May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


One of my family members knits in the most carefree fashion I have ever witnessed. No pattern, no plan, not even a stopping point in sight. The yarn doesn't match, the stitches may be uneven and the different sections of knitting which fit a particular time, energy level and mood are connected by ribbons.

I am a crocheter. One that never begins a project without insuring there is exactly the correct amount of yarn in the right colors with an ounce or two to spare. This step follows a tedious search through pattern books for just the right item. The thought of stepping outside a pattern, even though I have been crocheting seriously for almost ten years and have made countless adult sized afghans, baby sized blankets, baby hats, booties and even mittens along with scarves and washcloths, is terrifying and leaves me completely blank.

I take a similar approach to life. I rarely cook a meal or dessert without a recipe, I never go grocery shopping without a list and if you ask me where I see myself in ten years I have an answer. I like order, direction and plans. I need to see where I'm going and know approximately where I'll end up. Pretty much everything in my life fits this pattern. Everything but Wyatt and Eli, the outcomes I could have never planned. So I have had to improvise, stitch things together with ribbon and weave them into my life. Yet despite these two huge curveballs I still find myself unchanged in this aspect. I still cling to patterns, to recipes and to the belief that I am mostly in control. This facet of me is probably the most unchanged if not the only unchanged thing in me in the last eight years. Even though sometimes I think I would be so much cooler if I could just crumple up my pattern and toss it out the window at eight miles an hour, pattern comforts me and I need comfort.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Days are getting shorter and I don't need a calendar to figure this out. September is knocking on the door but I am stumbling in darkness. Literally. I already miss the dog days of summer when getting up at or before 6 am to exercise meant opening my eyes to find a trail of sunlight creeping down the hallway towards my bedroom. Now I climb out of bed not knowing what time of night or morning it is and whether I should even be awake. Most of the time I am intuitive enough to realize that if my husband is not beside me in bed that I should be awake or awake soon (I gave up alarm clocks when I gave up my career, intrusive little buggers they are!).

Morning is silence and darkness. It is not clouds or the threat of rain. It is the sun just not being up yet plain and simple. An immovable force like so many I have faced in the last year. There is no amount of pleading, bargaining or praying which will raise that sun one minute before its intended time to rise. I'm still looking for a bright side to this one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Little One and I

School starts tomorrow. Our oldest will go off to second grade and our middle daughter will have her first day of school at kindergarten. Then it will just be me and my three year old, who holds a strong belief that she is a puppy (which seriously is the cutest thing when she decides to wag her tail). My head is looking forward to the peace of those hours during the day. It has been a tumultuous summer having all three very energetic little girls home and me at their beck and call. This summer we celebrated four birthdays, Wyatt's, our oldest and mine in June and the little one just turned three a few weeks ago. We attended a parade and fireworks for the Fourth of July. We blew countless bubbles, walked endless miles, our oldest ditched her training wheels, the youngest learned to ride bike and scooter, we decorated our concrete with sidewalk chalk frequently and all three girls took swimming lessons for the first time. There have been days much cooler than normal which stunted my garden and has left me hopeful for next year already, days when it was already dripping wet at 6am and far far too much water this summer. I have been a constant referee and find discipline a formidable challenge.

Tomorrow that will change. My head is ready for this, it needs the silence, the time for reflection and possibly even the extra space to grieve. That perhaps moving that one extra child out of the house for a few hours each day will allow me space to grieve the one child whose absence will be especially stark for a while now. "It wasn't supposed to be this way" my heart says. I had been so excited at the timing of Eli's pregnancy. We would have had a beautiful summer together, all of us bonding and enjoying the new little life who would change before our eyes every day and also change us. Then I would send the older two off to school and it would be me and my youngest two, keeping the status quo.

But that's not reality and over these last few months I have come to accept that. Instead of living under the sadness of what should be I will do my best to enjoy what I have, which is a beautiful little girl who is so easy and so deserving of this time alone. We are going to have a great year together. Perhaps next year will be different.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


After Eli's diagnosis I turned to the church for help. More so for validation of my beliefs than anything. I needed to know that God was my Father and that he would care for me as a parent and that he could not be the one to have caused me so much pain. I found comfort there that day and I was also surprised. My priest called me holy for enduring to have endured and continue to endure such suffering for my tiny children.

As I grieve another death today I find myself thinking of these words differently. In my mind I picture a quilt, the most beautiful heirloom quilt built one square at a time over countless years. Each square is a memory, a story. Then I imagine one of those squares being violently torn from that beautiful quilt leaving only frayed threads behind and effectively destroying the quilt's carefully constructed framework. When I see that blanket it is impossible to see beyond that ragged gaping hole. The quilt cannot mend itself and it cannot be fixed without adding foreign material, things it has not known and is not comfortable embracing.

I imagine this is what grieving that death might be like. Having a person whom you have carefully constructed a life around, a person who is a constant presence in your life, your thoughts and your heart violently and suddenly ripped away. That hole must be all consuming and may even make you want to get rid of the quilt altogether. I imagine it would be something that I would put aside because I did not know how to even begin to mend such a precious item, nevertheless where to find suitable material with which to mend.

My losses have been different. My time with my sons was spent rubbing, talking and singing to an unknown being in my belly. I had only short minutes and hours in which to memorize the colors of their hair, their eyes, the feeling of their bodies and their sweet baby scents. I grieve the loss of what could have been more than what was. Yet I am holey. The holes in my quilt are tiny but significant.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shaken, Not Stirred

Today I am shaken. My husband's friend lost his wife this weekend. One day she was very present and the next so very absent. Her absence is at this point unexplained but strongly felt.

My heart dropped when he told me. Death is not a stranger but for me he usually knocks first. I ache so badly for this young man left alone far far too soon. They did not have children which to some may be a positive, but like so many of us he not only lost someone he loves very very much, but he lost the promise of life.
He will never see his wife give birth or witness the melding of their genetics into one perfect little being. Death leaves him with only physical mementos, photos, and the questions that accompany a life ended much too soon.

Death creeps in through days, weeks and months and sometimes like the most skilled of thieves he sneaks in when you're not looking and is gone before you know he was there. Today I am shaken by him.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Three Years

Yesterday we celebrated our youngest daughter's three year birthday. It is hard as a mother to pass a birthday without conjuring images of that child's day of birth. The first moments of sound, touch, smell. My husband and I reminisced about how much we enjoy having our children. Hospital food, though less tasty than what we cook at home, is a treat. Having someone bring us a plate of ready to eat food that we got to choose from a menu without having to glance at prices is awesome. Even better is that the food is just as swiftly taken away. The baby bassinet hovers nearby my bed though our babies rarely stray from my arms during their hospital stay. I love watching my husband manage with the first few diaper changes until I am ready to get out of bed after the c-section. Babies sleep right next to me all night long in the bed, ready for snuggles and nursing. I even enjoy establishing that nursing relationship, though rocky and painful at times, it is a process of getting to know that particular child and her mannerisms. I love those middle of the night nursings when I turn on the tv just for some light and company while we figure it all out and every now and then a nurse stops by with a snack or some water and it's just all so easy. I couldn't hold off the pain yesterday when I realized I was there five months ago to the day. I had that baby in my arms and too quickly he slipped away. My hospital stay included none of these warm fuzzy memories and that makes me a little angry. I have nowhere or no one to direct that anger at though so I have to just let it pass through but those visions of babies keep dancing in my head.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Easy to Be, Hard to Be Good

It's easy to simply be, but hardly simple to be good. It's easy to sit on the couch and lament about the pounds or flab that just won't go away but hard to get up and move enough to really sweat and then add insult by depriving ourselves of the food we too often use to comfort. It's easy to say inappropriate things but hard to swallow our pride and apologize. It's easy to just give up when the going gets hard and choose the well trod path but hard to blaze ahead in less than ideal conditions with no promise that things will get easier or even turn out in the end. It's easy to say "this is me" but hard to say "I can do better". It's easy to breathe but harder to breathe with purpose. It's easy to be, but hard to be good. Lately it's almost been hard to even be, but I'm going to be better.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Through the Fog

Morning after morning lately we wake up to fog. Humidity so thick that it clings to our windows and drops of moisture completely cloud of vision, obscuring all else. This reminds me of the saying about not being about to see the forest through the trees and how so often it is easy to lose sight of what is right in front of me. Some of the most precious things in my life, my husband and three daughters. Some days it is just too easy to be overcome by the mountains of laundry, dishes, groceries, bathing, folding, yardwork, vacuuming, dusting and even by my own droplets of sweat when I exercise to find moments of appreciation. It doesn't exactly help that lately the girls are more "can you, can I, can we, why, why, why, why" which doesn't allow for many moments of silence within which that appreciation can occur either.

So I found myself in church yesterday morning, alone with our three girls, trying to listen to the homily yet instead gazing outside at the fog. Yesterday's gospel reading was about Jesus telling Peter to walk out on the stormy ocean waters and how Peter's fear causes him to sink and cry out for help. I was reminded that a strong faith may not be one without fear but instead one that allows me to fear the storm's rage yet to keep on walking and know that I am not alone. A reminder that all storms come to an end, all fogs eventually lift and that I can't lose sight of hope because hope will always be there. A reminder that even though loss threatens to swallow me up at times, I still have much to be grateful for and to enjoy and if I focus on the fog I will miss all that dances within and around it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

Today I muse. Specifically, a little Shakespeare taken from "Much Ado About Nothing" Act III, Scene II - "Every one can master a grief but he that has it”.

So true isn't it? The easiest problems to solve in life are the ones that are not our own. The answer is always blindingly obvious, the sufferer so blatantly ignorant. I wonder if others see me through these eyes as I so often see them through mine.

I appear to be on a temporary leave of absence from solving the world's ills and improving my environment one small situation at a time. I have recently found myself plunked into the middle of a few situations in which at least five months ago I would have sprung to action and not even blinked an eye. I would have chastised, instructed and expected my words to be obeyed to the syllable. Instead I found myself inwardly cringing but outwardly not batting an eye. I knew it was different but I didn't care because it also occurred to me (which sadly perhaps those other times it did not) that those things were not my problem. Lately I've had more than my fair share of problems to sort out.

Maybe this is how it should be, okay, this really is probably how it should be. How many of us have so few problems, or so much experience, that we can really afford to try to solve the woes of others? I carry the grief over my two sons with me in every beat of my heart but I master that grief no more than my heart can willingly skip a beat. Some of the best leaders are those that do so by example. Some of the most important lessons are those than cannot be taught.

So, at least for now I will continue on my journey towards mastering my own grief and let others be. They can master my grief if they choose so long as they don't speak a word of it to me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Mess

Lately I'm just a mess jumble of emotions. Much like the unused balls of soft pastel baby yarns which sit jumbled next to an unfinished baby blanket along our couch. Every now and then the girls grab onto a string and pull it which leaves the balls slightly more undone than they were yet still intact.

I am a woman driven. By what I'm not entirely sure but I know exactly where I'm trying to go. Almost everything I have done since the moment I said goodbye to Eli has led me to this time, this place and I'm almost there. I can feel it. It is unnerving, exciting, exhausting and terrifying all at the same time. All of the work I have done to whip my body into shape, to lose the baby weight, to regain normalcy in my cycle has led to this. My last chance to have our last child. What once seemed eons away is now mere days or weeks hopefully. I'm so close to that goal that I'm almost losing focus, it's just too big. So much is at stake.

I have been pregnant six times and have three living children. I've been batting 50% before too and I've approached many of my last pregnancies with the knowledge that they could be my last (due to so many c-sections). I just keep telling my body that we can do this. I can do this. I need to do this for so many reasons, I'm sure more than even I realize. There will be no regrets, only jumbled yarn.


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