Saturday, September 13, 2014

Otto's Birthday

Otto’s Birthday

Tonight, I write about my son Otto. And how six years ago from right now, I was working hard, talking to my baby, laboring, birthing.
My son is always with me, he is such a big piece of my heart. I talk to him often. And as the years go by, I trust his answers.  They are light as a thought, but my ears are getting swifter and more natural.  So many times, especially this time of year, I am so heavy with his loss, so confounded by what happened, wondering why he died when he was eight days old.  So many times my heart asks the question, “Darling, where are you?” It is the same as saying “my heart is hurting.” And so many times, without expecting any answer, he will come in less than a second. One time after my question a hummingbird flew down and hovered a few feet from my face, just looking at me, buzzing, and then flew away.  Once as I sat by his rose bush and  looked up at the sky, heavy and sad, asking this question, Luna came out of the house and said in a quiet voice, “Mom, I’m HERE, I’m OK.” In my heart it was an answer. Not that he is Luna, but that he is there, and he is well.  At the cabin, as I sat looking up at the big open sky, alone, the breeze and the pines and the mountain, I asked again, where he was, and a cloud in the shape of a hummingbird floated through the sky. And each time this happens I giggle for a second, through my tears.
It’s never a time when I ask for an answer, the question comes out because I can’t bear to keep it in, and he comes when I don’t expect it. It’s not explainable, but it keeps happening!
I don’t want to try to convince anyone about what happens after we die because it’s such a delicate thing to speak.  And it’s taken me a while to feel comfortable about what I feel to be true, and always I imagine what the scientist or the atheist would say when I say such things. But, I am, more and more, a mystic. And see that there is much more to being than what most of us busy Americans take in.  There are worlds and dimensions, and they are beautiful.  And this time of year, when the season starts to shift from summer to fall, there is an abundance of singing from the other worlds, which are really right here, somehow. And it is the time my son came and went, and this all makes sense, that he would come at such a time.
Until it doesn’t. It doesn’t usually make any damn sense.  I look at his pictures, his soft, beautiful face, and remember holding him and his warmth and his amazing love, and I want to scream WHY? I will always scream that. And there won’t be an answer.
BUT, there will always be love.  The kind of love you can only see from the corners of your eyes, if you don’t focus too hard, his love is around us, our love is around him. It is forever. My son is always and forever my son and I’ll never stop missing him and I’ll never stop loving him, and never stop weaving this grief, always weaving it, weaving it, different patterns and colors, and sometimes it is beautiful and sometimes it’s so hard, like giving birth, so painful, I just can’t take the pain. And I weave that too. I weave wishing I could see him grow up. I weave seeing him as a six year old boy, tall, in first grade, sweet and silly and quiet. I imagine him like is daddy. What he would smell like. I weave his baby smell, his breath.
I love you, Otto. I miss you so much. I wish you were here. Like your sisters are here. Tomorrow for your birthday, we will celebrate you with beautiful things. We will celebrate the beauty of life, the beauty of a simple day, the way the light changes as the sun moves, the way food tastes, the way the big ocean moves, the sand under our feet, the breeze on the delicate hair of our faces, we will eat cupcakes and touch your memorial stone and put beautiful rose petals all around it. It’s always such a beautiful day, August 22nd. Happy Birthday, my sweet love. Thank you for your love.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn Equinox

So many nights I have written to you in my head, in my heart.   I haven't made it to the lit screen of the computer for a while, but that doesn't mean anything about the depth of my love or our speaking.  It's just been more private. Always so sweet.

So much has happened.

Again, faced with such a big burden. Cancer. Children. Wanting life.

I feel like I'm far down the road, so much faced and so many steps taken. And the endless mystery stretching out.

Tonight I stepped outside as I often do, to open the door and look out at the stars for a final goodnight before going into the bedroom. To look up, breathe the air, get a sense of the universe, how far it goes, get a sense of you, my boy, my first baby, my lost one, but yet you are my heart.

I saw the glow of the moon above the big oak tree rising beyond my neighbor's roof, I saw stars, and clouds and my heart felt like it was breaking, squeezing.   Tears falling effortlessly.  I am so sad that you are gone. I am so sad that I am facing this now. And yet, this autumn equinox feels so beautiful and holy, so clear and luminous, so full.  What does it all mean?  Suffering and love and night stars, grandmother moon and the huge old oak tree, and me and you and my girls, and my heart that feels tired and alive. I'm not sure. But I know I desperately want to be here, to keep going, to take it in. I can take it. Just let me. Let me be here. Let me stay here.  For many many night skies and moons and equinoxes.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Seeing You at the Ocean

Otto, today we went to the ocean. After weeks inside the house with colds, stuck in a small space with clutter building and building. Today we got out to see the sun over the blue, shining ocean. We drove to Jenner, where the river meets the sea. A magical place, a place of converging, the moving river, running through hills, the vast sea, meeting continents, the broad sky overhead.  I thought of you there, meeting us too.

The wind blew through me, refreshing cells, lungs, heart.  Zoe and Luna seemed so happy too, to see the bigness, the love of the sea.  Luna was so happy to put a blanket down and eat some snacks, picnics are one of her favorite things.  It was a time of happiness for our family. To go for no reason but to go, to get out and see the beauty of the world.

I have been thinking about grass lately. Really, I've been thinking about life in general, and after-life, trying to see if anything makes sense. I've had more moments lately of wondering if anything makes sense, do I really believe what I say I believe? Does it matter?

I always come back to grass in the sun. Here where we live in California the grass is so green in January, so glowing with tenderness, the water so apparent and alive in it. I feel like I want to be a blade of grass, glowing in the sun, soaking it up, making energy in my cells, reaching and being, just being grass.  Being a person can feel so complicated.  I like to imagine having my thin roots in the dark, damp earth, holding on to this beautiful, round, mama planet, loving the sun, glowing in the moonlight, belonging to obviously here.

And I think of you too, your ashes in the earth, held by the mother, your energy in the midst of us.  I know I don't talk of God the way some would like, with a lot of doctrine and explanation. I like to feel God, with my eyes on the grass, or on the sky, the way things all hold together, the way I feel love for it, I feel love and belonging, and there it stands now. Just there. And it feels good.

I miss you all the time and I love you.  Your sister Luna talks about you all the time.  She wishes she could meet you. She wants a picture in a frame of the two of you.  This breaks my heart open.  With love and with tears.  She thinks you are great, and she says so in those very words. She knows you are her big brother and that you keep her safe.  I am so glad that she loves you with real love.  You ARE great, my son, my baby, my warm, soft boy.  My soul that lives among the stars.  You are so many things.  I am amazed to be your mama.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Heaven in my Belly

Luna, now almost 3, has been talking about Otto a lot lately.  She sees his picture. She knows that her baby sister was just in my belly, and that she grew, and we were so excited to see her, and then she came out. 

And she sees Otto's picture, and says, "I can't WAIT to meet Otto!"  I don't know her mind, but I guess she is thinking that he is the next baby that will join our family.  I don't want to tell her that he was already here, and that he is not coming back.  Because I want him to come back too. And I like the thought she is thinking. Part of me, deep in my consciousness still goes, "well, maybe..."

She will include him sometimes in a list of the family with fun things she wants to do, like going to the park or the zoo to see the Heffalumps. She'll say, "and mommy will go, and daddy will go, and Zoe will go and Otto will go!" She knows how we love him, she sees it in how we talk, in pictures of him. And I love her inclusion of him, because that is always how it feels to me. I have three children.  And one of them is a boy.

I've told her  that Otto died, and that he is in heaven, and that he loves her, and is always with her. And I wish I knew what all of that means.  But the words are a way to start. The words "died" and "heaven"  are still strange for me too. I say them and let my consciousness bleed out like watercolor on paper, reaching out toward a meaning slowly, slowly, waiting for one.  She doesn't know what those words mean either.  But maybe she knows more than I do.

Today was the real heart stopper.

She said, "Soon, Otto will come out and see us.  But right now he is in heaven, in your belly."

I'm not pregnant and don't mean to be pregnant.  But the thought that heaven includes my womb, includes my deepest, sweetest connection with him, includes even he cord that brought his nourishment and probably his death, is so heart-filling.  Because sometimes it feels like, when he left, he became again this beautiful spirit, and that in that transition my mothering him doesn't matter as much. People all say he was a big soul, he IS a big soul, and without his little body anymore, is he still my Otto?

This vision of the womb, of my baby in heaven, in that deep, dark mothering space of the universe, deeper even, softer than the universe, and that maybe my womb is carrying part of that space right here, and that Otto will always be fed from that, always be loved by me, by this mother, in that space, is so wonderful.

After hearing Luna say that, and when both girls were napping today, I looked at his beautiful picture, while resting on the couch, and his face looked so peaceful, even almost smiling.  It doesn't always affect me that way.  But today it did. And I will take that as a YES. He is mine, he is here, and he is in the center of all love.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Three Children

My darling ones.

I want to love each of them as though they were my only.

Have all of my time and heart for them alone.

And yet that is not how it works! And I suppose that is what a family is. I want to hold baby Zoë and smell her cheeks, feel their firm, milky fatness as I kiss into them, stare at her, talk to her, hear her talking back, make her laugh, show her things, walk her around, just be with her all day. Know her completely.

And I want to hold Luna all day, hold her hand, walk with her, run with her, read her all the stories she wants, make her favorite foods, hear all of her songs and all of her ideas, get her dressed and brush her hair, love her, be there for her, never say "not right now."

I want to know my Otto, I want to help him grow up, I want to talk to him in the sky, lay on the grass and look up at the birds flying over our little patch of land, watch the sun light the top of the trees, wait for hummingbirds, cry and think and let my mind be still as I watch the sky change, hear the crickets come, see the stars, and feel how deeply they go into the universe.

My heart grows bigger with each child, more and more love comes in, but time doesn't expand and I don't have all my time for each of them. And It's training for life. They will never have every need met, and we need to learn how to deal with that. But they know they are loved. They know we are trying!

I heard a good line in a movie last night and I want to try to remember it.  From the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It went something like this:  " the only failure is the failure to try.  And success is measured by how well you take disappointment."

This seemed right to me. And inspiring. My beautiful love, Otto, left and it broke our hearts.  And we are not the only ones to have such a huge loss. All over the world, people grieve such dear things. To have disappointment and to still love, is such a key thing in life.  To have disappointment but not give up on everything.  Especially myself.

I feel so lucky, in some glowing moments, to feel so much love. I will be nursing Zoë in the rocker, and hearing Luna reading her books in her room, and looking at Otto's picture on the window sill and hear Ryan in the kitchen washing up, and feel so full.  In the small messy house and the old kitchen, who cares?  If you have all the nicest cabinets in the world, but have not love...

I am learning to love all of them in the 24 hours we get, and to soak up all my moments and to know that they will only be little for a short while, and we will always look back on these crazy, tired times with aching to have them again.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sitting in my chair at night. Sounds of water running through pipes, the gurgle of the washer, diapers, lullabies from the iPod in the baby's room, a dog barks, crickets. The weight of my new baby Still fresh in my arms. This is what I dreamed of, this moment, the year He was gone. My heart is full with my girls. And still, since otto's birthday this year I feel the hole of him.  The boyness missing.

And I feel the completeness of our family, the tired, sweet, desperate funny fullness of us, the weight and love

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Night Before

Another cycle.
We are here again, the night before you died.

Your dad and I sit in the living room, not wanting to go to bed, feeling like we don't want tomorrow to come again, don't want it to be true again.  You died.

Four years later I still sit here and feel the shock of it.  What a beautiful boy you are.  In your body you were so full of light, so radiating love.  How we love you still.

And every year for this week it feels like we get you back in many ways. Part of me feels like I will get to hold you again, we get visits from you in different forms.  Loved ones are visited by hummingbirds, we feel you come near to us.  You are always near but the veil is thin this week. And then I think of all the cycles we will go through without you and life feels so long.

This year I hold your baby sister on your anniversary, 6 weeks old on your heaven day. I am so in love with her, amazed by her, grounded by her. I feel like I get to hold you again through her, and in this way the pain is eased.  And yet she makes me feel all we gave up with you,  the extreme thing that was asked of us, the impossible thing, of loving our beautiful son so much and then letting him die.  Letting his warm, soft sweet body become cold. Letting his spirit leave. Helping him with this.

I remember this strangeness when my Grammy was dying. She was in her late 80's, a proper time to die, and I held her feet under the covers, and they were warm, they were the feet of a person, not an old person, just lovely, warm feet. And it was so strange to know that they would grow cold and her blood would stop running and stop being her feet.  It is so strange to me, death.  That change. That shift from life and spirit in the body to the body just being, I don't know, what is it then? Cold and beloved still.  But not the same.

Oh, my son, this is so hard still.  We still love you so tremendously.  And I don't want you to leave. You already left, but still, I don't want it to happen.  I don't want this.  But it is ours.  How can this be our story? The story of the son who died? But it is who we are now.

I think you are happy now, you are fine, you know our love, and the pain is mostly on our side. I am glad you are happy. I am glad you love your sisters.  I long for a time, out of time, when we are all together, loving freely without longing.

I am writing this under the tree where we held you, four years ago, on the lawn, on that beautiful afternoon, and you felt the air, warm, and the slight breeze, and heard the hummingbird talking above us, the light filtered through this big tree's leaves, the height of summer. We were each other's, completely.  To know such love, I know we are so lucky.

And my son, I love you. I will love you forever. You have my heart, and I am devoted to you as your mama.  Help us through this night, it is so hard to accept it.  It is so precious to remember. What an intimacy, that crossing.

Thank you for all the ways you love us.  I pray my heart will open to them, and not be shut in self pity or depression. Although that is part of this at this stage for me. I love you, I love you, I love you. I send you a million kisses, up to the stars, I remember your sweet smell, your soft hair, your hands and feet and belly. I kiss them all over.

your mama