Monday, October 18, 2010

Goodbye Volvo, Goodbye Dream

Last week we sold the Volvo wagon. To my surprise (sort of), it set me on a course toward a dark place that has felt really hard to crawl out of. I should note here that I’ve never taken particularly good care of my cars (much to my dad’s dismay), nor have I ever been remotely sentimental about them. But this one was different.

Matt and I bought the Volvo station wagon a few years ago, right around the time we decided that we’d like to have another baby. It occurred to us that whatever car we purchased should be able to accommodate 2 kids on road trips (for those frequent visits to see the out-of-town family), and that it should have an impeccable safety record. I absolutely wasn’t up for the minivan thing, especially since we didn’t yet have a second child. Hence, we bought a used 2002 Volvo, which I lovingly referred to as the tank. Seriously, that thing was solid. I always felt incredibly safe when driving it.

Initially, I dug the car. At some point, though, the Volvo wagon started to feel like a mean joke, constantly reminding us of the piece of the dream that was missing. I remember thinking several times during all the miscarriages that we shouldn’t have bought the big car so soon, that it had jinxed us. (Not really, of course, but the mind goes down some crazy rabbit holes when dealing with grief and trauma.) After Frannie died, I really started to hate the car. Whether I’d fully realized it or not, that car had come to represent the dream – the dream of our family with two little girls giggling, or even bickering, in the backseat.

You’d think I’d have said my final goodbyes to that dream months ago. And I have, mostly. But it turns out that there are still tiny remnants of it hiding in places I wasn’t aware of. And one of those places was my behemoth of a car. Maybe it’s because October makes me melancholy anyway. Maybe it’s because Ellie has lost 2 teeth in the last week, and I’m freaked out by how fast it’s all going. Maybe it’s because every day I look around me and see people sailing through pregnancies and deliveries, and I feel utterly alienated and alone. Maybe it’s all of these things. Or maybe it’s simply that I’ll never stop missing my Frannie, and my heart needs only the smallest excuse to feel heavy. In any case, when the nice couple and their four children pulled away with my Volvo wagon, I wept. Letting that car go felt like letting the dream go….again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Walking through the Fire Together

I haven't been able to write for awhile. In the beginning, the words coming out of me seemed like a way to release toxins. After some time had passed, the things I wrote felt either too dark or too sacred to share, so I continued to write, but never posted. Then came a different phase, during which writing felt like picking away at wounds that were trying desperately to heal, or at least to stabilize to keep from blowing open at an inopportune moment. Now I can feel myself entering yet another new phase, one that I don't yet fully understand.

I hope to begin writing more regularly again, but today I simply want to express my deep gratitude for Matt. Nine years ago today, we were married. On that happy day, neither of us had any idea what we were in for...the fire that we'd have to walk through together.

I dedicated my dissertation to Matt, with these words, "For Matt, who remains the best decision I've ever made." Over and over again during these last 11 months, I've reflected on that statement, and marveled at its persistent truth. His tenacity, his boundless character, and his blink-and-you'll-miss-it humor continue to be integral to my journey of healing. I still frequently feel paralyzed by our loss of Frannie, but I also feel incredibly blessed each day to have Matt as my partner and friend, and as the amazing father to Ellie and Frannie.

I wrote the following passage just days after Frannie died, and today feels like the right time to share it:

When choosing a life partner, most of us don’t really consider the “for worse” part of the vows too much. We might casually check in with ourselves about what “for worse” is likely to mean…money problems, an illness, etc., but truthfully, most of us (myself included) are so in love and happy that we only have room in our minds for the “for better” part of our futures. That’s why one of the (many) feelings with which I’m overwhelmed right now is gratitude for Matt. I did my best to choose wisely, thinking about all the things Matt would bring to our relationship and about what a good parent he’d be, but never once did I consider how he would deal, and help me deal, with the loss of a child. Holding our sweet baby in our arms for hours, knowing that she would soon die, is something we never expected to do. In those hours and days leading up to Friday morning, as our confusion and fear gradually gave way to understanding and acceptance, we held tight to each other and sat with the pain and the messiness together. I’m so glad to have a partner who didn't dispense stupid, trite platitudes to try to make me feel better. I’m so grateful for the depth of connection we shared, even if forged in part by an almost-as-deep pain.

Namaste, y'all.