Saturday, April 13, 2019

A Year and Then Some

Nearly two years it has been since I've written. We moved. I'm farther away from Caitlin's grave. It's odd. I'm fine.


Thoughts in no particular order, but not random . . .

The show "This is Us" needs to study the child death traumatic death experience. They get it wrong on so many levels. AND seriously do not use the NICU as a place where moms casually drink coffee around their premi babies and . . . oh, screw it. They don't care; ratings are up when you dramatize moms whose babies might die.

People with children who know you had a living child should well . . . . just never complain to you about their mom struggles. Really. Find someone with a living child; I would die to have your problems.

Fuck Cancer. I'm done with it killing my family and friends. FU Cancer.

Should I consider it progress, if I remember and ruminate over regrets and happenings from before she died? Does that mean that I'm "returning to normal"? It feels as crappy as it did then. So, no. Not progress; regression.

Still fine. I think that's the best I can hope for.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Schmeh: the holidays

I'm not sure when it happened, but over the years, I've come to feel nothing about the holidays. I don't care much for Thanksgiving. That American day of food and family was destroyed after my daughter's death. It's just not a time to blather about "what I'm thankful for."

And now, with the political climate, I see more clearly the oppression of the descendants of indigenous people that we (read American white settlers) destroyed so we could have what we have. I could likely make the four day weekend about family and friends and love, and sometimes I attempt it. Mostly, though, I'm apathetic. And most recently, it became the holiday I last saw my daughter's grandmother alive. So, yeah, Thanksgiving sucks.

And after the relief of going back to work, I continue to work pretty hard at just surviving the latest crazy. Like "Merry Christmas." A phrase that was nice for so so so many years. There was a time that if you wanted you could include the New Year with a "Happy Holidays."  I can't say either one of these phrases in public anymore without a store clerk or other stranger judging my political leanings despite the greeting I choose. I still say these greetings to people I know with sincerity, but out there in public, I say, "Thanks. and have a nice day."

Because that's how I really feel. That's the best I can hope for them and me. A nice day. A nice day that's not a holiday. Sometimes, I snark, "Enjoy whatever holiday you may or may not celebrate."

Perhaps, I should find a better phrase? Nope. Have a nice day is just fine.

I need to breathe in some joy. I'm empty.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I Looked Up

I look up, Weeping into the sunshine
Goldfinch flit past my eyes
Flashing bits of brilliant sunlight within my reach
Gentle breezes caress my bare arms
Drying my wet and heavy tears
Coaxing me
enjoy this Day
Coldness from the rock where I am still
Seeps into me
Spreads throughout me
I take my sorrow and go inside to wait for Night
where Darkness always receives me
preventing any distractions from Grief

I look up
Turning my face to the darkness
Waiting for a familiar coldness to overtake me
I Listen for my sobs
But, I am not overcome
I marvel instead at the near moon
Light surrounded by blackness
A white curved glow piercing the expansive nothing
A hope quickens within, and a thought forms
If the moon in it's passivity can conquer the night
I can in my patience conquer this death that eats me

Today I wept in the sunshine
Tomorrow I will smile, remembering the moon

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Her Sign

This summer I taught music teaching techniques as I have done for years. The first day of teaching, I walked into a classroom to get materials ready. On the piano was a book opened to "Close to You" by the Carpenters. it made me smile. I thought of Caitlin Anne and singing this song to her everyday along with the other lullabies I sang each visit.
This was her father's song that his mother sang to him as a lullaby, and because she sang it to him, I sang it to Caitlin. The next day and the next day, the book remained opened to that song. I didn't change it and neither did anyone else. We used the piano, but never closed the book or put it away. 
I didn't want to lose the opportunity to accept the invitation to sing the song, so on Friday of the first week, I sat down and played and sang it.  Uninterrupted, I plunked through the chords and added a bit of harmony and sang the melody softly. When I finished, I left the book open. 
Saturday, we received news that the lump they found in his mother's lung was cancer. The news knocked the air out of me. I don't think that song was a sign from Caitlin to me. It seems Caitlin sent a song to her grandmother through me. Belief makes things real. 
We have become witnesses again to a family member's journey home. 
The song remained opened until the end of second week.I took a pictures of the book on the last day I taught, and shared them with Caitlin's grandmother in the hospital the following month. She smiled, and looked at her son. "That's our song." 
Music is the thread the drew that smile from her. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Loosed Hatred

Yesterday was my daughter's death date. Yesterday as I tried to remain focused on my daughter. Honor her memory with my actions and words to others. Reflect in peace and gratitude for the grief that visits me to remind me of my brief role as a mother. Reflect on the complexity of love that both heals and hurts, I found an intrusion of unwelcome thoughts of fear.

I've been reeling from the election. We elected a narcissistic and racist individual. Someone who is a failed businessman, an accused child rapist, a person who brags about sexual assault, who openly praises P.utin and his leadership, who refuses to pay people for their work, who would like to abolish free speech, and who Politifact found tells the truth less than 10% of the time.

Several times throughout the day--as I tried to remain focused on her--my thoughts were rudely and violently yanked to a two second gif of our president-elect mocking a disabled person. I've been told that he didn't mean it. I saw it. I watched him mock a disabled person. It wasn't an edited clip; he sure as f$@k meant it.

I worried about how I would protect her from people like him. How would I make sure she knew she was loved? How would I shield her from hurtful bullying and cruel words and worse--cruel actions?

That f$cker has not one compassionate, caring bone in his body, and he has emboldened the cruel words and actions of many around the country. The very leader of the free world manipulates and mocks, and I feel helpless to protect children like my daughter from that model.

My teacher-friends and students in my area and around the country are witnesses to the loosed hatred and bullying. "Pretty soon you guys will all be slaves again," was a black student's story to a group. "Now I can grab you or any other chick by the pussy," was a tweet from one of my 20-something female college students. "Faggot" painted on a car of an acquaintance. "She can't talk because she's a filthy Muslim," from a fifth grader. "Our president is going to send your parents back to Mexico," from a third-grader at the lunch table. These are real, and he is silent. And no one is really expecting any words of condemnation from a bully.

I can't breathe.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Narcissism & Grief

Let's see if I can make this story short . . .

I'm convinced one of my colleague's is a narcissist. This person is focused on self to a degree that has destroyed past and present friendships and work relationships. I probably shouldn't write about this. But I will.

I have a few things to "say" that I can't say to this person directly. Any attempt to reason or engage in adult conversation will likely "feed the tornado." I did my homework. The psychologist's advice for working for a narcissist is - - - leave. Recently, this person was unsuccessful in winning a bid for administrative control at my workplace. I was blamed for that outcome. Here's my "silent" responses:

  1. I voted my conscience. 
  2. I made the voices of those without power heard.
  3. No threats or promises to destroy my credibility, reputation, or affection of others will deter me from continuing in a manner that honors who I believe I am and who I aspire to be.
  4. You may be successful in "dimming" my light from others, but that's not happening with my permission or without my push-back. 
  5. Success in actually destroying my credibility, reputation, or affection of others may hurt me, but my life experiences assure me that nothing will ever destroy me after surviving and learning to thrive in this life after the death of my child excepting my own death. In which case that stuff won't matter anymore.
  6. I am the boss of my emotions and you have no power over me.
  7. I continue to be grateful for the kindnesses you showed to me in the past. Although, I suspect they may have had selfish motivations, my gratitude for the deeds stand.
  8. I will be kind, but I won't be manipulated or a become a complacent receptacle for your anger.
  9. I wish you didn't believe that hurting others would make your grief lessen. 
  10. I wish you peace and release from the sorrows you bear. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cemetery Visit: Year Nine

I made it to the cemetery yesterday. I went without anything. I used to have items in the trunk of my car, so that if I went I was never empty-handed. I have a new car, and the stuff from the old one didn't make it into the trunk. So, I was relieved and comforted, that one of the butterflies was still there from a year ago. And that some human angel(s) left some items there. A comfort. 

I dusted off the grass as there was a recent mowing, and I laid some empty canvas bags on her grave and sat and read John O'Donahue's "Blessings." It was a sunny, yet comfortable day. 

I spent about an hour there. Then went off to a visitation for the former student I had that died tragically. Sat beside another bereaved mom, and we both had a weight only we could see. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Wish She Were Here

I was taking this picture of the sunrise on the beach. It was peaceful and beautiful. When I uploaded the photos I noticed that a little girl who looked about the age Caitlin Anne should be today had run into my shot. I suppose I could say it was a sign. It's not. It's a sad and lovely moment where I am reminded that I should be taking pictures of my daughter at the beach, rather than catching a glimpse of what life should be. I'm glad she ran into the shot. There's so much joy, motion, and life. I'm missing what I do know.

Happy Birthday, Caitlin Anne.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's Been Some Time

It's been some time. Some time since I've needed this space. Since I've been unable to focus on anything but my grief. With singular attention on wishing things were different. Experiencing inertia, with some far-off voice of mine begging me to "get up."

Someone's only son was killed a couple days ago. His mother was interviewed. She said, squinting through her swollen eye lids with cheeks still wet, "I'm not prepared to bury a child."

"How is she even talking?" I thought. But, I knew how. What else can she do?

I liked her son. I was hopeful for him. He was kind and gentle. A stable force for his girlfriend. I hoped to have him in my classes again. I was certain he was pulling it together.

"Get up. Get YOUR shit together." to myself again. I know I have limited time to get my tasks completed. Big deal things with deadlines. But all I can do is search for photos. Agonize over poetry and music that may comfort friends, family, me.

I'm ignoring my pleas to get something done. Time is precious. But I remain in the fog. Well, not really. There is clarity of purpose where I am--remembering the dead. But the living, that's all a heavy fog.

Earlier this summer a young mom lost her baby before it was born. She didn't know if it was a boy or girl. We sat and talked for hours. I tried to focus on her story. I did pretty well, but after she left I couldn't breath. The air was thick.

In two days it will be Caitlin's birthday. I hope to make it to the cemetery. I haven't been there is so long. Maybe if I go, I will be able to breath again.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Market and Death

In short: The Super Bowl is known for cool ads--ads that make us laugh; ads that are irreverent; ads that stick; and ads that we'll talk about and share.

This super bowl ad season did not disappoint. Well not the advertisers anyway--they got the attention they wanted. But it did disappoint this bereaved mom. In particular the ad that used child death to sell it's product to get people to link to it's pages and to remember it's name. I'm not linking the ad and I'm not naming it. You can figure it out if you desire. But I am sharing my thoughts about it, because many in my community are conflicted about it.

The ad shows a boy who is unable to do what all the other children are doing. Then after a few examples he explains that he's dead. And then the company shows images of preventable, but all to common household accidents that result in a child's death.

And, I've been thinking about this one. Some liked it because finally someone was talking about child death. But, I didn't like it. Not because it reminded me my child is dead--like I ever forget she's gone.
Not because it was an inappropriate venue to discuss child death--for me everything's on the table for discussion. I'm not afraid to talk death.

It's because they didn't start with "we care about your kids." Instead they drew folks in with light music, heartwarming images, and manipulated the expectations of the market. The market--you know--us. And the market research told them that this approach would ge a strong emotional reaction and the stronger the emotional reaction, the more likely consumers (again us) will remember the brand. They used the element of surprise like a M. Night Shyamalan movie, and this I believe, was purposeful. I suspect the company knew there would be outrage and controversy because that very outrage translates to free social media marketing. I don't believe for an instant that they aimed to diminish the viewer's shock and horror at realizing that they were staring at a dead child. Rather, that emotion was their aim. And they succeeded.

Nope, I didn't like it. I didn't like what I perceived as a "sucker punch" to parents of living children, hopeful parents to be, and bereaved parents with or without living children.

I am sorry children die. I'm sorry my child died. I'm not afraid to include my child in casual or formal conversations. I'm no longer so fragile to avoid or be destroyed for days after viewing a storyline about children dying.

The "mad men" succeeded in starting a conversation as they claimed was their goal, but I can't award any kudos for their efforts. They'll get those in website hits and $$$.