Friday, August 23, 2013

the burden of love.

We watched her die. Five times. She stopped breathing, turned blue and cold. Helpless and yet at peace. And we grieved and cried and screamed. As we watched we tried to memorize every part of her knowing how little time we had left. Her fingers and toes, her tiny hands embraced beneath her chin, her hair, skin and shoulders. We were stuck smack dab in the middle of a feverish nightmare. Watching our little girl slip away from us. And then she gasped and fought and we had her with us for some more time until it happened again.

Winnie was so tired. She tried so hard. We wanted peace for her but selfishly wanted her to keep fighting so we could hold her for a few more days. The hardest lesson we will ever be asked to learn; that what was best for her was not in this life with us. That we would no longer hold her, feed her, watch her grow. The simplest things parents take for granted. We would have none of that.

The pain we feel, the distance this has created within ourselves, between us and the world has come from the burden of love. My empty tummy and arms are painful reminders of what we lost. Our house, stricken with silence and the reminder of her birth. I feel anger and emptiness, my milk spills out before me as a grim reminder of what I have lost. My belly soft from where she once thrived. I look forward to the days when the pain no longer constructs my very being. When the burden of love returns to joy.

emptiness. isolation. grief. memory. anger. pain. not a typical list you might expect when one is thinking of love. but when the source of love is taken away from you, this sort of list barely touches the surface, at least for now while the grief is still so deep.

We are vulnerable in love. Deep, joyous, painful love. The kind that just crushes you with joy. The kind that pins you down and squeezes the breath out of you. Love love love. I couldn't shout loud enough, run far enough, have held her any closer for those few days I had her to express the love I feel for her. I want so much more.

The burden of love is the pain it can cause. But I hold close that I will soon look back not at its burden but the strength it has given me, kindness, compassion. I will forever hold onto the shooting star I saw the night she was born, and again the morning she passed away. That is the kind of love that surrounds and embraces, that will get us through this. Winona, my silent companion for 38 weeks, my breathing, beautiful little girl for five days. You have given us so much and I wouldn't trade in that burden for anything.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

up in my tree

Two weeks and 1 day ago I had a miracle. My daughter, Winona Michele, was born. Since then, I have been perched up in my tree looking down at the past, present and future trying to make sense of what happened and trying to hold onto the miracle that she was.

Little Winnie came into our lives just as quickly as she left. She died in my arms only five days after birth.

From up here in my tree time stands still. The past and future seem like impossible realms of time. I am neither moving forward or backward but beneath me the world keeps turning.

My Winnie kicked and pooped, she farted and sucked. She was beautiful.  She was mine. I touched every part of her, amazed at seeing what had grown within me for the past 38 weeks. But just five days is not enough to leave a significant mark on my memory. Some days I forget and hate myself for it. I never wanted to let her go, but knew that I had to.

So now I hold onto everything she was and could have been, every breath she worked so hard to take. I hold onto her strength and courage and her beating heart that tried so hard. I am so proud of her and proud to be her mom, but I miss her so much.

This post isn't directly about art, but life. And art is life; it tries to make sense of all that is beautiful, ugly, tragic, fleeting. Winnie brought us all of those things. And so, she brought us art. And soon, when I am ready to come down from my tree, I will compose what I can to share with the world all that I saw from up here in my tree and down there with Winnie.