Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two Things for Today:

First, I must comment on my own previous post, which I tacked up yesterday before my Holiday party because I was dying to post something that I thought was somewhat decent writing and I knew that I would not be allowing myself time to write during the day. But I had hardly glanced it over-- and then, tonight, after reading your comments it occurred to me to read it, and to consider exactly what you were commenting about: and reading it sucked me very, very quickly into a very dark place. Quite honestly I can hardly bear to read the words because it hurts so much to remember feeling that way. Yet it is just that, I remember feeling that way, and I do not feel that way anymore. I hardly ever travel back to my memory of that time, because I almost feel sick with the memory. But, in addition to the truth of that visceral memory and what reading about Clare and her homecoming evoke in me now, reading it also makes me feel more and more convinced that when I do write a book, and I am going to do this next year, it will not be a memoir or a manual, but it will be a story about Clare, about a woman who is another character and not me, because she pulls the memory, and the visceral feeling out of me in a way that I feel my own words cannot express quite so adequately. I love writing about Clare, it feels so much easier than writing about myself. Even though Clare is me. I love this strangeness.

Secondly, and totally unrelated:

So, last year my New Year's Resolution was this: I will not be so lazy. I said it to myself like a mantra, many times a day. I am not actually, by nature, a lazy person, and in fact one might find in my daily life that whether I am out and about or at home I could be characterized more easily as completely hyperactive, rather than lazy. But the things I wanted to cut out were things like leaving the dishes to dry on the counter instead of just wiping them and putting them away. I wanted to try to just get into the habit of completing undesirable tasks all at once instead of dividing them into little, lazy chunks and putting them off. So I said it to myself, I will not be so lazy, and I wiped the dishes dry again and again and put them away, and I did succeed in becoming less lazy. A little.
Tonight I decided what it is I'm going to work on next year, and again, it's trying not to be something that I'm not anyway: I will not be so shy. I am not a shy person, not really. I'm friendly and I love people and I love to talk to people that I know I have something in common with. But I do get that hesitancy to speak up, that fear of talking to people I don't know. I don't even really like to call for pizza, I'd rather have somebody else do it for me. In terms of being brave and making actual conversation with a stranger, that's something I just haven't excelled at. This year I have made a real, conscious effort to make eye contact with people and say hello, just hello, and if I'm in a store or someplace actually interacting with people, I have lately been trying to say more than hello. To make an actual connection. So this has been on my mind, but tonight something totally different happened that made me think it would be fun to just do what I felt like, without worrying about being shy.
There was a candlelighting tonight, in the town next door, at our local Angel of Hope statue. The candlelighting was hosted by our local chapter of the Compassionate Friends, and I had called (feeling nervous, of course) the leader and asked for the date and time and if it would be alright if our group attended. Of course she said yes, and sent me all the information and a group of 10 of us went to the ceremony tonight. As I was driving over, I remembered that the invitation had said that people could bring a poem or say a few words if they wanted to. I suddenly felt sorry that I hadn't brought something, and as I was wondering if I knew any good poems by heart, a song came into my head.
It was a song we sang in the winter of 2004, as Liam grew in my belly, in my chorus. The director had approached me before we began rehearsing and asked me if I would feel okay with singing this song, she had chosen it because it reminded her of me and of Charlotte. I read the words, and said of course, yes, I would be honored. I sang the solo at our concert, and I had felt so proud.
The words came into my head, a patchwork of the verses to this song, and I suddenly had this strong, crazy urge to sing them at the candlelighting:

Circling round this walk on earth
Tears for death and tears for birth
Blessings quilted with the pain
All are woven in the grain

Giving thanks for breaking bread
And for kind words that are said
Giving back what I've received
Simple acts are sacred deeds

Cradle me, cradle me
Oh, dear mother, Cradle me
Earth and Breath and Sky and Sea
All rise up and Cradle me

(you can hear it sung at

They seemed like the perfect words for tonight. But of course I would not sing them. I would never sing, alone, in front of a whole group of people I had never even met before.

Or would I?

It turned out, I did. I felt almost a little crazy doing it, because it was so vastly out of character for me, but I went up with my lit candle, spoke of my daughter's brief life, and then said, I want to sing this for Charlotte. And I sang, my voice quaking slightly through the tears that had been recently flowing. It felt absolutely amazing, completely liberating to do it.

So I walked away, and thought that I must do things like that more often. I'll keep you posted.


Hope's Mama said...

I am so glad you came in to my life Carol. Even in the screwy circumstances we managed to find each other. Thanks for just being you. I can imagine so vividly what a wonderful person you must be in real life. Maybe one day we will get to share tea and cookies?

Meg said...

Oh Carol! I'm so happy for you! It must have felt so wonderful to do that. Scary but proud.

It's funny, when I was waiting for this page to load, I was thinking about what I wanted to write. All I could think of is that I'm so glad I clicked over here that day and now I have you in my life. Then I read Hope's Mama and she said the same thing! But, it's true. I was reading Catherine Newman's blog and her comments and I saw your comment about Liam going pee outside. And I thought it was cute so I clicked over to see more. Then I read about Charlotte and I wanted to read more. I went to the beginning and read all the way through, crying of course, and learning so much. Your words are exactly what people need to read. I think I have been able to be a better friend with your help. My friend lost her son after 1 hour of life outside the womb. So, for that, thank you.

I'm so happy for you that you were able to conquer something you wanted to and get out of your comfort zone. What a beautiful song. For a beautiful girl.

Cara said...

Carol - that song is amazing. I can totally believe that you would stand up and sing. For our children...we can do anything.

Let's sing together...shall we?

Mama said...


I gazed upon you as you sang, it was so lovely and hopeful. Your voice was strong an loving. My heart soared with light and love for each others families. Thank you for singing for your sweet Charlotte, I am sure she heard your tender voice.