22 April 2009

Dear Grace,

If you were here today, you would have seen your 3yo brother run full speed toward the dog screaming at the top of his lungs to drop the ball so he could continue to play baseball.

You would have seen your 8yo sister dancing in her room to some hip hop, top 10, movie of the week song, assured of the power of her voice and assured of the power of herself as someone who might one day change the world or at the very least, most certainly rock it. In fact, I believe she has already rocked it more than once.

You could have looked in on your 11yo brother who was not to be bothered by the other two, only 45 pages from the end of his book, Fablehaven, or some such title, book 5 I believe. He could hardly imagine that there was a world actually out there spinning around beside him as he sat engrossed by page after page after page.

You would have seen the cat on top of the roof having climbed out the second story window and on to the roof only to find herself momentarily stuck and unsure of herself when she is hardly unsure of herself at all, rarely, never.

And, Grace, you could have been here today, and none of this might have happened at all because your death changed the course of our lives, and our lives could have been happening in a different house, on a different street, in a different town, on a different planet for that matter because our lives changed forever and our roads they did diverge and they did get potholes but then somehow those holes got inexplicably filled and one day, I woke up and they were just slightly less bumpy and slightly less edgy and still there you are and here you are because I saw you in the face of that 3yo as he charged toward the dog.

I see you in the eyes of your sister as she dances to her music. I see you in the eyes of your 11yo brother as he reads because you would most certainly tear him away from his book with your pleas, with your beauty, with your charm and wit.

And I see you in that ridiculous cat of ours up on the roof because that cat fell into my arms four months after you died when what I needed was to hold a baby and there she was in a box outside of our church mewing, and two little girls picked her up and held her by her neck, and I knew then that I had to save that tabby. I had to save something, and I couldn't at the time save myself so I saved a cat. How ridiculous is that Grace? a Cat? A cat most certainly is not a baby and most certainly is not you, but at the time, that cat was something, that cat was alive and I could bring her home and feed her and give her water and hold her in my arms and when I did, it felt just a teensy bit less painful.

And that Grace is why this cat is here now at my feet purring because of you, Grace and in some small and imperceptible way, I see you in her too, each time I bend down to pet her, you are there on my mind, always in my heart and in so many ways changing the course of our lives.


13 April 2009

If the doctor could read this now

If the doctor who delivered Grace was reading this blog, I would tell her that nearly six years have passed and still, Grace matters. I would tell her that, no, in fact, there is no rush for me to take the drug that quickens labor, that hastens along the birthing process.

If the doctor who delivered Grace were to see me in the grocery store, she would not recognize me or remember me because to her I was just one more patient that wasn't even her patient who most likely got her out of bed several hours before she'd intended because this delivery was a surprise, was six or seven weeks early, because my doctor was out of town and so they had to bring in the doctor on call.

If the doctor who delivered Grace were to pass me at the bank, I would remember her because her short black hair and unwittingly superior knowledge of birth was evident to me in the beginning. Yes, we need you to start the induction now. We don't know how long this baby has really been dead and we don't know what could happen inside your body if we don't get her out soon.

If the doctor who delivered Grace were to see me at a soccer game, I would tell her in fact, Grace could have stayed inside of me another day. I would tell her that the thing to do would have been to give me a hug, no, to hold me up, to tell me that it might take time, but time, time is what we have now because time will never be the same again. I would tell her that in fact I could have waited for labor to start on its own. I could in fact have gone home to tell my living children, to pack a bag, to take some photographs of my belly, to take a hot bath before returning to the hospital to give birth.

If the doctor who delivered Grace could remember that day nearly six years ago, I wonder if she could remember how many cracks there were in the ceiling (eight); I wonder if she could remember the color of Grace's hair (black!); I wonder if she could remember how many boxes of Kleenex were in the room (none!); I wonder if she could remember the color of the walls (cream!); I wonder if she could remember how long Grace was (17 1/2 inches); I wonder if she could remember how much Grace weighed (3 pounds, 15 ounces!). I wonder if she could remember the ages of my other children who were in the room when Grace was born (5 and 2).

If the doctor who delivered Grace were in front of me now, I would tell her that next time she has to be at the delivery of a stillborn baby to pause, to wait, to hold her breath because this moment of birth will be the only moment the mother and child have together, because this moment of birth, these 6 or 12 or 15 hours of labor will seem in years to come like a split second because it is all we have, it is all we have.

And I will tell her that I will no longer let her bring her fear into my presence, that her fear of stillbirth is less about me and even less about Grace than it is about her inability to cry, her inability to pause and see that Grace matters, that Grace is more than just a body being born, that Grace is my heart split open and cracked and that Grace is the person who will eventually heal me, who will teach me what love is and what fear isn't, who with her closed eyes and still heart will teach me what it means to see the world not with rose-colored glasses but with eyes wide open and with a heart very much beating fast.

If the doctor who delivered Grace could stand before me now,
I would tell her that I'm sorry she felt the need to be
so distant,
so separate from our lives
because if she had allowed herself in
even just for a moment
there she would see how
beautiful love really is.

06 April 2009

As simple as a crocus

It started with one flake, and then the snow returned, covering the ground as if it were January instead of April. But there peeking up out of the snow, the crocus remained, the purple hue as vibrant as the day before only closed waiting for the sun to return to coax it's center to open wide again. The crocus does not exist if not for winter.

I say that over again over again so as not to forget the gifts that winter brings. Because without it, the crocus would not bloom. Though sometimes in the midst of winter it is hard to remember the crocus.

Yesterday I stood for eight hours in the sun outside of a store that I detest, selling Girl Scout cookies with my daughter so that she could reach her very ambitious goal of selling 1,000 boxes of cookies. We left in the eighth hour having finally sold 1,022 boxes of cookies over a very intense 2 1/2 week period of time.

Let me go back though to the beginning of the sentence "Yesterday I stood for eight hours in the sun outside of a store that I destest..." I could have stood eight more hours because the sun was shining and for half of the day it was in my face and half of the day it was at my back. It was truly the best drug I've ever had. I think I could have stood outside like that forever. I was so grateful to have the sun beating down on us. It has felt like so many weeks and months of cold, of rain, of snow, of clouds.

Even standing in front of a store I detest did not affect my mood. There was very little to alter the happiness I felt at the simplicity of standing in the sun. And with my daughter, my eight-year-old who was so focused on selling cookies that she must have said, "Would you like to buy some girl scout cookies?" at least 3,000 times in the last two weeks.

The crocuses have blossomed. Their short life is nearly over, but the memory of their vibrancy, of their color will remain with me long after they are gone.

Grace blossomed for all of eight months in my belly. Yet she remains vibrant, unforgettable in my heart, in my mind, and in our lives. The season of winter is over. I know, though, that there are many winters yet to come. For now, I bask in the glory of spring, in the promise of Easter, in the hope that when spring becomes summer becomes fall becomes winter, that there I will find Grace again knowing that as the snow covers the ground, just underneath it's blanket, the bulb of the crocus lies in wait.