Monday, May 27, 2019

I didn't forget...but I did.

When you left your body it was hard to leave the house, for nine days I felt you here in a painfully quiet way, it was like picking up the phone and knowing someone is there but not being able to hear them, you don't want to hang up and lose the connection in case you can't get it back again.

I had to drop people back off at the airport, buy food, drop Noah off at school.  I was stuck in time but the rest of the world refused to stop.  When I did leave home I said, "c'mon Stevie lets go".

I went to the cemetery every Thursday, I mostly napped on a blanket over you grave site.  I needed to be as close to your body as I could.  I hated that you were there, that this is what happened but I needed to find you, be close to you, everything hurt so much.

Then I went on the 19th of every month, I called it cemetery day.  I changed the flowers, I talked to you I would close my eyes and visualize you walking toward me wearing something pretty, bare feet, hair long again, a big smile.  I would be afraid to open my eyes and not see you or see you...I was just afraid.  I didn't want to stay here without you but I didn't want Noah and Aly to have anymore pain and loss.  I couldn't find a way through the grief, didn't know how I would survive, assumed my heart would just stop eventually, begged it to, it hurt too much.

Then I went on birthdays and holidays and anniversary day (April 19).  The connection to that place was less and less.  I didn't feel you there, it was just the place your body stayed, a body I imagined was slowly being taken back by the earth. 

I watched a movie, a story based on Wuthering heights and how Heathcliff digs up Catherines grave just to hold her bones.  It was meant to be a disturbing scene, showing how undone he is.  To me it was tender and I understood it.  He needed to touch her.  His heart hurt so much, he ached for her any part of her, to connect to keep her real.  Then he lay down next to her bones...I sobbed.

I wouldn't do that but I understood it.

I have your hair, before we cut it when chemo started, before it would fall out.  It is all I have of you, of your body.  I have your clothes but they don't smell like you anymore, they don't feel real.  Your hair, the color of it, the softness.  If I am having a day when some gate in me I keep locked opens up without warning and I am flooded with memories and loss, and the reality that eleven years have gone by since I have held your hand, heard your voice...I sit with your hair and feel all of it, I don't break but I am always worried I will so I struggle to close the gate again.

I still go to the cemetery on your birthday, your death anniversary, or sometimes if I am driving by that exit I will drive up that big hill, park, and sit with your body, be under that big sky with you, look at that lonely little house in the distance on that big hill and imagine winning the lottery.

If I won I would drive up that hill, offer who ever lived there all the money so I could live in that house.  I would buy a big telescope one of those romantic ones made out of brass, and I would look out and make sure you were ok. 

This blog saved me.

A lot of things did.

Writing here and in my journal kept me whole, all my pieced together, helped me grieve and say what was in my heart without worry that is would be too sad or too real for anyone else.

It helped me keep time, and let me escape a little.

It was my connection to you, still is.

I don't write here much, I still journal everyday but something is fading.

Time doesn't heal, it gives you distance, it helps you find ways to cope so you can shut that gate, keep everything safe inside so outside you can live, because you don't have a choice, you must.

There has been so much pain, but so much happiness.

I wouldn't call myself a happy person, my life has been hard, it has required me to replace happiness with strength so I could survive, but I do find happiness.

You brothers, your sister, art, writing, Hawaii.  That is my happiness.

Your dad and I still live in the same house but we shouldn't.  That part of my life is over but I can't start over because I never leave.  I am stuck here, I call it sacrifice but it is fear.  I am afraid that I will hurt everyone more if I change this, take away what is left.  This house, your room, the illusion of a normal family.  Instead there is resentment and arguments.  I do my best to grow to take care of myself, to create memories for your siblings but its...not real, not like it should be.  I just don't know what to do, how to change it.

This is the first year I didn't write to you when I usually do...

I am not letting go, I did not forget, I just didn't.

It is 3am.  Birds woke me up.  I have never heard spring birds making so much noise at this hour.  I couldn't sleep.  Then I felt this pull, to come here and tell you that I am still here, my heart is still full of you, I won't let this gate open, I don't want to cry and hurt I just want to talk to you and tell you how much I miss you and how so much has changed but really nothing has changed.

I am working again, making art, making babies, not sure how this happened but it did and I like it.  I am building a little business around an accidental hobby and it is nice.  I am on the arts commission for the city and I love it, not sure how that happened.

My studio is a little factory, it is my happy place.  I would love a real studio but the garage is beg and I have made it sweet and practical, there is room to work and escape, I am grateful for it.

We are tearing down the garden shed and making a new studio for your brother.  I am using the money you left.  I would love that to be my studio but he needs it more than me.  He works hard, he makes such beautiful music.  He spends so much time out there creating, he needs a place that makes sense.  When he grows up and flies away from here I will move in...maybe.

Your little brother is done with kindergarten this week, time is going by so fast.  He is so beautiful.  I thought I would do everything right with him, be the perfect mom, but I continue to make all the same mistakes.  I let him eat cheeseburgers, he plays minecraft, he sleeps in my bed right next to me like all of you did and I know most people think kids need to be in their own bed, door closed, lights out but I have never understood that.  I love falling asleep talking about the day, planning tomorrow, telling stories, laughing, singing.  I love listening to him breath, being here if he is sick or has a bad dream.  I feel like I am keeping him safe.   One day he will be shaving and tall and have his own apartment.  I will be old a long for a visit or a phone call...today I have a skinny little six year old who just loves to cuddle, who wakes up in the morning happy to see me, happy to start the day and I don't want to waste a second of it.

Your sister moved, shares a cool house with room mates.  She hikes and bikes and works hard.  She is a beautiful person.  We don't always get a long but we love each other and we both keep this family a family.  She is funny, smart, talented.  She has the same job she always has. I can't believe she will be 34 this year. 

Time is an odd thing, it speeds up in strange places and slows down when you least want it to.

I am getting older Stevie.  I have not come to terms with that.  I don't look in the mirror often, that person is a stranger to me.  Inside I am 35, just myself but in the mirror I am 53, I have wrinkles and grey hair I have to color.  My eyelids are heavy, my body and hands look like they belong to someone else.  I lost a lot of weight last year but it is trying to return.  I am told that at this age it is natural for a woman's body to fill out into its soft granny curves.  As estrogen leaves your body reacts by holding on to fat in all the places you least want it to.  I don't care much about how I look, I just want to stay healthy, I want to live a long time.

I know I have said that I needed this life to be done so I could be with you but I now feel this urgency to get things done, to be something other than what I have been, to do something more, to be my real self.  I feel like I have been sleep walking and just woke up, all this time has passed and I don't want anymore to pass without being really awake.

I wasted so many years feeling...not like me.

I don't know what is after all this but if you are there on the other side I imagine you happy and not in a big hurry to see me.  Maybe you don't even remember me.  Maybe there is no memory not like here.  That would be hell for me but a blessing for a lot of people. 

Oh let there be a "heaven" and when this is over you are who I want to see first, however you can find me, I will know you, I will not forget, not if I live a million years.

I won't forget.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The rain is coming down I can hear it loud on the metal roof of the sunroom.  Every one is in bed, the only light is coming from the Christmas tree and the garland around the fireplace.  This years tree is all coral pinks, I have so many of your ornaments on the tree this year; mermaids, a kitty, glass angels...it is a pretty tree.

We have a dog now, a giant puppy, his name is Theo, he is a golden-doodle.  I am not dog people Stevie but Elliott needed a buddy, he loves animals so much and it was the right choice for him, the two of them are the best of friends, loud, messy, always wrestling best friends.  He is a great dog, smart, affectionate always smiling ( I didn't know dogs could smile).

Elliott lost his two front teeth and he is adorable, his new teeth are starting to come down, they are big, he will have a beautiful smile, he is so damn handsome.

Noah cut off his rock-star hair, it was his idea, he wanted to but I don't think he realized how much of his identity was wrapped up in that look he created for himself on television.  He is going to grow it long and curly, I think he will be even more beautiful.  He wrote a new album, it is gorgeous, I hope a million people get to hear it and fall in love with it.

I didn't bring you your flowers they are still in my car.  I hate seeing them there because I feel like you think I forgot about you and I didn't.  You were in my dreams last night, you were getting ready to go somewhere, you were in high school, I was helping you with make up and you were having some struggles.  You spoke to me telepathically and said, "see this is how it would be, it would be so hard" and I said, "I don't care, I love you, you are perfect, it isn't hard, it was never hard".  When I realized I was dreaming I woke up.

This has been a good year, it wasn't always easy and I had to walk across fire a little but I know how blessed I am and good things happened inside me and all around me.  I felt you with me, I always do.

I have to put presents out, play Santa and every year you are not here it feels so wrong...your stocking isn't hanging there, there is an N, an E and an A but no S and there should be.  I hate it and some big awful space opens up inside me and swallows me. 

I am sitting here inside out, missing you.

I will be ok, that is what I do, I pretend I am ok and I live and thrive, and work, and stay busy and when it's quiet I sit here and think, and cry, and miss you.

I have not forgotten, I did not move on without you, I take you with me, you are always with me.

I get older Stevie and there are more years behind me than in front of me now and it frightens me.  I don't want to be old and invisible, I don't want to fall apart and get sick, I don't want to be all alone with memories and dusty furniture.  The silver lining is that I am that much closer to being where you are and I imagine us sitting on a beach or on a hill top covered in red poppies and we are laughing and sharing stories, our earthly bodies gone replaced by what ever "skin" we had before.

Until then I am here wrapping presents, paying bills, building a business, making art, cooking dinner, replacing tiny teeth with little gifts and coins.

I need you to find me tonight I need to know you are ok, that is all I want for Christmas, is for you to come to me just the way you are and say to me in that whispery voice of yours "Hey mom it's ok, I am here and I am happy, I am ok, I will see you later".

The rain is slowing down, it is getting late, I am so very tired and your sister who is 33 will be the first one up in the morning, she still loves Christmas and she gives the best presents.

I love you sweet pea, more than all the starts in the sky.

Mom




Sunday, September 23, 2018

It's September...

Hey sweet girl, its a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon.  Your dad is putting up sheetrock for a wall, Noah is relaxing on the trampoline, trying to get a little sun.  You little brother is playing with his dog Theo and your sister is on her way over to pick up her bike.

We went to the Sonoma coast for Elliotts birthday.  He asked for the forest and the beach and I found Gerstle campground at Salt Point.  It was breath taking, you would have loved all of it and few times I felt you there in the morning mist, looking out over the cliffs, walking the trails through the trees.

We all got along ok.  Dad and I will never really get along, I understand that, just wish I could be the bigger person.  We did our best for Elliott and he seemed pretty happy to do legos at the pic-nic table, hike, be filthy, sleep under the stars, pee outside.  He is a lonely kid, I feel bad, he has older siblings, old parents, and no one his age around here to play with. 

He is getting so big, so beautiful, and so smart. 

Aly is starting work in Oakland soon, she is excited, it will be a longer commute but she likes the idea of this new art department.  Your brother is writing music and blowing my mind.  I am making babies again.  I didn't think I would after I got back from LA with Noah but I told myself, "Just finish up with what you have and move on to the next thing when you are done".  Here I am a couple months later and I have invested in even more supplies and I am marketing to the film industry.  I have had a couple babies in movies and it feels pretty cool.   It isn't what I thought I would be doing with my life but it makes sense in some weird way and it isn't all I plan to do, but I love it, I am good at it and the money is good so I will continue and wee where it goes.

I am suppose to drive out to the cemetery today to bring you fruit and new flowers.  I picked fall dusty corals...peony, hydrangea, ivory pussy willow and some greens, its a really pretty combination.  I have no idea if you would like it or not.  I can't even imagine what you would be like now, would you be stressed out about being in your "thirties" would you be off on adventures, would you be a homebody and sitting on the sofa knitting and watching something cool on TV...

I went to the store to buy the flowers, I go there often for emergency art supplies and it never bothers me really, I just go in, get what I need and leave but today I had a flashback to the day I went there to get ribbon for the book marks I made for your funeral.  They were simple, a little photo of you and the words "Don't wake me I plan on sleeping in" lyrics from a Postal Service song you loved.  I remember feeling so sick and sad and hating that day, hating that you were not with me, that I would never see you again, that you had died and I couldn't do anything but buy ribbon.  I broke down at the cash register, the woman didn't know what to say or do so she didn't say or do anything.

I sat in the car and sobbed...fast forward to today and it all came back, it was like a tidal wave.  I was not warned, I had no idea, one minute I was looking for the right shade of coral ribbon, the next I was sitting on the floor tears streaming down my cheeks trying to remind myself to breath and telling myself to get the hell out of the there.  I held it together, got in the car and just ugly cried until I couldn't anymore. 

I needed it, I needed to feel it, feel you, remember but damn it hurt.  Thank God(ess) my mind knows how to activate "survival mode" because if I felt that intensity of pain everyday I would die. 

I just miss you, I miss all of it, even the awful stuff.  I know that sounds bad but I do.  I would give anything to have one more day...  What if heaven could send you home for 24 hours, healthy, whole, and you.  We would all know we only had 24 hours.  We would take you were ever you wanted to go, do what ever you asked to do and I would ask you so many questions, keep them short so your answers could be long an detailed.    I would smell your hair, kiss your lips and cheeks, hold your soft hands, rub your feet, listen to your music with you. 

That all I need.  I want a million more of those days but if I could just have one it would change everything.  We all need that with you, to know you are ok, to let you know how loved your are.

What I get instead is the quiet, in that I try to feel your energy, will all my love out into everything and hope it finds you and rains down on like your like soft petals and warm kisses.

I wish I was baking you a cake, I wish I was wrapping some jokey present, I wish, I wish, I wish...

All I can do is love you like this, miss you on your birthday, and try to live my best life and hold onto hope that one day I will close my eyes only to open them and find myself where you are and it will all make perfect sense.

Happy birthday my love, we love you so very much.

Stay close my little bunny,
mama



Friday, April 27, 2018

Stevie,

I am late with this post, to make up for it I have been busy posting things here on the blog today.  I wrote a poem, not a very good one but my heart was all in.  I found a draft I wrote maybe a month ago and decided not to be afraid and pushed the "publish" button before I changed my mind.

The boys and I went to the cemetery on the 19th.  I brought yellow tulips and red Iceland poppies.  Dad went earlier in the day and brought fruit.  Elliott picked out a little cactus in a white ceramic cup, it made me smile, he never met you but he feels like he knows you and the cactus was perfect.

It was a pretty day, the grass was green the view of Mt.Diablo was breathtaking.  There is a big hill in the distance that you can see just beyond the big oak tree, it has a little house tucked away in it, it looks like heaven, I told myself, one day I want to live there.  I would buy a telescope, one of those big brass ones you might find in a light house.  Everyday I would make sure your body was safe, I would watch the deer graze around you, know when it was time to swap out faded flowers...

It's spring again and the one pink tulip that keeps arriving every spring since you died showed up with four siblings; You, Aly, Noah, Claire, Elliott.   I find meaning in odd things.  I built a brick pizza oven all by myself, if you were here I think you would love it, actually would have been your idea before mine.  The gardens are doing their thing, I'm not planting too much this year just keeping it simple, tomatoes, basil, all the herbs, tomatillo, a couple peppers. 

I miss you most in the spring.

I am making art again, pulled out the clay and dusted off the kiln, I have a lot of projects that distract me and a lot of distractions that keep me from projects.  It's just busy, school is almost out, your brother is graduating and Elliott will start Kindergarten in the fall...how did this happen?

If you walked in the door right now we would lay on the grass under this warm sun, I would make you all your favorite things to eat, we would take off our shoes and never put them back on, we would drain the bank account and go to Spain and Italy and France, and Thailand (because you would want to).  We would just bring a backpack and a jacket.  We would live on fruit and art, pizza, pasta, chocolate crepes, books, sleep on beaches and in parks and in hotels made out of stone and wood. 

Noah could sing for money, I would wash our clothes in hotel sinks and dry them on balconies.  We would stay up late look at the stars, laugh, cry, and sleep when we just couldn't keep our eyes open anymore.

I wish you could tell me what heaven is like...

We miss you so much sweet girl, so very much.

This is going to be a magical year, I know it.  Stay close.

I love you

mama


Eleven

eleven in the morning
eleven
eleven
eleven years
since I kissed those lips
since I heard your voice
since I smelled your hair
since I held your hand
eleven
the song I use to sing
to wake you up
it was awful
it worked
eleven
I sing it sometimes
to see if I can wake you up now
bring you home
or maybe just so you can hear it
where ever you are
and know I am still here
eleven years later
in the same room
the moon coming in through the window
the pink tulips in the garden
the cherry tree gone
died when you left
eleven
I can't even imagine
how the time has gone by
how I have lived without you
how I can't seem to find you
eleven in the morning
eleven
eleven
when I kissed you good bye
for the very last time
when your last breath left
those beautiful lips
when touched your head
bald and soft
when I let go of your hand
still warm, still mine
eleven

Dark

I have been keeping this blog since September of 2007, the year my daughter died.  I started writing right before her birthday, the first one without her here.  I was doing my best to find ways to breath and live, to love and be present for my son and daughter who were hurting and were afraid I was going to disappear.  I was swimming underwater looking for the place I could come up for air.

There were a lot of reasons for writing, for me its like meditation, a prayer, a secret friend.  Writing here also feels like keeping record, making sure it all stays real and she isn't forgotten, none of this is..   I may have also secretly thought that someone else would find this blog by accident, someone who needed it.

I have written mostly about missing my daughter, about how the earth keeps turning, the sun comes up and goes down and what we do in between.  I don't write it all, I can't but I offer a glimpse I think.

I have written about my broken heart, written little letters to Stevie, updates about life...

-not sure that I have written about the dark-side, not really.

Not as honestly as I should have.

When this death thing happens and mother loses her daughter, something breaks, its a fracture in your soul.  It can't be repaired, you don't try because there is something sacred in that broken place, it has to be seen, felt, remembered, honored.  You might be able to use string and tape to hold the rest of you and your life together if you are lucky but this tear in you is a part of you forever.

I am still me,  not the same me, that person left with my daughter.  I sent that me off to be a ghost in the place Stevie is now.  The me that is here is a different kind of ghost.  There are dishes to be washed, piles of laundry to be folded, kids to take to school, bills to pay, put a stamp on, and take to the post office.  Meals need to be planned, shopped for, and cooked, gardens need to be planted, cars to be repaired, dentist appointments to keep...I have purchased three vacuum cleaners, a washer and dryer, two refrigerators and a two stoves.    I just got a new car,  put in new kitchen cabinets, opened and closed a business, had a child, laid a bamboo floor, built a porch, I buried two parents, a grandmother, an uncle and a best friend.  I have been to three therapist, visited Paris and Italy, cried on a beach in Hawaii where I lived when I was two.  I gained 50 pounds, lost 40 pounds, and I contemplated killing myself several times.

Life does go on after loss but not always.

It took three therapists to convince me I was strong, exceptionally strong, and one man to convince me I wasn't.

It took a little boy with big blue eyes and a heart bigger than the universe to save me, and baby with dimples in his shoulders to convince me I deserved saving.

There have been a lot of tears, and I don't mean the kind that roll down your cheeks when you watch a sad movie I mean the kind of tears that dry up before you are done crying because there are just no more tears left, but still it hurts.

When Stevie left I had all her medications including oral chemo in a zip lock bag in her closet.  That bag was my escape hatch.  My plan was to make sure she was honored and buried properly, make sure Noah and Aly had what they needed, make sure the bills were paid we were not in debt, the house was clean, things repaired that needed repairing.  I would wait to be alone, lay in Stevie's bed, take the pills and go to sleep, hopefully wake up where she was.

That is really hard to read and it was even harder to write.

I didn't want her to be alone.  I didn't want to be here without her.  It was that simple.

Everyday I was distracted by something that had to get done before I left.

Every night Noah snuggled up in Stevie's bed with me and held my hand and told me beautiful stories, told me he loved me.  He was afraid I was slipping away and he was holding on to me, he never let go, he waited for me to feel love again, to trust it, and he wasn't letting go until it happened.

There would be so many days that I just couldn't imagine living through.  I felt very alone.  My relationship with my husband had long since crumbled and he was grieving in his way, I was grieving in mine.  We both stayed distracted but there was fall out and ugly nights fighting.  I needed something he could not give me, a reason to believe that things were going to get better and be ok, someone to keep me safe, someone to walk through this hell next to me.   Instead he said hurtful things and made me feel like a failure for not putting my energy into him, for not melting into him and making him the center of my life, for not being needy in the right way, not making sure his needs were met,  and not trying repairing our relationship so he could heal.  I couldn't I didn't feel anything anymore except sad and alone I guess.

A year after Stevie left I woke up feeling something that I hadn't felt in a long time, a calling.  I am not religious, and it wasn't God, it was a child.  I had this "feeling" with all of my kids, I knew it was time for my child to come home.  It isn't something that's easy to describe.  Some people call it "brooding" ( I was already an older mom when I had Noah)  most women my age were beginning to go through menopause, counting down the days until kids are off to college, but I heard a call  It wasn't practical, it was odd timing but it was strong and could not be ignored.

I focussed a lot of my energy on the prospect of having a baby, I thought about it,  worried about it, tried to talk myself out of it, but it was bigger and stronger than me.  Part of me thought I could bring Stevie back...Like I said I am not a religious person but I had always had a strong personal relationship with my God, for me that "God" was always so much bigger than any organized religion would let it be.  After Stevie died I was really angry at a God who would let a child suffer and die like that and I questioned everything I ever believed.  Some mornings I woke up with clarity and some nights I went to bed feeling very lost and alone.  Now I felt like I was being asked to do something that was going to push me hard again, force me to show up strong, I was afraid but I was also filled with hope and love.

It was even more difficult than I thought it would be.  I was blessed (or cursed) with some crazy genetics that had me ovulating regularly and in possession of decent supply of eggs that should have been dwindled away.  The doctors I went to explained that statistically a natural pregnancy shouldn't happen and woudn't without medical and technical intervention, they recommended IVF, not something my insurance would pay for or that we had the resources for.

Steve was sure I had lost my mind but when he found out the odds of it working (terrible, something like a 2% chance)  he relaxed, played the good-guy and showed up in a nice way which surprised me. He thought that this could be a way for him and I to find a way to re-connect.  He would look like the awesome husband willing to give his wife what she needed but the odds of it actually happening meant there be no baby so it was a win-win.  He would reveal this to me later and it would actually cause more damage to an already very fragile situation. 

I would be using a cryo-sperm donor because my husband had a vasectomy (something he chose to do against my wishes when Noah was 6 weeks old) so that further decreased my odds a lot.  Choosing a sperm donor from a catalog is surreal. I wasn't looking for a designer baby but I did want a donor that did not have a family history of Cancer or any serious genetic diseases.  I tried to choose a donor that physically might be a match so my kids would look related but  physical appearance wasn't high on my priority list.  Every month I went in, collected my sample and had a doctor introduce it into my uterus.  There is a long process that is hit and miss leading up to this appointment that involves charts and tests and injections.    My husband went for my first IUI and he does get points for that no matter what his motives were.  That day felt like some kind of creepy dream, it felt wrong on so many levels.   I spent a year in tears, every month a negative result but I  was just more determined with the next cycle,  I wasn't giving up.

I learned about embryo donation.  It felt like the heavens opening up, I just had to find a clinic and a doctor that could help me, and I did, it wasn't easy.  This is where my husband got angry and bailed.

I  took a break, decided to find a really good therapist to convince me I was acting irrationally, to point out all the things I wasn't seeing or that I was ignoring, to tell me I had some kind of post loss mental illness, to give me medication.    What I discovered was that I was going through something very common for women after the loss of a child, it was a biological need, I was taking care of my heart and mind in a very natural way.

I moved forward on my own, when I felt sure, when I understood that hope is as healing if not more healing that anything else.  My heart wanted to believe that good things could still happen, that I could open a window for Stevie if she wanted to try this all again, that I wasn't crazy because I needed to love like that again. After months of  insurance craziness, injections, scans, long drives, a waiting list, tears and frustration...

 I became pregnant.

 I threw away the zip lock bag of chemo and medications after I hit my second trimester.

Halfway through my pregnancy we discovered through an ultrasound that my little girl did not have kidneys and she was dying.  She had no amniotic fluid so she was being crushed by the weight of my body.  I chose to deliver her early.  After 12 hours of hard labor (in the same hospital where Stevie died) with a fever of 105 caused by a rare reaction to the drug they used to induced me, with  my body packed in ice, I delivered her.

I spent all day and night in labor and delivery alone.  I needed to do this by myself.  I didn't want to put anyone else through more pain.  My husband could not be available for me the way I needed so I had to take care of myself.

I felt that broken place inside me open a little more it went deeper and farther now.  I felt like I would be swallowed up and I was.

When I held little Claire in my hands all I could see was her beauty, she was perfection to me and I felt like this had to happen, she needed a mama to love her for 19 weeks, I needed to learn something and we both showed up for each other.   I also felt like I understood, really understood that things happen for reasons that I will never understand, can never explain and that I was part of a thing already set in motion, God wasn't punishing anyone, and that I was not a the child of God I was God, and  I was Stevie and Claire, and sunlight and an ocean.  I was a tiny star in a vast universe, I was a blood cell, I was a thought, a dream, the electrical impulse that sends pain or pleasure from one part of a body to the next, the energy in every lightning bolt, I was a grain of sand, a planet, I was everything, I was so small you couldn't see me with a microscope and too big too see at the same time.   A fever of 105 will do this to you.  I won't ever forget it.

I was split wide open with loss but also with understanding.

I kissed her little feet and her head the size of a lemon, inhaled her and thanked her, told her I loved her.  Then the most unexpected thing happened.  I knew I wasn't done, that I had to endure this to get to the next place and my child was coming, I just had to do this first.  I wasn't afraid.

Someone told me after I came home from the hospital that the universe was telling me "No" and I had to listen.  My reply was,  "The universe is simply asking me how badly I want this, miracles take participation and I am all in".

At the same mortuary where Stevie's body was taken to from the Hospital in April,  I sat in a parking lot once again, a tiny box of ashes in my hands.  My husband explained that  I didn't lose a child, I lost a pregnancy and all though that was loss, it wasn't the same thing.  He told me if I tried again he would leave me.

Back to therapy.

I made the decision to try again.  It wasn't a secret plan, I hid nothing, I just did it alone.  I knew that he would leave and I was fine with that.  I think he thought the threat would frighten me, it always had in the past but not this time.  My marriage may be over but I made a promise to this child and I intended to keep it.

Same embryos and on Claire's original due date I was in the hospital, draped, bladder full, tests done, waiting as the embryologist asked me my full name and birth date.  The nurse scanned my abdomen, the reproductive endocrinologist gently saying kind things to me as he placed the embryo's into my uterus.

I was given five embryos from an anonymous donor.  The first two resulted in Claire.  After consulting with a genetic councilor we determined that what had happened was a fluke or genetic and they couldn't tell me which.  The fact that none of the other babies born from these embryos died this way gave hope it was a fluke and most likely would not happen again but there was no guarantee.

A month before transfer I panicked and asked for different embryos, but the night before I felt sick about it.  I promised those little cell clusters that I would give them a chance if they wanted it, told them I would love them and give them a warm place to grow.  I know, I know, it sounds crazy but they were my embryos, my responsibility.

On transfer day I asked about the embryos I was getting.  The nurse told me " the same the same embryos, yours"   It seems the note that was suppose to go on my chart never got there so no new embryos were found for me.  I smiled, it felt right, my journey was with these little guys.

I took myself to lunch after the procedure, then went to work, then home and waited, pregnancy tests all came back negative day after day.  I tried to cancel my clinic blood draw, I didn't want them to to tell me I wasn't pregnant, it would hurt more.  They told me they couldn't withdraw the progesterone until they documented a negative pregnancy test so I drove out to the hospital on a winter day, through the tunnel, through the neighborhood with the beautiful craftsmen houses I loved, to Stevie's favorite city.  I had given up, not in an awful way, I had just accepted that I did the best I could do and that at some point I had to be done.  That day was my done day, I knew I would be ok.  I gave it all I had, worked hard, showed up, pushed, fought, cried, begged, prayed, used up all my resources.

That afternoon about 3-4 o'clock I went to the restroom, my last pregnancy test was on the counter.  I used it thinking "this is the last time I will ever have to do this".  I was just about to toss it in the trash when I though I noticed the faintest shade of pink, the kind of pink they might call blush, the kind of pink that you almost imagine... then the phone rang.  I had an HCG of 8.  I was technically pregnant but that number should have been a whole lot higher.

The nurses at this point knew me well.  They hurt for me when I lost Claire and I told them this was my last try.  They knew about Stevie and they were rooting for me.  The nurse who gave me the number 8 said, "its 8, don't give up, not yet it's still early".

Every two day I made the long drive  for another blood test, I watched the numbers double and triple. At six weeks a scan showed a very tiny pregnancy, I wasn't out of the woods yet but there was a heartbeat.  Every week that little heart got stronger and my baby got bigger and I knew I was right where I needed to be.

My pregnancy should have been beautiful and it was because I was happy but at home things were hard.  My husband was angry, he went out of his way to let me know this daily.  He called me selfish, he told me my friends were not really supportive that they felt pity, he told me I should be embarrassed.  He kept my pregnancy a secret from everyone he knew including his family.  I wouldn't let him crush me but it did create way too much stress, more than I needed.  I did my best to find ways to be away from him and alone so I could sing and talk to my baby like I did with my older kids.

Some days I asked the universe why it all had to be so hard, why it couldn't be just a little easier, and on other days I asked the universe what I did to deserve such amazing children, why it chose me to trust with such extraordinary humans and I said thank you a million times.

Half way through my pregnancy I took myself to the perinatologist.  Noah ordered a brother, I simply hoped for two kidneys, even one kidney...I got a little boy with two beautiful kidneys.  Noah got a blue cupcake.

On the 19th of September after the sky turned pink, in the same hospital I lost Stevie and Claire, a month before my due date,  I gave birth to my baby.

Steve was there to support the kids but not for me, he slept through my labor that went on all night.  A failed epidural meant a painful delivery and cement leg.  My little guy was early, small, healthy, but needed to go to the nursery for four hours.  I was a fall risk so I couldn't go.  Steve was the only one who could go because legally he was the babies "father".

Ironically he bonded with that little guy and has loved him deeply since.

Was that happily ever after?  No.

The dark and twisty still finds me.  I am brought to my knees while doing dishes.  I have to pull my car over to the side of the road to sob and scream.  I go for walks early in the morning unable to breathe as the sky changes color.  There are days I still can't make sense of any of it.  Everyday I miss her and I live in that abyss that was created when she left.

But I live in layers.  I have My sons who make me so incredibly happy, I have Aly who had become not just my daughter but my friend and we have become a lot more close.   I have friends who never felt sorry for me more than they felt in awe of my strength and bravery and its a struggle to allow myself to believe that sometimes.

My husband never left, he was never going to leave but he is the kind of man who needs a wife that would be afraid he would, he is the kind of person who needs to feel that kind of power over another person and I found a way to not be that person anymore.

I don't love him.  I care about him as the father of my children and we have a long history together but that is all.  There are days he gets it but most days he pretends that things are the same as they always were and sometimes they feel that way and I don't like it.

We share this house but we don't share a life together, not really, and we never really have.  I am lonely and missing having a "person" to be a grown old with, to talk and share and be happy with, someone I can trust, someone I can lean on and tell secrets to.  I ache to be with someone that I feel an equal, loving and romantic connection with.

That tear in my soul is still there, but I have filled it with gold like a kintsugi bowl.  That rip in me is treasured because it means I loved that much, was loved that much, nothing else can rip you open like that.

Time goes by like it will and I just live the day, do the best I can, honor pain, welcome joy, and love my kids.  Eleven years its hard to believe, hard to wrap myself around.  But here I am and it isn't as dark as it was eleven years ago.










Monday, January 15, 2018

2018

Stevie,

It is January, winter, cold, and we are home.

This is a new year.  I didn't make a list of resolutions because every year it's mostly a list of things I didn't do, couldn't do, didn't feel brave or strong enough to do, or hate myself for not doing.  This year I am giving myself a break and just trying to love on myself for the things I did do and the things I might make happen, can make happen, or will just happen because good happens.

Your brother came in fifth and the show is over.  It was all very strange and surreal living in that pretend bubble with him for six months.  I lost "real" and it was exciting, scary, and a little embarrassing sometimes.  The magic for him was when he got to sing with Bastille, he loves those guys and they are some really awesome humans and gifted musicians.  He was happy to go home, he left with no car, no trophy, no record deal, no big fat check.  He was fine with that, he just wanted to go home.

In about five days we find out if the record company will keep him, we are guessing they are not or else they would have contacted us.  That is good news in a way.  I was hoping a smaller label might pick him up, but thats me, not him.  He is happy to make music he loves on his own terms, make music video's with friends, have full creative control and see what the universe does with all that.  He trusts himself, he believes in what he does, he is content, he just knows what should happen will happen and he is ok with what ever that looks like.  How did I make this boy?  He is everything I am not; calm, sure, trusting, driven, happy, and he just really believes everything is going to be ok and work out.   I could learn a lot from that boy.

Aly and dad made beer yesterday,  well dad made beer, he geeked out talked a lot about temperatures and acidity, gravity, yeast...Aly drank beer.   Your baby brother came in after many hours of brewing, boring talk, things soaking and steeping, and opened the spout at the bottom of what ever that things is the beer goes into to ferment and half the beer ended up on the kitchen floor.  It was messy, stinky, sticky, and it took me an hour to clean up while he sat in the naughty chair.  It's a story we can tell, its kinda funny.

I have been feeling like a crap mom.  I am falling short of my own expectations.  I don't have super high standards, basically I like to keep you all alive and healthy, make sure you eat some good food, provide you with a warm and safe home,  do activities, get you to school, keep you clean and dressed, listen your dreams, try to help you make them happen if I can.  I try not to get too mad, demanding, weird (sorry that seems to be my big fail) take you fun places, read you stories make you cake.

This baby came late in life, he is all alone in this house with giant people, he is treasured and loved and we adore him but he doesn't have all of me all of the time like he should.  I have never been a mama who likes to play pretend, throw a football, have a sword fight, play a board game.  I am just not a playful person and that sucks for a little who needs that.  I want to be that for him but I just show up myself and he is so different then the three of you.  He has a very strong personality, he needs a lot of activity, he has so much energy.  I get the happies when I think about who he is because I know it will serve him well in his life, all the energy and building, and making and curiosity, oh and the stubborn, he is even more stubborn than you were Stevie!  I just wish I could be more, do more.

I have been having a lot of flashbacks.  Tiny bits of memory from this time when you were here and it was cold and we bought the red car and moved to Atherton for Chemo and radiation at Stanford.  I remember listening to Jacks Mannequin and The postal service, struggling with that wheel chair, trying to keep you warm and here...but you kept slipping away no matter how hard you fought.  I hate that time.  I want to erase it and just bring you home and start all over from the beginning.  I would do so many things different, so many, the list is long.

19 years of you is not enough.

I made the decision that dad and I should get a divorce.  It isn't new news, and really Stevie I don't even know why we even got married again.  It was a practical move for financial reasons it wasn't about love or hope or any of those things it is suppose to be about.  If he accidentally reads this he will be mad.  He doesn't want me blogging about this stuff.  In his mind people are reading this and its an invasion of his privacy.  No one reads this.  I have been blogging for ten or eleven years now, I have always been honest and truthful.  I don't hide anything, I don't edit, I don't change anything.  This is just a very raw account of life after you left your body.

The statistics show that losing a child is usually the end of a marriage.  There are strong marriages that are made stronger by loss but I think that might be rare.  I think you have to have a very solid foundation, a strong relationship, deep love and respect in order to survive and heal together as a couple.  Dad and I...well its always been string and tape.

Dad and I got married because we had Aly, and that almost didn't happen.  I tried to do the right thing but I am not sure if it was, not for my heart.  I think the five of you (and I include Claire because she was my child if even for 19 weeks) were the only good things that have come out of these 33 years of marriage.

I married a man I didn't share goals and values with, who didn't want kids, who I didn't have a lot in common with.  I tried really hard to be a good wife because I thought the universe was asking me to do the right thing, I thought he would be a good man and good husband.  I was 18...

I don't think anyone should get married until they are at least 30.  You don't know who you are until then.  You need time to let your brain develop fully, to find your passion, to go to school, to work hard, to build a nest, to see yourself as whole person.

I grew up...when I became an adult I had two daughters, a house payment, too much responsibility and too many dreams for myself that I didn't know how to make happen so I gave up on them mostly.  I was also very lonely in a way I can't describe.

I soldiered on, I made mistakes, I tried harder.

No matter how hard I tried I could never get it right, I blamed myself a lot, I cried too much.  Mostly I just showed up my worse self.

When I turned 50 something changed inside me, I realized that I now had a limited amount of time (if I was lucky) to do the things I wanted to do (outside of being a mother) my long list was still long and the world considered me "old" already and I just didn't want to keep going around in circles and getting no where, I didn't have the time to do that anymore.

I don't want to wake up every day sad and lonely and angry and resentful.

I have had a lot of therapy and I know who I am I just haven't figured out how to like, honor,  and respect that person.  A therapist can tell you that you need to, they can show you how you might do it but  at the end of the day you have to do it.   I will be 53 this year and this is the year that happens.

I spent the last three years trying to see if I could find a way to reach dad, make him see me, know me, understand me as a person.  I tried to see if there was anything left of our marriage, if anything could be repaired or at the very least changed.

I examined this thing we have been doing with a giant magnifying glass, I replayed our life  (about a million times) through my own eyes as honestly as I could.  What I found were patterns, circles, cycles, and sadness for me.

Right now I am just mad at him.  It isn't his fault, he is who he is and he isn't a bad person.  I just woke up and realized he just isn't someone I like, that doesn't mean he is not likable it just means that this thing I have been holding onto isn't worth holding onto anymore and I am ready to let it go.

He isn't getting any younger but there is still time for him to find someone to love him the way he needs to be loved, he needs a lot of love.

I am not making resolutions but I am going to make a mental list of things I hope for, things I wish.  I will make the list in my mind then breath it into an imaginary balloon, tie a knot in it and let it float way up high, get lost out in the everywhere then pop.  What every finds me will be blessings.

Always first on my list is you.  I want to find you, for you to find me, in any way we can.  I need moments with your energy, it keeps me hopeful and strong.  I had a reading with a channel, very odd experience.  I met her through a chance meeting with that girl you and I met 14 years ago at Big Lots.  The two of you had feeding tubes and damaged vocal chords.  She had been in a car accident you had brain cancer.  She was super positive, sure she was going to be ok and life was going to be great and she spread all that all over you.  14 years later standing in line at Target we recognize each other, it was Christmas eve.  I felt you there.  She felt you there.

She invited me to this meditation group and the women leading it gave me a reading...it was beautiful.  I don't know if it was you she was channeling but I could feel her heart reaching out to me, she was trying to give me something, it felt like love.

The rest of my list is just me promising to love myself better and doing things that make me feel whole and good.

Make lots of art, read, go for long walks to pretty places, nurture my friendships and make more friends.  I want to be open for good stuff to find me.

Feel free to come to me in a dream and give me some lottery numbers!

I dream of my own house in a neighborhood where there are a lot of kids for your brother to play with.  I want him to have a best friend that lives next door, who lives at our house on summer days.  I want to live in a community that I fit well in, like minded people.

I have ten more pounds to lose but I trust that if I eat well, go for nice walks and stay active that I will shed it if that is what my body needs.

I hope to spend more quality time with the baby, make some good childhood memories for him to hang onto.

I would like to be in love.  It doesn't have to be with a man or person...I want to wake up in love with my life, my work, my kids, a good book, a great project...

It's January my love, the beginning of the year, that red car is getting old and I will replace it this year I think.  That house in Atherton now full of daughter in laws, son in laws, grand babies.  Time is a funny thing...

I love you miss Stevie, you are still here, I feel it, I am going to make you pretty proud this year.

(Photography by Joe Pippen, January 19, 2018 sunrise)