Monday, July 30, 2012


A spider has moved into the side mirror of our microvan.  We first noticed her in early July when we were back from a long weekend in Kentucky.  The car hadn't moved for a 5 days and I guess it seemed like a decent spot for a web.  She's a smallish spider and we didn't really notice her until the car was moving and she was struggling to climb to the relative safety of the side mirror casing.  "Tough break," I thought, as T slowed the car to give her a chance to get settled, "Guess she's going to have to move."

Two weeks later, speeding northwest on the NJ turnpike on my way back from the annual, family vacation, my mom noticed that the spider was still there--after 500 miles, a week of salt air, and one trip to the garage for tire rotation.  Still there, whipping around on the end of a thread while trying to repair her wind-ravaged web.


My boss is encouraging me to apply for a developmental work assignment.  I told him that I'd think about it but that I felt like my plate was pretty full at the moment because I'd just volunteered to coach C's soccer team and needed to manage my workload.  And then his face scrunched up in that way that indicates confusion.  

There's no point in trying to explain it, is there?

You either understand how much effort it can take to just stay even or you don't.

It feels like a cheat because I talk about acceptance...a lot.  Maybe too much for some who are struggling to get their feet back.  Sometimes I wonder if my acceptance is even like anyone else's.  Is a dead baby and a living baby at the same time really that big of a pill to swallow?  How does 12 days of life stack up against a baby who never took a breath?  What if dying was probably the best thing that ever happened to R?  

And what about all of the other trials that life can throw at people?  Do I really understand anything at all?  I took a pretty intense series of kicks and punches from fate but I had a deep well of support and good fortune to help me recover.  Do I have the right to even use the word acceptance?

Have I really made it if I'm just standing in the shallow end, shoulders hunched, soft parts covered, neglecting personal growth and forward movement while I wait to fend off the next blow?


I don't really think that there's a right way or a wrong way to proceed after your baby dies.  I'm not even sure that I believe that you must proceed, depending on the circumstances.  The whole my-baby-died-and-I-became-a-villain or the baby-made-of-hope-that-grew-in-the-garden movie plot seems perfectly reasonable and inoffensive to me. Because, my baby died and, sure enough, I went a little nuts for a little while.  Maybe not steal-the-neighbors-baby or hijack-happy-person's-life nuts but, close enough that I could see the gates to those lifestyles on the horizon.  I'm sure that there are countless other things that could happen that might drive me around the bend.  There's no point in judging a thing that I can't understand.

A lot of beauty exists in the place where I used to feel R's absence but there are still dark corners full of details about her life and her death that I can't forget.  I  keep them at bay through constant vigilance.  Vigilance takes time that, naturally, I'd rather spend doing other things but then the whole house would collapse and, dang it, I just finished painting the rec room.


Not that I can even begin to understand the criteria that spiders apply to web location decisions or relate to them in any way at all given their over-supply of scuttling legs and weird, shiny eyes and the way they bite you on the pinky finger and make it swell to twice its natural size.  It seems like this spider is either extremely brave or stupid or unlucky or some combination of the three.

It's been about a month now.  Yesterday the spider dined on a tiny moth while we drove to the hardware store. T declared her to be the Evel Knievel of spiders and wondered if she has some sort of genetic anomaly that makes her more of a thrill-seeker or if she got tired of her humdrum life and decided to step out to the ledge.

Or maybe she's completely unaware that there are places to build webs that don't hurtle across the landscape at 80+ mph.

Or maybe she's unhappy with the situation but striving to make the most of it.

"I used to have a web in a quiet corner of the garage," she says to the tiny moth as she binds it down with sticky fibers, "You should have seen me back then, eating moths thrice your size."

The moth doesn't reply.  They never do once she's paralyzed them with venom.

"Bloom where you're planted.  Isn't that what they say?" says the spider, bracing herself as the car makes a left turn.

The moth has given up now. The spider feels a momentary pang of regret, having known struggle herself ever since she got stuck on the side of this car.  She sinks her fangs into the still form and drains it, surprised and somewhat happy to find that it's just as delicious as the moths of her golden years. She wishes that she'd been able to tell the moth how delicious it tasted and briefly wonders if there might be a way to eat moths without actually killing them.  But then she remembers that she's just a spider.  Even here, performing amazing acrobatics while stuck on the side of a car in a twist of bad luck, she's just a spider.


  1. Ha. We were talking about Charlotte at dinner tonight. My children don't talk much about loss but they know, when we talk about that story, that it is a bit about making the best of what you find yourself with.

    I wish they didn't, but I can see that they do.

    Tonight, for the first time, I watched video of Freddie. I have 4 tiny snippets of him awake, tiny pieces of him at 9 days, 2 days before he died. And looking, I felt all new things. At 9 days he was weary, far too weary fora boy ho had slept for 9 days, but he was trying. He knew me. He had a spark of life in his eyes. And then he went.

    I don't know either. Better or worse? I let him go because I thought it was better for him if he died. Now I see him, with my living boy in my arms and I wonder if that's park was telling me to hold on. I just have no idea.

    1. We didn't really have much of a choice with R at the end. I suppose that was a lucky thing in a way, "what if" died right along with her. But the fight she put up was impressive and has stayed with me--how we want to live even when it makes no sense at all. I can't tell if it's inspiring or depressing but, I suppose I'm still glad that they were both here--my R and your Freddie.

  2. I often wonder if Hope being stillborn was an actual blessing. Because you know, if she made it out a few hours earlier and lived, it is highly likely she would have died at some point soon after birth, the infection was that severe. And is that what I really wanted? I know I wish like a crazy person I got to see her alive, but at what cost. I don't know. There is no answer, so don't try and answer it.
    Great thinking blogger's post, as always.

    1. It's the curse and blessing of hindsight, isn't it. I'm absolutely sure that R would have been better off if she had never taken a breath but I only know because she took one. If she'd been stillborn I'd still be consumed with doubt and questions. Remembering your girl this August and celebrating a year with your other girl. sending strength as you figure it all out.

  3. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

    {EB White}


    "Bloom where you're planted. Isn't that what they say?" says the spider, bracing herself as the car makes a left turn.

    Dang it, I just finished painting the rec room,


  4. I love this post. Your spider reminiscing about the moths thrice the size of her current prey.

    After Jessica came home, the shrink said I had hyper-vigilance. I don't think I ever stopped. Because there are some events that I would prefer not to remember and the not-remembering means I have to push them away. Which takes energy and effort. But despite not even having a rec room, let alone a freshly painted one, I don't want my house to fall down.

    I have a horrible suspicion that dying was, in fact, the best thing that ever happened to Georgina. I wish it wasn't so. But her life was such a terrible struggle. My poor dear half-dead baby girl. I felt very deeply at peace as she was dying and immediately afterwards. I hope that means that it was right, that it was the right time to give up.

    I wonder, I wonder if it just self pity that keeps me here. Because it can't be that bad can it? Really? When I try and compare it to other situations I feel ashamed of myself and my wailing and whining. But it's Georgina I feel sorry for the most. Because a tiny little life where the end of it is the highlight? Damnit.

    1. So many questions, so many doubts, and just as many ways to cope. At the end of the day, it probably doesn't really matter what path you choose because they're all sort of crappy but that's a heavy weight to carry around for the rest of your life, isn't it?

      Just for the record, I do think it's extraordinarily bad and that there's nothing wrong with the way your dealing but, that's just cold comfort.

  5. I am always so amazed at your ability to tie all these pieces together in a way I could never imagine possible.

    Charlotte will always be one of my favorite literary characters. Awfully wise, that spider.

    I try to stay out of my dark corners but sometimes they just peek out too far and there I am, boom.

  6. Oh yes, the gates to the crazy were clearly visible and sometimes rather close at some points after Micah died. I could totally see how some people might have just jumped right on off into the deep end. Had I not had a supportive hubby and best friend I might have jumped off myself.