Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

First Day of School

Ella had her first day of school this morning. She seemed so grown up as she gave me a big hug, said "bye mom", and hopped out of the car. When I picked her up she said it had been a great day and that she and her best friend even helped out a new three year old in their class. She said, "that's what I do now since I'm one of the older kids in the class." And that is part of what I love about a Montessori Children's House. With the mixed ages Ella has been the child who was helped and now she gets to do the helping and teaching. What an incredible sense of self satisfatction that comes from mastering something and then helping someone else with the task. What a beautiful sense of community and care. I am so proud of her.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer's final hurrah

The past few days the air has held a certain scent and feel to it, a crispness and a coolness that flood me with memories. Hotter days are sure to return but those first hints of Autumn coming always pull so much up inside of me. That scent and feel signal that school will begin soon and with it the certainty of routine and the onset of Fall. As a child I would have both a mixture of excitement to return to school and also the sadness of ending the free for all days of summer. Most mothers I know are glad to see school and the routine return. I must say, I'm a bit sad to send Ella off for her last year of Montessori Children's House. She will be gone all day since it is the equivalent of Kindergarten. I'm really going to miss her. Zane could have begun this fall but I'm so glad I chose to wait. The emptiness would have been too much for me.

This morning I have opened all of the windows and turned on the fans to let that wonderfully cool air inside. Ella is up early and is ready to hit the road for vacation. We leave today for a week at the lake and then after that Brad and I travel to Seattle together. So, this really has been our last week of summer at home. Brad and Zane are still asleep and while Ella busily packs for her little pony, I decided to rest my head on her pillow. A flood of memories comes back as I view from her open window a world of green illuminated by the morning sun. As a child I loved sleeping with my window open and waking up to the sound of the birds and bugs and that coolness that came with the ending of summer. I loved the morning light and still do. For a moment, I feel young and hopeful again. I remember loving the thought of my own birthday ahead. Now it is the excitement of planning and preparing for Ella and Zane's birthdays. Brad and I married in the fall as well. There is so much celebration awaiting us in the days ahead.

But now there is even more depth to these memories. Before it was just one happy thing after the next. Now, there is the memory of a year ago. Now mixed in with birthdays and our anniversary is the revelation that our third child would not live. I think about how at this point last year we still had no idea that anything was wrong. We still lived in that easy, expectant innocence, in the naivete that life would always be good to us. But the ending of summer has always had a certain sadness to it anyway. It is the marking of the entrance of death, of winter. As glorious as Autumn splendor is to me it really is just a beautiful goodbye. So, perhaps now I grasp more fully what has always characterized this season, both joy and pain.

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in
the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your
life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have
always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief."

The Prophet
Kahlil Gibran

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why believe?

A friend of mine who lost her son a year ago just miscarried her baby of 16 weeks. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. It seems so unfair to me, and it makes me wonder where God is in it all.

Another friend asked me the other day if I ever felt like I deserved to have things go right after openly offering up our journey with Sully and building his playground. The truth is, no. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. I feel completely unsafe. I feel like there are no guarantees anymore. I guess there never really were, but I once found security in falsely believing I had some kind of protection from calamity.

Everything feels so fragile, from the paycheck that pays our mortgage and bills to the hopes that the children we do have left will live long healthy lives. Sometimes this makes me so angry and bitter. It makes me question why in the world I am even hanging on to any kind of faith. I mean, why? If believing in God and Christ doesn't offer me any protection then what good is it? What happened to the "health, wealth and prosperity" gospel of my youth? It doesn't seem to hold up at all. And sometimes I think we believe that being a good person will give you some kind of immunity. But the scales are out of balance. Terrible things happen to "good" and "bad" people alike. So, why be good?

I look around but I can't find anywhere else to go. I'm just left with this broken faith that doesn't make very much sense. I can't make sense out of my friend losing another baby or out my overwhelming fear of a capricious god. Why do I now live waiting for terrible things to happen, waiting for what is good in my life to also be taken away from me?

All I keep hearing in my head is a song and I can picture my friend singing it:
"I'll remember the deeds of the Lord,
I'll remember all your works,
With your mighty arm you have redeemed,
You are Holy, Holy, Holy"

So I try to remember. I try to remember that even in the hardest days of carrying Sully there were people around us to love us and care for us. I remember my friends bringing us groceries when I thought I would never be able to walk into a store or do anything normal again. I remember how so many people responded with such generosity towards our plea for a playground and how in just four short months after its first mention, it was complete! I remember just a few weeks ago the gift of the feast brought to our door. I am remembering, and I am weeping. Is this who God is in truth? How beautiful he is and yet how hard it still is for me to reconcile the truth of him with who I want him to be. I want him to tell me I will never hurt again. I want him to tell me I will never suffer a loss like this again. I wanted him to make my third child perfect and whole and give him to me for this lifetime. How do I reconcile that he is not who I want him to be but that he is still good?

There is so much shifting and sifting and changing in my heart and mind...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Camp Magic

This past weekend we attended a camp hosted by Edmarc, the children's hospice group that walked with us through our days with Sully, called Camp Magic. Ella asked me why it was called Camp Magic. I didn't really have a good answer except that it gave us a time as a famiy to be together and honor and remember Sully(later I learned it stood for My Active Grieving Instills Courage). I think Ella had hoped more for flying ponies and fairy dust. Despite that disappointment, I do think she had a good time.

The weekend was full of activities. We spent part of our time making a quilt square to be a part of the annual camp magic quilt. Ella loved the paints and the freedom to create. We played games, swam and took walks. We roasted marshmallows around a camp fire and made smores. We talked with other families who were walking simmilar paths; Ella and Zane played with children who also had lost siblings. We participated in a memorial service where we each lit a candle in memory of Sully and set it afloat on the water.

I think I was most moved by one of our symbolic craft activites. Ella painted a pot that represented our family. Then, we went outside and broke the pot symbolizing how our family was broken by the tragedy of losing a child. Brad then worked on gluing it back together. Of course, pieces were missing just as we as a family are forever changed and will always be missing a piece of us. The thing that got to me
most was watching Brad try and glue the pot back together. After he had figured out where the main pieces went and put the glue on them, he had to just sit there and hold the pot together. He couldn't do anything else. If he took his hands off, it would fall apart. And that's when I realized that that is exactly where we are. These past months I have purposely steered myself away from activity and responsibility, and I see how wise that has been. I, we, need this time to just be still, to just hold our family together and let the glue dry. As I feel pressure to return to who I was before I know I can and must turn it away. I know I won't ever be who I was before, our family will never be what it was before. But maybe, when the glue dries, we can fill our pot with fresh soil and something beautiful will grow in it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Six months

My third child would have been six months old today had he not been broken. My dear friend sent me these words this morning. They seem so very fitting to me.

"Where's the funny girl?
Are you ready to believe it's true
That everything we love we lose?
Only in your mind can you choose
Not to live again
And you could find your smile tomorrow
Remember what was beautiful
Not the dark inventions of your burning sorrow"

"Each time members of the tribe die, the self we were with them dies too, which is to say that the kind of words we spoke only to them- were only to them- and the kind they spoke only to us are spoken no longer. But if outwardly our language is thus impoverished, inwardly it is enriched because when members of the tribe die, the words they were are added to the vocabulary of the heart, where we have more than just ears for hearing them. And each time a member of the tribe is born, a new word comes into being, and nothing is ever the same again."
The Eyes of the Heart, Buechner