it is only within facing ourselves that we can process external stimuli.  it doesn't take much to cloud my mirror quickly.  a couple days without journaling, a couple decisions without much thought... very quickly in our world of things can i lose sight of myself.

“A man’s ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful, while his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless beside being ugly. Which is the best man to deal with, he who knows nothing about a subject, and what is extremely rare, knows that he knows nothing, — or he who really knows something about it, but thinks that he knows all?” 
― Henry David ThoreauWalking

this day, set aside for quiet reflection and thanks and also now shopping, is a mixed bag for me.  in the years past i was always thankful for my family, right? my family and husband and house, etc.

this year i am thankful for myself.  for a self that has kept the fight for over six months.  for a self who refuses to allow a family to break.  for a self that will carry her daughter's legacy alone although it is the heaviest burden.  for a self that is doing her damnedest to give her children both roots and wings.  my happiness this year, my thankfulness this year, is not found in my external stimuli, although in 2016 i have yet experienced unbelievable beauty in the times of unbelievable pain, it is found within myself.

and so to myself, i say, you can, you can, you can.  tilt your head to the sun child, it is still warm.  drink the water, it is still cool, rest your feet on the ground child, it is still steady.  the world moves on but you are in it, it moves with you, it moves in you.  you feel unmoored but you will not always feel this way, sink some - but swim more.  fall, but do not stay down.  lift your head child, you can, you can, you can.  lift your head lift your head lift!

for my prayer has always been love
I should have known better
Nothing can be changed

The past is still the past
The bridge to nowhere

I should have wrote a letter
Explaining what I feel, that empty feeling

Don’t back down, concentrate on seeing
The breakers in the barthe neighbor’s greeting
My brother had a daughter
The beauty that she brings, illumination

thank god for sufjan.  this season is so confusing, so many feelings, so little time.  up and down, in and out.  we spin around but we aren't moving at all.

there is still a large part of me that wants to refuse to participate in life since i can't do it perfectly.  i wish i could, i wish i was perfect.  i want guarantees, i want concrete examples of how i will be taken care of forever and ever.  it doesn't work that way - i suppose.  what i want and what i experience are so drastically different.  sometimes i feel it is so difficult to lean into the true beauty i am still experiencing, because true beauty is messy, it's not airbrushed.  true beauty is the thunder of a falls and the scorching heat of a desert, it's not the comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit you have your house set to, it's not the thunder of your SUV as you fill it up at the gas station.  

this thanksgiving a year ago i was pregnant.
this thanksgiving a year ago i was with my friends in ohio.
this thanksgiving a year ago... a year ago... a year ago.
elly was a whisper of a dream that is no longer here.  

and so in this season of thankfulness, i take stock, of everything that has been lost to me and everything that remains and has been added.  does noticing the additions defeat the loss?  i struggle, at times, with it.  i mean in all honesty, compared to most of my widow friends, i don't struggle that much with guilt because i'm a damn boss and i know logically, i know i didn't choose this road.

i'm not sure if i'm thankful yet.
i'm not sure what christmas will feel like without them.
i'm not sure.

dear elly,

you would be eight months old at your first thanksgiving.  to be honest, i can't even remember what you are allowed to eat at eight months, but god knows i'd be slipping you some food, corn bread at least.  we miss you, addy misses you terribly.  i miss your eyes, i miss holding you close, i miss the fire of knowing what it felt like to be your mom, to be elly's mom.  i'm in less pain now but it comes at a cost.  all healing comes at a cost.  your essence of being continues to slip from my grasp.  i've now lived who knows how many weeks without you as opposed to the five i had with you.  those five weeks baby, i had the world when i had you.

should i tear my heart out now
everything i feel,
returns to you somehow

i wish i was with you elly.  i wish i was resting with you.
my breath is tired, my arms are weak,
someone let me rest.
i have
  (no anchor)
i float .a.w.a.y.

the grasp (always out of reach)
  goodbye i say, goodbye
wish you well, you say,
wish you well

up here i drift
 am i safe again?
there are no ties,
try to teach me a lesson?
i lash

the theme, the theme they cry!
it is forever being
never uncovered

remain hidden
in the clouds
in the clouds

goodbye, i say,
i remember first reading the giver when i was probably eleven or twelve.  it made a mark on me, being a voracious reader, i probably read hundreds of books throughout middle/high school, but i remember that one.

i was running on the trail the other day, just thinking about it.  the task of holding pain, the task of holding memory.  most who have seen my level of loss are in their seventies and eighties, and it doesn't seem so bad at that point to see all these pages being ripped from your book, because you know that your story is getting ready to come to a close.  the chapters are almost done and although the cross is getting quite heavy, it is almost time to put it down.  that is what seems so much, the weight of this cross for my expected lifetime... it seems insane.

and of course, none of us are promised days, and while i could die tomorrow, a 29 year old caucasian female non-smoker, runner... i would say the odds are in my favor.

it would seem to me that although people would say that i could expect it to change or get easier, in a large way my life only gets increasingly difficult.  the weight of the yoke is not getting lighter.  and it is so so difficult for me to have any compassion towards those who i feel only increase its weight.  and that's on me, right?  my pain does not diminish the pain of those around me, simply because i am in more does not mean that other's don't hurt.

where's the damn remote?  i want to fast forward my life.
your daughter (our) is the one to hold me through my tears.  it is getting harder and harder to cry.  there is still so much numb.  it's like looking at pictures of a different family, a different girl.  sometimes i wish i had physical scars from what i went through, just so i could see it.  so much changed and yet nothing (everything) looks the same.

it should be your arms holding me, your voice whispering that we are ok that i am ok, that it wasn't our fault (my), your kisses bringing me back down to sanity.

from the moment i met you i felt safe.  i had been through so much in the past year in relation to guys and then all of a sudden, you popped up, and no matter what i said or did or how i acted, you just stayed and stayed and stayed, you proved yourself over and over in the beginning.  and i felt safe.

i gave you my heart for safekeeping - only letting it out when we had children, each of whom have a piece tucked inside of them.  and now, now i only have two pieces remaining.  the rest torn asunder.  how could i have been so foolish, so naive.  why is there no safety zone?

in my hour of darkest need, you disappeared, the biggest storm, you did not weather.  choosing instead, to leave it to me.  do you know how jealous i get sometimes?  the very real thought that if i had any inkling to your actions, i would have beaten you to the punch on it.  we NEEDED you, i NEED you now.  i miss your voice, your touch, your humor, i miss talking to you and hearing you bitch, i miss our communication and being known so intimately that no words are needed, my home, my soul's home, disappeared right along with you.

you were supposed to be my future.  i remember one time driving back home from baltimore we saw an old couple at mcdonalds, eating breakfast together.  i don't even remember if i mentioned it to you, but i knew that would be us.  i (we) had put so much effort and time and energy into us, into our future.  and we had it, this brilliant, glittering realization of effort, the five of us.  and then... and then... and then..

now you are my past, something to be explained and processed and defended.  now you remain a mystery that i can never solve, addy keeps asking me when we are going to die like you and elly.  wish i knew, wish i had the words to explain to her, wish you wouldn't have folded up your sails.

do you know how much i want to fold into the current, how badly i want to put down my oar and rest, how HARD this is for me.  i have tasted the bitter, is the sweet ruined forever?  everything now seems to be rotting.

there is no good, there is no good, there is no good.
one memory pops up quite a bit, it really is more of a mash of our time together.  laying on our bed, me on your chest, windows open.  looking out into the world, knowing i was safe, knowing i was home.
i am forever undone.
this has been a weird year.  i am sad today, regardless of the outcome, i would have been sad.  this election has been brutal... like most of my 2016.  i just keep picking myself up off the floor.  because addy needs me.

a mom who can face loss, day in day out.  and still smile at her, still laugh with her, still tickle her.  the hits just keep on coming.  it is difficult right now to smile and to keep pushing forward in my life. yes, i've faced personal loss but there is also the future to think about, my kids future to think about.  our country, our climate... it's been a rough ride, a very rough ride.

today though, we mourn.  we mourn, because regardless of who you voted for, this was not a character driven election, we mourn because right now we are sad, and divided, and scared.  today we mourn.

but in my mourning i remind myself that he does not speak for me, or my house, or my kids.  that he has no personal influence on how i treat people on a daily basis.  that regardless of who is president the world would be a better place if we all just let people in during heavy traffic.  that the president cannot and will not influence how i treat my neighbors, my friends, and my enemies.

it starts with me, my volunteering, my example to addy.  it starts with a single mom who is confident of herself and her children, who will protect and set an example, who loves everyone even the people spewing hate, but one who will not be walked on, who will stand up for values and women and the marginalized.  it starts with me.

i will not rest and let the government be the change, i am the change.  it starts with me.

8 months.


remember when you were alive and i could take a picture of you whenever i wanted to?  i had no idea what a gift that was... remember when you were alive and i could snuggle you close and listen to your breath?  i did know that was a gift.  recently it seems the breath of your siblings is what is keeping me going.

i am distraught without you here this season baby.  the summer i could handle, the autumn i could handle, but christmas?  christmas without my last baby?  why did i get you just to lose you?  why did i get to see you and smell you and touch you and love you just to have you ripped out of my grasp?  out of my life?

how can we ever celebrate without you?  did you get to dress up for halloween?  addy asked me what you were in heaven, we decided you were a lamb and daddy was a pumpkin.  i hope you did baby, even though let's be honest your mom didn't have the greatest track record dressing up her babies for their first halloween... both of your siblings went uncostumed.

out of everything, your loss remains the cruelest in my heart.  to live unending years without you by my side, the one who captured my soul, who completed the puzzle, who fit me in a way no one else can touch, that is the cruelest pain i have ever known.

i've been getting lots of tattoos recently, looking for an outward expression of my pain, i haven't been able to get yours yet though... i am sorry.  i should have the strength to bear the loss, to remind myself daily of what is not mine, but i can't.  not yet.

i don't know if it is more sad to buy gifts for you and know they won't be opened or not buy anything and just pretend it isn't so.

what am i going to do without you...


today you are missed.  like every day precious girl, like every day.  but today especially.  i am sitting in starbucks, thinking about you, crying.

what is it that destroys our spirit?  or are we born with it?  an awareness that no one makes it out of this game alive?

She tips her head to the side and it all falls out.  Everything she has been hiding.  Everything she has been keeping secret.  It is there, sitting in her lap.  And it’s nothing special really.  It’s the same fears and hopes and dreams that everyone carries.  She is not special, she knows this.  There is nothing rare about her.  She floats around in her life wasting it.  We all waste it, what makes a worthwhile life?  What makes an admirable goal?  Happiness?  It is a facade, a mirage in the desert.  There is no happiness, there is only a salivation for more.  There is no contentment to be found, just a fueling passion for better.  There is no saving, there is only dying amongst the wreckage, a brittle pot cast on the stones, a clay figure stomped under foot.

We all pull back the curtain eventually, my time came sooner than most. Hi, Mr. OZ, it's nice to meet you.

the holidays

well they are sweeping in like a hurricane, right?  so many specific dates, so many memories.  this season last year was probably the most exciting time in my life.  i was pregnant, working, i treated buying gifts for my family like a part time job.  i had started shopping in october for addy.  we spent thanksgiving with our friends and then i worked all night at carters.  i loved it, the excitement, all the shoppers, the endless lines.  christmas was magical, as it always had been since 2010 when jim and i planned our wedding for 12/4.

alayne came up and visited us in november.  we talked and watched millionaire matchmaker, jim ran out and got us mcdonalds "you know what sounds good" she came and saw me at work.  we talked about life and what the past ten years had held for us, ten years, ten years of our life had held surprises and hard times but we were happy.  both of us were happy.  she was interviewing for a new job and i remember being so proud of her.  our lives had taken such different paths, but she was down in north carolina with her place and her friends and a good career, kicking ass, taking names.

that was the last time she saw us together, whole.  the next time everything had changed.  and in that moment we just sat there, i sat there in my room and talked with her about our lives unfolding and what we wanted to see change, but overall how content we were.

sometimes i don't know why we take pictures.  they are so insignificant compared to flesh.  the sharp lines of a photo never truly doing justice to the softness of your baby's skin.  the shadows never truly highlighting what their eyes look like when they meet your gaze.  the smile of your husband's mouth never truly matching what it felt like when he caught the corner of your eye.

i wear out my pictures, flipping through the ones of elly, trying to feel the fire but feeling detached.  trying to engage the pain but left numb.  there are only so many i have, she was only five weeks.  and i stare at her face and try to feel what if felt like to hold her close, to hear her breath in the bassinet next to me, and it escapes me, it escapes me after six months.  and i package it up and i put it away like a box.  like a box not to be opened, but even when i try to open it- it eludes me.

and now, now i trudge through the holiday season and the onslaught of memories that accompanies it.  five years of memories and one year of "if only."  damn i miss my family.