Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hide and seek


Have I got the cure for you! Start driving - just an hour or so, that's all it takes - stay in a nice inn, bed & breakfast or whatever tickles your fancy, then order food up to your room. That's right, get into your jammies and start dialing. Pre order dinner and breakfast for the next day too - what the heck! Just keep the private picnics coming. A comfy bed you don't have to make, food you don't have to prepare, a bathroom you don't have to clean and just you and your beloved.

It's pretty darn good.

Throw in a bottle of wine (bring your own - room service ain't cheap) find a channel that, for some reason, keeps playing Friends over and over and over, and you've got a recipe for possibly the coziest night ever.

Yes, you'll still be sad. Every once in a while you might still find yourself thinking, "If things were different, I'd be home with my 6-month old baby" and you might pass a really sweet kids' store and, just for a second, feel like someone has literally kicked you in the gut. But that's really no different than it is at home, is it? And you get all those other things as compensation - the rooms service and pampering, I mean.

I'm running, but I can't hide.

But I am having a good time. Really, I am. The room is beautiful, the bed is comfy, Friends really IS playing over and over and over again and My Beloved is right here with me. Thank God.

And breakfast in our room is just 11 hours away.

I can't hide, but if I have to be found this is as good a place as any.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Live and learn

Okay, so part of the reason I was so frustrated yesterday is because after trying for more than a month to finalize plans for
Thomas' grave marker, we had to "fire" the cemetery and go directly to a monument company instead.

Hindsight is 20/20. We should have done this in the first place, but we're grieving parents who've had a lot of unpleasant firsts since March and we haven't really known a blessed thing about any of them. I remember making the call to my priest from my hospital bed and stuttering while I left the message - stumbling over my words and finally admitting I had no idea where to start or what to do. I'd been preparing for a birth all those months, not a death.

Thank God my Mom made the arrangements with the funeral home. I couldn't have handled that too.

Part of me feels like a little kid who left it all up to her mommy, but the other part of me knows I was a sick woman who was muddled from shock, illness and sorrow. So thank GOD for my Mom.

Anyway, back to the stone. So we ordered it on the 25th of August, I believe. And here it is, the 28th of September. Not a stone in sight. It's a long, frustrating story of negligence and ineptitude, but suffice it to say my advice to anyone who finds themselves in the unenviable position of arranging for a grave stone is do NOT go through the cemetery. It might seem like one-stop shopping, but all you're doing is employing an untrained middleman. At least that's certainly what our experience has been. And on top of that our middleman (or middlewoman in our case) was a miserable, cranky bitch who made us feel like we were an annoyance.

"Yes, I'm terribly sorry that my son dying has inconvenienced you. I can only imagine what terrible strain this has been for you. Please. Sit down. Let me get you a glass of water."

But I digress.

A reputable monument company will do all the leg work for you, including finding out what restrictions there are at your cemetery regarding size and installation. This is their business so they'll work hard to please you and to get it done right. This is what we've learned.

In just 24 hours our monument company contacted the cemetery to find out all the information they needed, called me to find out what we were hoping to achieve, talked me through design and size considerations, created two sample layouts for us to choose from, and told us that they think they have a very similar stone to the one we'd almost ordered from the cemetery. The one that was going to take 16 weeks to arrive.

Once we choose our stone it will be ready and installed in 4 or 5 weeks, just under the wire. The cemetery won't install markers after November 15th. Thanks to the monument company we'll most likely meet that deadline and won't have to drag this out through the winter.

Thomas will have his stone and everyone who passes by will know that our sweet little soul lived and was loved.

No thanks to the cemetery.

Of all the things I thought I'd be an expert on, this wasn't one of them. Who knew I'd ever sit down to write a blog on the benefits of dealing directly with a monument company versus a cemetery. Life sure does hand you some strange things. I'm sure this isn't what I ordered, and yet I seem to have a plate full of it.

Can someone please pass the ketchup?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


It's too late and I'm too tired to recount the frustrating day I've had. I'm going to go to bed and hope for a happier day tomorrow.

Sometimes that's all you can do.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Stay at home whatever-I-am

I have one of the easiest and one of the hardest jobs ever. I'm a stay at home mom to a baby who isn't here anymore. My job is easy because Thomas is an incredibly low-maintenance baby. And perfect too. He never gives us a moment's trouble. Never has and never will.

It's hard a job because it's one I didn't plan for and don't quite no how to do all that well yet. So far it seems to entail cleaning, cooking, organizing, grocery shopping and crying. And missing Thomas like crazy.

I'm not working right now because, well, there are a lot of reasons. But mostly it's because I don't know how much stress contributed to what happened to Thomas and me, but if I do get pregnant again I don't want to have to wonder and worry about what a 2.5 hours daily commute and a stressful job is doing to the precious new little life inside me.

Granted that's a big if. I have no idea if we'll be able to get pregnant again or if a new little soul will decide to stick around. In addition to our Thomas, two other souls have tiptoed into and out of my body since we started trying. There's no guarantee that there aren't other small souls waiting for their turn to tiptoe in and out too.

If no new little life decides to call me home for a nice, long, happy 9 months I'll have to re-evaluate things and, most likely, head back out into the working world.

I know I'll probably want and need that then. I'll need something else to feel full because I know if that day comes I'll be feeling even more empty and broken than I do right now and I'll need to search hard for something to keep me happy and fulfilled. Not that My Beloved doesn't, but I can't make him responsible for fulfilling me. If I'm never going to be a mother to earth-dwelling children I'll need something else to do to make my life a worthwhile one.

I hate thinking like this, but I'm 35. It's a reality I have to face - or at least think about - so I'm not blindsided the way I was when Thomas died.

I must always be as mentally prepared as possible now. I can't deal with any more of those kind of surprises. And I hope I never, ever, ever have to.

P.S. I have to give credit where it's due. Jill (one of my sisters in sorrow) uses the term "tiptoed in and out" in reference to her miscarriages. I thought the phrasing was very sweet and I've borrowed it from her. Thanks Jill.

Friday, September 23, 2005

For you...

I'm always so touched by the comments I receive and so today I want to share something happy with my "sisters in sorrow", as well as with my friends and family, and anyone else who stumbles across this blog.

It's a cookie recipe (yes, sometimes I'm an emotional eater - I freely admit it) but these are truly the world's greatest and easiest peanut butter cookies! One or two of these golden beauties with a big, ice cold glass of milk is comfort food at its best. The next time you need a hug, seriously, whip up a batch of these. All's right with the world when these are in your tummy.

They must be fortified with magic.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

World's Greatest Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until thick (it might seem like it won't mix into a manageable dough, but it will).
2. Form into small balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart.
3. Press down on each ball with your fingers until they're roughly a little thicker than a half an inch (you don't have to be exact - these are forgiving cookies. It's all part of the magic).
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes

DO NOT OVER BAKE!! The cookies will not seem done, but they are! They're very fragile and delicate, so allow to cool for a few minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack.

I've added chocolate chips and Reese peanut butter chips and both make delightful additions! I just throw in what looks good to me - a nice big handful works.

There! That's from me to you, in thanks for everything.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Feeling selfish and small

We found out after dinner tonight that Amy, the girl who lives across the street with her husband and two year old daughter, died on Tuesday. She'd been battling colon cancer for a little over a year, but the cancer finally won the war and it took her just two days ago.

I knew this was coming. I found out 10 months ago that she was terminal. We never really talked to them all that much, but they had a chatty neighbour who filled us in on virtually everything going on in the neighbourhood and it was during one of those conversations that we found out the awful news.

I was carrying Thomas at the time and I thought, in horror, about what it would feel like to have to leave my precious child so young. I thought it sounded so cruel and hoped against hope that the chatty neighbour was somehow wrong and that Amy would survive and see her sweet little girl grow into a woman.

I don't know how she did it. I don't know how she looked into the face of her child knowing she was going to have to leave her - knowing she was dying.

Have I mentioned how much of a shit I feel like for my earlier rant? I feel like a self-absorbed pity freak. My reaction to the news of the baby behind us did throw me for an emotional loop this morning, but now I'm incredibly comforted by the fact that I'm surrounded by new life - and incredibly grateful for the cosmic flick in the head. It a hard road - some moments I still think the sorrow might swallow me whole - but there is life and hope if I open my eyes wide enough to see past my own self pity.

It still doesn't make any sense to me - why we lost Thomas and why Amy lost her life - but for some strange reason I feel an odd sense that the balance has tipped in favour of life just the same. Amy and Thomas are gone - both tragically and far too soon - but four new babies were born. Four new lives have just begun and are full of so much promise.

I'm not saying I won't want to slam my head onto the kitchen floor again before I myself die, but I am glad that tonight I feel some peace.

One birth, one death. One long, hard day.

The green eyed monster

Wow. Jealousy really IS a monstrous thing, isn't it? I was cleaning the kitchen a little while ago and happened to catch a fleeting glimpse of our neighbour behind us. She was holding what I'm almost positive is their brand new baby.

I froze, then backed away from the window. Nice reaction.

I really hate the sorrow and jealousy I feel when I see a new mom and her baby. Our neighbours are really nice - we like them a lot - and their first little boy (who's now almost two) is adorable. They deserve to be happy - they deserve to have a beautiful new addition to their family who, from the looks of things, arrived safely not too long ago.

They deserve it all.

So why do I feel so empty inside? Why don't I feel happy for them like I SHOULD? I should feel happy for them. They wanted a baby, they tried, and their baby is now home safely in their arms. I should be thrilled that a new life has found its way safely home.

But I'm just sad and jealous instead.

I feel like a horrible, miserable excuse for a human being right now. How can I not be happy when I know how much it means to have a healthy child in your arms? I, of all people, should understand what a thrillingly wonderful thing that is to bring a child safely into the world.

But instead, after seeing my neighbour and her new baby, I wanted to curl up in a ball on the kitchen floor and bang my head against the tiles.

Oh GOD!!! When will this STOP????? At what point will I feel perhaps just a twinge of sorrow but mostly joy when I see or hear about a new mother? I'm terrified that I'm going to alienate my pregnant friends who can't possibly fathom the depths of my sorrow and who must see me as a miserable, jealous hag - particularly if they're reading this.

I'm not a hag - I swear I'm not. I just can't find any personal joy in someone else's new baby right now. I'm so sorry. I can't apologize enough for how awful this is and I can't tell you how awful I feel inside. I'm not lying when I tell you that I'm happy for you - I am, most truly I am - but it leaves me empty inside at the same time. It's an awful truth, isn't it?

I just don't understand why my baby had to die when babies are coming into the world and into their new homes all around me. Literally all around me. Two across the street and two behind. Four babies, all safe and sound. And mine is dead.

I will never, ever understand this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I live a happy, sweet life

I was reading someone else's blog this morning and in her personal profile she wrote, "...I live a happy, sweet life...". I was instantly both angry and wistful. Not angry at her - it's wonderful that she feels her life is as perfect as it is. I wish we could all say the same. More than anything that's my wish. I just felt angry that the gods seem to dole out the good and bad so randomly, seemingly without reason or purpose. One person is blessed with a blissful life and a little girl who is her creative muse and another sometimes dreads waking up in the morning because of the sorrow she knows is waiting there for her.

I feel guilty for the jealousy I felt when I read how picture perfect this woman's life seems to be, but it's just that as soon as I read that statement I realized that I'd never be able to say it myself. I have been incredibly blessed with many sweet gifts throughout my life - a million and one happy moments and friends and family who mean the world to me and always will. I am well and truly blessed, but my life's perfection is now the "once up a time" kind I can only refer to in the past tense. The sweet perfection I once knew is gone.

I don't know why, but that made me so sad. It's not like I won't have perfect moments ever again or that life won't one day feel sweet again, but beneath it all, for the rest of my life, will be the loss of my little Thomas. That pain and sorrow will forever be a part of my life.

It's like I'm now somehow flawed.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I thought I wasn't flawed before. I'm not oblivious to my flaws (of which I have many) but this is one that no amount of exercise, dieting or therapy can correct. There's nothing I can do about it - it's just always going to be there.

I guess the trick is going to be living my imperfect life with meaning and purpose so that the imperfection doesn't become the thing that defines me. Although I suppose in a sense it will define me if I spend the rest of my life trying to ensure that it doesn't. Hmm, that's an interesting catch-22.

I wish this was all easier. I wish I knew how to live my life beautifully without my son. Right now it's all such a struggle - it seems like so much work. It's hard balancing the sorrow with the joy, making sure I give each the right amount of weight every day. It's hard vacillating between being incredibly hopeful and incredible pessimistic. It's hard trying to find ways to make my life meaningful in a way I didn't know I had to before.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm living my life for me or for Thomas. Or maybe for both of us. I just don't know right now.

I guess I'll figure it out as I go along and see if somehow I can't manage to have an almost happy, almost sweet life. Eventually.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It has to be done

Like so many other miserable things I've had to do since Thomas died, I have to finish packing away his things. It has to be done. When we took down the nursery in April we carefully packed up all his sweet little clothes, blankets, gifts and nursery items and My Beloved took them down to the basement.

And there they remain, stacked in a large pile right in the middle of our storage room.

I now have the same feeling about that pile of stuff that I did about the nursery before we took it down. It feels like it's all organized and neat, just waiting for someone who's never going to use it. I can't bear that feeling of expectancy when I see it all sitting there.

So on the weekend we bought a new shelving unit and I'm going to put it up today and fill it with the tubs of Thomas' things.

I haven't been able to let go of anything except his diapers, creams and lotions, a few pregnancy books and magazines and his baby bath. We donated those to a home for unwed mothers in April. Everything else - everything we lovingly bought or were excitedly given - is down in the basement waiting for the baby who will never use them.

It seems like a waste - there's so much need in the world and there's a whole nursery of beautiful things stacked in our basement - but I can't touch it. It all belongs to Thomas and it would feel like giving him away in some strange way. I have so little of him, so few memories and just a handful of pictures, but I do have all his sweet little things. I can hold on to those - no doctors or nurses can tell me I have to say goodbye to them (like I had to say goodbye to him) if I don't want to.

If we don't have another baby I'll obviously eventually let most of it go, but right now it's just too soon for me to give anything that belonged to him away. I know if he could talk to me right now he'd tell me to let it go - to let go - but since he can't and I'm a sentimental fool at the best of times, it's all staying right where it is for now.

Sorry Thomas, but Mommy's doing her best.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lost: one peaceful mind and a head of hair

I've lost many things since Thomas died. My sweet little baby wasn't the only thing that died that day in March. I've lost my innocence, I've lost trust in God, I've lost hope, I've lost peace of mind, I've lost my love of socializing, I've lost my ability to make commitments (thank God I'm already married), I've lost the patience I once had - I've lost a lot of things.

And now I'm losing my hair.

I can hear the engine of the pity train revving in the distance and yes, that means I'm about to hop on board for another trip around Pitysville, but seriously, have I not lost enough?

I knew my lovely, thick pregnancy hair was going to fall out, I just didn't think I'd really notice it the way I am. It's starting to really freak me out. I have two sets of bangs now - one normal set and one tiny, weird fringe hiding beneath it. The tiny fringe is, I can only surmise, a remnant of bigger bangs lost to the hormone roller coaster I've been riding since giving birth.

I'm wondering how much more of my bangs I'm going to lose. Is my hair going to recede like my Dad's? Am I going to wake up one morning with the male pattern baldness of my 75-year old father? He's got great hair for a man his age - but I'm not a man his age. I'm a woman 40 years his junior and I don't want his lovely old man hair.

I've already got his nose (a nose I passed along to Thomas) and that's all I want from him. Well, other than my sparkling wit, of course.

My Beloved thinks I'm insane. He says I've got enough to worry about and going bald isn't something I should add to the list. All well and good for him to say, he's got all his hair. And WAY less gray than I have too. Don't get me started on the amount of gray pregnancy hormones have given me.

But I guess if I go bald I won't have to worry about the gray.

I know it probably sounds like I'm minimizing the greatest loss I'll ever know by talking about my thinning bangs, but there are days that I'd just rather focus on my thinning bangs than on my open, gaping wound.

I guess my only consolation is that Britney's going to lose her hair too. Thank goodness for small mercies. I know she has the money to have the world's top stylists work their magic with weaves and fancy hair pieces, and, if all else fails, she can have a designer create a stunning collection of hats and head scarves; but she and I will know the truth. She'll have a tiny, weird little fringe underneath it all too.

At least I have that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Here they come...

Last night I had a nightmare and woke up to find I'm living it.

So it seems the dreams about Thomas - the bad ones - are now starting to come. I had one terrible nightmare the day after I came home from the hospital, but since then I've been pretty much spared. I actually had a really sweet dream about him once - I woke up smiling. But now the nightmares are coming. They're creeping into my otherwise generally benign dreams and inflicting pain I once only felt in my waking hours.

I thought I was going to avoid this, but I guess my head just gave me a six month reprieve, that's all.

The weird thing is the nightmares aren't scary or weird - they're horrific because they're so fact based. They ARE real in so many ways.

I've gotten used to night being my refuge from the pain, and now even that isn't safe anymore.


But maybe it's a good sign. Maybe it means I've healed enough to be able to tackle it in my dreams too. Maybe I don't need the refuge anymore.

But why does it feel like I do?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Who knew?

Who knew that you could love someone who you never really knew so much and miss him so desperately?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oops I'm bitter again

So Britney's a mom.

Yes, yes, it's mean and spiteful and I know I shouldn't feel this way because heaven knows I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I have, but I still can't help feeling seethingly jealous of the vapid little pop tart who wanted a baby, decided to have one and got it. Just like that.

She's 23. She has a gazillion fresh eggs left in there - she can have baseball team if she and her smirking rat of a husband want to.

I'm 35. All I can do is pray that there's ONE good egg left and that my body will be able to sustain it if it does get fertilized. I just want one child before my insides wither up and die.

I know it's not fair (or healthy, for that matter) to compare myself to anyone else and I know baby making isn't a race, it's just that it's impossibly hard to see other people get exactly what they want with what appears to be so little effort. Again, I know - not fair.

But you know what? Neither is having two miscarriages then finally bringing a beautiful boy into the world only to find out he's brain dead and going to die. That's not fucking fair either. So there. Take THAT pop tart!

I think I heard about her pregnancy before I even got out of the hospital. I knew it was going to be a torturous ride, seeing her fat, growing belly splashed all over the cover of every magazine on the rack every time she so much as sneezed.

And it was. From her "I've got the golden ticket" t-shirt with an arrow pointing to her blossoming belly at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory premiere to her ridiculously lavish Moroccan themed baby shower. It's been like a train wreck. I couldn't take my jealous eyes off of it, even though it was like a dagger through the heart with every turn of the page.

And she had a boy. She HAD to have a boy.

I know this probably seems like a crazy-lady rant, but I don't actually care all that much. I would challenge anyone who thinks I'm nuts to walk a mile in my shoes.

It's a sad fact. Pregnancy doesn't hold the promise it once did for me. All three times it has ended in sorrow and death and so seeing it happen so wonderfully and magically for someone like Britney Spears is really hard. It isn't that I don't wish her and her baby boy well. Of course I do (not that she cares) but I just don't think I should be expected to find personal joy in it.

Fuck it. Maybe I am nuts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Poof! The bathroom's clean

I can't for the life of me remember the excellent topic I'd planned to write about today. It came to me at some point during the day but I'm afraid it's gone for good now. It's sort of been that kind of day.

No motivation, little work, lots of procrastination. You know the drill. Well, you do if you're anything like me anyway.

I started off well. I was full of vim, vigor and promise. I went for a 2K walk first thing in the morning, came home and put the sprinkler on the back lawn aaaaaaaaaand that's about it. Three hours and a cold shower later I remembered to turn the sprinkler OFF. Maybe it was the cold shower that messed up my day. I dunno.

You see, the water heater broke. I don't know what was wrong with it, but for some reason my shower was a little extra refreshing after my walk. My first instinct was to call My Beloved and ask if he knew what might be wrong and how to fix it. My next instinct was to call my Mom, who knows everything about everything. Some days I wonder what the hell I'm going to do when she dies and I have no one to call and ask, "how long can hot dogs stay in the fridge after they're opened?"

Anyway, I did neither. I decided to figure it out on my own. I went down to the basement, saw the flashing light on the water heater, tried to calm myself down as the 9000 or so warnings splashed on the side of the tank screamed out at me in the most alarming way, and wrote down the customer service number.

I went back upstairs and dialed, fully expecting a truck to arrive within a few hours to fix whatever was broken.

But they made me do it instead. Me, the girl with the crippling fear of electricity, fire and gas. Good plan. I actually asked the guy, before flipping the little black toggle switch on the side of the tank as instructed, if I was going to blow myself up. He didn't think that was very funny, but to be honest I was only partly kidding.

He walked me through a few quick checks and finally instructed me to flick the toggle back to the ON position, which I did. He assured me I'd have hot water within a half an hour. And I did. And I didn't blow myself up.

Maybe things are looking up.

As I nervously scrunched down beside the water heater doing what the gruff voice on the other end of the phone told me to do, I felt that familiar flight or fight sensation raging inside. I so DESPERATELY wanted to flee and leave the tank to someone else's devices. I'm pretty sick and tired of being a grown up in a very grown up world. I don't WANT to be the one solving our water heater problems. I want to be the one who draws a nice warm bubble bath, climbs into a fluffy bed that someone else has made and snuggles under sheets that someone else has washed and folded.

Is that so wrong?

And this certainly isn't the first time I've felt this way. There have been many long days at the end of which I've found not my Mom at the stove cooking a hearty, comforting dinner, but ME. Why does that picture still seem so wrong?

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do - I love making the house clean, comfortable and cozy for My Beloved and I love cooking him hot, satisfying meals. But the thing is, when you're the one doing all the work, you don't get to experience it the same way you used to - or the same way everyone who isn't doing the work does. It's a little like loving a magic trick and then finding out how it's done. You still appreciate the trick but the magic is gone.

I'm not complaining that My Beloved doesn't do enough around the house. Sure, I suppose he could do more, but he's out of the house 11 hours a day, 8 of which are spent working and three of which are spent commuting, and he has the full burden of supporting us right now. He has enough to worry about without adding a list of chores to the mix. So really, there's no solution except for me to suck it up, stop whining and carry on.

And if I'm lucky - if we're both very, very lucky - maybe one day we have a little one who will appreciate the magic as much as I always did when my mom was the magician.

Maybe that's all I need to make me want to be a grown-up. Of course that means I'll have to learn all about the expiry dates on hot dogs...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Full circle

I'm reeling a little. I'm just continually stunned by what some people have to deal with in life and by the unfairness of it all. It feels like sorrow and struggle is all around me and I just never expected THIS to be what life would be like as an adult. I guess it's the dirty little secret grown-ups spare you when you're little.

Life can be so hard.

There's my friend S whose beautiful baby boy Ryan died just over a month ago, there's A across the street who, from what we gather, is now hospitalized with her cancer, there's M and J who are both separating from their husbands and there's S who is on a kidney transplant list. And then, of course, there are the hundreds of stories about infant loss I've read online and in my bereavement literature. Hundreds.

There shouldn't be THIS much pain in my small circle of friends and acquaintances. It's just not right.

And, damn it, I don't have a magic wand and I can't make any of this go away no matter how hard I try. I know from experience that the responsibility to mend lies within. And that's the hardest part of all, mustering up the courage to heal. But at least I can be there and I listen. I can do that.

Having friends who cared and who prayed for me (and who still continue to pray) helped me more than anyone knows, so I'm hoping that now I can return that favour. I have miles to go with my own mending, but I feel strong enough to lend support to those now following behind me.

Grief is a wonderful teacher. Not only does it teach you how strong you are, but it teaches you how much other people contributed to that strength - and how much they care.

I can't waste that lesson that Thomas has helped teach me. So S, M, J and S, I'm always here. You've helped me more than you know, and it's time I returned the favour.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Someone else's Thomas

It's been a little while since I had to fight back tears in public, but it happened again today. I was at Mass and my friend, who I haven't seen since long before Thomas was born, and her family slipped into the pew in front of me. I love this friend - I've known her for years and years and we always laugh our heads off when we're together.

She has a Thomas of her own. Hers is four and the image of his father, just like my Thomas was. I didn't think it would bother me to see them but, like so many things that have surprised me since March 9th, it did.

I hate that it did, but it did.

I watched her little Tommas snuggle up to his father and I saw his father tuck him protectively into his side, and I felt my heart break for the millionth time. I felt literally empty for the few minutes I allowed myself to think about the fact that no matter how much we might want it, or pray for it, we'll never have our Thomas to snuggle with. And then I locked the vault and carried on.

I chatted with them after Mass and we made vague plans to get together for coffee one morning since she's only working part time now. I hope the plans don't stay vague though - I hope she wasn't just saying it to make me feel better. I would really love to get together with her and laugh our heads off one morning. And soon.

I hope she didn't see the sorrow in my eyes, and I hope if she did that it didn't frighten her too much. I hope I haven't scared away my old friend.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A cookie and a cuppa

Sometimes, every once in a while, there are moments of utter perfection to be had. I haven't had one in a long time - maybe not since Thomas died, as a matter of fact. Or at least if I have had them, I haven't recognized them as such.

Anyway, the point is I'd forgotten how wonderful they are. But I remembered when I had one this evening.

Night is falling so much quicker these days, and while generally the darkness leaves me feeling slightly claustrophobic and a little unnerved, tonight, for some reason, it felt kind of cozy. Eventually, anyway.

My beloved and I had just settled in to watch a little TV after saying goodbye to my sister who'd spent the afternoon with us. I think we were both feeling a bit bothered by a special on Terry Fox that we'd all been watching and we were hunting for something that would erase the dull sense of dread that watching TV shows about a disease that kills randomly and unexpectedly can induce.

I should clarify that Terry Fox doesn't bother me - he is a true Canadian hero and 25 years after his death I'm still awed by his spirit and his achievements, both in his lifetime and after it. It's cancer that gives me the creeps. I'm terrified that I'll get it, or another person I love will get it.

Anyway, the point is we were both feeling unsettled and needed something to take the edge off. We found it in a show called The Most Outrageous Moments on TV. Or a "bloops" show, as My Beloved always calls them. "Bloops" is his short form for "bloopers", and every time there's a bloopers show of any kind on, he calls out to a non-existent Bubbe, "Gramma, Bloops is on!", which of course always makes me laugh. I don't know what I'd do without the comforting ritual of his familiar jokes. I don't know what I'd do without him, for that matter.

Anyway, a few minutes into Bloops I made tea and pulled out the chocolate chip cookies we'd picked up at the bakery this afternoon. The moment of perfection came as I snuggled back into the couch with a cookie in one hand, a hot cup of tea in the other and My Beloved across the room striking a similar pose. I guess knowing he was there and that we were safely in for the night, happily erasing all thoughts of cancer from our minds by watching reporters get nuzzled in inappropriate places by large animals, was all the comfort I needed. And that's when I felt that feeling of sheer bliss and prefect contentment.

I've missed that. It was fleeting but it was wonderful while it lasted.

Funny thing. My Beloved just managed to create a second moment of perfection for me. He's cleaning the office up while I'm writing, and we both just stopped to discuss which box of his comics I should save in the event of fire. He was actually only kidding (sort of) but when I took him seriously, that look of love that makes me melt flashed across his face and he started to stroke my hair. We continued to talk about his comics, but feeling the gentleness and love in his touch as we talked gave me that same feeling of security and contentment as the cookie, tea and bloops had earlier.

Twice in one day amidst our unending sorrow. I am lucky.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Six months

It's been 6 months since I've seen my little boy. And I'm not quite sure how I've survived.

March 9, 2005 at 5:29pm he came silently into the world and I had just one moment of joy before my world shattered. I heard the doctor say, "We have a nice little boy" before I fell back to sleep. The next sound I heard was the squeak and rasp of the bagging as they tried desperately to revive him, but I already knew something was wrong because they hadn't shown him to me. I hadn't seen his tiny face peeking over the blue cloth draped in front of my face the way I'd seen it happen a thousand and one times on A Baby Story. I hadn't heard him cry.

They should really rename that show. It should be called, "The story of a couple who are incredibly lucky to have a happy, healthy baby because birth is a horror show for some unfortunate couples who never get to take their baby home." That would be a much better title, I think.

I lay there at the start of my nightmare, falling in and out of sleep, and I knew it was bad.

And it was, which is why six months later instead of celebrating his half-birthday I'll be painting our powder room and sneaking peeks at his tree. Thank God for the tree.

Oh I wish I could go back and see him again. I wish I could just touch him one more time. There's so much I wish I could do that I didn't think to do then when everything was a haze of grief and morphine. I didn't count his toes.

I wish I'd counted his toes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Putting down roots

Our beautiful new maple tree came today. The one we bought and planted in May in memory of Thomas died during the miserable dog days of summer and we've been staring its pitiful, leafless corpse for at least two months. And no, the irony isn't lost on me. Our first tree. Dead.

Anyway, on Saturday we picked out a beautiful, fresh, healthy maple and arranged to have it planted today, one day before Thomas would have turned 6 months old. I'm not totally sure what killed the other one, but I have a feeling it was a combination of the summer's intense heat, not quite enough water and the fact that it wasn't that healthy to begin with. So, in an effort to make sure this tree has as good a start as possible, we decided to have it planted for us.

It was like Santa arriving on Christmas morning when I saw the nursery truck pull up. I truly couldn't have been more excited.

There's something very healing about seeing it standing there all green and new in the backyard. I watched it for a long time today, on and off through the day. I watched it like a bit of a crazy lady to be honest, but I really am so happy to finally have a beautiful healthy tree in our otherwise pretty barren yard. Seeing its leaves dancing in the breeze was mesmerizing. And oddly comforting.

It's true. Life goes on.

Sure, it's a new life, different than the one we planted in May, but it's still life and we get to nurture it and watch it grow for as long as we live here. It will spread a thick canopy of dark green leaves over our yard as it slowly grows to 30 feet above the earth, and it will light up in shades of yellow, orange and red every fall. Along with the comfort it has already given me in one short day, it will clean the air, give birds a place to nest and offer its delicious shade when the summer heat comes again.

I hope that one day there will be a little one to play in the shade of Thomas' tree, but for now it's a reminder that life still holds beauty and promise, even when you have to work hard to find it.

Happy 6 months, my sweet one.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I'm OK, you're OK

So my Aunt was worried about me on Sunday. We went to her place for a family dinner and apparently she filled my poor mother's head with all kinds of horrible things the next day. I was too quiet. Was there something wrong with me? Did I need some help? Was there more that someone should be doing?

Well of COURSE there's something wrong with me - my son died. I have a gigantic, irreparable hole in my heart and as a result I'm a whole new person dealing with a whole new reality that I never dreamed I'd be living. Of course I'm not the old me. I'll never, ever be the old me again. Ever.

But I'm okay.

I get up every morning, even the ones that come crashing in on me like a freight train, and I do what needs to be done. And there's lots to be done on any given day. I cook, clean, shop, do the laundry, garden, paint, read, write, work, watch TV, talk to my friends, call my Mom, spend time with my beloved and at the end of the day lay my tired head on my pillow, look at the picture of my beautiful boy that hangs on the wall between his tiny, perfect handprints and footprints and turn out the light.

I think that's pretty good for someone with a gigantic hole in her heart. If I do say so myself.

I'm certainly not ruling out looking for additional help if I need it, but right now I'm coping on my own and I think I'm doing okay. I've found joy again, even though it's more fleeting that it used to be, and I have hope for the future. I'm not joyful and hopeful 24 hours a day, but who is? Sure, I cry more than the average person and I know this aching sadness I have will stay with me until I die, but that's just the way life is for me now. It's who I am.

If you ask me if I'm sad, I'll say yes. But that doesn't mean I'm not happy. If you ask me if something's wrong, I'll say yes. But that doesn't mean that nothing's right. This is grief.

But I'm okay.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A journey of a thousand miles

We're walking fiends these days, my beloved and I.

Today we went for an hour long walk around our neighbourhood after breakfast and then ended up at Bronte Park (a local Provincial park) after lunch where we wandered around for another couple of hours taking pictures and enjoying the sights and sounds. The trails and scenery there are just beautiful and it was nice to find ourselves deep in the woods, all alone, with a canopy of bright green leaves over our heads and the sweet smell of the forest thick in the air.

The trail we hiked ended up at the barns (there's a working hobby farm in the middle of the park) where the scents hanging in the air were a little more pungent and pig-like, but it was still really nice.

There's something quite sweet about watching pigs wallow in mud. They looked truly blissed out all caked in the wet, thick mud. Now I know what 'happy as a pig in shit' actually means. They certainly did look content and pretty happy with life in general.

And I envied them. Geez, it's come to this - envying pigs.

Anyway, pig envy aside, I like these kinds of days. My beloved and I were together, we walked ourselves almost to the point of exhaustion and we feel satisfied that we didn't waste this spectacularly beautiful day.

I think we are almost as happy as those two little porkers rolling in the muck. Almost.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

What are the odds?

I was sitting in church today waiting for Mass to start when a tiny little fly of some sort started buzzing about my head. I think it was a fruit fly (it was that small) although I didn't see any fruit in the church and therefore have no idea where he came from. Anyway, he was making good use of his 24 hours of life (if he indeed was a fruit fly) by just generally making a nuisance of himself. Around and around and around he flew; in front of my eyes, under my glasses, by my mouth until finally...yep, right up my nose.


What are the odds of this happening? I mean inside God's house (which, incidentally, has screens on all its windows)? I know it's not exactly a catastrophe, but I'm betting it doesn't happen to that many people on any given Sunday. Or maybe at all. I really should be playing the lotteries daily because apparently I have spectacular luck. I'm just waiting to be hit my lightning. Surely that must be next.

Someone should really tell God he should invest in some Raid. Or at least ban bananas and other fruit fly delicacies from church property.

Anyway, I snoofed the fly out as inconspicuously as I could and he didn't bother me again after that, if he indeed survived the trip.

Actually, I was a little worried that he'd flown up further into my head (he was so small I didn't actually see him leave) but a little while later I saw woman a few rows up swatting at the air space near her face. I can only assume it was the fly's attempt to make it up nose #2.

I sat there wondering if there was any cosmic meaning in the fly taking a nose dive, as it were, but couldn't find any reason at all. I guess it's just dumb, stupid, bad luck.

And that I'm all too familiar with.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Everything will look brighter in the morning

My Mom used to say that to me all the time when I was a kid and, doggone it, she's still right. Even though the thing that's bothering me is a little bigger than being teased by the boys or not being able to do the flexed arm hang in gym, her wisdom still rings true. I feel much better this morning.

Thank goodness.

My beloved and I went for a nice long walk after breakfast and it has cleared the muck and self pity from my brain. Most of it, anyway. For now.

We walked to the new park, complete with a baseball diamond and two soccer fields, along the brand new path that connects it to our subdivision and back home again. Sorrow tried hard to work its way in along the way, but I thwarted its attempts quite deftly.

As we walked past the second girls soccer game, I said to my beloved, "if we ever have another baby," then I paused to include "that lives" and continued with, "I'd like it to play soccer because it seems like such a healthy sport for kids to be involved in."

I was a little stunned by the words, 'that lives', even thought they came from my own mouth, but it's our grim reality. We don't know if we'll ever have another child or one that will live if we do, so it just feels safer and somehow wiser to be cautious. Or pessimistic, depending upon how you see things.

As we made our way closer to home we passed a family of four. The little boy, who looked to be about four, blew right past us, a smile on his face and mischief in his eyes. The little girl, who I think was probably about two, was clutching a raggedy bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace. Weeds, for the gardeningly challenged. As we passed her she proudly held up her handful of flowers and said in her sweet, two-year old, sing-songy voice, "Look! I gots flowwwwers!" We smiled and told her how lovely they were as we walked past. Her little voice trailed after us saying, "They're for my moooooomy!"

I felt the all too familiar stab of pain, but we laughed as my beloved mimed turning the knife that's still wedged firmly in our hearts. It was good to know we shared the pain - that he felt it too and I wasn't alone in wishing that we had a tiny little ragamuffin with a fistful of weeds.

We were almost home when a little blond boy about three years old yelled out a hearty, "How are YOU doing today?" at us from his front porch as we approached. My beloved replied with, "very good thank you, and you?" Which made the boy just beam. Then we both waved the silly, loose-armed wave you give to little kids to make them laugh.

And then we made our way home.

It was a good walk. I don't know if I'll ever look at another child without remembering the face of the one I lost, but there's something so sweet about still being able to be touched by children - having them connect with us, smile at us, show us their flowers and wish us a good day.

We don't have our child, but at least we have that.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wishing won't make it so

On Tuesday I was out with my sister and my best friend almost all day. We had a great time - we went to a sticker warehouse (one's a teacher, the other has kids and I just like stickers, dork that I am), then we went for lunch, and finally we ended up at a great discount bookstore that has some really nice imported and Canadian books at fabulous prices.

I had a great time. Honest, I did. It's just that for some reason mid-way through the day it occurred to me that I didn't have Thomas to go home to. Maybe it was the discussion about who was looking after my friend's kids so she could come out on our adventure with us, or maybe it was the fact that there was a baby store right beside the bookstore we went to and for a split second I forgot that I didn't have a baby to buy for anymore. I don't know. But whatever the reason, I missed him like crazy.

As we drove back to my sister's house I imagined that I'd dropped him off at my Mom's and that she'd had a wonderful morning with him doing all the Grandma things she's wanted to do for so long. I imagined that I would soon get to see him again - to feel him all cuddly in his little sleepers, scoop him up in my arms, hold him tight and take him home. It felt so real. Almost frighteningly so. And so I stopped imagining it.

But oh, it also felt so good.

I miss every single little bit of that sweet little thing, and sometimes I think I'll explode from the longing. And those are the precise moments I rapidly switch gears and stop allowing myself to indulge in thoughts of him. I do another load of laundry or e-mail a friend or pick up the phone instead, forcing thoughts of my son out of my head.

Is this what life is going to be like forever? Does this seem at all fair??


Sorry, tonight this needs a fuck.

I'm tired. I'm so tired of pretending to be happy when I'm not and being strong when I feel weak and having to force myself to stop thinking of my child. It's not right and it's so far from fair it's sickening.

I don't pretend I'm happy all the time, of course. There are lots of times I'm genuinely happy and those times are becoming more and more frequent, but somehow, in some strange way, I still feel like a fraud. It's so hard to explain. I guess it's like I'm a new person walking around in the shell of the old person I used to be and I can't quite figure out who the new person is just yet.

I never really knew what a life altering event was until now. And I certainly didn't know the thing it altered was you, from the inside out.

But I've made it this far so I guess I'm doing something right. I don't know what it is, but I guess it's working. And since I have no other choice, I'll carry on missing my son but still surviving. Somehow.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I've been watching the news and reading updates about what's going on in the hurricane ravaged southern US States and I'm totally at a loss for words.

I am truly stunned by the scope of the tragedy and suffering and by the seeming inability to get aid to the people who need it most.

All I can do is sit and worry and wonder...