Nov 24, 2013

The Wizard of Oz and Black Friday

We are sitting downstairs watching The Wizard of Oz. The girls are tucked snug in bed, dreaming of dance parties and whipped cream and a long weekend with family.

There is something comforting about the movie. About the familiar music from my childhood: rainbows and brains and hearts. About Dorothy's sweet disposition and innocence.

There is something simple. And I am missing simple.

I am sad that Thanksgiving is becoming overshadowed by Black Friday. Or rather, that Black Friday is a black hole that is expanding and expanding and expanding. Don't get me wrong, I've partaken in, and even enjoyed Black Friday. I will do it again this year because every year we are with my husband's family for Thanksgiving the women go out on Black Friday. I enjoy it more for the time spent with these special women than for the actual shopping, but we've done it several years and will go out again this year. It's part of our holiday tradition. I LOVE holiday tradition.

But for some reason, maybe this is just a natural part of getting older (and let's just say "wiser" for arguments sake), the whole consumerism and commercialism of the holiday season is getting to me. My shoulders feel heavy, I feel burdened by our society that puts so much importance on stuff and things.

I miss simple.

I want more simple.

I will go out on Black Friday. I will drink a warm coffee, wait in long lines, and enjoy making more memories of our tradition of braving the crowds. But I pledge that this year and every year, I will not go out shopping on Thanksgiving.

What is so important about this holiday of thanks is being with the people you are most thankful for. I want to be with those people. And I want the employees at Wal Mart (and other various stores) to be with their families too.

I may seem hypocritical, desiring simplicity and less consumerism yet taking part in Black Friday. I'd like to think of it more as one of my many complexities (even oxymorons) that make me human. Besides, like I said, I'm a sucker for tradition.

Here's to "more simple" for us all.

xoxo, christine

Nov 19, 2013

Light in the Darkness

It is amazing to me, that everything that has happened can happen yet I can still think in some ways I was lucky.

But it is true. I am lucky.

We had time to prepare. We knew we would lose our baby. We knew he would die. Although we were blinded by our twenty-week ultrasound and the amniocentesis finding, that knowledge gave us time to prepare. And I'm not saying that knowing we would lose him made losing him any easier, I'm just saying that in that sense I feel lucky. Of course, preparing ourselves did nothing to dampen the grief.

And yet, we had a reason. We knew we would lose him.

We did not have his crib set up and ready. So we did not have to stare at an empty crib when he was gone.

We did not have tiny newborn clothes washed in Dreft and neatly folded. So we did not have little unworn onsies to pack away.

We did not have our bouncy chair out of storage or an infant car seat in our car. So we did not have a bouncy chair or car seat to shove under our stairs and out of sight.

We knew he would leave us, so we had nothing ready for him to stay with us.

I am lucky that for two precious months he was still with us, yet I knew he would be leaving. And as hard as it was not knowing when that time would come, I got to savor every tiny flutter, every kiss on the belly from my three-year-old, every raspberry from my five-year-old. I got to prepare myself and our family that we would not be bringing him home. That he would die.

The grief it is settling around me. It is pushing on me, sometimes quietly and other times still loud and hard. Sometimes I think I am finally floating, taking deep breaths of air, and out of nowhere I am pushed (or is it pulled?) back down, trying to gasp a quick breath before going under.

It is scary. It is hard. It is grief.

But I keep getting back up to the surface, fighting for a new breath. Seeing some light, feeling that light on my face, knowing that there will be more moments of going under the water, of darkness, but at that moment there is light.

There is light.

xoxo, christine

Nov 11, 2013

Not Ready

I have been sitting here in front of a blank page for...I don't know (a half hour? an hour?), trying to think of something to write. Trying to find that little spark of thought, of creativity. That little spark that has been hiding from me lately, dancing around my mind while I fumble and pant and try to catch it. I've got nothing.

I journal regularly right now, but writing for an audience I just feel stuck or empty. My words and thoughts don't feel elegant and flowy, they feel chopped and random, if they come out at all. Do I write about my day? What I've been doing with the girls? Do I write a funny anecdote? Do I have a funny anecdote?

In some ways I feel like I must not be noticing my life as much if I can't find things to write about. Am I just going through the motions completely unaware of what's really going on? But then, I don't know that's true because in other ways I feel like I am living a LOT more consciously lately, over-aware of how I'm interacting with people, especially my children.

On Sunday we colored together. Usually when they're drawing or cutting or playdoughing and they want me around I just sit at the table and watch, but Sunday afternoon I took a page from a Christmas coloring book, surrounded myself with crayons and starting coloring. I think it took the girls by surprise (myself too). Mommy, you're coloring!? Hope asked. She immediately found a page from the same Christmas book and settled in next to me, and then Paige was not far behind her. We mulled over colors, compared the characters on our pages (Hope had a reindeer, I had a reindeer and elves, and Paige had the jackpot with a reindeer, elves, and Santa), and filled those pages until our fingers were stiff. It was one of my favorite parts of the weekend.

I love the holiday season. I love the twinkly lights, the carrying on and tweaking of traditions, the family chaos, the holiday after holiday, the magic of snow. I love it. I love it. I love it. But this year I am approaching it with a little less excitement and a lot more dread.

Last week after we marked Calvin's due date, I realized that I am not ready for the holidays. And not because it's-coming-so-fast and let's-get-to-Thanksgiving-before-we-think-about-Christmas. No, I am not ready for this holiday season because I am not ready to celebrate these big moments minus one. I don't want it to be Thanksgiving Without Calvin and Christmas Without Calvin.

I don't know how it is that I can be dreading the next couple of months while eagerly anticipating the radio station playing Christmas music. I'm not ready for all the holiday cheer, and yet I can't help but be excited for this time of year. I want it to be a joyful time. I want it to be happy and fun and full of magic. And it will. I know it will. But it also won't. And I guess I'm just not ready for that, mostly because I don't know what "that" will look like.

And now my previously blank page has words and my slightly-less fuzzy brain is again fuzzy. (Which I'm pretty sure means it's time for bed.)

xoxo, christine

Nov 4, 2013

My Love Will Find You

Dear Calvin,

Today was your due date. I wish you were here. I wish I could hug you and kiss you and snuggle you again. You and your siblings are the best things that ever happened to me, that I have been a part of. You make my life richer, more complete.

I hope that you know how much I love you. How much I miss you. How sorry I am for not being able to keep you here with me. I hope that you know I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Having you and losing you has made me more of myself. (Perhaps that sounds convoluted or crazy, but I think it's true.)

Your life has already taught me so much. It gives me more appreciation for what I have, and better perspective on what's important. Your strength inspires me.

My dear, sweet baby boy, I miss you. I miss you terribly. But I hope that you know, I hope that you feel, wherever you are, my love will find you.

xoxo, Mommy

Nov 2, 2013

It Could Have Been Halloween

Back when I was in the first half of my pregnancy (you know, before we knew that something was wrong), I told people my due date was Halloween. According to some online due date calculator October 31st was supposed to be my due date, and I had a little fun telling people that come late October we would have a little witch or a little devil.

Even after my first visit with the doctor, when she put our baby due November 4th, I continued to tell people the 31st because, well, it didn't really seem to matter. I knew the baby would be coming at some point around that time, and since babies rarely make an appearance on that expected date I didn't really think it was a big deal.

After Calvin's diagnosis, all talk of a due date disappeared. It would be a miracle for him to make it to forty-weeks. Heck, it was a miracle that he was still alive at that twenty-week ultrasound that changed everything. I forgot that I had been telling people we were expecting him on Halloween because our world was flipped upside down with devastation, fear, and knowing we could lose him any day.

On Thursday, Halloween, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from a friend who remembered what I had told her. I also had a message from another friend. I can not tell you how touched I was to be thought of. How the realization of their mindfulness, the fact that they chose to remember and acknowledge my son, brought tears to my eyes. Even though since losing Calvin I've been thinking of his due date as November 4th, this whole week (basically since Halloween) will be hard. So it is amazing to have people who surround me with so much love.

Before dressing the girls for the evening, I briefly let my mind dream of the "what ifs" and wondered if we might've had a newborn to tote around trick-or-treating, or if I might've been in the hospital and missed the girls' candy collecting entirely.

But it doesn't do any good to think of the "might have beens" and the "what ifs". Our reality is that he was never meant to live to see his due date, so I can't really imagine what it "should've" been because I guess the way that it is, is the way it is supposed to be. It hurts. And I'm not okay with it. But this is what my life is. Mother to a dead son.

On Monday we will start a ritual. Something to acknowledge Calvin's life and his infinite presence in our lives. Maybe light a candle, look at a few of the photos with the girls, take down his things from the hospital and touch them.

And then... I don't know what. Then I will continue to do the best that I can and take one day at a time.

xoxo, christine