Monday, March 28, 2011


Sometimes I wonder if my sadness over R's death is outsized.

Tsunamis, bombings, floods.

My neighbor's house burned to the ground last week.

R is dead. No more pain. No more worry. She is as she is. As she will be. Forever.

The first time I heard someone use the word 'tragedy' in reference to my daughter I was surprised. Tragedy? How could that be right? Everyone knows that tragedies happen far away from here in corrugated tin huts with inadequate plumbing.

Tragedy needs a good head of steam. It should start with years of social injustice and oppression that create an unsustainable situation that completely crumbles under the weight of a natural disaster. This was just some bad luck in our otherwise lucky lives. R was just one tiny person.

It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen happen to another human. Her body rotted from the inside out. She died slowly, in pieces, right in front of me and I couldn't do anything to stop it.

Even so, I've only glimpsed the bottom of the pit and I have no interest in getting any closer.


This process is slow and grinding. Some portion of each day is spent shoring up the compartments in my mind, remembering how to get along to go along. I'm pretty proficient. I can have hours of normal conversations and experience genuine interest and engagement with something other than my own thoughts.

I keep it small.

I don't call or email anyone for frivolous reasons. My co-workers probably think I'm chained to my desk.

I don't watch the news. I don't read about important world events.

It seems best to not start things that I won't be able to finish.

I pour my energy into maintaining a socially acceptable exterior and keeping C happy and I just don't have any to spare--not consistently anyway.

I can't tell if it's the sadness or the walling off of the sadness that's more wearing. They feel so integrated now. It might be easier to let it all out and be done with it.


Summer makes me a little manic. Fall and winter are depressing. Despite my pollen allergies, I think spring might be my favorite. Springtime is for nostalgia.

I'm not exactly ancient but I miss being young and carefree. I want to lounge around in the sunshine and neglect my responsibilities. I want to sip on an iced coffee and get incensed about politics.

I spent the better part of my young adult years in North Carolina and every spring I get this urge to go back there and see if I can find that other version of myself lurking amidst the magnolias and excessive politeness.

But I don't have the time. And we all know that it's impossible to go back.

Instead I've just been scratching my itch by listening to this song and reminiscing about earnestness and banjos.


  1. Certainly lots to ponder in here. But I do believe our babies deaths were tragedies. Not on a grand scale in the big scheme of things, no mass loss of life or destruction of homes and buildings, and the earth didn't shift on it's axis, but tragedies none the less. Our lives were certainly turned upside down and while we can now appear to have some normalcy again now, things will never be the same.
    Love to you all.

  2. You know, I don't disagree. It is a tragedy. It's more that I can't get used to the idea that the word applies to some aspect of my life. I've worked so hard to train it out of myself so that I can function it's like I can't even acknowledge how sad and awful R's death was--how awful all their deaths are.

    Plus, we're all surrounded by people who want to minimize our losses. It's much easier for everyone if tragedy is kept at a distance.

  3. Interesting post. G's death seems to loom in and out of perspective for me. On the one hand, it does seems like an awful tragedy but, on the other, I feel like I am making too much of it. Particularly under the circumstances when her chances of survival were so poor from the very start. And obviously, in other ways, I do have the very lucky life that you describe.

    I'm so sorry that your dear R died in such an awful way. Your poor girl. It is so very sad, to watch a person that you love die bit by bit before your eyes. I don't think that I ever felt so powerless.

    I quite often dream of my own equivalent of North Carolina, I am often in my early 20s in my dreams. It would be nice to go back, if we could.

  4. What Catherine said - On the one hand, it does seems like an awful tragedy but, on the other, I feel like I am making too much of it.


    I'm sorry R is not here with you and I'm sorry she died in the way she did. I really can't imagine having to watch my child go through that and I'm so very sorry you had to do so. Wishing I could make it better somehow. xx