Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The journey

Moving, moving, moving. Always moving forward. Which is, of course, the only direction that makes any sense.

Saturday we took two carloads of Thomas' baby things to a maternity home in a neighbouring city. All those precious odds and sods and sweet little things we were lovingly given, and purchased ourselves, with such hope and love and optimism.

Gone.

But it's good. It is.

It started the week before last when I took the crib, a play mat and a bag of smaller items to the church for a needy family who'd just had twins. I cried all the way home. And then I sobbed face-down on the couch for another 20 minutes once I finally reached the safety and comfort of my quiet little house.

Father G. asked if I wanted to have the mother contact me and arrange for pick-up or drop-off, but I just couldn't. I want the things gone - off to homes with living babies to use them - but I can't know specifically where they've gone. I can't bear to see the family whose babies will lie snug in my dead son's crib while I'm sitting at Mass trying not to hate God. And I can't bear for them to see me. And know.

He was, as always, incredibly kind and understanding, engineering a drop off/pick up plan that would ensure that none of us would have to meet.

And that's how it began. The great purge.

The last load, just a small one now, will go off to another maternity home in my old hometown sometime next week.

And it's as it should be.

The most sentimental items I just couldn't part with are safely tucked away. Knitted items lovingly made by my Mom, stuffed toys chosen by my sister, and a few things I bought and just couldn't send away. They're still here.

And now it feels right. Clean. Peaceful.

I'm sure, in time, even the remaining items will be whittled down to just a handful of things - especially if any new nieces or nephews find their way into our family - but for the time being, I'm holding onto those last few dear bits and pieces.

It was hard to get to this point. It has been an unbearably long road. But once I found myself standing at the end of it, it just made sense. One day while My Beloved was dutifully cleaning out the cat boxes, I happened to turn my gaze to the disassembled crib leaning against the opposite basement wall where it's been for the last four years, and just knew.

Just like that. I knew.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we'll find ourselves with a magical, healthy pregnancy that blossoms into a living child at the end of it. But I hold out no hope for that now. Not really.

And I'm okay. I am.

I'm slowly embracing this new life in small, quiet ways. And I'm coming to terms with what a childless future will mean to us. And what it will look like. Even all the way at the end of it.

I was talking to a friend who is childless by choice the other day, and it was like what I imagine the first breath of pure oxygen is like for a firefighter in the midst of a smoke-choked room.

My stories? Where will they go?

"Write a book", she said.

And my things? What about my things?

"Donate them to a museum."

And company when I'm old?

"Make very, very good friends with your nieces and nephews. And remember, there's no guarantee that even if you had kids they'd want to visit you in the home."

She then sagely pointed out that there's also no guarantee I'll even get old. Bad shit happens, as we all know. All too well.

There are other ways to live. There is a life out there - even if there are no living children in it - filled with possibilities, and laughter, and hope, and love. And, most importantly, meaning.

There is still worth and meaning to my life. I'm positive of this. I believe raising children is probably one of the most fulfilling and meaningful things a human can do. And one of the most important.

But it's not all there is. And those of us who have no choice but to prove it? Well, I guess that's just what we'll do then.

And in the meantime, there's a new kitten in the house. Filling it with chaos, ungodly early wake-up calls, deafening purrs and endless entertainment.

He's not a substitute for a baby. He wasn't brought into the house for that.

But he is, I realize, part of the process. He is here because I am carrying on. Moving instead of standing still. Looking forward instead of behind. And searching for new joys and new happiness in whatever form they happen to take.

Life takes you where it wants you to be. The secret is being open to whatever newness it holds, and to resist the urge to claw your way back to the past and stay there, mired in the remnants of a phantom life that no longer exists.

I can't bear living like that anymore.

I'm ready for the newness.

Finally.


Dibley, June 26/09 - 9 weeks old

23 comments:

Mrs. Spit said...

Stands up and applauds.

Most people will nod and smile when you tell them you donated everything. I'll stand up and tell you that this is pain that hurst worse than any gunshot wound, it rips and tears, and that I'm proud of you.

You hold on to those odds and ends, for the rest of your life, if you need to. There's no timeline. Progress, not perfection.

And the kitten is adorable.

Sarah said...

Hugs!

You are amazing. And I too am so proud of you!

And that kitten is just too cute!

Valerie said...

Thank you so much for this post. You are such a courageous woman and your sharing really touches me and assists me in knowing I'm not alone.

I'm in a similar situation to you, and have been wondering what to do with our baby things. My sister is now pregnant with her first, and we just found out that it is a boy, as ours was. I'm considering donating all our things to her, including the little crib quilt my aunt made by hand. It's so poignant. I can't think of a better person to give it all to. And at the same time, I don't know how she would feel about taking the things. It might feel odd to her... so I'm still thinking things over.

My husband and I are also trying to get used to the idea of what our lives may now be. How we can still contribute, grow and have fun...It's a new leg of the journey.

loribeth said...

Yes, yes, yes. (Another) amazing post. Thank you for saying it so very well.

You're very brave to give away Thomas's things. But I'm glad you did it in your own time & on your own terms, not because someone was pushing you to do it.

And the kitten is adorable! : )

The Nanny said...

Hugs, and the kitten is so sweet :)

Jayanthie said...

just love.

Julia said...

It must've hurt like hell. This is such a poignant post.

I am glad you can see the future, glad that you are breathing oxygen. And so very sad for all you've had to walk through on the way here.

Heather said...

That's really the best way to do things, I think. Wait until it feels right.

I completely agree- I think life can be an exciting, fulfilling journey without children. Some of my most lifestyle-enviable acquaintances are childless, and I've thought about that many, many times since my baby died.

Doodle - said...

BRAVO!!!!

(((((HUGS))))))

Heather said...

Oh my god! My heart screams for you. I'm glad that you are being positive, brave, and trying not to hate God. I yearn for those days.
"The secret is being open to whatever newness it holds, and to resist the urge to claw your way back to the past and stay there, mired in the remnants of a phantom life that no longer exists." That was so perfectly written. A phantom life, and clwaing my way back. I am so warmed that you are able to move forward.

kate said...

((((((hugs))))))

Teresa said...

Beautiful Kristin. :o)

Kami said...

Wow. Good for you. I hope this will continue to be a good transition for you.

Having lost a child, I don't know how you move on to live child free. I sometime thought that if we hadn't had Ernest we would have gladly given up before we have kids. I think you are amazing for moving on to this new life that is so different than what you imagined.

I think your friend had some great things to say too. There are some advantages to living child free. Statistically, couples without kids are happier than couples with kids.

Have you read Silent Sorority yet? I am about 1/2 through and I really like it.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I applaud your bravery, your strength, and your honesty. thank you for writing this.

LFCA

Parenthood For Me said...

I don't know if my previous comment went through. This is the beautiful and articulate post about your journey onward and upward.

Parenthood For Me said...

In my constant effort to try and educate others on ALI, I would like to link this post on my blog. Is that okay with you?

Kristin said...

Wow, I am impressed beyond belief with the strength and love and honesty that come through in this post. I hope the future is filled with love, laughter, and happiness.

m said...

I think that I really, really needed to read this today. Thank you.

Hennifer said...

I want to cheer you on, I felt as Mrs. Spit said, standing and giving you an ovation. Not because it is what I think you should do, or want to do, or need to do but because you've walked this journey and you are making like as you need and yet you are still hopeful and giving and instilling meaning in so many lives.

I think of you always. I've missed this blog being so quiet and yet have understood.

And that bit about the zucchini was too funny!

Jaded Girl said...

certainly one of the most beautiful posts i have ever read (and that's a lot to say). i think it did more for me then for you.

thank you and big hugs to you.

Patty said...

Thank you for sharing, you have incredible strength and courage to move forward. All the best in your new journey!

Ruby said...

Proudly applauding your beautiful post!

passingwindows said...

So brave. I applaud your grace and thank you for showing us how it can be done. All of us who are living childless through circumstances need more of the "What about my stories? What about company? What about the future?" answers.

I haven't excluded the possibility of a miracle either but for now, I have to learn to live with what is. Thank you for showing me how you are doing it. I love your kitten, so cute.