Monday, February 22, 2010


I know her well enough to know that the phrase, "Don't worry, everything is okay...", means nothing when it's said with palpable fear that I recognize from 26 years of straining to hear the truth in words meant to comfort and distract.

Everything is not okay. I've known that for a while. When I opened up my eyes from the deep sleep of babyloss grief and saw just how old they've become in the last few years, I knew everything was not okay. Not anymore.

I've just pretended otherwise because it was easier that admitting that his heart is failing rapidly. I can't bear to think of that heart being stilled. I can't bear it. So I've been stubbornly burying my head as far down into the sand as it'll possibly go and pretending that I can't hear or see what is achingly obvious.

His heart is failing.

In February 1984, during an ordinary school lunch period, I found out that fathers aren't immortal. I found out that a dad so strong he used to be able to turn me upside down, lifet me up and let me walk on the ceiling, is only as strong as his heart.

In June 1998 I comforted myself with the knowledge that he probably had another 10 - 15 years, according to the doctor who implanted the defibrillator following his sudden cardiac arrest.

In August 2004, while pregnant with Thomas, I learned that even sickly fathers can be as strong as an ox; that they can survive defibrillator replacement surgery at 74 and thrive in only the way a stubborn Irish father with a bum ticker can.

I won't grieve before it's time. I won't. He would hate that as much as he hates knowing he's eventually going to be the cause of such awful grief.

So I won't.

But I can't promise I won't still cry every once in a while. Someone with a heart as loved as his should expect nothing less.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I think we're going to reach the 5000 member goal for Thomas' Random Act of Kindness group. With still more than two weeks to go, we're sitting at 4755 members!

I remain in constant awe of the love and support that's out there when you simply reach out your hand and ask for it.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A six month span

Then (July '09)

And now (January '10)

And some random beauty shots which, although providing a certain amount of evidence to the contrary, do not mean that I'm turning into the crazy cat lady.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I have a bit of a girl crush on Dawn French these days. She's absolutely (and justifiably) unapologetic about her waist size, and funny as a stitch to boot. You can't beat that in a lady.

My Beloved and I devoured The Vicar of Dibley after Thomas died, watching back-to-back episodes day after day to soothe our wounded souls. Britcoms have proven to be an excellent salve, we've discovered. The British (and undeniably better) version of The Office had similar healing properties.

But Dawn is my girl.

I've been reading her autobiography, "Dear Fatty", for the last couple of weeks. Beyond her obvious comedic prowess and success in her field, I didn't know anything about her, so Dear Fatty has been an interesting read. And a funny one, of course. Written in letter form to friends, family and, on occasion, to Madonna and 1960s teen idols, it's a fascinating way to learn more about her.

Of course, I should have known that no life passes without sorrow. No soul makes it through life unscathed. And she is no exception. Her father committed suicide when she was 19. Many of the letters are addressed to him, posthumous ramblings about things in her life that he has missed since he left. Very touching and bittersweet.

One passage struck me so much that I dog-eared the page on which I found it - something I almost never do, along with cracking the spines of my books.

It was this:

"My theory was that if I behaved like a confident, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that...It's a process of having faith in the self you don't quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that's it. The further I walk, the stronger I become."

And isn't this what we all do, we babyloss survivors? We just keep walking. We walk until we've figured out who we are now. We walk until believe we are as strong as they tell us we are. We walk until we find our way. We just keep walking.

God, I love Dawn French.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waiting and praying

I inherited my inability to wait patiently from my father. He would (and did) drive thousands of miles to collect me and/or my sibling from various places/schools/homes/malls/jobs/ when we were younger without a moment's hesitation. And happily at that. But heaven forbid we make him wait one minute beyond that four hour drive - or five minute drive. He wasn't the least bit bothered by the length of time it took to reach his child, only the time spent waiting for her once he arrived.

And yeah, I'm kind of like that. Minus the kids waiting to be picked up, of course.

So after Mass I always sit in the pew and wait until the hoards file out of the church and start to vacate the parking lot, because my hackles rise almost instantly when I'm faced with the prospect of a waiting in my car. And then sitting in stop and go traffic until I can turn onto the main road home.

Sometimes I sit in my pew and watch the little groups chatting after Mass. Other times I kneel with my eyes closed in what would appear to be prayer, but usually actually isn't. I have trouble concentrating on prayer when people are moving and chatting around me. I'm entirely too nosy for after Mass prayer.

Why I bother making it look as though I'm praying is beyond me. Maybe I'm secretly hoping that God won't notice I'm planning the week's meals in my head. Maybe I'm hoping he'll just take a quick glance at my exceptional praying form (head bowed, eyes closed) and give me a gold star that I can redeem later in life.

I could use a gold star. He owes me.

Which brings me to the point of all this.

Last Sunday whilst I was kneeling in what no one would ever suspect wasn't prayer, I happened to look up and see an extremely pregnant woman standing at the foot of the altar staring up at the depiction of Jesus and his disciples. She was deep in thought (or maybe prayer, who am I to judge?) and was patting her belly very deliberately, as though punctuating whatever words were running through her mind with each little pat.

I froze in horror. And in my mind I screamed, "No, no, no - it won't make any difference! What will be, will be no matter how fervent those prayers are - no matter how hard you plead!"

And that seems like an awful reaction.

But I still think it's true. God help me, I do.

I admit that sometimes I still whisper quiet, tentative prayers for people who I think need them. I have asked God to cure. To save. Even since Thomas, I have uttered those words. Even when I know how utterly and completely they failed when I prayed them nearly five years ago.

And that's why I'm not sure they make any difference at all, those frantic, pleading kind of prayers.

Because, if you've noticed, people still die no matter how many people are busily begging for a different outcome. Because that's when they were supposed to die. Period.

I believe in God. I believe in miracles. I believe in the power of prayer - but only in so much as it can bring comfort to the helpless who have no other recourse but to beg, so that they feel they've done something. Anything.

I just don't believe in that kind of prayer anymore. There are other kinds, of course. Prayers of gratitude? Those are fine. Prayers for guidance and clarity? Also fine. But prayers to save the lives of others? I don't think anyone here has that kind of power, no matter how fervent the words, or how many of us are saying them.

I don't see this as a weakness or some little chink in my armor of faith. I see this as a realistic way to proceed from this point on. To ask God to save someone when it's their time to die only sets me up for the kind of confusion, feelings of betrayal and all-consuming anger I felt when Thomas died.

I hope the woman at Mass has a healthy child. But I can't pray for that because it's already decided.

No matter what I want. It's already decided.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A request...

It's joining this...if you could.

5000 members by March 9th is a big goal, but that many random acts of kindness done in the name of a little boy who was here just 20 hours would be incredible. Incredible.

And so very, very appreciated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thanks, Kitty

On Saturday morning we had to put My Beloved's cat to sleep. Kitty, at 17, had lived longer with My Beloved's parents than with him after he was forbidden to take her with him when he moved out of the house.

But still, she was his. And we had to make the agonizing call on Saturday morning after the vet ran tests through the night. It was the right call, of course. Neither of us wanted to prolong her suffering, and she was indeed suffering.

But still. But still.

As we were driving about in the bright February sunshine later that day trying to amuse and sooth ourselves, I had that odd, familiar feeling. We were at a red light and I was absently watching traffic passing in front of us. The cars drove by, the people inside oblivious to the sorrow I felt for the little orange cat I'd said goodbye to the night before.

And it all felt familiar. So familiar.

It was like I was wrapped in gauze, staring out at the bright, functioning world from within a filmy layer of sorrow. Both part of the world, and yet somehow totally removed from it. Seeing it all, but not fully engaged in any of it.

It's the way I spent most of my 30s. Losing babies and losing Thomas and sitting in a tiny cocoon of grief, detached from the world around me.

Of course, Kitty was a cat. And as sad as it is to lose a pet, the sorrow eases much more quickly. The world won't wait long before pulling you back into its warmth and brightness in its eagerness to show you all the joys and beauty it has to offer.

But not so when it's a child you're grieving for. The gauze is thicker. The time it takes to shrug it off and truly see again is much, much longer.

I knew I was in full-on survival mode when I was in the first throes of grief with each of my babies. I knew I was absorbed in my pain and I did feel a sense of detachment from the world and people around me.

But it wasn't until Kitty died that I realized just how isolating that grief is. It came and went with Kitty - she wasn't mine and the length of that immediate shock and sorrow was appropriate for the situation. But it lingered for months, maybe years, after Thomas died. I just didn't realize it until I felt it again - until I saw the world through the gauzy lens of sorrow once more.

You don't know how much progress you've made until something like losing a cat reminds you exactly how far you've come.

And I have come far, as it turns out. I really have.