#Free Write Friday, Kellie Elmore

Credit: We Heart It

 

Nowhere To Go, In Time Or Place

I felt the tears of uncertainty and dread spring to my eyes. I quickly wiped them away with the back of my hand because if I didn’t they would stick to my face like hot glue. Change hasn’t happened in our lives for years but I know, in my gut, we will be saying good-bye to the world as we knew it, forever.

Saying good-bye to the past, yet clinging, pathetically, to the memories that I hold dear. Old memories that rust in time but bloom in my brain like day lilies.

Another chapter will be beginning but we don’t know when or where.  Getting older is not easy unless you are a sweet, innocent child. Children love to turn another year older, there is no death in their future, just presents, and  cakes with candles, hope, fun and friends.The aged lack hope universally.

For us, their parents or grandparents, it takes on a whole other realm of closing a chapter and warily beginning another, the last third chapter or the beginning of the end. We don’t celebrate parties in the same way anymore; birthdays come around, it feels like, every few months. There is no happiness in aging when you can’t go back in time. Even memories become stale, photographs, blurry.

Our bodies hurt, pain clings to us like Saran wrap on cheese, transparent, almost impossible to remove. It holds us hostage in our weary, broken bodies

I hold on to the wooden stair rail, going downstairs slowly, sticky over time, but now I am fond of the predictable stickiness in certain areas. I have walked up and down these stairs thousands of times, with sick babies, and naughty toddlers, with gleeful children and with young adults I was proud to call my children. I walked with my husband supporting me and me supporting him.

I am not sure of the timeline, of when we will leave. It could be as early as six months but it could be more like a year, maybe two. The jittery nerves inside me says it will sneak up on us like a deer crossing our path in front of our car in the dead of the night.

I have practiced saying good-bye to everyone I love and have to leave behind in my shaken heart. I will be leaving this home, this carrier of memories. I know I am on my way, still clutching to some false sense of security.

Entering into another phase of my life, of our lives. I have to control myself from me not to sob out loud. I know this tiny, white house which in six months could be painted navy blue or brown. I don’t know, I will never know. But it will never be my house again. My children will not grow up here, the trees we planted for the children will stay and the two big gray rocks other people’s children will climb on.

We are homeless, we have nowhere to go although we can stay for a little time in a few places but never like this again. The locks on the doors will be changed in two days, maybe three, new owners will eventually move in.  The FOR SALE sign on the front yard seems to deface our property. It has already defaced our home.

English: for sale sign

A chapter in our lives is about to be over, a new chapter has not yet been written, the lines blur together. We are standing, clutching on to memories not yet ready or willing to create new ones. I am not sure I will ever want to make new ones.

We step aside, we cling to the naked walls and to each other with the depths of our depression in our hearts beating slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carry on Tuesday: A little while, a little while……

Baby Girl

Baby Girl (Photo credit: Sparlingo)

Carly was only nineteen years old, but she felt older than that, just having had a baby. She had given birth yesterday and she hadn’t wanted to see the baby much less name it. She didn’t know what to do, people were talking at her from all sides; the nurses, social workers, people from an adoption agency, her mother, until she had to cover her ears it was so loud. Finally, she started crying because it was all too much pressure so the nurse made everyone leave. Carly crumpled and forced herself to relax.

The father of the child, her ex-fling Rick, a musician didn’t even know that she had been pregnant, much less had a baby. She didn’t even know where he was, probably hitch-hiking in the mid-west with his band.  She had slept with him a couple of times but she was just one girl in a series of his ardent admirers. She had been SO stupid.

“Just give it up” her friends had said to her like forfeiting a game, or tossing an unwanted ham sandwich. Sure, this kid hadn’t been planned but just to give it away, like an unwanted present? It wasn’t the baby’s fault that she had come into the world. The adoption agency assured her that the baby would be placed with a “lovely family” she could even choose the family if she wanted to. Did she want to keep in touch with the family and have an “open adoption?”  Or, she could have a “closed” or private adoption and then she could give up her rights to the baby and start over again.

She did like the idea of starting over or as her friends put it “with a fresh start.” She could move to a big city and no one would ever have to know about this if she didn’t want to tell them. She could be whoever she wanted to be, she didn’t think she loved this child, she hadn’t even SEEN her. She decided that she was comfortable with this decision. She flipped off the light switch and then promptly fell asleep.

Carly woke up, startled, at 3am; she put her bathrobe on and decided to go for a walk down the hall, slowly, gingerly, she was still in pain. She didn’t know where she was going but subconsciously she knew where she would be end up. It was late, most people were sleeping, she stepped quietly up to the nursery window and a new nurse had just started her shift. She smiled brightly: “Hi, do you want me to get your baby?” Carly froze but instead of saying “No” she said “Yes” they checked her bracelet, and in a minute, this precious little pink bundle that she recognized immediately in her arms.

“Oh, she’s so pretty, she’s so pretty” Carly cried, as she held the baby up to her and rocked her gently. The nurse said “we sure can see someone who looks just like her pretty Mama.” At that, Carly looked in the nurse’s eyes, smiled and straightened up, “Thank you,” she whispered as tears streamed down her face. Carly asked if the baby could go back to the room with her so the nurse signed some papers and they moved the cradle on wheels into her room. The same nurse helped her get settled, showed her how to breastfeed, sat with them and talked for over an hour. It was a slow night and Carly had been the only person in the maternity unit.

Later that morning, when people started to fill her room, Carly, feeling ten years older, took control. In a clear strong voice Carly announced, “I’ve decided to keep my baby, it’s a girl and her name is Isabella. A clamor started in the room, all negative,  telling her she was a fool. Carly stared at them all and in a clear, bright tone, like the ringing of a bell said:  I love her and I will take care of her. It may take me a little while, a little while to get used to things but NOBODY will separate us. My mom has agreed to help us until we can find our own way. Thanks, Mom!! I can’t pretend my baby never happened and have a “fresh start,” that is great for some women but not for me; I would be looking for her for my whole life.  We are family now, the three of us. Three generations of strong women. Now, I think it’s time for the three of us to go home!

Dedicated to Nurse Bella who has agreed to be Isabella’s Godmother

Cleaning From The Inside Out

(Meditation

Image by atsukosmith via Flickr

It started out as a summer closet-cleaning project, as it does every year.  What differentiates this year from the last seven is that I am actually doing it. I started cleaning out our closet several days ago and I haven’t stopped.  Among some if the items found are: bags, shoes, books, sweaters, children’s toys, my own stuffed animals. The closet is very crowded with boxes upon boxes of paper and old clothing and photographs, about fifty books, drivel in adolescence journals and every memento since I was a teenager.

I bought new bright aqua hangers at Target feeling confident and ambitious. Only minutes after my mug of espresso I was ready to start. I cleaned for hours as music blared from my computer:  The Beatles and Glee, America and Bruce Springsteen,  I revisited Natalie Merchant, The Beach Boys and songs from Grey’s Anatomy.  I sang as loud as possible, off-key.  I found cookbooks, a dozen notebooks, and old, scratched CD’s. I made a pile to give away perfectly fine clothing that fit my far younger self. Clothes, past their expiration date by twenty years, as I looked down at my larger body. I sighed as I stuffed them into black garbage bags shaking my guilty, downtrodden head. I tried to soothe myself by saying they will go to people who have nothing, but I don’t deep down, forgive my slovenly self.

I was enjoying putting some order into chaos carrying out box after box of stuff I hadn’t seen or used in years. It felt really good to finally attack at least ten to twenty years worth of stuff. That is, until I found “Baby.”Baby was my son’s love object when he was very little. I remember we flew to Oregon for a vacation with our six month year old son, the Buddha Child.  This was a boy who fell asleep in a second. One day, while we were in Oregon we put him in his car seat and he cried and wouldn’t be soothed. The child who fell asleep immediately in any car ride fussed and could not sleep and we had no idea why. As new parents do, we thought ear infection? He looked fine albeit cranky but he didn’t look sick.

All of a sudden as if  I had just discovered the new 500 million dollar invention, an idea popped into my head? Baby?  I made my husband pull off the side of the road and he searched for Baby; Baby was found in the trunk.  Baby was given to our son as we watched in wonder. He clutched Baby in one hand, my son’s thumb slid smoothly in his mouth and he fell asleep immediately. We hadn’t known Baby was that important until that moment. When Baby needed surgery, he was not allowed to be fixed by my mother-in-law, an expert seamstress. Only I was allowed to fix Baby; to me, it was a proud moment.

When I found Original Baby and Substitute Baby today scrunched in the back of my closet I gasped and exclaimed “Baby!!” Then I burst into tears. I thought I had worked through the anticipated separation from my first-born son going to college in three and a half weeks, apparently I wasn’t done. Holding Baby in my arms, clutched to my heart, I sobbed.

When you clean out old things, you find emotional reminders of the past. I found letters from my dad who died ten years ago, it makes you more aware of what you are missing; it brings up sadness, longing, for things that will never again be the same.

I’ve decided to put away all the not-so-gentle reminders of my children’s younger lives into boxes.  It’s time. My  father’s shirt and his letters will get another box and it will also live in the basement. I don’t want to bump into Baby or Dolly or the cards that they made for me and cry. As my son and daughter move on, so must I.

The sad part of seeing Baby was that I thought, I have only one more year with my daughter staying home. My life as being their mother will never be the same.  What on earth am I going to do now?  Sobbing answered that question quickly and then I normalized. I will always be their mother, I will always be my father’s little girl but relationships shift and change. It was time for all of us, including Baby and his friends, to move to a different place. When my son and daughter want to look for memories of their past they will know where to look and that’s how it should be. Life moves on and I with it. Starting from the inside, then moving out.

Being A Mom With A Chronic Illness (ChronicBabe carnival)

Mother and Baby

Image by Praziquantel via Flickr

My goal in life, since I was five years old, was to become a mom.  I thought getting pregnant would be natural and beautiful but it seemed we needed a little help. After two and a half years of painful shots, medication and an every day visit to the infertility clinic  for blood work and ultra-sounds I finally was pregnant. I collapsed to my knees behind the closed-door in my stuffy office and kissed the dirty gray carpet in gratitude. I cried with happiness, one hand already covering my tiny belly.

My son was born and we called him Buddha baby, he never cried, he was always happy, a smiling, compassionate and outgoing kid.  He was my miracle baby, my first born. I went to every baseball game for my son, sitting in the bleachers in the rain, and sneaking away to the car to warm myself up.

My daughter came, naturally, twenty-one months after her brother was born, screaming on top of her lungs as she entered the world. I remember going into her room and lifting this red-faced baby girl to my shoulders, she would take a deep breath and her whole body relaxed into my neck.  I was her only source of comfort when she was a baby. I was there for every ballet lesson and dance recital, holding a bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower, in my arms like I was nestling a newborn baby‘s head.

I did everything for my kids and I loved doing it. This was the career I decided on and I wanted nothing more. I stayed home with them even when they got older because I knew they needed me during the tough middle school years. They would never admit it but they were happy to see me when they got home. Working moms called me “old-fashioned” but I didn’t care.

When I was 50, I went through menopause and my body fell apart. I was diagnosed first with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. When Synthroid, did not help me at all, I warily shuffled from one doctor to another, every bone and muscle and joint in my body screaming with agony.  My internist had given up on me, she stormed out of the room while I was laying there on the exam table crying in pain.  After visits to many different doctors I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I felt like I had the flu, every single day and night, with no fever, my personal definition of Fibromyalgia.

My life changed after that. I became the mom “before” I was sick and the mom “after.” I felt that I was no longer the mom you could always count on. I prefaced everything by saying “If I feel okay that day,” and “I’ll call you the morning of…”  Luckily my children were fourteen and twelve but it was now Dad who got up, made breakfast and lunches and dinner. Me? I was asleep, always asleep and in pain.

I felt lost and sad for years, not being able, physically, to be the mom I once was. Now, I am dropped off at an entrance to anywhere we go  like the handicapped patient I am. I sit alone, on a chair, when all the other parents and children go on a campus tour to see the entire campus. I cannot walk that far. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children or a burden for my husband.  I want the kids to remember the mom I was before I was sick but I know they don’t. They probably just remember me as I am today. I am not the mom I was before my illness even though my heart remains unchanged. I am the mom that they have now and because of that I have tremendous guilt and a lot of residual, emotional pain.

My Earliest Memory

crying-baby

I was younger than two years old and my baby self was in a crib, crying and upset. It’s almost as if I see the image as a third person, like a photo you want to take. I am upset and I hear soft footsteps coming. It was my dad who came, he reached over the crib and started rubbing my back. “Ah, Ah, baby, Ah Ah baby” he murmured, over and over again, until I was calm and safe and soothed.

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