Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

It's Father's Day and in trying to make a card for Brian from Kathleen, I keep thinking about making handprints on the card. It's a classic image, a way to capture little hands to remember how little they once were, but I can't do it. Every time I think of making handprints, the memory rushes in of the social workers sitting with us, helping us make images of Henry's hands and feet after he died. Purple ink, nice paper. They sit in a fancy purple box that I've tucked away somewhere. So no handprints.

Instead I put a picture of her on the front, and when she gets up from her nap, I'll let her scribble a bit on the inside of the card. No memories there, for of course Henry never scribbled.

Brian worked last night and will sleep today, but maybe tomorrow, we'll have a family day—take Kathleen out in the canoe or take a walk at the local Audobon Society preserve, or just hang out together and dig a bit in the garden. Kathleen's had a lot of mommy time lately. Today is Father's Day, but I think tomorrow will be a daddy day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day

Here in the U.S. it's Flag Day, a minor little holiday that most people haven't heard of that holds a special place in my heart because it also happens to be my birthday. When people ask when my birthday is, I tell them June 14, Flag Day. They all remember Flag Day, though they never really remember when that is.

So here I am, marking another year. It was an uneventful day. I didn't take the day off from work like I usually do, though I only had to put in about two hours. I didn't go out to eat or take a hike or go canoeing. Mostly I waited at my house for the repairman to come fix my oven which has been on the fritz for months. He called 15 minutes before the end of the four-hour window to say he was running late but would be there just after four. And I was livid, because I have better things to do on any day and especially my birthday. I could have gone out to lunch or gotten a free sundae at Herrell's. But he fixed the oven, and as I watched the temperature climb as it preheated to 350 in a mere 12 minutes (instead of the 45 minutes to never it had been doing) I was amazed and my mood reversed. It seemed like a pretty good birthday present to have a working oven, even if I had to write a largish check for it.

So today I waited and was annoyed and I thought about where I am and who I am as I hit 38. I do this on my birthday, it's kind of a check-in, follow-up to the self-analysis I do at New Years. I recently commented on another blog that I'm learning to know and mostly like the person I am since Henry died. But I'm not sure that's true. More and more I feel like the little things, the ones that really shouldn't bother me because I have perspective, do bother me. I am often irritated or angry at Brian. Sometimes I feel like we are back at the beginning, right after Henry died, when we couldn't communicate. We both literally could not find the right words, even when they were simple like milk or shirt or book. And we couldn't seem to comprehend what the other was saying, even when the words were there. I thought we moved past that, but some days it feels like we're still there, or maybe I'm just there floundering for my words and feeling misunderstood. But I don't like the anger the seems ever ready to bubble up. I thought always thought anger was the smallest part of grief for me, but maybe that's where I'm at in the process now. In any case, I don't like it, don't like this part of me. So this, this is what I'd like to change as I move into a new year of me.

Today my anger dissipated with a small, new part for my oven. If only it were all that simple.

Tomorrow, I'll eat a very decadent chocolate cake (my recipe made by somebody else with her equally decadent frosting), and some night when Brian isn't working, we'll get a babysitter and go out for a nice dinner together (already dreaming about what I might eat), and it will begin to feel like a proper birthday. And I will breathe and smile and try to be a less angry person.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Henry would be three.

This fact, this three-ness is hitting me in a way two and one didn't. Until now, I simply noticed he was gone. I thought of him as he was when I knew him last, not as he would have been if he had stayed.

I have always been surrounded by babies Henry’s age. There seemed to be a big crop of babies in spring 2007 among people I knew. I see many of these babies often, and while they sometimes reminded me that Henry should be there with them, I didn’t necessarily think, “Oh, look what Henry would be doing now.” I had expected him to be a bit behind in many milestones, even before his long hospitalization. During his short life, I didn’t compare him to others. After he died, I didn’t expect him to have been doing what his peers were doing.

And then, this spring, I saw pictures and heard stories of two kids from the baby group I took him too. I saw a little girl at an egg hunt. I heard about a little boy’s potty training and preschool open house—and suddenly I saw three.

Maybe it is the increasing distance from Henry that allows me to see not just who he was, but who he might have been.

Maybe it is watching Kathleen at 18 months—talking, walking, climbing, pushing, eating, smiling, laughing—and seeing what I missed with Henry that makes what he didn’t do, won’t ever do clearer to me know.

I don’t know. I just know that he would be three and that means something very different to me than he would be two did and he would be one did. He wouldn’t be a baby. He’d be a little boy.

He would be three.