Sunday, December 2, 2007


I found a beautiful picture frame that I want to buy.

It is very expensive.

It is tall (20") and wide (12") and has a little square on the top for your picture.

The poem written on it is ee cummings

i carry your heart

with me (i carry it

in my heart) i am

never without it

(anywhere i go

you go, my dear)

then your child's name is written on top, above the picture.

Charlotte Amelia.

Now, that name, we chose because we loved it. Charlotte has always been one of my favorite names, and this was why I wanted to use it. I was named after my father's mother, Carol, who died before I was born. Very beautiful, strong, adored woman, amazing mother. She was named for her Uncle, Charles Mitchell, who died in WWI, Carol being one feminine form of Charles. So I thought it would be pretty cool to use another feminine for Charles, thus carrying on this little tradition.

Want to know something weird? My grandmother, Carol, and I both delivered our first child, a girl, on the same day. May 13. Sixty years apart. Want to know something weirder? Her mother was also born on May 13th. So my aunt, Margot, and her grandmother, and my daughter, were all born on the same day.

And guess what? My grandmother died from an aneurism. And then my aunt had an aneurism and almost died. And then my daughter's cord got all smashed up and she died, too. Shit luck, huh.

The reason I am telling this is because I have this weird thing that I am going to die from an aneurism, too. I keep wanting to go to the doctor and get a head scan just to look to see if things look okay. They can do this, you know. Just look at the vasculature of your brain and see how things are flowing. I want this. Hopefully some day, before the aneurism gets me, I will be brave enough to ask for it.

The fear I feel for myself is so real. There are so many kinds of fear I feel. I still feel afraid that Charlotte died. This is hard to understand. But when I think "my baby died", and I think to that very, very, VERY brief moment between thinking things were fine and thinking maybe they weren't, and the fear that instantly boiled up in me like a fever, I can still feel the fear. Because I still don't want it to happen.

The strangest part is that I am not fearful, so much, of my two living souls. When Liam was newborn, I did fear for him. He did that newborn breathing thing, of course, where they kind of hold their breath, and then draw in this huge ragged breath, and then hold it some more. I was sure he was going to die. I didn't want him in my bed, just in case, and I didn't want him out of reach, just in case. It was hard. But after a while, when his body gained some form, and his eyes began to focus and I could see that he was a little person with his own, sturdy presence in this world, I started to trust him. And it has been like this since then. I trust my children. I have always trusted Aoife.

But this is a defense mechanism, of course, because I am fully aware that something might happen, but I love them too much to actually fantasize about it happening. When I was pregnant with them I would walk through the scenarios for "when they died". Seriously. Who I'd call first, different things I might do with memorials, etc. But once they were out and they were breathing with their lungs I was okay.

But I do fear for myself. I worry about cancers I can't see or feel, that might be eating away at me. You just never know what's happening inside your body, do you? I'd like to go in and have a nice cat scan or something, just to check every organ and bone and artery just to make sure I'm not about to die.

Dying would just be another way I could miss out on my children's lives. And I must see them grow old.

This is what I always said to Liam when he was a baby

Dear god and great spirits, we're so grateful for our sweet baby Liam. We hope that he will have a long, and healthy, and happy life and that he'll live to be an old, old man.

We're so grateful for our baby Charlotte, she taught us so much about life and love. We pray that she's safe in the stars and that she knows how much we love her

we pray that baby sprout will be born safe and alive and will live a long and healthy and happy life and live to be old

and we pray that mimi and daddy will have a long and healthy life and will live to see their children grow old

I don't have a religious belief so I felt like a prayer like this offered hope that maybe out there someone was listening. And wouldn't it be great if someone were. I do like to think that I'll be able to present the possibility of a deity to my children so that they could have that option if they choose. It's all about open mindedness, right?

One time Liam asked, Can grown ups die?

This was when I realized that the only people he's ever know who have died are babies.

He knows Erin, whose baby Birdie died, and Dana, whose baby Pearl died, and Priya, whose babies Roman and Hamid died, and Jack and Isabelle whose baby Emma died, and he knows Marla whose baby Joey died. He's never known a grown up to die. So I had to set him straight, and just tell him that he knows an unusual number of babies who have died, but that usually people don't die until they are very, very old.

Because this is what you should have the gift of believing when you are a child.

by the by, the frame is from www.


C. said...

I'd love to live in a world, again, where I had no justifiable fear. It's that "bubble" I refer to. The bubble we used to live in that offered us protection from real fear. Unforutnately, it burst when our babies died. I don't think you ever get it back once it's gone.

Liam's question about adults sweet and sad.

Birdies Mama said...

Once again my dear, you got got me. teary eyed and all...this is beautiful.

Bon said...

i haven't been here before...but wanted to say thank you for this. we may try to make a frame like this, for our firstborn, whose name we loved, too.

i think you made a beautiful choice with Charlotte Amelia.

i have felt a strange tie to e.e.cummings' poetry all my life - apparently, while my mother was in labour with me, my father sat back and read a book of his...this was not long before he left us. i think i've spent a lot of my life thinking there must be great answers somewhere in that poetry.

and so this would, in the odd, jagged way of families, tie it all together for me.