Sunday, July 31, 2005

Too sad for a Saturday night

I had a great day. The sun was shining, it wasn't too hot, my beloved made me a wonderful breakfast (there's nothing like pancakes and steaming hot, fresh coffee on a sunny Saturday morning!) and I finally dragged out the cross stitch Christmas lap quilt I've been meaning to start since April. We didn't do much of anything today, and it was WONDERFUL just being here together and being lazy little slugs.

But now it's night. At night you can see into the windows of the houses behind ours when they have their lights on and their curtains open. The family with the new baby have chosen to do just that. I know I was stupid for looking, but I did. I saw the new Grandma tenderly leaning over the crib, fussing with her new granddaughter, and I knew she was doing what I wish, with all my heart, my Mom had been able to do. She was loving her grandchild - changing her and making her all comfy cozy.

I kept looking. It was like a train wreck.

After the grandma was finished, the new mommy stepped in, picked up her baby girl and gently tucked her up into her neck for a cuddle.

It was at that point that I managed to tear myself away. I came upstairs, looking for a little comfort from my beloved. I didn't tell him what happened - I just wanted to be near him. He doesn't need to know I'm sad in order to give me comfort. I find it in his face, his smile, his humour and in his love for me. And I'm greedy - I'll take every bit of comfort I can, even when he doesn't even know he's giving it.

I popped onto the computer for further distraction. Scanning my chat board I noticed that someone had posted about a loss on another board and asked the members of our board to pray for this poor, devastated family. I didn't want to, but I had to know.

They think their son died as a result of SIDS. He was 6 months old and just adorable. I looked at the pictures, stunned and in utter shock that another beautiful boy could be gone. It doesn't make sense and it isn't fair. My beloved saw me reading it - saw me looking at the pictures - and told me to stop. I know he worries about me and thinks I can't handle sorrow on top of sorrow, but I couldn't not read this poor woman's story. I know her pain, so how could I ignore it, streaming from every agonizing word in her blog?

I did all I could. I prayed to Thomas and asked him to help me help her. Then I left her a message. I hope it somehow gives her comfort and shows her that she DOES have the strength to carry on without her son. I don't know we survive, but I know somehow we do.

If anyone is reading this, please pray for her. She'll need the kind of prayers I know must have been said for me in those early days. Those are the ones that carried me through, as if on angel's wings, and brought me safely here to another Saturday night.

I just wish it wasn't such a sad one.

Friday, July 29, 2005


I feel like putting my fist through a wall.

A note for next time

Just a quick reminder to myself...

Self, do NOT, under any circumstances, sign up for any free baby newsletters or products if/when you get pregnant again. It might seem like a good idea at the time - it might even help you think positively about your pregnancy - but just remember how horrible it was getting diaper coupons and formula samples in the mail four months after Thomas died.

I know it's going to suck, self, but pregnancy will never, ever be what it once was for you and what it is for most women. You've lost faith in your body and you don't trust your prayers anymore, so believing is going to be hard. In fact, believing is going to take all your energy so don't waste any of it signing up for baby freebies until that baby is home safely in your arms.

Trust me, self.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

All you have to do is dream

I had yet another bizarre dream last night. I have no idea why I'm dreaming such strange, vivid dreams, but they're coming fast and furious. A few weeks ago it was Luke Perry with a crush on me, then the next night Barbara Streisand and I hanging out together, but both of us paraplegic and in wheelchairs.

This time I was wandering around the train station in a short nightgown with a severe case of bed head and no underpants on. I suddenly became aware that I shouldn't be dressed like that in public (or undressed, as the case may be) but it was too late. I tried to get back to my car, but just kept wandering through the parking lot and eventually finding myself back in the train station. At one point I dropped my wallet and when I went to pick it up I found a photo of me and a little boy. The little boy had his back to the camera, but he had a head of big, sandy curls (just like I imagine Thomas would have had at that age). Every time I looked at the picture it changed - I would have somehow moved, but I think the boy stayed the same.

I guess it's because I am moving on and Thomas will forever be a little boy.

I remember it terrified me that the picture kept changing and I was sure I was going insane. The fact that I was half naked and wandering around that way was also pretty compelling evidence. I eventually forced myself to wake up and was very happy to find myself in bed - and appropriately dressed for it.

I've had a number of crazy dreams lately, but I also had a sweet dream that my beloved and I were tickling Thomas on our bed. He was dressed in a little red t-shirt and blue pants and he was laughing and squealing with delight. His little face was just beaming with happiness. He looked to be about 18 months old, but he didn't look at all like what I would expect him to look like at that age.

I woke up so happy from that dream. I know it'll never happen, of course, but for some reason it made me so happy. I'd like to think it was Thomas' way of telling me he's okay - that he's happy, blissfully so - and that he hopes we will be too.

I'm trying, Thomas, I really am. Mommy misses you.

Smiles and screams

I showed my best friend pictures of Thomas today - ones she hadn't seen before. She looked at the first one, a shot of him not long after he was born, and she started to cry. I understand completely, but it still made me so sad. I know it's not an easy thing to do. Looking at a picture of a tiny little boy hooked up to a million machines with wires running from virtually every part of him is difficult, and even more so when you know it's one of just a handful of photos of him alive, but it still made me sad.

I wish, so much, that thinking about him and looking at photos of him didn't make people sad. It's just another one of the horrible side-effects of this kind of loss, I suppose. No one can think of him without sadness.

I can, when I try hard enough. I can remember him poking and kicking and rolling and hiccuping, and I can smile. He used to get the hiccups all the time and I'd feel so helpless because all I could do was rub my belly and talk softly to him. I don't know if ever helped, but it was all I could do. Who knew that was just the smallest fraction of the helplessness I'd feel as a Mother?

I remember those times so well - like it was yesterday. I used to love to lay awake at night after getting up to go to the bathroom (for the 9 millionth time) and feel him moving. It was just the two of us, awake and together in a quiet, dark world that it seemed only he and I were aware of. I was so content because with each movement he showed me he was alive and well and strong, and I could relax, sink into the bed and just be with him.

I miss that. I miss him so much. I feel so alone sometimes - so literally alone and empty. I know he's missing, my body knows he's missing and sometimes that emptiness is like feeling every single part of me screaming out in agony. Sometimes I put my hand on my stomach and just go numb. It all feels so unreal. It's like it was another person who carried that precious boy - sometimes I think it MUST have been another person because if it was me he'd be here in my arms.

But I know it was me. And I know I'm empty.

And I also know I have to carry on. I'm not alone. I have my beloved, who loves me more than I ever thought anyone could. He watches me, helps me and pulls me out of harm's way when he senses the sorrow is about to devour me. He lost what I did and we are united in our grief. No one understands me the way he does because he lost Thomas too. His heart broke the same day mine did.

So I understand why my friend cried. Clearly I can't think or talk about Thomas without being engulfed in sorrow either, but I live in hope that one day it won't hurt this much. I live in hope that one day my heart will stop breaking over and over and over again.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Thank you, stranger

I was all set to write about Lumphead and Loni (which, according to a friend's two-year old son, is what my beloved and I are named), but that will have to wait for another time. Today I have to thank a stranger instead.

With the exception of a few friends who have told me they check my blog regularly, I have no idea who reads my words or, for that matter, what they think of them. I always assume I must depress the hell out of anyone brave enough to wander over here to see what might be on my mind, but the words keep coming nonetheless. I can't stop them. I need to keep writing to survive, you see.

I know that a lot of my survival is also due to the prayers of countless friends, both real and virtual, who have prayed for me, my beloved and our Thomas since his death. I know because there's no other way to explain how I've been able wake up every morning, get out of bed and live each day without my beautiful baby boy. There's no other way to explain how I can possibly have the hope that I do for our future or how I can even conceive of a future without Thomas.

What I didn't know is that there is a stranger who prays for me everyday too. It means so much to me because I've been having a hard time praying for myself and have been relying on others more than I'm sure they realize. It's been hard for me to talk to God and ask him for help. I pleaded with him while I was still in surgery, half out of my mind with terror because I knew something had gone horribly wrong, but God had already made his decision. If he couldn't help me then, the time I needed him most, how can I be sure he'll help me now?

I've struggled so much with this, and have all but given up. I can easily pray for others because I have no evidence to suggest that those prayers will go unanswered, but for me? It's a little harder. I hope one day I'll find my way back to the trusting relationship I always had with God (I'm trying, I really am) but for now I'm wary and, for the most part, just pray for my friends instead.

That's why I'm so grateful to know that a total stranger is praying for me. I'm grateful that your relationship with God is a stronger one than mine right now, and I'm grateful that you were both kind enough and thoughtful enough to tell me that I'm in your prayers.

Thank you so much, stranger, for letting me know. I promise I'll pray for you too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lettuce and a tomato

I had to run out for lettuce and a tomato. I did what I could to avoid it because I'm feeling so lazy today, but the dinner I need the lettuce and tomato for is painfully simple and I couldn't really justify not making a quick run to the store. So I did.

I wasn't too bothered by the fact that somehow I managed to trail a pregnant woman throughout the store, as if she was on the same lettuce and tomato mission as me, but my breaking point came when I reached the checkout line. I know I've written about this before, but it happened again. The shortest and most logical line had a newborn baby in it and if I chose that line I'd have to stand right behind a new Mom gently cradling a baby in her arms.

I looked frantically for another line and tried to mentally count what was buried in my basket to see if I qualified for the express checkout, but I would have looked foolish opting to go to a line that was packed and I was pretty sure I had more than 11 items. So I slowly inched into the newborn baby line.

Oh God, she was so beautiful. I was so close that I could see her little peach fuzz hair catching the light streaming through the windows. I know just how that tiny head felt because I can still feel the way Thomas' felt under my hand. Warm and soft and alive.

It's hard to describe how useless, empty and broken I feel when I'm confronted by a newborn. I was holding a basket of food and that serene, content new Mom was holding a child. I know strangers can't see - can't tell that I lost my son - but I still feel like there's a giant neon sign above my head screaming "BROKEN" and pointing at me.

I'm sure I must have looked like an idiot because I couldn't take my eyes off that little bundle. When the Mom turned towards me to walk around her baby carriage I smiled at her - a weak, unreal smile - but she didn't see me. I wanted, in my smile, to tell her that I had a baby once too and he was beautiful and soft and sweet just like hers. I wanted my smile to somehow convey to her that I was also a mother - that we had that in common - even though I was holding a basket of food instead of my child. I don't know why I cared so much what she did or didn't think of me, but it didn't matter anyway because she only had eyes for her daughter.

Sometimes I hate going out for lettuce and a tomato.

Monday, July 18, 2005

We are three

I woke up thinking about my little boy this morning. He was just there, sitting in my head waiting to say "hi!". It was quiet and peaceful laying there thinking about him - one of the rare times that it didn't feel like a kick in the gut. I love those moments, but they're still too few and far between.

I often think about him in a quiet, peaceful way when my beloved and I are out for a walk at night. As the street lights cast our shadows ahead of us on the sidewalk I pretend I can see a small shadow dancing between our two larger ones. I picture the little shadow skipping along just behind us or, sometimes, holding each of our hands.

I know it sounds like a sad thought (and in fact it's making me cry right now) but when we're out walking together, holding hands and really connecting, I feel Thomas with us. And then I feel like we're a family. Those evening walks are when I'm most aware that there's not just the two of us but, in fact, that we're a family of three.

It's been too hot out to walk the last week or so, so I wonder if that's why Thomas was with me when I woke up this morning. It's not like I don't think about him each and every day, but I haven't connected with him in that quiet way in a while. Maybe he missed me as much as I missed him.

I'd like to think so.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A peek at the end

I had an awful nightmare last night. To make a long (and sad and confusing) story short, everyone decided that I was too sad to live now. No one wanted to be my friend and they decided that I should be "put to sleep." My Grandma (who has been dead for 15 years and presumably knows how it feels when you die) told me what the doctors would do and how it would feel. I didn't want to know (actually, I didn't want to DIE) so I ran around the corner to escape the sound of her voice.

Running around the corner turned into me turning to the last page of a book (which happened to be the book of my life). On the last page I discovered that I had, in fact, been euthanized. Horrified, I ran back around the corner hoping to turn back time and escape my fate. But I knew I couldn't - I'd peeked an knew what was coming.

Then I woke up, almost as horrified as I'd been in my dream. Not, as one might presume, at the fact that I'd been handed a death sentence, but because no one wanted to be around me and they all figured I was better off dead.

I'm fairly certain that no one in my real, waking life thinks I'm better of dead (and if you do, please don't tell me) but I hope that I'm not too sad to be around now. I know I'm different - I know sometimes I'm quieter than I used to be and even I catch myself lost in thought, 1000 miles away, pondering what could have been - what should have been. But I don't think I'm broken beyond I?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

One year and one day

It was a year ago yesterday that we first saw those two, beautiful blue lines. It was Thomas waving hello. I kept very, very busy yesterday cleaning, doing laundry, e-mailing friends and just generally trying to keep my mind off of the fact that we had to say goodbye far too soon.

I can't believe I can love someone I hardly knew with all my heart.

But I do.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Six, seven, eight...

I need to do a little more blessing counting. It's another bad day...

6. I just got a really nice e-mail from my cousin who is 14 years older than me and has memories of the two grandparents I never knew (they died before I was born). I'd asked her to tell me about them, and she did. Her e-mail warmed my heart and made me feel closer to both her and our grandparents. It made me cry too, but in a good way.

7. My beloved is taking me out this afternoon "to buy stuff" (A.K.A. shopping therapy). We may be in the poor house soon (we've been sad for four months now and practicing our brand of retail therapy quite regularly) but it will take my mind off my stupid body and the tricks it's been playing on me, and I know we'll have fun spending the afternoon together.

8. I'm going to eat chocolate today. I don't know when or in what form, but I'm having it. Maybe a lot of it.

9. I can see and walk and hear (things I often take for granted, especially when I'm feeling particularly sorry for myself).

10. I'm having a good hair day.

One, two, three...

I feel like writing, but I can't think of anything to write that isn't desperately sad. Maybe it didn't help that we just finished watching a really depressing 60 minutes episode about a murdered New York financial analyst. Maybe that was a stupid thing to watch (hindsight really is 20/20, as it turns out). We have a enough to be sad about without watching other people's despair on TV.

And the worst thing is, I know their pain.

Our son wasn't murdered (and I can't even begin to understand what that feels like) but we do know the pain of losing a child. I watched the woman's father literally stagger into the church for his daughter's funeral and I saw him standing, stunned and pained, watching the priest incense her coffin. And I know the unfathomable pain he was experiencing at that very moment. I know because I remember it all too well.

It's horrific to think that there are two people in the world who know that pain. It's even more horrific to know there are thousands of us out there. It just shouldn't be.

It shouldn't be.

See? I can't find a happy thought anywhere at the moment. I know there has to be one in me somewhere, but I can't find it. That nasty pool of sorrow I mentioned yesterday has me in its icy grip.

But I can swim, and so I'm going to try very hard to think of 5 really happy things and write them down.

1. I'm a grown-up and I if I want to eat a bowl full of icing, I can. And I did - just the other day. I made a bowl of vanilla icing and sat down and ate the whole thing. Because I could.

2. I'm in love with the world's most perfect man. Okay, the most perfect man in the world for me.

3. That perfect man is in love with me too. And there's no doubt in my mind that he always will be, and so will I.

4. It was really hot out today and when it got too hot in our house we were able to put the air conditioning on and cool off. We're so lucky that we're able to have that luxury.

5. I have some very good friends, both in real life and on my chat board, who support me and care about me and are always there for me no matter how depressing I happen to be at any given moment.

Hey, this is working - I feel a little happier. I still wish we hadn't watched the show about the murdered financial analyst, but counting your blessings really does seem to work. Who knew?

Maybe I should do this a lot more often - especially when the waves are at their most threatening and the pool is at its darkest and deepest.

I just hope that no matter what, I can remember to keep counting.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Just a little jolt

I just looked at Thomas' pictures again (for the millionth time). I still shake my head in wonder, awe and agony when I see his perfect, tiny face - and when I let it really sink in. He was born. He was ours. And he's gone.

Healing is such a delicate balancing act. I want to feel better - happier - but I don't want to forget him. The thing is, his birth is tied up in such horror and sorrow that it's hard to remember him without remembering all the pain. It's harder still to look at that beautiful little face without it literally breaking my heart in two.

So what do I do? Forget? Remember? Which one is easier to do? Which one hurts less?

I don't cry every time I see the pictures, not anymore. But on the days when I let myself really study them and really think about it I get a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach - a sort of fluttering horror. It's sorrow, longing and desperation that I know is never really going to go away.

Can you ever really heal after something like this? Can I ever really be happy again? I mean REALLY happy?

I wish I knew. I've been happy since he died - I've smiled and laughed and meant it - but just underneath the surface there's a deep pool of sorrow that's just sitting there. It's always waiting for me to dive in and it's always waiting to drown my happiness.

I hate that. I hate the sorrow, but I love my son. I can't wait for the day when the two aren't inextricably linked. I worry that day will never come, but I live in hope.

We live in hope.