Friday, June 26, 2009

The ache...

There is an aching spot in my chest. It's there all the time. I can move through my day, occupying myself with other things...there are so many ways to keep myself busy. Here is a request to read a story, there is a search for a pair of scissors, over there is a garden needing weeding or watering or just gazing...a meal to be cooked, laundry to be washed, dishes to be cleaned, lessons to be taught to children who enjoy the freedom of homeschooling, a basset hound to scold for ripping through the screen...again...

yes...there is a lot to keep a person occupied...and yet...there is that spot. I can feel it pulsing.

It reminds me in each and every moment that part of me is missing. I feel it even when I find a way to laugh. I feel it even in the magical warmth of enjoyment. I feel it looking into my husbands eyes. It is in the laughter of my children. It grips me in the beauty of purple and yellow flowers, or in the grace of a butterfly's fluttering wings. It is in bird song, vegetable soup, and bubble baths. It is an ache that permeates joy and throbs deeply in sadness. It causes me to jump at the wind, looking over my shoulder for what is not there.

It has become part of my heart beat. Of my breath.

It's as if I was walking over a bridge, looked over the top rail to see my reflection, and accidentally dropped a precious, irreplaceable treasure over the edge and into the river, never to be found again.

I can cry about it--and I do. I can scream about it--and I do. I can search for a way to heal from that loss--and I do. I can try to express the depth of this pain that never leaves me--and yes...I do that too.
But ultimately...there is nothing I can do to ease the ache. It lies in my chest, clenching at my throat as I try to keep focused on what is in front of me.

There is no way to replace the irreplaceable. You can not replace a life. You can not bring back what has passed through a veil.

I want to wake up and find myself a wiser and happier woman...I want to find that I have been having a bad dream...a dream that has taught me all I've learned in the past few months without the reality that has taken my babies from me. I want to be given all the growth and depth and empathy without finding my belly flat and lifeless each morning where they should be But...that was yesterday, and yesterday can never be today.

I asked my 5 year old to bring me a story to read. Out of all the hundreds of books he could have picked, he chose "Baby, come out!". A story about a baby that refuses to leave the comfort of her mothers womb in spite of all the appealing offers given by her family. Only when her daddy comes home and gives kisses to all does she declare she will come out to get a kiss. I had to really work hard to be able to read that book to my little "bear". I choked back tears, and tried to read it with the same jolly voice that I'd used when my babies were warm and happy and safe inside of me, the same voice that made my little boy laugh and fall in love with the idea of being a big brother.

Our twins have changed all of us without ever having taken a breath on earth. Time will lessen the ache I am sure...but we are never to be the same again.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I was holding my husbands hand, enjoying watching my 10 year old joyfully running up ahead of us. We were going to take a walk in the wooded area near our home...The neighborhood calls it "moose can gully" but to my family it is simply "The Gully". It has been our place of refuge in these months of chaos and trauma. Our other boys opted to stay home to avoid the mosquito population that lives there...but not our Sam. He looked like a little silky haired bear cub darting from one tree to the next, enjoying the birds, laughing at how quickly the hummingbirds darted to eat the mosquitoes that were trying to eat us. The sky was the kind of blue that invites your eyes to swim in it's coolness, and the air was warm and inviting.

Suddenly I heard my husband gasp. We all froze following his eyes. A perfect little newborn fawn was nestled under a ponderosa pine, surrounded by wispy tall grasses and purple and yellow flowers. It lay there looking at us...just looking. It was too new and tiny to be afraid. It didn't get up, it just looked at us. We kept our distance, and whispered about how precious it vulnerable sitting there alone. No mama doe in sight. How could she leave her tiny little one, alone in the woods where foxes or dogs might hurt it...and yet...that is what they do.

The tears in my husbands eyes told the same story as I was feeling. You don't leave your baby alone to die. You protect it with all your might and tenderness. You don't turn away and assume all will be well in a world full of danger and accidents. You nestle them close and nurse them often, always vigilant, always there.

At do if your not a deer. You do if your me.

The thought pinched my gut...because my babies, my twins, vulnerable and tiny...I couldn't protect them. I couldn't save them from natures will. I couldn't make them live. Even in the protected haven of my womb, they were not immune to death.

The mama deer understands something that I sometimes forget...she trusts life. If her baby is there when she returns (which, based on the flourishing deer populations in this state must be what usually happens...) she will cuddle near and let it nurse. She will have nourished her body, and will be available to her precious infant with the caramel fur covered in little white spots. If, on the other hand, her little one is taken by a predator, she will know. She will smell and sense what has happened. She will grieve. And she will move on. She will continue caring for herself. She will not stop eating or contemplate ending her life. She has an innate trust in is what it is-- and nothing more or less.

We left that baby fawn in it's hiding place...tears in our eyes for the vulnerability that is a baby, that is life. We left that little one without touching it's soft fur, knowing that a mama knows how her baby smells. There was nothing more that we could do. No way to ensure his safety any more than I can ensure my own children's safety from moment to moment.

Our little Sam...the animal whisperer...wondered out loud about having it as a worried that it would become food for another animal. I told him we would call someone just to make sure it was normal for a baby so small and new to be alone like that. When we got home, I called the number for fish and wildlife and put the recording on speaker phone. The recording talked about taking precautions against bear invading garbage cans and bird feeders, and about deer having their babies at this time of the year. The message implored people to leave the babies where they were found, explained that the mama's leave for days at a time, and that they were not abandoned. We all felt much more at ease after hearing this explanation for finding such a tiny baby alone. It was what mother deer did. He was not alone. Not really.

I went back later...for my own peace of mind. The baby fawn was curled up in the same place, alert and peaceful. I whispered that I had lost my twin babies...and that I had loved them and wanted them in my arms so badly. I whispered my love for the fawn...and prayed for his mama to return soon. I took a picture of him...and blew a kiss. His unblinking eyes knowing nothing but trust. He was not afraid.

We are not alone.
Not really.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This can't be how it ends...

Yesterday, I set up a shelf in my living room that celebrates all my twin babies were and would have been. Purple and yellow objects, a tiny little print of Alexanders footprints, an empty vase to symbolise what I never got to see of Simon, some little silly toys, a family photo, a fertility goddess, a tiki-tiki protector from Hawaii, two small candles, a sculpture, a little handmade bowl with two tiny amethyst rocks nestled inside, an empty hummingbirds nest...the list goes on.

I sat on the couch this morning for a moment looking at the display, my heart twinging sharply in my chest. I got up determined to light the candles that I had tried to light the night before. I had thought that maybe it was just a quirk...but...I stood there with a lighted match poised at the wick and the flame would rise, and then, slowly extinguish. I tried again, and again. A brief moment of yellow flame...and then...nothing.

I started to cry when I ran out of matches. The candles would not support a sustainable flame. Just like my babies--they just--went out.

There was a visable wick. No reason for this to be happening. It should have held the fire. But, it just wouldn't.

Nothing I did helped.

The candles would not burn.

My babies are dead.

I should be 7 months pregnant now. Full of the life of two babies. I should have been dancing on the solstice in the light of a bonfire instead of sobbing in the rain in the tall grass. A birth Goddess. I should be preparing my home for the sweetness of baby joy.

I should be round and full instead of empty.

The candles should not have failed to burn. That isn't how it's supposed to be.

This can't be how it all ends...this journey of mothering can't be over in this way...

There should be a way to brighten this tear stained path.

A Choice in the Matter...

Deep within us all there is the capacity to choose. It sometimes looks as if there is no choice, that we just act how we act, but is that vantage point anything more than an illusion, or worse, an excuse? Is there truly any difference between a person who is kind and a person who is cruel except for the choice to be one way or another? It doesn't always feel like a choice. Sometimes it seems that there is no other possibility for an individual to act any other way than they act...the inherent fate of personality. While it is true that people can struggle with chemical imbalances, mood disorders, mental illness, or deeply ingrained emotional scars that can shape and alter behavior, It is still an unconvincing argument that it is beyond our capacity to take a deep look at the ways in which we behave and make a choice about who we want to be--If not yesterday, then today, and tomorrow.

Every single day, every moment, we all have choices...choices to smile or frown, to be inwardly warm or cold, to embrace or push away. We have the opportunity to choose how we will treat other people. We have the option of dismissing a persons pain or to embrace them with love. We have the option of protecting ourselves from others or to allow abuse to continue. We choose. We choose to hold back our tears or to let them run freely in healing trails down our cheeks. We choose to share our pain or to withhold it from the view of others. We choose to eat a burger, or a bowl of cereal, or an apple. We choose to roll over in bed, turning our back to our lover in a gesture of disinterest or to fall into the warmth of a tender kiss offered in tenderness and understanding. We choose to read to our children, take a walk, or turn on the television for an hour and a half of watching a journey we don't have to leave the couch for. We choose to keep ourselves unavailable to intimacy with others or to make ourselves vulnerable in the face of the unknown.

Does the mentor sitting on a lofty perch realise his ability to crush or lift a persons spirit is power within his control? Does the parent who hears her child's sing song voice as annoying rather than delighting in the moments so fleeting in childhood understand that the capacity for love is never ending and not to be taken lightly? Does a receptionist feel better when she uses a passive aggressive stance over a helpful one--and can she recognise that same behavior in another when used against her? Can we understand that our neighbors tears are the same tears we all cry? Is it any less important to give kindness to a stranger than it is to your lover...or visa versa?

Can we see that we are one? Not just connected...but truly ONE.

Maybe if we take a look inside, and grab hold of the best within each of us, choosing to share that light with each other there would be a lot less pain, tears and anger. Maybe if we understood how deep run the scars we inflict we could take a moment and choose love, kindness, and empathy instead of impatience, rudeness, and disdain. We all have the power within us to choose how we respond to life. We all have the power to love.

We have the power to turn a sneer into a smile. To reach out a helping hand. To understand.
What will you do with that power today?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There are memories in the woods...

There are memories in the woods near my home. Memories in the form of color and movement.
They are in the patterns of the clouds, and in the tall grasses that blow in the early summer breeze. I see them zipping across the sky in the bodies of hummingbirds that soar and dive catching the mosquitoes that I once believed had "no purpose". There is the bird song--sweet and clear like a symphony that I enjoy in the embrace of my true love. The purple and yellow flowers continue to bloom in abundance whispering that they understand my heart.

Twin baby pines stand in a silent vigil behind a special rock that reflects the warmth of the sun.

There are memories in the woods near my home. Memories of what has passed...and memories of what will never get to be. Memories of the sweetness of love found within pain unbearable and ripping to the soul, and memories of the promise that this place will not change. It will not be cleared and robbed of it's place will remain.

The flowers will bloom purple and yellow every spring. The hummingbirds will zip through the air eating the feast of mosquitoes that thrive on the spring rain. The birds will sing. The twin baby pines will grow. The rock will remain. The wind will blow the grasses. And I...I will let my tears fall into the earth while the sweet smell of wild roses reminds me that there is still beauty in the world.

My love will take my hand, and his warmth will fill my heart in all the places that ache for my twin babies that I will not get to hold and nurture at my breasts. We will walk home to the vibrant world where our other little boys laugh, play and live.

There is magic to be found.

Friday, June 19, 2009

In this moment...

It's chilly this morning. I put on a sweater before going outside to check on my gardens. I can see tiny little shoots breaking through the soil--so determined to live. They will push forward until they bear the product of their labor, the seeds of possibility for new life. There is no going back. The seeds have begun their life cycle, and they must push forward until they achieve their destiny and though drought may choke the life from their cells, or a disease ravages them, or a bug invests them to complete it's own cycle, or an animal eats them before their seeds are ready...they will move on. They will move forward in spite of the possibility that something could interfere with their efforts.

I admire that. I am encouraged to see plants and animals moving forward in the face of uncertain futures. They have no desire to rewind their start over and do it differently with different choices. As human beings we can get enchanted with the idea of "if only" and "could I have done something different?". In other words...we are often a backward looking species. We can spend so much time looking over our shoulders at yesterday that it's forgotten that today has come. There are those who go as far as to ponder and worry about lives of the past, putting aside lessons for today. There are those who are so crushed by the pain of yesterday, that they fail to relish the now that is free from pain. As children we love the "choose your own adventure" books. Books where you can make different choices over and over until you get the outcome you like. You can find yourself at the end of the story getting eaten by giant spiders, only to happily go back to the beginning to make a different choice, and enjoy a different outcome. We love those stories because they empower us to "do it over".

I am aware that I am seduced by the allure of the rewind button. The idea of being able to erase tears of yesterday, to do parts of life over with a different outcome can sometimes feel pretty appealing. The longing for something other than what "WAS" invades my heart and mind on a daily basis, and yet...I am aware that what has been has brought me to this moment. If I were to be able to erase parts of the past, would that mean that the other parts that are inherently connected have to be erased as well? Would they cease to exist without the tears and "mistakes" I am wishing to be without.


Nothing can be what it is without what it was. Nothing can be today without yesterday, and tomorrow can not happen without today.

No matter how I would have wished I would have responded differently, or be treated differently, or have certain events NOT be--I also have to admit awareness that all the dips in the road, indeed, all the great canyons of pain and struggle, have brought me to the now that I am in. In this "now" there is great opportunity to let yesterday be yesterday so that today can be today.

I see the allure of the rewind button; the wish that you could take back a misunderstanding, or an over-reaction, or a hurtful statement to someone you love, a lifetime of adversity or the loss of a cherished life... But in truth, there is no going backwards. Those tears have been shed. The damage is done. Today is today. Tears of yesterday have no place in today, other than to remind us that we are still pushing forward, that we made it through another pain...and can do it again.

Today it is chilly. The birds are singing their praise of a new day brought forth. They do not think about yesterday. Their work is for today, which will bring tomorrow. They are connected to each moment as it is.

I am choosing to take a breath today, and put away my wish for a rewind button that doesn't exist--letting yesterday be what it was...and today be what it IS. In truth, the only way for change to occur is if we take new steps. It can't happen by wishing the old steps had not been taken. New steps. Steps forward. Steps into the moment of now. Yes...I will do this today. Tomorrow is still a long way off.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Pitter Patter of Little Feet...

Yesterday I mowed the lawn. I looked like a snail out there, pushing that lawn mower slower than I have ever seen another being push anything. It was like a walker for me!! I am so low in my hemoglobin counts right now that my heart pounds with the slightest exertion. But, I love to garden, and I love to mow my lawn. No one else can do it because only I know where NOT to mow. For example...I do NOT mow over clover patches, because I love to search for four leaf clovers while the bees sip nectar from the flowers. I avoid patches of flax and keep my eyes focused down so that I won't go over any new shoots of seeds I have scattered over the lawn. I am hoping that wild lupine, arrow-leaf, and buttercups will start to cover my lawn in time...bringing the purples and yellows of the wildflower meadows to my own yard.

So, I looked like a 100 year old woman huffing and puffing slowly behind my lawn-mower in an attempt to control the rising mosquito population that seemed to be breeding in the long wet grasses of spring. It felt like the workout of the century, but when I was finished, I sat down under our biggest apple tree and admired how pretty the yard a fairy park. Or, as my husband would chuckle the world of the Telletubbies. Safe, pretty and gentle.

I happily watched four of my five sons enjoying the sunshine and the velvety carpet of grass beneath bare feet as they happily engaged in the wonders of battles fought with wooden swords, protected by fake armor and sweeping cloaks. My 13 year old, not caring at all about the opinions of others, had also donned a vibrantly colored sombrero which flopped merrily on his mane of honey colored waves of hair. Their battle cries could be heard all over the yard...indeed, all over the neighborhood. I thought of how some of the neighbors laughingly called my sons "The lost boys" as they frolicked around in a world which loved learning, but was free of the confines of a classroom. My boys are known by all the neighbors, adults and children alike, as being intelligent, funny, dependable, creative, and free in spirit.

Suddenly, the clouds opened up and rain fell with abandon. I jumped up from my spot in the shade and made my way toward the house...but the boys just laughed with joy, for this storm only added to their epic battle. I stopped being disturbed by swords, pop guns and battle plans long ago...having five sons will do that to a person despite any amount of earth mother sensibilities. I know my boys to be kind to all they encounter, and I am confident that the exuberance with which they fight their battles is not only normal, but healthy.

Later, sipping the hot cocoa I had made for them to warm their sopping wet bodies, I watched them lovingly and found myself wishing that my twins, Simon and Alexander, could have joined this lively crew of little men instead of leaving us so soon.

I would have loved to watch them run after their big brothers, laughing and playing. I would have loved to kiss away the tears that fall after an accidental blow during a play battle, sending them back to play feeling loved and confident that they could endure the pains of life. It would have been wonderful to watch their mouth hang open in the awe of their eldest brother's gymnastics tricks on the trampoline, or their eyes sparkle while watching our 8 year old pull a coin flawlessly from him ear in a carefully practiced magic trick. I would have loved to hear my 10 year old reading silly books to them, and to hear them laughing while their 13 year old brother sang ridiculous lyrics to a beautifully played banjo tune. I would have enjoyed watching my little Bear discover the wonders and joys of caring for those that are smaller than you.

My I would have loved to hear the pitter patter of their tiny feet running with all the energy that boys possess.

My tears are falling not only for the precious memories and magical moments I got to have, but for all of the memories I will never get to make with them. For all of the moments that might have been...for all of the memories we will make without them.


No little twins running around, no secret twin language or codes, No tandem nursing of babies the same age, no double trouble, no double joys.

They belonged here with us, there was a warm spot in each of our hearts for them. But now, all we have are the memories that will never come to pass, wishful memories of what could have been, and the whispers of the wind through gold and purple flowers that remind us of that which we can never lose.

Embracing the Pain of Loss...

I wonder what the world would look like without the pain of loss. Would it seem as vivid? Is there some powerful magic in knowing that all that you love could vanish in an instant? Would not being aware of the fact that it can always get worse change the way we love those around us?

I woke up this morning and heard birds singing outside my bedroom window...the sound was so sweet and clear. I felt tears at the corners of my eyes as I remembered that my twins would never hear that sound, having left this world before they were born. My heart softened as I heard the stirring of my living children waking up to the day ahead of them, and though my cheeks were still wet with tears of morning dew, I pulled myself up and out of bed to share my heart with my little boys that are living, warm and jolly.

I'd like to think that I would have known how wonderful it is to be alive without knowing the pain of loss, but having lived a life that has given me otherwise from an early age, I suppose I will never know if that would have been possible. One thing I do know....everytime life hands me pain, I emerge fully into a new place of awareness and understanding. It is a beautiful day...and my tears are part of that day. They are a sign that I am alive.