Friday, November 30, 2012

Part of our story

Earlier this week, Rachel at 6512 and growing, writing  about the premature birth of her son and how her awareness of prematurity has changed over the last eight years, said, "Now it feels like part of our story, but not the main plot."

I've been thinking about this line since, thinking about how Henry's story is part of my story, how it isn't the main plot anymore. I think the tough part is that his story doesn't go on, and I worry about that plot line fading out all together. I find again and again that I need to let go of the fear of him being lost to memory. I am reminded again and again that it is okay to let go, that he is remembered, that he is part my story.

One friend recently asked if we would have a Christmas tree this year. I met her after Henry died, while I was pregnant with Elizabeth, and two years ago, I told her that December is really hard for me, and she remembers this and asks me in different ways, how the month looks for me this year. This same friend dropped off a plant to put in Henry's garden for his birthday.

And my dear friend who knew Henry, who did more than she may know in helping me survive the hospital, just ended a message by saying she was thinking of me and Henry, as she always does come December. This friend has a picture of Henry on a shelf at her house, and when people ask her about it, she tells them he's a friend.

I am a cautious person. I reel out my line, loosen my grasp slowly. Will I have as much trouble letting go of my girls as they are ready more and more to go into the world?

I've been thinking a lot about Henry's story, my story, our story lately. I've been writing more lately (just not here), and I'm working with this story, but I'm not sure which story I'm telling. Is it the story of his life where roller coaster of his health are a major plot, the story that ends with me standing by a hospital door in the dark, arms empty, to go home to a quiet house? Is it the story of the journey that ending started? Is it the story of becoming this person I am now having reassembled my pieces (mostly) these near five years later? I don't know, but I'm going back into the darkness and the fear and the confusion, little by little, and finding it is not so deep below the surface sometimes, though the crust is stronger. I'm looking in these dark corners, as I always do, for the bits of light, the bits of love, the bits of Henry hidden in the shadows of oxygen tanks and ambulance rides, and codes.

It's almost December, the month when I celebrate all three of the lives I brought into this world. Two birthdays, one remembrance all packed tight and barreling into Christmas. I'm approaching December tentatively this year. I wonder if I'm just limping now out of memory, if perhaps I could step more surefootedly through the coming month. I'm just going to take little steps and see.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks, No Buts

Anne Lamott has a new book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Every time I see the title, I am brought back to a tiny windowless room with a bed and a nightstand and a phone, where I slept for several weeks while Henry was in the CICU. Each night, I'd pray my helps and my pleases, my hopes and my pleas, but first, I gave thanks. I didn't give thanks first to bolster my pleas or as an afterthought tacked on the front. I gave thanks because I was grateful, grateful for another day, for a step closer to coming off the ventilator, for eyes peeking open. I was grateful for friends who visited or sent notes, for meals people sent in through my parents. I was thankful when Brian was able to visit.

It always seems odd to me that I really learned what I know about gratitude at one of the worst times of my life, but there I was thankful. Asking for help, asking for a miracle, for strength and patience, but first thankful.

As much as I wanted, that gratitude stood on its own. It wasn't thanks but . . .  it was just thanks.

I'm not there now, though I'd like to get back. I'm working on letting go of anger and frustration and feeling put out over little, inconsequential things. I'm trying to give thanks with no buts attached.

I'm thankful right now for the warm fire in front of me, the comfy bed waiting upstairs for me, the two healthy sleeping children already cozy in their beds, the husband who will come home and slide into that bed with me sometime, hopefully soon. I'm thankful he has a job. I'm thankful he has a job with health insurance. I'm thankful for a family that I both love and like who I will see tomorrow.

For a moment at least, I'm just thankful.