Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We celebrated the solstice on Friday with a neighborhood party that included margaritas for big people and lots of lemonade for little people, fire, s'mores, and staying up late. Kathleen got to see a sunset which was on her list for the summer.

Since then, we've had a sleepover with cousins; hot, sticky, icky days; the last day of school; the preschool picnic; homemade popsicles; meltdowns over the color of the handle of homemade popsicles; potluck dinner with friends I may not have visited since last summer, though the've been here a couple of times; sign up for summer reading at the library; homemade ice cream; a visit from a dear friend and her lovely daughter, one of those miraculous visits where two kids who didn't know each other got along swimmingly.

I'm loving the ease of not worrying about waking up for school in the morning and the dread of getting ready for bed, because early or late, there is drama and up and down and "I can't sleep."

We're looking forward to:
the beach next week
seeing bats
a family vacation in August
getting a puppy
picking blueberries from the canoe
camping out
more sleepovers with cousins
raspberries and peaches
making salsa and pickles
running a 10K
reading and reading and reading
going to a zoo
eating ice cream
going to our swimming hole
paddling in the canoe or kayak
eating lots of meals outside
going swimming
watching the garden grow and change

It feels busy already, busy and hot and sticky and messy and good.

What are you doing this summer?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Where did that come from?

The Sunday before Henry's birthday, I thought I was doing so well. I sized up the baptismal font and the triptych of memories and thought, more layers, not so hard.


I should know that when I have thoughts like this it's time to be ready for something to hit. I thought it would be his birthday, which had its moments to breathe through but wasn't terrible. I thought I was good, through that, smooth sailing this year. And then today, I found my self sitting in church on the verge of tears for no particular reason. Later, alone in the car at a stoplight, I felt them well up again, but as I turned, grumbling at the truck in front of me going half the speed limit, I found myself sobbing in little gasps, no tear, just these dry, sudden intakes. Where did that come from? I don't know.

Maybe it was a delayed let down after his birthday.
Or the kids in the car next to me in the parking lot. I thought I recognized them from church. That family of the mom who looked ready to burst as I was harboring my new and still secret pregnancy in late 2006.
Or reading back over my own story over the past two nights.
Or telling the story of being recognized as Henry's mom three years ago (how much that meant to me)
Or seeing yesterday the photos of our local Down syndrome group's picnic, an event we took Henry to when he was just two weeks old. 
Maybe my plateau simply got to a critical point where I needed to crack again to heal.
I don't know. I don't know why I always want to know why, specifically, but I do.

Later as I was working on dinner, a cardinal in his glorious red, landed in Henry's tree and sat and sat and sat. Where did that come from? I don't know that either. It's not uncommon to have cardinals here, but I haven't seen one in this tree before. I watched him and breathed again. Coincidence that on this hard day, a little red bird came twice to my window? Maybe, but it felt like a sign—a wave or a smile from Henry.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Right Where I Am 2013: Five years, five months, fifteen days

Past years in this project, I was on the verge of Henry's birthday, which meant that no matter how good I had been doing, I was wound tight, waiting. This year, though, his birthday is just behind us. He would have been six. I'm almost five and a half months away from last holding him.

Like last year, he feels far away. Even when my girls talk about him, about how we love him, how they wish he could be here, and they do talk about him often, he feels far away. That he was here, sometimes feels like a dream. Immediately after he died, it all felt unreal, that he had died, but also that he had lived, and the latter part of that bothered me to no end. If he was not real to me, what about the rest of the world who had not felt him kicking inside, had not rested feeling their body calming with his as he slept on their chest, had not felt the flash of his smile. Now, it is a gentler distance mostly.

It is still surreal to me if I let myself think about it. I had a baby boy and he is not here.

But day by day, I get my big girl off to school and hug her when we both get home for lunch. I snuggle in the morning with my little girl until I can convince her to come make coffee with me. I tell stories and sing songs at bedtime. I notice how big they are getting, and only rarely do I compare to where Henry might be.

Right now, I notice the tree we bought as a gift for his first birthday is heavily laden with peaches. Right now, the red-flowered hawthorne we planted on his first birthday, a gift from my husband's cousins, is starting to fade, but was absolutely brilliant this year. Right now the garden that I tend for him is full of color, early, purple phlox that is almost luminescent at dusk, tiny blue starry flowers that I can't name, brilliant red verbena and the red gerbera daisy I planted this year on his birthday, a hint of pink covered in ants that makes me think of Mary Oliver where my peonies are about to bloom for the first time.

Right now, I'm exhausted but feeling strong. Finally. I am tired, but not worn out. There is something left in me to give. I think in possibility again. I start projects like overhauling parts of my garden that haven't been touched in years, like writing something more than blog posts, and in that writing starting to delve back into memories and sometimes finding that things are closer to the surface than I realized, and sometimes realizing there are still little pockets I have not really explored since he died (though sometimes it seems I have explored every inch from every angle).

Right now I am grateful for the neighbor who knew me when Henry was born and knew Henry for sitting with me on Henry's birthday with a bottle of wine and the dinner I threw together. Right now I'm grateful for the neighbor who didn't know me when Henry was born and never knew him for asking how I was doing in the days before his birthday (not the first time she has given me that space to talk about him).

Right now I'm listening to the summer night sounds coming through the window and the silence from upstairs where my girls finally fell asleep. Right now I'm relieved that I can once again enjoy the quiet.

Right now, I'm grateful to Angie for hosting Right Where I Am again. Because five years and some plus, I still need to pause and reflect.

Right where I was 2012
Right where I was 2011