If you’re stumbling on this blog because of my story in Spark: A Creative Anthology, there are a few things you should know.
First, I tend to blog more when I’m upset about something. As a result, my recent posts paint an unfair picture of me as a rather bitter and resentful person. Obviously I’m still grieving Christian’s death, but my day-to-day life is pretty mundane. I don’t actually sit around sobbing, shouting, or otherwise suffering. My grief has become a part of me that I can deal with most of the time. Of course, there are incredibly painful moments, but those are nicely spaced out so I’m not overwhelmed. They just happen to be the times when I have something to say, so it ends up here. I promise, though, I’m doing well. I feel plenty of joy and happiness and sometimes even boredom along with the grief.
Second, my oldest brother, Brian, is the genius behind Spark. He had the idea several months ago of using my posts about Christian in Volume III, and he did all the editing that made the story worthy of publishing. It’s beautiful! I think of it as one of the wonderful things that has resulted from Christian’s death.
Third, I started a blog in 2005. It’s still here, deep down in the archives. Don’t feel tempted to go back that far. I was much younger, much less mature, and a much less interesting person than I am now. I’ll summarize the last 9 years for you: Jarom and I dated, got engaged, got married, had Evan, had June, graduated (Jarom with a law degree, I with a bachelor’s degree), bought a house, got a dog, lost Christian. Somewhere in there I also read a lot of books.
Fourth, I really want to help other families who have lost a baby. If you know someone whose baby has died or will die, please send them here! Keep this blog in the back of your mind, because eventually, you or a friend will run into someone else facing the loss of their child. And you can tell them about my blog, that there is a person ready and willing to talk about the experience and listen with real sympathy. Please let me help.
Fifth, a list of four things just didn’t seem long enough. I don’t have much to say for a fifth item. On Monday I rearranged our bedroom furniture (again). I get restless every so often, and I need a big change. My options are usually to rearrange furniture, make a big purchase, go on a road trip, have another kid, get a haircut, or go crazy. Most of those weren’t possible this time, though – I’ve already made a few big purchases this year, I just got back from a road trip, having another kid is really not an option at the moment, and I love my long hair. Oh, and going crazy just isn’t fun. So I got rid of our big desk (I used it for a work space, but I’m not doing any art for a while) and cleared out the clutter that always ends up in our room. Now the bed is made and there are very few things in here – just what I wanted.
Sixth, I thought of one more thing. Isn’t Jarom the hero of the story? He is incredible. This is my favorite picture from our day in the hospital.
In looking ahead to the six-month mark since Christian’s birth, and then to the one-year mark, I’ve wondered how I can commemorate his short life – and, more importantly, how my life has changed since having him. So I have tried to pay special attention to the ways in which I’m different now than I was in March or April. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I am more willing to believe that every person I encounter is really a person, a person who might be having the absolute worst day of his or her life. I say “believe” because intellectually, I already know that everyone is their own individual and has unique experiences – it’s something else to feel it and acknowledge it. This has made me, I hope, more patient and compassionate, in theory if not in practice.
What I’m thinking of doing, then, is asking my friends and family (and myself) to make an effort to spend Christian’s birthday believing that every person we encounter is really a person, and then treat each person as such. To not dismiss someone because of the way they dress, or where they work, or because I’m in a hurry and don’t want to expend energy being nice.
We still have more than 7 months until then (September 24 will be 5 months since Christian died), so maybe we can do some practice runs before then.
What are your thoughts?
I still haven’t figured out how to be patient, especially with the kids. On days when I’m already feeling lousy, my capacity for patience seems significantly diminished. Take today, for example…
Our new door, courtesy of Jarom’s grandma, was finally being installed, and I’d gotten up around 7:30 since the installer was scheduled for 8. I went to bed early so I’d be rested, but that didn’t happen. And I was on edge because I was worried something would go wrong with the door, or we’d be stuck at home all day while they installed it (which, I realize, is not the end of the world), and also that whole thing about Tiny Baby. The kids were fairly well-behaved the whole time, and I didn’t even notice that it was getting toward the end of the “naptime safe zone.” You know, if I put June down too late, she won’t be tired at bedtime. (By the way, did you catch that I’m talking about June’s naps? She takes them again! Daily! Thank you to whoever prayed for that!!!)
I told June it was almost naptime, to which she sweetly replied, “No, it’s happy time!” As I went to pick her up she jumped – quite forcefully for her size – and slammed her head into my nose. For the second time today. It really hurt…a lot…and I was running out of energy/motivation/positive feelings anyway, so I didn’t exercise patience. I shouted at June, which made her cry, and I unlovingly put her in bed for her nap. I didn’t even look at her, I just shut the door and went in to my bed, where I cried about being a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mom.
Then I fell asleep.
I woke up a few times, mainly because Evan kept coming in to show me the new Lego thing he’d built, and every time I woke up I was shaking. Not violently, but still – it was weird. June ended up sleeping over 2 hours, and by the time we were both done napping I wasn’t shaking anymore. Sadly, I also didn’t have any more patience. I hoped a nap would do some magic recharge on that.
Good news, though: at bedtime I had both kids clean up their rooms, and aside from supervising, I didn’t help at all. They picked up everything and put it all away. This is big, because it actually requires a lot of patience on my part to let them clean up in their distracted, very slow way. It would be so much quicker to do it myself. But Evan and June both managed to get things tidied (eventually), so maybe I’m making progress – even if I’m far from perfect.