August 5 - Sage's first stroller ride through the park. The sweet perfume of a giant white lily warmed by the sun. As we walk by, a row of ducks splashes into the water, one-by-one.
August 6 - This morning, I laid Sage on a blanket and showed him a sunflower. He stared at it and made excited squeally sounds. This is the first time I've really heard his voice.
August 7 - Sage and I took a bath together this morning. He didn't cry, but he did cling to me like a little monkey, and he nursed the whole time.
August 8 - Last night, watching Michael's playfulness with Sage, has reminded me to be silly more, to make funny faces and make up songs, to really let myself enjoy these fleeting moments of Sage's babyhood.
August 9 - Met with supervisors at work to discuss my return. I have the option of part or full time. I feel the weight of the decision. Can we afford it if I take part time? Could I even handle full time right now? I know what is best for Sage, and I am relieved when Michael agrees.
August 10 - Long walk with Sarah, both of us pushing our babies in strollers. We talk about to what extent our thoughts / beliefs create our reality. We stop at a park to rest in the shade of a small tree. Oceana runs up a hill, dances, and runs back down bearing flowers.
August 11 - Walked the labyrinth at Tamarack while nursing Sage, warmed by the sun, peaceful. Later, in the library courtyard, I nursed him while sitting on a beautiful stone bench decorated with mosaic flowers and birds. Nursing has become a sweet pleasure, a meditation, so different from the early days when it was awkward and painful.
August 21 - Sage weighs 11 pounds, 12 ounces. I love taking him to baby clinic, talking to other moms, and seeing their babies. It is a weekly touchstone for me.
August 22 - Sometimes Sage smiles and laughs in his sleep. I wonder what he dreams of. He is so amazingly beautiful.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
When I see our baby for the first time on the ultrasound screen, I cry. He moves a lot, and I can see him and feel him at the same time. I am in awe of the mystery and miracle of his existence.And here is a brief letter I wrote to him after he was born:
Driving home from work. My son is awake and very active. I gently push his foot away from my sore ribs. I sing lullabies and even make up a song. His movements slow down as though he is listening.
The touchstone of my son's movements inside me. Quick kicks and long, slow stretches. I do not tire of sitting quietly with my hand on my belly, feeling you.
Dear Sage,Unfortunately, I never finished that letter. I imagined I was writing these things for him to read when he was older. I never imagined I might be rereading them myself under these circumstances.
Tomorrow is your two week birthday. As I write this, you are sleeping, curled against your papa in our big bed. So much has happened in this short time since your birth that I hardly know where to begin. I want to try, though, to record these days for you because you will have no memory of them, and someday you may wonder.
You were born on Friday, June 22, 2007 at 3:50 p.m. The night before you were born, Papa and I were visiting with Aunt Sarah, and she said, "Tomorrow would be a good day to give birth." She gave me a knowing smile.
This sweet photo was taken during the first few days of his life. We had a little photo shoot going, and I guess it made him sleepy.
I am feeling strongly that I want to share Sage's story . . . and my story of being a mother. The 9 months of my pregnancy, and the 9 months of Sage's life, brought me more joy and more growth than any other time in my life.
I wrote very little during my pregnancy and after. I wish now that I had written more. I do have a few journal entries and a few letters that I wrote to Sage. I think Sage's story really begins with my and Michael's decision to get married. We sent out the following letter for Thanksgiving of 2006. This letter is how we announced to everyone we knew that we were expecting a child.
To all our family and friends,It is incredible to me how much has changed since we wrote this letter. As I reread it, though, I am struck by the two things that have stayed the same - my adoration of Sage, and my commitment to Michael. As is often the case, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I have lost, but also the magnitude of what I have been given.
On Sunday, the 22nd of October, on a rocky peninsula extending into a high alpine lake in the Cascade Range, Michael and I exchanged rings in our own spontaneous ritual acknowledging the ongoing lifelong commitment we continue to share with one another. Having been enchanted by the reds and golds among the dwarf alpine flora alight by a brilliant late afternoon autumn sun, there could have been no better time or place for our wedding ceremony.
Several months ago we began discussing the idea of marrying on the fifth anniversary of our relationship in early December. We ordered our wedding bands from a jewelry designer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but being so excited upon receiving them we began to wear them right away.
Our feeling was to have a ceremony between the two of us this winter and then share in a celebration with all of you next summer. Upon finding ourselves so moved there by the lake that day, we shared the realization that nothing we could plan in the future would have been any more profound than where we found ourselves in that moment. We then washed each others’ rings in the crystal clear water, said our simple spontaneous vows, and placed the rings on each others’ hands.
The day after our wedding, I awoke feeling a bit queasy. I felt strongly that I might be pregnant. That afternoon, on my lunch break, I jogged a few blocks to a clinic and asked for a pregnancy test. As the nurse was explaining how the test works, I was watching intently as two blue lines appeared before me - a positive result! I said, “Oh, my gosh! I’m really pregnant! I can’t believe I’m really pregnant!” I was so happy, I almost hugged the nurse.
I waited until that evening, after dinner, to tell Michael. Before I told him, I was lying on the bed, resting, and he walked in and gently laid his hands on my belly. I wondered if somehow he already knew. When I took both his hands and told him we are going to have a baby, he responded with the same joy and astonishment that I was feeling.
We are both truly delighted by the gift of this child. We are now beginning our 9th week, which means the baby is only about the size of a grape, but it already has a beating heart, and its spine and brain have begun to form! We have had one prenatal visit, and we will be getting our first ultrasound in a couple of weeks.
Michael and I send you warm wishes for Thanksgiving.
Monday, May 26, 2008
All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better
Sunday, May 25, 2008
"I was thinking the other day how life goes along at a certain plateau for years and years but all the while, deep beneath the surface, pressure is building until finally the earth's plates shift, causing earthquakes and eruptions, altering the landscape forever, and nothing can ever be quite the same again. But out of the rubble, something new and beautiful and amazing always begins to grow. It is nature's way. It is evolution and renewal, epiphany and resurrection. It reminds me of a poem from the play The Fantastics:
Which no one can explain.
Who understands the secret
In the reaping of the grain?
Who understands why Spring is born
Out of Winter's laboring pain?
Or why we all must die a bit
Before we grow again?
Fortunately there are some formations and some people that not even an earthquake can destroy. You still make my day by calling, and we can talk forever. Sarah still races through the house laughing at life, and Levi's eyes still burn with intensity as he paces the floor trying to explain the curvature of space in a way I can understand. So, life goes on, and we look around at the destruction to realize that we can survive and will be stronger people for it."
I have the following quote hanging on my refrigerator. It has always reminded me of Dad:
The aim of life is to live,
and to live means to be aware,
Friday, May 23, 2008
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Yesterday, I was told a most beautiful story by my friend Ann. She told me the story of the goddess-queen, Inana, who hears a calling and abandons the comfort of heaven and earth where she rules, to travel to the underworld, which is ruled by her sister. During her descent through the passageways of the underworld, all of her protections are taken from her - her staff, her cloak, her shoes, her breastplate, her food. By the time she reaches her sister's lair, she has nothing, not even the certainty of her own identity. Her sister kills her.
Back on the surface, one of her father figures sends two creatures to bring Inana back. They find her corpse and bring her back to life. As Inana ascends through the passageways back to the surface, she finds each of her protection items. Some of them no longer seem useful, no longer fit her. Some of them are like old friends that she readily picks up. When she reaches the surface, she is forever changed. She has heeded the calling of her own growth, and she has left behind those things which no longer serve her. When she reemerges, she is still queen, but a different kind of queen than she was before.
There is much more to this story, and it is very powerful told aloud, as Ann told it to me. This story offered me a new metaphor for my current life experience. I am being called to grow. That means leaving behind some things that I have thought I could not live without - images of myself, patterns, beliefs, fears. Who I have been is dead, in a sense, and I no longer know myself. But as I rise up again, and I do feel certain that I will, I will be a different kind of queen than I was before. This story offers meaning to the dark, fearful, annihilating journey of grief.
My dad loved the following quote from Bob Dylan:
"Who's not busy
Is busy dying."
Monday, May 19, 2008
When Someone Deeply Listens to You
When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you've had since childhood
and watching it fill up with
cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin,
you are loved.
When someone deeply listens to you,
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to glow in your mind's eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!
When someone deeply listens to you,
your bare feet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you.
Friday, May 16, 2008
As part of the exercise, we were asked to write on the paper what wisdom our higher / deeper / wiser self could provide us. I called the drawing "Offering," and I wrote on the top, "I trust the process of this life." On the side, I wrote to Sage:
"There will be so many times in your life that I will have to release you. You will have experiences, and some of them will bring you pain. I offer you to the process of your own life. At the same time, I hold you in my love."I think one of the reasons I was able to write this was because I watched Dad struggle to release me into my life at various points. I know he experienced a lot of pain watching me go through the confusion of my teenage years. I remember wanting him to trust the process of my life. What a profoundly difficult thing that is to do as a parent!
And there are so many steps of letting go. Giving birth is the first. I remember being very surprised that along with my utter joy at holding Sage after he was born, there was also a subtle feeling of loss at no longer having him inside me, safe in my womb. He seemed so vulnerable. And then there was the letting go that came with handing him to other people to hold, of leaving him at Mom's house when I went to work, of leaving him with a friend so Michael and I could go on a "date." It felt good to release him in these small ways. It seemed very important to allow him to experience other people, to explore his world, in the small ways that a baby can. And at the end of each exploration, I was there to embrace him.
And now, too, I am being asked to release him, to trust the process of his life, and the process of my own life as well. What can I say about this, other than it is difficult beyond words, and I am not there yet.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I know that I did the best I could as a new mother, and that I never held back when it came to nurturing Sage. Yet, I would give anything, anything, to be awake in the middle of the night nursing him, or changing his diaper, or rocking him, singing to him, holding his little body. I would trade all my sleep for that.
I want to share this song with you. It took my breath away the first time I heard it. It is from the soundtrack to Winged Migration. You can listen to it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny4izkgnX_k
It is such a beautiful expression of impermanence. If we are wise, we put every ounce of our energy into love, and we do so knowing that nothing in life can be held forever.
To Be By Your Side
Across the oceans across the seas,
Over forests of blackened trees.
Through valleys so still we dare not breathe,
To be by your side.
Over the shifting desert plains,
Across mountains all in flames.
Through howling winds and driving rains,
To be by your side.
Every mile and every year,
For every one a little tear.
I cannot explain this, dear,
I will not even try.
Into the night as the stars collide,
Across the borders that divide
Forests of stone standing petrified,
To be by your side.
For I know one thing,
Love comes on a wing,
For tonight I will be by your side,
But tomorrow I will fly.
From the deepest ocean to the highest peak,
Through the frontiers of your sleep.
Into the valley where we dare not speak,
To be by your side.
Across the endless wilderness,
Where all the beasts bow down their heads.
Darling, I will never rest
Till I am by your side.
Every mile and every year,
Time and distance disappear
I cannot explain this, dear no,
I will not even try.
And I know just one thing,
Love comes on a wing
And tonight I will be by your side.
But tomorrow I will fly away,
Love rises with the day
And tonight I may be by your side.
But tomorrow I will fly, tomorrow I will fly,
Tomorrow I will fly.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
To fully appreciate this story, you have to know the characters:
Fluffy was our fat black cat with an attitude. She and Dad had this thing . . . They glared at each other, they made every indication that they didn't like each other, but deep down I think they had respect, even affection for each other - but neither would admit it! Here is a photo of me holding her. I always really loved Fluffy. When I was little, I told her stories when we laid down to bed, and she put up with me dancing her around the living room. We had her for almost my entire childhood. Digger was our family dog. She was always eager to please, excited to see us, a little pathetic in her desperation for affection (I say that with love in my heart, Diggie). Again, Dad always acted kind of impatient with her, but you really couldn't not like Digger. Jenny was . . . well, I don't actually remember Jenny. She was one in a series of cats that my sister adopted. This photo may or may not be of her. My sister will probably be shocked that I don't remember Jenny. Here is Dad's letter:
"Saturday night, I was sitting in the living room enjoying the quiet. Fluffy was asleep on the floor, Jenny was on the arm of the couch, and Digger was asleep on the other end of the couch. I was just thinking, 'What a peaceful scene,' when Jenny stretched in her sleep and rolled off the arm of the couch and landed right on Fluffy. Fluffy woke up so pissed that I really thought she might have a heart attack. She actually walked in circles growling and cussing. I swear Jenny was laughing. Digger didn't know exactly what had happened, but she jumped down barking - 'I didn't do it - it wasn't my fault - but if there is anything I can do to help, I'm here!' Fluffy finally walked to the door to be let out. The fact that I was laughing and couldn't stop didn't help matters. Instead of meowing to be let out, she actually growled at me. When I opened the door for her, I considered telling her to have a nice day, but I was afraid she might attack me!"Well, I don't know if that will be as funny for those of you who didn't know Dad and Fluffy, but maybe it will make you smile.
I wonder if those of you who have lost a parent relate to this feeling - it is as though the ground you have always stood on is suddenly gone, and you are left floating, untethered. And really, I am not untethered. I have my husband, my mom, my siblings, and all of my Dad's sisters, so much family, and so many friends. It's just that Dad was such a big part of my life. I think of him, of the feeling of hugging him, his bony shoulders, his wild hair, his mischievous spirit. I think of how he taught me to think for myself and to be brave in the adventure of my life. He always said, it is when you feel both excited and a little scared that you know you are on the right path.
I want to share one more little bit of a letter. It really speaks to where I find myself right now. He wrote it to me when I was in college. I had just decided which school to attend the next year, and at the time, it felt like a huge decision.
"I knew that no matter where you ended up, you would be fine and continue to educate yourself. But what made me feel best of all was your realization that you are ready to let go of my hand and walk alone. There is a strange paradox to being a parent. One side of the paradox wants to see the child walk by herself and the other side needs to be needed. Either side can be taken to extremes, but if a balance is found, it's a beautiful thing. I really believe we've reached that balance. I want to re-emphasize that I'll always be here for you, and if you need some help, don't be afraid to ask, but there is nothing that could make me prouder right now than to see you standing out there with confidence and belief in yourself. Some people never achieve that moment of grace and freedom, and that seems terribly sad to me. You have the heart of a winner so there is no such thing as losing, and the soul of a searcher so there is no such place as lost."Dad helping me, buttoning my nightgown.
Monday, May 12, 2008
When I was a teenager, my dad's mother (Granny) died. Dad went to her funeral, and he brought back the following poem on a scroll from her house, and he gave it to me. It was during a time in my life that I needed inspiration and guidance, and I read it over and over. Soon I had it memorized. I have always returned to it during times of confusion.
Desiderata — A Poem for a Way of Life
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let not this blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees & stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not is is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.--Max Ehrmann,
Friday, May 9, 2008
I took my first steps without crutches this morning! I had x-rays taken on Wednesday, and the doctor said I can bear weight on my leg now. My pelvis is healing well, as is my arm. I can only take a few steps, with a bit of a limp, but I'm sure it will keep getting easier. I will be belly dancing in no time.
Has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don'ts,
Not the God who ever does
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
"Come dance with Me."
Thursday, May 8, 2008
As I watched this unfold, tears began streaming down my face. I did not have many thoughts at that moment, but rather I felt a body memory of holding Sage when he was so small. My body, my scent, my voice were a sanctuary for him. I was his safe haven. And there is this feeling that above all else, that is what my body was meant to do - hold and comfort my child. The tears . . . they were caused by the wonderful, terrible, sweet pain of loving Sage with every atom of my being.
What I want to express, and what I ask for understanding around, is that it is helpful for me to cry. Holding Isaak, remembering Sage, crying - this was a positive, healing experience. It gave me access to my sorrow, which offers me a release that I can't get any other way. I want to tell Lorena, thank you for sharing your beautiful boy with me. Thank you for being a reminder of the depth of my love for Sage. And, as strange is it may sound, thank you for helping me cry. So often I find myself composed, coping, and somewhat frozen inside. Anything that gives me access to my heart is the greatest gift anyone could offer me.
Some day, if I should ever lose you,
will you be able then to go to sleep
without me softly whispering above you
like night air stirring in the linden tree?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Why, then have to be human?
Why, then have to be human?
Oh, not because happiness exists,
Nor out of curiosity...
But because being here means so much;
Because everything here,
Vanishing so quickly, seems to need us,
And strangely keeps calling to us... To have been
Here once, completely, even if only once,
To have been at one with the earth -
This is beyond undoing.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Sunday, May 4, 2008
On Friday, I spent a little time with my 4-year-old niece, Oceana. Oce is sharply perceptive and deeply affectionate. I am in awe of her every time I am with her. On Friday, she asked me to ride in the back seat of the car, next to her booster seat, while my sister drove us to lunch. Oce spent most of the ride drawing pictures for everyone - pictures of dinosaurs, ladders and trumpets. While she drew, she asked me questions about my stitches, my scar, why I need crutches, when I'll be able to walk without them. She wanted to know why Curious George had crutches that were a different color than mine. She wanted to know why I had scars on my left arm, but not my right arm.
Oceana has a scar, too. When she was only a few months old, she had heart surgery. She was born with two holes in her heart. We looked at her scar and mine. My sister told her, "You and Aunt Jessie have matching scars." Oce seemed pleased by that, and so was I.
Later that day, Oce asked me,"Sagey died in the car?" I said, "Yes, Honey." Then she asked why. I thought this was a really good question. I didn't have an answer, and that is all I could tell her. I said, "I don't know why, Sweety. People die in different ways, and Sage died in a car." She left it at that, but my answer felt inadequate. When I turn that question over in my mind, I never reach a solid answer. Chance? He died because circumstances happened to converge in just such a way that our truck was hit by a semi? It seems so very random. In the end, I usually abandon the question, "Why?" and move on to, "What now?" I think that looking for reasons is different from finding meaning. I will never know the reason we lost our child, but I can find meaning in the way I move forward from this point.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
The room where I teach is saturated with memories of Sage. It is the same room I took him to every workday to nurse him, play with him, change his diaper, rock him to sleep. To be there now is disorienting. It is scary to feel myself so changed inside, but to not know exactly how I am changed. It is most noticeable when I am in an old, familiar setting, and I am so obviously not my old, familiar self. When I got home from work, I slept the rest of the afternoon, totally exhausted.
This will take time. I want to be so patient with myself.
Since then, some things have helped rejuvenate me: coloring with my nieces, playing the guitar with my brother, walking in the park with Michael. There are moments I feel strong and hopeful. I am finding that the one thing I can count on is change. My emotions, no matter how dark or frightening, change eventually. The massage therapist I've been seeing encourages me to watch my pain with interest, with no resistance, and to breathe into it. He says that when you resist pain, it digs in deeper, but when you attend to it with compassion, it is able to change, evolve. This will take a lot of practice.
I cupped my hands over both ears
took a long, slow, deep breath in and out
again and again
until my breath was like a series of waves
and I washed up on the shores
of my own inner landscape
each wave of breath brought more
fragments of myself to the shoreline
I gazed into the broken places and
I saw grief comfort fear
I saw compassion laying on hands with envy
I saw hope reaching out to despair
now I could see where the separate places came together
to make the whole
and the whole was yet another fragment
of a greater whole
and I lay there
letting the waves
all my unbroken places.