Hollow Nest

My nest is empty.  First, my daughter with her Angel Wings, and now my son with his Strong Young Man’s Fledgling Wings.  His whole life is before him; his life, now his own.

Both of my babies breast fed and I adored that experience.  It was a chance to have them each just to myself; holding tiny hands, looking into sleepy little eyes, feeling tiny hearts beating in my arms and loving little beings more deeply than I had ever known possible.  In those moments I was everything they needed and no one else could provide that for them even had they wanted to.  It was such a precious time and it was the happiest of my life.

My son breastfed for a year, almost exactly.  Just before his first birthday, I heard his little cry in the other room; up again with the sun.  I brought him into my bed and we snuggled and he began to feed just like all the days before.  Suddenly, he let go and looked at the breast as if he’d never seen it before and he pushed it away.  He was done!

We had gradually eliminated each feeding until the morning one was the only one.  I knew it would end and I actually looked forward to the freedom…a little.  It would be the first time in nearly two years that my body was my own.  It would also mean the end of morning snuggle time as I’d known it.  It was bittersweet.  I remember looking at his little face and quietly asking, “Are you sure?”  He was sure.  I smiled at him, but a wave of disappointment moved through me as the realization settled and I flashed to the future, realizing how fast time moves and changes everything before we know it and certainly before we’re ever ready for it to do that.

I’ve had dreams of Dannica since her passing, not many, but vivid and vibrant.  In most of them, all but two so far, she’s been a baby or a young child.  My mind is often filled with memories of her birth and our short time in the hospital.  She struggled to breathe and the nurses took her to the nursery to clear her airways.  I slept, knowing she was in good hands.  I was angry, however, when I learned that they had supplemented her feeding while she was away from me.  I felt strongly about that time and that bond and I didn’t want it sabotaged even in the name of sleep for mommy.

When Danni fed, she gulped loudly and it was both adorable and funny.  As a toddler, she still gulped adorably from her sippy cups and would often put too much food in her little mouth and need to be rescued from gagging down (or up) a whole whatever.  She breastfed for 14 months.  She loved having her little hands held while she fed and when she wasn’t sleepy, she reached her tiny hands up to touch my face, my eyes.  She was so tactile, so fascinated with eyes and faces, and she derived comfort from touching these objects of her fascination.  She was also a restless feeder at times; busy, constantly moving, looking around, drenched when letting go to look around then smiling and giggling while I cleaned us up and settled her in again.  While my baby boy would often fall asleep and be out for the night after feeding, “milk coma,” we called it, Dannica was often still wide awake and would play quietly in her crib until falling asleep on her own.

Dannica was strong and stubborn in many ways as a child.  At times when I thought comforting was the thing to do, she’d push me away, fighting hard against little tears brimming in her eyes.  Sometimes, I’d hug her or try to comfort her anyway and sometimes she’d crumble and let me.  Often, however, she was the one comforting me.  She had a sweet way of tilting her little head and lightly resting a little hand, or the back of a little hand, on my cheek or barely touching my hair.  The love was palpable and I’d cry when it washed over me.

I still cry every day.  Some days I cry many times.  Sometimes what I’m feeling isn’t devastating grief.  Sometimes, it is this same palpable love that washes over me and I recognize it as Dannica’s presence and that makes me weep with the purity and strength of it.  My physical body aches with wanting to take her in my arms, just one more time.  Just one minute… just five seconds… one second?  Please?!

So much for magic words.

When my son came to me a few weeks back and told me he’d decided to move to Portland, I know he saw (and maybe feared seeing) the look on my face.  Even though he couldn’t have known of the images crossing my mind, they were there, flashing back to tiny him, pushing away the breast & the young mother’s thoughts flashing forward to this moment, and she, knowing now, since the beginning of his little life, this moment had followed her all the way to where she now stood.

In this moment, we all stand together.  Infant, young mother, young man, older mom.  And so it is.  And so we’re here, as it should be, in all appropriateness, all the emotions present and accounted for; disappointment, gratitude, grief, happiness, sadness, excitement, relief, pride, adoration, hope.  If there is a single word for it, I suppose it is love, ultimately, yes…Love.  That is how and why it feels so right and hurts so much all  at the same time.

I Believe in Miracles… Again.

I smile and shake my head as I say that because it’s something I’ve said before, many times, and yet, I forget about it and I need reminding and so I ask for another miracle, and I get it! I believe again. I wonder if simply writing it on my hand, or my wall, on a sticky note or in my planner, “I Believe in Miracles!” will ever serve as enough reminder to keep despair at bay. Somehow, I think not. Somehow, I think human beings are made to forget. So I will keep forgetting, I will keep asking for more, and I will keep being reminded that I do believe.

Last October, I discovered a remarkable book by New York Times best selling author, Pam Grout, entitled E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.

I jumped right in with both feet, my wildest imagination and journal in tow. During the next few weeks, I experienced brilliant success with the first three experiments. It was quite exciting! Then mid November, and the first anniversary of Dannica’s passing again stopped everything for me. I set the book and my experiments aside and didn’t pick them up again until a week ago today. Chapter 4 again raised some questions in my mind that I’d had while reading other books about manifestation and the power of our thoughts to influence our realities. I don’t doubt we have that power at all, in fact, I embrace the idea entirely but when you lose a child, you see everything differently and it is constant work and conscious effort to reconcile things in this realm.

I am reblogging a post now from my new friend, Pam Grout. The photos are the most recent I have of my daughter, Dannica and the story is in Pam’s beautiful post. My interactions with this dear woman have reminded me not only that I believe in miracles but that we are all here, in some capacity, for each other. Life is *so* hard. How wonderful there are angels on earth as well as in Heaven.

Pam Grout

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
― J.K. Rowling

dannica3

Death has a bad reputation. But I agree with J.K. Rowling.

We’re thrilled for our friends when they’re heading to say, Hawaii or the Caribbean. I posit that we can also be happy for our loved ones who are now able to be everywhere at once, who now know ONLY love.

I’m not suggesting it’s easy for those of still here on this limited physical plane to let go. I recently lost my precious step-daughter to H1N1 flu and not having her here to laugh (she had the BEST laugh) and to make her wicked funny jokes (I always thought she’d make a fabulous comedy writer) wouldn’t have been my first choice.

But I happen to know she’s still with us. It’s just that she’s now on a different frequency. And I had a fabulous reminder…

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Still Point

When I was in massage school, I took an introductory class in Craniosacral Therapy where I learned about something known as a still point.  This is a physiological state during which the production of craniosacral fluid ceases, causing a pause in the craniosacral rhythm.  This rhythm is familiar to the rest of the body as is the heart beat or the breath; a normal, natural movement within it.  This pause allows the body a few moments of deep silence as well as an opportunity for self-correction, a reduction of symptoms in certain conditions, and an increase in wellbeing.

Mid-November 2013 through mid-March 2014 was a time of chopping wood, carrying water, doing only what was necessary to my survival and letting everything else go.  Every moment since Dannica’s accident has been this way to a great degree, but these four months were an even more drastic release of anything not necessary; a deeper silence, an absolute stillness within me to the point of being mistaken by others and myself as dead and gone.  The holidays, and the weeks that followed my failure to be jolly, filled me with the sense I was chopping petrified wood and carrying water from the ocean floor to the highest mountaintop only then to realize it was unfit to consume.

I once had a vivid dream in which I lay myself down upon the earth and waited for my own death.  It was a struggle and seemed like it would just never happen.  I tried to relax my body there in the dirt looking up at a sky full of stars.  I envisioned the insects arriving to dispose of my body and other creatures coming to return it to the earth.  I was anxious, but willing and grateful to have this opportunity to offer myself back to Mother Earth in this way, which brought a certain calm.  I’d drift off into a restless sleep and awaken once more to find myself still living and looking up at a now cloud covered sky lit eerily by the lights of the city.  How long until morning?  No way to know.

Something was going on in the world that required everyone I knew to evacuate taking only the necessities.  They would not be coming back.  I saw my dad’s Ford station wagon loaded, my siblings holding their dearest belongings to their little hearts.  I had chosen to stay behind…I would be dead soon.  They needed to go on.  They went.  Morning came and I found myself still there, in the dirt.  Realizing it just wasn’t going to happen, I ran to all the places I knew hoping to find the people I loved and go with them after all, but they were gone and now I was dead to them.

I remember having a dream within that dream as I was tossing and turning in the dirt and the grass that long night awaiting my own passing.  I dreamt of a golden kernel of corn.  A seed.  There, in the center of my vision, it glowed and sparkled as if it were actually made of gold.

I was 20 years old when I had that dream and wrote of it in my journal.  I was newly married.  My children still in spirit, where my daughter is once more.  My golden seed.  Now, I look back in time and I’m in that dream with my 20 year old self.  I see the 45 year old me, showing the 20 year old me a golden seed, creating the dream within the dream, the still point.  The 45 year old me was telling the 20 year old me, she still had a life to live.  A lot of it.  And though I felt alone in the world, she was there with me.  My daughter was there with me, too.  My dream within a dream.  Her life lived within my lifetime, burning bright there in the center of my vision.  The center of my life.

The dream within a dream, those four months last winter, these still points created hollows; opportunities for self-correction and increases in wellbeing.  A dear friend told me today, “Life has not been good to you.”  I agree.  It hasn’t.  And yet, it’s been amazing to me.  For one, I have this dear friend who brought me fresh eggs from her own chickens and gave me the greatest hug and the biggest smile.  I am blessed.  For another, I am reminded today of a dream I had 25 years ago which I thought was telling me I am alone in life but which now tells me I never am.