What you gotta do to find a cure
For the things that make you feel so impure
Just now I don’t know for sure
Sometimes misery has a strange way”
Of course my superpower, other than a slightly photographic memory, is that I can remember everything anyone has ever said to me. This can be super disconcerting, super touching, and even super frustrating because I’ll remember things other people don’t remember saying. Even if they’re innocuous things, like coming into my bedroom & pointing out the inflection of Adam Duritz’s voice in the song “A Murder of One.” There’s a deeply sad and a deeply powerful quote that wasn’t said to me directly, but to a friend. This was after someone we both knew had lost a child; a baby. He said to the mutual friend, “I still want to be a happy person.” And indeed these words have stuck with me over time, through losses, traumas, arguments, victories. “I still want to be a happy person.” I cling to and claw at these words. They resurface. They haunt and calm.
Whenever anything difficult happens. If I wrong Cassidy. If he wrongs me. If I wrong him in my desperate, misguided attempts to never wrong him, by being too perfect, quiet, or too bending.
My uncle was my first real loss in many, many years. I’m not saying I haven’t lost loved ones, but there’s been nothing quite like this huge loss. The losses have generally been people I had been somewhat removed from, emotionally or physically (distance wise), or both. Or it’s been people very old. I mean, three-digits-in-their-age old. There was nothing like this; not this one degree of separation from someone who gave birth to me. This generation above me is supposed to live forever, just so we never reach the top and our kids never reach the top, and their kids never reach the top. It makes no sense to think this way, I know it. And it also makes total sense too.
This week, we moved Sawyer into his crib. Our house is obscenely large and there are so many bedrooms we could put him in but there’s something about each one. We could move him into the guest room, but then we wouldn’t have a guest room. We could move him into the secret library, with its chicken house views, but then we’d have to give up the secret library. That’s bad enough but it’s very kid-unfriendly and it would suck to take down everything we’ve put up. We could put him in the music room but then we wouldn’t have a music room, and besides, the music room has a door that leads outside to the forest, and I couldn’t breathe easily with that. Not with the night noises and the forest creatures; the forest noises and night creatures. So that leaves sharing a room with a sibling and there’s only one who might embrace a roommate.
And we can’t yet fill his nights with the sounds of Sawyer’s thighs picking up and crashing back down again. Over and over. The crib mattress can absorb and soften the thunder thighs noises and motions, but the bassinet was no match for it. So we moved him. Cassidy said to me, “Let’s put him in the den for now.” We have time and space to play with and bend; no need to rush the nursery. This way he’s right outside our doorway, through an open secret door, a mirror with a secret latch that opens. In a big and beautiful crib, because the modest one we wanted from IKEA wasn’t in stock. And on Disney-magical sheets, that tell animations and tales, as he moves clockwise around the bed all night. The occasional nursing session, thunder thighs jam, or just the occasion to stare wide-eyed at the sunrise or moonset. Moonrise or sunset. Passing light.
In a long room with windows on opposite sides, it passes through, lighting up the tips of his toes or the tip of his nose, as he moves from nap to nap to nap to overnight. By the fourth kid, you’re fully aware that each tough time is a phase; new reliefs and challenges are ahead. Somehow it’s become ok to let your kid shed layer after layer after layer, from nap to nap to nap to overnight, because they lose the baby and former versions of themselves, but what they gain in smiles and laughs and light and magic will surely take your breath away. Really, that’s the secret, isn’t it?
This too, shall pass. These bad times, and these good times too. It’s amazing how they all come back right around, and luckily, there’s much more of the good times and the creamy middle times. The thing is, thinking about life and death can change you. And experiencing them both at once, with mental illness, postpartum hormones, and the weight of the world becomes a perfect storm, with a giant eye of the storm heading slowly and steadily towards you. It’s going to take you down, strip you of your power, chill you to the bone; nearly drown you in its wake.
I cry that he’s no longer in our room; his overstretched body and outstretched arms and legs way too big for his bassinet. And yet, he’s right through an open door now, sharing walls and windows and moons. He frets softly and I’m there, padding lightly from hardwood floor to hardwood floor. He’s in my arms in an instant. He eats, and I dream, and then he dreams, and I place him lightly in the crib. He frets for one second, reaching all about with nothing to hold onto or spill out over. Then he settles back into the rainbow dreamy sheets looking up to birds and moons and sun and stars. He soothes; stills. “Hey, I think I like this,” his body seems to say.
Give a accomplishment a shot
Might not have a full talent to use
But I’m gonna paint with the colors I got
But then your hopes and not deals you embrace
And then there’s what’s staring you in the face
Sorrowful times are here but they won’t last
‘Cause this too shall pass”
Janine Huldie says
Aw, I remember all those milestones even though it was another lifetime ago for my girls seems like just yesterday somehow still. But you are right, somehow this phase too shall pass and then will be onto the next one. Because time is truly flying by us it seems. Just wish it would slow down just a bit. Hugs ❤️
That is a big milestone! It can be suddenly weird not to hear them all night long. I read something yesterday about how a mother always wants to know every little detail of their children’s lives. It never ends, even when they are 40 (or older). I think this all starts with our listening and paying attention when they are newborns, and then we just never grow out of it!
Giggled a little at the thunder thigh noises in the middle of the night. Gosh, I remember those! I still have a bigger little sleeping my room. Someday they might leave. High school maybe? One can hope!
Eddie Staudt says
Oh Yes Tamara, and Sawyer’s facial expression is definitely saying, “Hey, l think l like this!” Sawyer looks so happy in the comfy creamy middle of his crib. This is one of Bruce’s songs that’s a perfect choice to perform on the dulcimer, especially during one of his intimately close to the audience concerts. Check out OK Go’s video of the song with the same title, but totally unrelated. The video features the band performing the music of this song in perfect synchronization to the chain reactions of a Rube Goldberg machine enjoyed by over 70M viewers on YouTube. It’s a fun video to watch and the chain reactions leading to the ending are pretty fascinating!
lisa thomson-author says
A lovely and thoughtful post. Yes, phases pass through us leaving a stillness. The ripples take time to recede though. I think you all will sleep a little better. He needs to take up a little more space and you need to reclaim a bit for yourselves. So everyone wins! 🙂
What a pretty song! I didn’t know this one, so thanks for sharing it.
Aw, sweet Sawyer is such a cutie. That is hard when they aren’t in your room any longer. Although from your photos he looks absolutely happy in his crib.
It is so true about the phases of life. I am so excited that my daughter is expecting in February. Seeing your photos over the last couple of years reminds me how special it is to have a baby in the family.
BTW that is a great super power to remember what people said. I wish I had a memory like that.