Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Is everyone in the whole f*@&ing WORLD pregnant??? Do the 972 women pushing strollers past my house every day really NEED to take this route??? Is too much to ask parents getting their babies baptized to do it at a Mass other than the one I'm attending so I don't have to stand their applauding, my heart breaking into a million pieces as I remember the day that very same priest now holding up beautiful babies all dressed in white incensed my son's coffin????

Is it terrible that I have an unbearable desire to take my chair and hurl it through the window as I scream obscenities at the world at large?

(I wondered how long it would take. Apparently I'm now entering the angry, bitter stage of grief. It's ugly. You've been warned...)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The empty chair

I'm watching the dying woman across the street as she watches her child. Her little one is not even two, and in a year she won't have a Mommy. What is it like for this woman, knowing that this is the last time that she'll ever lay eyes on her child on a Saturday in May? How can she possibly pack a lifetime of mothering into these final few months as her health steadily declines? She is a pillar of strength. She is still sitting on the porch watching her child, her floppy, fuzzy dog laying protectively at her feet. In just months that chair will be empty, and she knows it. Oh my God, she knows it.

I watch her closely, trying to figure out what could possibly be going through her mind and willing this not to be the end she's destined for.

It's not fair. No one deserves this kind of pain. No one should be separated from their child like this.

Her husband is vacuumming out the car. He likes to pretend everything is okay. That's what I'm told. I guess it protects his heart from breaking in two before it absolutely has to. Before the chair is empty.

Breaking and entering

Would it be wrong of me to break into the house behind us and take the brand new, sparkly ultrasound pictures off the fridge so that I don't have to stare at them while I'm washing my dishes? Would that be wrong? Would it??

I need to know.

Friday, May 27, 2005

So, did I pass?

I suppose it serves me right for feeling all happy - actually feeling uplifted and somehow blessed by what's happened to us.

Okay, let me start from the beginning. I'm driving to the grocery store listening to my very favourite Ben Folds song, The Luckiest. I've got it up loud and I'm singing along, marveling at how the words are making me feel. I'm actually feeling lucky, as crazy as that may sound. I play it twice. I'm driving and thinking that we've been so blessed by our little man, despite the fact that we don't have him with us. We've been blessed because he's changed us and so many other people for the better.

I'm telling you, I'm nearly having a spiritual epiphany in the car. I can almost hear the angels singing. It's not that I haven't been toying with this notion before, it's just that, I suppose, I never had the soundtrack to go with it.

Anyway, I get to the plaza and head into the drug store for a couple of mailing boxes. I decide not to wait in the post office line to pay and opt to go to the front of the store. I arrive seconds before a woman carrying a baby carrier. I resolve not to look in the carrier because all of a sudden I'm not feeling so lucky anymore. I'm trying to pay attention to the transaction, trying to buy my boxes. And then I hear the tiny mewling of a newborn. It's a newborn. I have to sneak a peek, all the while wondering whether or not the tiny sounds it's making are going to make my breasts start leaking again.

I jam my wallet into my purse. It sticks. It won't go in. I can't close my purse. She hands me the receipt and I jam that in too. I stuff it down by the wallet that's still sticking part way out of my purse and grab my boxes. I don't know if she was going to give me a bag for them or not, but I take them and leave as fast as I can. As I'm heading out the door I hear the conversation between the clerk and the new mommy trailing away... "Oooh, it's a newborn! Is it a he or a she? How old is she?"

It's a little girl and she's three weeks old.

As I walk to the grocery store I try to figure out what I was doing three weeks after Thomas was born. We buried him a week and a day after he was born, so two weeks after that was March 31st. I don't know what I was doing other than beginning the long, slow healing process.

So I'm now no longer feeling particularly lucky, but at least I've escaped. I'm outside and there are no baby carriers in sight. I get my cart and head into the grocery store. There smack dab in front of me is a pregnant woman, her gray t-shirt stretched tight by the tiny little person inside of her. I turn to the right. I'm buying vegetables. We need collard greens and potatoes. I'm just here getting my vegetables.

I lose sight of the pregnant woman and there are still no baby carriers in sight. This is starting to feel like the running of the gauntlet. I make it all the way around the store and actually start to forget, getting absorbed in my list. Allspice, corn syrup, smoked almonds.

I head to the checkout. It's all clear. Not only are there no babies or pregnant women, there are no line ups. Fate is smiling on me once again. I settle into lane 8 and instantly remember I've forgotten to get my fish. The fish monger wasn't at the counter when I stopped there the first time so I'd decided to do the rest of my shopping and come back at the end. I head over. It takes forever. The woman in front of me wants 12 cooked shrimp. They're on sale, $1.76 per dozen. They ring up at $2.88 per dozen. Her total is $2.08. Apparently the 32 cents difference is going to bankrupt her because she complains, albeit politely. The somewhat elderly fishmonger is confused. And slow. It takes forever and a line has started to form. He eventually overrides the till and we're all set. I get my salmon and head back to the checkout.

There's the shortest line. Yes, there it is...the one with the baby carrier. Reluctantly I pull up behind it. I can't take my eyes of this tiny boy who, I think, is about the age Thomas would be if here were alive. So that's what he'd look like. That's what he'd be doing. That's what he'd be wearing. Damn the shrimp woman to hell! I'd have beaten this baby carrier to the lane if she hadn't quibbled over 32 cents.

At this point I'm beginning to wonder if I'm being tested, if someone's trying to find out just how sincere I was when I started thinking, "We're actually lucky. We've been blessed." I'm realizing I'm only able to think that way when I'm not confronted by painful visible reminders of what we've lost. I can easily think it when I'm driving in the car listening to one of my favourite songs, but it's not so easy when I'm just a few feet away from someone else's newborn daughter.

So I don't know if I passed the test or not, but I do know I nearly leaped across the counter and kissed the clerk when he called me "miss" instead of "ma'am" because in addition to that, he opened up the lane beside the one with the baby carrier, sparing me another 3 minutes of agony.

It wasn't much consolation, but it was some. And I think that's all I can ask for these days.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

With love from Grandma

A few weeks ago when I was moving some stuff around in our colossal mess of a storage room, I unearthed a tiny book my Grandmother gave me on my 17th birthday (which now seems like a hundred years ago). It's called Hope For Tough Times by Robert Schuller. I can't imagine now what "tough times" I was having at 17 that inspired my Grandmother to make this purchase, but I'm now so grateful that she did. Now is when I need help. Now is when I'm experiencing a truly tough time.

I remembered that she'd written a cute little poem inside the front cover and I opened it up to read it again, even though I know it off by heart. I love seeing where her pen touched the paper and running my fingers over the words. I can feel the impressions and in some strange way it's almost like I'm touching her again.

"A little fish swims in the well, so in my heart does Kristin dwell."

It has made me smile for 18 years.

I put the book on my bedside table to read later that night. I thought maybe there might be a message inside that would help heal my heart just a little bit - maybe a message I missed when I was a teenager with problems and sorrows no where near as big as the ones I have now. Little did I know what I'd find when I opened the book again.

There was a second message from Grandma - one I'm almost positive I've never seen before. I have to admit it, I probably didn't read the book when she gave it to me. In fact, I vaguely recall thinking it was an odd choice - irrelevant to me and my life, in fact. Maybe that's why I missed the second note she penned on the page after the poem.

It read:

"Stand up to the things no so pleasant in your life but enjoy to the fullest the joys."

I was stunned. It was something I so needed to hear - a reminder to see the joy despite the pain. And not just to see the joy, but to feel it too. The message came at a time when I was struggling with my joys - when I was feeling guilty for experiencing them just weeks after my sweet baby boy died. But the message came from someone who had more than her fair share of sorrow throughout her life too. Her father died when she was 5 and they buried her mother on her 16th birthday. She knew sorrow intimately and she knew how to fight back against its awesome power. I saw the sorrow in her eyes, as I see it in my own now, but I also saw her experience the joys and make the most of every sweet thing her life had to offer. She loved ferociously and she spent her life giving all she had to the people who meant the most to her. It was her joy.

And 15 years after she died she somehow managed to tell me to try to do the same - to live and love and let the sweetness of happiness back into my life. Her sorrows were always part of her, but so was her joy.

Thanks Grandma. I love you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Strange Days Indeed

I visited our Thomas' grave for the first time today. I took flowers and a tiny blue stained glass cross with the words "Watch Over My Son" on it. It was so hard -- I can't even describe what it's like to stand at your child's grave -- but it was just something I had to do today. It was time.

Foolishly I thought I wouldn't cry (I'm not a big fan of crying in public. I save it for when I'm alone or for when my beloved's shoulder is around) but as soon as I reached the stone the tears started to fall. I knelt down and put my hands on the warm, damp grass above where he's laying and just cried. I wanted to lay right down and get as close to him as I could, but good sense prevailed. That's a crazy-lady thing to do and I'm not a crazy-lady just yet. I may be one day -- maybe one day soon -- but I'm not yet.

I didn't stay long. I told him I loved him, put the cross and flowers on his grave and left. The funny thing is, it feels like part of me is still there -- like I've left an arm or a leg there. It's hard to explain. But I'm still glad I went. Now I don't have to do it for the first time anymore.

On the way home I stopped at Baskin & Robbins and bought an ice cream cake. My Grandma LOVED ice cream cakes and I haven't had one since she died almost 15 years ago. The last time we had one was on her birthday just a few weeks before she died. Thomas is buried with her and my Grandpa and I think she put the idea in my head -- the idea of the ice cream cake. It's something she'd think of and it's something she'd think would make me feel better. To my Grandma, ice cream cake and Vicks Vapo Rub could cure just about anything.

I decided to do some puttering in the garden after indulging in a huge slice of cake (which didn't cure my broken heart, but helped it some) and that's when this very strange day got even stranger. I was just about finished when the guy across the street came outside in a Darth Vader mask and a thong. Seriously. It's very odd to see your neighbour's bum -- and it's even odder to see it on the same day you visited your baby's grave for the first time. He did it to make all the ladies laugh (there was a gaggle of women - including his wife - out talking on their front lawn) and he succeeded. He made me smile too.

Strange days indeed. But thank God I can still smile.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Another Saturday

Another Saturday without my son. When will I stop counting the days since he left us? It's torture, and yet I just can't stop doing it. Every sunrise is a sunrise without him and every evening marks the end of another day that he wasn't here with us. He would have been 9 weeks and three days old today. I don't even know what a 9-week old would be doing.

I've still never even changed a diaper.

I'm trying so hard to be happy -- to count the many, many blessings I have -- but it's so hard sometimes. I think I'm fine and then "BLAM" -- a sneak attack. Like last night at the video store; We were hunting for a movie and suddenly I was engulfed by a raggedy looking gang of pre-teen boys. They looked like hooligans in the making -- scraggly long hair, ill-fitting clothes and that "up to no good" gleam in most of their eyes. And I almost started to cry. All I could think was, "Thomas will never be that old. He'll never be wandering aimlessly through a video store trying to decide whether to get a funny or scary movie with his friends on a rainy Friday night in May."

I wanted to hug those boys -- those probably smelly, unkempt, silly boys. The dark, curly-haired fellow seemed to be the one trying to keep the rest in line and focused, continuously asking the group, "So, what are we getting? Are we getting a funny movie or a scary one?" He also chastised one boy for spending all his money (presumably renting the video was going to be a group effort). In the end the rag-tag band left the store without anything to watch. Who knows what they were going to get up to -- or in to -- after leaving Blockbuster.

Boys. I had one too. Mine is wearing a lacy, light green sweater and bonnet his Grandma knitted for him and a ducky sleeper his Auntie bought for him. He's resting with his Great-grandparents in a cemetery not far from my old home with a Thomas the Tank Engine toy from Daddy and a tiny cross that says "God Bless Baby" from Mommy.

Oh God this is so wrong. Why isn't my boy going to have the chance to wander around a video store with his friends, snickering at video covers with pretty girls on them and searching his pockets for loose change to add to the pot? Why didn't he have the chance to grow up? Why? Why did our boy die?

Blessings -- I have so many blessings. But once upon a time I had one of the sweetest blessing of all.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day 2005

My arms feel so empty.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Head Space

I'm feeling better about God these days. I had an epiphany a few days ago and a lot of the anger I was harbouring towards him is gone. (I'm betting he likes me a lot more now too.)

I'd kind of hoped that when the anger faded some of the sorrow would go along with it, but it seems the lack of anger has just left more room for pain. Without the anger to focus on (and the relentless "Why, God?? Why??" loop that was playing over and over in my mind) there's more space in my head for me to simply miss my son like crazy.

I just wish I could cuddle him one last time -- now, now that I'm healthy and lucid. I would stare at him and memorize every feature. I'd smell him -- I'd drink in his scent so I'd never forget it. I'd look at his tiny, perfect hands and feet and kiss every finger and toe. I'd touch his face, feeling the downy softness of the little man my beloved and I made.

I wish I could have him back for just one sweet moment. Mostly I wish that somehow I could have protected him so that we could have had him for a whole lifetime.