You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2009.

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For that last ditch effort, this green coat can surround your ever-increasing form with a cloth-covered cloud of mystery. We recommend a slight leaning-forward posture to maximize the cloak’s effectiveness. And though June may be approaching, keep in mind coats can still be worn throughout the summer months in the cool, rainy climes of the Lowlands.

The mystery unveiled…

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And cousin to the Cloak of Mystery, for those many, many rainy Lowland days (or even if you want to pretend to just be prepared), we also present the Multi-Coloured Cape of Last Resort:

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And here’s what virtually no other wardrobe devices, save a shower curtain, could possibly hide at this point…

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Early in 2008, I wrote a letter to my unborn child. I had grand schemes… I searched for the best archival, acid-free paper I could find. I looked for the best pen with the best ink that would last. I made a mental list of the people I know who might have a laminator, so I could encase the envelope in plastic and wait 20 years for it to be read.

I thought it would blow this young person’s mind to read a letter from his/her super lame dad. The dork they’ve been hating and torturing for years because of his stupid theories and terrible jokes. And then he/she would get this letter, and read it, and feel like they knew me a bit better. That dad used to be a pretty cool guy, full of funny things mixed with meaningful insights into the human experience. And then my child would respect me a little bit, for just a moment, in 2028.

That’s when I really fell in love with this miraculous mystery person… this little being that would become a full-blown person, hopefully better than me in ways that would surprise and dismay me. I was in love with this little/big person, and I was ready to become a father.

Then she died, and then she was born, and this letter was still sitting in my sock drawer. It was proof: that I was ready, that she was wanted. That I didn’t deserve this loss, that she should have lived. I wanted to wave it in people’s faces… “look, look, this was for 2028. I had it all loosely planned out! I did my homework at being a good dad! I’m thoughtful, I’m caring, I’m sentimental! I don’t deserve this, I’m one of the good ones.”

So along with a photo of her parents from their wedding, and a few blankets, we sent our daughter off to be burned with this letter. God, I wish I could read it one more time. To read it through her eyes (like I tried to do when I finished it, before sealing it in an envelope) and imagine her still there, in 2028, college educating, terrorizing or being terrorized by boys (or girls), sweet or salty, brilliant or normal, beautiful or plain. Every possibility of her being I would love… and still do… as she lives, imagined, in the future. A little girl who called me dad, who thought I was lame, who read a letter from me that I wrote to her before she was. God, I wish I could read it again through her imagined, living, eyes.

Now we’re a few months away from another little person. I have a hard time thinking I could write anything to this next child. Do I want him or her to ever know how I feel right now? Is there any nobility left in such communication? Is there room in the 2029 in my head for this little person?

This slightly complicated story can illustrate. I’m at work, I work with words sometimes and it means editing. And sometimes that’s a collaborative effort.

me: Sorry for all my changes, I just think this text could be a little less… loquacious.

co-worker 1: You know, every single person who has ever used the word loquacious in talking with me has been very loquacious themselves…

co-worker 2: …but, I don’t think team d is that way at all. In fact, I think he’s very…

co-worker 1: Exactly. I was saying, you’re the first person I’ve heard use the word loquacious without being it themselves…

How did this happen? At my high school graduation, I was publicly referred to as ‘not quiet’. Ask melka, I spend the morning after every night out replaying, and dreading, all the stupid things I said the night before… all the times I shared too much, thought I was too smart, interupted people… it’s a hangover of verbal dimensions. So how did this happen?

Well, we know the short answer. The expected, easy way to describe it is to say it is from being split open. The times when I am most silent, when I should have words but don’t. They come more and more often now.

When she cries, she drops her hands into her lap, or onto the bed. And then she lifts her hand back up to her head, to her face, and then lets it fall, again, down. Usually one hand at a time, sometime alternating, usually the same one. The other clutches a tissue. Up, down, with a delicate thud.

And it’s like a shovel splintering into my chest. Like when you’re starting a dig, you slam the spade in, wiggle it back and forth, up… and down. A soft thud. Splitting me

But that’s the first way I would describe what’s happening to me. A violent and quick description. But on review, it’s more like… like fingers pushing into my eyes. The dark, and then the bright light, then the flashing colors – orange, yellow, flashing black. Then, the heat, and the sweeping dark. Like a hand over my forehead, fingers reaching down and digging into my eyes, a claw pushing in my skull. Just like her skull was pushed in when she was born, when she was dead.

I’ve been reading poetry lately, T.S. Eliot, it’s hard and I used to love it. But now it leaves me cold, like it is what it is – not timeless beauty, but one man writing stuff a while ago. But it’s also been shocking to be reminded of language, and how it has ceased to float in my brain. The way metaphors are surprises, how literal my thoughts have become. Maybe it’s the approach of middle age, maybe it’s the loss, and of course it’s this claw.

I don’t think in language any more, I don’t revel in words. I just want everyone to shut up much of the time, and I’m miserable in the silence.

At the airport today, seeing D off for a weeklong conference, we took the escalator up past an art installation,  a thin, spindly tower with words and letters scrolling down it, neon-lit.

The sentence that inched down as we went up:

The desire to reproduce is a death wish.

I’m trying hard not to take it as a bad, er sign.

There have been some amendments to this scheme of mine. Newly recruited partners in crime (I’ve let two friends in on it). Strangers, the anonymous unknowingly in-the-know (outside of work, away from co-workers, I’ve taken to brazenly treating my body to clothes that actually fit when I’m wandering out-of-home on weekends and evenings). And there’s one colleague who just revealed she knows – says she knew 2 months ago that I’ve been “carrying stolen goods.” She knows – knows what this is like, having lost a child, having faced this crazy-making mix of hope and terror that is a subsequent pregnancy. I don’t mind her knowing.

I could blame some broken threads in my web of deception on that spell of warm spring weather we had a week or so ago, me red-cheeked and sweating stubbornly in my office, fleece hoodie (AKA the Blue Shadow) securly zipped, windows wide open in hope of a balancing breeze. That may have aroused suspicion.

Being bizarrely struck with chicken pox didn’t help, either. Because of the Lowland rulebook on employment benefits, where I fall into all of that and how it’s all structured, I’ve had to let certain authorities know about my situation in order to plan for a maternity leave and benefits – but the actual boss I work directly for doesn’t need to know any of this, and so he’s been among the duped. Until I went spotty and red and feverish and wheezy. Then I had to explain details about my recent absence from work, why I was in hospital, why the situation was so serious and weighted and scary. Why I’ll need to take it easy for the ever-dwindling remainder of my time before my leave begins. He took it well, he gets it. Assured me the secret’s safe with him.

But I’m less and less sure how safe this secret can stay with me. I’m not sure of the safety of keeping this secret at all, of what I’m gaining, what I’m losing in all this deception.

I have to admit, it felt good to find my friends – my new partners in crime – completely flabbergasted when I unzipped and revealed the secret, showed the secret mirrored panel hidden inside the magician’s box. The Deception really has been working. But I’m also glad to have their support now, glad to meet them for meals in public and not worry I’m raising eyebrows when I decline the glass of wine, when I allow myself to take off my coat and enjoy rare warm weather, share with them in the sun. Glad that if there’s another scare that has me running to the emergency room, I could ask them to come along; to keep me company if I need to stay awhile.

And it’s not so hard to be publicly pregnant in the Lowlands. It’s a very mind-your-own business kind of culture – no strange hands grasping to touch the belly, no seats offered on crowded public buses either. For the most part no one’s engaging with my swelling form without invitation. And if the dreaded questions do get asked – the is this your first? how many? – most meet the answers head on, not warm, but unblinking and unafraid. Acknowledgement of tragedy, practical and matter-of-fact.

It’s the questions and the assumptions of others in my life I’m still scared of, still not ready to handle. I can’t let grief go, can’t release it into the air like an impatient, oversized balloon, just because there’s hope for another chance at motherhood – I know that’s what my family wants, and my friends with newborns I can’t envision ever meeting. I can’t assume or imagine a happy outcome this time, either. I’m walking, step by step, through pregnancy as I know it – one that ends with wrenching, unrequited want and ashes and a deflated postpartum body, empty of hope and understanding. It’s muscle memory, embedded knowledge that I can’t extract. Everyone else’s stories, their own met expectations just seem like my fiction.

And yet, I should probably tell them, my family overseas. Even if it hurts that my parents didn’t acknowledge Malina’s anniversary, no note, no call, nothing. I should probably tell them, give them some warning.

But I just keep feeling, whatever the outcome, that either way they can’t support me – they’re good, loving people but in these things mute, afraid. And the thought of an invitation to be a part of this, sitting undeciphered and dusty or worse, unread and unopened on a back shelf in my parent’s home, is just too painful to think of. Moreso than the loneliness of experiencing all this without them.

I’m still not sure when I’ll tell them. For now I’m holding the secret half in, half out of shadows, praying light doesn’t make it wither to nothing, praying it doesn’t drown in the dark.

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Perfect for the pregnant-in-hiding, this generously cut fleecy hoodie makes even the slimmest of women look warm, broad and bulky. In this cozy number, companions will have no idea what your figure’s been up to lately.

Ideal for those dress-down days – makes every day a Casual Friday.

Effective even in the pregnant-in-hiding’s 3rd trimystery when in the company of the particularly unobservant.

Here’s what’s lurking in the darkness of the Shadow…

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…and completely gutted. Something about 4 days in isolation really took it out of melka. And me. But the up shot for now is that the pneumonia is not coming, and the spots have stopped developing. Now, for some healing.

We missed our Last Vacation for a While… five days in the smoke, for which we had been planning and pining a long time. That might mean, at first glance, that we’re stuck here in the lowlands until the birth. That’s a daunting proposition.

Sure, we could run out for the weekend. But with the way things are going, it always seems like a risk to be away from the hospital. Travel is one of our few friends here, and without it, those 4 days in isolation seem familiar.