Monday, August 11, 2008

Moving wrong along?

The boy is going to be attending a Montessori program starting this fall. It is pretty costly and I can't help but wonder if we could have pulled this off if Eva had survived. Almost certainly, we could not. We're starting to look at houses a little closer to this school and to work, another prospect that would have been both dimmer and more necessary with our third child living.

While most of my brain recognizes that the boy is one of the children who did survive and thus deserves to be able to take advantage of opportunities that arise, there is a small part of my brain, dedicated to the proposition that all children are created equal, that is tortured just a little by the fact that we're making this lemonade. I feel disloyal to my girl. If I had the choice, I might choose differently. I don't have the choice.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Oh no! A budding fashionista?!?

The girls would have been 17 months old today. We're very proud.

To celebrate the occasion, the girl showed off her exploding vocabulary (which now includes yes, no, ball, duck, bye-bye -- all exclaimed with passion and emphasis -- if not the correct pronunciation) with a new word. As we were getting ready to leave this morning, I took the girl to the living room and she clearly anticipated my intentions because she pointed to her bin of footwear and exclaimed "Sthoo!" which could only mean one thing. Baby needs a new pair of ... [word of the day]

This I [Don’t] Believe: The disempowering nature of “bootstrap” cliché

(I wrote this and submitted it to This I Believe. It was not selected for broadcast and I am okay with that.)

Whenever life challenged me as a child and young person, I went to my closet of “go-to” aphorisms and wrapped myself tightly in one or more, depending on the situation, the depth of its chill. Through every setback or disappointment, I would bury my face in the softness of “it is for the best” or “everything happens for a reason” or the truly heroic, full body cashmere sweater of “that which doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Those cloaks stood me in good stead until now.

Then last year I watched one of my identical twin daughters die in the aftermath of 2 open-heart surgeries. It was the last and worst trauma in a very complicated pregnancy and a doozy of a short life. Over a year later, I keep trying to go to that closet but none of those platitudes fit anymore. They’re garish and abrasive in the light of the “new normal” as bereaved mothers call it. I can’t take comfort in “think of what you DO have” and won’t even touch “well, at least you still have one.”

But it is “that which doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” that I keep going back to, keep trying to use to cover the rawness of my new skin. I want it to be so. A little strength would come in very handy, in fact. I want a heroic happy ending wherein the devastated but persevering mother goes on to channel her agony into something that makes the world a better place. The problem is that I am not stronger, not yet anyway, and all I have to show the world thus far is this essay. So, for now at least, I am donating a closet full of easy-care clichés for something more minimal.

The new garments, the ones that seem to fit after shock and anguish have abated somewhat are not as thick and not as soft, nothing ever will be again. But though the chill still passes through, one can find a little warmth in “be as well as possible,” “I am thinking of you” and most importantly “I have not forgotten her.”