Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Right Things to Say

I was surprised, pleasantly, by how many people called or emailed or sent me a note on Henry's birthday. In addition to all of your lovely comments on Henry's birthday, here are some of the things I heard:

I am thinking of you and holding you close in my heart.
I'm thinking about Henry today.
I hope the day is gentle on you.
Your dear sweet Henry lives on in all our hearts!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Would Be, Should Be

My boy, my Henry would be, should be two today.
I would be, should be making a cake with two candles,
would be, should be wiping frosting and ice cream off chubby cheeks,
would be, should be following little toddling legs around.
I would be, should be remembering the day he was born and marveling at how big he has gotten.

But he is gone.
And I will be visiting the cemetery to plant a batch of johnny jump-ups,
will be digging around in his garden, in the rain,
will be planting red flowers,
will be holding and loving his little sister and telling her of her angel brother.
I am remembering the day he was born and and wishing he were here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Late May

We are sneaking up on Henry's birthday. Just two more days and my boy would be two. Last night at a regular potluck dinner with friends, we celebrated the birthday of one of the babies from the spring/early summer 2007 crop, the ones whose mamas I posed with for big belly photos, the ones Henry was supposed to grow up with.

There were three of those babies there last night, one born in March, one just days before Henry, and one two weeks later in June. For months after Henry died I couldn't look at these babies, or I could only give them sidling glances. Now I can watch, I can smile, I can interact. The sadness is not overwhelming during these interactions, but more of a wearying, lingering thing, thinking of Henry and what he should be doing right now.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Way My Mind Works

I saw the title of the latest post of one of the blogs I read:
In the ground.

I immediately thought of a burial. A tiny coffin. A babylost mama and daddy.

But this particular blog was one of the few non-babylost blogs I read and it was about planting, which in another world is where my mind would have gone this time of year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For Magie and Her Mommy

I've been thinking of Magie today.

I knew Magie through the glass, because she was Henry's next door neighbor for much of his stay in the CICU. I knew her mom from the hospital hallways. We'd wave good morning and peek at each other's babies through the adjoining doorway.

I remember watching Magie's activity during her better days,
the pink, fluffy sign her mommy made lovingly for her hospital crib,
glimpses of her cute face from the window.

I know that she loved the Disney cartoons,
that her mommy was excited to watch the parade with her on Thanksgiving,
that pink was her color.

I think of her when I see a pink sky at sunset
or the fluffy pink-tinged clouds at dawn.

I have a special place in my heart for Magie in part because she was part of Henry's story, and in part because there were so many parallels between their stories.

She was born 15 days before Henry. Today is her second birthday, so I'm thinking of her. And I'm thinking of her mommy, who started on this babylost journey just 5 days before I started on mine.

Happy Birthday, Magie.
Love and peace, Magie's mommy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day

In the morning, I brought lilacs to my baby boy's grave, along with the balloon from the walk on Saturday.

In the afternoon, I lay on the floor and played with my baby girl and she laughed and laughed.

Love, tears, love, laughter.
This is how it is.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Walk to Remember

Today was the Empty Arms walk. Kathleen and I were there at Look Park, with a balloon with Henry's name written on it tied to her stroller.

In addressing the group, Carol said that when Charlotte died, she was afraid that nobody would remember her daughter, yet so many people now know her as Charlotte's mama. I know the desire to have your baby remembered. I am "lucky" in that Henry lived for six and half months. Many people got to meet him, perhaps briefly, perhaps while he was on the paralytic, but they met him. I remember saying over and over at the funeral as people came in, "I'm so glad you got to meet him." Each person who met him, even those who only read his story, keep a tiny piece of him alive.

So I carry pieces of the babies I've "met" in person or online through their mamas: Charlotte, Magie, Birdie, Emma, Hope, Tikva, Callum, Liam, Oliver, Eliana, Jordan, Sean, Isabella, Teddy, Caitlin, Keely, Ezra, Sage, Grace, Theo, Christian, Justin, George, Sam, Thomas, Nicholas, Andrew, Gwen, Gabriel . . . so many and yet I know there are more, not just more babies, but babies I know.

I'm so sorry they aren't here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In Bloom

Last year, for Henry's birthday, we planted a peach tree.

I had decided, when I thought Henry would actually see his first birthday, that that's what Brian and I would give him as a birthday present. He didn't need toys or clothes, and the tree would grow and hopefully bear fruit that we could all enjoy. We already had one peach tree, one that had been given to us as a wedding present, and I thought we'd start a little family orchard.

After Henry died, I decided I'd still plant his tree. It was something I could do for his birthday, something we'd have for him.

Maybe it will bear fruit.

Maybe the squirrels won't
plunder it.

Maybe Brian and I will taste sweetness from a tree planted in bitterness.

I noticed the other day that Henry's peach tree is in bloom. How beautiful and bright and hopeful on this gray, rainy day.

Later, the sky remains gloomy gray, but somewhere the sun keeps peeping out, so it is bright off and on. And as I sat on the porch with Kathleen, a cardinal flew onto my neighbor's porch, sat for us briefly and then flew away. My Henry smile for the day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Out of Nowhere

My last post sounds so past tense, as if this grief is, at least mostly, behind me. I suppose that was how I was feeling as I wrote it, for it has changed and I had had a string of good days, but those knock out days I mentioned? Today was one, and it has left me weary.

I don't even know what got me going today. All I know is I was driving and next thing I knew I was crying.

Maybe it was my mom's call to see if I was planning anything for Henry's birthday this year.
Or passing the cemetery—again—without stopping.
Or the missing pansies I had planted at the head of his grave that Brian reported had been torn up.
Or that we just changed the calendar to May and Henry's picture, my all-time favorite picture of him, is there.
Or that we were headed to a birthday party for his cousins—
And that I should be planning a birthday party too, one with two candles on the cake.
So I cried off and on all the way there. At the party, somebody pointed out the one-year old running back and forth across the kitchen, his dad following him. "Watch that . . . that's what you'll be doing next year!" And most likely I will be, though there's no guarantees. But more importantly I already should be.
All last year, I relived and processed what I had been through with Henry. I saw it as a necessary part of my healing. I walked through all the time I had with him again, until almost the very end. The bitter end came during Kathleen's birth and the days immediately following it. So I turned forward instead of back. I looked at life, instead of death.

But tonight for some reason, I was drawn back to Henry's last days, to the heavy, breathless feeling I had as they got basic info from me at the ER, to images of them trying unsuccessfully to get an IV into him and finally pulling out what looked like a drill to gain access in his leg. Seriously, I thought I had seen it all with him, and then they drilled into his leg.

And then I was in his room in the PICU. The machines started beeping. I had been around beeping for months. I knew when an IV pump was almost done from one that was done. I knew the difference between a feeding pump that was done and one that wasn't working right. I could tell when a sensor just wasn't pick up properly or when Henry's movement caused an alarm to go off. I knew when to worry. But this was a different hospital with different equipment and I didn't know the sounds. All I knew was that I didn't like the sound of it. I walked calmly to the desk and said that I didn't know the beeps but was Henry okay. And the doctor looked up. And then she moved very quickly. I didn't go to him right away. I stood back, out of the way to give room for doctors and nurses to work. I stood against the wall and I started to sing to him, quietly sending forth the thread of connection between him and me. My mother said, "I can't hear you. I don't know what you are saying." I shooed her away, taking only half a breath to mutter that I was singing to Henry, afraid to let that connection slip.

They made room for me at the bed, and I watched them pump him full of drugs and give him chest compressions, watching the monitors to see how it was working. I sang through it all, but I knew. So I waited. Waited for somebody to say, "Time of death . . ." but they never did.

I watched my baby die. I held his foot and sang to him of all the people who love him while he left. I told him it was okay to go.

I still have moments of disbelief. This is me. This is my life. This is my baby boy who died.
My grief is still very much present tense, despite what my last post suggests. It is very present and very forceful today. It blindsided me and left me with a familiar dull, weary feeling. So I'll go up now and hug Henry's yellow blanket and try to sleep, as I have so many nights. And in the morning I'll wake up and still miss him, but I'll smile for my baby girl even if my eyes are sad. And we'll go on.