Of Cabbages and Kings

Today was an unexpectedly hard day. A man I barely knew, who was hardly tied to my family, died recently. He led a good life. He was 89 years old. He passed after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and various “old age” illnesses, like double pneumonia. He was a veteran and well loved. We met twice, maybe three times. He was a nice man. His daughter is my mother-in-law. She married my father-in-law after I married J.D. By all accounts, this was about me showing up to support her.

Tell that to the girl on the back row crying to herself.

Every funeral, since those of 2006, first burying my Nunna and then my D-daddy, has been a revisiting of their funerals. Every burial has been me burying them again. You must understand that they were my stars. They were EVERYTHING in the world that was stable and loving. I love my parents and losing them will be hard. But losing my grandparents was like losing my true north. And my compass has never recovered.

So today, sitting in the back row, alone, at the funeral of man I barely knew, I tried desperately to not interrupt the grief of another family. And I grieved the loss of the only unconditional love I have ever understood.

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5am. Just me and the chickens.

I sincerely hope that you were not also up this early in the morning.  I am, mostly, a morning person, but even 5am is a little early.  I appreciate what people say about getting up before everyone else and getting things done around the house.  Getting a jump on things!  But I have two problems with this idea.   The first is that these folks must live in a house with much better sound proofing than mine.  The second is that I just cannot seem to break through the mental wall that defines everything this side of 6am as just too damn early.  I’m sure it has something to do with having to get up at 4am during my “formative” years to get in the car and get my stepfather to work on time.   But I still don’t have a way around the wall yet.  I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

“So why is she up so early,” you may be asking yourself.

Well, truthfully. I had a dream about my grandparents.  I am unsure whether to classify it as a “dream” or a “nightmare.”  I have dreams like this pretty frequently, but this one was particularly difficult.  In my dream they were both alive.  Their house had been sold, like in real life, and they wanted to go back and have a look.  Though my grandmother was no longer living when the house sold in real life.  It was as if they just hadn’t been around when it sold and so a lot of things were left behind that they never intended to leave behind.  And then the inevitable happens.  One minute I’m holding my grandmother’s hand and arm to help her down some stairs and the next minute I’m awake in my bed and she is gone.  Again.

This part never gets any easier, does it?

Nightmare.

Regifting

2006 was a tough year by any measure.  I’ve alluded to some things before, like how I ended up with a little counseling and a little lesson in communication in its wake.  But haven’t really thought about it, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that I haven’t really felt broken about it, in a while.  Amazing really.  If you had asked me this time last year, I would have said that I would never be able to think about that year without being overwhelmed by the grief of it.

I still can’t guarantee I won’t cry.

Let me start at the end.  The end really was the worst.

I found out that I was pregnant on my birthday.  Not long after that I saw her heartbeat.  Her name was going to be Zoe.  Of course it was going to be a little girl.  A little girl named Zoe.  I mean, it could have been a little boy named Henry, but really I didn’t believe that.  I believed in a little girl named Zoe.  I believed that she was the gift.  The gift I was being given after a year of learning the intimate details of heartbreak.  She was the balance.

And so, once upon a time there was a little red-headed girl named Zoe.  Zoe, who would have to be doused in SPF 163, would have an attitude like her Nunna, and a sense of humor like her Ddaddy, even though she would never meet either of them.  I believed in her until the morning I woke up bleeding.  I believed even as I filled a package of super-max Always pads.  I believed even as I watched the blood flow down my legs in the shower.

I had thought 2006 was a lesson in heartbreak.  I was right about the lesson.  I was just wrong when I thought, in early December, that the lesson was over.

What was funny, funny “weird” not funny “ha-ha,” is how many people I discovered had their own story of miscarriage.  I was so tired after all of it that I just couldn’t lie.  People would ask “How are you?” (I was obviously not well) and I would just matter-of-factly say “I just had a miscarriage. I’ve been better.”  It opened a door.  Men talked to me about their wives.  Women talked to me about how miscarriages almost ended their marriages.

It was like a secret club with a decoder ring.  The words were there all along but you needed to have the ring to tell you what they were saying.  And what they were saying is that this loss is common,  frighteningly common.  Current statistics estimate that 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Certainly, much of what Fernanda Moore writes about in her  article on Parenting.com rings true.  It doesn’t make it “all better” that you aren’t alone, but knowing it, perhaps even believing it, can certainly help you drag yourself onward into life.