Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Here, tonight, will start with a small gallery of photos of our latest accomplishments here in the hills. I was thinking tonight about how stirred up my creative blood is: Just wanting to make, and think, and do.
Here are the shirts I am making for this weekend's Mother's Day walk, for our family to wear. I will add more art to them in round 2, tomorrow.

Aoife's new bedroom (we call it her playroom since she still sleeps in the nursery). OOhhh I love this transformation so much. I am dreadfully sorry you cannot see the beautiful curtains I also sewed for the windows, but take my word. Delicious.

#3 The Fort. It actually has a little house up on top now, and we'll also be adding a little pretend store front in the "basement" soon. We're going to paint it to match the house. And put a flag on it, and a pulley, and some rope ladders, and a slide... what else? Suggestions?

It's no wonder I need to accomplish, at this time of year when I am about to fail, where the life, in retrospect, is about to be sucked out of me all in one breath. This is the time where I need every ounce of energy to tell myself, convince myself that yes, you can do, you can make.

There's really nothing like the failure to produce a live child. You can ask any mother who has walked in these shoes. Whether her baby died early in the pregnancy, or in infancy from complications. Even though we know, in most cases, that our bodies were vessels in which a mistake, or an accident, or a twist of fate occurred, we cannot help but feel completely, solely accountable for what happened.

When Charlotte first died, it came to me in waves that were more surface, slightly less deep. She was still in my belly. I was plunged into shock. My first instinct was to feel as if I had led all these people on, as if I had lied to them. I had tricked them into thinking I would provide them with a granddaughter, a niece, a baby to hold. It would not happen. I called them, my heart sunken into my big toe, and told them. "It's not good news. Our baby died. I haven't had it (her) yet". I felt like I was reluctantly admitting a truth I had been hiding, as if it had all been too good to be true all along.

When Charlotte was born, this shifted immensely: it was no longer a trick, but my own failure as a mother. Here she was, unblemished and beautiful, and without life. Somehow, my body, which had created and sustained her, had missed out on this final, most important step: bringing her forth alive. Everybody else I knew hadn't had trouble with this step. But for some reason, I had. I felt shamed, embarrassed, that I would have to admit this shortcoming, and to boot in the depths of my misery. I would have to face my family and friends, empty armed, and then try to meet their eyes. It seemed impossible.

Greg would get frustrated, sad at me. "Why do you do this to yourself?" he would plead. "Just don't go there, don't think that. You know it's not your fault."
But I do know it's not my fault. It's just that I won't ever feel that it's not my fault, and there is a big difference between those two four letter words. I have thought this, and said this, over and over again: "If there was one person in the world who could have known that something was wrong, it was me. If there was to be just one person who could save her, it would be me. I did not."

And so, this May, in anticipation of my greatest failure, my subliminal error, my mistake that could never have been prevented, I am creating: I am trying to make beauty and fun and sound that can act as a balm on my still throbbing wound.

I can't find any words that can actually tell anybody what this feels like, this being five years away from the day my life became new and different. A few people have called, asking me, how am I doing. I don't even know what to say. I am cranky at times, irritable, feeling sad sometimes, frantic at others, and joyously happy in between.

Last night, I was only a combination of those bad things. I couldn't figure out what I wanted, what I needed, or what I should do. We were getting ready to go upstairs. As we turned out the last light, before climbing up, Greg grabbed me, and wrapped me in a fierce, long hug in the dark of our kitchen. He let me just lay down my head and breathe in the quiet, dark smell of him, and he didn't say a word. We stood there for quite some time. It was just right.


Jen said...

Carol, your writing is so incredibly powerful it just knocks me over. I am thankful for your gift of expressing your fierce pain, self-doubt, self-blame, as well as your love and pride. You have such great clarity about the difference between knowing and feeling, and you honor both. And your honesty about feelings of shame and failure is profound.

Those t-shirts look great; I am looking forward to seeing them in their final form on Saturday.

And Aoife's bedroom is too sweet for words. Completely splendid.

I'll send you my email straightaway--

stephanie said...

your writing is so beautiful. i can only imagine what a difficult time of year this is for you. i like the way you are trying to "create" to help youself through it. i am looking forward to the walk on Saturday....