I still remember the day I took the second pregnancy test
It was the day after my 40th birthday and the test the day before my 40th birthday was negative.
And suddenly the line appeared and the thought of you became a reality.
I was a little overwhelmed, as your sister was only 18 months old and I was still breastfeeding her.
Let’s also face it that I was old, a geriatric mother, an advanced maternal age mama who had been too busy chasing educational dreams (or were they nightmares?) to have children earlier.
Shortly after I learned of your existence I had a dream about you, that you were a little boy. I bought a few little boy things and tried to imagine having a boy after having only a girl. What would I do with a boy? All I had was a family name to give a boy.
Finally, at week 20 I learned you were indeed a girl and I could breathe a little easier. Phew, I knew what to do with a little girl. I was horribly sick with morning sickness with you and I swear to God if men were able to conceive and feel like that like they were having the worst hangover of their life, day after day, week after week, like some long drawn out real life Groundhogs Day movie, we would have developed a safe effective medicine that really works for this issue long, long ago.
That being said, I loved dreaming of you, I worried if you would be as cute as your sister, and that of course turned out not to be a problem. I worried when we hit the deer in the road at 5 in the morning on my way to work, but you were safe and snug in utero.
When you finally decided to make your debut, with me going into labor on your grandmother’s birthday, but you not arriving until the next morning, I was surprised at how squishy you looked. I am sure I swore through some of the pain of delivering you, and I remember trying to roar like a lion through contractions and that roar cam out as more of a mew. Regardless, after I caught you, I brought you up to my chest and I said, “I love you baby”.
Before we knew it you went from having to be held in mommy’s left arm all day to scooting around on the floor on your butt, because you refused to crawl. We called you scooter for a few months there, but you quickly outgrew that nickname when you stopped scooting and started walking, chasing after your big sister.
I watch you grow and I am amazed at how smart, funny, witty, and talented you are. It may be hard to be the little sister sometimes, to watch your older sister do things you can’t yet do, and to feel how unfair it is that she is simply older and gets to do other things. But make no mistake, you have your own talents and skills.
When I see you run, I know you have “it”. You remind me of my brother, who was quite the runner, with a grace and ease when you run that is something to behold. You may chose to be a runner or something else, and I don’t really care, all I really want is for your to be happy and healthy, but you probably have that natural ability that could help lift you above the others should you train hard and go that route.
You also have your own musical talents and remember that you and your sister started piano lessons at the same time; therefore you will always have two more years of piano experience than she has had. You started playing when you were 4 I think and I thought it was already late to get you started since your daddy started playing when he was 3.
I hope you keep writing and creating. Drawing, coloring, cooking…there is so much for you to do in the world, so many ways to express yourself.
I still try and get used to the idea that you don’t want to walk or hike, at least that is what you always say, but once we get going, you always have fun, you always lead us along. I hope though that someday you will truly love the adventures of exploring in the outdoors, discovering the beauty all around, and love it such a way as to always be finding ways to connect to nature.
This may be the year that you beat me down the ski mountain. It will be bitter sweet for me, knowing you love to fly like the wind, and knowing I will have to watch you sail by me, someday even letting you go to fly on your own.
You are my baby, my special angel, my daughter number two.
I still remember the day I took the second pregnancy test
I love to watch her grow.
And to think she once was so tiny
Beating the beejus out of me with her tiny fists
and big feet when she was in utero.
Later, she would barf up all of the breast milk she had just eaten
onto my favorite tie dye shirt and she would eventually make
me hold her tiny hands while she practiced walking
And read book after book to her when she could finally walk and bring the books to me.
She used to chase after the dog and say, “Sit Lucy sit”, but it sounded like she was “shit Lucy shit” and while I did think to videotape that, I now can’t find it.
Somehow, she grew so fast, I don’t even remember
A single challenging stage with her
Except for maybe when her baby sister came home, and she had to learn to go to sleep by herself after story time.
And now she stands tall on her own
A sweet smile, a good friend, budding musician, creative and kind.
She may even be smarter than me.
She loves it all: science, math, writing, art, creating.
For now, this moment, I can claim that she is still mine, my precious baby.
Even as I feel her pulling her away
Inch by inch, she moves a little closer to her own path.
She won’t tell me who her crush is
Because she knows I will tease her
But in a good way, not a shitty way, I swear,
Yet, I don’t blame her, I wouldn’t tell me either.
She tolerates my swearing, and she lets me play pretend characters with
her and her little sister.
They seem to still like Charlotte, who is around 4 or 5 years old
Charlotte knows everything and she swears by saying the big F word
“Fudge and nuts!”.
What I wish for my daughter is that she finds what makes her happy
and she pursues it with her heart and soul, that she feels drawn and guided toward her dreams.
What I want for her is to be healthy and secure
To have a sense of ease in the world
And to feel heavenly grace when things get tough. For certainly they will.
I also want her to be empowered to say no when she wants or needs to
And to call out injustice when it happens to her or those around her.
She asked me “How mama, how will my generation solve the pollution and global warming problems?”
And I thought, well hell if I know, I am so sorry your generation is so in trouble and possibly even screwed over, life is going to be so different for you in the future.
But I said, “keep studying, keep doing your best now, care for others, and I know this is really awful, we have really messed things up for your generation”.
I don’t know how I will bare to be apart from her
when she finally spreads those beautiful angel wings and flies onto her new life in 6 or so years.
I do know that everyday I will be rooting for her, loving her, and admiring her gifts and talents.
Everyday I will be grateful that I was granted such a precious gift, far more than I deserve, my darling daughter.
Sometimes grief slips out
When I am least aware.
Like when the person on the radio says something so relatable,
Or the book my child is reading makes a relevant point,
And I feel it well up inside of me.
Throat constricting, tears brimming, nose running.
Usually I feel it and think why?
Why should I care anymore, you have been gone so long?
I should be over this….
Even as the tears slide down my face, and I pretend like I still don’t care.
It doesn’t matter that you were not kind
That you had not the ability to be thoughtful
That you were too broken
To be a caring person
That we were not close those last years.
Estrangement does not loosen the grip of grief
Though it can make it difficult
To break down and walk through the stoney cold wall
That was built up for protection.
But every now and then it happens
The proper words, the forgotten song,
The right set and setting…
And only then the grief leaks out, in micro amounts.
A few tears spilling down my cheeks
Silent, heart aching, never ending
A quiet reminder
That you are still missed.
Only then, grief spills out.
This is me, a baby crying in a crib
One night, all night…
It’s just a story, but somehow I remember
This is you, so relieved when it stops
I never cried out for you again.
This is me sitting in the dark space of my bedroom, after I called to see when you would be home
Counting minutes, 5:30, 5:31… 6:00 and you are not home
This is you, not knowing I was counting
Not knowing that 30 minutes of loneliness is just too many minutes.
This is you, going through great pain
And not knowing which direction to take
This is me, watching the family fall apart
And saying it was all okay with me
When the universe flung us away from each other, a family crumbling to pieces.
This is you, living a sort of new life
A new family, a new way of being in the world
This is me, coming home on weekends
Torn between an independent 15 year old’s life
And still wanting a family.
This is me, taking things too far
Dangerous behaviors in search of love
This is you, not answering my phone calls
Days, weeks without connecting
Not knowing if I remain in this world or somewhere else.
This is me, making myself sick, over and over again
Hopeless and anxious about the future
This is you, telling me to figure out
How hard can it be to take a bus somewhere and get help
For a deadly illness.
This is you coming back closer to me
Trying to be the person I needed in that moment
This is me struggling to balance it all
Teetering on the edge.
This is you, saying goodbye to me
Who knew these would be the last real words face-face
This is me, running and pulling up my roots
Looking for someway out of the mess of the moment.
This is me, trying to connect with you
Phone calls unreturned
This is you, disowning me for an error not of making
Both of us preferring to not do the work to bring us back together.
This is me during our last phone call
Where I tell you I am pregnant and I want you in our lives
This is you two weeks later, on a ventilator
When the hospital calls to say your story is ending
And in minutes you take your last breath.
This is us, our last moments together in a physical space
Your body is already cold and your spirit has gone
See, yes, this is you
Flying away from me again, up to the heavens where you belong.
When I was a small child
and the bombs were flying and falling and bursting
I was not afraid.
That was, afterall, so far away
Also, my uncle was there
Dropping supplies from planes in Vietnam
And taking care of the world.
I grew up and was not afraid of the state of the world
I was too self involved
Until in high school, as we studied history, I began to see the reality of man. I watched The Day After on TV, along with 100 million other people. Now I was afraid, for years to come I was terrified of nuclear war, and I would read about the what-if’s and the certain devastation. When the wall fell, well, those thoughts seemed to fall away a bit with that wall, torn apart by human hands. *After I graduated college,A certain President began the first middle east war, that I saw live on TV I would get drunk and high and try to understand itUntil I wrapped myself up in a ball of anxiety and fear”I will never bring children into a hate filled world”, where money and oil and consumerism fill our sad lives. He agreed with me. *And things escalate again some years later, they continue on, the things man does to manOklahoma bombings, 9-11, Iraq, AfghanistanSomewhere though along the way, I did want children, he did want childrenA family, to move toward peace, to share moments of joy, to create a new world. Children, the hope for a different future…. we can do this. *I shelter you now, your young brains, You know just a bit about the bombings, the killings, the shootingsYou hear on the radio and sometimes you see me cryBut you don’t watch, you never watch, you don’t see those imagesI take you to yoga, and pray for peace, and hold you tightly each nightOur own peaceful universe, one moment to the next. *I try not to worry, worry about you and the futureWorry about the world I will leave behind someday, for you to somehow manageI teach you about peace, and ease; I say these words, spread that love, joy, friendship each dayWe are all just one familyAnd my faith in your prevails, to bring forth the peace and light into the world. There is no more choice to be afraid.
It’s going to be okay, my dear child
The wise woman whispered
Your mother is a part of you, and all around you
Just open your eyes to see her
See her everywhere.
Even if your mother is no longer,
No longer here in bodily form
Or was never there for you on this journey
You can see that she still is everywhere:
In the light that filters through the Spring leaves on the trees.
Twinkling from a star so far and yet so near.
In the wind that blows your hair around your head.
Between the musical notes of your favorite song.
In the eyes, nose, mouth that stare back at you from the mirror.
Through the way you laugh and smile when filled with joy.
In each wave crashing up from the ocean and landing briefly on the shore
Beaming brightly from a full rising moon
In every breath, as you breathe in the same oxygen molecules
that your mother inhaled while she carried you, safely, deep within her.
It’s all there, the mother you always wanted,
The mother you always needed.
She has been right here with you all along
She never left your side.
You may decide to no longer grieve this perceived loss of the mother
And you may decide to open your heart
To the beauty of the mother all around you.
Fear not, child, fear not
For you may decide to live
As if there is no such being
As a truly motherless child.
Sitting in this body
Trying on a different life
Slowly I remember
What it used to be like…
And I am not sure which is better or worse,
But I do know there are different ways to be.
I wonder if I can remember
Why I came here, where I am headed
What will I end up being
My impact on this earth.
I do remember that love and joy
Striving for peace
They are important, essential for all.
Will I remember
To put these into daily practice
To return again and again
Will I remember
That some things just don’t matter
As much as I think they do.
To love, live, find peace
To be with family and friends
To eat well and be loved
To enjoy this precious body.
These form the basis of remeberance
Of simple steps toward healing and growth.
So you may not remember me when I am gone
All I left done and undone
But I hope to leave behind
Some sort of memory of love
So that you might remember as well…