A Tender Reminiscence

I had all the intentions of writing some thoughtful, well versed piece tonight in commemoration of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

But 1 tea party, 2 children and 1 sick husband tucked in bed, 2 grant proposals, and a million work emails answered-later my brain is fried. All that’s left are just some wandering thoughts.

October 9th came and went with little recognition.

I bought an ivy.

I named her Gretchen.

She sits on my desk hutch at work, basking in the natural and florescent lights. She’s spoiled.

I thought about taking the day off but then decided I would work the first half and then maybe take off early. But then I ended up staying all day. It was probably better that I did that.

Dylan and I went out to eat at Olive Garden with the girls and enjoyed some family time together. It’s so rare lately that we’re all in one place together without one of us rushing out the door and blowing kisses in passing. Such is this time of life.

And it hits me that she (I’ve decided that she would’ve been) would be around four months now, give or take a couple weeks.

And that’s hard.

But not as hard as it was last year.

Or last month.

But still hard nonetheless.

And so I press on, acknowledging the truth and finding solace in the Psalms. In my husband and my daughters. In Moses, the ever constant, neurotic pug companion of mine. In my friends and family. In books and music. In the experiences of the everyday constants. The routine. The surprises and unknowns.

I’m not sure if it ever gets easier, I can’t imagine experiencing this type of ferocious emotion again. I pray I don’t. But I think that, in hindsight and with the strength of being a year out, I’ll be okay and life has and will continue in this new normal. A normal that changes and gains meaning each day because of and not because of October 9th.

What a darkly funny date to be emblazoned in my memory alongside mine and my husband’s anniversary, our children’s birth dates, our family’s birth dates, my airplane day, all these dates that I’ve committed to memory for one reason or another.

But Gretchen’s charming. And healthy. And she purifies my dry office air.

She’s got long, graceful limbs and her leaves arch in the most delicate way. She makes my desk seem inviting, and soothing.

A tender reminiscence.

Advertisements

When there are NO Words

I feel the need to write today.

There are too many thoughts in my head and they need to get out.

I find that writing is cathartic, when it’s unplanned, when it’s most needed.

And today…well today is certainly one of those days.

I’ve been avoiding news sources like the black plague. So much pain, so much hurt, so much injustice these days that this poor Mama’s heart just breaks and re-breaks every time I scan the latest news header. Tornados, rock slides, car accidents…all of it unbearable to me and I feel a wash of pain and grief come over me in solidarity for the people and families who have been affected irrevocably.

In an instant.

A.mere.instant.

And so I hug my children a little bit tighter, selfishly and thankfully, tearfully acknowledging that I have no control over anything other than how I live now.

As a talker, I know that words are the first thing that I want to offer to people, hurting or not. However, all too often I hear things like “Be strong” tossed around to the hurting or “God’s plan…” or “Don’t forget about how blessed you still are…” immediately during these trying times, as if a verbal-one-for-all-bandaid could do any good…if there was even such a thing. (And you know me, I love a good cliché.)

To those people I would say, SHUT UP.

I have no time for you, the hurting have no time for you, and there simply is NO TIME for you.

There is a time and place for everything. God is everywhere always, I truly believe that, and I truly believe that God gave us a wide range of emotions to express our lives to one another, our souls. When grief, when sadness, when despair are so very, very fresh (and even lingering) these are not the words that those of us on our grieving journeys need to hear.

What we need are our communities to come alongside us and to hold us up in love. To comfort…to hold… to deliver the standard Midwestern hotdish or pan of bars. More often than not, the last thing that we need are words. Because really, how can you explain away lives taken too soon? Evils and accidents, natural disasters with consequences that rend God’s heart? What words can you give that would comfort a parent left to live their days without the joys and pains of their child?

If anything, perhaps, we should hug our children and our spouses, our family and friends a bit tighter, and revel in the blessings that permeate our lives; and in doing so as a community, honor those who grieve by extending our ears to listen and shoulders to help bear the burden.

I am #2599

I am #2599.

I am a mother of two daughters.

I am a woman and a wife.

I am a daughter and a sister.

I am an aunt and a niece.

I am a grand daughter and a daughter-in-law.

I am adopted.

I am a sister-in-law, a mentor, a friend, a cousin, an ex-girlfriend, a woman of color.

I am a woman saved by Grace.

I am a bad poet, a jaded idealist, an adventurer, a writer, a musician, a dreamer, a baker, a cook, an artist, a reader, a lover of fashion, a crusader, a supervisor, a change maker, a change yearner, a decorator, a believer of prayer, a searching soul.

I am passionate, loud, stubborn, sensitive, brash, compassionate, competitive, loving, annoying, zealous, animated, joy-seeking, inquisitive, independent, dependent, pessimistic with a twist of sunshine, goal-oriented, achieving, path making, privileged, and humbled daily.

And yet it feels that the church only focuses on one thing.

My vagina.

I am so much more than my lady parts. My vagina. My uterus. My birth control. My reproductive rights. My fertility. My pregnancies. My miscarriage. My sexual history. My purity. My impurity. My female-ness. 

Christ knows I am more.

He knows women are more.

I am a daughter of His.

I am a follower.

I am a player in humanity.

And because of this,

I am #2599.

NOTE: I am stealing and reposting Rachel Held Evans’ comment policy concerning the positional content of this post. It reads as follows: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

Christmas was, Christmas is

Christmas was…

Lovely and well-fed.

Filled with warmth.

Blessed in all ways.

Peaceful and joyous.

Christmas is a reminder of…

The sacrifices given.

The beauty born from healed scars.

The preciousness of life.

The amazing husband that loves me.

The perfection hiding in our imperfection.

I didn’t take many pictures of our week-long whirlwind of Christmassy happenings. Instead, I chose to try to stay in the moment, savoring this holiday and this time together as a family. The regular updates on Sandy Hook splashed across the televisions and on the radio were a morbid, albeit succinct reminder to enjoy the moments given to me with the littles. So I hugged them a little tighter and repressed my disgruntled-too-many-presents-I’m-drowning-in-wrapping-paper attitude a bit longer.

It certainly wasn’t without its bumps and frustrations (and I am infinitely glad that Dylan is as patient as he is). I’ve struggled with whether or not to write about it, it doesn’t seem very Christmassy or seasonally joyful but I think that, just in case there’s one other person like me out there, that I will. Because as much as I love Christmas and as much as I loved spending it with my family, this Christmas was probably the hardest one I’ve weathered through. Because this was the first holiday that I have celebrated post miscarriage.

I hate that word.

Every gift that I opened, every token of love and goodwill from family and friends, was a brief reminder in itself. No onesies, no blue or pink, no congratulations, no baby toys or books or invasive questions or belly touching. Just piles and piles of dolls, play foods, and coloring books. All of which I am very thankful for, and yet, my heart can’t help but twinge a bit at the lack of joy over the coming of a new life. We would’ve been telling people now about the pregnancy. Maybe even Pinteresting a clever manner in which to reveal the news. Facebook posts, blog posts, Instagram and Twitter…

All silent. Save for a Happy Christmas here and there.

I’m struggling to find words to explain my general dourness this Christmas season, which hopefully had enough Santa facade for my girls not to notice, so that I can continue on this journey of healing and growth. But it’s hard. Way.Hard. Hard enough that I’ve been mulling over this post for quite some time and still, after hours of deliberation, are at a loss for words. Which is a strange realization since I felt that I had dealt with the majority of my grief earlier this fall upon hearing the news. Apparently not. Apparently it takes time and continues to hit you in waves days, months, years? afterwards. So much grief for a life never fully realized.

And though I know this matters naught to you, know Mommy and Daddy love and miss you in the fullest sense. Happy Christmas little one.

Weekend with the cousins

This post isn’t completely about the cousins, I have to admit. This weekend was…full. Truthfully, I’m not sure what other word would best describe it. Maybe I’ll just explain in pictures, I think images are often the best descriptors when words fail anyhow.

Ada and Nellie were reunited with their cousin-BFFs, Lael and Lucy.

@ Grandma Sheila's house.

@ Grandma Sheila’s house.

My Grandma Sue was welcomed into the arms of God on Saturday.

Grandma Sue, the way I remember her as a child, at the lake cabin.

Grandma Sue, the way I remember her as a child, at the lake cabin.

Nellie contracted another round of pink eye and was kind enough to share with Dylan again. We’re still on the fence as to when/if Ada or I am going to get it.

Waiting at the ER for pink eye drugs on Sunday morning.

Waiting at the ER for pink eye drugs on Sunday morning.

I labeled and packed up Ada’s suitcase for her big Florida weekend adventure with Grandpa Pete. (And yes, you did read that right. The Florida trip has been postponed due to recent events and will regain excitement steam this spring when Mom speaks again in March.) There’s just a couple of other things I’ll have to throw in last minute tonight to send with.

Packing for Mayo, again.

Packing for Mayo, again.

And I packed suitcases for the rest of us for our week-long trek to Rochester/Twin Cities.

There is a prayer service on Friday and then the funeral will be on Saturday. I was asked to sing–weddings and funerals. Times for family to come together and celebrate but utilizing different emotions. Meh.

Prayers, I’m sure, would be appreciated.

Love you Grandma.

Love you Grandma.

Love you Grandma.

Pinteresting

Have you heard of Pinterest? I might be a bit addicted. Not in the, “spend-millions-of-hours-pouring-over-crafts-recipes-expensive-things-I-cannot-afford-home-improvement-kind” (although that may be false) but rather in the “expand-my-horizons-and-keep-my-diligently-xbox-playing-studying-husband-company-kind.” Can you see the difference? No? Never mind then.

I’m addicted to trying new things lately. Maybe it’s my “next step” in the grief process or maybe it’s because I’m simply feeling antsy, ready for something new. I can’t be the only one that gets that wanderlust feeling? Unfortunately and fortunately, I don’t have the resources for such large adventures so I’m content to keep my changes small and continuous for the time being. Enter Pinterest! So many little and new changes that I can implement in my cooking/baking repertoire and on my kids and in my house! Okay, I totally lied about being that kind of pinterester.

Any way. I wanted to share with you a few of my recent successes and also failures from my adventures. I’ll try and get better at documenting said projects but until then, I’ll just “repin” from my arranged boards and  (<= insert lots of Pinterest jargon that no one really cares about). In fact, I’m digging this change and new adventures thing so much that “Pinteresting” is going to become a regular (by that I mean once a month–I do still have somewhat of a life) feature at Kimchi Sauerkraut.

THUS, here are my top 5 Pin Wins of late October/early November:

I used a vinegar/baking soda method to get the weird funk out of my bath towels and so far, so good.

Okay, so I’m combining the two cleaning pins as one since they’re about deep-cleaning appliances. And this one totally took the stench of standing water away from mine. If you want deets, leave a comment and I’ll fill you in.

And my top 5 Pin Fails:

ANNND, next up for me and the girlies’ breakfast tomorrow:

This concludes the Oct/early November Pinteresting round up…for the time being. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my “Pin Wins” and “Pin Fails” on upcoming installments of Pinteresting. Let me know if there’s something in particular that you found through Pinterest that you think I should try or would make my life easier (isn’t that the lie intrigue that it sells us?).

Lessons for a wanderer, part I

Last weekend was my first Sunday back at church.

I struggled. (To say the least) Struggled and struggled and struggled all week through whether or not I was going to attend. I opted out the weekend before and stayed at home with my family to heal together and paint the entire upstairs–which is in itself another story. The weekend prior to that we simply stayed at home. (I admit it, we are not nearly an admirable family of church-goers as of late.)

I struggled because it had been a long time since our last participation. I struggled because I didn’t want to be away from my children. I struggled because I didn’t want to see all those large, teetering and glowing pregnant women. I struggled because I didn’t want to sit alone (Dylan was working). I struggled with the thought that people would just look at me and wonder why I was gone/what was wrong with me/insert-your-paranoid-grief-filled-idea-here. I struggled because I didn’t want to sit behind/next to/anywhere near a sweet, soft, little baby.

Ada asked me that morning, “Mommy, are we going to church today? I miss my friends. And I need to bring my money to Jesus.” How’s a mother supposed to say “no” to that? Such an innocent question but so pointed to my hurting heart.

We went. I dropped the kids off. I whisked inside the sanctuary and sat down as far away from other people as possible, in a benign spot that did not feature any children or over-comforting women. I was late of course and worship was commencing around me.

I lost it. I was done. I started tearing up and willing myself to stop being ridiculous, to mask them, to push all my thoughts down. I fought with myself to stay there instead of running out of the sanctuary, away from the reminder of loss, from the power of God that felt so overwhelming. But I lost of course. I cried, I stayed, I listened to Pastor Paul’s message on The Compassionate Heart of Jesus, Compassion for the Wanderers. And I was touched and it was the first time in the last two weeks that I begun to feel like I could move through this. Maybe not yet past, but at least through.

Paul threw out the following challenge to the congregation: Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Or have you wandered from Jesus’ love? Return to Him.

Uh…what? Were you inside my head this morning? Were you watching from some creepy telepathic angle that in my struggles, in my struggling to deal with our loss, I had begun to pull away from everything lovely and grieve alone, allowing myself to wallow?

I do want to take a moment to point out that grieving is a process that is different for everyone. My struggle is that when I grieve (and I try not to, but who doesn’t?), I begin to grieve selfishly. As in, my pain and my hurt dictates more decisions and words than it should ever be given reign. I guess that’s common with grief or so I’ve been told, but that’s not what I want for me or for my family. And Sunday I was given a check, reminded that I am not defined by loss, by emptiness.

I am defined by a Love that wants to comfort me, that wants to heal my wounds, but I have to let Him. I have to let him remind me in the pain and in the bittersweet moments who I am and who I’m meant to be. We just have to recognize that we’ve wandered away from the surest healer, I have to remember, and simply return.