Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend away

Our friends let us use their timeshare in Sunriver this weekend. I love Sunriver. Every time I visit I think about how fun it would be to live there. It is hard to describe Sunriver. Simply put, it is a very nice resort with lots of bike paths (33 miles or so) and a cute little village. The place we were staying at (I guess you would call it a resort within the resort) provided two bicycles with each room so we biked everywhere. Most of the trails are flat, but on Sunday after breakfast we found a few hills. Ever tried to make it up a hill on a one speed bike? I failed.

It was a good weekend. I think I needed to get away. It was hard too though. There were a lot of families at the resort so there were many babies and pregnant women. I thought we would do nothing all weekend, but we didn't pay for our lodging so we spent money on food and activities.

We went on a short hike to a waterfall.

We visited the Lava Cast Forest, 10 miles off the main road. We were the only ones out there and it was very strange. From now on when I hear the word Apocalypse I am going to think of that place full of lava rock and strange twisty trees. I kind-of felt like I was in a Tim Burton movie.

Bend has a fabulous Ride the River program during the summer so we drove up there for a bit of fun. We rented tubes and floated down the river from park to park. At the last park there is a city bus with a trailer attached waiting to take you and your tubes back to the first park. It was $10.00 for each tube and $1.00 for a bus ride, or $3.00 for an all day bus pass. We only went once because I got cold and lost my sunglasses. The first bit was fun, but I was pouting like a five-year-old by the time we reached the end. Still though, it is an excellent idea, and if we lived in Bend I would be floating on the river most days. You don't even need a fancy tube. There were lots of people on air mattresses.

And then there was the biking:

After dinner on Saturday night we biked 3+ miles from our room. And then Jonathan's chain broke and we had to walk/coast the whole way home.

It was a good weekend away, but I did cry on Saturday night. I think I exhausted myself. I ate a ton of food, exercised a lot, and absolutely wore myself out.

On the way home we stopped at the dog park on the south end of town to pick Isabel up. Her wonderful minders took her to the park yesterday and today. She was one tired, dirty, happy doggy. So nice to come home to that sweet face.

And now my favorite picture from the trip:

I am breathing the mountain air and smiling a genuine smile. In the close up shots of me from this weekend you can see (or at least I can) the sadness in my eyes. In this shot I look rather put together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A surprise

I didn't expect this to come today.

That last post was a whine-fest. I just reread it and my word ... sorry, everyone. I took a nap and I am feeling much better, if a little warm.

I will take more pictures when I have this placed in Charlotte's corner of the garden. Thank you to Michael of Let's Rock for spending so much time on this. Thank you for finding the perfect rock, making it into more of a heart shape, and sending me mock-up after mock-up until I was happy with the final product.

Some worry

I'm beginning to think I shouldn't interact with the world at all. I snapped at a poor kid who offered me free lemonade outside the library this morning. I have no reason for the snapping. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I wanted to go in, find a few books, and go home. The kid had the audacity to ask if I would like a free sample so I snapped at him.

Yesterday was hard. I have no idea why my birthday knocked me sideways, but it did. I've cried more in the past three days than I have in weeks. I'm sensitive, I'm emotional, I'm easily hurt, and yet I'm not very honest about my emotions. I am honest here, but out in the world, not so much. I'm not very good at telling people this bothers me, or that is a trigger so can we do something else, please? Instead I make myself do uncomfortable things and then I go home and fall apart. I think people expect me to be put together so I act as if I am, but it's only been twelve weeks (almost) so just how put together can I be?

I received so many cards and gifts on my birthday, more than I have in years, and I'm thankful for everyone who acknowledged that this birthday was something to get through as opposed to a celebration. I read others blogs and I know there are worries about babies being forgotten. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who let me speak her name, who bring her up, who ask me how I am. But I wonder how much longer things will continue in this vein. If I keep pretending I'm fine, will people assume I am, and stop asking about her? Is there a balance? Is there a way to carry her everywhere without alienating people?

I guess this is my backwards way of saying thank you to everyone who has put up with me the past twelve weeks. I know I'm not good company, I will work on being more honest in the future, but if I am honest will you still be there for me? And if it gets to be too much, if the whining and sadness become overwhelming, will you tell me? I'm flailing around in the deep end here, but my head is above water most days. (Speaking of flailing around in the deep end, week three of Aquafit was yesterday. Just when I was feeling confident about my water aerobics ability the instructor switched things up and I spent most of the class looking the fool).

I'm doing my best here, but really I'm as lost as you are.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Ring of Endless Light

I'm having a hard week. The tears are close to the surface and I cry often, usually with no provocation or warning. This week I read A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle and cried through most of it. It is a beautiful book about a fifteen-year-old girl, Vicky, who learns about death, in all its forms, in one short summer. There are so many passages I want to share. I can't remember the last time I sat hunched over a book, pencil in hand, and tears streaming down my face. High school probably; tears were close to the surface then too.

I don't know how to lead into this passage. The words speak for themselves. I will say when the subject of a pregnant dolphin was introduced I rolled my eyes, and I may have even snorted. A Ring of Endless Light is all about death so now we have to have a birth right smack in the middle to affirm life. Great. But then I read a little further and ... the dolphin baby dies from congenital heart failure.

"Ynid was swimming in slow circles, carrying a tiny motionless dolphin on her back. The two midwives swam beside her, pressing close against her as the two dolphins had swum with Adam.
I did not need to be told that Ynid's baby was dead. Or that Ynid, swimming with the perfect little dead body on her back, was hoping against hope that the stilled heart would start to beat again.
And then she must have had a stab of hopelessness, the realization that her baby was dead, because suddenly she streaked ahead of the two midwives and began beating her body wildly against the side of the tank.
'No, Ynid!' It was Jeb who, with a great cry, plunged into the water and swam to the distraught dolphin, trying to put his arms about her without dislodging the dead baby, trying to keep her from beating herself against the side of the pen, in complete disregard of his own safety, putting himself between Ynid and the side of the pen. He was calling out to her and tears were streaming down his face.
And Ynid, perhaps because she would not hurt Jeb, stopped her wild beating. It seemed that Jeb was shedding for her the tears that she could not shed, a wild sobbing such as I had never heard from a grown man."

I read the above passage over and over, all the while thinking, that poor dolphin mama, that poor, poor mama.

And then a few pages later Adam reveals to Vicky that Jeb's wife and baby died in a car accident.

"In the end I think Ynid comforted Jeb as much as the other way round, and maybe that was the best thing he could give Ynid, his own pain."

More tears followed that passage. And then Adam and Vicky get into a discussion about unexpected death, and how hard it is, and I realized I was only halfway through the book and may not make it to the end because it was bringing up all of the thoughts and feelings I've had since Charlotte died. I've been searching for a book that would echo my feelings, but I never thought a young adult novel written in 1980 would be the one.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I want you to know


I made it through another day. Your grandmother, Sasa, took me shopping for my birthday. I bought a sweater that I won't need for a few months, and a water bottle. I love water bottles. I really didn't need another one, but it was glass with a red covering so it won't break and I loved it. Holding it in my hands I recalled something I always wanted to tell you: It's okay to buy something impractical on your birthday.

I was really looking forward to giving you advice. You probably would've hated it. There would've been eye rolling, and annoyed sighs from you, but I would still have provided advice, because that's what a parent does. But don't worry, I would've made time to listen too. I wanted to know your secrets, your dreams, your hopes, and wishes. I wanted you to love and be loved. I wanted you to find happiness, dance, paint, sing, write, learn, travel, fall in love, have your heart broken (this one hurts, but is necessary), and laugh on your wedding day. I wanted to cry with you when you were sad and dance with you when you were happy.

As soon as I found out you were a girl I started a list, in my mind, of things I wanted to share with you. Here are the pieces of advice I can recall tonight.

- Love Jesus.
- Love yourself.
- Do what makes you happy, even if it means hurting someone else. Better to be happy than live in misery, because you are afraid of making someone else unhappy. If you are unhappy, they will be too.
- Wear sunscreen every day - even in the winter
- Start applying moisturizer when you are 15. You'll thank me when you're 50.
- Don't rub your hair dry, it causes frizz. And since you are my daughter, your hair will be frizzy.
- It's okay to tell your hairdresser you think you may be pregnant before you've taken the test or told your husband. That's what hairdressers are there for. Well, that and an excellent dye job.
- Do not dye your hair at home. Ever.
- If a guy tells you "Some girls look better with their clothes on - I think you would look better with them off," walk away. No, run away, as fast as you can.
- Marry the man who sees you at your best, and your worst, and loves you anyway.
- Don't worry about your weight. If you can get your pants on, you're okay. If your pants are a little tight, go for a jog or a long walk.
- Don't buy a scale, it will cause worry and fretting, and much pondering about which size is 'right.'
- Your size is the perfect size.
- Respect yourself.
- If your clothes don't cover your breasts, or your hind end, they are not clothes.
- Wear the pants and shirts that fit, regardless of size.
- Enjoy food.
- College may not be right for you.
- But you have to finish high school.
- True friends will be there for you whenever you need them.
- Sometime in your life you will be lied to, betrayed, stabbed in the back, let down by someone you love, and your heart will be broken at least once. You will get through all of these moments and each one will lead to growth.
- Be comfortable with yourself.
- Ask questions.
- Read.
- Learn.
- Do something that scares you.
- You can always use me as an excuse if you want to get out of doing something.
- Don't let anyone tell you you are not good enough, or worthy of their love.
- Listen to your heart and your convictions.
- Shopping is therapy, but don't abuse it.
- Do not use credit cards. Always buy with cash.
- If something seems too good to be true, it is.
- Do not make rash decisions; those are the ones I regret.
- It's okay to have regrets.
- It's important to learn how to say, I'm sorry, I was wrong.
- If you love someone, tell them. Life is precious and sometimes too short.
- The first time you learn about death and realize it can happen to you will be life changing and terrifying. It's okay to be scared of death, but don't be afraid to live.
- You have to work to have a good marriage. It's okay to seek counsel if you and your husband get lost.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Be humble, or else life will humble you.
- It's okay to be scared of change, but sometimes it can be a good thing.
- Learn this country's history.
- Grow your own food.
- This last one is so lame but ... find your bliss.

You can forget all of the above advice, Charlotte, but you must remember this: I will love you when you disappoint me, I will love you when you make me proud, and I will love you each and every day from the moment I conceived you until the moment I die.

And I think, sweet girl, you have been sending advice my way as well. From you I have learned that someone you love with your whole heart can leave you long before you are ready to say good-bye. You've been telling me it is okay to fall to pieces when that happens, but it is not okay to stop living. It is so backwards, but I want to make you proud, Charlotte. I want you to look down from above and tell all your friends, My mama is still living. She is waking up every day with a heart full of sadness, but she is surviving. And then your sweet friends will nod their heads, point to their mamas, and say, Yes, look, they are all surviving. And we are, dear mamas, we are.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Soup making, integration, and birthdays

Last night we spent time with friends. We ate dinner and played games, which is how we spend many a night. We've been friends with this family for a long time, but we've never been to their house. We had a good time, stayed up late talking about life, getting older, how forty doesn't seem that far off now. Today the husband went to a friend's house to help him build a fence. I tagged along and made soup with the friend's wife. It was very domestic and homesteady. The men building, the women cooking. Honestly, I like life that way. Last night the women chatted and the men cooked. I really like life that way.

Nearly three months out I think I am beginning to understand what people mean when they say you never get over the loss, but you integrate it into your life. With every heart beat my soul cries I miss her, I miss her, I miss her, but I can now stand in a kitchen and cut potatoes for soup without hearing the words. The refrain is so constant, always present, it has become background music. The first six weeks I was paralyzed by the refrain, but I am learning how to walk again.

When Charlotte first died I grappled with what I would do in the future. How would I fill my days? This week I find myself standing guard over Thursday, because it is my only day I do not have something planned and I need that time. I need one day to sit on the couch, stay in yoga pants all day, and be alone. I need a day to watch episode after episode of Friends and turn off my brain.

Side note: I have never watched Friends before. It's unbelievable, but true. I've decided to watch all ten seasons and reevaluate my life when I am finished. In my world, that is a life goal.

Today is August 1st. The beginning of a new month. On the 4th I will be 27 years old and I cannot bring myself to care. It's just one more birthday without a baby in my arms. One year ago I threw away my birth control packet and thought, On my next birthday I will have a baby. And I do, but I don't.

I miss the 26 year old who requested cupcakes for her birthday and deemed the summer of 2009 "the last summer of freedom." I remember where I was on my 26th birthday and I have come so far, been through so much. What is a year, what is one more birthday, when you make the soul transforming journey from anticipatory joy to utter sorrow in one day?

Baby Loss Mamas

This is going to be a short one. Check out Nicole's idea over at The Avery Diaries - it's brilliant.


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