Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Stupid F#@king Bird!

Landy came home last night from work in a state, you can always tell when Landy's mood shifts by the black cloud that follows overhead. After the boys went to bed I asked him what was wrong.

"I had a rough day"
"How so?"
"Well it really all started with this Stupid Fucking Bird."

Not something that you would generally expect to hear when recounting a bad day!
Landy proceeded to tell me how a bird had turned a seemingly normal day into one that he would term as rough.

When Landy was driving into work a bird had tried to fly across the road between the vehicle in front of him and himself. When Landy saw the bird attempt the dangerous flight he remembers clenching his stomach and hoping the bird would make it across, as though his stomach muscles would give the bird that little bit extra it may need. As it turned out the bird, realizing it would not make it across, tried to fly up and over Landy's truck and instead smacked into it right above the windshield. After the initial loud thud the bird proceeded to tumble down the length of the truck making hauntingly smaller thuds the whole way down. Landy looked into the rearview mirror to see the bird spiral up and then plummet down into the ditch at the side of the road. As he witnessed the birds final moments he uttered the words "Stupid Fucking Bird."

At home, on the back deck, he recalled the story to me, I quietly said, "looks like that bird won't make it home," there was a moment of silence to which Landy responded "yep that is exactly what I thought and that is when I changed my thinking to Poor Fucking Bird."
"Do you think we have more empathy because of the losses we have experienced?" I asked Landy, I really wanted to know, because I myself found it difficult to not be affected by seeing any living creature harmed or killed, bird or animal.
"I don't know, I think I have always felt this way," Landy added.
"I know I have not always been this way," I concluded aloud,"I may have never thought twice about the animal that lay dead at the side of the road, or the turtle slowly heading into traffic or the goose with the goslings eating the grass next to the curb of the four lane highway. But now I fret for the turtle that may not make it across or worry about the goose if one of the goslings tumbles into traffic, I wonder if they experience loss."
"Stupid Fucking Bird" was all that Landy uttered.
Maybe he was right, better to not add to the list of loss on our plate and hope that it was only a Stupid Fucking Bird.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A rant about Intimacy

Although the title of this blog may have tweaked the interest of some of my followers, this is not about sex! But please keep reading!
This blog is about how we are at a place in society where it is not considered imposing on ones privacy to say to a practical stranger a comment like "wow there is a lot of space between your kids" or "he's a handful and you wanted more?" and how about "three huh? SO are you done then?"
We recently became proud parents of an All Star baseball player and that has meant that we are now meeting new people (other parents on the team) who we are having to spend a great deal of time with and become acquainted.
I will concede that I am sometimes awkward with this as I am always aware that outward appearances can be quite different from real life and so I take time to get to know someone and I am gentle in my approach. Unfortunately I am amazed how intrusive and even rude other people can be in the way that they try to "break the ice."
In all seriousness and it is serious when I tell you that the above three comments have been said to me by three separate moms on the team over the past month. They did not sense that it was inappropriate, hurtful or too soon in a developing "relationship" to say such things.
I wonder how shocked they would be if I responded with "Space? I had them 3 years apart, one just died" or "A handful sometimes, but alive and well, a blessing, " or "Four actually and there will always be a hole no matter how many children I am blessed to have."
Instead I just smile politely, say nothing and move away from these mothers. I am sure that they feel that I am the one who is rude and in fairness perhaps I am a little rude. I am at peace with that perception because possibly there is a scar that they are hiding from me. I will respectfully take time and allow them to get to know me and decide what and if they would like to share so that we can make allowances for the scars.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Seven Year Old Toddler

I was recently thrown off guard when an acquaintance, hearing that Flynn had died 7 years ago, asked me if I pictured a seven year old when I thought of him?
I really needed to think about that, I don't know if I had even thought about what he looked like since he was born. What did that mean, did it speak to how I grieved or what type of mom I was? Should I be trying to picture a version of him at an age he should have been, had he lived? Do other mothers visualize their children at ages and milestones, can they age the last visual memory they have of their children and if so, why couldn't I? This was one of those moments when I needed to allow myself to be just Flynn's mom and find what felt best and made the most sense for me.
My acquaintance stood patiently as I searched for the answer.
"To be honest, he was only a baby in the delivery room, once he had passed away and the funeral was over Landy and I pictured him as a toddler because at the time Rhys was almost 3 and we really felt that we had lost getting to know Flynn as an infant, baby and toddler, the way we knew Rhys."
I was not sure that this explanation sounded sane, the woman shook her head in acceptance but I felt I needed to continue to explain.
"I think having Rhys, we wanted to have another child, while I was pregnant we pictured a child growing up with and like Rhys because at the time he was the only child that we knew. Flynn has always remained a 3 year old to me."
The woman thanked me for my honesty and for allowing her to ask, I should have thanked her for opening up a dialogue with myself so that I could be comfortable with my memories.
When and if I picture Flynn, he has a head full of wavy, dark reddish hair with a chubby face, narrow nose, almond eyes and full red lips, he is tall for his age but solid, everything about him looks chubby and healthy, he looks the most like Landy of all the boys and he is 3.
He is and will always be my second son, Rhys's first brother and our family's angel.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Job Restrictions

A few weeks ago Ash, my four year old, came home from junior kindergarden with a note from his teacher, they were looking for parent's to come in and discuss their job to the 60 kindergarden students at the school. Ash wondered if I would go, he wanted me to talk to the class about how I helped people to stop crying. I read the note from the teacher, it was a generic letter to all parents, the class was doing a unit on people in the community and they wanted all different types of jobs to come in and speak, the examples were police officers, firefighters, secretary, etc.
I was hesitant about volunteering, I am very comfortable speaking in public but I was not sure how to explain my job to children. I don't remember ever explaining it in detail to Ash and yet his assumptions of my job were quite sweet.
I had just attended a conference that discussed speaking with children about death and how important it was to include them in the conversations. I subscribed to this belief and I could apply it to this opportunity to talk with 4-6 year olds about my job. I decided to tell the children that when someone dies, the people who loved them are very sad and sometimes need help to feel better and that by talking and sharing with me, it is a start to them coping. I wrote the teacher a short note, letting her know the organization that I worked for, my position and what I could talk about and asked that she get back to me if she would like me to speak.
It was a week before I received a response and it came in the form of a letter penned on very pretty paper, this is what it said:

Thank you for so kindly offering to speak to the Kindergarden class about your job. Although I am sure that your job is important for the families that you serve, the principal and I do not feel the topic of death is an appropriate one for 4-6 year olds.

Thank you Again

I read the letter quite a few times, trying to pen a response, I wish that the
topic of death were not appropriate for 4-6 year olds. I know one 4 year
old in her class who has first hand experience with the topic of death and I was sure there was more. It struck me that it was the teacher and the principal that were not comfortable with the topic of death and I felt sad for them. Death is so much more difficult to handle when its very existence is denied. I guess that is part of my job, to educate and normalize people to grief and the part of my job that comes with restrictions is that some people will not want to know that I exist.