Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Halloween recap

Okay. So I've been busy at work and haven't blogged. In fact the only reason I'm writing now is that my afternoon meeting was canceled unexpectedly leaving me with unassigned time.

Halloween went okay. Nowhere near as bad as last year.

Meg was a ballerina kitty cat. She looked really cute. I knit her the ears and the fingerless gloves. By the end of the evening she had lost some of the felt off the gloves.

My husband and I walked with the large crowd of children and parents we were trick or treating with for awhile. Meg seemed like she was fully comfortable with the other kids and there were plenty of grownups, so we went and sat on our porch, handed out candy, and knitted. Meg came home exhausted from running from house to house and on a sugar buzz. We let her have one more piece of candy and then sent her to bed. She still has candy left now slightly more than a month out from Halloween.

Note the two pumpkins. We had the large pumpkin from one of our neighbors who tries to grow the largest possible pumpkin every year. After Nora and her daddy had carved it, we all looked at it and realized there should be another pumpkin. So the small pumpkin is for Drew. We eventually carved it with a happy guy face and took it out to the cemetery.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday memory: Halloween

So Meg has been insisting she wants to be a kitty cat ballerina for Halloween this year. However since she has also wanted to be just a cat or a ballerina or a butterfly, we are waiting another week to see if the choice is solid.

Halloween really sucked last year for us. This is probably pretty normal since it was the first one without Drew. Fortunately Meg was trick-or-treating with a bunch of friends and their parents and so we could stay home and cry instead of taking her around. Meg had a blast. Hopefully this year will be better, but the group trick-or-treating is still happening so we don't have to go if we can't. I've been knitting my husband a Totoro hat for him to wear if we go. I have no idea what I would wear for a costume.

On Meg and Drew's first Halloween they were about 10 months. So we dressed them in these onesies and stayed home and answered the door. I remember that the neighborhood identical twins stopped by and I was proud to point out we had twins as well.

The second Halloween I wanted to take them trick-or-treating. We tried. We made it as far as next door. They enjoyed handing out the candy to kids who stopped by. Meg wouldn't wear her wig, but wore it for dress up for the rest of the year.

The third Hallloween they were two and half. They finally got it. We made it around the block despite it being cold, wet and windy. I figured this was the last time I could dress them up in identical outfits so I was enjoying it. These are the outfits mentioned in this memory.

Last year since Drew was gone, I couldn't bear to pick out a costume and Meg has her own strong opinions about clothing, so I let her pick stuff from her dress up collection. She called herself a "cowgirl princess." She had a blast trick-or-treaing and eating the candy afterwards.

Hopefully this year we will be easier for us. Meg is already stating that she wishes that it could be Halloween today. I'm not so sure.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday memory: the mall

Grief is an odd creature. It likes to sneak up on you and hit you with a wave of sadness unexpectedly.

We went to the mall in a neighboring bigger town Saturday. We go there fairly regularly. The mall has most of the clothing stores my husband and I like to shop at and a play area. Meg always wants to go to the play area. So we go there first and then my husband and I take turns shopping while the other one watches Meg.

This time the playground was full of little boys. Little boys about Meg's age, which of course means I began to wonder about Drew and what he would be doing now. It is odd that this bothered me particularly since Meg does go to preschool, where there are lots of little boys her age as well. Meg of course did notice I was upset and came over to give me a hug and I told her as I do in these situations that I was sad because I missed Drew.

Thank goodness for the distraction of knitting. I had brought a paid of Meg's socks to knit. Otherwise I would have done some major crying in public, again. Not that I really care if I cry in public, but it is a bit awkward.

We have been going to this play area for quite awhile. I remember going there and having them crawl on the mats before they could walk. I remember the first time they were old enough to climb in the slide/ball pit area and they would only do it holding onto one of our hands. I remember early potty training where one of them would need to use the potty just as we had arrived (and of course the potty was a ways away from there) I remember going there just for the distraction during long winter days during break and it being so busy Meg wasn't interested in playing in the slide area but Drew was.

I guess the places that are filled with memories of Drew will always have an ability to hit the grief button at any moment. Perhaps it will wear of eventually, we'll see.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday memory: the volcano sisters

We found out at least 3 seasons of the Backyardigans are available for instant watching on Netflix. So we've now watched most of three seasons in the last month or so. This is one of the more tolerable children's shows for me to watch, although my favorite remains the Muppet Show, which the kids also loved.

Meg and Drew always liked watching Backyardigans and dancing to the music. Meg always pretended to be Tasha and Drew was Uniqua. I was occasionally allowed to be Tyrone or Pablo, but Meg objected to the idea that I wanted to pretend to be a boy, although never to Drew pretending to be a girl. After Drew died, she said I could be Uniqua now because Drew was gone.

Their favorite was the Legend of the Volcano sisters. In it Tasha and Uniqua are the volcano sisters and they spend time saying "We are mad" very loudly until eventually the others invite them to the luau. While Meg and Drew enjoyed dancing and watching the shows, this is the only one they pretended to be after watching. They would sit on the back of the couch and yell delightedly "We are mad!"

Fortunately I was not around when Meg decided to rewatch the episode last week. My husband said it was more pleasant to remember than he thought it would be. Perhaps it will be, I'm sure I'll get a chance to watch it with her eventually.

Friday, September 10, 2010

And so it begins

The semester began two weeks ago and I haven't gotten a chance to post since. I'm hoping to get back to the Monday memory once I figure out where to fit it into the day. I'm also hoping to get back to reading/commenting on other blogs.

Meg began preschool again this Monday. She was so excited to be back at preschool rather than daycare. In typical fashion she is now difficult to get to leave preschool. She wants to stay and play with all the cool toys.

Here is a picture of her first day back. She chose to wear the shirt I picked up for her at a conference. It was swimming on her in January and now it fits pretty well with room to grow. I expect she'll need the room to grow as her shoe size just changed again. Meg is standing on the play area we bought for the preschool with Drew's memorial money. I like that the picture includes something that reminds me of him as well.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday memory: dancing with babies

Dancing with babies was our evening entertainment for the babies second winter. They were about 1 at the time. We would put on some silly kids music like Philadelphia Chickens and each take a baby and dance. Meg and Drew particularly like to be dipped and spun. We danced after dinner most nights in the kitchen spinning on the linoleum

As they grew older it evolved to me and sometimes my husband dancing around the kitchen with Meg and Drew. We would take turns leading the dance line around the kitchen table. They really liked the Hoppity Song and Man in a Hat. Daddy would help them do "super big jumps" during the Hoppity song.

Now Meg still likes to dance. Currently her favorite song is Damn Good Times by They Might Be Giants, which is about a girl who is a natural dancer (and fortunately the word damn is only heard in the background) Her dancing is frenetic and bouncy until the songs gets to the slower section which she calls the stomping part.

Meg wants dance lessons. In the rural area in which we live this mean ballet lessons where she will be told exactly what to do. I can't decide if she will like that or if it will make her crabby. If we do decide to do them, I hope they won't stifle her informal fun movements she does now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday memory: Drew in a dress

This is an apt memory for today, since Meg mentioned this morning that she dreamed of Drew wearing a purple dress and a bow tie last night. We are uncertain whether she actually dreams about Drew or if she mentions these on mornings when we seem crabby. She certainly emphasizes whatever details make up smile. By the end of the story about the dream daddy in the dream was wearing a bow tie on his dress and several on his toes.

Drew was a girly boy. He really liked wearing dresses for dress up. In fact the only reason he didn't wear Meg's dresses to school was that I claimed they were too big for him. He was always the smaller twin and was often wearing a size smaller than Meg.

I looked at Drew's dress habit as cute. Girls get the more interesting dress up clothes at that age anyway. I also hoped it meant that I wasn't raising either Meg or Drew with gender stereotypes, even though Meg is a girly girl as well. As mentioned above I didn't let him wear Meg's dresses to school, I'm not sure why I couldn't get over that. We had heard that he would be socialized out of it by kindergarten, so we were enjoying the dress wearing while it lasted

We have a slide show of pictures of Drew and most of the ones from preschool have him dressed up in a purple dress and if Meg is in the picture she is dressed up too, often in a ballerina costume.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Names Meg has called herself

Meg likes to give herself names. It all started one evening in the bath. After she had her hair shampooed she declared to her daddy that her name was "Princess Flavored Gum because that is what my hair smells like" By the next day the name had become Princess Flavored Gum Gum. This name lasted about a week and eventually it was declared that Princess Flavored Gum Gum was not only her name, but my name, my husband's name and one of her preschool teacher's name as well.

By several weeks later she was coming up with a new name every morning. She insisted that we call her by that name. We think they were partially based on what she was wearing those days, but were not really sure. I wrote quite a few of them down so here is a partial list.

Princess Flavored Gum Gum
Princess Mint Candy
Princess Sparkle Pink
Princess Sparkle Pink Frosting
Sparkle Pink Ariel (this too was the name of the whole family)
Alice (from Angelina Ballerina, her daddy was declared to be Angelina)
Princess Mermaid Candy Mint
Princess Bow
Princess Monkey Marshmallow
Flowerlight Princess Fairy
Princess Cake Princess
Princess Flowerpetal
Mommy (yes she decided to call herself Mommy)
Princess Apricot Flowerlight
Princess Zebra Candy Cane Stripe
Princess Strawberry Flower Cowgirl Snowflake
Princess Cotton Candy
Princess Polkadot Flower Cheek.

She now does this rarely. We miss it, but it is easier to call her Meg, than to have to remember the name of the day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Now who would like some cake?

We want cake! Where's our cake? -TMBG Seven

In celebration of the 300 (or 200) blog round up
I present cake. This is my husbands birthday cake from the beginning of the month. Usually he asks for an receives sour cherry pie, but this year he wanted chocolate cake, so I made Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cherry Cake. The decoration on top is his age, which I always label the cake or pie with. You can tell Meg helped with the chocolate decorating on the outside.

I'm relatively new to the ALI community since I found it after the loss of Drew to SUDC about a year and half ago. I have appricated all the Mel does from the Blog round up to the LCFA. Especially I appreciate that she made room for me to be the first person on the blog list with loss of a toddler rather than loss of an infant. There seem to be few groups for me since most losses I read about are earlier in the child's life or later. The ALI community has continued to support me as the grief continues, which most people in my everyday life don't like to think about.

Thank you Mel.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday memory: the bye-bye game

When Meg and Drew were 18 months they like to play the bye-bye game. What is the bye-bye game you ask? You walk into the room where mommy is say bye-bye and walk back out. Repeat until you are tired of it.

This would keep Meg and Drew occupied for what seemed like nearly an hour. They would never say bye-bye to each other, just to me or my husband. Then leave and come back in, sometimes together sometimes separate. After awhile the two of them would start giggling at each other when they entered the room to say bye-bye yet again.

It is always amazing what keeps a toddlers attention.

And yes it is Tuesday again, perhaps it's time to change the name from Monday memory.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday memory: three princess pull-ups

At age 3, Drew was nowhere near potty trained. Meg had already started down that road and had alternated periods of wanting to wear big girl underpants and wanting her pull-ups back. Drew didn't care. He was happy with pull-ups. We bought both girl and boy gendered pull-ups for the twins, but it turned out they both preferred the girl ones. In particular the princess ones. In particular the princess on with three princesses on it.

The packs came with one princess and three princess designs. They would rifle in the pack to find the three princess ones. In fact Meg was so enamored of them she hid them once. I would be changing their pull-ups and announcing to Drew and Meg that we had run out of three princess pull-ups. Meg ran off so I changed Drew, who would classically say "Not right now please" when I asked to change his pull-up. After I was done Meg came running back in saying I found one, holding up the three princess pull-up proudly. After she had done this a few times, we found her stash of three princess pull-ups in the bottom of the china cabinet.

When Drew died. Meg was in underpants again, almost trained she was fully trained by summer. Drew was still wearing his three princess pull-up.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday memory: switching coats

The church next to my college has once a month dinners in the church basement sponsored by several of the various religious groups on campus. Faculty are welcome to come although the majority of the attendees are students. It's free and usually kid friendly food, usually pasta, so we typically go.

The last one we attended before Drew died was mexican night instead of pasta. Meg and Drew wouldn't eat the tacos themselves, but enjoyed the beans and shredded cheese greatly eating them each separately. One of the substitute preschool teachers was there and commented on how Meg and Drew were two of her favorite students, even though she isn't supposed to have favorites.

We stayed late, since my husband doesn't arrive back from his commute until near the end of the dinner anyway. Meg and Drew didn't want to leave. They had spent their after dinner time jumping while holding our hands off the stage at the front of fellowship hall. Eventually we gave them the five, two and one minute warnings and it was time to leave.

They didn't want to put on their coats. There is a phase of winter where kids are tired of coats and being zipped into them and Meg and Drew were in it. Eventually my husband and I asked if they wanted to trade coats. They did. So we bundled Drew and Meg up in our coats which were dragging on the floor and looking ridiculously cute. We stuck the hoods of their coats on our heads. When we got to the door we managed to convince them that we were going to get cold wearing their coats since they were way too small for us.

The pastors remembered this exchange so well that it was one the stories told at the funeral.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meg rides a bike

It all started at the St. Jude's Trike-a-thon in late April.

One of the boys that is going off to kindergarten next year, A, rode his bike without training wheels at the Trike-a-thon. Meg didn't seem to notice. However our close friends' son P did and wanted to learn to ride without training wheels. So P, who is 5, took off his training wheels and with quite a lot of determination learned to ride without them. Shortly thereafter his older sister L, who is one of Meg's idols, learned to ride without training wheels too, at age 7.

Now Meg seeing that L and P had learned to ride without training wheels, insisted she could too. We took the bike we had bought last summer and took of the training wheels. This didn't work too well as Meg was getting too tall for the bike already. So after some thought we went to the second hand store and got her a larger bike. It didn't have training wheels. Meg insisted that we shouldn't put any on.

She would try to ride the bike with one of holding on to the back of the seat. Eventually, partially to save my husbands aching back, we moved to holding on to her lightly at about the armpits. She started being able to balance some herself in about a month. Back aches for both parents followed. Then one day while I was out my husband took her out and something clicked. She could ride short distances. The next day Meg could ride independently. The picture is from then. Thank goodness she is wearing a skort.

Yesterday we took a "bike ride" together. By which I mean, I rode my bike slowly, Meg rode her bike often in fits and starts, and daddy ran alongside making sure Meg was doing okay. Meg is still hesitant about starting up and gets panicked and forgets how to stop if she gets going too fast, but she is gaining confidence slowly but surely.

For my husband and I this is a time of pride, happiness, and bittersweetness. With every new thing Meg learns, we wonder, would Drew have been doing it now too?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday memory: the Zingo dance

We bought the kids Zingo as a present for either Christmas or their third birthday. When your kids are born the day after Christmas you sometimes can't remember which thing you decided to give on which day. Zingo was actually only rated for kinds 4 and older and they were turning three, but most games for three year olds are like candyland. The kids like them, but they are pretty dull for adults. We were hoping Zingo would be different.

Zingo was a hit. It is bingo with words and pictures. In the time between Christmas and New Years it was played by adults and kids of all ages. When Drew would win, he would dance around in a circle, pumping his arms up and down and singing "Zingo, zingo, zingo!". We called this the Zingo dance. Eventually it became a requirement that whomever won had to do the Zingo dance.

Meg will still do the Zingo dance when she wins at Zingo sometimes, but doesn't insist the other players do it. My husband and I still do in memory of Drew.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monday memory: happy guy

It all started when Nana drew a happy face (the one that looks like the classic smiley face) Drew asked what it is. Nana called it a happy guy. Drew liked happy guys. Stickers, drawings, balloons, you name it he liked it. In fact when we were doing the developmental assessment for preschool when he was two and half, part of it was to ask him if he was a boy or a girl.

Me: Are you a boy or a girl?
Drew: I'm a happy guy.

We couldn't decide if that counted.

We plan on having "He was a happy guy" inscribed on his gravestone when we finally order it.

Thursday memory: Crawl by toy stealings

Drew and Meg generally met major motor skills goals at about the same time. It went back and forth who went first

Drew was the first to move in the crib. We had them both in the same crib after they were born. One morning we came in and Drew had done a 180. It was time for separate cribs.

Meg figured out how to roll over first. Can't remember which direction at the moment. Probably front to back. This was followed by many weeks of putting out the blanket for tummy time and then cheering when Meg or Drew rolled over.

Drew learned to sit up first. Sitting up was a nice phase. They could reach a few toys and not bother each other.

Crawling of course came in little bits. Meg and Drew both went backwards first. Drew did commando crawl quite slowly for awhile. Meg figured out actual crawling first. For awhile it looked like Drew was going to stick with backwards crawling and commando crawl, then Meg started crawling past him, stealing the toy he was playing with, and crawling off with it.

After a few crawl by toy stealing Drew figured out how to crawl forward quickly. Then they could take turns stealing toys from each other.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Monday memory: SuperDrew and SuperMeg

So maybe I should just call this Tuesday memory, since that's when I seem to post them.

For Halloween when they were two and half, I bought superman pajamas complete with detachable capes and they were SuperDrew and SuperMeg for Halloween. I had figured that this was the last Halloween where I could pick their outfits for them and so I wanted to do the twin thing.

That was the first halloween where they really seemed to get asking for candy. In fact we made it around the block despite the weather being cold, rainy and windy. Fortunately we had bought the pajamas large so they could wear them over their clothes.

For weeks after this they wanted to wear the pajamas, which were quite large at the time, and then pretend they were SuperDrew and SuperMeg. These names for themselves had to be said in the same way Grover says SuperGrover. So it was Sup...erDrew and Sup...erMeg.

Their favorite thing to do in the Superman pajamas was sup (prounounced soup) which meant for daddy or mommy to pick them up and fly them around the room like Superman. So we did this a lot.

Meg still fits (barely) into her superman pajamas, but she is now too big to sup.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Meg story

It's summer and so I don't teach and try to take some time off from work.
So I've opted not to have Meg in daycare (no preschool available in summer) on Wednesday so we can have a mommy and Meg day.

The day itself was uneventful, we met her Nana (my mother-in-law) at the local farmers market, bought strawberries for jam making, went for a picnic lunch, and then shopping for garden supplies and yarn. Meg was excited to pick out yarn and cloth for the the two summer sundress, which she is now demanding I make immediately. I would like to finish at least one other project before casting something else on.

Meg has the usual 4 year old problem with boundary pushing and impulse control. I will tell her not to do something and then she will go ahead and do something close, but not quite exactly what I told her not to do. Earlier in the day she managed to find some Christmas ornaments on the mantle. After telling her not to play with them roughly she dropped them on the floor and fortunately they didn't break. I did get mad at her and then she got upset that I was mad with her as well. The usual cycle sadly.

Later in the day we were hanging out on the back porch after strawberry shortcake and I found some pieces of wire fencing sitting on the deck. They were leftover from the the garden fencing project earlier in the week. Meg saw me pick the fencing up and put it on the railing. She asked why. I said I was getting it out of the way so no one would step on it. Meg then proceeded to take the fencing and throw it in the yard and proudly exclaim that she got rid of them for me. Amused, I explained that they were sharp and shouldn't be in the yard either, so I was going to throw them away. So I made her pick them up and wanted her to bring them to me. Instead she picked them up and threw them in the compost bin, just as I was saying that they didn't go there. Meg then said in an exasperated voice "I keep doing these things today". I said with amusement "Yes, you do, you need to think first before you do things"

After giving Meg a hug, I fished the fencing piece out of the compost bin (yuck) and threw it out myself.

At least that time she was trying to help.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monday memory: The Lumpy Steps

Well it's Tuesday again, but I'll go with Monday Memory anyway since I like alliteration.

This is a bedtime ritual as it existed for about half a year or so.

It is bedtime, my husband or I (or both) stood at the bottom of the stairs and say "I hope there aren't any lumpy steps today" Drew and Meg rushed up the stairs and lay down at the top of the stairs. When we got to the top of the stairs we exclaim incredulously that there is yet again a lumpy step. This was accompanied by prodding Meg and/or Drew with a foot so they giggle.

This was Drew's favorite part of the bedtime ritual. Meg didn't always participate, although she still occasionally does the lumpy step now. This weekend she did the disappearing lumpy step where when I went near the stairs there was a lumpy step and when my husband went up the stairs there wasn't. Of course this was accompanied by my husband and I telling each other what we found and that the other must be imagining things, much to Meg's amusement.

It will always remind me of Drew.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday memory: Drew's nicknames

In order to motivate myself to write more down and because I've been meaning to write down stories for awhile, I thought I'd write memories on Monday. Of course in classic fashion I forgot to bring my computer home from the office and so couldn't write it last night.

The Monday memories are more likely going to be short snippets of memory rather than full stories and most often will feature Meg and Drew together, since when you have twins they spend a lot of time together.

I thought I'd start by listing all of the nicknames we called Drew. We called both Meg and Drew by lots of nicknames for fun and silliness

Mr. Drew
Drewicus Maximus

At around 3 he picked up a habit of replying "No, I'm just Drewy" to any of the more silly names like Drewyfantastico. In fact I would call him that just to hear "No, I'm just Drewy"

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Well the semester is over and I am not teaching for the summer so I should have time to post again.

After graduation we headed out for a week of vacation at Rehoboth with my husband's family. I wasn't absolutely certain this was a good idea since I often am still unwinding and stressed out at this point. Also my husband's family has a different traveling style than I do, one where we talk about doing things, but nothing is ever actually planned it just happens or not.

The trip was rough in ways I didn't quite expect.

The differences in planning style were annoying, but I did get used to them eventually. What I didn't expect was that grief would rear its ugly head quite so often.

The first day there was awful. It was Meg's first experience with the ocean and Drew never got to see the ocean. My husband and I could just feel the weight of vacationing together as a family for the first time without Drew. It felt wrong.

Also when my husband and I both hang out with Meg, I can feel the lack of Drew. Meg really doesn't require the attention of both parents. Twins often does, so parenting has changed a lot for us since Drew has been gone.

The family was nice to see, but hard to bear in such large doses. Especially when the extended family was around. While my husband's family has been better at discussing Drew and grief, it wasn't the case this time. It was like the large elephant in the room than no one talked about. Only my husband and I mentioned Drew or grief. We haven't seen some of the extended family since Drew died, but none of them mentioned Drew. At one point someone commented on how the grandchildren all had blond hair and blue eyes. That's only the living grandchildren, Drew had brown hair and brown eyes. I had to get up and leave the room to cry.

I guess we've outlived the statue of limitations for condolence wishes and everyone feels awkward about the whole thing. It leaves me feeling like I have to pretend that everything is okay. It isn't and if I could figure out how to talk about it in a way that doesn't involve me getting really upset, I would. I'm guessing this will be what we discuss at grief counseling this week.

Meg loved the ocean and played in the sand and got wet in waves, which were quite cold. She loved writing Mom, Dad, Meg, and Drew in the sand. She followed footprints and drew "dinosaur" footprints for us to find and exclaim over. She loved riding on the rides at Funland and seeing dolphins, both in the ocean and at the Baltimore aquarium on the way home.

I enjoyed seeing the ocean out the window in the morning, flying the kite we bought, and eating yummy food. My husband went to Rehobeth as a child and enjoyed seeing all the old places again, eating Thresher's fries, and going to Dogfish head.

I'm hoping the next vacation is more relaxing than grief work. We'll won't find out until next summer, since we are unlikely to be able to manage more than long weekends for the rest of the summer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birthday presents

So a quick update on what my daughter bought me for my birthday (and then back to grading papers, semester will be over soon)

My husband took her to the local big box store and she wanted to buy me everything. So he asked Meg what I liked. She said baths, knitting and flowers, which is fairly accurate.

So here these are for:

Bath. She has used the bubble bath more than me though.

Knitting. You can tell she likes pink. She wants me to knit something with the yarn. I'll manage, although homespun is not my favorite yarn to knit with, although it is fine after it is knitted.

Flowers. The vase has been filled with Meg picked flowers for the past couple of weeks.

It was awfully cute. She also made me a card which I'm not posting here since she is currently very fond of writing her own name.

Actual birthday was okay, not great. Party that weekend went well though.

And now back to grading papers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Advanced Maternal Age

So tomorrow I turn 35. I will be officially advanced maternal age if I ever get pregnant again. Of course getting pregnant again involves convincing my husband he wants to have another child, a difficult decision once you have lost a child. Also there are other complications which I have written about here.

Except for the ticking of my biological clock, I don't really mind turning 35. I hope my birthday will be easier than last year. Last year I was still in the complete haze of despair of early grief from losing Drew, so we had a potluck at the house the day of my birthday so we would celebrate some. It worked a little and I do like potluck.

This year we are having potluck again on Saturday. I hope I can manage to celebrate some tomorrow though. Meg with help of her daddy bought me some birthday presents and she can't wait for me to unwrap them. Last year the presents consisted of a small honey jar with bees on it and popcorn, both thing she liked and I was amused. This year's gifts from Meg promise to be amusing too.

I will miss and think about Drew as well. I do it every day, of course, but around my 30th birthday Meg and Drew were conceived, the best birthday present I ever received. So I will think of Drew tomorrow and watch Meg enjoy it being my birthday and wonder if I will get to be considered advanced maternal age by my next birthday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Going through the motions

April is a busy month in academia. Grading is at an all time high. Registration season hits and usually take more time than you expect. There are also lots of special events this time of year as well. Hence the light posting.

This weekend was the local conference in my discipline. I have gone ever since finishing my Ph.D. I even went last year, when I was really only moderately functional. So I went this year. Conferences are odd for me. On the one hand they are part of my job, and so the job parts provide the usual distraction from my grief. Heck, I even get to knit during the talks. On the other hand, they involve lots of semi-social settings. I don't have as much tolerance for social situations anymore.

I enjoy the socialization with the colleagues I know well. We talk about teaching, our jobs, and perhaps our families, but they all know. They know about Drew. We don't always talk about it, but that's fine. At least they won't blunder into it. In fact my research collaborator made sure to ask how the anniversary in February went and that she was thinking of me and I appreciate that.

The people I don't know at all at conferences don't bother me either. You generally stick to talking about teaching and research and nothing else. Unless I'm asked directly how many children I have, I don't have to mention Drew unless I want to. They may find out about Meg, since that is who I am knitting socks for at the moment.

The hardest part of the socialization are the people I know peripherally at conferences. Some of these people know I have twins, since I did bring them to a couple of conferences. I really don't know how many of them know that Drew died a year ago. I have had that awful awkward moment several times when someone asks how my twins are doing and I have to then tell them about Drew. Fortunately there was none of it this time.

Coming back from conferences is also hard. I am usually tired as I tend to not get as much sleep as I planned. My husband is usually tired from taking care of Meg by himself. Meg is usually quite clingy because I've been gone.

But I go through the motions, partially because it is part of my job. Partially because I used to really like conferences before Drew died. Hopefully I will get there again sometime.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

On not being a burden

This weekend was my nephew C's first birthday. It is a blessing that he has made it through his first year. He had heart surgery at 3 days old for transposition of the great arteries and an atrial septal defect. He had a cleft lip and palate that are also now repaired. The lip was repaired about 6 months ago. The cleft palate was repaired about two weeks ago. The doctor said even though he has another week until he can fully eat solids, he could eat his birthday cake.

It was great to see C so happy even though he is still healing. In fact he seems to enjoy eating more now, which makes sense since the cleft caused stuff to go up his nose. He is nearly walking and loved all the walking/riding toys he got for his birthday. Meg enjoyed playing with C and the other girl who was at the party.

The party was hard for my husband and I. There was the usual hardness of having to be social with people we don't know well from the other side of the family. There was the family was talking about how great it was for Meg and C to get to know each other when Drew never met C, since C was born after he died. There is my mom who is a put on a happy face person who doesn't really admit to grieving. There is a sadness that accompanies all major events where we wish Drew was there.

So we both tried to avoid grieving in public at the party. It is odd that I, who cry in public quite a lot, didn't feel comfortable crying in front of family. I ended up crying in the guest room after we put Meg to bed and then going to bed early. My husband had to take several breaks from the party to cry. Next year I think we'll get a hotel room, so we can escape.

My brother, C's father, has actually been really understanding during the whole grief process, since on top of losing his nephew he was really scared he'd lose his son. I mentioned to him that the party had been rough for me grief wise and he mentioned that he and dad had talked about that for them as well today. My dad didn't tell me because he didn't want to burden me. My brother and I suspect that our mom is only talking to my dad to avoid burdening us as well.

I wish we'd all stop avoiding burdening each other and talk.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The dining hall

On Friday's preschool gets out at 11:30. Last year we often ended up at the dining hall for lunch on Fridays where our table of parents and preschool children joined the college students for lunch. Kids eat free there and what kid doesn't want to eat at a place where there is always infinite pizza and ice cream.

We don't go as often this year. Partially this is for the obvious reason that it is sad to be there without Drew. Mostly it is that many of the other children have headed off to kindergarten, so we don't have a crowd to go anymore.

Today we went anyway. On Fridays, we share the afternoon babysitter with a colleague of mine so that Meg can play with her friend A and my colleague and I can both work. So my husband, Meg and A arrived first and I arrived once I was done with class and my daily walk. Meg and A are quite an experience at the dining hall.

First of all there is the large number of college students that know them that I don't know. When your child goes to the preschool on campus that is used as a learning lab for the college students, every student who has taken Child Development knows your kid. Meg and A seem to be quite popular with the students.

The food routine is pretty consistent. Pizza and pasta with chocolate milk, followed often by fruit or yogurt from the salad bar, and then always ice cream. Ice cream that takes awhile to eat. Ice cream that is always messy.

Trying to keep them reasonably close to their seat while we finish eating is an adventure. It can involve them lining up their chairs and pretending they are on a train. Or seeing how far they can get away from standing at the table before we tell them to come back. They also make a game of hiding under the table and tickling our legs.

Meg and A look more alike than Meg and Drew did. I often wonder if the students think they are both ours. They also play together so well, we call it the "Meg and A show". Meg says "A let's do this" and the do it. Then A says "Meg let's do that " so they do that. Quite a team. I hope no one ever asks if they are twins.

Today was a good lunch at the dining hall. They ate pizza, drank chocolate milk, and ate chocolate ice cream for dessert. They did so badly at wiping their faces after the cones that my husband joked that they looked like they had a beard like him. We managed to time things so we had nearly finished eating when they were done.

I will miss Friday lunch at the dining hall when Meg is in kindergarten. Fortunately we have another year of preschool left until then.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ice cream

The weather has been nice for most of the week. Today we had dinner cooked on the grill while sitting on our back porch. We went for a bicycle ride and noted that Meg has nearly outgrown the bike stroller. Then we went for ice cream (custard actually) We've been going to this custard shop since it opened during the kids first summer. Meg and Drew had their first frozen yogurt there at about 9 months, fed to them by one of their grandmothers. I wasn't completely convinced that it was a good idea at the time, although they were eating regular yogurt at that point. They loved it. I cannot remember if they had their first actual ice cream there as well.

We go out for custard a lot during the summer. The place offers vanilla, chocolate, and two rotating flavors of the day. The cones come with wrappers which if you collect 10 you get a free cone. Today I emptied all of the places we keep the free cone wrappers and we had enough for two free cones.

So we called our usual friends to go with us and so four adults and four kids (ages 3,4,5 and 6) all had custard together.

After the custard we usually go out on the patio. All of the kids like to walk on the short wall around the patio and pretend they are trains. Today was no exception. I couldn't take it. Drew loved to walk on that wall too. I couldn't bear to watch it and started crying. By now of course I'm used to crying in public at unexpected times. Our friends noticed and got all the kids to stop and claimed it was getting cold, which was somewhat accurate, and loaded the kids all in the minivan. Meg had insisted on riding with her friends. So my husband and I sat in the car and cried and hugged and then headed home.

I'm sure it will be easier next time. It was easier after the first time last year. I wish it could remain easy.

Monday, March 15, 2010


We had always planned on having two kids. My husband and I both came from two child families so that number seemed just right to us. We found out I was pregnant with twins at the 19 week ultrasound. After the shock wore off, we figured we just gotten a bonus, two kids with one pregnancy which now seems incredibly naive. Once they had arrived happy and healthy we figured we were done.

After Drew died, I wanted to be pregnant again. Immediately. This biological rather than rational desire has persisted. It isn't that simple though.

I would like Meg to have a living sibling. Although even if I were to miraculously become pregnant immediately, they would be at least 4 years apart in age. Also Meg would have to live with another thing that takes our attention away from her and she gets a lot of that from the grief already. Also I'm sure the sleep deprivation and grief combination would just add to the difficulties of being patient with a preschooler who is quite decisive and persistent.

Additionally, we've won the one way ticket to worrywart street. I'm not sure either of us can handle the first year of baby life SIDS worries. The SIDS worries were bad enough when I had two healthy babies and was blissfully ignorant about how fast things could turn bad. My grief counselor thinks I will likely have PTSD triggers about whether or not the baby is breathing. I already wake up in the middle of the night panicked and worried that Meg is not breathing. I'm sure adding another baby will not help with that.

My husband is not ready yet. I hardly blame him. It is hard to trust that things will go smoothly. Once you have had one statistically unlikely event in your life, it is hard to not think you are destined for another. Also, I was not a pleasant pregnant person. Hormones and grief is likely to make a new pregnancy even crabbier. We've agreed to discuss it again after the one year mark. We haven't yet.

It gets more difficult though. We thought we were done. So my husband had a vasectomy when the twins were infants. I wanted to not have to go back on birth control, since I have a family history of breast cancer. Besides, we figured, I had done my time taking care of contraception, now it was his turn.

Vasectomies are potentially reversible. It is not a guaranteed thing and it can take awhile for the sperm to repopulate even when successful. There are other ways around the issue including IVF and donor sperm. There is adoption as well. We'll consider all of them and have to think about cost and emotional cost of each process. I am still working up the nerve to ask the insurance company if any of this would be covered and my guess is no.

Why do I want to have third child despite all that? I think it is because the potential for adding joy to our life outweighs the fear that something else could go wrong.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hanging with Meg

We are on spring break this week, Meg and I. This is either the advantage or the disadvantage of using the college's preschool, depending on how you look at it. The advantage is that I don't have to manage childcare with a break that doesn't match up with my breaks. The disadvantage is that I don't get to catch up on my grading and planning over break.

Spring has come here and with it lots of pleasant outdoor activities.

We went for a walk near our house and ended up accidentally sliding down a hill on the remains of the slippery snow. So we headed home to change our now wet pants. Meg with her four year old fashion sense had also insisted on wearing her pink polka dotted dress shoes on this excursion and now want to take off both them and her wet socks. I managed to convince her to only remove one sock. On the way back to the house she decided to run and then proceeded to trip and fall on the gravel at the side of road leftover from plowing.

Meg tends to overreact to any setback right now. I've heard it is normal for a four year old, but I have to wonder if it is a reflection of the strong emotions she sees from my husband and I. It also doesn't help that I don't have the largest ability to remain calm when she is upset either. So a small fall with a slight scrape yields screaming. Lots of screaming. One of my neighbors stopped by to make sure she was okay. I had to convince her to keep on walking since she has gotten to heavy for me to pick up without hurting my shoulders. Eventually she started walking while crying.

After a few moments, I asked her if she knew why there were rocks on the road. So we got to have a conversation about sanding the road, plowing, and what the road is made of. No more crying now. Now she wanted to collect rocks. I let her collect as many as she could carry and finally got her home. She had forgotten about the fact that her pants were wet and she had a scrape. She wanted to wash off the rocks.

So we get in the house and I convince to go upstairs to change before washing the rocks. I changed clothes and headed downstairs. Then I called up to her to make sure changing was going well and had a brief momentary panic when she didn't answer immediately. However she was fine and came downstairs, washed her rocks, and insisted on putting them out for display for daddy when he got home.

A good afternoon well spent. Now I just need to find someplace to store the rocks.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In a better place

Since we are now more than a week after the first anniversary of Drew's death, life it a little less intense at the moment. Which is good, because both my and my husbands work life have had their rough points since the anniversary. I am now on break. Break is nice since I do not have to teach. Break is not much of a break since we use the preschool associated with my college and so when I'm on break, so is Meg. No catching up with grading during the day for me.

I'll try to write about the ups and downs of hanging out with Meg for a day soon.

Near the anniversary of Drew's death we donated money to two places, his preschool, where Meg still attends, and a school in Guatemala which is funded partially by my church. We got the thank you for your donation letter already from the preschool donation.

Since the preschool is associated with the college a donation to it is officially a donation to the college. The letter was written by a staff member at the college and not part of the preschool. I don't know the letter writer well, but the letter was mostly okay. It mentioned the preschool appreciated the donation and they were sorry for our loss. Then the letter said "at least you know he is in a better place now."

Cue the swearing at the letter writer, which I will not repeat here.

I know the letter writer meant well. Also I like to think that heaven is a wonderful place where we can be with God. However I don't think that it is a better place than being here with us, his family. I think the phrases "he is in a better place now", "God needed another angel in heaven" and "at least you have Meg" should all be banned. Not that I don't take comfort in heaven and in Meg, but that the presumption that the comfort of these things should some how make things better is false. Nothing will make Drew's death better. Some things make it easier to tolerate the process of finding the new normal, but nothing will heal the wound.

I can hope that someone points out to the staff member before next year never to use that phrase again. I will tell a couple people I can trust to pass it along and hope it reaches there.

I take sad comfort that the thank you letter from the school in Guatemala is likely to contain no such platitudes. The director lost two sons in early childhood. He has walked our road.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


The Sudden Unexplained Death in Children Program (SUDC) is something I found in my early desperate googling for people in similar circumstances as me. People who like my husband and I put a healthy three year old with a cold to bed one night and then found him dead in bed in the morning. While I found SUDC a few months out from my loss, I didn't contact them.

Why didn't I contact them? Well by then we had an autopsy report and a death certificate with severallisted causes of death. Drew had idiopathic (not showing symptoms) pulmonary hypertension, which of course we had no idea was occurring. There were two other things on the death certificate which I remember the pediatrician, who met with us to explain the autopsy report, were from the fact Drew stopped breathing. The thing the autopsy didn't figure out is any reason why he stopped breathing. So we have some symptoms but no cause.

I had gotten the mistaken impression that in order to be considered SUDC that the death had to have a completely unknown cause. I'm not sure from where. I did consider Drew's death to be SUDC in my head, since how else do you deal with the unexplained.

Daven from Missing Evan told me to contact SUDC and see what they had to say. Thanks Daven, I'm glad I did. So far I've spoken to the director and had a call that I need to return from the volunteer nurse. It has been good to talk to them. It should be possible to enter Drew in their research study. This may yield some answers for us or maybe not. Either way it will help me get some closure to have an expert check out his case. Also SUDC has some other resources available and I will check them out soon.

It is useful to find other people in your situation, even when your situation totally sucks and should never happen.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The memorial

We had planned to have a memorial at a year since some important people could not make the funeral. So on Saturday we had a short graveside service followed by dinner and memories at the church. It went as well as it could. Just as my husband have said about the funeral "It was a lovely service and I hated it." It allows us to both acknowledge that people are doing lovely things for us and to remember Drew, but it still sucks.

My sister-in-law and my maid of honor both made the event along with their families. They appreciated being able to participate in the memorial since they were both on bedrest at the funeral. They both brought the babies that they were on bedrest for to the dinner and it was nice to see them.

The graveside service was beautiful and awful. Drew is buried under a birch tree on the dirt road portion of the cemetery. The cemetery didn't plow the dirt road. Fortunately by Saturday the snow had turned to slush and so it was walkable mostly. When the family and I arrived at the cemetery I picked up the bouquet of purple roses and started walking to the grave with Meg and her grandma. Unfortunately Meg wanted to run and grandma followed, so I ended up walking by myself to the grave, sobbing. My husband was following behind helping his parents navigate the slush.

The service was short and lovely and awful. There were extra purple roses for the children who were there to place on the grave. Meg spent most of the service looking a the flowers and the yellowing pine cross with a train ornament that were on the grave. Several of her current and former babysitters were there and helped out with her and us. Afterwards there were hugs all around. As I looked around I was surprised how many people were there. Meg decided post service that she wanted to run down and attempt to visit the trampoline in the yard adjoining the cemetery. It took the sitters a bit to talk her out of going there.

We all returned to the church for dinner. Dinner was comfort food, in fact I think it was the same rigatoni with sauce that was made for the funeral. The adults ate and the kids alternated playing and eating. We ran out of chairs in fellowship hall. I would guess some people forgot to tell the organizer that they were coming. No matter, none of the kids would sit still for long anyway. It was good that many people brought their kids because it provided other ways for the adults to mix among groups.

There was a craft table for the kids. Lots of pictures of Meg and Drew had been printed out and the kids were decorating pages of pictures and memories to place in a book for Meg. The kids really enjoyed it and some made multiple pages.

After dinner we were supposed to have a time of sharing stories. There were bits of paper at the table for people to write down memories. Everyone liked the informal socialization that was going on and my husband and I decided that we would not break up the talking to have everyone tell stories aloud as we had planned. Instead we encouraged the adults to make scrapbook pages as well, since the kids had long abandoned the craft table for chasing each other and playing with the toys in the nursery. They seemed to like it, especially the college students.

I think skipping the stories told aloud allowed my husband and I to take a break from crying and just watch the spectacle. The only person that seemed disappointed was one of the grandmothers. At the end time, it took awhile for people to gather their families and head out. Meg was exhausted from all the running around and went to sleep early. We were emotionally exhausted and spend the evening playing Super Mario Wii with my brother and sister-in-law.

It was the best day we could manage. And I hated it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The anniversary

As I've heard from other people, the anniversary wasn't as bad as the days leading up to it. In fact the day before was so much worse. Perhaps next year I'll take the day before off work along with the day of the anniversary.

We had a pretty quiet day. My husband and I took Meg to preschool as usual, figuring that she needed the routine. Then we went to the cemetery. We made it to Drew's grave despite the several inches of ice covered snow covering the path. After spending awhile there, we went back to the car and drove around the cemetery looking at gravestones. The funeral home recommended we do that before we pick out a gravestone, to see what we "like", I don't feel like I could ever like having to pick out a gravestone.

The rest of the time until preschool pickup at 3 was spent doing little. We watched videos and looked at pictures of Drew We puttered around the house. We played with the computer and played silly video games. It felt odd to not be doing anything particularly profound on such an important day, but we were not up for profound.

Our favorite video of Drew has him standing on a chair and roaring with a dinosaur shaped chicken nugget. He growls "Roar!" and gestures the nugget threateningly and the other kids who were around run through the room going "Ahhh!" and running away. This repeats a few times. After crying watching the video the first time, we were able to watch it with amusement. My husband and I went "Roar!" ourselves a few times as well.

After picking up Meg from preschool, we drove to a nearby town to go to the mall and to dinner. Going to the mall was mostly to entertain Meg before dinner, since the mall has an inside playground. For dinner we went to the Mexican restaurant across the street.

When the twins were in the finger food stage, we could guarantee a pleasant meal out by going to any restaurant that served avocados. They loved them, especially Drew. One time when they were around 1 and half, we went to the Mexican place and asked for an avocado for the kids. They brought guacamole. We then explained that no we just wanted plain avocado. They brought out one, the kids sitting in the booster seats devoured it. They brought out another one, that one disappeared too. When we went to leave the waiter brought us a brown paper bag with a few avocados in it from him for us to take home.

That's why we went for Mexican food yesterday. When we went to check out, the owner commented that Meg was getting big and asked if she was in school yet. My heart caught in my throat and I told him no she had another year of preschool. I waited to see if he remembered Drew. He didn't mention him, but I wondered. We've only been there twice since Drew died, but we went there a lot before that.

And so a year has passed, it feels like an eternity and no time at all. Hopefully as time goes on we'll be able to use the anniversary to remember Drew with fondness rather than sadness.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love is all I have for you

Remembering Drew today. He was born on the day after Christmas in 2005 and died on Ash Wednesday is 2009. One year ago today.

I have no words of use yet today, so here is a song that is speaking to me right now and some pictures.

Love I have for you
By Brad Yoder
love is all I have for you,
it will have to do, if you were looking for a miracle,
the fact that we’re still here, well that’s miraculous as anything
that I have seen magicians pull,
but I forgot the tricks I knew,
love is all I have for you..
love is all I have for you,

love is all that’s left after the wind has blown the chaff away,
I laugh at what I tried to save,
and disappointment’s just a lens to magnify what might have been,
but none of that was ever true,
love is all I have for you,
I close my eyes, I’m a child by the water,
casting stones so circles spread,
then blink twice, we are old on a park bench,
watching birds eat scattered bread,
in between we lost track of time,
but she is kind enough to remind us..

the little space between goodbyes is really only pocket-sized,
I carry you around with me in case I need some sympathy,
this fear that we’re not good enough will disappear when morning comes,
‘cause none of that was ever true,
love is all I have for you,
miraculous as anything that I have seen magicians do,
but I forgot the tricks I knew,
love is all I have for you…

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Push on till the day

Here we are. The week of the anniversary of Drew's death. Right now I'm doing surprisingly okay, but it is like the calm before the storm.

The plan as it stands is for my husband and I to work as normal for the beginning of the week. We are both taking off Thursday, which is the actual anniversary, and Friday. On Saturday we are having a short service at the grave followed by dinner and writing/telling of Drew stories at the church. We are hoping to collect all the stories in a book for Meg, so she can remember her brother. Of course since they are twins, Drew stories frequently include Meg as well, so the stories will also be about her.

The service on Saturday is partly for us and Meg, so that we can remember Drew with a supportive community. It is also for a few people who couldn't make it to the funeral, notably my sister-in-law and my maid-of honor. They were both on bedrest at the time. My maid-of-honor with partial placenta previa. My sister-in-law for pre-term labor, which started the night Drew died, before anyone knew he was dead. Both babies arrived at term and are doing well, although my nephew has had some surgeries post birth.

We had hoped to place the gravestone this week as well. We dragged our feet and haven't ordered one yet. Also we discovered they don't like to place them until the ground thaws. So it will be just the temporary marker, the birch tree, and some flowers marking his grave. We are hoping the cemetery and grave are accessible, since the snow here is still about a foot deep despite warmer weather.

We have bought convenience foods for cooking this week. I am desperately trying to make it through my grading, which I should be working on right now, but can't. I have two classes worth of exams, a pile of papers, and the usual daily homework left. If it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done, but it would be nice to not have to come back to it after this week is over. My husband and I are both hoping that work is a helpful distraction rather than a burden this week. While we have plenty of support for food and childcare if needed, we don't really have any backup plans if we need to miss work earlier in the week.

We have no idea what we will do on Thursday, the anniversary. We figure we will send Meg to preschool as normal. We'll probably go to the cemetery. No other plans. We waver between making lots of plans to distract ourselves and not planning anything so we don't feel even worse when we aren't up for them.

Friday we have even fewer plans, other than sending Meg to preschool. We are hoping once the anniversary passes on Thursday that we might be able to relax some and do some stuff around the house on Friday.

I know some of you have walked this lonely grief road I walk. What did you do?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yarn and Therapy and Yarn Therapy

On every other Thursday I cut out early from work to do three things in this order.

1) Go to personal grief counseling
2) Go to the local yarn store
3) Go to the family grief support group with my husband and Meg

It is a very grief heavy afternoon and evening. It helps me keep functioning through the time in between. In some ways the second stop on my Thursday trip might not sound like part of the grief work. A trip to the yarn store is a bit of a pleasure trip, but knitting is a serious part of my grief coping mechanism.

I first learned to knit in second grade. My gram cast on for me and taught me how to knit. She was unsuccessful at teaching me how to purl. I made part of a scarf that we ended up turning into a hat that I gave my second grade teacher for Christmas. I remember being proud of it when my teacher put it on after opening the gift. It was such a silly looking hat though, I have to wonder now as an adult if she had to laugh about it later.

I didn't knit again until last March.

About a week after Drew had died, I was still not back to work. We had done quite a number of household projects for distraction and went on a shopping run with my in-laws to get more stuff to do more household projects. My mother-in-law wanted to stop at Michaels to get some yarn. I was suffering from the usual cognitive dissonance that happens when doing ordinary things right after life changing events. The yarn looked pretty and a I remembered how long it had taken me to knit that small hat when I was in second grade. So my mother-in-law helped me pick out some pink and green bamboo blend yarn, appropriate needles, and bought me a copy of Stitch 'n Bitch.

The next few days I attempted the long tail cast on several times. Finally getting it mostly correct around the fifth time. Then I knit Meg a garter stitch scarf. It was the first time I could sit for awhile and get my thoughts to slow down some. I dropped stitches, learned to pick them up again, and had to unravel some parts of the scarf to fix more major errors. Meg loved the scarf. I was hooked. A college friend clued me into ravelry and I found patterns galore to contemplate.

Knitting works for me to help tame the grief. I know I'm not alone in this. There is even a book called Knitting Circle by Ann Hood who lost her five year old daughter suddenly and took up knitting as part of her grief work as well. I haven't read it all the way through it yet, but the library has it and one day I'll have the mental energy to check it out and read it completely.

So today in preparation for the first anniversary of Drew's death next week,I bought yarn for various thank you hats and Meg picked out yarn for a Child Surprise Jacket cardigan. It is more yarn than I could possibly knit in a week. I am prepared. At least I am prepared for knitting. I will never be prepared for the time when I can no longer say at this time last year, Drew was alive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Drew passed away a year ago on Ash Wednesday. That is not today this year of course, we have a week and a day until then.
Ash Wednesday is a time of preparing for and thinking of death. The liturgical color is purple, which was Drew's favorite color and that was part of what I remember from the message at his funeral.

Last year I was planning on giving up soda, my caffeine of choice, for Lent. However since Drew died on Ash Wednesday, I didn't give up soda. I needed the caffeine to function. I feel the same this year. Perhaps that is not surprise. I do not know if I will ever feel like giving up anything for Lent again. I have given enough up already.

More of a surprise is that we actually considered going to the Ash Wednesday service and then decided we couldn't do it. We go on Sunday usually, but I wasn't sure I could do the whole ashes on the forehead ritual.

So we skipped out and spent the evening having dinner with friends as we do most Wednesdays. Meg really likes having the other children to play with and we like not having to cook the whole meal, just to bring our part. Our friends understand if we want to talk about Drew or seem down. They don't feel the need to attempt to "fix" us or make us happy either which makes it all the more welcome company.

Now as the season of Lent starts, I wonder will Easter feel like resurrection this year? Or will it just be another reminder of loss.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Heartburn and Anger

Heartburn is often my early warning system for myself when it is a hard grief day. Sometimes it even arrives before I'm aware I'm particularly upset. I grieve everyday. Some days the grief is just a fog that covers everything and some days it's a brick wall. On the brick wall days the heartburn is nearly as bad as it was towards the end of pregnancy. Constant and only dulled not fixed by antacids. It is an adding insult to injury event. Grief and its effect on my mood by itself is not enough, my body must remind me that the stress is getting to it as well.

I've had heartburn pretty much continuously since last Wednesday.

It is less than two weeks until the anniversary of Drew's death. My husband and I are taking a couple of days off then and we have something planned at the church for that weekend. Until then though I just need to function. I don't want to function. I want to cancel classes and let the grading grow into tremendously large piles. I have no patience. Lack of patience leads to anger.

Anger is common for small problems and large now. Oddly enough I'm not particularly mad Drew died right now, although I think that may be denial. I'm mad that the rest of the world keeps going on and getting on my nerves. Mundane problems drive me crazy. Why are you making my life more difficult with your small problem when I already have this large one? I have enough on my plate already, thanks.

Of course Meg in all of her four year old splendor both helps and aggravates this problem. She can be wonderful when we are down being silly and giving extra hugs. She can also be contrary and obstinate. When she feels ignored she often acts out. Like drawing on the walls, which she hasn't done in awhile. We think it is just to get some more attention. We of course feel guilty about not giving her the attention she needs. She deserves two functioning parents and a live brother. Instead she has two partially functioning grieving parents and has to learn how to be an only child.

Hopefully in two weeks things will suck less. Right?

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Dar Williams has a song called February which is a breakup song, but as I approach the first anniversary of when Drew died, many of the lines seem apt.

"The nights were long and cold and scary,
Can we live through February? "

The nights are cold and long. I wonder how I will manage to keep on keeping on through to spring. Especially at work where I for the most part pretend to be okay. It is hard to pretend all the time, but the students don't really have a clue and I'm glad they don't. My co-workers know, but don't really understand either. No one does unless they've been through this. I feel truly fake most of the time.

I wish I could take off work, but I would come back more behind. The grading piles up rather quickly and I didn't like doing it even before Drew died.

Sometimes I wish it could be March already. It would be easier to be past the anniversary. I keep thinking about those last things we did in February that we didn't know were last. The superbowl party where Drew played with his friends and sister. The Chinese New Year dinner where Drew and Meg loved the dancing.

On the other hand I am holding these memories close. Last year at this time he was alive and I won't be able to say that for much longer.

"And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling,
And wed drop to sleep exhausted,
Then we'd wake up, and its snowing. "

We live in the area that just got a mammoth snow storm both this weekend and yesterday. School was closed yesterday and today. Digging out took some effort and was mostly my husband's job since I have injured my shoulders.

However I drop to sleep exhausted anyway. Whether that is from taking care of my stir crazy daughter Meg who is being a typical contrary four year old or from the fact that I can't sleep until I'm exhausted anyway. Sleep is an elusive creature for me now. I even have problems motivating myself to go upstairs and start getting ready for bed. I think that relates to my persistent and irrational fear that Meg will stop breathing in her sleep. As long as I am up, I like to think that I would notice if something went wrong.

"And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together.
You stopped and pointed and you said, "That's a crocus,"
And I said, "What's a crocus?" and you said, "It's a flower,"
I tried to remember, but I said, "What's a flower?"
You said, "I still love you""

My husband and I always had a joke that only one of us could be crabby at a time. This way the other person could be supportive and remain functional. Grief of course is not like that. We walk in our grief paths alone together. We can support each other, but as one of the books I've read said "It's hard to lean on someone already bent over" We still love each other dearly and I am so glad that our marriage has remained strong through this.

No one should ever have to go through this horrible grief. Children should always outlive their parents.

"I have lost to February."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

About me

Call me Kairos. When I first read Madeline L'Engle's a Wrinkle in Time series, I loved the idea of Chronos versus. Kairos time. Chronos was the time on your watch and Kairos is something in between moments. This is what grief is, a time where time seems to stand still and yet keep on moving at the same time.

I have two children, twins. One is here on earth my daughter, who I will call Meg here. One is in heaven, my son Drew, who passed away unexpectedly in his sleep at age 3. My husband and I have been married over ten years and are weathering the grief journey together. Meg who is now 4 does not quite understand and her grieving process will be different from an adults in that it will change as she understands what is death.

In my grief I have learned to knit and am likely to talk about that here as well. I also do wheel-thrown pottery when time permits, which is generally the summer since I teach during the school year.

About Drew

Drew is my son. He loved the color purple, dressing up in princess costumes, playing with his twin sister, having books read to him by mommy or daddy, and eating avocados. He had the longest eyelashes and he was quite a charmer. If you called him some silly name like Drewiefantastico, he would respond "I'm just Drewie." If you asked to change his pull-up he would invariably say "Not right now please." He knew most of his upper and lower case letters and enjoyed going to preschool.

He passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in February 2009 on Ash Wednesday. He was three. The cause of his death is still unclear despite the autopsy. We will never know for sure why he stopped breathing.