LindseyMommy's Blog

My Life in the Sandbox

Forever August 2, 2010

Filed under: Ava — lindseymommy @ 1:47 pm

Yesterday I watched a friend of mine experience what every parent’s nightmares are made of: the wake of his young daughter.

It was an hour of waiting outside of the funeral home in the sunshine, and then an hour winding around the rooms inside, to get to the family. Once you were inside, there were posters full of pictures, like at any wake, except these pictures were full of baby girls and little girls, adolescent girls and teenaged girls.

In the deceased girl’s face, in every picture, I saw my daughter. Baby. Little girl with braids in princess gown and crown. Chubby little fingers. Chubby little cheeks. Hugs with mommy and daddy. Sesame Place. Disney world. Beach. Hours of video playing while we crept toward our turn to greet the family. As a mother, you kn ow what it feels like to hold that little baby on your hip. You know how it feels to bring her to these places, and how precious those memories are. You know how it feels to watch them grow into their own person.

The casket was closed, and I am so thankful for that. For the family more than anything. I don’t think they could have handled it.

I went home, after hours and hours of sadness. I held my little girl to my chest, stroked her chubby cheeks, grasped her chubby little fingers, both of which have thinned out almost unrecognizably in recent months, and I said a little prayer of thanks. I felt her warmth against me, knowing my friend couldn’t do this with his daughter, but I could. And I didn’t want to waste another moment of loving her.

You hear it, all the time. Each day is a gift. In the doldrums of the day to day routines and fights and battles to mold this small person, you lose that perspective so easily. It’s a burden, sometimes, to wipe that little nose, or hold her close as she has yet another dramafest for her 6th insignificant boo boo of the afternoon. As she mocks you or tells you no, or loses your ring, or any number of the things that these small people do. It’s so easy to forget that these people are gifts to us. And these times, even though they can be the toughest, are still such a blessing. Because they are who they are. And they are there, and you can hear their voice and hold their bodies close, and tell them how much you love them. What if you couldn’t?

By the grace of God or this universe, or by pure luck, I pray I will get to see my daughter grow up. Keep shooting up taller every month and watch her body grow and change and experience her as she learns more and more about this life and the world around her. The good, bad, ugly. I want to be with her as she gets ready for prom, and her wedding (if she has one). I want to be by her side and watch her live her life. To be an adult and find her happiness. To have guided her all along.

So selfishly, I think. I want to never suffer as my friend is suffering today. I don’t ever want to know another day without my daughter.

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Kendra July 20, 2010

Filed under: Ava — lindseymommy @ 12:46 pm

 

I wrote this last year.  It’s time to share it.

 

When Kendra was sick, she used to say “When this is over, I want another baby. A girl. A ‘new life’ baby.” I thought it was funny that she’d want another little person, already having three small, loud, demanding little ones. But I would laugh and dare to hope, as she did, that she would be well, and we’d welcome that new life baby and enjoy the heck out of her and celebrate. (And live happily ever after, the end.)

Five years ago right now I was packing to move into my OWN condo. I was happy to be on my own and so excited to be back down the street from her. I couldn’t wait for her to help me shop and decorate. To have coffee together and to play with the kids. Five years ago right now she was safely in between treatments. Packing for a trip to Disney World with her husband Brian and the kids. About to buy her first big beautiful house which she had waited a lifetime to do. About to celebrate her oldest daughter’s 12th birthday. Her little boy also – about to be six. It would also be just over a month away from the second anniversary of her diagnosis – of her beginning of her fight with Stage Four Lung Cancer.

I was there the day she got the phone call, the results of the biopsy. I will never forget being there that day, as she called the kids into the living room, and I asked if she wanted me to leave, and she said no. I was there when she told her children that she was sick.

I was a little less than there physically, but always in heart, while she endured chemo treatments and radiation. As she lost her hair, bought a wig, she was too fatigued to spend much time off the couch. The battle for her life waxed and waned and she prepared all of us, she wrote letters, she told us of her love for us, she prepared journals and albums. She remained optimistic, throughout. She held on to hope, never wanting to face the reality of leaving her children. She never let me consider that she wasn’t going to get well. The only time we spoke of the possibility that she wouldn’t , she was candid – “Andrew will be okay -though it breaks my heart that he will barely remember me. Brian will move on, he’ll be okay too. Kaleigh will do just fine, she’ll be sad right away but she will bounce back and live her life. I only worry about Lindsey. She will take it the hardest and I wish I knew that she will be okay.”

April 30, 2004. I moved into my condo. Mom and I were in the kitchen, putting things away, and I will never forget when she casually mentioned, “Brian called. Kendra went in the hospital today. This time, she won’t be leaving.” I do not remember anything after that.

I do remember it was a Friday. And I had taken the following Monday off because of the move. I remember her sister calling me to ask me to babysit over the next few days. I don’t remember talking to Brian. I remember the Sunday, May 2, crying with mom in the car on the way to and from the hospital. They wouldn’t even let us in to see her but I could hear her in the hallway and I nearly died myself – hearing the moaning and the crying and the pain. I remember Jen’s tired calm. I remember Brian’s frazzled, tired, not calm. I remember leaving thinking – I am not even going to get to say goodbye to my dear, dear friend.

I remember Monday, watching Andrew all day, my heart breaking over and over – or just broken already and raw. Knowing what was happening, how his life was about to change forever, and knowing where she was and what she was enduring. For her, I suffered. For them, for those children, I wanted to die right along with her. And I knew that that was why she loved me as much as she did – because of how much I loved her children. It was Andrew’s voice Monday, Andrew who said “Come visit mommy with me tonight, Big Lindsey! You should come and see Mommy.”

Monday night, I asked a friend to take me – I made Brian promise me I’d get to see her. We got to the hospital, between 6 and 6:30 and her immediately family wasn’t there – they were downstairs in the cafeteria eating dinner. Aunts and uncles were upstairs and they knew me and welcomed me and I got to go to her. I crossed the room alone to her. I don’t remember if I touched her or not. But I remember her face – it wasn’t her. Almost as soon as I saw her, those few painful, awkward, excruciating moments of knowing that her body was there, but her soul would not be for much longer – the nurses came in and ushered us out. I was in the hallway, knowing I would never hear my friend’s voice again, or feel her hug, or look in her eyes. And within a minute a nurse rushed out and said “It’s time to get the family. They are downstairs eating. Not the kids, don’t bring the kids back up.” And I was off. Racing down to the cafeteria. Finding her mom. Patting her on the shoulder – them very loudly wondering “Who will stay with the kids?” I volunteered. I didn’t feel it was my place to be there when she left us. I felt like being with the children would be where she’d want me. So, I sat. Talked to the kids. Watched them finish their dinners. My head was everywhere but in the present with them. I was seeing their future. I was seeing their past. I was grieving for her. For them. For myself.

It was an eternity and a moment that they were gone. And then they were back. And I rushed to her mom, and she said, “She’s gone.” And I couldn’t say anything but “No!” as the hot tears that I’d held all night while trying to be there for her children came down. Her leaving, it was inevitable. There wouldn’t have been any other outcome that day. But the finality – it was still a shock and it still hurt so much. Donna, Kendra’s mother hugged me quickly – sobbing- then gathered the kids – “Mommy’s gone.” Their faces. I’ll never forget, especially Lindsey’s face. We got in the elevator all together. My friend and I got off at the parking level. They continued up to ” Say goodbye to Mommy.” It was not my place to go with them, and I had nothing left in me to walk back in that room with. The car clock said “7:21”.

And my life has never been the same.

Three months later, I was pregnant. My heart ached for missing my friend and for not sharing this time with her. For not having her to turn to. The mother “role model” in my life – gone. I didn’t know what to do without her and every step along the way hurt without her there to share it. I’d hear myself saying things to my daughter, certain words, certain tones, and my heart would skip – it was pieces of her in me, coming out in my mothering. In those moments, I’d be so happy and sad, all at once. I wonder every day what she would think of me now. I imagine what we’d discuss if she was only a phone call away. I dream about her all the time, and in my dreams she’s alive, and it was just a mistake that I had thought that she’d died, we still had more time together. I wake from these dreams with a sadness that is not easy to shake.

Five years and one month after my friend died, I sat on Donna’s porch, between the two girls, Kaleigh 17, Lindsey 14, grown up. Teenagers. Mature bodies, mature young women. Not children anymore. Grown into strong, beautiful women. I look from one side to the other and I cannot believe that these little girls survived the hand they were dealt and are sitting, whole and wonderful, at my side. Kaleigh’s face, it’s like seeing Kendra again. Lindsey’s smile is so geniune and I remember the little girl she was. Andrew, across the room, has his dad’s laugh, but his mom’s freckles. He’s 11. I remember the first time I saw him, held him, two days after he was born. His first steps. How she’d wrap him in his blue blankie and cuddle him when he was sick or tired.

The children are fine. They’ve struggled, they’ve hurt, but they’ve grown despite, into these beautiful people who she would give ANYTHING to see. I would have, in that moment, given anything to have her there with us to see the kids, all grown, all fine. She would be so proud. My heart was so full of pride and sadness and happiness it nearly burst.

And there was my daughter, four, Andrew’s age when Kendra was sick, with curly hair and a profile so stunningly similar to little Lindsey’s, playing between all of us, making us laugh and reminding us how life goes on. My baby who Kendra never held but I believe hand picked and sent straight to me, as her gift. The baby who was meant to teach me to move on, to be happy, to celebrate life. Her “new life” baby.

 

Thursday’s Assignment October 15, 2009

Filed under: Ava — lindseymommy @ 5:58 am

 

My longtime mommy friend Liz at Eternal Lizdom has invited me to participate in a group writing activity this week.  (Liz – did it work? did it work? my first bloggy hyperlink…)

 

The topic: What it Means to Be a Woman

 

I, for one, think this is tricky. What it means to be feminine? That I can write. What it means to be a wife? Same.

 

But a Woman. There are so few limitations here: The only way you can’t be a woman is if you happen to have a penis (and even then, should you be transgendered……… all bets are off.)

 

So then, I decided that I will interview those around me and ask them this question. “To you, what does it mean to be a woman? The first thing that comes to mind?” The answers I got were mostly lists of adjectives: nurturing, sexy, caregiving, multi tasking master, compassionate, strong pain tolerance, graceful. While these characteristics sure do represent aspects of women, they can represent men just as easily, I fear………….. I’d certainly use them if I were describing what feminine means….. They’re gray. My brain works only in black and white and this is a black and white question. Except I don’t really think it has a black and white answer. I’m also very literal. This question, phrased slightly differently – “What does it mean TO YOU to be a woman?” Would be an easy answer. Except that that’s not the question – the question is universal “What does it mean to be feminine” – and I cannot answer universally on this one.

 

So – I have to answer by tweaking the question, and describing MY first real understanding of what it means to be a woman:

 

Motherhood. My first encounter with my Femininity, with my womanhood, was motherhood. To carry life within my own body, to somehow, by some miracle, create a perfectly formed and whole person (with no input from me!). Who is born, miraculously, from the body created to birth it. Who drinks milk created from my very body, just for her.

 

A mother has an instinct, a life force, that is activated when that strip turns blue and multiplies the first time she hears her child’s heartbeat, and again when she sees the child on the ultrasound screen, and even more so when she then holds that child in her arms. Each event multiplies that force within her. A mother must have some semblance of compassion, of empathy, at the very  leaset a modicum of patience. Any of these attributes will grow as the child grows and the need presents itself. Another miracle. A mother understands that the most important thing she can do with her life is prepare her next generation for theirs. To be a mother is to love another more than you love yourself. To KNOW love, even.

 

Becoming a mother, feeling those little feet inside of my body, kick me, miraculously, that was when I understood womanhood. A woman is programmed to have organs that are intended to create, nurture, bring forth life, and then SUSTAIN that life.

 

To me, Womanhood is is best represented, then, by Motherhood.

 

 

Christmas is coming! October 12, 2009

Filed under: Ava — lindseymommy @ 2:36 pm

Not for me, of course. I just had my birthday and engagement party in July, followed by a wedding in September. We received humbling amounts of love in the form of gifts that Santa, quite frankly, doesn’t owe me a damn thing this year.

 

But for my almost-five year old. Who needs NOTHING. Maybe a few more racially diverse barbies. Maybe some update art supplies and nail polish. Maybe some new books. I say this every single year: The child needs nothing. She is so happy to play with the dolls she has, the dress up clothes she has, the books she has, etc. While she goes nuts over every new (replacement) watercolor set I bring home, she really never asks for anything. Ever (except food). It’ll be a bunch of the small things listed above, with some Easy-Bake oven refills and the beautiful oversized purple Tink fleece blanket we already purchased.

 

I’d love to get her something that she’ll go crazy over. Something really special. But not in her lifetime, not for the life of me, have I been able to find that special something.

 

Ideas?