Saturday, June 27, 2009


I miss the quiet.

Rather, I miss enjoying the quiet.

I've always loved quiet, early morning cups of coffee, or sitting along at the pool and daydreaming, or watching a fire crackle.

It's always been great thinking time for me, I could turn off my conscious thoughts enought to let my mind wander to less trodden paths, get new ideas, remember old ones.

Now my mind wanders about as well as a dog with a next door bitch in heat.

Sometimes I remember good things, happy things about him, that make me smile. They still hurt though, and I can only do it for so long before the mood of the memory shifts to pain and grief. More often my mind replays painful memories, the bad times in the hospital, the times I regret how I responded to him, the early signs of his illness. And very often his death. The last 60 seconds of his life. It was a quiet and peaceful death, overall, but such a traumatic memory for me.

Sometimes when I'm feeling strong I'll replay it over and over in my mind, hoping that my brain just needs to get through it a certain number of times before it can let it go, but so far it hasn't worked.

What used to be a solace is now a problem for me. I really can't be in the quiet very long. I think this is a big reason of why work has been so enjoyable to me lately...for the most part I'm too busy to dwell on anything. Fortunately, my work setup is such that I can't work more than my regularly scheduled hours, so a pathologic escapism is not an option for me, but geez do I see how some people do that.

I feel like I no longer plan ahead, dream of the future, like trips, projects, life changes. Maybe that's because of the grief, or our family's recent life where we couldn't plan more than 24 hours ahead for anything. I don't feel like I'm coasting, but I'm definitely just riding in the old ruts, not really looking around much.

But I wonder too if it's because I can't just be anymore.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Her too

She sat on the exam table and expressed her condolences. I forgot till she started talking that she had lost a son, too.

It's been 5 years for her. He was an adult, but just barely.

"It's been 4 months today," I said, and started to cry.

She said she was sorry to tell me that it gets worse before it gets better. The third year was really hard for her. As much as that sucks eggs, I'm glad she told me. Talking to someone who has lived through this is like talking to a don't have to explain yourself, or backtrack, or sidestep. She just gets it.

She said, "My mom told me I had to make a choice: crawl in a hole or keep going."

She's right.

I'm doing ok with the keep going part. She's not the first person to tell me that it will get worse. Everyone navigates this differently, but I suspect they are right.

So I'll keep going.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Baby Blue

Once again, geeking out on Dave. The summer tour is in full swing, and I'll get to see the band play in about a month. It's easy to geek out on a guy who is not only a fabulous musician, but as a friend recently noted, somehow is super yummy even though he always looks like he just finished mowing the lawn.

The Dave Matthews Band has a new album, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King. There's some really good stuff on it, check out Seven and Why I Am for my favorites.

I so often find a piece of his songs that speak to me, that relate so much to me or my life. The mark of a great artist, to touch many people in many ways.

This one is not just a little uncanny. I can almost believe it was written for me.

Baby Blue
Confess, your kiss still knocks me off my legs.
The first time I saw you was like a punch right through my chest.
And I will forever, ‘cause you’ll forever be,
My one true broken heart, pieces inside of me and you forever,
My baby.

You will rest your head, your strength once saving.
And when you wake, you will fly away,
Holding tight to the legs of all your angels.
Goodbye, my love, into your blue, blue eyes.
Your blue, blue world.
You're my baby, blue.

Confess, I'm not quite ready to be left.
Still I know I gave my level best.
You give, you give, to this I can attest,
You made me, you made me,
You and me forever, baby.

You will rest your head, your strength once saving.
And when you wake, you will fly away,
Holding tight to the legs of all your angels.
Goodbye, my love, into your blue, blue eyes.
In your blue, blue world.
You and me forever.

Dave, man, if you ever read this, thanks for your music.

Oh, and call me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sugar Snaps

Since we moved to our new house I've had a small veggie garden. The kids have always loved it. I now champion gardens as as great way to get kids to eat more veggies; things from the garden are either more interesting or more palatable to them for some reason. Mine would at least always try what we grew, and often ate most of it. Even the brussel sprouts.

Henry loved the sugar snap peas. When he was three he loved to pick them and eat them in the garden. Last year he was very close to his stem cell when they were ready for harvest and he wasn't allowed any fresh fruits or veggies due to his immunosuppression. He would dutifully pick them for me to eat, and seemed to enjoy it almost as much that way. But when he was again allowed to eat fresh produce, they were no longer bearing. All winter long he asked when the sugar snap peas would grow again. He even got some green stuffed animal as a prize and named it "Sugar Snap". I don't even remember what it was.

The frozen ones from the store didn't cut it. I'm not sure he would have eaten fresh ones anyway, his relapse and the meds he took clearly altered his tastes. But he wanted them.

I planted them again this year. They came up poorly, reluctantly, scarcely half of what came up last year. They are bearing now. Last week we picked a bowl, they sat on the counter till they were limp and inedible. I'm not sure when or why the kids lost their taste for them, but it appears they did. I wanted to want them, but couldn't.

This week we picked more, and yesterday I forced one down. It was delicious, as all fresh from the garden sugar snap peas are. So I enjoyed the rest, a bigger step than it seems. I think it was a good thing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My belly button

My poor readers, I abuse you so. I'm not certain why you're still along for my constant self-absorbed navalgazing, but I guess you get something out of this blog. I'm feeling quite guilty when I look back on my last several posts. They don't reflect very well my state of mind, overall. Unfortunately, my urge to write is wrapped up in looking for a catharsis for my grief. Hey, whatever works. But to look at the blog I should be close to slitting my wrists, and I'm far from that.

Overall I feel really, really good about my life. The grief continues to come in waves, and the days that I spend constantly biting my tongue so as not to cry are the days that I have to get it out, to come up with yet another metaphor for my grief. So through the emotional muck I drag you. It's not really fair of me.

The Smak family had a great weekend. A weekend trip, we revisited old roots, and got reacquainted with some old friends, going back to the town where we lived for eight years before relocating to get back closer to family. It was heartwarming in so many ways; definitely some good new memories. I didn't think of Henry as often as usual, which was ok with me. I was able to talk a lot about him without it hurting, again welcome. It was strange to see our old next door neighbor on her porch, we stopped the car when driving by the old house to say hi. The girls were put through the obligatory "My how you've grown" and I realized she had no idea that we had birthed and lost another child in the interim. Part of me wanted to mention him, but of course that wouldn't have been fair to her.

It was a whole part of our lives as a family that he was never a part of, and never will be. And I want that to be ok, because there's a lot more to come that will fall into the same category.

Anyway, readers, I'm pretty good. Not great, but good most days. I figured that I'd throw you a bone.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Sister Smak told me that when Henry died a piece of me would die with him.

I honestly didn't know if she was right. I didn't know what to expect.

She was close. It's more like a permanent injury, a cut that won't heal. I'm slowly bleeding, every minute.

Distraction helps. I can't staunch the flow, and I don't try to. I'm aware my compulsive knitting is a coping mechanism. It seems benign enough. Strangely enough I'm enjoying running, again a distraction. Whenever I sit, quiet, without distraction, I feel it, hear it, watch it bleed.

It makes me feel vulnerable. I feel wounded, weaker, and afraid that another hit might make me falter. Proactively (compulsively?) I'm trying to be very careful with myself, my family, my life. Seems a reasonable way to cope.

Right now I'm keeping up with the bleed. Taking my theoretical iron. I remember seeing a man in my 2nd year of medical school with an H/H of 1 and 4 respectively. White as a sheet is an apt descriptive term. He had a slow bleed, so slow he hadn't noticed.

Is that me?

Monday, June 1, 2009


You are everywhere.

Every firetruck I pass is yours.

The sugar snap peas in the garden grow for you, I can't eat them.

When I lie in your bed by myself and cry, I can almost feel you next to me.

You're in the tub with your big sister, but she can't see you.

The birds eat your birdseed, and I fill it for you.

Every boy on the street on his bike is you.

Oswald plays for you on tv, waiting for you to watch.

The flower named for you blooms on the trellis, last year you held it.

Your locker across from mine, holds your shoes, hats, coat.

You are everywhere, but here.