Saturday, March 20, 2010


For the first day of spring,
for my boy who never knew March

Three six-packs of pansies:
blue because he's my boy
yellow because he's my sunshine
red because it's his color. 

Three blue, three yellow, three red
planted for him at his grave, 
where I'll see them when I visit
or when I just drive by.

Three blue, three yellow, three red
planted for me by the back door,
where I'll see them when I come in
or go out every day. 

Two bright spots of pansies, 
linked in my mind. 

Friday, March 19, 2010


The CD player in Kathleen's room wasn't working right. While I was fiddling with it, I noticed the tape across the top, white tape borrowed from the nurse's supplies, name scrawled in blue magic marker: Henry Barry. The tape has been there since part way through Henry's hospital stay when I had the CD player that I got as a shower gift brought to me there. Mostly I don't notice the tape anymore, but when I do, I can't seem to peel it off.

After I saw it, I started seeing the other vestiges of Henry in our house, not the photos and mementos I've purposefully placed, but the things that are just there, a reminder that he was once here.

There's the file on the desktop of my computer: heartquotes. I never sent a birth announcement for Henry. Things were so crazy after he was born I couldn't pull one together. Then, when I felt like I could do it, we were so close to his surgery, I thought I'd send a post-surgery update (and have a no-oxygen picture!). Because Henry was my heart boy, I wanted a heart quote for the card. I started collecting them in this file. None of them were ever right, yet I have trouble trashing the file.

A "Congratulations" sign a neighbor stuck in a pie is now stuck in a plant. A bow with a ribbon printed with blue teddies found a home in another plant.

A tube of ointment for an eye infection still sits in the bathroom drawer.

These things will probably continue to sit where they are, until somebody else throws them away, because even though they aren't the things I choose to keep of Henry, they still are off him, of his time with us, little traces showing he was here, and I can't seem to get rid of them.

Monday, March 15, 2010


My last two posts are really about stress, what it's done to me physically, how I tried to respond the other day by stepping back, but I am not doing such a good job of it. I can't seem to find balance between having focused time with Kathleen and getting my work done and getting some semblance of almost enough sleep. I'm trying to run and walk and meditate and breathe. I said to my sister tonight that it bothered me, that after all I've been through, that I am this stressed about the day to day, about making dinner with Kathleen screaming at my feet, about trying to find enough hours in the day to get my work done. None of it is life or death. I should be able to handle it.

"You know this isn't separate from the last couple of years," she said.

And she's right. It's just not as obvious now that I'm more than two years out. It's not as obvious as I feel more and more distance and as I do this dance of holding tight and letting go. It's not as obvious as home is very present and the CICU fades slowly into memory. It's not as obvious as I focus on a healthy living child, but it's all still there. And December, and it's aftermath in January, showed me that I'm not as far removed from grief or safe from its clutches as I'd like to think I am.

In the earliest days of my grief I wanted a fast-forward button to get myself to a point where things were, what better? bearable? liveable? But now, I want a pause button. I want to stop the world that spins around me so I can put aside the work projects for a day or a week or a month. I want the bills to stop pouring in so I can take a nap. I want to wake up in the morning and be able to focus on my family and maybe take a little time for me.

But there's no pause button, so I keep trudging along, sneaking time with my girl, doing my best to piece in the work that needs to be done, and trying to breathe

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What I should have done

I should have spent the evening editing most of a chapter for a computer certification book or written grammar exercises for an online course, but instead I reread old blog posts. I watched my unfolding over the last year and a quarter, the ways I have changed, the ways I have not, the themes that have ebbed and those that continue to resurface, the pieces of Henry I've reclaimed, the things I've tried to let go of.

Sometimes what you should do isn't what you need to do.

I meant to do some work earlier today, but instead I sat on the floor read book after book, or rather part of a book after part of a book, and then that part over again and again. . . . I watched Kathleen play with her pop up toy. (You press a button or turn a knob or slide a lever and and animal pops up. Then you slam shut the top to hide the animal again.) She didn't want me to open any of them, so I sat and watched her press the big green button, the only one she can do, point with delight at panda, then close him up so she could make him pop up again and again and again . . . I lay down on the floor and she towered over me and then leaned her round little face in close to mine, giggling, putting her cheek against mine, again and again and again.

And despite the chapters and lessons piling up on my desk, all this was exactly what I should have done and what I needed to do today.

And now, I should go to bed, get some rest, get ready to spend some time tomorrow with the work that waited and the girl who will deserve my attention again and again and again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A new fear

I spent 5 hours in the ER today. I'm fine, it seems, but a new fear was awakened in me. What if something happens to me?

As I sat in my chair before we left, feeling a little lightheaded and just not quite right with my left arm tingling like crazy and my face starting to tingle, I watched Kathleen and thought about not seeing her grow up, about not being there for her, about what I would miss, but about her not having me. Somehow in the web of worries I had before she was born and those panicked moments when you think maybe the baby is just too still—and even as I watched my sister-in-law dying and having to say goodbye to her kids— it never occurred to me that something might happen to me. 

I hugged that girl extra tight when we picked her up from my friend's house, and even though I hustled her through dinner and a bath and her bedtime routine, I snuggled her extra before tucking her into bed. I want to see my baby girl grow up. It sounds so simple, doesn't it?

Monday, March 8, 2010

For me

I read earlier this week a blog post about needing to mother yourself as a mother, about doing something for yourself, and my thoughts diverged in two very separate forks.

There was the memory of the sting of doing something, anything, for myself after Henry died. I wasn't supposed to have time for yoga. I was supposed to be pushing a stroller, not taking long walks by myself. I was supposed to be comforting a crying babe in the middle of the night, not staying up to read blogs of other mamas like me—and sleeping in (until 7, 10, noon) wasn't supposed to be an option. And yet I did all those things. And each thing I did for me was a little slap or reminder that my baby was gone. 

But now, with a toddler toddling about and getting teeth and loving being read to and being sure she doesn't want a nap, even though I know she needs a nap, there are many things I'd like to do for me that are hard to do. Like go to yoga or take a run or take a nap. 

The other day, I decided I was going to take a run anyway. It was a gorgeous day and I really needed it. I was having a pretty good run, too, despite the drag of the jog stroller. And then there was a car veering toward us. It was not a particularly close call. I slowed down, pushed the stroller off the road, and was more annoyed that I lost momentum going up a hill than anything. As I walked up the hill, I thought how nice sidewalks would be or a way to get to the bike path without getting in my car or the opportunity to go for a run without the jog stroller. But that last one caught me up. I had to add—with a baby to come home to. As much as I sometimes crave a little me time, I still remember how bitter that me time is when gotten in wrong way. 

But I do need to take care of me. So this week, I ran twice, I bought daffodils and put them all over the house, and I got myself some good dark chocolate that I enjoy as my nighttime treat. And I keep dreaming of a massage and considering who could babysit so I could get one. 

What have you done for yourself lately?