hymn for him

my life
my other heart
my beloved
my most important creation
my transformation
my closest relation
my evolution
my progression and  reflection
my expression of perfection
made out of all i had
i honor you with all that remains

you were my body and my future
you were wings
stretching from inside me
you were promise of life and flight
you were living, dancing Light.
you were mine
you were me.
not just part of me
but the best of me
all my life and energy
all my love.
all my love.
i’m told that i should just erase you
and the void will go away
and it’s simple to replace you
this is natural, they say
no one wants to hear about you
or the way it feels without you
but there has never been a more fierce love or bond

and now you’re gone

you were everything i wanted
now i’m empty, bleeding, haunted
but the whole world’s waiting for me to move on
and so
in my imagination
i release my great creation
to the stars
       to the stars
              to the stars

but i will never love another quite like this
i am your mother,  you’re my wish
that very nearly did come true
and always, darling,
I Love You.

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the view from here

How am I feeling?  Well,  you know when you’re on a plane and you go through a big storm cloud and reality gets fogged away and there’s nothing for your eyes to lock onto so you don’t have any real concept of where you are in space and time and then the plane starts shaking enough to make you regret ever getting on that damn flight so you hold your breath and try to remember exactly how planes work cuz the one you’re on doesn’t feel like it’s working very well at all?   Yeah, that’s how I’m feeling.

I am very anxious to just land this thing so I can thank the pilot, kiss the ground, and exhale,  but I hear this is kind of a long flight.  Sometimes it levels out,  and sometimes I can ignore the turbulence for a while.   But sometimes … you know how  there’s that moment during bad turbulence where you feel the plane kind of drop a little and everybody gets quiet?  Yeah, that.

One might offer that this is a good time to have faith.  Faith is what gets people through moments like those.  Faith and the knowledge that the great majority of the time,  planes land safely… even in storms.  I might offer that the most faithful among you will still crap your pants a little when you’re on a plane and you see flashes of lightning out your cloudy window and you feel that fucking drop… especially if you have gone down in a crash before.

The plane is okay in reality.  There are forces and physics at work which are beyond my comprehension and flying is after all the safest way to travel.   I will land safely, and  I will fly again.    But right now, this flight sucks and I wanna go home.    That is all.

brainholes

I think I’m handling things as well as can be expected, but probably not as well as I publicly let on.   Fake it til you make it, right?  Sometimes I let myself forget… and then sometimes I forget to forget.  That’s when people ask me things like “What’s wrong?” and remind me that  I need to “Stay positive!”  It’s very important for the people around me to know I’m getting “better”, and surely I am… so as much as I can,  I show my “better” face.   This is a lot of work,  but I imagine it’s also a lot of work for others to deal with my grief all the time, so I try not to crack til I get time alone.  I haven’t had much of that yet… and unfortunately a crucial part of the whole “closure” process has been drawn out for a cruel amount of time….

Did you know that it can take up to 3 weeks for the paperwork to be filed so a cremation can even take place?  No– I hope you never need to know that directly,  because every part of it sucks evil ass.  My brain and heart are exhausted and confused by the whole ordeal,  and that tired confusion actually facilitates periods of  peace.   Well, not necessarily peace as much as low-grade alzheimer’s.   It seems that when you can’t figure something out, eventually you just stop thinking about it and that part of your brain shuts off completely.    This leaves big gaps in my reality,  so I space out a lot.   I call them brainholes, and they are pretty easy to fall into.  Sometimes brainholes can be dark and scary,  but mostly they are just safe, cozy voids.  I stare off into nothing and try to remember what exactly the took place in the last 3 weeks or even 6 months of my life.  I’ve noticed that sometimes I don’t recognize things like streets I drive down every other day.   People talk to me and I just smile, nod and chuckle, hoping that works okay as a response to whatever they just said.  I used to do that when I was bartending and I couldn’t hear what people were saying to me over the loud music.  Now I do it whenever people ask questions that seem too complicated to answer,  like “How are you?”

This morning we went to pick up the ashes.  It’s a fucked up and bizarre way to spend your morning, and I was still groggy from a night of fucked up and confusing dreams,  so I didn’t have the energy or clarity to fall apart like I expected myself to.  The director of the funeral home placed a dark blue velvet bag in front of us on the table next to some more paperwork to sign, and all I felt was blank…with maybe a side of irritation.  The lights in that place were obnoxiously fluorescent in a way that always puts me in a funky mood, so I decided that was why I was angry.  Stupid fucking lights.   I stayed mad about the lighting in that stupid funeral home… and the woman who greeted us had hair that kind of pissed me off too.  While we waited for her to return to our waiting room with a tiny bag of ashes,   I noticed that next to me on the wall there was a photograph of the three owners who the place was named after… I hated that stupid fucking photo so so so very much.   But when we were causally presented with the little blue bag,  all I felt was blank.  Floating safely in and out of my brainholes,  I felt no attachment to that blue velvet bag.   I didn’t feel my heart break all over again as I cradled it delicately in my lap on the car ride home.  It may have happened, but I didn’t feel it.  I even didn’t notice right away that I was reflexively caressing it gently and rocking slightly, as I glared hatefully at  the rain through the car window.  Stupid fucking rain.  Wait, what street is this?  I’ve never seen this street before….

deep breath… shields up… back to work.

I went back to work yesterday.   My mother fussed at me about it, but the doc says it’s okay.  It has only been 3 weeks, but sitting around the house thinking too much and going broke certainly isn’t doing anything positive for my psyche at this point..so back to work I go.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  Today, however, will be different.

Fate, you see, just keeps twisting that knife.  One of the women I work with was also pregnant.  She was due in December , I of course was not, but I ended up delivering less than a week after her.    In fact, the day she didn’t show up for work because she was a couple days from her due date,  I remember being particularly disappointed because I wanted to ask her something.  Since she was further along than me and  I saw her at least 4 days out of the week, she was my go-to girl when I had questions about being pregnant.  Of course I also did manic Googling, reading books,  and checking in with my nurse; but she was the real deal, right there at my workplace to share stories and assure me in person that “everything is fine”.    That day I remember wanting to ask her if it was normal to not feel movement for a day or two at my stage.   She will be there today and we will work together again for the first time since the two of us were Those Pregnant Chicks.   And since she is the boss’ daughter and it’s their family business, she brings her son with her to work when she comes in.

My boss asked me how I felt about that and if I wanted to only work when they weren’t around.  I promised I could handle it,  and that I didn’t want everybody else having to alter their lives because of my drama.  I even told her some crazy bullshit like it would be good for me to be around the healthy happy living energy that new babies bring.   Ha! What the hell was I saying?!   For the past couple days I’ve been coasting on a newfound stability,  sometimes making it all the way to bedtime without any tears at all.  My first day back at work yesterday was actually a nice distraction, mostly, and I was proud of myself for getting through it so easily.  Of course, there wasn’t a newborn baby boy in my face all day…

It’s a locally owned retail/gift shop– mother and baby will be in the back in the office, and I am out front busy with customers, so it’s not like I have to see them much at all… still, it’s just another ironic obstacle on my path.  Really, what are the odds of ANY of this crap,   let alone ALL of it?

So I’m sitting here about to get ready for work thinking about superficial shit like whether or not I should take extra eye make-up with me in case I cry it all off, or just not wear it at all.   I have been wanting to at least look good when I’m out in the world.  It minimizes the amount of pity that people pile on you when they see you for the first time.  Also there’s just the fact that I have been weeping and sleepless for 3 weeks, and without a good supply of war paint  it shows.  So I gave myself an extreme hair makeover and busted out some eyeshadow and lipstick which I rarely did before.  Little visual distractions for me and everybody else.   (That’s right, people, look up here at my weird hair color and not down at my weird belly!)  Yesterday I managed to hear “Wow, you look great!”  a couple times more than “Aww, are you okayyyyyyy?  How are you feeeeling?”  so that was nice.  Of course,  when I told the bosslady to put me back on the schedule,  I also asked her to spread the word for the rest of the staff not to ask questions, baby me, or treat me weird.  But today there will actually be a baby there.

You know,  when I got the job I thought it was great to be working at this woman-owned, family sensitive business with more than one pregnant girl on staff… I guess I still do… I gotta get my nosed rubbed in it one way or another right?  So it might as well be at work.

Waterproof mascara it is, then.

 

when the bough breaks

Have you ever noticed what a horrible, frightening song “Rockabye Baby” is?  It’s about a baby being blown out of a tree by a violent storm that causes the branch to snap.  Why the hell have we been singing this to children for so long? Maybe there is a wikipedia answer for that.  I’ll check later.  I’m too sleep-deprived to give a complete crap right now.

I’m starting to have longer periods of feeling normal during the day, but the nightmares are still there at night… when I can sleep at all.  I reluctantly got a prescription for Ambien early on, because the first few nights after the hospital I got no rest at all.  Sometimes the medication works, but usually when it does the whole event replays itself like a horror movie in my dreams.   I see flashes of what I saw that day and hear the echoes of my own screams and it wakes me up in a panic.   Husband wants me to see a shrink about the whole deal, but I don’t think I’m ready.  I think I have every right to my fallouts and freakouts without being judged as going crazy.  I think the crazy thing would be if I was “over it” already and in a bright shiny mood all the time.  He has been my rock, he has been as patient and loving as anyone could possibly be, but sometimes I feel this pressure to “get better” that frustrates me into a whole other group of freakouts.

To be fair, I know that men can already be frightened by the intensity of women’s emotions even under ordinary circumstances,  and the emotions Husband has seen come out of me in the past 3 weeks have been beyond intense.   When I fall apart, I see fear and helplessness on his face and I wish I could shut it down sometimes… just to protect him from the tsunami.  After all, this is his heartbreak, too.   I saw him cry in a way I never wanted to have to experience.  We cried together.  We took turns holding each other.  But then it seemed that at some point he cried as much as he needed to and stopped.  He “got it out” and seems legitimately confused as to why I haven’t caught up.   Sometimes he catches me staring off into space looking sad and actually asks me “What’s wrong?”

Really?

Maybe it’s not confusion. Maybe it’s just exhaustion on his part.  It’s so important to him to see me move past this storm that sometimes I feel rushed.  I certainly don’t want to wallow forever,  I certainly want to move through this hell and get to the “happy ending”, but I certainly do not want to be rushed.

He’s an engineer by trade,  and his brain works like a computer.  I tried to give him all the realistic facts about what I’m going through to help him understand.  I described in detail for him the biological/neurological/physiological link between a mother and infant.  I described how crucial that bond is to the perpetuation of our very species.  I hypothesized that this very bond is most likely how “love” ever evolved in the first place:  from the link between mother and child;  the relentless unconditional drive to protect and nurture and feed and look after another being.  I reminded him how everywhere in nature, mothers become distraught when separated from their offspring.    The process of pregnancy itself was a sometimes painful one for me.  It was a complete transformation.  Not just my body, but my mind and all of my spirit and energy transformed into something else.  I became a Mother.  I became a whole new creature with a whole new set of drives and intentions.  My belly and breasts changed shape and size and biological composition in order to accommodate a new life, and so did everything else, including my mind and heart.   All of the systems are connected, and so when that link is severed,  it’s like taking the hard drive out of a computer and thinking it will still run the same way (I have to explain a lot of things to Husband in terms of computer functions)…  or maybe the motherboard …(my computer metaphors are usually off…)

The connection was broken, but the rest of my body didn’t get the memo.  A day or two after the delivery my breasts doubled their size and completely hardened, raging against me and punishing me for not using them.   When I would leak,  I would cry… leaking means it’s time to feed the baby… so your instinct is to go get that baby… find him and feed him.  It was a constant reminder and when there was nothing at the other end of that connection to find and feed,  I would collapse into angry helpless hysterics.  So Husband started telling me during these fallouts that I should “get some help”, a suggestion whose timing only served to make me angrier and more hysterical.

As my body has calmed down a bit so have the crying spells, and as I said before during the day I can feel normal for long enough to be functional.  But the memories are still there, haunting my dreams at night.  So then I don’t sleep well, so then I’m cranky, and now we’re at the point where we’re kind of taking it out on each other a bit.  I expected this to be part of the deal,  but it sucks.  Last night I freaked out and slept on the couch for some reason I can’t recall, which hurt both our feelings unnecessarily.  This morning he asked me why I had done that and I didn’t have an answer for him… so he gave me that look that a man gives a woman when he loves her very much but thinks she is quite insane.  I wanted to slap that look off his face but I just cried instead.. so he told me again to think about getting help.

I don’t need help.  I need to grieve.  Grieving is weird and scary and difficult and it’s making me weird and scary and difficult.  Maybe he needs help… maybe we both do… but right now I just need to grieve…and sleep… and find some ice cream… maybe with booze in it….

sigh…

phase 3: angry loss of faith

*Disclaimer:  If you are religious/spiritual and easily offended,  you might want to skip this one.  Expressing yourself when you’re in the depths of hell can get ugly.  I actually wrote this one about a week ago and kept it semi-private, but I think it’s important to share all the parts of this horrifying journey.  Triumph and Light may come later, but this is how I feel right now…

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Sometimes (most times, really) I am overwhelmed by the force of love that has been washing over me and Husband like healing waves for the past couple weeks.  Other times, I just want to run screaming through the black hole in my heart and punch God in the face.

When tragedy strikes,  friends and family sometimes grapple for a way to find the positive in it for you.  ”Well at least it had nothing to do with your health, so that’s good news, right?”  I’ve heard that one several times, and every time it has made me want to eat the eyeballs of the speaker.   My son just died. Please don’t tell me what’s “good” about that just yet, mmkay?  But that poorly thought out pat on the back is at least based in something tangible and fact-based, as opposed to the list of encouraging tidbits that are mystical or religious.   At the risk of sounding ungrateful and bitter, let me make something clear:  the phrases “This is nature’s way of blah blah blah….” and “This is part of God’s Plan” come from the same gigantic load of horseshit that simply does not apply to me right now.

When there is a car accident,  there is always a reason for it.  Driving is dangerous, and there are thousands of other drivers around you hurling themselves down the highway at 60 to 80 miles an hour in heaps of metal and glass powered by a series of  explosions taking place about three feet away from your head.  So  as much as it sucks when an accident happens, it’s easy to see how things can go wrong.  There is always a reason.   Somebody fucked up.  Something was broken.  It rained.  There’s a messed up reason, but there is a reason.  There is still order to how things work.  You might not want it to, but ultimately it makes some kind of goddamn sense.

There is not an answer for me as to what happened to my child.  He was perfectly healthy. I was perfectly healthy.  Through his own healthy activity, he managed to get himself tangled in his cord enough to cut off his own blood supply.  My own doctor called it “very rare” and  ”just bad luck”.  ”Nothing could have been done,”  she said.  There was no reason.  There was no fucking reason for it at all.   Just a cruel kick in the face from fate accompanied by endless nightmares.  I did everything right,  we got past the scary part where things are supposed to go wrong if they are “meant” to.   I was almost  six months fucking pregnant.  The highway is a dangerous place… the outside world in general is a dangerous place… my womb is supposed to be the safest place in the motherfucking universe.  My body is still looking for him.  I had a healthy child inside me, and then I gave birth.  My hands, my arms, my breasts, my belly, my brain…. every part of my body thinks I should have a baby now.   And not even my doctor can give me a reason why I don’t, and so my mind won’t let me rest.  It searches,  wanders deep into the darkest parts of space and my exhausted angry mind looking for a reason.  There is not a reason.   I’m supposed to be looking for a cradle and a car seat to put my kid in right now, not an impossibly tiny fucking urn.   I’m supposed to be thinking about where to send him to school,  not where to scatter his fucking ashes.    No reason.  So if there is a god, and this is part of his “plan”,  then FUCK. THAT. GUY.

Yeah, I’m mad. I have always heard that one of nature’s most dangerous animals is a mother whose young has been threatened. You’re telling me the only thing I have to blame for this is God’s mysterious ways??  And then I’m supposed to pray to this same asshole for comfort?  What is he, some kind of mob boss who kills your family but then you have to kiss his ass and pay him off so he doesn’t kill you, too?  No, thanks.

At this moment in time, I can’t remember what I believed in before,  spirit-wise.  I know there was something.  I had some kind of faith…  If the creation of life and the birth of a child is the ultimate example of a faith affirming “miracle”, then this is the opposite of all that.   When a star dies,  it creates a black hole that sucks in everything around it… even Light.   So what, then, when a star dies inside you?    Is this when I cross over to the dark side of the force?  Might as well.. even Darth Vader had kids….

new year

I’ve been feeling a little… “better”, I guess is the word.  Yesterday I made it through the entire day without a meltdown, which was a nice way to start the new year.  The holiday season was brutal, under the circumstances, and I’m glad they are over.  I am able to talk about it without falling apart,  and I’m writing this right now without having to fight to see through the blur of my own tears.

My body is feeling stronger, too.  For the first week I thought my breasts were going to actually kill me if I didn’t nurse something.   And I had zero appetite so I wasn’t eating much.  I probably stayed in bed for a solid two weeks, surrounded by my cat, my computer, and endless balled up snot rags.  I feel (and probably look) like I aged about 15 years in the past 3 weeks… but at least i’m up now.

Of course there are times when I think I’m okay and then I get hit with an explosion of sadness that goes off like a nuclear bomb.  At least those blasts are getting further apart.

Thank you all for your kind words and support. Writing and sharing has been useful and cathartic therapy during this unexpected hell, and the loving response has been among the things that inspire me to take a deep breath and keep moving onward.  I appreciate it more than i have the energy to express.