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, February 28, 2012

The Magnitude of a Molehill

Winter must have taken one of those middle of the summer, how many miles of the interstate are under construction and how far out of the way is this detour? detours to get to us the last few months.  Nonetheless she has finally hit her mark.  We awoke to snow, more than a dusting, on Sunday and I found myself driving through tiny drifts for the first time this year on the way to church.  Winter is no stranger to me and I have lived through many fierce and many mild ones throughout the years.  I have awesome respect and a healthy fear of the power winter wields over our environment.  Yet, while driving through those tiny drifts I experienced little waves of pleasure as my tires broke through the puffs of snow.  I found myself thinking "This is all you've got, bring it.  I can break these and bigger ones."

This was soon followed by contemplation of my winter bravado.  How I could attack a snow drift with my car like it was nothing.  Like I had somehow forgotten that sometimes when you drive into a snowdrift on the road it's magnitude can take control of your car away.  Like I forgot that sometimes underneath those drifts of snow are menacingly slick patches of ice.  Why didn't I blink an eye?  Yet some days the grief I carry for my sons has brought my life to a standstill over going to the grocery store or taking my daughters to gymnastics.  Where was the bravado then?  Why couldn't I say "bring it, I can do this and more" those times?

I didn't have an answer to any of my questions.  Just observations on how sometimes a molehill can seem like the tallest mountain and sometimes the tallest mountain can be looming within reach and seem like the smallest of anthills.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Resilient Like the Hair Band

"Resilience" is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as 
"an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change."

I am resilient like a hair band.  Not the kind that sang "UnSkinny Bop" or "Welcome to the Jungle".  No, the kind of elastic band for holding hair.  In our household there are three of us girls with hair long enough for ponytails (not me) which results in, oh, about a couple hundred elastic hairbands floating around the house and cars at any given time.  They are all shapes and sizes, every color under the rainbow.  Some have ribbons, others spirals, some have glossy balls at the ends but those aren't me.  

I am the hairband that is stretched a little thin in the middle.  The one that is no longer symmetrical.  The one that shows signs of weakness to the point where it's questionable whether it will just snap in two one day while twisting around the hair.  Yet it's still in one piece.  I have resilience, the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change.  But that ability does not come easy.  The easy way is not to recover, to avoid making any adjustment for change.    Some changes are much easier than others - when it snows you wear a parka and gloves or mittens, when the sun is too bright you wear a hat and or sunglasses.  When your child or children dies the answers are not so obvious and the solutions are not so obtainable.

But the ability - the resilience - is there.  Just like that hairband, which is a little stretched out and a little thin in the middle, I too am a little different but we're both still capable of not just holding on but being functional and pretty.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Full of Life

I mentioned in my Valentine's Day post how the love has returned to my cooking, but really it has returned to my life in very undramatic but amazing way.  As my youngest would say, it "sneaked on me".  I remember last winter.  It was long, so long, so white, so very cold.   The day I gave birth to Eli, in March, it blizzarded.  This year we have had no blizzards, not a one.  Not only no blizzards, almost no snow.  So it looks like spring, it feels like spring and I feel like spring.

I am full of life and it is just waiting to burst out of me at any moment, or perhaps in eight weeks or less as far as the little life that grows within is concerned.  In the meantime I am baking up love left and right and it is a true joy to eat at our house again.  I find myself excited about holidays and birthdays and that is even with Eli's birthday just three or so weeks away.  Last year I was heavily pregnant as we celebrated my husband and 2nd daughter's birthdays just a week apart and the latter less than a week before Eli's birth.  The cakes were baked with love but did not taste like love, there was just too much sadness folded inside.  Eli was originally due at the very end of March so he would have been born weeks after my daughter's birthday but due to the Potter's Syndrome and my history of c-sections he was delivered just before 37 weeks and just 5 days after our middle daughter's birthday.  It was not an ideal situation last year and oddly enough is similar to Wyatt's birthday which is just 4 days before our oldest daughter's.  So we've lost two sons yet their birthdays are both within a week of one of our daughters.  It is a bittersweet combination.  On one hand I have the sad anticipation and realization that I have passed another year without my little boy and all the contemplation about who and what he would be that goes along with that, and on the other hand that sadness is almost tempered by the close birthday celebration of that little boy's living sister and how much we have watched her change and grow within the year.

If someone had told me how different I would feel on this day in 2012 compared to this day in 2011 I wouldn't and couldn't have believed them.  I am not looking for spring to save me this year.  I don't need it to bring me back to life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Overdoing Valentine's Day

I love love.  Cupid's holiday is close to my heart but Valentine's Day 2011 cupid's arrow could not have been farther from his mark.  My heart was cracked and on the verge of  breaking as my remaining time with Eli inside ticked down to a precious four weeks.  November 2010 to March 2011 was subdued.  It was days and hours that stretched for miles and miles of the flattest most subdued highways possible.  They passed  with little fanfare despite holidays, birthdays and milestones.  We made our way down that road intact and for that we celebrated in the end.

Valentine's Day 2012 was quite the opposite.  There were valentines, crocheted hearts embroidered with our daughters' initials, chocolate hearts, raspberry chocolate filled pastry hearts, homemade heart shaped whole wheat english muffins which made for delicious ham, cheese and egg sandwiches, homemade chocolate covered cherries, heart shaped greek chicken and cheese pizzas all capped off with heart shaped molten lava cakes.  I really outdid myself this year, at 7 1/2 months pregnant nonetheless.  I poured my heart almost literally into everything I baked, kneaded and dipped.  Sometimes happiness is homemade.  I commented last year that it didn't matter what I cooked or baked, I just couldn't find any happiness in the food.  Some time in the last eleven months happiness has returned and it has never tasted so good.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Righting the Wrongs

This morning I finished reading "When Bad Things Happen to Good People".  There was  no "aha" moment for me today but had I read that book two or  more years ago there would have been.  Pretty much everything that I read was consistent with my own redefinition of my Catholic upbringing and beliefs.  Something which I have struggled to redefine since Wyatt's Potter's diagnosis in January of 2003.

I have righted the wrongs that were installed by my church and family over the course of my childhood and young adulthood.  The wrongs:  be good and bad things will not happen to you, if they do then you must have done something to deserve them, God has a plan and everything has a purpose, if you pray God will answer your prayers.  The righting:   good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people because God does not control  every aspect of the universe, sometimes because we as humans were given free will  by God and because as humans we often pray for impossible things.  I am not a great person,  but I lead a mostly good life.  There is not one thing which I have done which merits the suffering  I have endured over the last nine years of my life.  I accept that Potter's Syndrome is just one thing completely out of God's control but not out of his concerns.  I felt Him with me every step of the way through Eli's pregnancy and after.  I know it pained God to watch our suffering and probably even more so to welcome our sweet little boy to join his brother.  I also know that he manifests his love for us by empowering geneticists, scientists and doctors to study Potter's Syndrome and I have confidence that one day there will be answers.

I wish that I had understood these things when I was pregnant with Wyatt.  That my religious background could have comforted and supported me rather than giving me more unrealistic expectations than I could count.  I believed prayer, and lots of it, would heal my son.  That my unwavering faith would deliver me from having to watch my baby die.  His death not only shattered my heart, it shattered my religious foundation.  Faith is so easy to have when it needn't be explained.  I needed a reason for Wyatt's death, I needed a way to justify the pain that was tearing me apart, to make it all seem worthwhile.  So I turned to God and then I turned away.  What else could I do after believing all those wrongs for so many years?  How could I believe that it was somehow my fault, that I deserved to carry a child with a fatal birth defect and that I deserved to watch him die and that I would be left to live without him for the rest of my life?  How could I believe that my prayers were not good enough when I had prayed so hard and they were completely heartfelt?  How could I justify this outcome when all around me I saw others who had done worse yet were given completely healthy children, even ones that were unwanted?  How could I still believe in a loving and compassionate God when I was told that my son's death was part of this God's plan?  How could my completely innocent child be chosen by this God to suffer so much?  I sought answers for a long long time to these questions but none fit.  I was only left angry, bitter and feeling abandoned by the one who was supposed to love me the mostl.

Finally I stopped asking those questions, I stopped seeking (and listening to) explanations.  I went back to the simplest of explanations, one worthy of my kindergarten faith class:  bad things will happen and when they do God is with you, when you hurt he hurts and he will love you through it all.  Expectations only bring disappointment, love breeds love and there is one love greater than all.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Living Through Death

I don't know exactly when my sons died.  I know the day but not the times.  Sure, there is a time recorded on their death certificates but that is not it.  Their deaths were not measured in terms of one final breath, but ever slowing heartbeats.  I do know my very first glimpse of death was just hours after my first child's birth.  I also know that I would have it no other way.  If any of my children die, I want to be there, holding them if possible, until that moment passes.  Although I can't pinpoint that moment in June 2003 or March 2011 on the days of my sons' births, I can feel it.  If I close my eyes I can return to the hospital vision adjusts to the dim lighting, I can smell their newness, listen to the near silence surrounding us and remember the awe that I felt every minute of their lives.  There was a distinct before and after.  Before left me in awe of every moment that passed and every minute detail which I could absorb.  There was nothing but Wyatt, nothing but Eli.  Between before and after was just a moment.  Just one moment separates life from death.  Somehow we knew when that moment passed and in that moment everything changed.  I was like a video recorder that switched from record to playback.  I knew the show was over but just had to watch it again.  So many more memories were recorded in the after but they were different than the before.  No less precious, just different.

I lived through my sons' deaths.  I went from the moment before, to the one between and then the one after that.  I live, I remember and I love.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I teach kindergarten faith classes Sunday mornings at my church.  This is my third year doing so and for the second time I am blessed to be teaching one of my own daughters.  Yesterday we talked about forgiveness.  The lesson was accompanied by two worksheets.  One, a small banner which read "I'm sorry" for the children to trace and to take home to use to help heal a friendship or relationship hurt by a wrongdoing.  Two, a hidden picture coloring sheet which contained the words "I forgive".  Each class presents new challenges and this week's was noise.  The classroom next to us was impossibly loud and we had a guest child along with one of the children who was far too chatty with her friend.  This challenge necessitated a choice for me to make, we only had time for one project:  trace and color the "I'm sorry" banner sheet or color the "I forgive" worksheet.

I chose forgiveness.  Want to know why?  Because just like love, forgiveness is something entirely within my control.  It is not dependent on an apology or even an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.  Because let's face it, some people will likely never apologize, some because of pride or vanity, others because they refuse to admit to doing anything wrong and some frankly probably never even realize that what they have done was hurtful.  But forgiveness, forgiveness is mine.  I can forgive in any and all of those situations.  I can forgive anyone for anything.  I alone can lift the burden of hurt that rests in my heart and in doing so release the bonds that tie me to that pain.    While hearing "I'm sorry" is a wonderful thing and I highly encourage any hurt to be accompanied by an apology, I choose forgiveness.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...