I’ve been accused of quite a few things in life, and I’m sure that all of them are true in some respect or another. I think with all of the things I talk about, I owe you some history- some back story, so maybe it will all make more sense.
I am a fighter. When I love, I love completely, but when I fight, it’s off-the-cuff, explosive anger that I’ve done well reigning in these past few years, but man… I’m still feisty.
I will always root for the underdog. I’m from Philadelphia. Our teams are always the underdog- and probably for good reason. Maybe it’s my hometown, maybe it’s just me, but if you feel beat down, call on me to pick you up.
And finally, I worry. A lot.
When my husband doesn’t answer his phone and he was supposed to be home, I never think that NPR is turned up too loud, or that it’s illegal to be on your cell phone while driving. I think he’s been in an accident. I fear that I’m alone. I get hot and nauseous. I stare at my phone until he calls- which he always does quickly. He knows I’m like this. He’s accepted my crazy quirks, and does his best to assuage them.
And so, with all the posts I’ve written and I’m sure to write about fearing for Addie and Millie (and Dave and any future children), let me give you an abbreviated version of my story of loss. I want to let you into my life and I want you to know that I’ve got baggage, just like you. There are fears that resonate deep in me. Fear of sickness and loss and hurt that I cannot explain away.I fear that I'm alone. Click To Tweet
When I was 5, my mom was pregnant. It was 1990. I remember the day, because my parents were not there to get me. Where were my parents? I waited in Mrs. Leiby’s cubby area. I waited. Staring at the double doors that led from the main halls of Meadowbrook School to the path of the K-5ers. I was in K-5. And I was waiting. It was a sunny day in April according to my memory, but there was no mom or dad to come get me to play.
I don’t remember how I got there, but there was a sign on the door. It said Nesting Room. My baby sibling was here already? I entered the darkened room, but there was no sound of a baby. There was a small bundle in my parents grasp. There were tears everywhere. No one said anything. He was gone. Jonathan Allen Worth was born April 8, 1990 and passed away in the hours of the night. At 26 weeks he was small, undeveloped and an odd shade of red and peach.
My little brother was gone, and a part of me was, too.
I remember the small, cream casket. Too small. No one should be in that. It was closed. It went in the ground.
Now I lay me down to sleep
Sleep well, baby brother.
My years came to follow with little to ease this memory. My maternal grandfather began to lose touch and battled dementia before succumbing to yet another stroke. My only other living grandparent moved to North Carolina.
A few years following that, my cousin grew ill. She battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 17. We went and saw her graduate from high school early down in Cary. She would not have made it to the real graduation day. At the age of 10, I watched my cousin be removed from life support at Bowman Gray Hospital. She was 18. I couldn’t leave her. I filed her nails. I waited for her to wake up, even though I knew she never would.
The funeral was a mess. We were away from home. I was young, my brothers were younger, my sister had just witnessed someone her age pass away. I was becoming numb, but I still felt all the pain.
And then my Dad.
November 10, 1997 was my 13th birthday. I got a beautiful ring. It was tanzanite and diamond set in a beautiful gold band. It was just what I wanted. But no one was smiling. There was no dinner. In fact, my parents came home kind of late that night. It was a Monday.I was becoming numb, but still felt all the pain. Click To Tweet
I don’t have to even Google it. I know it was a Monday, because I remember that Wednesday. Sitting in a square room at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital talking to my dad on a patient phone, he told me he was getting a tube put in- something to help him eat. And one for chemotherapy.
I hung up and said to no one, “you don’t get chemo unless you have cancer.”
I was the last person to tell him it was OK to go on April 21, 1998.
Since that time I bounced myself from one self-abusive behavior to another, often letting boyfriends or fair-weathered friends take a swing. Emotionally. Financially.
A few years after high school, a friend of mine died. Then another. Then another. Then one after college.
I have no grandparents left.
I came down hard, and landed on a couch on the West End of Providence, RI. I was too thin for my frame having lived the past 6 months in an unheated warehouse space with no kitchen. I landed harder than I meant to.
During an argument one night, this boy who was so nice to take me in, raised his hands to his head. But I didn’t know where they were going. I was hiding in a ball before I could see. Cowered in a corner, he came to me. He held me. He picked up my pieces and made me whole.
I married this man, and everyday that I spend being neurotic, I know that when no one understands- even himself, he will still hold me.
Addie is perfect. She is beautiful and funny. She seems to know all the right times to laugh. She knows it’s OK to cry, a lesson I cannot teach her, but hope she knows for all-time. There are times when I am so afraid of what could happen to her that I jump to the worst as if it is already fact.
Camille comes tottering behind, broad shoulders and a toothy-grin intact. Her cheeks are always lit up… my girls are the happiest kids on the block! Her wild hair is strewn around her face, she’s always reaching up for me. Even when I’m over-touched, and feel my worst, I reach back. I need to reach back.
Someday, I won’t be here.
All of a sudden, my fellow mamas are passing, leaving babies, partners… their own parents behind. I am at a point in my life where my friends are becoming widows.
And then I am a mother. And bound to duties and responsibilities I’m not sure I was even meant to have- not sure I am good enough to have. All of these things stick to me, daring never to budge, like the pounds I’ve gained from age and motherhood. Things I’m both proud of and terrified from. So, I turn sideways in the mirror and hope to G-d that all of my issues don’t pile up on my heart as they have my hips.
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