Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lost and Found

I never expected to be shackled to my child more tightly in death than in his arduous brief life. I spent hours, days, weeks, and months staring at his tiny face, wishing him well, praying for his survival, willing him on. I devoted my very essence to his needs, while still trying to find a balance of parenting him, parenting Fric and Frac and of course, performing my wifely duties. (Snicker. By wifely duties I'm referring to folding his socks. Just so you know.)

I got lost along the way. I know this now. I recognized this immediately upon his death. Before I was even out of the hospital, while his body still lay on a gurney in the emergency room, I understood that I was screwed. The very identity I had created around this little boy had vanished in a puff of smoke, like a bad magician's trick. There has been no silence in my head since his death. No peace. His name and his memory bounces around inside my head, inside my soul, so loud that sometimes I fear there is no room for anything else.

I was aimless and lost. It was hard to feel anything for anyone. And that included my children. I knew that I loved them, but it was locked away, put in a box on a shelf so high up, that even on my tippy toes I couldn't reach it. I feared I would never be able to feel love for them again. So I overcompensated,and showered them with hugs, kisses and I love you's, even though I was vacant inside.

I shifted gears. My priority became seeing my kids through this nightmare, getting them past this crisis intact. I have no problem with spending inordinate amounts of money so my children could whine to a therapist how I was too sarcastic with them, how I never cooked anything but processed foods or canned goods, or how I accidentally walked out of the bathroom naked and gave them an eye full of pierced breasts and a tattooed ass. But dammit, there was no way those kids where going to whine about how their mother shut down and stopped functioning when their brother died.

I didn't want to become one of those mothers whose lives revolve around their dead kids. Who set up shrines to a memory while ignoring the living.

So I set aside my lack of emotion and just faked it till I made it. I yanked Fric and Frac through their emotional hell so fast their heads snapped back. And they survived. Kids are resilient. It wasn't long before they were talking about Shalebug and laughing more than crying, and generally just getting on my very last nerve.

That's not to say they don't miss their brother. Or ache for him. Or that their lives haven't been completely turned upside down because of the absence of his presence. Like me, like their father, they morphed into new little people, changed so completely through no fault of their own.

They are both more sombre. They are both more fatalistic. When they hear someone, especially a child, is sick or in the hospital, they no longer assume they will leave that hospital. In fact, we have had to work very hard to get them to stop presuming just because someone is ill, someone will die.

Every night they say goodnight to their Bug, and I can sometimes hear soft murmurs coming from their rooms. Behind their doors, in the dark of night, they spill their souls and tell their brother their darkest secrets. I asked them once why they did this, and they just shrugged. Worried, I asked if he ever talked back. I had sudden mental images of visiting my crazies in the nut house. Thankfully, they don't hear any ghosts, or voice of God talking back to them. But they both report feeling a closeness to him that they haven't felt since the day of his death, and that comforts them.

Like me, they fear the unknown. They want to know where he is, is he healed, will he remember us. I offer platitudes and warm thoughts while wondering the same things myself. They struggled with their faith and looked at their father and I for guidance.

It saddens me to know that who they were is lost forever. They carry a sadness with them that will always mark them. They have been through more tragedy, more hardship than most young children. They spent five years trying to understand why their brother suffered so, and they will spend the rest of their lives trying to understand why he died. That changes a person, especially a young child.

We spent these past 504 days mourning and coping and morphing into the people we have all become. I often wonder where our 'old' selves made off to, if they found new bodies to inhabit. I like the vision of four happy, little, redneck zombies wandering the world, looking for kooks to inhabit.

I can't say I'm not sad still. Not just because my baby is gone. But because my older babies lost their innocence when Bug's life was snuffed out with the quietest whisper of death. But I look at who they have turned into, and how they have handled themselves through it all; how they managed to help their momma stay sane, and I am so very proud of my kids. I just want to share them with the world. Shout their names from the highest mountain, and make the world aware of how remarkable these little people really are.

Despite me and my inept parenting.

It truly is a marvel.

I decided to share with you my babes. After all, I have posted pics of Bug, my Boo, even my backside, I figured it was only fair that I share the products of my womb, the fruits of my labour. (Pun absolutely intended!)

Think of it as an offering of proof that I am, indeed, a natural blonde.


Blogger jmvanwinkle said...

Your kids are so beautiful. ALL of them are. It's nice to put a face to Fric & Frac. :)

10:06 a.m.  
Anonymous Great Dane Addict said...


10:13 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great kids..thanks for sharing.


10:24 a.m.  
Blogger metro mama said...

You are one incredible lady, you know.

They are beautiful.

10:25 a.m.  
Blogger daysgoby said...

They're beautiful - and brave.

10:33 a.m.  
Blogger kimmyk said...

Those are some beautiful kids.
They must get that from their father.

10:38 a.m.  
Blogger Jean said...

Thanks! Wish I could snap my fingers and the pain would go away. Your children are beautiful. And so are you.

10:46 a.m.  
Blogger sillychick said...

Good God, you always make me cry. The way you articulate your feelings makes me feel them right along beside you.

The thought of your kids talking with the Bug, him making them feel better, shows just how enormous of a parent you are. They know they can share their feelings with you without repercussions.

They are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

11:12 a.m.  
Blogger kgirl said...

They are just as beautiful as your words.

what I said over at my place? It stands. Tall.

11:12 a.m.  
Blogger Butrfly4404 said...

Sunshine regularly "talks" to Bella. She's told me that Bella came to talk to her - that God is her father now. She sings songs about her. The other day, she had a baby doll in the living room and put on a 15 minute production of "I wish you were my sister so I could love you."

It breaks my heart so much to know that she will always be missing something that was so important to her. That she loves her sister more than anyone - but didn't meet her until she was already gone.

Lots of hugs for all of you - especially the kids.

11:51 a.m.  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

I'm fairly certain I've said this before but, damn woman, you've birthed some beautiful chilluns.

As for the rest of it, dammit, stop making me cry.

1:20 p.m.  
Blogger My float said...

What beautiful kids. Big hugs from over here.

1:43 p.m.  
Anonymous Robbi said...

Your kids are SO. CUTE.

1:47 p.m.  
Anonymous Jacquie said...

Great lookin kids! Of course now I can visualize you and your son at Coscto ;-) he looks like quite the imp.

2:07 p.m.  
Blogger jellyhead said...

T, your children look as wonderful as they sound.

XO Jelly

2:23 p.m.  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

Beautiful pictures, beautiful children.

Beautiful post.

Beautiful you.

2:45 p.m.  
Blogger Gette said...

Amen, MamaTulip.

3:17 p.m.  
Blogger ECR said...

What a family. You blond beauties are making the rest of us look very, very bad.

4:56 p.m.  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

You know how there are all these German words like weltenschaung and schadenfraude and zeitgeist and there are these definitions to these words that you have to talk about in philosophy class?

There ought to be a word like that for this kind of post, T. One word which denotes the feeling it causes, a combination of sadness, sympathy, relief that a similar fate hasn't been bestowed upon, omigosh those kids are stunning, heart-breaking, longing, amazed at your coping and wisdom. Is there a word for all that? If so, it describes you and this post.

5:21 p.m.  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

P.S. Thanks for sharing Fric and Frac with us.

5:22 p.m.  
Anonymous the new girl said...

This post is such an accurate picture of the curve of grief. I can so relate to how it evolves over time and your description is both saddening and comforting...if that's possible.

5:41 p.m.  
Blogger Wendy said...

2 of the sweetest faces I have ever seen.

I know I have seen one picture of you once. I know those kids are the spitting image of you.

6:40 p.m.  
Anonymous s@n said...


Your post, your words, your children, you. All fantastic.

6:54 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing that. It was so honest and real. Fric and Frac are obviously following in your compassionate and thoughtful footsteps. They sound like mature little people indeed.

7:08 p.m.  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Hi Fric and Frac!!

8:12 p.m.  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

Your babies are so lovely.

You are made of steel, friend. You did everything right. Your children must have been extraordinarily close to their brother.

They obviously inherited your courage, along with your bright blonde tresses.

8:23 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we found out that Katie was handicapped I worried about what the impact would be on my other two kids. I didn't want their lives to be worse, I guess, because of their sister. Katie's almost fifteen now and we're in the process of placing her in a group home and now as I look back over the past fifteen years I can see how much of an impact she's had on our lives, postive and negative.

My kids probably feel ripped off because of all the things they couldn't do when they were growing up because of Katie, all the holidays we didn't go on, the lessons they couldn't go to, how quiet they had to be because Katie was sleeping. They lost a lot over the years and I hope and pray that when they're grown and have children of their own, they will have found something good in their lives as a result of having Katie as a sister.

Katie's taught me so much about life and love, I hope that one day my children will be able to see that as well. And now I have to go because I made myself cry.

8:33 p.m.  
Anonymous TSM said...

You have no idea how you bless me.

I don't have words.

10:41 p.m.  
Blogger Mel said...

Such a beautiful post. Your kids are adorable.

1:49 a.m.  
Blogger carrie said...

Do not for one minute say that you are an "inept" parent, because you aren't. You are incredible.

Your children are beautiful. And courageous. And strong.

And so are YOU! :)


2:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your children are beautiful outside and inside, no wonder, they have a wonderful roll model.Thank You for all your sharing you are an amazing honest, FUNNY person who has taught me alot.

Bug is an ANGEL on all your shoulders.

Maria ( New Jersey)

6:40 a.m.  
Blogger MamaMichelsBabies said...

Mama Tulip said it best I think...

"Beautiful pictures, beautiful children.

Beautiful post.

Beautiful you. "

Your incredible. And very far from inept.

9:16 a.m.  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Those are some kick ass kids. To go with their kick ass parents. And their kick ass brother.

Hugs to you.

1:52 p.m.  
Blogger Bon said...

my god, you're a beautiful writer.

i liked your image of the zombies looking for new kooks to inhabit. i teared up at the image of Fric & Frac talking to their brother. and i laughed that slightly manic, slightly bitter laugh of recognition when you talked about the "fake it til you make it." oy.

y'know, i will admit, for a long time my poor twisted, hurting soul thought that - in some horrific hierarchy of parental grief, though none of it is decent or fair or tolerable - parents who lost a younger child were in some way just a little better off, because at least they got to be recognized as parents, at least they got to talk about SOME of their kids without people turning purple and scuttling away...and at least they had kids they could put their arms around. i still think those are blessings, in a fucked up way. but i no longer think it's easier, at all. in my blindness, i forgot about what kind of pain it would be to watch your children grieve, and hurt, and change.

thanks for the wakeup, though it shames me to admit it.

i'm so sorry, as ever, for all of your loss of Bug, and for your loss of what your family once was...for your loss of all of them, as they once were.

you do them all proud, though.

( do i find these tattoo photos?)

6:14 p.m.  
Anonymous daisydee said...

Cute kids T! You know I love em.

8:24 p.m.  
Blogger Maria said...

Wow...I heard that you could write, but I didn't know that you could WRITE.

Good hell, what a great piece of yourself in this blog.

I just felt it all right down to my toes. Lovely. And sad.

But, you took us all by the hand and pulled us with you into, through, and around your grief.

Thank you.

8:37 p.m.  
Blogger Sara said...

Your children are beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story, your pain, so that others could survive as well.


11:50 p.m.  
Blogger Amanda said...

I came expecting humor, instead I found the most achingly beautiful side of humanity - courage, honesty, and the indomitable spirit of children. I send blessings to you and your entire brood.

10:00 a.m.  
Blogger J. said...

They're gorgeous hon.
You just floor me, you know that?

12:03 p.m.  
Blogger crazymumma said...

This absolutely took my breath away.

Your strength is astounding and
your children are stunning, remarkable people.

1:57 p.m.  
Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Hi. Your children are beautiful. Your writing, as always, is beautiful. I don't know if you know this (b/c I've only commented a couple of times) but I have been following your journey off and on since last spring. I admire your strength not just in getting through all this but in articulating the bits and pieces of what it has meant along the way.

6:27 p.m.  
Blogger Emma Sometimes said...

It's amazing how children respond, and we watch them in awe over how to heal. Your kids are really a testament of you, you know, regardless of flashing incidents involving earing placement and various inking of your person. (Isn't that how Jane Austen would have interpreted that?)

You have beautiful kids!

8:47 a.m.  
Blogger Kelly said...

You know, this was such an extremely beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful post.

Your strength amazes me. Even the vaguest perception of what it must be like to lose a child sends me reeling, and here you are, surviving, loving, living.

My husband lost his little brother almost 11 years ago now. But his brother was 21 at the time of his death, and my husband 26. My mother-in-law, too, says she will never be the same. But when I asked her how she did it, how she went on through the grief, she said, "What choice do I have?"

So your kids, too, are incredibly strong. I'm not one to try to make good out of the bad. Sometimes, life is totally hard full of shit and grief and terrible and so unfair. But your kids will probably possess loads of empathy, and that, my friend, is an amazing thing to have.

And I'm glad they still feel him, and feel close to him.

(Now excuse me while I go and get some tissues.)

9:11 a.m.  
Blogger bubandpie said...

That last photo really got me - the sense of companionship (partners in crime, maybe?). If my kids look like that in a few years' time, I will be so pleased and proud.

10:10 a.m.  
Anonymous FishyGirl said...

God, T. Beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting, inspiring, beautiful.

You, your kids, your writing. All of it.

8:49 p.m.  
Blogger stefanierj said...

Damn, I'm one of 45 comments?? Finally getting the readership you deserve.

I missed you on my week away. This post reminded me why.

And also, on a totally crude note, because I know it will make you laugh? It's good to know you're a natural blonde. Carpet matching the curtains and all that. :)

3:12 p.m.  
Blogger Cherann said...

You're probably past this point but there are support groups that help. My brother and his wife lost their infant to a genetic blood disease and they sought support from MISS.
Although I'm not sure if there is a local one in Canada.

Your kids are beautiful. :)

9:56 p.m.  

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