere but with me. And Sadness has no holds, I can't grab on and wrestle her into submission. She's a sponge and she's soaked my living into her porous purposeless mesh.

Sadness has settled. It's odd, because I've written extensively about my emotions since my daughter's death, and Sadness seemed too small to mention. Sadness was miniscule to do this pain justice. But, Sadness has settled, and she isn't small. She's quite powerful and I don't like her. Not one bit. Sadness is like novacaine; I can't feel anything that I do.

And, I'm pissed about that . . . ah perhaps I've found a hold . . . because if I'm pissed then I'm feeling something. Right?