Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's a Choice

Not long after Rip passed away, when I was in my "anger" stage, a friend suggested I try kickboxing as a healthy way of dealing with my frustrations.  Sounded like a good idea to me, so off I went.

I had not been there for more than five minutes when I started to smell it...the unmistakable scent of dog poo.

To my horror, I realized the girl next to me had the misfortune of stepping in the stuff and was now, quite literally, kicking it in my face.

I have no idea how she did not notice, maybe she was just pretending not to, but I spent the 45 minutes trying to dodge each smelly front, roundhouse, and side kick that came my way.

At the end of the class, we were supposed to do an abdominal exercises...requiring us to lay down on the ground.  Now, this girl's nasty foot had made the rounds and it showed.  Let's just say the floor was not a place I wanted any part of my body touching.  My abs did not get a workout that day.

So, I guess the moral of the story is sometimes no matter what you do, life is going to kick crap at you...but it's your choice whether to lie down in it or not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Facts of Life

Since Rip passed away, I've heard many versions of , "If you could all of your problems in a pile with the rest of the world's, you'd take yours back."
To be honest, most of the time it made me furious.  Why would I take my problems back?  Rip was gone and nobody else could possibly have to deal with the kind of pain I was dealing with.
The other day, one of my grief books put a different perspective on the saying.  The author pointed out that our problems make us who we are...without our bad, we can't have our good.
It made me realize that although I would give anything to have Rip alive, I wouldn't trade my problems.  Rip's death is my reality, it's part of who I am.  Trading that fact of life would mean I would never have gotten to be his mother.  Trading my reality would be trading every part of my life that I love...being Rip's mother, being Parke's wife... being me.
So yes, there are definitely things that I would change...if the saying was "throw your problems in a pile and have them magically disappear", sign me up.  But my problems are my problems, and in throwing them away I might lose some of the things that make this all worth while.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Time for Miracles

Where there is great love, there are miracles - Willa Cather

For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only Son- John 3:16

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13

Easter is a time for love and for miracles.  This time last year, I found out I was pregnant with Rip. I've been dreading this Easter, I knew that it would bring memories of a happy time that is gone.  I wasn't completely wrong, there have been times in the past few days where those memories caught me unaware and sad doesn't even begin to describe it.

But maybe that is what Easter is all about, its a time when hope seems lost only to be found again.  It's a time when God's love was shown at it's greatest.  It's a time that, despite all that seemed lost forever, belief was regained... and always there was faith, hope, and love.

I know I've used that quote from Willa Cather before, but it speaks to me.  I have not given up on faith, hope, or most of all the power of love.  And, in spite of everything, I still believe that the power of love can bring great miracles.

Hoping this Easter season bring faith, hope, and love... and just maybe a few miracles for all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who Knows What Will Come Of It


For a while now, I've been enamored with the music of Eric Hutchinson (admittedly, this is mainly because one of his songs was featured in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie, which I was equally as enamored with despite being a thirty year-old woman).


Recently I pulled out my Eric Hutchinson CD, hoping the nostalgia would help calm my frayed nerves.  One of the lyrics to his catchy tunes got stuck in my head:


"Who knows what will come of it
I refuse to believe it's all just a waste
Just look around
Everybody's on the food chain, funny
But from day to day we get from bottom to top
And if you get lost, just start over again
But we don't ever get to, no we don't ever get to stop"
That kind of sums up the way I feel these days. Some of the time, I kind of feel like laying down on the floor while everyone just kind of walks over The-Lump-who-used-to-be-Anne.  
It's tough.  Missing Rip is tough, not knowing what's coming next is tough...some days you just can't catch a break.
But I really do refuse to believe it was all just a waste.  Despite not knowing what comes next, I know there are some really good people out there with some really good connections to the Man Upstairs who say prayers for us every day, and that gives me more hope than they will ever know.
And even though today I may feel like an Anne-lump, I am thankful to have people in my life who remind me that this is only temporary...this is my time at the bottom, and there's nowhere to go but up.
So we start over again, and no matter what we don't ever stop.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lord Make Us Truly Thankful

Wanting and waiting for another baby is torture for me.  Impatient by nature, I'm just not good at this.  I want to close me eyes and have ten months go by and fast forward to the part where I am holding my healthy baby boy or girl. 
I wasn't good at the waiting part when I wanted to get pregnant with Rip, and now, after his loss, I am so much worse.  I can't help but feel I've already done this.  That I should not have to wait anymore, I should be enjoying my five month old, not worrying about getting pregnant, wondering if it will ever happen, worrying about the ten months and all that go wrong when it finally does.  I find myself asking God "What were you thinking?"
I know that may be sacrilegious, but God created me, and my impatience, and I don't think he is truly shocked by my exasperation with the situation.
But I try to remember, God also chose me to be Rip's mother, and even though I only had him for a very short time, I am so thankful He chose me above anyone else to have that very special little boy.  God also created my heart, he gave me this mama's heart...he would not have given me this heart if he did not intend for me to be a mama.  And God knows my future, so he already knows that little boy or girl (boys?girls?) that, when the timing is right, will come into our lives and bless us in ways that I cannot imagine.  So even while I am busy asking Him what He is thinking, I have to also use the words I was taught to say as a blessing each night..."Lord make us truly thankful for what we are about to receive."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thank You

Last night Parke and I went out to dinner and ran into one of our favorite nurses from my time in the hospital.  We hugged, and talked for a minute, Parke and I got into our car and both of us cried.  As Parke said, "Who would have ever thought we would look back at that as a happy time?"

But it was.  Seeing her brought back so many memories of the people that fought so hard right along with me for five weeks in that hospital.  Catherine, who cleaned my room every single day, honestly giving me a new lease on life each time she was there.  Kevin, who brought me five weeks worth of bagels and grilled cheese...I believe he had just as much to do with Rip hitting that 5 lb goal of mine as I did.  My doctor, Dr. Bridget Williamson, who sat by my bed at least once a day and had tears in her eyes the day Rip was born...I know this was a loss for her too.  And finally the nurses on the Labor and Delivery Ward...too many to name individually although they all deserve the recognition...they are the ones who came running in the middle of the night at every ache and pain, brought books to keep me entertained, made me laugh when things seemed anything but funny, and two nights before Rip was born, threw us a potluck dinner...even after everything that happened that celebration still makes me smile.

All of these people lost right along with us.  Right now, it's just too hard for me to go back to that hospital and thank them the way I want to.  I don't know if I ever will be able to do that, but I hope so.  Maybe one day, when there is a baby on my hip, I will be able to go back.  As always, not because that baby will ever replace the one we all fought so hard for, but because I feel like maybe they need to hold someone in their arms just as badly as I do.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hot Pink, Please

I think when you are grieving you are always teetering on that line between the hopeful and the hopeless.

Some days, it seems like we have turned the corner...things are looking up, we are moving forward, there is no stopping us now...and then one tiny bump in the road comes along and it feels like the end of world all over again.

Everything just seems so extreme.

While I'd love for life to be "normal" for a little while, I've never been a fan of the whole "there's black, there's white, and then there's the gray area" thing...I feel like I've had enough "gray" to last me a lifetime...but I'll gladly take a little hot pink, please.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Picture It

I am a big fan of The Golden Girls, spent hours watching it with all of my college girlfriends when we should have been in class.  Fans of the show will remember that Sophia Petrillo would always start her stories with "Picture it..."
I get where she was going with that now...I think maybe to really believe in your story, to get others to believe in your story, you have to be able to picture it.
I have a very definite picture of what I want the rest of my life to be like, a picture I was never able to have before Rip was born.  I did not know what to pray for, I did not know how to picture myself as a mother, I did not know what image to close my eyes and hold on to for dear life.
Now I do.
I believe in this story with all of my heart.
Picture it...

Monday, April 11, 2011

"This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine..."

This weekend, I went to a bridal shower for one of my very oldest friends...and as much as I wanted to be there for her, I'll admit part of me was dreading it.
I made a lot of bold declarations about the kind of person I wanted to be after Rip died, but sometimes they are hard to live up to...sometimes I feel I am nothing like the person I want to be, much less the person I used to be.
Being with people who have known me almost all of my life this weekend reaffirmed something I have learned over and over again these past five months, I could not do this without support...and there is a special kind of support that comes from the people who have known and loved you since you were a little girl (or boy).
Sometimes I feel like I have lost my light, but being with people who know stories about me from times when I was five..ten...fifteen year old...that is an irreplaceable gift.  They are able to give me back some of that light, reflect it into even the darkest places. 
Just as I feared, I spent most of this weekend near tears, only this time they were tears of laughter. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We Go Together

I've been thinking a lot about family and how we are tied together, whether we like it or not...it's a lesson I learned the hard way yesterday.
Because of the circumstances surrounding Rips death, there are some things that Parke and I, as parents and as people, feel we need to know...to put our hearts at peace and to try to prevent others from going through the heartbreak we have experienced.
Unfortunately, that means doing some things, talking to some people, that can make healing wounds fresh all over again.
One such meeting occurred yesterday, and I decided not to participate...I thought by not being there physically, I would save myself the emotions that went along with my presence at such a hard event.
Boy,was I ever wrong.
My mistake was forgetting about my heart.  My heart is always going to be with my family, with Parke and with Rip, even if I am not there physically.  The thought of Parke going through that meeting alone, the thought of not being there when Rip was being discussed...it was much worse than the reality.
So I learned my lesson, even though some of the things we will have to do over the next months...years...lifetime...will be hard, we're in this thing together. 
We are a family, for better or for worse, here or in our hearts.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We Call Him Brown Dog

If there is an unsung hero in the past year, it is our big, goofy chocolate lab...his name is Doc, but we usually just call him Brown Dog.
When I was in the hospital, the highlight of my week was Sunday afternoon, when I was allowed a thirty minute wheelchair ride out into the fresh air, and the big brown dog would come up for a visit.  Although very confused as to why I was not able to get up and play, he soon found that his head fit pretty well in my lap at wheelchair level, all the better to lick knees, face, legs...whatever was within reach.
After Rip died, I had not stepped foot in my home for over six weeks.  My world had been turned upside down.  Burying my face into warm brown fur brought back a sense of normalcy that I didn't think I would ever find again.
By December, Parke had to go back to work.  My parents had to go back home.  All of my friends had lives they had to return to.  It was just me and the Brown Dog.  He would lie next to me on the nursery floor while I cried and cried.  He would put that enormous head in my lap until it was literally soaked with tears.  Finally, at the end of the day, we would get enough strength to heave ourselves up, with world-weary sighs, and find our way back down the stairs to face another night.
During those horrible first months, whenever Parke and I happened to be in separate rooms, the Brown Dog would frantically roam back and forth, knowing his job was to comfort but loving us both too much to decide where he was needed most.
Even now, when we are finally starting to see some good days...maybe even some weeks more good than bad...there are nights when I crawl in bed to have a good cry and find a big brown body tucked beside me, eyebrows worrying up and down, tail thumping reassuringly.
There has been someone there, keeping our little family together, and asking for nothing in return...we call him Brown Dog.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lean on Me

One of the hardest parts of these past few months, for me, is watching Parke in pain.  It's never easy to watch someone you love hurt, but now, knowing how much pain I am in and knowing he has to experience the same...it can be unbearable.  My great-grandmother told me one time that you can't depend on other people to make you happy...unfortunately, you also can't make someone else happy.

But you can make sure other people can depend on you.

I've thought a lot about what that awful grief counselor said to us a few months ago- "Life is all about loss"...and it's just not true.  Life is all about people.  And inevitably, when you have people, if you are lucky enough to have a lot of people and a lot of love, then you will experience loss. 

I would not have made it to this day without my people.  I can't take away Parke's pain and he can't take away mine, but I don't think either of us would be standing here today without one another to lean on. 

Neither of us would be able to get through this without our people who, knowing they can not take away our pain, still hold us through it.

Life is not about loss.  Life is about people.  Life is about the people who will love you through your loss...the people you will lean on until you can stand on your own again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tell me something good...

It's been a bad week.  It happens.  But good lord I get sick of them.
I get the whole "why ask why" thing...but why?  Why us? Why our baby? Why, after everything we went through, did we still lose?  Where was our miracle?  What are we supposed to do now?
I try to stay positive, because that is who I am...I am a happy, optimistic person who had something awful happen to me, to my whole family.
But sometimes I get worn out, just physically and mentally exhausted.
And I try to remind myself that just as quickly as things can go wrong, they can go right again...so I am ready for that.
I am throwing it out to the universe...be it rainbows, heads-up pennies, or four-leafed clovers...wherever that good may be, we're right here...and we're ready for you.