Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

In the middle of the daily rush, the pull of meetings after meetings, the wrangling of children who don't wish to pose for precious memories, I get this moment of clarity where things open up and reveal that everything is a-ok. Maybe actually really good. I am loved. I have been getting glimpses of it, but today I woke up grateful for the first time in a really long time. It was a good day. I hope you all had a good day too....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

There is another....

My friend Emily lost her precious daughter at 24 weeks today.

P told me when we were at Radha's ballet class, as he just saw her heartbreaking post on Fa.ce.book.

I watched the little girls twirling in pink and black leotards, and tried to swallow back the tears.

The news always gets me. And always makes me cry. Nearly five years in, and it is all I can do from sobbing every time I hear the words.....

Monday, December 3, 2012

What's in a Name?

There is a bit of traffic to this blog from people Google searching for children named Ronan who have died/are dying. After doing my own search I have found 2 other sites of children named Ronan--one who died of neuroblastoma (rockstarronan) and one Ronan who is dying of Tay Sachs (ourlittleseal). Rockstarronan was followed by Taylor Swift who wrote a song entitled 'Ronan' for the Stand Up to Cancer concert.

Here's the link for YouTube.




 I cried through the whole goddamn thing. It's heartbreaking.

I have always felt Ronan's name was unique when we chose it over 5 years ago. I never thought to hear it would bring up the scene of precious little boys who have died/are dying.

Makes me wonder if there was a reason he was supposed to be named that....


Friday, November 30, 2012

Seasons Change

It has been a while since I've written about Ronan, but he is on my mind a lot these days. There is a whispering of a milestone coming, shortly after Christmas, that will mark a time on this clock of grief that I never envisioned hitting.

Five whole years.

And the realization of the time that's past sits really heavy with me right now. How did time march on when five years ago I willed the earth to stop, pause, and acknowledge that the world lost a precious boy. Time has indeed moved on, with other children, other distractions. As we creep closer to this date it makes me the most sad that he is but an afterthought now, a preface to a story that eventually had a happy ending. He has lost all impact or meaning to everyone other than me and P. But he was special. A boy who taught us to love the way we do now has to be so very special.

I miss you every day of my life. I wanted you so much. Please never forget that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

As Time Goes By



And then he was 1!

He loves to eat. My 7lb 5oz nugget is now 23lbs 7 oz and almost 30 inches tall.
He decided last week he wanted to walk, and now he's all over the place. I never had to baby proof a house before, but now it is a necessity, as he is uber curious and into everything.
He laughs and smiles all the time. He talks as he walks, and 'sings' to Super Why and Elmo's World.
He and his sister have an interesting dynamic. When she acts like a typical big sister he has learned to pull her hair. I look forward to what this will look like in 3 years when she's 6 and he's 3 (say a prayer).
He is s true mama's boy, and when he's hurt, scared, lonely, happy, or any other emotion, he looks for me, sighs contently when I pick him up, and places his head happily against my chest.

I am so grateful for him---for showing me my heart could love again.

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy....



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What We Keep

Grief.

I have learned a lot about grief, and have really come to appreciate how people grieve loss. Loss of a parent, a sister, a friend, a spouse, a child. It's all different--special, unique, a beautiful, horrible, knee-buckling, gut-wrenching--life changing series of feelings that changes with the seasons.

A girl from my hometown had a son.
(Had....you know this is not a happy tale).
He was young, 15-16, and his best friend had died tragically in a car accident. And the grief he felt was too much for his poor heart and soul. They found him back in the woods behind his house. He had taken his own life.

You can't begin to fathom the pain that his family felt upon hearing the news. It's horrible to lose a child, but to lose a child to suicide. All you can do is bow your head and the heaviness of it, the pure white pain that it must be. As a mother to hear of it, her eyes must have squinted to the horror of it, and the guilt that ultimately comes because you could not protect him. You should have known. How could you have not known?!?!

But then there is the grief that manifests into something more--a calling, a mission. Perhaps it's a hobby, or a distraction. Most times it's a genuine need to find justice or understanding for something that defies logic. So what happens when the mission is to prove that your son didn't commit suicide, even though all the evidence points that he did? (texts to friends, FB posts, all showing depression and suicidal thoughts)

What do you tend to think about this poor, grieving mother?

Is she not well? Delusional? In need of therapy? Out of touch with reality?

How easy is it for people to categorize things that they have no concept of....

I chided my father today. Told to tread lightly with this woman as she lashes out at everyone in her path, calling names to the living people around her and the investigation to fiercely protect the memory of her dead son.

It's all she has. And it's what she keeps.

What do you keep?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Plague and Pestilence

2012 has been filled with death, ya'll.

It started with my co-worker who committed suicide in April, and then two friends from high school I knew pretty well died from cervical cancer. Then my great-aunt had a secret brain tumor and didn't tell a soul until it pressed on her brain stem, causing her to bleed profusely, leading those who found her to think she had been attacked in her home. Then P's aunt was looking at her computer like usual one Friday morning and had what we believe to be a massive heart attack. Two weeks later, her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer--he's still hanging on. One of my high school friend's father finally passed after a two year battle with prostate cancer, and just yesterday my uncle has been diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

Cancer and death. Seems like a common theme, no? We are getting to the point we don't want to answer the goddamn phone for fear someone else has dropped dead or is about to undergo chemo.

And I fell in May, and finally had an MRI on Monday. My orthopedic surgeon thinks I have torn something in my knee. Praying it's only the meniscus as that seems to be an easier surgery, I hear. I was about to pass out from fear as I walked into the MRI room as we don't have a good track record in the family for MRIs detecting something that isn't life-altering. I get my news on Friday. Say a prayer, ya'll---pray that this bad mojo is fading as we are creeping into 2013....

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mad World

Things Ticking Me Off Lately:
1. Respiratory viruses. We've all been sick off and on since 3 days after the girl started pre-school. We have gone through 4 big boxes of Kleenex and 2 rounds of cold meds.

2. The unknown ailment that wakes my son up every 4 hours. Is it teething? Nightmares? Is he concerned about the state of the economy?

3. That Ohio is a swing state. I see back to back to back ads for Obama and Romney on every channel everyday. Nothing kills my Big Bang Theory buzz like politics. So ready for November elections.

4. In a similar vein...Facebook political rantings. Like when one of my friends posts hypocritical shit about being pro gun, pro-life, and anti- Obama, when I know in fact that if that was truly the case he would have 2 more children than he does right now....amnesia, perhaps? Or just convenience of a slogan. Either way, yeah, I'm about done with political insanity.

5. Work. The {change} is happening, but nothing is set in stone, and no real plans are in motion, and no real answers to questions can be given.....yada yada yada. I told my new boss 'well, I'll just go on like business as usual until someone tells me otherwise'. He said 'good idea'. It's nice to have a vision, but execution is everything Mmmmkay? And I grow weary of talking about the unknown change with Jesus and everyone. What's done is done. I'm going back to work with eyes in the back of my head. Ready for more science and less gossip.

6. No free time. Zero. Zilch. I am laying in bed typing this on my phone praying to God the wee one isn't about to wake up. I can't recall the last time I had a true hour to myself. I keep telling myself its temporary. The kids will grow up soon enough, the colleagues will not drop by my office every 10 minutes, but in the interim, its tough. Tougher than I ever thought it would be.

Well that's my rant. I would add more but I need to call it a night before little man wakes up in a fit of crying rage in a couple of hours. Hope all is well with you guys. Happy Fall!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Statistically Speaking...

We kick around statistics of death so very often. Stillbirth 1:110 chance it will happen to you. Breast cancer 1 in 3 women of a certain age will be diagnosed...

I am engulfed with the number 2 today.
Two women I grew up with have passed away in the last six months from cervical cancer. One of them passed last night...
Two of the nicest women I have ever met.
Two of the happiest women I have met.
Two that left behind scores of people mourning their loss. How can they have only lived for 37 years?? It doesn't seem right.

Monday, September 10, 2012

In The Land of Make Believe...

I am alright.

In reality, I am dealing with some serious life issues, and feel at a loss of who to talk to.

Everyone wears these protective masks that hide the frustrations, the pain, the self-loathing (including me). I have no idea who has been there, done that so I can ask them 'is it just me...?'

My best friends are rightfully so entwined in their own worlds, with their own careers, their own children, their own problems...I can't really recall the last time I have heard their actual voices.

I really feel alone most days.
Maybe we all are in the end....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jonestown

There comes a time in your life when you find out something that you believed in deeply, worked hard for, invested time/money/emotion in was just a flat out lie--or a red herring for something political above or around you. It's akin to the pollsters, or political lackeys who work so damn hard because they believe in the hype or message their candidates are preaching. Then before election day, come to find out their candidate was someone else altogether, and the discovery of that fact really shatters their trust in anyone.

When I was younger, this above scenario happened a lot to me. I believed in people at face value quite a bit, almost to the point of piety. Somehow I felt that I was not the type of person someone should lie to, because I was nice or made an effort to relate or believe. I learned to guard myself well over the years, learned to read people better. The devastations are down to mere disappointments. It's a far better way to live.

When we moved from San Antonio, we were told that we were having a reorganization. We were going to save the mission! Save research! Focus our efforts! Get our name out there! Be recognized! Be appreciated! Get support! And for almost a year and a half, it was our dogma. My team, and the other divisions got on board. Believed! Held revivals! Told their friends! Made the T-shirts!

Then my boss retired, and left us vulnerable. We knew we were vulnerable. But it was worse than him just leaving us vulnerable. Much worse.

It was like the prophet left, and his brother was left in charge. His brother promised he believed, but in reality, he had other intentions. We put all the effort in, manned the compound, harvested the crops, spread the word, made more t-shirts and then the brother called a meeting and said that he was changing direction. But not {really}. But, yes---really. In the end, the gospel is different. So very different.

I am more than disappointed this go-round. I am mad at myself for drinking the Kool-Aid. Mad that I believed in something was was bigger than me, and mad that I did not see see the political chess in my tea leaves. I had too much trust in this new change, and I am not sure why. That's the part that bugs the hell out of me. Why did I trust it so? Why did I believe in it?

Because I wanted it to be. I wanted the change. It was good. It was right. It had a chance to be something beautiful. And I was proud to be in it.

Now that it has essentially been taken from us, this drive that motivated me to work 50 hours a week, tend to the fires, be the beacon of the gospel, is gone. It died. And I don't know where that leaves me in the grand scheme of things.

I don't trust the new prophet that the brother is touting. I don't trust the brother when he claims to still have our best interests in mind. I don't trust anything anymore.

My passion is back to being a job. Just a job. That makes me so very sad---

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round...

When I was in 1st grade a girl I hardly knew came up to me while I was playing on the jungle gym and said "Holly is deciding who she will be friends with this year'.

All of the little girls were lined up to have the blonde hair, blue eyed doe of a little girl walk up and down in the condescending way that playground hierarchy allows and turn her nose at 99.9% of all the girls she passed. She took one look at me and said 'definitely not', and moved on to reject the next girl by me.

I shrugged and went back to the jungle gym. But some girls cried. They were heartbroken.

It is that scene and all the drama I witnessed with girls like Holly that I swore in high school I never wanted to have a girl--for fear that they would turn into Holly, or hell, be one of the droves that wanted to be friends with her so damn badly.

Then I had a little girl. And I adore her. She's sweet and spicy and everything wonderful in a 36# package. She starts preschool tomorrow and I am scared shitless-- about the Hollys she will encounter, or the other various versions of mean, desperate girls I battled on a daily basis. I have already witnessed the future insanities, at waterparks, and clothing stores. Sullen, awful older girls who talk nasty and love to make other people unhappy, just because they are. I look at my precious girl who is so joyful, who is the first to stand up and dance when the music starts to play, and I say a silent prayer that no one will ever break that spirit in her. May no one make her feel ashamed for finding joy in uncool things. And I pray she always has a good friend to help weather the storms. Lord knows that's what saved me time and time again.

Amen.

Friday, July 20, 2012

An American Horror Story

There are not enough words to describe how I feel about mass violence. It is so enraging, so overwhelmingly God awful. From the Virginia Tech massacre, 9/11, the dumb fuck who gunned down Giffords and other innocents at a stinkin supermarket in Arizona, Columbine--it's just too much.

There is a personal place in hell for these kinds of sick fucks who kill innocents for their 'greater cause'.

Thinking of those poor people in Colorado. Wishing the world was less messed up...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Death Becomes Her

Tonight, I read Angie's post, and it reminded me of those who walked away, but still linger....and it was a bitter pill to swallow.

I have ghosts that surround me and haunt me. They are slight visions of the former friends that abandoned me in my hour of need. There are times I feel I should forgive them, but then I remind myself of the countless times I stood there by them...when marriages were disintegrating, when jobs where lost, when dreams were squashed. I judge them harshly. But not as harshly as I judge myself for hoping and wishing years later that they would have stayed.

I am also reminded of those that know me IRL. Those who found this place primarily as a rubbernecker, who heard about the 'crash' when my son died and wanted to see how bad the recovery would be. Did I disappoint you when I didn't drown? Or were you rooting for me?

Since you remained silent all these years, I guess I'll never know---

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dark Shadows

If I had known that extremely stressful and angry situations would set off my memory banks to fly bullets at my head about loss, and grief, and all the ooginess that is kept tightly sealed in a box I call Pan Dora, then I would have switched careers.

I got mad on Friday. Not the funny, stressful mad I get when I have 500 things lobbed at my head, but downright enraged. I can say that I haven't been that mad in a long, long time. My voice lowered a few octaves, my hands were clenched, and I seriously thought I could hurt somebody.

I don't know if the extreme emotion has unleashed all the repressed extreme emotions from my past, but its been a nonstop trip down psychotic memory lane this weekend. I am assuming PTSD works in a similar manner, but instead of war scenes being replayed its all the Ronan memories that slay me dead again and again.

I don't know how much more insanity I can take from my job. I go at mach speed every day. Something has got to give....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Drop Dead Fred

David found me on FB a few years back and the night we friended each other we stayed up chatting until 2 a.m.

He was 3 years older than me, and we knew each other mainly from church. His parents were very nice people, very active in the community (small as it was). Dave was a good guy, but pretty much had a one track mind--Leave our small town as soon as humanly possible. He attended a small Christian liberal arts school several hours away. Met his lovely wife, had two lovely children. After we had caught up for an hour he asked a question...

'Did you hear about Fred'?
A lump formed in my throat.
'Yes,' I typed. 'Nothing happened to you, did it???'
'Hell no. He only went after the 'privileged' boys' he typed.

The privileged boys....those who were 'lucky' enough to get Fred's attention. Those boys who were allowed to spend the night at Fred's house, go to the movies with him the next big town over, to have Whataburger with him after church. As a kid, this all seemed like privilege. And a lot of parents trusted him. He was our youth leader for chrissakes. A man of God. Never married. Was committed wholeheartedly to his faith. He had a way with kids. He was an advocate. A liaison between the complicated adolescent and their frustrated parents. He stepped up and became a father figure to those boys that had no father.

Then my junior year, he was asked to step down as youth leader. The deacons had made this decision. It seemed horribly unfair to us in the youth group. He said tearful goodbyes, and we were all heartbroken. There was no explanation given. They hmmmed and hawed when the young people demanded answers. Told us that they were wanting to bring in a new leader, someone with fresh ideas.

Fast forward to 2005, and my father called me telling me that they had arrested Fred for sexual molestation of a child. The 'child' was actually an adult now, and was a younger kid in my youth group. With the support of his wife, this now adult man decided to speak up and end what probably would have been an on-going cycle for years.

With bile in my mouth I Googled the story from the local paper and found the semi-sordid details. As I read, things that I didn't pick up on when I was a young girl suddenly became evident in the light of being 30-ish years old.

Fred only hung out with young boys.
He had sleep-overs at his house with young boys.
He took young boys on trips.
He slept in hotel rooms (in the same bed) with young boys.

'Apparently he was assaulting {young boy} during our rehearsal dinner at my wedding, the son of a bitch' Dave typed.

I didn't type what I wanted to type. I let Dave talk about the betrayal to the families, the trust broken.

But I was thinking WHY WHY WHY was Fred alone with {young boy} on so many occasions?

Maybe it was because I was raised by a cop and I know the creepy crawlies that exist, but I would never in a gazillion years let any adult that was not family (and hell, even then I would be wary just a little) spend an excess amount of time alone with my young (or older) child. I wouldn't. Back then when I didn't have children, I always thought it was strange that people let their kids hang out with Fred to the extent that they did. It did seem odd. And I knew and loved Fred just as much as the next person. It hurt like hell when I read this. Goddamn this man for destroying these kids' lives. I felt betrayed too-- and ashamed that I loved and adored a pedophile for all those years.

But in light of the Sandusky insanity, I have to re-ask the question---Why.The.Fuck. would you let a stranger (famous or not?) take your son anywhere without you? Why would you let your young boy SPEND THE NIGHT ALONE with a SINGLE MAN???? Even though he was from your church! Even if you thought you knew him. How do you blindly trust people with your children? I cannot even fathom such a thing....

I know {young boy's} parents didn't intend for this to happen to him. It was an unfortunate misplacement of trust that turned horrid. But I would be remiss if I did not state that we can never ever rely on the goodness of people anymore---we must stop putting ourselves/our children in potential danger.

I always have hope for the good of people. Deep down I do---but you best be believing I have eyes in the back of my head. ALWAYS.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nota Bene

Work is, um....what's the right word here....

Challenging?
Gut-punching insanity?
What's the word for everything is thrown at you because you're the most 'sane and level-headed person they know'?....
Oh that's right....sucker.
Logical, they argue.
Complete chump, I say.

I need to step back and run my own section without getting caught up in drama above and beyond our group. I grow weary of taking on problems and responsibilities that are so ridiculously outrageous that I find myself laughing or I would be crying hysterically into a wine bottle every night. I need to remind myself to shrug off more, and curse less, because its getting me no where fast. If everyone else is sleeping at night, it must not be too bad of a thing....Right?

Right?!?!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Third Born




His face is beautifully chubby, with cheeks that look like they are hiding a meal for later. He has my eyes, dark brown and sincere. His hair is light like his sister's. His favorite pastime is smiling and melting strangers' hearts. He is everything I thought and hoped he would be. He is love, joy, and happiness in a 15# package. His toothless grin tugs at something so deep that it splits me in two. Grateful yet yearning. Happy yet sad.

I imagine they would have both had that gentle way about them. A similar smile. My eyes. Ronan had his daddy's feet, but Henry is shaping up to be like my father, flat footed and stocky.

I watch Henry sleep peacefully by me. I take in his smell, and in that moment where my eyes are forced closed, capturing a moment to embed in my memory bank forever, I get a glance of me holding my firstborn that cold morning in January. I used to mark that day as the moment in which the old me died and the new me emerged. What I am learning is that when Henry was born I suddenly have a shadow--true glimpses of what raising a boy is now, and what should have been in 2008.

These feelings I have are complex, and I try not to sit with them too long. Because physically, my sons are already different---so I have to tell myself they probably would have had different personalities as well.

My Shadow Babies that turned 4 this year remind me that time has moved on. There is no promise of kindergarten next year for us, but rather the beginnings of pre-school for my sweet girl (who can't wait to go)!

My little guy is 7 months old. Seven months old. Before I know it he will be running around raising hell just like his sister.

And all I have of my first son is a shadow of memories of what he could have been.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Boys, Interrupted

A military retirement is truly a lovely sight to behold. There are crisp dress uniforms with shiny medals, flags, General's speeches, plaques and shadowboxes filled with patches and memorabilia that mark a career all within the confines of a 3x3 space. I have attended a LOT of retirement ceremonies in the last couple of months. Two of the retirements were those I felt pretty close to. One was for someone pretty high up the foodchain and included media, and everything prestigious that you can imagine that goes with it. I find myself focusing on the retiree during these events. Their faces are usually kept in a neutral manner, a wondrous mixture of finality and resignation. But as the distinguished speaker begins to tick off the list that is the retiree's 30 year career, their faces always change again. It finally occurred to me at a ceremony yesterday that it must be the equivalent to seeing your life pass before your eyes, all within the span of 15-20 minutes.

How can you realistically sum up a 50/60 year old's life in 15 minutes? A career that included wars, shifts in the hospital where good kids died on your watch, or the miraculous cases where they should've died but they lived? How you describe the joy of going into work everyday to people you loved to work with-- or hated with such a purple passion that you prayed to Jesus every night for a duty change to come quick? Can you describe the thousands of birthday lunches and birthday cakes you ate, or do they just blur into a sweet mess? How about the children you knew in their mothers' womb who are married now with their own children.

Can 15 minutes truly touch upon the amount of sacrifice an officer has given--to be deployed to a third world country for a war that may never be won, leaving their spouses behind to raise children alone, who grow so much in a year away that you pray that they will recognize you when you return? Can it accurately describe how hard it was to uproot your children from a school and community they loved every 3 years? Does it touch upon the friends you had to leave, and how you had to learn quick to make new friends wherever you went just to make the new assignment bearable?

How many get up and forget they don't have to wear their uniform anymore? How hard is it to not lead thousands of men and women--to walk into Wal-Mart and not be saluted?

We joke about retirement, pray for it to come quickly, but I'm convinced that I will always work in some form or fashion until the day I die, because I don't think I want my life to be condensed into Cliff's Notes. It's just too sad...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bless You.

My Aunt is a unique bird.

Clinically, she seems a little repressed, trapped in a time and place in life where all people are good, nothing bad ever happens, and she is still perpetually 12. I love her dearly, but find I am at odds with her life choices. Instead of shaking my head at them like a mean circa 1950s parent who can't come to terms with their eccentric child (like my father treats her), I find myself channeling my 12 year old self to try to connect with her. It has worked for years.

Lately I have been including her in the every other day photo text of the boy, and she has been responding the same way."You are so blessed and lucky, count your blessings"...

And I am finding myself more and more annoyed when I see that.

Part of me is like Durh....I know I'm blessed, stop beating me over the fricken head with it.

But truth be told I feel like I'm quasi blessed, the Diet Coke of blessed because I am missing my firstborn son. And this portrait of my life that I am showing her via text messages is a snapshot of 4 fricken years of picking up the pieces--hard work! Not just some random bomb blessing that landed on my lap while I was driving to work someday.

What constitutes blessings anymore? Is it gratitude that all my children lived after the first one died?!? That doesn't feel like blessings inasmuch as what felt was owed to me. Call me cynical. Call me crazy....

Or is she saying that I am blessed because I have a husband, kids, dog, house, career--- and she doesn't?

She dated the same man for ALMOST THIRTY YEARS and never got married or had children. She always told me they would 'some day'. But then fast forward to 2000, when one day his liver went caput and that was all he wrote.

She happily plays the field now, flying off to Hawaii with a man she just met (innocent, I tells ya! {stupid, my father says!}). But the more she declares how blessed I am the more I feel that blessings come from a series of events put in place by actions, good and bad--sometimes intentional. Sometimes not.

Or maybe they are just random mutterings from a woman who still dots her "i's" with little hearts...

Monday, May 28, 2012

God Bless The USA

I had only been back in the states a week when I was invited to the Alumni Board's annual meeting at a world renown tennis club in the Texas Hill Country. I was handing off my post as student liaison to my roommate and new President of the student organization we were both members of. Many of the board members were interested in my summer trip to Nigeria. One person was not part of the Alumni board, but rather the wealthy second husband of the VP for student affairs. He was everything stereotypical you see about oil money and Texas--the white suits to match his white hair, the snake skin boots so pointy the only real purpose they served was to kill cockroaches in a corner, and bling. So much bling.

The first evening he sat by the pool sipping his JD on the rocks and called me over. I can still remember how gaudy his pinky ring looked on his overly tanned hand.

"So, Reese....I hear you were in Africa," he said.
"Yes sir. Doing a research project," I said.
"Bet you learned a lot when you were over there," he said.

I had learned a lot, too much, I thought-- about the frailty of the world, the amazing human spirit, how young people half a globe away really thought and worried about similar things...

"I did," I said.
"Tell me....did you learn the most important thing?" he asked.
"What's that sir?"
"That America is the best goddamn country in the world?"

When he said that, everyone laughed and cheered and I smiled politely. It wasn't that I didn't agree with him, but knew I was too young to make that call blindly (22). I had seen how a country like Nigeria treated their people. There was an oil shortage that summer, which was ridiculous considering that they were the 4th largest exporters of oil. I thought that we were better, but what I have learned in the 15 years since that trip is that America is not perfect. We have our flaws. We could do certain things better and more efficient. We could stop being so divided. We could pull or troops from Afghanistan and let them find their own way out of the Taliban insanity. We could, we could, we could....

But, I'm allowed to write this on a blog. I'm allowed to vote. I'm allowed to worship how I please, I was allowed to climb up from lower middle class through hard work and determination. I'm allowed to run a Division in the military even though I am a woman, and a civilian. I am allowed to be heard. And my daughter will be allowed to be heard. And God willing it will get better through the generations.

And for that promise, and for that hope, I do believe that statement that was uttered to me poolside 15 years ago.

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Fertility Gods

In 2004, the year before Hurricane Katrina hit, I attended a conference in New Orleans. I roomed in a dive hotel near Bourbon St. with my friend Becky. We toured the square that first day, admiring all the local artist's work, and on our way back to the hotel a palm reader asked if I wanted my fortune told. He was a boisterous type, with a mane of salt and pepper hair, and a belly that revealed he liked his beer. He had a huge southern accent. He called me Darlin'. I negotiated the price down to $10. He agreed and grabbed my hand.

"You're pregnant!!!" he exclaimed.
Becky just looked bug-eyed at me.
"Ummm, nope," I said.
He stared again.
"Are you sure?"
"Pretty damn sure," I said. I was still not done with my PhD, and a baby was not on the radar.
"Ever been told you couldn't have children?" he asked. He focused really hard on the lines of my palm, trying to figure out what else it (whatever it was) could be.
"No," I said, "but they have mentioned it may be difficult when I try."

The OB/GYNs I had seen always warned me that I may not ovulate normally due to suspected, but never diagnosed PCOS.

"Hmmmm," he said. He reached for a stick man covered in cloth.
"Put your hands on him. He's the fertility god. He will help you have your children," he said.

Becky rolled her eyes and busied herself with her cell phone, but I touched the god, thinking it wouldn't hurt, especially after all the forewarning that I had been getting lately at the annual check-ups.

I don't know if it worked, but I have never really had a problem getting pregnant. Off the pill, and bam, we were pregnant with Ronan. In between the final scientific report of his demise and Mother's Day, in a grief-stricken moment where we were not sure what was up or down, BAM, pregnant with the girl. Valentine's Day when I accidentally miscalculated my ovulation week, BAM, pregnant with the wee boy.

Typing this seems unfair, because I know so many women now who are struggling with infertility. And in these matters, I can offer really nothing except general love and support, and share with them the tale of mentally preparing yourself to do what it takes to get a baby. In this matter, and this matter alone, I can relate just a smidgeon. When Ronan died I had to have a hard talk with myself about what I would do to get a living child---how many more times would I try...how many more children could I lose without losing my goddamn mind? Would I try IVF and spend the $$$$$? Would we adopt?

Pregnancy is not a happy time for me. It is a stressful 40 weeks filled with angst, depression, and worry that can compare to nothing else I have ever experienced in my life. I can only imagine the same kind of feelings directed towards the 18th negative pee stick. I never went into a pregnancy confident that I would get a child after Ronan died. I have been fortunate enough to have had two--but even then, I think that I have tricked the fertility gods in some respect, and even though I feel I paid the ultimate sacrifice for my easy first try at pregnancy, I feel that I will always be paying somehow for getting two living children out of the deal...

I am not entirely sure how to be supportive to a woman who is going through infertility. Is just being a supportive ear enough? I know enough from the stupid ass comments I heard when Ronan died to not repeat such drivel---and you will NEVER hear 'just relax and let it happen!' from my lips....but is it wrong to tell a young woman staring at the path in frustration that she should have these hard talks with herself/her husband about the lengths they will try to go to to get a living child? Is it too harsh, considering that I never have experienced it myself? Perhaps I should let them come to that conclusion on their own...

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Befuddled

I have been out of this Blogger thing for a while, so its been an interesting time consumer when I hit the stats button and am suddenly privy to who is reading what. Some of the traffic I understand, people are starting from the beginning to get a grasp of my history, of what happened to my sweet boy. But there are upwards of 10-20 hits a DAY on a particular entry I made back in Aug of 2008, where I talk about people's perception of miscarriage and how that affected me (still does).

Is this linked from another site? Did someone read it once and bookmark it to read again and again? I haven't the foggiest. But it does make me wonder....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Out of Office Reply

I send the e-mail twice a year. I don't include much more than a simple "I haven't heard from you in so long, but I just want you to know that I'm thinking of you and hope you are happy and well...." I suspects he reads it, although I tell myself he probably just deletes the posts after almost 3 years. Last time I talked to him/saw him was in November 2009. We were back in Michigan for my grad school reunion. I should've known then it would be the last time I would talk to him. He was awkward around me. Nervous. He held Radha, and a look that I couldn't quite identify came across his face when he held her. Happiness for me? Sorrow for his losses?

He and his wife had one living child. They tried for more, he wrote, but they lost them all, and nearly her the last time she miscarried. He told me this and so much more over an e-mail exchange a few months after Ronan died. He wrote freely. I wrote freely. And then it abruptly stopped, conscious of what he really revealed, perhaps? The pain, the vulnerability? The hopes for a different path? The dream of alternate happiness.

He was forced to see me on that trip. As a former mentor for one of my classmates, he was supposed to be at the luncheon to showcase us and how far we had come in 10 years. The placecards had us sitting by each other. He sat straight up in his chair, like a rocket ready for flight. I handed the girl over as an attempt to break the ice. He softened when he held her. I still remember how he looked at her, and his face as he handed her back. He left soon thereafter. He hugged me and planted an awkward kiss on my cheek. I haven't heard or seen him since.

I may never know why he shut down, but I write in vain in hopes that one day he will respond. I want to tell him his honesty during that email exchange pulled me out of a dark place, and his words were a shelter I desperately needed to protect me from the constant rain of tears and heartache.

I hope even if he never responds that he can read my gratitude in 2 simple lines of text.

I hope. I hope.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

For those who are mothers of children, here or above, I wish you a gentle day....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reflections in the Sand

I sat on the white sand and watched the girl run towards the crashing waves with her cousins, squealing as the cool Atlantic ocean reached her shins. She is the most beautiful in these moments. The moments where I catch her with the joy that only children possess in discovering the newness of things. Her blonde cousins dug in the sand, and she dropped to her knees to help. Her smile was replaced with careful determination. On my lap there was a baby covered in sunscreen who was fighting the sleep that the crashing waves induced. Instinctively my heart thought about my son that I couldn't bring home. At that moment a little bird perched near our beach towel, a sign that reminds me that he's never far away....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ka-boom

I got an email bomb today detonated by the uncertainty that was bound to come when my boss retired two weeks ago. We went through some serious departmental changes once we all moved up to Ohio. Now these changes, one which includes my promotion, may or may not be called into question. Time is the only way to tell what will become of it all, but the bomb, like most terr.orist acts, did nothing but hurt the innocents along with the intended. I'm walking around now uncertain about the future, and that's not a great feeling to carry around....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Subtlties

I am briefing my new boss. A Colonel that used to work in my group. I tell him some mundane facts about a project, brief histories to help him make informed decisions. And then I casually say that I made an executive choice about a guy in my shop, and then I see the ever so slight lip thing he does when he is not agreeing with me.

It's passive, and slight, and on any other day I would let it go, but I can't risk pissing him off over something so trivial.

"You don't agree...." I said.
"I didn't say that," he said.
"You don't have to...you're doing that thing with your lip," I said.
"What thing with my lip?!?"
"When you're holding back you do this thing with your mouth,"

I really should learn to keep some things to myself. Trouble is that I can read most people really well. It's a blessing and a curse. I can tell when someone is lying to me at 50 paces. It becomes exhausting and annoying to pick up the cues.

I actually caught my new boss covering his mouth with his coffee cup when he was talking to me today. Guess I made him self conscious. ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Invisability Cloak

I was in my old stomping ground this past long weekend. I stopped by the lab on Monday and visited with a lot of people. Many old faces greeted me. Some new. As I was sitting in my old supervisor's cluttered office I spotted him. The tech who had lost his twin son to Trisomy 18. His twin daughter survived and is around the same age as Henry. My former supervisor had sent me an email asking my opinion on how to talk/comfort him during this time. I encouraged him to find a support group, online or face to face. The isolation would be too unbearable, I had written. But when the babies were born, and his poor son only lived 3 precious hours, the tech called my former supervisor and said he wanted no one to be told of the details of his son's passing. And he wanted no condolences.

It was an awkward move, as no one felt they could approach him. Many of these people were the very ones who sent cards and letters when Ronan died. They wanted desperately to tell him they were so very sorry, but honored his wishes to never speak of it at work.

I watched the tech work. Going through the motions of looking at specimens. Heart broken, the world so heavy on his shoulders. I wanted to go to him. Light that candle in the darkness. Show him some blogs of people who had been in his shoes, who are raising one while missing their twin. But who am I to tell this man that his method of grieving is wrong? I had offered to talk to him back when his wife had the amino to confirm the suspicions of Trisomy 18. He declined.

I hope he is ok. I wish I could have told him that he wasn't alone. Because he looked so alone....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Challenged

When he walked into our conference room 1.5 years ago he was dressed to the nines. He had on a smart tie, everything was properly ironed and the creases in his clothing were were the designers intended them to be. I, on the other hand looked like a slacker in comparison. He had his resume neatly bound together covered in a smart sheet protector. He called me ma'am 138 times in that interview. You could tell he actually rehearsed what he wanted to say, carefully highlighting his strengths and pointing out his awards and references (which were all glowing). I liked him immediately. I mean, how can you not like someone who is that kind and gentle?

I asked him why he wanted to move from his section to ours. He said he heard what we did over here and he wanted to learn and be challenged. We all walked away knowing that he would be our new tech in Ohio. He officially became mine in May, and he has fit in well. Then one minute he cornered me when I came back from maternity leave and asked if he could talk to me. He looked so serious, I was sure it was going to be the most awful news. I prepared for the worst. Cancer? He found a better job? He dropped a bomb on me when he asked to be reassigned from his current project. I had placed him in a more research based project, with no clear answers. I did this so he could find his groove, and learn something new. It was a bad call. He was overwhelmed.

We talked for a while and hatched out a plan. I assured him that I was not disappointed in him or the work. It killed me to see him looking so sad and defeated and blamed myself for perhaps giving the illusion that I was a hard ass, when in all reality, I'm not.

I should've known that something was up. He started isolating himself. I was really busy so I didn't check in like I should have. This past week he flew home for a family emergency and it was unfortunate timing because I had to turn in something with his data. I texted him to try to set up a time to talk and he ignored me. Which is not like him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, assumed that it was just an overwhelming time for him. He was due back Monday, so I figured we would catch up then.

He walked in, closed the door and prepared to hand me a letter of resignation!!

I was like wtf?! I KNOW I don't give off the vibe that if you ignore my text I'd fire your ass. And secondly, I work for the feds. I can't Donald Trump anyone. There's protocol. And it can take months to fire someone for truly legitimate reasons. Which not answering a text was not one of those reasons! There is something deeper going on here. So we talk and I tell him we were completely changing direction, putting him on a path in which he can feel more confident about his skills. He stil looked defeated again. But in light of the whole suicide cloud lingering over my group, I was hell bent to make sure he understood I was ok with his work and what he's been doing. He doesn't have great data yet, but hey that's science for ya.

I paired him with another tech, and I pray that at the end of the day he felt better about things. But something tells me that the greatest challenge will not be at the bench with his hands, but rather something that I may not be able to fix with better data.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Won't Someone Think of the Children?! :)




My sweet boy who is always giving smiles....




Siblings! :D

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wearing the Face He Kept in a Jar by the Door...

He told us he sold a property that he owned with his first wife when he was stationed in Germany for $3.0M dollars.

He mentioned it in a non-chalant kind of way during lab meeting. Like it wasn't a big deal.

"What did you do this weekend, B?"

"Oh, sold some property and became a millionaire."

No one knew if they should believe him, but we eventually did because he talked about all the cool things he bought, the money he gave away to each of his siblings, even though they didn't deserve it. He had a 3 year old boy at the time from wife #2, whom he lavished love and attention on. The boy, not the wife. They were in the process of getting a bitter divorce.

His ex brought out the worst in him. There were too many times I heard the words bitch and whore yelled into the phone in a crazed voice that sounded nothing like his normal voice. Many afternoons were spent in talk therapy style about his options for custody, calming his worry about his child's welfare, and when he was ready to start dating again, the exhaustive 'what do you think she meant by this' talks. Being divorced and mid 40s did take a toll on his ego.

Then about 6 months before we were scheduled to pack up the lab, something changed. He stopped doing any real type of work. He started picking fights with people. We caught him in more lies than I cared to mention. There were questions about whether he really had any money as he bragged. He supposedly bought a big house, but quickly sold it before anyone could visit. People were sick of his laziness, pissed at me for not stopping it, even though I had no power to stop it as I was not his supervisor.

When it was time to decide whether to stay or go, he stayed behind for his son, he said. We were relieved. He tried for months to get a job but got angry that no prospects were out there. He finally got hired and started his new job last week. He went to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. He didn't show up Thursday. His brother found him dead on Friday. He had committed suicide.

We were floored when we heard the news. Assumed in our child-like minds that someone was playing with us, but we finally found out it was indeed true. Saddened we took up a collection for flowers. He had a short service on base in Texas. He was a veteran, and was buried with a 21 gun salute and a flag. Thirteen people showed up. The only flowers that were there were the ones we sent. These little details made me the saddest. That and knowing his five year son was in attendance.

I wish that he was stronger, healthier, and happier. I wish all hell didn't break loose before we left, because in the beginning we were all pretty good friends. My friends with letters behind their names who have studied human nature assure me that it was all signs showing that he was mentally ill, and in a downward spiral.

Doesn't make the image of his poor son alone without a dad any easier to swallow.....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Goodnight Moon

I have decided to stay.

Yet I have been so busy it has been hard to inform the 3 of you who still read me that I am staying. ;)

I dug up my old blog that I wrote from 2005-2008 when I was in the throws of defending my dissertation and trying to navigate the crazy new world as a fresh faced PhD. It was nice to go back and have that snapshot of who I was back then, and remember what I used to be like before the grief clouded up my vision. And part of reading that blog again was also like watching a movie that is based on a true story, and you are flinching as the entries get closer to January 2008.

When I was pregnant with Henry this last go round, I couldn't write to save my life. Not a blog or a short story. I am a writer by nature. I can't go a few days without a story or scene fleshing out in my mind. I have been this was for 30 years. When I lost that for 9 months, it really scared the crap out of me. I felt frozen in time with no dreams or ideas. I still don't know what caused the writer's block, but the fog has lifted, and I wish to embrace it.

So, I hope to be around a little more. I hope you will join me....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Isolation

I have been thinking a lot about this place--what it means to me, to the memory of Ronan.

When I started out, there were so many of us, and we all found each other in this hell we were in. Four years later, and except for a handful of them, I don't know what has become of most of the women I started with on this journey. Part of me thought we would be bound by our tragedy forever, but inevitably, time has move each of us to a unique place--new lives, new jobs, and some fortunate to have new children to love. If you still read this, I pray and hope you are well, and content---dare I say happy(ier) than when we met four years ago.

I have a sense of guilt writing about my life now on a space that I have held sacred for Ronan for four years. There are every day stories I want to share---about love and beauty in my life. And not that this place was meant to be varying shades of gray and depression, but I just assumed that this space held the purpose for writing through my grief. God only knows what would have become of me, my spirit, had I not had an outlet to speak freely of the pain, the horror, the insanity of this path. But for the very reason I began writing---the terrible isolation that no one could relate to, or how no one could approach me about my grief--I find myself in the same position four years later. I am isolated again. And I must make a choice what to do. Continue on in this space with a different view---or move on to a new venue, where I can start fresh.

The thought of leaving really makes me so very sad. If I do leave, I feel like I am leaving the only grasp of Ronan that I have, even though I know that's not really true.

I have a lot to think about in the next few days.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Four Years

My dearest Ronan,

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I knew immediately that you were a boy. It was late July 2007, and I got up early to test and when I saw the strong line, I crawled back into bed and hugged your father and said 'it's positive, Daddy'. We were so happy and in love. And innocent. So very innocent.

I don't know why it was in the cards to only have you for 28 short weeks, but I want you to know that you have forever changed us. You made us patient parents who really take the time to listen and enjoy our children. Even when we are frustrated with your sister's terrible 3s tantrums! I think R would have made you laugh on a daily basis, and you would've fiercely guarded her tender heart, which is always so pure and sweet that it should be a crime if anyone ever tries to break it. Your baby brother is such a sweet, gentle soul. He smiles and coos in such a way that you can't help yourself when you want to hold him tight and kiss him. R adores him. We all do.

I really believe that all of you knew each other before you all were born and came into our lives. And I believe when we take our leave from this life we will all know each other again. But the mortal part of me is forever selfish. I wanted you. I wanted to see you grow. I wanted to kiss your sleepy baby head, to cheer at your ballgames, to see how you looked at your fiance walking down the aisle to you, to see you hold your own children. This is the part that hurts the most, and it is what lingers as I watch your siblings do and learn all these fabulous things.

I know you know my heart, and how you will always have a place there. Thank you for being my son, and making me a mother. I promise I will always try to make you proud.
I love you Ronan. Forever.

Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Perspective

I had a horrible day.

It started on Monday with a crashed hard drive and the agonizing wait for 2 whole days to determine how bad the loss was.

Since moving to Ohio our fail-safe back up was not an option--and I will admit I got lazy with the back ups to the extremely slow external hard drive. I had hope that the damage wasn't so bad. The teenaged-looking tech told me that he saved '90%-95% of the hard drive'.

But when I got it back, that 10% had all the vital things I needed. My final reports, my signed documents, my FY12 proposals, all my mail from 2011, my data sheets. Everything. That. Was. Important.

I closed my office door and I cried. The sleep deprived-Reese couldn't pull it together, couldn't take it in stride, or even convince herself that it would be ok. I cried angry, tired tears at the unfairness of it all. My team started to whisper that their fearless leader was melting down. I IM'd my boss that it was all gone. He walked down from the Commander's Suite and offered condolences and bad jokes that eventually lifted my mood. My sweet tech slid a latte across my desk, and quietly said he thought I could use a pick-me up.

I managed to get it together about an hour later. I made a strategic plan about how to bounce back, channeled a little William Wallace ala Braveheart to pump myself up from this awful blow.

Then in the middle of clicking on the files and muttering that this sucked and how awful it all was, I caught glimpse of the date.

Four years ago I was in labor--hellishly awful labor to deliver my dead son.

And it occurred to me that if I survived that, lost files were a cake walk.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's amazing how quickly time passes from one day to the next.

We came home with a little nugget of a boy, barely 6 lbs 5 oz after losing almost a pound in the hospital, and struggled through a lot of November to put him back to his birth weight. We struggled with breast milk jaundice, which was a huge slap in the face since this time around I had milk aplenty to feed the boy. This basically kept the boy jaundiced (not extremely so), kept him sleepy, and it was such a challenge to wake him up and feed him. I did all sorts of tricks to try to overcome it, and it worked pretty good but not great, and I was mentally and physically exhausted from everything.

Then there was a hole in the heart scare that started with a murmur and a chest x-ray and escalated to an immediate trip to Children's to rule out what the technician thought he/she saw. God bless the wonderful African-born cardiologist with her familiar accent who walked into the room after the echocardiogram and said "First off I wish to say I bring NO BAD NEWS". Until that moment, I didn't realize P and I had been holding out breath. Henry lay lazily against my chest, stressed out and exhausted from the traumatic ordeal of having his heart ultrasound.

We started supplementing a simple 2-4 oz a day and finally countered the damn jaundice and Henry woke up and started eating like there was no tomorrow, gaining 13 oz in a single week once he stopped being so damn tired from the excess bilirubin that just refused to break down and go away.

We had a few people over for Thanksgiving, and then we had visits from P's parents and my father and step mother that were nice and exhausting all in the same visits. It was difficult to convey to them what we needed, how we could be helped and it amazed me how they would stand there and await instructions on what to do with their granddaughter, or stare at dishes and not wash them. I had never been so glad to have them gone, because it was like taking care of a multitude of people, and it just was so damn exhausting just taking care of Henry.

Trying to get ready for Christmas was insane. We managed to get the tree, decorate the tree, pull out the decorations, shop and truth be told, it's all a blur. The girl had a fantastic time, and so did the boy, but all Christmas felt to me was the endpoint, for it was the week after Christmas that I was due back to work.


Sweet Girl With her Dolly


Sweet Boy with his Reindeer Rattle

This past week was my first week back to work, and it was a great time to go back because almost 95% of my team was out on vacation. I managed to get my bearings and get over my frustrations out about things that just fell apart. But I was grateful the lab was in one piece--it's really all that I could ask for.

Pumping has been going pretty well. But most people were gone this past week, so I could relax and let it happen. When everyone is back, knocking on my door, demanding my attention, we will see how it goes.

There is more to say, about how the hole in the heart scare really shook me to my core, and how all of this has segued into the shit month of January. The highs of the girl's birthday in less than a week and the lows of Ronan's 4 year anniversary.

I can't get my head around the fact that it's been four years. Jesus, where does the time go?