Monday, November 28, 2011

I Need Those Pieces Back.

February 2007, revisited...
 I spent several hours at the cemetery last night after work, and then I took a drive to clear my mind. I took a left off the main highway and followed the winding road as far as it would go. House. Farm. House. House. "Road Ends 1000 Feet." The long winding road dropped down to old gravel at a rundown cemetery with some of those flashy lights that I hate so much. The glowing eyes of a single grazing deer caught my headlights as the tree line and road slipped away into open darkness. A tiny sliver of a red moon seeped through the thick black clouds, illuminating the dark water just enough to bring fallen, withered trees and lonely wooden poles out of hiding. Dove cries echoed faintly from out across the water. The air was chilly and calm, with an abnormal stillness that just didn't feel right. Across the way, red lights shone dimly under the highway bridge like distant dying stars, the only sign of civilization aside from the quiet drone of the truck's engine. It was dark, desolate, and cold, unlike anything I've ever seen, even in those crazy sci-fi movies. I sat shivering and closed my eyes, choking on the still air and the tears freezing between my eyelashes. For a moment, my eyes were completely frozen and blind.

I heard her laughter from the hallway and looked up to see her moving about in the mirror. I could smell her favorite shampoo as her hair swayed when she rounded the corner. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them talking and eating candy in the next room. She looked up and smiled at me, but it couldn't be. She couldn't be there. Her infectious laughter was shattered by the screeching of tires and busting glass. The smell of hot airbag and blood and burning oil seeped through the air like poison gas, thickly drowning out the shampoo of moments before. A loud, smothering scream, and all went silent.

My lungs got tight, and my frozen eyes shot wide open to find the same dark, desolate wasteland I'd been staring at for an hour. As my eyes once again adjusted to the darkness, the red of the moon got deeper, the air got colder, and those red lights under the bridge seemed even farther away than ever. The shadows of those withered trees were more pronounced against the reflection of the moon on the black water, but the whole world seemed to grow ever darker with every faint breath.

The end of that old ferry road felt like the end of the world....and except for the occasional cry of that lonesome dove, I was completely alone.
This was written 7 months after we buried F. That was truly the deepest and darkest time of my life. I used to drive out to the landing where the old ferry used to be and sit for hours at night. It was terrifying, to be completely honest. I didn't like the dark or that old cemetery...especially those damn flashing lights, and some really dark nights it was really hard to tell where the landing stopped and the water began. (But it was my favorite place to be.)

It's been 7 months (actually, 8 months next week) since we lost Brake. My heart hurts for my little boy. My nightmares have been getting worse, but lately, they have all been about F. It hurts, reliving all those horrible nights again, having all of those horrible images burned into my head once more. I get to the point that I don't want to go to sleep because I don't want to see it, to see her like that, to choke on those smells that aren't really there. I get to the point that I'm so overwhelmed that I'm angry. Angry at God for taking her. And then taking Andy. And then Lilly and then Brake. Angry at this out of control roller coaster that I can't get off and never wanted to get on.

I have found that I can no longer distinguish between the grief of one or the other. They are all so closely interlinked even though they were all so different, so completely separate. My heart aches. And this never ending roller coaster is wearing me down. 

I don't sleep, at least not very much or very well. I try to divert my attention to something but I lose my focus. Even when I can focus, I can't remember. I can't remember what I wore yesterday or what I had for breakfast. Nope, not lunch or dinner either. I try to study because I really do want to learn my job. But I confuse this system with that system. And then something stupid like a ladder causes a flashback. It's pointless to try to remember anything when I have those. Then one of Andy's favorite songs comes on and for no apparent reason I just start bawling. And then I'm angry because I hate crying. I cry myself to sleep and then wake up to nightmares and another vicious cycle starts over again. 

This sounds really stupid, but I think the trauma ripped out pieces of my brain, important ones that I need to function at least somewhat like a normal person. I really need those pieces back.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


A few posts ago, I told yall about the blue hydrangeas by our stairs that just refuse to give up their color.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It snowed briefly a few days ago. Winter is here in the Pacific Northwest, whether I like it or not. (I don't, for the record.)

And these guys?

Still there. Still bright as ever. Still not letting go.

They make my heart happy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shot to Pieces.

Yesterday I was so upset about the hat that I completely forgot to tell yall about my visit with the hospital. Maybe that was part of what was upsetting me, in all honesty.

I had to see a doctor in Flight Medicine last week to check up on my asthma. After everything was done, I walked down to the other side of the hospital, where the OB clinic and Labor & Delivery are. I walked out three times before I could muster the courage to walk down their hall. I found someone that could direct me to the right person to talk to. My chest was so tight I'm surprised I could even talk.

"We already have a bereavement program in place. We even have a monthly support system."

Wait. WHAT?!

I tried to hold back tears as I explained to her that we had lost our baby in April and nothing had been available to us. (Or as it seems, nothing had been made available to us.) I told her about creating these memory boxes so that parents would have something.

She was nice. She apologized that no one told us anything was available for us. She showed me the boxes they have, and she told me I could keep one if I wanted, even though she knows it doesn't change anything.

But it seems like it's a no go on donating our boxes.

I'm super bummed. Probably about this more than anything else that's going on or making me feel crappy lately.

I'm trying so hard with this project. I felt like another face, a simple statistic, when I lost my baby. I didn't want to hear generic textbook "this is how grief works" references. I wanted to know that my milk was going to come in and that it was going to hurt like hell, and I wanted to know what I could do it make it stop. I wanted to know that I could at least try to find out what was possibly wrong with me or my baby and how to be more watchful for signs in the future. I wanted to know about funeral homes and services because I was terrified of how much that was going to cost to bury my baby with dignity. I wanted to know that therapists were available who had experience with this kind of loss, even if I chose to not talk to one. I wanted to know that I would continue to bleed and pass huge pieces of tissue for several weeks and that I would end up sleeping with puppy pads on my bed to keep from ruining my sheets. Most of all, I wanted to know that my baby was real. Not a fetus. Not medical waste. Not a miscarriage. A baby. A baby that deserves blankets, stuffed animals, and lots of love, just like any other baby. I needed to know that there was hope beyond this crippling loss.

I want to change that for other families. I want them to have the information they really want and need. The help that those pamphlets can't give them. The answers to so many questions they don't know to ask. I want them to know that they are not alone, that there really is hope in tomorrow, even though today hurts so damn bad and tomorrow seems so far away.

I feel like several months of hard work were shot to pieces in a matter of minutes.

But I'm trying to keep my head up. I have a check up next week to make sure things are still going well down there. At the risk of being shot down again, I'm taking one of my boxes in with me. The RN in the clinic is the one in charge of the support program I was told about, so I'm going to talk with her about it too. I've never been good at taking no for an answer. It's worth a shot, right?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

One Day at a Time.

I bought a knitting loom. I made a tiny baby hat with it. I was so excited and proud of myself. And then....I started crying. 

I hate this. Knowing that babies out there are tiny enough to fit this hat. Knowing so well what these babies look like. Knowing that when most people think of pregnancy and new babies, they picture a healthy, full term baby kicking and screaming its way into the world.....and when I think of it, all I can see is a silent, tiny baby just big enough to fit across both palms.

I hate being here, in this world of being a mother but not quite a mother. I hate that so many of you know exactly what I'm talking about because you are right there too.

I've been seeing a lot of prenatal issues and infant death articles in the news lately. I hate those too. I'm happy that someone is pushing the issue, don't get me wrong about that. But I get so mad when I read them because it sounds like the issues are being pushed for all the wrong reasons. And the statistics and facts sound so misleading and unimportant. I hate that I can tell the people writing them have most likely never lost a child.

There's an awful lot of hate in this post today. But it's the truth. Hate and depression. I don't have the energy motivation to get out of bed most days, especially on days that I have to go into work.

My flashbacks at work are getting worse. I started noticing a trend with them. The worst ones always happened when I was having to use a ladder. And then I realized that the last thing I did at work was on a ladder. My boss argued that I could do this particular job because it was in the hangar, since I wasn't supposed to be allowed on the flight line. He completely ignored the fact that I had been told I should be completely pulled from maintenance at this point, but he said I still had to do something since I was still in the shop, at least until they could find something else for me to do. So at five months pregnant, I spent about half the shift standing a ladder, trying to help them route a heat sensing element (it's a thick wire that runs through the engine compartment to sense an overheat/fire). It hurt so bad. I would get off the ladder to throw up and then have to go right back up. I hurt in muscles I didn't even know I had. I held my aching back and tried to hold back tears. I started spotting that night. The ER found loose blood in my uterus, but they couldn't tell where it was coming from so they sent me home. I followed up with my OB, who said there was no blood and that everything was fine. Within four hours of being home from the OB, I was delivering my son in my bathroom floor. I left work 5 months pregnant and miserable. I came back a month later not pregnant and even more miserable. And now every time I climb onto a ladder, that entire weekend replays in my head.

I really need a new job. But Bryan is still in school. Until he graduates and gets a decent job, my job is the only thing we have keeping us afloat. So I can't do anything but keep dragging myself out of bed and forcing a smile onto my face and making it through, one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Little Longer.

Yesterday I had to say good-bye to a friend.

I knew it was coming. I've been counting down the days with sadness and trying to prepare myself.

Good-byes are normal for us. It's just part of this life we've chosen. Moving every couple years. New friends. Old friends. Here today. Somewhere else tomorrow. It's always something new, but always the same old thing.

This one was different.

This was the closest friend I had on the island. The first person in our shop to try to include me and be my friend. The only person that cared whether I walked into work with a smile on my face, and if I didn't, made it a point to put one there. The only person to talk to me when my baby died, to acknowledge my baby, to talk to me like I was still a normal person when I returned to work.

I thought I was ready for it. I even made him some chocolate chips cookies for the long drive across the country with his dad, wrapped up with pretty tissue paper and ribbon.

I text him in the morning to remind him that I had something for him before he left. He was supposed to be dropping by work, so he was supposed to text me so I could meet him there after I left the gym. It just so happened that part of the base was on an unexpected shut down, so the gym was closed. I went home after work, determined to stay awake until I got the text that he was there. Around 11, he text me saying that he was back at his house and was leaving in an hour. I told him that I could just bring them to him, to make it easier on him, or that I could meet him on his way out. He has to come past my house anyway. But he insisted that he didn't have enough time.

He didn't have time for me or for cookies, and I felt like an idiot for wasting my time making them when I should have been sleeping. I tried to not let it get to me. I tried not to think about it. But I was super bummed. And when Bryan asked me what was wrong, I started crying. And then I got mad that I was crying. And then I got mad because Bryan didn't understand why I was crying about cookies and why I didn't want to talk about it because talking about it only made me cry more. So the afternoon ended with throwing the cookies across the room and crying myself to sleep.

Good-byes are normal for us, but that doesn't make them any easier....

On a brighter note, I took the dog for a walk this morning. Crunching through fallen leaves and chasing birds and bunnies in the early morning was so calming, especially after such a hard day and long night at work.

                                                              (I got those feet from here.)

                                                             He was watching the leaves fall from the trees.

You see that hydrangea up there? Those are one of my favorite flowers. I had some blue ones on our front porch after we lost Brake in April, so they remind me of him when I see them. When we moved to this new place in August, I was sooo happy to see these blooming outside our front door. They make me smile. If you notice in the picture, there's a huge blue one and the rest are all faded pinks and purples. This little guy has hung on for so long, through some really nasty cold nights, and it doesn't look like his color is going anywhere anytime soon. I noticed it one night when I was very exhausted and dreading going into work. I smiled when I saw it, and somewhere inside I heard this tiny little voice saying "Just hold on a little longer."

Yesterday when things were so bad and all I wanted to do was lay in bed and cry because I was so mad about crying in the first place, I found this laying on my front step in a pile of pretty yellow leaves:

And once again I heard that tiny voice, "Just hold on a little longer....."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Everything My Mother Taught Me.

My parents didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up. What they couldn't give us in money or things, they made up for in things that really mattered.

Like teaching us to read and fostering huge imaginations. Like teaching us to have dreams and never stop reaching for them. Like telling us every day that we were loved and that we were beautiful. Like teaching us about sharing. And compassion. And humility.

And one of my personal favorites, self-respect.

Looking back at it now, we didn't have the fancy toys and expensive clothes that our friends had, but I honestly believe we were a lot better off than a lot of them were.

Self-respect isn't something that just happens. It's not as natural as my dark brown hair or my thick Southern accent. It's not as natural as liking sweet tea or the color green. It was learned.

Yes. Learned.

My mother grew up watching her mother be beaten and threatened. She vowed that her children would never have to live through that. My parents have had their arguments, like any couple, but they have never fought in front of us. They have never raised their hands in violence toward each other. They taught us that we were better than that. Better than allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of. Better than allowing ourselves to be beaten or humiliated. Better than allowing ourselves to be overcome by peer pressure. Better than allowing ourselves to feel like anything less than what we really are.

Because we are strong. Because we are beautiful. Because we matter.

If you don't respect yourself, chances are others probably aren't going to either.

When my marriage went downhill, my pride didn't want to admit there was a problem. My pride didn't want to deal with people's comments and looks and gossip. My pride didn't want to hear all the "I told you so's" and "That's what you get for marrying young's". My pride wanted to hold its head high, pretending there weren't fist marks in the bathroom wall or guns hidden in the couch cushions.

My respect for a person, as a sister, as a daughter...told me to run. Because I am strong. Because I am beautiful. Because I matter. Because my parents taught me that I don't deserve that.

There is a woman I know.

She lives with a boyfriend that beats her, with anything and everything he can pick up. She stays because she says she loves him...and because she loves the high she gets from all of the drugs they do together. She says the bruises are okay because the high makes them hurt less. She says the cuts are okay because the sex is great when they are fighting. She says the pain is okay because no one else will love her as much as he does.

She has two beautiful young daughters.

Two beautiful, young, impressionable daughters who are watching her every move, watching to learn how to act and grow. Watching. Learning. Mimicking.

Everything my mother taught me as a child helped define the woman I am now. Everything my mother taught me, I would be teaching my own daughter, if she were still alive.

Everything their mother is teaching them will help them define the women they will become tomorrow. She doesn't even realize that, and it completely breaks my heart...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Home, In Pictures.


My visit home was...refreshing.

After 12 hours of traveling, horrible jet lag, low blood sugar, and just about every thing that could possibly go wrong going wrong, I made it back to WA. Oh, and a 3 mile walk from the shuttle stop to my house. In the cold. With 40 pounds of luggage. In wooden soled cowboy boots. After being awake for 24 hours. Traveling for 12 of those hours.

My feet were so swollen, bruised, and beat up that they were bleeding. And I now have a hole in my boots.

Real post coming soon.