Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stalling for time

I'm not sure if I'm ready for March, even though it's going to rudely burst through my door in about 25 minutes.

So instead, I'll ponder this age-old question:

Why does a cat wait until after it has been fed to throw up a fur ball and the entire contents of its stomach?

Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Lesson learned

On Saturday morning we found out that a friend of the family died on Friday night while out at a church dance. He had a massive heart attack and died in the chapel.

I know everybody dies, but it never fails to shock me when I hear this kind of news. How can someone be here one minute and gone the next? I mean literally gone in a split second - in a heartbeat, as it were.

The news shook me up and saddened me, but it and also made me feel tremendous guilt over something I'm ashamed to admit. It shows a not-so-nice side of me that I don't like myself, but have trouble quelling just the same.

Ron was a sweet sort of dithering fellow in his late 60s who sang in the choir I sang with until I got too pregnant to continue. He was always friendly, chatty and up for a giggle.

But for the last few years I've pretty much ignored him or steered clear of him when I could because of something he said to me after my first miscarriage (a blighted ovum at almost 11 weeks) back in October 2003.

When I came back to choir after an absence of a week or so, I was bombarded with hugs, kind words and support. Ron was one of the first in line to speak with me, but what he said left me cold. He meant well, but he told me that I was lucky because his neighbour's wife had a stillborn child and that was far worse than a miscarriage. I know it was his way of trying to offer me comfort, but at the time I didn't feel lucky for having lost my first baby and I resented him for making me feel like I should.

I loved that baby - I love it still - and I was devastated to think that someone felt I should somehow feel grateful for any part of the horrendous ordeal I'd just been through.

And I never felt the same about Ron after that. I steadfastly clung to that grudge for dear life. In fact, when Thomas died, I had the urge to tell him that he was right - that it did hurt a lot more and it was much worse. I wanted to lash out and hurt him like he'd hurt me. I wanted him to know I hadn't forgotten and never would.

Thank goodness I kept my wits about me the first time I saw the choir after Thomas died. Thank goodness I kept sorrow's rage at bay. Ron didn't really say anything to me that day. He just hugged me and told me he was sorry. I wondered if the pain I saw in his face was because he remembered what he'd said to me almost a year and a half earlier.

I wonder if he regretted it too.

But I didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. I knew he hadn't meant to hurt me when he told me I was lucky. It was a thoughtless comment, sure, but not an intentionally hurtful one. He was only saying what he felt would comfort me - what he hoped would bring me peace.

But I still couldn't let it go.

And now he's gone. I was never mean to him, I never said anything cruel to him or hurt him, but I held that hate in my heart just the same.

What a waste. What a stupid, horrible, awful, foolish waste.

I'm sorry Ron...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Stop All The Clocks

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden

Grandma, Thomas and Grandpa

What do you see?

Sometimes I wonder what people see when they look at me.

I assume, perhaps erroneously, that people who know about Thomas see my sorrow - look for it in my eyes, my face, my voice and my gestures. I assume this because every once in a while I catch someone hunting for it. Maybe they're hunting for the old me, I don't know, but I catch their curiosity and concern flashing across their faces as they sneak sideways glances at mine.

I guess I'd do the same thing. It's sort of like a train wreck - you don't want to see something that terrible, but you can't help but take a little peek because it so inconceivable that something so awful could happen right in front of you.

So anyway, I assume the first thing that people who know me see is the mother of a dead baby. I assume they see my sorrow first and me sometime after that. After all, it's not inconceivable to think that maybe I'm projecting the mourning mother image back at them, just as they're expecting me to. Because maybe that really is my image. Maybe the sorrow is so much a part of me that it unwittingly sighs from me like a slowly exhaled breath.

Or maybe it's all in my head and they're back to just seeing me like they did before Thomas came and went. I don't know. But I don't think so...

I don't want to be defined by the horrible loss we experienced, but how can I not? Who is ever going to forget what we went through? Who can ever look at My Beloved and I with the same eyes they used to before they watched us bury our son?

The only time I know I'm safe from inspection is when I'm somewhere where no one knows me. I'm anonymous in the grocery store, for example. I'm just a woman picking up bread and carrots - there's nothing to indicate that I'm grieving the loss of my boy. I don't cry in public. I don't walk around with a placard hanging from my neck. I don't wear a label.

You can't tell the depth of my sorrow when I'm standing behind you in the grocery store check-out.

But the funny thing is, that's often the time I wish someone would ask me about Thomas or acknowledge my loss. But of course, they never will because they have no idea. I'm anonymous when I don't want to be and I'm a fish in a fish bowl when I want to be anonymous.

The grieving process makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It's as confusing as sitting through a French class unprepared - and a thousands times more frightening (and believe me, French class was pretty damn frightening for me).

I guess it boils down to the fact that I don't want to be special for this. Not this. I want to be special for having given birth to a beautiful boy, not for burying him 8 days later.

The thing is, I know that's asking the impossible. Thomas' life and death, as events, were virtually one in the same. It's hard for me to separate the two and I lived it in a way that no one else except My Beloved can even begin to fathom. How can I possibly expect anyone to think of Thomas' life without immediately thinking of his death when I can't do it myself? And how can I expect them not to think of Thomas' life and death when they look at me?

After all, when I look in the mirror it's usually all I see too.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Apparently it's in the stars

My horoscope today reads:

Life has a way of rewarding those who make sincere efforts. But when life becomes a struggle for survival in a dry desert, we tend to lose our optimism. An oasis will soon appear. You have come far.

If I can't trust God to hear my prayers, I most certainly can't trust a horoscope written by some underpaid, overeager, idealistic junior copywriter.

But oh how I wish I could.

I have come far. I'm not the catastrophically grief-stricken, barely functioning person I was almost a year ago. I'm healing - each and every day I'm healing. But I certainly have no illusions that my oasis is on the horizon - that happiness, in some magical form, is waiting for me as a reward for slogging my way through the barren desert of my pain.

I don't want to be rewarded for surviving the worst agony I'll ever know. I want to go back in time and avoid it altogether. That's what I want.

And anyway, I don't believe in rewards anymore. I've lived a good life, I think. I'm far from perfect and I've made my fair share of mistakes, but I've tried to live a good life and my baby died just the same.

I'm not going to stop trying to live a good life, but I'm not doing it for all the same reasons I once did.

I would love to believe there's an cool, beautiful oasis out there, but until I stand knee deep in that water and feel the shade of a dozen palm trees on my back, I can't believe there's anything more than a mirage out there for me.

Life is going to have to prove me wrong this time. I've lost my ability to trust in miracles and I just don't have the energy to hope for one.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

He's all around me, even still

I guess when something inconceivable happens, the natural response is to try to puzzle it all out - every single aspect of it. To figure out why it happened. To figure out what happens now. To find solace in whatever you can, no matter how small.

So that's what we've been doing, my beloved and I.

After Thomas died we didn't talk all that much about the afterlife. We have different beliefs about what happens when you die, and I think maybe I was too afraid to find out if Thomas' death had changed his views or not. I didn't want to know that he felt Thomas just disappeared - that his light was turned out and he vanished.

So I didn't ask. I guess I couldn't - not back then.

But now it's different. I want to know what he thinks. No matter what I might be thinking about God right now, I still believe in heaven and I believe my son is there. I know that as sure as I know that I'm here, that my hair is brown and that I love chocolate. I know those things, and I know Thomas is in heaven. I will always know that.

But the other night when we were out walking My Beloved made some really interesting comments that have me thinking about the afterlife in a whole new way. A way that gives me the additional comfort I'm needing right now.

He said that atoms, by nature, cannot be destroyed. So since we're made up of atoms, technically we never die. Our atoms remain and become, we suppose, part of something else - part of the physical world we once lived in.

To me this adds another dimension to the afterlife. I believe Thomas' soul - his non-corporeal person - is what exists in heavenly form, but to think that the atoms that made up his human essence - that beautiful and perfect little body I sheltered for 9 wonderful months - are still part of my world is unbelievably reassuring.

He still is, in memory, in spirit and, as crazy as it sounds, in atomic form.

Then we started talking about what happens to the electricity in our bodies when they die. Where does it go? Does that too go back into the atmosphere - back into the world where earthly life as we know it still thrives, even though the machine of our bodies comes to a halt?

Could there be a little bit of Thomas' electrical energy floating through the atmosphere? Is he still here in that form too?

Am I just grasping at straws? Perhaps, but straws are all I've got right now and I'm hanging on for dear life.

I can't help but shake my head at the absurdity of it all - the fact that My Beloved and I even had this kind of strange, sad conversation one cold February night is still mind-boggling. And yet I'll continue to delve as far into science as I have to, to help me ease the pain.

At first I didn't want to know how differently My Beloved and I thought about what happens when the lights go out, but now I'm so grateful that we are so different. I don't know how much comfort my steadfast belief in our son's spiritual existence has brought My Beloved, but his scientific reasonings have given me more comfort than I ever dreamed possible.

And that, I suppose, is the best possible argument for marrying your opposite. Who knew a philosophical talk on a cold winter night could bring me so much lasting warmth?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And suddenly it was all too much...

This is one of those days when it feels like everyone in the world is having a baby but me.

Strap on your pointy hats people, I smell a pity party...

I no sooner found out that a member of an online board I frequent is pregnant after a tubal ligation, when my pregnant neighbour informed me that our neighbours across the street are having twins.

It was all too much. I just lay down on the bedroom floor and sobbed.

I'm not angry at these women - or at any pregnant woman. I'm angry at the injustice of it all. I don't understand the way God works - why blessings are doled out so freely to some and held back so completely from others.

I get that this is the way the world works. I get that life is hard for some people and easier for others. I get that you can't always have what you want no matter how hard you try. I get that wanting something so badly you could scream doesn't mean you're going to get it. I get that in spades.

What I don't quite get is how God picks and chooses who does get the goodies. I mean, devout people have babies and people who have no relationship with God with babies. Warm, motherly types have babies and cold, formal types have babies. People in loving relationships have babies and dysfunctional couples have babies. People who want to have babies get pregnant and people who don't want to have babies get pregnant. I can't see the pattern - it all seems so impossibly random to me.

I know I'm not meant to fully understand, but I think it's only fair that if God has given me so much sorrow and refuses to give me the blessing he seems to so freely shower on others, the least he could do is throw me a bone.

He took my son. Why couldn't he have left me with a scrap of comfort and a shred of understanding?

I'm trying so hard - so impossibly hard - to deal with my sorrow while dealing with the monthly disappointment of not getting pregnant and I'm running out of ways to trick my mind into thinking it's okay - into thinking that I'm not as confused and sad and desperate as I am.

I'm trying God - why aren't you helping me? What more do I have to do? How many more times do I have to beg for your help before it comes?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Get off my BACK!!!

I took Thomas with me on all my errands today. I couldn't get my mind off him. He'd pop into my head and then I'd instantly feel the weight of my sadness as surely as if I was carrying it in a knapsack on my back.

I just missed him.

Actually, it was more than that. For some reason I was very aware that he's not here and he's not coming back - that I can't have him and that he's lost to me forever.

I know this makes no sense. I've been acutely aware of the fact that he's not coming back for 11 and a half months. It's just that some days, just to amuse itself, the sadness presents itself differently - and today it was like an oppressive lead weight. I dragged it with me as I plodded through stores picking up paint chips, a container for the beautiful pussy willows my sister gave me yesterday and buns for dinner.

It hung with me and made me want to scream.

Sometimes if I think about it too much or too hard, it makes me feel a little crazy. He was here and he's gone and I can't ever have him back. We were *this* close to happiness and it was snatched away so cruelly and so unfairly.

I don't always focus on that aspect of my sorrow, but some days that's the part that chooses to rise to the surface of my brain. Today was just one of those days.

Maybe tomorrow I'll simply miss the boy without the baggage of wanting to scream at the injustice of it all coming along for the ride.

We'll see...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Oh baby

This must be a self defense mechanism. After losing Thomas (and two other babies to miscarriage) and then trying to conceive again for the last 8 months, I'm starting to wonder if I even want another baby.

I should rephrase that...

I want another baby, I'm just getting really tired of trying to have one. I mean tired right to my very core. It's been nothing but sorrow, loss and unbearable heartache since we first decided to start a family back in July 2003. I'm getting tired of this agonizing limbo and wondering each month if we'll hit the fertility jackpot and wind up with a sticky pregnancy resulting in a take-home baby.

I want a baby, but I want our life back too.

I married My Beloved because I couldn't live without him. I loved him, not just his potential ability to impregnate me. We have a life together - one that, had he lived, would have carried on without Thomas once he grew up and went on to have a life of his own. I'm happy with "us" - I always have been. I would love if our little family included a child, but we're still a family and this house is still filled with love and laughter.

I'm just starting to feel like waiting for dreams to come true is a dangerous thing when it means putting your life on hold.

Everyone wants to know when we're going to get pregnant. Everyone is waiting for the announcement. Everyone wants a new member of the family. Everyone wants us to be happy. Everyone is waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for the future to begin.

But our future is now. This is what we have - him and me. And lots of love.

I would love to have a baby. My arms still ache to hold another child of my own and they always will, but maybe I have to start focussing more on what I do have instead of what I wish I had.

The future can't make you happy - there's simply no way to know for sure what it will hold. We learned that the hard way almost a year ago.

I only know what I have now, and he's downstairs prepping brussels sprouts for dinner. He's everything I've always wanted and more, especially when you consider that he'll happily prep brussels sprouts without complaint. I mean c'mon, how can you ask for more than that?

If it's only ever him and me and our angels in heaven, I'm still pretty damn lucky.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Once upon a time

Yesterday I was hunting for something in one of the many drawers in our house that needs a bit of a sort, when I came across an old appointment sheet from the OB. Every visit they would print out my next three appointments (and I had a lot of them, being high-risk). The sheet I found yesterday listed an appointment with my OB, an ultrasound and our labour and delivery orientation at the hospital.

I was sitting on the floor of our bedroom happily sorting when the paper found its way into my hands. The world stood still. I froze. My mouth opened in a silent gasp. My stomach dropped. All the usual stuff.

I looked at it like it belonged to someone else - to someone I vaguely knew once upon a time. It was the oddest sensation. I know that was me - those were my appointments, that was my life - but I'm just so different in so many ways and I can barely reconcile the fact that I ever was that happy pregnant woman dreaming endless dreams about her son and her perfect, beautiful little family-to-be.

I sometimes now forget that I've changed until I'm reminded by something like that piece of paper. In fact, there are things all over the house that remind me that, not that long ago, I was someone very different. I'm getting too used to who I am now and forgetting who I was. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I liked who I was before my heart was torn completely apart - along with my world.

I'm not entirely sure how much I like myself now. I get very tired of being so sad and bringing so much sadness to others.

Sometimes I look at pictures of My Beloved and I from before Thomas - and from before our two miscarriages before him - and I see a difference. I swear I do. We look so innocent - so whole and unwounded. It makes me sad to look at those people and know we just aren't them anymore. We might look pretty much the same, but we're merely dark shadows of those two happy people who had no clue what was headed their way when they happily said "I do" a little over three years ago.

We're truly happy together. In fact, we take deep refuge in each other and the safest I feel is nestled up beside him in bed. But we're definitely not the same people we once were.

I know life does that to everyone, but I think it's generally a little more gradual. Most people have years to grow, mature, react to change, adjust. We had to do it much more quickly, so when I see something that belong to the very different me of just a year ago, I'm shocked - too shocked to even gasp audibly.

But even though I barely recognize myself, My Beloved does and somehow I recognize him too. Our love hasn't changed (except to grow) even though our lives couldn't be more different or our souls more wounded.

And so we just keep clinging to each other as the world spins on and on and on.

I've learned and grown, but is it wrong that I still wish I was that girl who the paper once belonged to...?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Feelin' hot hot hot

This afternoon I thought of a very profound subject that I'd planned for tonight's blog...but it left my mind. This leads me to believe that it probably wasn't all that profound after all. Or that perhaps I should consider talking to the doctor about my short term memory.

Anyway, instead I will post a question that has been puzzling me for years: Why, dear God WHY, do stores jack up the heat in the winter when they know that customers are coming in wearing coats - and that they usually leave them on while they shop??

My Beloved and I went out to Chapters tonight and came dangerously close to being lulled into comas whilst browsing, so high was the blessed heat in the store. We started out okay, but by check out time it was all we could do to drag our heavy, sweaty, muddle-headed bodies over to the perky cashier (she, of course, wasn't wearing a coat).

I know some people like it hot, but a fresh, cool environment is far more conducive to shopping, is it not? Especially shopping in a bookstore which, by nature, tends to be a bit more of an intellectual pursuit. I could buy groceries in a heat wave - an apple here, a can of soup there - but at a bookstore I have to read. I can't read when it's hot, I can't make decisions when it's hot - I can't even think when it's hot.

All I do is whine when it's hot. Whine and write whiny blogs.

Thanks Chapters.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sorry isn't enough

The other night as I lay snuggled up to My Beloved, I wordlessly, in fact silently, apologized for not being able to bring our son safely into the world. I've apologized before - out loud - but he won't have any of it. He absolved me of any guilt months and months ago. Actually he never once pointed his angry finger at me in blame - he's been nothing but loving and supportive from the start, and has repeatedly told me that none of this was my fault. He's quite adamant about it.

But the guilt remains.

I know it wasn't my fault, but only in the sense that I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't set out to have an abruption that would kill Thomas and nearly kill me in the process.

But the fact remains that my body couldn't do what it was supposed to. It failed me, My Beloved, and most of all, our Thomas in the worst possible way.

And for that I'm so desperately sorry.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


It's kind of amazing what a big piece of tenderloin followed by strawberries dipped in warm chocolate sauce can do for a melancholy mood.

I'm loathe to admit that I'm an emotional eater, but the chocolate stains on my chin and the satisfied smile on my face don't lie.

I am content. That's right, I said content.

I know, I can't believe it either.

Kisses and hugs

I've been thinking a lot about Thomas today. I think about him every day - sometimes every minute of every day, it seems - but on special days I think of him in a different way. I think about what I've lost in a different way, I guess because I can picture more clearly what I would have been doing on days like these...

I know I would have had a special little Valentine's outfit for him (I would have done this for as long as possible - until, after three or four years, the boy in him realized he didn't want to be dressed up in holiday themed clothes any longer).

We would have made a special trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house to bring them gooey Thomas kisses and their very first Grandma and Grandpa Valentine.

We would have made Daddy his very first Daddy Valentine too, and we would have greeted him at the door with more gooey Thomas kisses and big Thomas hugs.

But the house is quiet and still instead. No Thomas kisses to be had by anyone.

Last Valentine's Day my beloved and I spent the evening at our labour and delivery orientation. People say "what a difference a year makes" about the smallest changes in their lives. But for us, the difference between a year ago and now is a life. A whole little life that came and went.

I wish I could go to sleep and wake up tomorrow to discover this was all a horrible, horrible nightmare. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and find everything just as it should be - a sleepy little boy full of giggles and smiles standing in his crib waiting for me to come and sweep him up into my arms for gooey little kisses and a million soft, warm baby hugs.

I don't understand why Thomas died. I don't understand why we weren't allowed even one kiss. I don't understand anything anymore.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

OOooooohhhhh lava cake, my sweet, sweet love!

This is a public service announcement for anyone in desperate need of a chocolate/sugar fix that isn't too horrific on a self-inflicted, calorie reduced diet:


Oooooh, It's some serious chocolatey goodness. When paired with Chapman's Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt, you have yourself a pretty delectable, not to mention immensely satisfying, little Saturday splurge.

Word to the wise though, don't overbake the lava cakes. When you do they lose their lava and, well, then you're pretty much just left with regular old cupcakes.

Damn fine cupcakes, mind you, but I can only imagine how spectacular they would have been oozing molten chocolate-raspberry perfection.

Weight Watchers is going well. I've lost 8.5 pounds (tomorrow is weigh-in, so we'll see if I can add to the tally...or not) and I'm still surprisingly motivated - but my GOD, what I wouldn't do for one, good, old-fashioned, pre-Weight Watchers pig-out. And I don't mean a "satisfy your craving" kind of nosh - I mean a salty, buttery, fatty, 7000-calorie-secret-sauce-dripping-from-your-chin kind of pig-out.

Those were the good old days.

And now back to my celery.

(As for you, seriously - why are you still here?? Get out and get your Lava Cakes!!)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Moving on

I'm moving on. Getting on with things. Not waiting for what may never come.

Well, at least today, anyway.

I spent most of the day in the room where we hastily shoved Thomas' dresser/change table when we took down the nursery in April (the same dresser where I've been storing his things - the little white pouch with all his precious belongings inside).

Anyway, the room has been a dumping ground for quite some time and it's been driving me crazy. I tried to clean it out back in May, but the sheer enormity of the task wore me out before I could finish it. It was a good effort - several bags of garbage and a box half full of charity stuff - but it remained a disaster zone.

In my defence, it was one seriously messed up room. When we took apart the spare bedroom and turned it into Thomas' nursery, almost everything from the spare bedroom ended up in the other room that was, once upon a time, my office. We figured eventually we'd get around to cleaning it out, but in the meantime it was a decent storage area.

Then Thomas died, and we shoved more stuff in the old office room. His dresser, my pregnancy books, the night table that was mine as a child and was going to be Thomas' too. It all went in with the mounds of stuff already in there.

In essence what we did was create a Mount Everest of crap.

But today I climbed almost all the way to the top. I'm making that room a functional room for NOW. I'm not holding my breath and waiting until the day I might be able to use it as a nursery. I'm not going to just leave it as a storage room because I can't bear it to be anything until it's a nursery. I'm getting ready to use it now. Today. This very minute.

I'm getting on with things. I've wasted too much time thinking about what if, and I'm not going to apply the what ifs to the future now too.

What if I get pregnant? Well, we'll use that room as a nursery. We won't outfit it as such until the baby actually comes home this time, but that's what we'll do.

But in the meantime while my ovaries, eggs and uterus are steadfastly refusing to do anything other than take up space, that room is going to be MINE. I'm putting all my craft paraphenalia in it - yarn, patterns, hooks, needles, scrapbooks, tape, ribbon, glue guns, stickers - you name it, it's in there.

And some of it's going in Thomas' dresser too. The top drawer will still hold his things, but the rest of it will be for me. I think it'll be nice for him and I to share it for a little while. Or longer, depending on the next roll of the gods' dice.

And I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels.

Conquering Mount Everest without ever leaving home. I did it today.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The smell of sorrow

I just went through Thomas' things. I mean the things he used - the few physical remnants we have from our short, precious time together.

I'm trying to clean up the spare bedroom - the one that ended up turning into a storage room shortly before Thomas was born, and got more cluttered after he died when some of his furniture was hastily pushed into the mess as well.

I knew the little while lace package that the kind nurse brought to me, just a few minutes after the last time I saw and held Thomas, was in that room. It was tucked away in the drawer of his dresser, now empty but for a few things I couldn't bear to take down to the basement when we took down the nursery.

My heart was pounding as I sat down to open the little fabric pouch before going through his things one more time. It's been months, possibly close to 10, since I last peeked into it.

Inside I found the impossibly tiny blue onesie they dressed him in after he died. We'd brought our own clothes, but in our shock and stupor, the only things we thought to give them to put on him were the bonnet and sweater my mom knitted for him. It was part of his going home outfit. We ended up burying him in it.

The nurses thoughtfully bought him the onsie, a tiny handmade mint green hat and a blue dinosaur receiving blanket. All of them were there, just as I'd left them. I'd also tucked in the yellow receiving blanket we had for him (they wrapped him in it when they brought him to my room after he'd died) and the booties that matched the outfit my Mom knitted.

I brought each piece up to my face and drank in the smell, hoping against hope that some part of his scent would still, after 11 months, be clinging to the fabric. Everything just smelled like wood - like the inside of the brand new dresser they've been stored in all this time.

I took out his little hospital ID band, the measuring tape that recorded his almost 22 inches, the crib card with his name on it, his hospital card and, finally, the locks of hair they snipped for us.

I put one finger into the tiny bag and felt the feathery softness of his sandy brown hair. It was soft as a whisper from heaven. I stared at it. I stared and stared, holding it up to the light to try to catch the different hues in the precious few strands.

It's so hard to believe it's all I have left of him. It shocks me still - to my very soul.

I smelled the little bag of hair, but the very faint scent of something - the hospital? Thomas?? - turned my stomach. I can remember the smells of sorrow - the hospital, the freshly painted nursery, the new wood of the dresser and crib - and they give me no comfort. None.

So I put it all back. I took the time to hold the onesie against my heart - as though he was in it and could feel my heart beating against his own as I hugged him - and then put it all away.

I have no idea why I looked today. But maybe it was time. Maybe it's better to have done it now, before Thomas' first birthday. It would have been too big and too scary to try to do it then.

It's just that now I feel so empty. It's like he just died all over again. The last time I looked at his things they gave me comfort, but today they've left me cold and I don't know why.

I hate this. Have I mentioned how much I fucking hate every single bit of this?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

11 months

My God. Eleven months.

Sending a million kisses to heaven on your angel day, my little sweetheart oxoxox

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuesdays With Morrie

The other day I picked up Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. Someone recommended it to me some time ago, but it left my mind until I saw it on the shelf at the drugstore. In need of something to read, I happily snapped it up. I'll read just about anything someone I trust recommends to me.

My Beloved was perplexed by the purchase. You see, I knew it was the story of a man who visits his old professor, but I didn't realize the old professor was dying. The visits the two old friends enjoyed during those last, tortured few months of the old man's life are lovingly recalled in the book.

So yes, it's a book about death and I didn't know it. Stupid me.

But I know my fair share about death. I'm not afraid of a little book. After all, the last book I finished was Little Earthquakes, which chronicles the stories of four new mothers, one of whom loses her baby to SIDS. Hell, an old man dying is nothing compared to that.

So the other night I defiantly opened up to the first page and started reading.

To my surprise and sheer delight it's a wonderful, peaceful and very thought provoking book. Yes, it's desperately sad to read about the slow, painful physical decline of a once vibrant man, but learning how Morrie copes with the disease that is slowly killing him is truly inspiring. There's no other way to put it.

One thing that stands out in my mind is his "detachment" theory. When asked how he deals with the fear of dying - the process, I mean - he says he practices detachment. That is, he allows himself to fully and completely feel the pain and fear - he immerses himself in it and becomes familiar with it. Once he knows it, inside and out, he knows it can no longer scare him - it loses its power and hold over him. It has become, in some strange way, like a familiar old friend.

So, as the theory goes, when he feels that familiar feeling of horror creeping up his spine, he can recognize it for what it is - his old friend fear - and detach himself from it.

Self preservation 101.

He claims detachment can be successful for anything you're struggling with - any of life's tragedies, fears and sorrows.

I'm afraid of the notion of remaining coolly detached from my sorrow, but if I left myself feel it - deeply and profoundly - perhaps it's safe. It's very different than ignoring your pain and trying desperately to block it out and pretend it doesn't exist (which, I've discovered, doesn't work at all.

Diving head-first into the pool of sorrow is terrifying, but I think Morrie has a point. It's always going to be there, so why not confront it head-on and take away some of its power.

I don't know if I can do it right now, but I'm keeping it in mind. If it worked for Morrie, who suffered unbearably as ALS slowly robbed him of every normal bodily function you and I enjoy without thought, surely it can work for me.

We'll see.

But thanks anyway Morrie. And God bless.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Say cheese

Today I picked up a tub of cottage cheese while I was grocery shopping. As always, I checked the expiry date. It was March 9th - Thomas' first birthday.

It was so very, very strange and surreal. Time came to a screaming halt while the tub of cottage cheese and I had a mid-aisle standoff. We stared at each other warily. Would I buy it? Would it kill me if I did? Would I feel defeated if I didn't? Would the cheese win? Would I? Would anyone?

I don't know who authorized the use of Thomas' birthday as an expiry date for dairy products. It's not right. Not right at all. That date is his and his alone. It is, after all, the day the most beautiful little soul came into this world and taught me what it means to feel mother love.

But in the end I put the tub in my cart. I wanted the cottage cheese.

Life has a funny way of nudging you onward even when you're sure you can't take one more step.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Was that...me?

I had a spectacular meltdown last night. I was pretty hysterical actually, which scared the shit out me and, I'm sure, completely freaked out My poor, poor Beloved.

It's a long story that started with a late-night e-mail from a friend who has disappeared from my life since Thomas died, and ended with me sobbing my eyes out in bed. I wasn't crying about my MIA friend, I was crying about Thomas - about the raw pain I still feel, about the unfairness of losing him, about the helplessness of wanting him here so much and knowing he's gone forever. I was crying for me, for My Beloved and for our poor little lamb that we loved so much. That we love still.

I don't even remember everything I said while I sobbed into my pillow and into My Beloved's arms. I know there was some swearing, but I have a feeling most of it was probably incoherent and better left trapped in the fibers of the mattress.

Once I calmed down we quite rationally discussed what there might be in the basement that we could beat the living shit out of with hammers. The ping pong table flashed through my mind, but we already use that to bond and to blow off steam on a regular basis. It would be counter productive, not to mention stupid, to attack our live-in therapist.

I'm exhausted today. I slept fitfully after the tears finally stopped and I've been wandering around in a puffy-eyed, dizzy fog ever since I got up. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep and a happier tomorrow.

The other day My Beloved said, in reference to another situation and someone else we know, that you're responsible for your own happiness. No one can give it you, buy it for you or force it on you. You have to find it yourself.

So tomorrow I'll see if I can't find it down the couch cushions. I've looked just about everywhere else.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

What a friend we have in Jesus

Well, God and I discussed the situation again today at Mass.

Alright fine - I talked and he, I'm presuming and hoping, listened. I suppose we'll see.

I have such a difficult time leaving this in God's hands. Aside from the fact that my ability to believe that he has my best interests at heart has been compromised by the death of my son, I'm not really used to trusting someone else with something this large.

I don't particularly like the label control freak, but if figuring out what needs to be done to achieve a desired end and making sure I do everything in my power see those tasks through to completion makes me a control freak, then so be it.

It's hard for me to leave this all up to mother nature and the gods.

It's even harder for me to accept the fact that for some reason I'm not meant to be pregnant right now.

I feel like the finger of God is pointing down at me from the heavens as he proclaims emphatically, "NO! No live babies for you!"

Because really, maybe he is - maybe that's exactly what he's saying to me. Maybe Thomas and our other two tiny little souls are it for us. After all, it's more than some people have after years of trying. But the thing is, so many people have so much more without any effort at all (in my jaded, self-pitying eyes, anyway).

As God as I were chatting this morning, I pointed out that I know I'm asking for a lot - a live, healthy, take-home baby - but I'm not asking for more than billions of people already have. If it can happen for them, why not us?

Seriously God, why not us??

After I finished my prayers I sat back on the pew and looked up at the beautiful wooden relief on the wall behind the altar, installed there in place of a crucifix. It's a carved sculpture of Jesus speaking to a crowd of people. Jesus is sitting in front of the crowd, facing both us and the wooden listeners in the relief.

I sat and looked at Jesus for a few minutes, and then I asked him point-blank why God took my son. I didn't expect an answer, of course. I was just blowing off a little pre-Mass steam. But when I looked at the sculpture after I'd silently asked my question, I noticed that Jesus was looking at me with a bewildered and beseeching expression - his arms helplessly outstretched towards me.

It satisfied me to think I'd stumped him. It made me feel good to think that he was wordlessly begging me to stay - to forgive him for his participation in something that has wounded me to my very core and shaken my faith to its foundations.

That's art for you. Open to any interpretation the viewer wishes. I know the wooden Jesus is meant to be looking kindly at us and at the eager wooden audience in front of him. He has his arms outstretched because he's talking and, like most people, he's talking with his hands. He's been caught in mid sentence, deep in thought. And that's all.

That's how I've always seen it before today. But today, in my current state of mind, I made it something ugly and twisted. I shouldn't have, but I did.

But the thing is, I also stayed for the whole Mass and listened in the hopes of finding something in the words of the scriptures or the musings of the priest that would convince me that my interpretation of the art was wrong. I gave Jesus another chance. I tried to open my heart. I tried. I've been trying so hard for so long.

Shouldn't that count for something?

Late night rambling

We've just spent the evening with our pregnant neighbours. It's late and I just capped off the night with a little tipple of Bailey's Irish Cream, which might not have been the greatest idea.

I'm tired, a tiny bit tipsy and very sad.

The ache inside me to be pregnant again is so enormous it's just about killing me tonight. It's mixing in with the ache to have Thomas back and the dull ache of the sorrow that's always there - and this lethal concoction it's killing me, I swear.

Sometimes this life is so huge it's almost unbearable.

We had a great night. It was really nice to talk baby talk while the boys played ping pong downstairs. A lot of people are afraid of us - afraid we'll crumble under the weight of their joy. But not our neigbours. They're wonderful - and so respectful of our pain, and of the little life we lost.

It was wonderful to be able to share pregnancy war stories with this soon-to-be new Mom, and it was really nice to be able to give her advice and to reassure her when she needed it (she's terrified of having to have a C-section). It makes me feel like a Mother when someone lets me talk about Thomas, and not just about the sorrow of losing him, but the joy of having him for as long as we did.

But it's a double edged sword. The pain returns when the reminiscing is over and I find all I'm left with is memories and an empty womb.

I want to be pregnant again and I just don't know why God doesn't seem to want that too.

I'm tired. Just tired.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I'm tired. I spent the entire afternoon (okay, almost the entire afternoon) cleaning the basement in preparation for a ping pong tournament with our neighbours tomorrow.

It's quite amazing how much dust can accumulate underneath a ping pong table in a basement. Seriously, those were some menacing dust bunnies. I'm not sure, but I think one of them had a knife.

Anyway, given that the lady half of our neighbouring pair is 5 months pregnant I'm not sure how much of a "tournament" it will actually be (hmmm, I could probably really whip her ass) but it'll still be nice to hang out. It's supposed to be a rotten, snowy day so not having to drive anywhere but still being able to have a fun, social night is pretty sweet.

But of course first comes the cleaning, and so I'm pooped. I don't clean the basement nearly as often as I should, so when I do it always takes quite a bit of time and energy.

It took some mental energy too.

I lingered by one of Thomas' box of clothes at one point, and fleetingly considered opening it up. Instead I settled for just taking a quick peek through the side of the plastic tub. I saw stacks of receiving blankets - ones I can remember washing the day my Mom came over to help me set up the nursery. She sat at the kitchen table folding all his socks and blankets and sleepers, and later I put them all away in his dresser and closet. We were all set.

I stood up after taking my peek back into that now long ago world and, as I do so frequently, pondered the horrendous turn of events. I'm sure I've said this a thousand times in this blog, but I still can't believe he was here - and I am just shocked when I stop and consider that he's actually gone. My head still stubbornly refuses to fully grasp the concept sometimes. I can't quite figure out how it can still be as surreal as it is.

But then I suppose that's what mind-fucks do to you. They just keep on fucking you up.

Anyway, we have a clean basement. In the absence of the joy I thought would be in our lives right now I will take - and celebrate - every single accomplishment I can.

If only there was cake for a clean basement.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shopping and thinking

Since Thomas died I've had to choose three baby congratulations cards. Today was card #3...

It's difficult for the most obvious reason, but it's also hard because the selection available to me - to us - has dramatically diminished. They're either too happy (coming from the parents of a dead baby) or too preachy (for the same reason).

How can I possibly sign our names on a card for new parents that demands that they enjoy every minute with their precious bundle from God? It oozes with the implication that we want pity because we weren't able to and that they'd better not waste a second of the gift they've been given. Or else.

And how can I send one that drips with joy and goes on ad nauseum about how wonderful it is to welcome a new baby to your world since we never got to experience even one hint of joy after Thomas was born? We don't have a clue what it's like.

There are almost no cards for people like us to buy. And because it's so difficult to find one that has just the right amount of congratulatory sentiment and standoffish vagueness, the choosing necessitates picking up and reading virtually every card on the rack. Every. Single. Baby. Card. On. The. Rack.

These are things you don't think about when your baby dies. Add it to the list of things that are so incredibly different when you're the parents of a heavenly child.

I chose a gift to go along with the card and, among other things, picked up an adorable pair of pink kitten Robeez. The Vice President of the department where I was working when I was pregnant bought a pair of lion Robeez for Thomas. I was so excited!! They don't come cheap and they're the thing, apparently. I couldn't wait to slip them on his little feet and watch the lions go!

Anyway, as I left the store this afternoon I started thinking about Thomas' Robeez and wondering exactly how to refer to them - how to refer to anything that I had for Thomas.

Are they his things or were they his things? Does he have a pair of Robeez or did he? The slippers are still here - almost everything we bought or were given is still here. I've donated a few things I wasn't overly attached to, but probably 90% of Thomas' things are in boxes and tubs in the basement.

But I have no idea how to refer to them. He's gone but the things remain. Is it present or past tense?

Maybe they're present tense until we have another baby to use them. Then we can say, "Those were Thomas' Robeez, but now they're little Dick or Jane's."

I'm completely preoccupied with this.

How can it be almost a year and I can't figure this out?

How hard will he look?

Do you think God can see past the anger and pain to the person you really are inside - to the person you used to be before something so unthinkably horrible shook the very foundations of everything you believe in?

More importantly, do you think he's willing to try?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


The other day I was quietly sitting on the couch having my lunch when, once again, I suddenly heard the silence in the house. It was jarring, but not deafening or oppressive like it often is. It was just there, like another person sitting in the room with me whiling away the time.

As the silence wrapped itself around me I started wondering what the house would sound like with Thomas here to fill it with his baby sounds. I could almost hear them. Little coos and laughs, burps, cries and maybe, just maybe, a few words. He'd be almost 11 months old - surely it's possible that a word or two might have been escaping those two perfect little rosebud lips by now.

The thought didn't make me nearly as sad as I would have expected. Grief is such a fascinating animal. You never know when it's going to curl up beside you and purr or tear through your flesh with its merciless claws.

I was lulled into a false sense of security and, for the 9 millionth time, I started trying to picture what my life would be like if Thomas hadn't left us that beautiful sunny day last March. I formed a vague image of a sandy-haired little muffin toddling through the family room in tiny overalls, and I smiled at the thought.

But then it dawned on me that I have absolutely no idea what my life would be like if he was still here. Despite having dozens of friends who have babies and children of all ages, and despite having two little nephews and an almost 6-year old niece, I don't have a clue what it would be like to have a child. Not a clue.

I know what it's like to be pregnant and I know what it's like to bury your baby, but I couldn't tell you the first thing about caring for one. I've forgotten everything I read in the countless books I perused, and the words the earnest public health nurse preached week after week at our childbirth classes have long since faded from memory.

I don't know a thing. Not one single thing.

And I can't figure out how that can be. I carried a child for nine months. I prepared for his birth and our life together. I bought all the gadgets. I had upwards of a dozen receiving blankets, countless sleepers and a rainbow of baby washcloths. I had a snugglie, a boppy pillow, two sleep sacks and onesies coming out the ying yang. I even ordered a DVD that showed us step-by-step how to do every single scary thing you have to do with a newborn - like bathe it and feed it.

I was ready, and I don't know a thing.

I'm feeling less and less like a mother as time passes, even though I know by all rights I am a mother. I'm feeling more like the old me - the one who longed for children but never had them.

I'll never forget Thomas, but I'm forgetting what it felt like to be his mother.

And that makes me sadder than anyone will ever know.