Tag Archives: death

A Meaningful Narrative – The Challenges and Pleasures of Secular Parenting

3 Apr

My son is nearing four now, what an incredible age! When allowed to freely explore, ask questions, and wonder about life – this is an age of outstanding discoveries, of vital first impressions of the world, of discovering who is trustworthy, what is permitted, where one can go and where doors are shut.

I have two strong guidelines in my parenting, that have been guiding me from the day I brought my Boy back home from the hospital. Be authentic. Tell the truth. There is a lot more of course. I try to listen to him, I mean really listen, as much as I can. I try to set boundaries where they are necessary, I try to support his urges to be independent and guide him and be supportive, and not lose my patience and maintain composure, even if he throws a fit because his sunny-side-up is leaking and now he won’t eat it.

But I honestly believe, if I’m authentic, if Mom-Me, is not an entirely different person from Professional-Me, and Intellectual-Me, and Friend-Me, and Lover-Me, then I’m doing something right. So I tell my son about my day when I come back from school. He listens, and then he tells me about his day at preschool. I joke around with him, because I can be silly like that sometimes. I say I’m sorry when I make a mistake. And I tell him the truth, or a version of the truth that he can take in, when he asks me the big questions, when he wants to know how life begins and what happens when it ends.

Yes, he’s not even four yet. But my son has already asked if everyone dies, and if I’ll die one day. I couldn’t tell him some ridiculous story. A part of me wanted to go with the heaven-story. It’s a good one, really. It comforted me when I was younger. But I didn’t. I said we live forever in the hearts of those who love us. It’s a good narrative. It’s as close as I could get to where I really am vs the death thing. He accepted my narrative the way only four-year-olds can, absorbing it, inscribing it into his own narrative, into the truths that he will now grow up with.

Now he knows, because he asked and I answered, that the male and female bodies fit together perfectly, like two pieces of a puzzle, that the sperm and the egg yearn to unite and form a baby. That they have to wait for love, because only when a man and a woman love one another, can they unite to form life. He knows that I think it’s a miracle. And so he finds if miraculous as well. And it is, isn’t it? He is too young to feel confused about it. Too young to be weirded out. The narrative I chose to deliver has now become one more truth that he will measure future stories about sex, love and child bearing against.

“How does the baby come out?” He asked.

“A woman body is amazing,” I said with wonder. “It widens for the baby to come out from between her legs. They in narrows again.”

“Really? It can do that?”

“Yes,” I answered. “Isn’t it amazing?”

 

 

 

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Timeline of Joys and Sorrows

21 Nov

September 2011: Preggers. Feels like I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Feels like he’s been dreading this all his life.

December 2011: He goes away for 3 months. Turns out I can do stuff on my own.

March 2012: He returns to find that I have evolved into a giantess, no longer vomiting every two seconds, and about 20+ kilos heavier.

June 2012: Beautiful, healthy son is born.

September 2012: We have the talk.

October 2012: He leaves. I grieve.

December 2012: I start to live again.

January 2013: I try to love again.

March 2013: M is sick. It’s going to be alright.

June 2013: Promotion!

June 2013: ONE!

July 2013: Besties in Berlin! It’s going to be alright.

July 2013: Trying and failing to get back together.

August 2013: Trying and failing to find a new home.

September 2013: Staying put. M is still sick. Love is gone. Everything sucks.

March 2014: Hope for a new start.

April 2014: A new home. A new start. Dating again.

June 2014: TWO!

June 2014: Coping. Empowered. Life is complicated, I can take it.

September 2014: I can’t take it.

October 2014: I have to take it.

November 2014: Low point. Depression. Unkind to myself.

November 2014: I tell M about a good first date with D. I try to keep it together.

December 2014: Limbo.

January 2015: Unspeakable pain.

February 2015: Unspeakable pain.

March 2015: I slowly begin to reclaim my life.

April 2015: I celebrate a birthday, dramatically, with my best friends, with my boyfriend.

May 2015: Girls gone wild memorial. Besties in Santorini, remembering M.

June 2015: THREE!

June 2015: Officially divorced at last.

July 2015: A trip to Barcelona with D.

July 2015: Adorably insane Charlie joins our family, chewing and biting and acting crazy 90% percent of the time, being the best dog in the world the other 10%.

September 2015: OK. We’ll keep you. Just please stop biting.

September 2015: Let’s introduce our kids.

October 2015: Playing family.

November 2015: Celebrating a year together. How lucky I am to have love in my life. Hope is renewed for a future of togetherness.

Fearing January.

Knowing I’ll make it through January.

Insecurities and Meltdowns

4 May

My insecurities got the best of me the other day. Missing M horribly, crying nonstop, panicking about everything and anything. I finally cracked and went berserk on D. Just like I had told myself I wouldn’t.

If he only says I love you in response to me saying it, how can I be sure he really means it? I was going nuts imagining how he’d be off soon enough leaving me, alone once again, surprised and insulted, unloved for months without having suspected.

I was sobbing hysterically when I finally decided to text him. It was one of those things you don’t think through, and you kind of know that if you did – you’d stop. But it was a mistake I wanted to make, moreover, it felt like something I needed to do, so badly that it would be a mistake not to.

I was straightforward. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but at least there was no beating around the bush. He responded clearly: He loved me. He thought I was incredible. I gave him things that had been missing from his life for years. He wished he could say something more to convince me that that’s how he felt.

I took a screenshot. I would have to reread this message in the future. I said: Thank you. I’ll try to remember that.

Then he came over and we had sex and went to the Robbie Williams concert which was awesome. By the time we got back home, it felt like things had gone back to normal between us, and I thought to myself, it’s not such a high price to pay, my emotional meltdowns, to be with me. I’m kind of a catch.

30 Days, Meltdown, Love and Not Pregnant

20 Feb

I haven’t written for a while as things have been so hectic and I needed some time to process. So, we’ll take it by chronological order.

Day 30 was around the corner and we would be going to the cemetery to see the tombstone, followed by eating Indian and watching Life of Brian as she had specifically requested. The weekend before, J, E and I decided to go up North and basically do nothing in an awesome wooden cabin for 24 hours. I was a nervous wreck, and figured the rest would do me good, but rather than getting excited about the road trip, I was having another where-is-this-going meltdown about D.

Three months since we’d started dating, and I had already told him I loved him, and he hadn’t said it back. While I told myself I should give it time, I was beginning to wonder if, every time he says “this was fun” after sex, he actually means that fun is all that this can be. And that made me draw back to the extent that when I slipped and fell in the shower a couple of weeks ago and actually thought I had broken my arm (which thankfully I didn’t) I didn’t want him to come over, I preferred to be home alone than to see him. Because when you’re down, you only really want to be around people who love you. Not people who just think you’re fun.

So, this mini road trip would be just what I needed. A break from everything, with two of my favorite people by my side, people with whom love is simply not a question. And the trip gave me the guts to have the “where is this going” chat with D, knowing that if the talk went horribly and I felt like shit after, I’d have my friends there to remind me of what was really important. Oh, and it happened to be valentine’s weekend too. Coincidence?

Thursday arrived, the night before the trip, and D came over after I had put my boy down. I put on a dress, and got some Kasteel Rouge and cheese, and basically made sure everything was pretty. He came in and asked what the occasion was and I just gave him a kiss and smiled. And then as we were sitting down to munch and drink I dropped the bomb on him and said we needed to talk. He smiled, and said he’d figured. I said, I needed to know if this was going anywhere. And he asked, going where? I said that he knew I didn’t want to get married again, and that I wasn’t even sure I ever wanted to live with someone again, but that I was looking for companionship, for love, for more that just “fun”.

He said: “It’s still too soon for me to know where this is going. I know that you’re incredible and beautiful, and I’m attracted to you, and I love you, and this is fun, and I want it to continue, and I love you. I don’t know where –”

“Shut up, you’re ruining it.” I interrupted him and we kissed. “I didn’t know you loved me.”

He said, “Of course I love you.” And I wasn’t sure why he thought it was so obvious if he hadn’t said it to me before, but I took it without judgment and allowed myself to feel happy, relived and comforted.

Then I was very, very happy for 72 hours, which included the post-I-love-you-sex, and the he-loves-me-text to my friends, and the amazing 24 hours in a wooden cabin, watching Magic Mikw and drinking hot wine and unwinding with my friends.

I felt like I could rest, and resting felt good. During the whole time up North I didn’t think about day 30 or the cemetery or anything sad for that matter. I remembered M as I do all the time, but not in a bad way, not in a sad way either, more like in a it-just-feels-good-to-think-about-her way. Then the weekend was over and it was time to get back to reality.

Sunday was day 29, and it dawned on me that I would have to go to the cemetery and see the tombstone, and I felt this horrible, cold heavy feeling in my gut. I had a shitty day at work and my day was only saved by hanging out with my boy at home, cooking and doing puzzles and not thinking about tomorrow.

And then it was tomorrow.

I went to work, but I was only there physically.

And then I was off work and I stopped at the mall to buy underwear, which I needed desperately, in hopes that doing something useful would make me feel better, and it did, even though just a very little bit.

And then I was there, at the entrance. I went in. I hugged M’s dad who was very practical about things in his trunk that belonged to M, that he wanted us friends to have a look at. We went to see the tombstone, which was beautiful and unique and I think she would have liked it. Words were said, none of which really represented what M was to me. Her family spoke. They said some religious stuff that I couldn’t connect to and it was pretty much unbearable to be there. I just wanted to leave. Then A spoke, and said something funny about imagining M lying in bed with her eyes closed, waiting for us to leave, assuming she’s gone, so she could finally rest. He imagined her then opening her eyes as the door closed, and rolling them, as if to say, I thought they’d never leave. Everybody laughed and my laughter turned into uncontrollable sobbing. Because it was the way I will always remember her, cynical and humorous.

The Indian food was delicious but didn’t fill the void, and I made a video of everyone singing “always look at the bright side of life” at the end of the movie. Then I went home, and I felt relief that it was over. On Tuesday, D came over, and we ate my famous curry and we drank some beer and had sex and it was good. And it’s been better since.

What I realized yesterday though, was that in all this turmoil, I hadn’t realized I was 9 days late with my period. So, I took a test. And I’m not pregnant. Which is very, very good news.

That was a recap of the last couple of weeks, eventful, yeah, difficult, yeah, but you know what? I think the bottom line of the whole think is how much meaning and love I have in my life. It hurts, obviously, and it also comforts and soothes me. It’s awesome and it’s shitty all at the same time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Post about Grief and Comfort

6 Feb

Nearly two years ago, M called me at work at to tell me she was going to have a “port” installed. Right after we found out M was sick, she kind of disappeared. I don’t remember if it was for a few days that felt like forever or for a week, maybe even longer. I remember calling her and texting her and getting no answer. I knew from J she was going to have the port installed, to make treatments easier and avoid being constantly stuck with needles, but I couldn’t get a hold of her, and though I realized she probably needed some time alone to process the news, I really wanted to talk to her.

That day was a Tuesday, I think. I was still working part time at the school back then. My boy was maybe seven months old, and was home with his babysitter. I had just gotten off work, when I saw her missed call and immediately called her back. It was 1:30 pm. “I was worried about you.” was the first thing I said. She answered matter-of-factly: “I’m having the port installed today. Can you come?” I answered, “Of course.” And hung up. I had an hour and a half to find someone who could be with my boy that afternoon. I literally called everyone I knew, and finally found an arrangement as I drove to the hospital.

She was scared to death, and her fear fed my fear. Sitting there in the waiting room, I realized what was about to happen, I realized that we were in it for a long haul. The nurse asked her something and M answered that she was going to need chemo for the rest of her life. The nurse said, “I’m sure that’s not true. You have to be optimistic. People have recovered, even in your situation.” I believed her. Even though she had no idea what M’s situation was.

Then she went in and was sedated, heavily, because the first dose they gave her didn’t put her down. Jesus, that seems all too familiar. I don’t think I’ve written here about the end. How she wanted to sleep, and the vast quantities of morphine she’d been given just wouldn’t do it.

By the time she got out a couple of other friends had gotten there. I don’t remember who, I was so out of it, and at the same time I was playing my role of “having it together” so vigorously that I couldn’t feel anything. Did she need something? Maybe some water? Maybe another funny story about my boy to pass the time? Smile, I told myself. Don’t look scared. She needs you to be strong.

By the time I got home I was exhausted. My sister had left everything she was doing, and taken a cab to my old apartment to be with my boy and BD had picked him up in the evening, so I was alone. I sat on the sofa and texted SG, whom I was seeing then. I said, “I know we said we’d meet tonight, but I’m really out of it. I’m sad and tired. Maybe you can just come over and hang out.” He said, “Get dressed, I’m picking you up in 20 minutes.” And I said, “No, you don’t understand. I want to stay in.” And he said, “No, you don’t understand, we’re going out.” I was too tired to argue. So I got dressed.

He took me to an eatery, run by an outstanding chef, whom M despised by the way, for being an arrogant prick, which is true but doesn’t make the food any less incredible. In this place, you can eat the most delicious things you could ever imagine stuffed into a sandwich and served with beer. The place was busy and colorful. The food was delicious. The music was oriental and loud. The beer was cold and satisfying. I think we even did a shot of Arak. I was sitting there with a man who cared enough about me to force me to come out and remember life. And when we came home we took our clothes off and literally did not stop fucking until I couldn’t remember my name. That night I realized that I didn’t always know what was good for me.

Sometimes, looking back at my relationship with SG, I tend to discredit what we had. I say things to myself like, he was my first after the breakup, I didn’t know any better, he was just a kid, he lived with his parents for christ’s sake, I knew from the start it wasn’t going anywhere. But none of that changes the fact that SG was perfect for me at the time that I met him.

It’s all about grief and comfort. I was grieving when I met SG. Grieving the loss of my husband, father of my son, the loss of my family as I had always imagined it would be. SG was a source of comfort. He loved me, almost instantly. And it wasn’t just saying words. He really went out of him way numerous times to please me, comfort me, to show me he cared. He took me to the opera, and cooked for me, and talked about books with me to the wee hours of the night, and he’d go down on me for twenty minutes straight, and tell me repetedly how beautiful and deserving I was, and he held me really tightly when I cried, so tightly that it felt like he was going to crush me. And he accepted it when I broke up with him twice to get back together with BD, he said he couldn’t stand between me and my family.

I’m not reminiscing here. It’s been long enough ago that I don’t miss him anymore. I’m just thankful that I got to have that comfort in my life at that time. And I’m thankful for all the amazing sources of comfort that I have in my life today.

My son, who makes me feel loved, like no one else.

My friends, who have been through a lot of shit with me, who I can always call to rant or just do shots with while hanging laundry (yes, that happened).

My co-workers, who appreciate me, who understand what I’m going through or at least make a sincere effort to.

D, for being a sorce of comfort to me these days. For going back to that eatery with me last night and listening to the story about M’s port and SG and for saying about seven times how amazing the cauliflower was, and not just to please me, because he really loved it. And silly as it may sound, it really made me happy that he appreciated it, because that place is special to me, not just because of the food.

And finally, me, for being kinder to myself than I have been in the past, for having a better notion of what I want and deserve, for being aware of mistakes that I’ve made, for forgiving myself, for knowing that I will never again be wandering dark streets at 5 am looking for my car after having had only semi-protected sex with a first date that I didn’t even like (yes, that happened too).

Me, for knowing I deserve better. Me, for thinking good things of myself, most of the time. Me, for doing it on my own. Me for knowing when to stop doing it on my own and ask for help. Me, for leaning on the people that I love and trust.

Grief has a place in my life, especially these days. But exactly three weeks ago, I left M’s bedside at the hospital for the last time, and I’d told her that we’d all be fine. I said she didn’t need to worry about us. And it was true. We have many sources of comfort in our lives, and they allow us to experience grief, to fall apart, and to get back up again, and pick up the pieces, and carry on.

January 22nd Again

22 Jan

Despite the circumstances, I am noting this day: January 22nd. The day I chose to mark my rebirth. It was on this day, exactly two years ago, that I stopped grieving BD’s sudden departure. That I realized that BD’s leaving did not break up my family, that my son and I were an entire, complete unit, and that we didn’t need him to live with us in order to complete us.

M stood there beside me, cheering me on, coming over to cook comfort food and drink and talk, reminding me how much love I already had in my life, enough to fill up all the cracks that BD had left in my heart. Other friends were there too. I was blessed, and am blessed to have a close circle of friends who stand by me at times like this.

That was a loss. This is a loss. Is it strange or inappropriate to compare the two? I guess so. The loss of my family as I’d dreamed that it would be. The loss of a friendship that I always imagined would last a lifetime.

If she were here, I bet she would remember the date, even though probably I’d only mentioned it to her a couple of times. She’s celebrate it with me. She’d cheer me on. She’d tell me I’m strong (she always said that, and it wasn’t always true, but I accepted the vote of confidence.) She’d tell me that like before, I will eventually stop grieving. I will remember the good. I will be happy again.

But at this very moment it doesn’t feel like I will ever stop missing her, that I will ever stop grieving, that I will ever accept her loss.

Sleep well. Sweet Dreams. I love you.

17 Jan

I sat beside you, and looked at your eyes, almost entirely closed, and listened for a while to your heavy, steady breathing. I said, “It’s me.” And I thought I could feel you breathing more heavilly, and I imagined that you could hear me.

“I’ve been thinking about you. And not sad thoughts, happy thoughts. You are constantly in my mind. Everything reminds me of you. Things I eat and wonder if you would approve. Clinking glasses with friends and looking them straight in the eye, as you would. A song you like on the radio. A stupid thing someone says that deserves an eye-roll. You are present in my thougts, in my everyday life.

I wanted you to know that I’m OK. We’re all OK. You don’t have to worry about us. We’re taking good care of eachother. Even your father. Even your brother. They’ll be OK. They have people they love taking care of them. And J, she’s going to be OK too. E and I will look after her, I promise.

And I’m OK. I got the divorce agreement and it’s fair. I know you were worried for me.

I hope you’re sleeping well, and having sweet dreams, and remembering all the wonderful places you’ve visited, and all the delicous foods you’ve tasted, and all the people who love you, and always will.

It was a gift to have you in all of our lives.”

I paused and closed my eyes.

“And I’m going to read that book by Terry Prachett you recommended, Small Gods. E gave it to me. It’s about time I got to know Terry Prachett.”

I was silent for about ten minutes. And I imagined that your breathing became slower. And I was certain you couldn’t hear me any longer. I said, “Sleep well. Sweet dreams. I love you.”

And a couple of hours later I got the call.

And you were gone.