Life After Beau

These are just a few things I've written. In this emotionally chaotic time, it helps to organize my thoughts.
Thank you for sharing this life with me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A smile.

I ride the bus to work. I have ever since we moved to Denver. I love the bus - the characters, the fact that I don't have to drive, deal with my own or others' road rage, scrape ice off the car in the winter, buy gas as often, being environmentally conscious, or having to pay for parking. Ok, so that's the biggest thing - paying for parking downtown (guess we're just kinda cheap, but only with with some things. Although I prefer the term "frugal").

I got on my bus this morning, as usual, and saw another bus at the station. The advertisement on the side of that bus was sky blue, with big puffy clouds and said, "STARING INTO SPACE IS UNDERRATED. Ride public transportation."

It made me smile. I catch myself staring into space often (on my own time, at inappropriate times, doesn't matter to me), and I appreciated the ad. Big smile this morning. Staring into space IS underrated, I totally agree. Thanks, bus!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hand prints

I remember sitting in the funeral home, the day after I was released from the hospital. I was asked if I wanted some hand prints done of Beau. I remember being under the influence of narcotic pain medication and in a daze, but I remember clearly being asked if I wanted some hand prints. I was re-assured that if it was too hard to look at them then, they would keep them on file for when I wanted to pick them up later. I remember also they wanted to sell me some keepsakes - particularly "thumbprint" jewelry, etc. I said, "Yes please, do the hand prints."

This whole time, it's been in the back of my mind that the funeral home has these supposed hand prints. I've considered calling them, or dropping by, to pick them up. However, something inside of me said to wait until I can handle the fact that they don't have them....somehow I knew. I called yesterday, and the woman said, "Yes, I remember, and I'll have those prints ready for you. We usually reserve those for the keepsakes, but yes, I'll have them ready." I said okay, still not convinced they had them on file. In fact, about 20 minutes later, the phone rings, and the caller id said The Monarch Society - it was the funeral home calling. I answered, and she introduced herself, and said, "I have here on file that we already gave the hand prints to you." I said, "No, I would know if you had. I don't have them anywhere. I know it, I do NOT have them, ANYWHERE." She apologized. I quickly got off the phone and Sam walked around the corner and I started sobbing to him, "I knew it! I knew it, I knew it, they don't have them, and I knew it!" Then I flung myself on the bed and sobbed some more.

Everything we have and have gotten from the hospital and from the funeral home, we immediately put in a safe place, in the SAME place. We have the footprints that the hospital did when he was born, but no hand prints. I have looked at Beau's memory box a million times since March. I smell his blanket and kiss the little knit that he wore. I touch his tiny footprints, inked onto the paper, next to the little locket of hair. I hold his pictures to my chest and sleep with the little teddy bear that the hospital gave me. The teddy bear touched Beau. And for me it's some kind of connection to him, and I sleep with the little bear clutched close to my heart, every single night. And so, I would know if we had hand prints. But we don't. I think they must have made a terrible error.

I desperately wish for those hand prints, yes. But what I want, and deeply long for obviously, is my son. I absolutely hate when I come across things that are "one more thing to mourn". There was a day that I realized that not only was I missing my son, but that HE was also missing THIS LIFE, this time with his parents, experiencing summer, ice cream, doggies, parks, grass, laughter, sunshine, rain, mountains, etc. That was a hard day. My support group facilitator had emailed me to ask how I was doing, and I told her that recent realization, and she responded, "I know, it's a bitter pill to realize how much Beau got ripped off too." So true.

Well, I'm off to ride rollercoasters with Emily, and screaming appropriately.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weird but good.

I had a meeting today, out of the office, with a bunch of people I do not see on a very regular basis - just every few months or so. The last few meetings with this group, I skipped, for fear of running into someone who saw me pregnant, but didn't know what happened. And so inevitably, when the meeting ended today, and everyone was walking to our cars, a woman approached me that I had met a few times before, while I was pregnant. We had talked about pregnancy stuff last winter.

She walked over to me with an excited look on her face. “Did you have your baby?” she asked. [What kind of question is that, anyways? Did I deliver him? Yes. Do I have him now? NO.]

I answered her question by saying quietly, “Well he passed away actually. Shortly before he was to be born. Umbilical cord accident, most likely.”

She said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you at the last meeting, so I just figured….you know, you had your baby….” Her voice trailed off, and she looked confused.

“Well, I took some time off.” I answered.

“Oh.” she said, and nodded. Then she turned to me, smiled cheerfully and said, “Well, have a good one!”

“Yeah, you too…” I said, and we parted ways.

I got in the car, sat for a minute with the keys in my lap, and stared off into space. Until I realized there was an SUV lurking behind me, waiting for my sweet parking spot. So I started the car, drove back to the office, and thought to myself, “Huh. That was an interesting response. Smile and ‘have a good one’, just seconds after I tell you what happened? Hmm, haven’t gotten that one yet.” But I didn’t get pissed at her for her odd response, I didn’t yell expletives when I was driving, I didn’t even cry. Not one tear. After the maybe 10 minutes it took me to get back to the office, I was ok. Calm even. I felt like I was control of my emotions, and it felt very very good. Weird for once, but good.

Then when I got back to the office, I saw flyers suddenly taped up in their usual spots, whenever there is a baby shower (there are lots, lately). A Noah’s ark-themed baby shower announcements for a co-worker, “Peter is having a BOY!” My thoughts were, “Yeah, yeah, someone’s always popping one out. I didn't even know Peter was pregnant." Heh heh.

There was a baby shower scheduled for me back in March, but Beau didn’t make it to it; he must have known his mom doesn’t get into those kinds of things anyways. Which made me chuckle (a tiny bit) when I realized that today. Thanks Beau, for saving your mom the embarrassment of opening up gifts in front of co-workers, saying, “Awwww! It’s so cute! Thank you!” a million times, eating an awkward catered lunch, and drinking punch in the conference room. Whoo-hoo. Not that I wasn’t grateful at all for the planned baby shower, in fact I was very touched, but my co-workers knew I was sort of mocking the whole concept anyways. Actually I remember saying to them several times, "You guys REALLY don't have to do this. REALLY." But they laughed and said it was mandatory and all I had to do was pick a date. And register for gifts. I said, "Well, ookkkaaayyy, but absolutely no baby shower games".....Have you guys been to a baby shower where they play games?! Ehh, not really my style.

Two fairly large emotional triggers in one day. And I feel okay! Baby steps (no pun intended)? Progress? Healing? I don’t know, but it damn sure feels good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Impatient anyways.

I have been a member of the MISS (Mothers in Sympathy and Support) forum for a few months, and have been connecting with fellow bereaved mothers, people experiencing losses. A fellow bereaved mother posted this quote, and others asked if they could post it on their Facebooks. And since I am now living Facebook-free, I thought it was important enough to post it here....she speaks volumes.....

This is my path. It was not a path of my choice, but it is a path I must walk mindfully with intention. It is a journey through grief that takes time. Every cell in my body aches and longs to be with my beloved child. I may be impatient, distracted, frustrating, and unfocused. I may get angry more easily, or I may seem hopeless. I will shed many, many, many tears. I won’t smile as often as my old self. Smiling hurts now. Most everything hurts some days, even breathing, but please, just sit beside me, say nothing. Do not offer a cure, or a pill, or a word, or a potion. Witness my suffering and don't turn away from me. Please be gentle with me. Please, self, be gentle with me, too. I will not ever "get over it" so please don’t urge me down that path. Even if it seems like I am having a good day, maybe I am even able to smile for a moment, the pain is just beneath the surface of my skin. Some days, I feel paralyzed. My chest has a nearly constant sinking pain and sometimes I feel as if I will explode from the grief. This is affecting me as a woman, a mother, a human being. It affects every aspect of me: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I barely recognize myself in the mirror anymore. Remember that grief is as personal to each individual as a fingerprint. Don't tell me how I should or shouldn’t be doing it or that I should or shouldn’t “feel better by now.” Don't tell me what's right or wrong. I'm doing it my way, in my time. If I am to survive this, I must do what is best for me. Surviving this means seeing life’s meaning change and evolve. What I knew to be true or absolute or real or fair about the world has been challenged so I'm finding my way, moment-to-moment in this new place. Things that once seemed important to me are barely thoughts any longer. I notice life's suffering more- hungry children, the homeless and the destitute, a mother’s harsh voice toward her young child or by an elderly person struggling with the door. So many things I struggle to understand. Don’t tell me that “God has a plan” for me. This, my friend, is between me and my God. Those platitudes seem far too easy to slip from the mouths of those who tuck their own child into a safe, warm bed at night: Can you begin to imagine your own child, flesh of your flesh, lying lifeless in a casket, when “goodbye” means you’ll never see them on this Earth again? Grieving mothers- and fathers- and grandparents- and siblings won’t wake up one day with everything 'okay' and life back to normal. I have a new normal now. Oh, perhaps as time passes, I will discover new meanings and insights about what my child’s death means to me. Perhaps, one day, when I am very, very old, I will say that time has truly helped to heal my broken heart. But always remember that not a second of any minute of any hour of any day passes when I am not aware of the presence of my child's absence, no matter how many years lurk over my shoulder. Love never dies. - Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, Founder of the Center for Loss and Trauma/MISS Foundation

I can identify with each and every word, so much.

In one of the baby loss books I have read ("Still to Be Born" by Schwiebert & Kirk) that my dear friend Lori sent to me, it says "Most people find that it takes more than 48 hours to two weeks to get their lives back to a normal routine after suffering the death of a close friend or relative....For bereaved parents, however, the readjustment of one's life following a loss of a child takes approximately 18 to 24 months. This does not mean that after 18 to 24 months the death is forgotten; it simply means that this much time is needed to come to terms with the loss."
I try to remember this when I am getting impatient with my grief (like now, for example). Impatient with why can't I get through [not over] this easier, why is it so hard to move forward with life, why do I still get upset at seemingly little things, why do the tears seem never ending, why does the pain seem to still spin me upside down & inside out, am I ever going to feel better, am I going to die from an actual broken heart, should I invest into stock with the Kleenex company... and all of those questions....

And what's further frustrating, is that I talk to people about grief, professionally. I get paid to talk to people who are in pain. I chose my profession with intention, in my early twenties. I intellectually understood pain. I minored in psych (well, who didn't, really) and thought I understood what grief was all about. I have been in my profession (victim assistance/advocacy) for almost 12 years now, with a couple short breaks squeezed in. Started by working in rape crisis, moved to managing domestic violence shelters, facilitated group counseling sessions with people in horrible situations, and now to my current position working with victims of felonies in a large city. I really can't imagine doing anything else. For years, I have looked human pain straight in the face and sat down with it and had conversations, as if we were old friends. Yeah, sure, pain, I know. I've heard it all before.

Well, until this happened to me. And pain took on a whole new meaning, and a whole new unwelcome intimacy. Sometimes I feel like a dentist who brushed her teeth every day, still wound up with a cavity, and was dumbfounded for how to fix it. Bad analogy probably.

But I still get impatient with the whole grieving process, think to myself, "it's been almost 6 months", looking forward to that benchmark in fact, for when I can start to feel better ("is that when I can start to feel better? Is 6 months enough to turn the corner already?") And then I remember that grief is not on my time-table, and get frustrated all over again. I am not in charge of this beast, I'm just trying to find ways to tame it, just to please LAY DOWN for a little while. And when it gets up again, I get pissed, naturally. And I want to rip my hair out and scream. Stupid Grief Beast. When will it fucking learn...

And I'm really not trying to wallow in my own sorrow, feel sorry for myself, or dwell on the past. I'm really trying not to do that. I wish so, so, incredibly much that I was back to my old self. I wish I didn't have this pain to carry. I want to be in love with life again, like I was for my whole 32 years, and tell people I am "fabulous!" again when they ask how I'm doing (yes, I was that annoying person) and dance like Napoleon Dynamite again (I wish) and laugh without feeling disloyal to my dead son. But then again, I think, "But that's why Beau picked me to be his mama." So the disloyalty is starting to fade a tiny bit.....but when will it stop? I can't help but to think that. And when will my patience with this begin?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dear FB: It's not you, it's me.

Huh....I just (on a total whim) deleted my Facebook account. No real solid reasons, just done with it and don't want some of the updates. Nothing personal to any of my FB friends.
Peace out, Facebook!

love, minnow

Friday, August 6, 2010


Well, that was a huge relief! I just got my hair cut. And, got my eyebrows waxed, AND now have a mustache-free smile (that's what Holly and I used to call an upper-lip wax :) I have seriously been having near panic attacks at the thought of getting my hair cut for the last few months. And you know girls, once you start thinking you need a cut, you really do need one. Even if it's just a trim! I talked about my fear of this task, in our support group a couple of months ago. And since then, I considered cutting it myself (but I know better) and have been battling split ends, trying to ignore them, wearing my hair in ponytails, pigtails, claw clips, and yesterday when it was difficult to run a comb through my hair and I required five bobby pins to keep it all in place, I figured, now's the time.

But, remember that when you are in the stylist's chair, you are somewhat at her mercy for conversation. And well, that's where the anxiety came from. I was SO NERVOUS that I would be asked the "dreaded question", that I have been putting off this seemingly ordinary task for at least two months. I could just picture it: Poor innocent stylist woman asking the ordinary question (dreaded, to me): "So, do you have any kids?" and me freaking out, or saying something socially awkward like, "I'd rather not talk about it." Or worse, "Yes, but he died." and start crying uncontrollably, and then her saying something like, "Well, everything happens for a reason" or something as equally insensitive. AARGHH!! And then I'm trapped, in the stylist's chair, hair half-cut, with one of those black apron-things on, and nowhere to turn! The horror!!

I have a few rehearsed answers ready for the "dreaded question" but I STILL was dreading the conversation part of the haircut. Until the other day when I went to lunch with my friend Maya telling her my fears - she suggested I take a magazine. (Duh, seems so simple now! Thanks Maya!)

So instead of having a freak-out in the chair, here's what REALLY happened this afternoon: I walked into the salon, confident, unafraid, and armed with a magazine. And my stylist asked me, "So what are you up to today?" my answer was, "Oh, just running some errands. I'm going to let you cut away while I flip through this magazine, if you don't mind." And I smiled. And she smiled back! And she said "Absolutely! You go right ahead!" No social awkwardness! No alarm went off in the salon and no announcement over the loudspeaker said, "We have someone in Chair 2 that doesn't want to chitchat!" Ok, I'm being dramatic. But the whole time I was sitting there flipping through National Geographic while she's cutting away, I was like, THIS is what I was afraid of for months? And I sort of chuckled to myself.

(The girl that used to cut my hair on a regular basis, Tessa, was awesome and sweet and very interesting to talk to. I haven't seen her since February, when I was hugely pregnant, and I don't want to go back to her because she will inevitably ask me how the baby is, and well, I don't want to deal with that. Another reason for procrastinating the haircut. Sorry Tessa).

And the dreaded question will come up at some point in my life, and here's what I will say: "Yes, our son died in March right before he was to be born." Because that's the truth and it's simple and if I don't feel like I'm in the mood to deal with the reaction, I can say, "Nope, no kids" and not feel disloyal to Beau. Because he would understand.

So, here I am, with healthy hair and a mustache-free smile and....what's that, New Haircut? Oh, you want to go out for a drink to celebrate? Well, allllrriiiight.... :D