Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crooked Places

If you have spent any time at all in the woods you’ll come across a tree like this one that I found down the hill last weekend. This black birch started growing here years ago, from a seed dispersed by the wind across the snow in midwinter, one of them coming to land and take root.

This tree’s genes tell it to grow, to reach for the light, to put down roots and drink deeply of the nutrients in the soil. Unimpeded by wind or storms, grown in the open with plenty of light, this trees should grow straight and tall.

The life of this tree, though, is inseparable from its experience, its stimuli, and its substrate. Clinging to the boulders, scarred from ice storms, twisted and turned, the shape of the tree tells a life story.

Crooked places mark significant moments. They mark the challenges we face, the strife, the times we have to change direction, to retrench and reexamine.

I have a crooked place, April 3, 2008. My boy caused my growth rings to change; my trunk bent, and my roots had to dig in and hold on.

The trees tell us to wear the scars proudly. Bleed your sap. Heal your wounds. Redouble your efforts to grow to the light despite the droughts, the fire, the insects and the woodpecker holes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sheltered from the Wind

The Farm is at 1,300 feet in an area that has been referred to as the snow belt of Vermont. It sits up high with what must have been a nearly unobstructed and stunning view back in the sheep days of the 1800’s when the forests were cleared and pastures carpeted the land.

Contrary to all good sense, we have been rebuilding the roof this winter. Weather at the Farm has been variously bone-chilling, snowy, rainy, sunny, but the work has progressed thanks to the dedication and skill (and beards) of our carpenters and roofer.

Our carpenter mentioned to me on one particularly frigid and windy day that the house was perfectly protected. Once the sun lazily climbs above the ridge, the house warms up and feels sheltered. As he was performing major surgery on the rafters, he could see down the field that the white pines were being whipped mercilessly by a wind out of the northwest, while he was relatively warm.

I hope to find out who built this house someday, because he (or she, but probably he given the time) picked a damn good place for a house. The cliffs and ridge across the road knock down the weather beautifully. The house sits in the lee of the hill, and is warmed by sun on its south and east facing sides.

And it is amazing – standing in the unheated and uninsulated house several weeks ago, it felt warm – further reason for its survival all these years.

I am starting to feel similarly protected from the cold wind of Baker’s loss. I can still see that the chilling wind of his death swirls around me through the pines, but the sting has softened. I have found shelter in our friends and family. I have taken refuge in the wonderful memories of his life in the womb, and his baby spirit is a bulwark against the storms of sorrow. The sunshine of his life has to overpower the cold of his death.

She gets it

Several times since the ultimate tragedy, Chris and I have come away from an encounter, conversation, or dinner out and said to each other, “he gets it” or “she gets it” or “they get it”. No one who hasn’t lost a child along the way can truly get it, but some special people come very close, so close that I want to throw my arms around them with gratitude. Is that what empathy is? The ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, even when the shoes are “the worst thing that could happen”? I had another of these moments when I opened an email this morning. It came from a friend who is full and pregnant and due in the spring, one year from the spring of my great loss. She wrote to warn me that an invitation to her shower will be arriving in the mail. She’s been this way from the beginning of my after, not afraid to call just days after Baker died and not afraid to meet me head on with her own coming babe, acknowledging the weirdness of this dance. It’s funny…just the fact that she recognizes that a baby shower could be difficult for me makes me want to maybe possibly attend. I may sit quietly in the back, but I think I’d like to be there for her.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spring flowers

Lilacs, white roses, and potted hydrangeas filled the front of the church in April. So many flowers for such a little boy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Making it bearable

Some of the ways we made it through:
  • We placed a small Christmas tree at Baker's grave.
  • Several family members donated children's books to our local library in Baker's name. Others donated to the March of Dimes and World Vision in his memory.
  • My mother donated baby boy clothing to a needy family that her coworkers "adopted" for Christmas.
  • My parents donated a poinsettia for the Christmas Eve service, and Baker's name was in the program.
  • Chris and I donated a truck for a one-year old to Toys for Tots.
  • We designed glass-etched ornaments with his name, birth date, weight, and footprints and gave them to family members for their own trees.
  • Baker's ornaments, which included a baby's first Christmas bootie, were the first to go on our tree.