Monday, March 31, 2008

Its so weird - a week ago Zachary was still in the ER, getting stitched, and now he is all healed, stitches out, just barely a scar even now Its amazing to me how something can be almost awful (brain injury, hospitalization, surgery,) and end up being over in a week - just a memory, a story to tell. "When I was five I fell in Grandma's living room and hit my head on the couch and there was blood in my eyes but Mama took me to the hospital and the doctor put me in the big machine to see if my brain was hurt and it wasn't and I got four stitches and it just hurt a little and I was brave." He was brave when the doctor took the stitches out too.
Twenty two years ago tonight, I put Ruth and Joanna to bed in a safe house. Kerry was already sleeping, preparing to go in for his night shift at the post office. When he left for work at two something in the morning I was still sleeping lightly, barely remember the kiss. Less than twenty minutes later the house was blazing with fire. The heater - which had been inspected just days earlier, had malfunctioned and explosive flames filled the hall, blocking my access to eight year old Joanna. I remember standing terrified in the heat and scream of alarm and roar of flame - standing in the door to Ruth's room believing Joanna was probably dead and there was nothing I could do about it - could only save the child I could save. That still is the most terrified I've ever been - and on this anniversary I am so thankful for the safety, however fragile, of my daughters and all the people I love.
Danny's maple, in my front window, is leafing out as I sit here on this rainy Monday writing on the computer. It was bare Friday - had two or three green leaflets near top and many bursting red leaf buds if you looked closely Saturday morning, and now, every hour, more visible starts of leaves - clearly evident now, without walking up close and looking for them. Danny's tree is always the last in our yard to feel spring, and the last to shed color in fall. Spring is officially present in my life today.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's about to storm and my body never likes the hours before storm - always feels on edge - like the sky is about to break open, which, of course, it is. Really though, this was a good Sunday. I really enjoy the kids as they grow up - K.K. reading books I like too, nobody needing close supervision. Tonight the four of us did a one hundred piece floor puzzle - big pieces - It was quite a task in cooperation, not just putting the pieces together but moving tables and such to have room. We were all quite proud of ourselves.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a great Saturday the kids and I have had! We enjoyed the Farmers' Market downtown - bought cauliflower, purple cabbage, mushrooms, the cool weather crops. We explored the Texas Capital grounds with a friend who loves the history of the place and took K.K. on a personal tour of Senate and House chambers while the boys climbed canons and I sat on a bench and read Boom The boys and I enjoyed the Children's Museum while K.K. danced jazz and tap. After we came home we worked in the garden - much weeding. Everything is coming up. Zachary even accepted the need to thin the radishes.

K.K. started reading a book I got at the library for myself, A Hatred For Tulips and realized that it had really caught her in a way no book had in a while, so maybe she should be looking at some of the "adult" classics. I was at her age. She said, very contemplatively, that all of her really favorite books are very serious - don't know. At any rate it was beautifully satisfying weeding in the garden with Danny and Zach while K.K. sat near by in a lawn chair reading just because she wanted to. It doesn't get much better than that.

Bob commented on my last post that I seemed to be having an unusually hard time - and I'm not sure how true that is. It was a tough work week and I started out tired because of being up late Monday night when Zachary had his accident (He's fine now - stitches come out tomorrow). I am still grieving Ruth's and Chris' baby - grieving the way things were going, that little one developing and being with us in the fall. And I'm sad that Ruth and Chris are sad and that nothing I do can change that. But I'm not and haven't been in a terrible place. The issue of how to get through the day, how to anchor, is something I think about fairly often. I know how I do it (often from phrase to phrase as described in my last post) and I wonder how other people do it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

This has been a better day - still hard feeling, but better. I've been thinking about the things I say to myself to keep myself anchored especially when I'm struggling - "One foot in front of the other. "Inch by inch, row by row." "Real is better than perfect." "Just do the next right thing." "Give to give, love to love, live to live." "Remember, love not ego." I run my life from phrase to phrase some days. I wonder if that's common or uncommon - self governance by personal proverb.

I'm reading To Brokaw's book Boom about the sixties and am impressed and depressed - There is so much information in the book, so much about how the reactionary right that has done so much har was born at a time when we on the left were trying to make a difference for good.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It was better in the morning - doing better with Amtrak schedules though today also felt long and stressful. I'm so frustrated that Ruth and Chris didn't get tender, supportive, compassionate care at their followup appointment with the obstetrician - frustrated that Bob's class is mostly not behaving well and that teaching feels more like discipline and trying to manage than an exciting soul changing mind opening mission. I want everything to be good for everyone I love, and it just isn't. Zachary's stitches do look good though - his little head healing. Even there I'm distressed. Joanna reported that he wasn't able to answer questions like "What is your last name?" at the hospital because of the concussion. Its freaky that we are so vulnerable, our brains so vulnerable. He does seem completely himself now and is even doing an unusually good job of remembering not to run and jump with the stitches in.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Time to put self to bed - clearly unmotivated to do that or anything else - too tired and frustrated with trying to buy a train ticket to
California for a retreat I really want to go to. Leaving home feels hard and I think mostly I'm just too tired to read the Amtrak forms right. It will be better in the morning.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What a night! Zachary, who is a dare devil and extremely coordinated, and who we always fear will fall out of a tree or off a wall or something dangerous, is at the emergency room for examination of a cut on his forehead - probably stitches. And all he did was fall off his own two feet while walking, not even running, across the living room - just hit the edge of a couch wrong and split the skin on his forehead. Poor baby! Except he would remind us he is a big boy not a baby. He didn't cry much, but was freaked by the blood and told me very clearly when asked how he was that he was "Bad - blood in my eyes." I wish Joanna didn't have to spend her night off in the ER with him, and didn't have to be scared. I actually had a pleasant time after they left helping K.K. review for a test about the Bill of Rights and then reading a sleeping beauty variant with her. I just hope Joanna and Zachary get back here soon and that he is OK.

UPDATE - oneish in the morning - He had a CAT scan and has a mild concussion and four stitches, which he handled like a trooper (the ER personell said he should be a model for the injured adults). They were worried because he was hard to wake at one point - but he is generally hard to wake in the first few hours of sleep. The scan looked fine. I'm relieved and Joanna is tired but also relieved. I talked to Zachary and saw his bandage, which he described in great detail, the tape on top of the soft bandage, on top of the stitches. He liked the CAT scan room, all the computers and machines, had lots of questions. "I went to the hospital!" he said. Indeed he did. I'm glad it was not a more serious visit than it was.
Easter began with mass (standard for so many) odd in our mixed up multi faith family - but it felt right. Joanna and I and the kids went to early mass and I was impressed by the sermon in which the priest spoke of the presence of the Resurrection Spirit among us in the world whenever one of us feeds the hungry, shelters the poor, comforts those who mourn. It was about action and the universal availability of holiness, and I loved hearing it - felt included. I was also really glad Joanna was able to get to mass, and then to join the family for dinner (before Bob left for Corpus even!)Silly Sears was open yesterday - a very bad tradition it has started, being open on Easter Sunday!

I have come to a place of greater peace about holidays. For a long time I fought them (except Halloween which I just naturally love) - didn't understand the need to do things the same way year after year (cheese potatoes and lime pies at Easter, cheese potatoes and pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving) but Joanna's kids are teaching me how much joy those traditions give - the sense of continuity, identity, and something to look forward to in each season. The comment K.K. made a few years ago about something being "a part of my happy childhood". really got to me. Panicking about getting the order of things right, tired feet, forgetting the eggs in the corn pudding don't matter so much to me anymore. I'm just glad we can be together and have holidays which build family. This year's holiday cycle has definitely been the best I can remember for our family and (knock on my wooden head,) I think that is not all good luck but that all of us have developed skills that will allow us to keep having better and better holidays together.

Yesterday I was especially touched to have Ruth and Chris with us so soon after the death of their unborn baby. I am glad they felt safe to be with us and able to be so much themselves - to eat and laugh, take pictures and participate in confetti egg wars. I could imagine that they would have withdrawn, and that would have been fine - but I think it is good for the kids (and for me) to see that life does go on with them and isn't all grief every minute.
It's a quiet day for me and I am loving it. I saw the one client I see at the house on Mondays and have been slowly straightening up, putting away the dishes and trappings from Easter dinner - emphasis on SLOWLY. I also finished Queen of Broken Hearts, a book which I couldn't put down but which I'm not sure I like - about a widowed therapist who holds retreats for those in the process of rebuilding after divorce. Something seems both real and off about the tone - a therapist whois relatively unable to apply the principles she teaches at work to her own life. Now I know the hard way it is much harder to practice at home what one teaches at work, but I hope that in my case the discrepancy between practice and teaching is much smaller. Still, I liked the beach town Alabama setting and the characters. It still seems to me that if this bok and some of the others I've read recently could get published by a major press, my Green Up should be publishable too. I hope to find the energy to try harder to get it out there. I know one of my character traits (flaws?) is to expect that things will ssimply turn out as they should for me - so I have trusted the book will get published and haven't worked as hard to promote it as I think it deserves. I hope I change my ways.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ruth's twenty seventh birthday today. I thought it would be a happy HAPPY pregnant birthday but it didn't turn out like that. Sweet Friedling died, I still struggle to accept that, and I hate seeing Ruth and Chris grieve and hurt - but I am SO PROUD of them, the way they are talking about their circumstances and feelings, working through this, together, one foot in front of the other. Bob and I took them to her favottye Itallian restaurant for dinner tonight - then out for Amy's Icecream - a local tradition which I associate with RUth and Chris (just remembered that Bob 's parents took us out for Amy's ice cream the year they came to meet me and the girls for the first time when Bob and I were dating. Ruth was seven almost eight - twenty years ago almost - hard to believe!) Tonight was wonderful and deep - after work talk and politics, after moon rise and ice cream, the four of us sat in the care in our driveway - easy for intimacy because it was quiet and dark and we could cuddle - both couples and didn't have to look at each other, and we talked about hard things - my fear of sexual harrassment on public transportation (with which I have had way too much experience) and then the death of the baby and their plans to try again, soon - all of our feelings. It is so good to be able to talk about these things, to have that kind of intimacy in our family across generations. I feel sad, but deeply blessed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yesterday evening - beautiful crystal blue early spring evening with rising almost full moon, Bob, Ruth, Chris and I gathered on the Texas Capital grounds with about 300 other people to hold vigil for all those (not just Americans) who have lost their lives in Iraq during these last five years. There's so much I can say about the event - so many different impressions. First (and for anybody who doesn't have time or desire for details this morning) , my general feeling is that I'm glad we were there - both "we" in the sense of the whole group and "we" in the sense of we four from our family.

The crowd was mixed in age - almost all white though. That makes me a little sad, especially when I think of the racial composition of the military. Our age group was probably over represented, and that makes me a le sad too. But then I remember that the people between us and the college students in age were probably busy doing homework with their kids (or taking them to dance class as Joanna was), putting them to bed, tired, just off work - but I still wish more had been there. There were several young families it was a pleasure to watch. Looking at the older people, I wondered how many have been at other protests over the years, especially wondered who was at the big demonstration and march after the murders at Kent State (my first big demonstration). Part of me wants to start an interview process, maybe locally, maybe starting with the PW group, about the history of protest in the life of our generation - but that's another post.

Move On did a good job with the organizing this time. I found it interesting that the woman who was the main spokesperson described herself as "a mortgage broker and Iranian American". I liked the signs Move On handed out - a variety in red white and blue on the theme of what we as a nation should be investing in instead of this war. "Invest in Health Care, Not War in Iraq", "Invest in Education, Not War in Iraq" "Invest in Clean energy, Not War in Iraq" "Invest in Real Security, Not War in Iraq.". There were also a number of creative home made signs. My favorites were the white doves. A number of people had American Flags. The Empty Shoes project was present - and that always touches me - seeing the actual empty shoes left behind by people who died in the war. This time I particularly noticed that there were women's shoes too. I wore mourner's black, as I traditionally do to vigils, as did a number of other people - but not half the crowd.

The only chant we engaged in, and this was brief, was one I liked - a call and response "What does democracy look like. THIS is what democracy looks like." I wanted singing, but we didn't have any organized singing. At the end, after the group started breaking up, a man, probably in his sixties, started singing "Where have all the Flowers Gone?" and a few people joined him. I'm glad he added the music. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that many of the young people fighting and dying in Iraq were sung to sleep with "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?"

There were speeches before the candles were lit , but appropriate this time, I think. Ruth commented that there was too much political speech for a vigil, but I didn't feel this strongly like I did last time. One speaker suggested our best first step to peace was voting for OBama, and this rubbed me wrong until I realized it was a Move On sponsored event and Move On has endorsed OBama. It would still have bothered me, at a vigil, if he had gone on and on, but he just made the one reference. I was most touched by the speech of a woman who talked of the loss of her marriage as she had known it due to personality changes her husband suffered from the trauma of the war.

The vigil was highly visible from busy streets, and I was pleased that, unlike at other protests we have attended, the responses of passers by were almost completely positive. One guy yelled "Vote Republican!" but that's a pretty weak cat call. I was especially pleased that a number of bus drivers honked and that they and bus riders flashed us the peace sign, as did a number of people in private cars.

It was good sitting on a stone wall above a bed of pansies next to my sweet husband, holding candles in paper cups high, mostly keeping silence. I'm very glad we went.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Placeholder post -

Bob is home for spring break and work is busy. I'm feeling very introspective and would love to be writing hours every day - long long posts. BUT right now I believe its more important for me to be living my life than describing it. The Friedling's death makes me keenly aware any of us could be next, and any day. So I am watching movies and taking walks with my husband and we took Joanna out to lunch today and the boys to the park yesterday - just living and it is sweet.

I'm storing up topics for posts
Palm Sunday mass with the kids
Sunday afternoon hike at Bastrop STate Park - seeing the endangered Houston Toad with the kids - seeing them see it and appreciate it and not want to live - noticing K.K. note correctly that its mouth is green, receiving tender, patient instructions from Danny about exactly where to put my binoculars for the best view.
The people on the bus - observations and concerns
Early spring in Austin Texas and how does the garden grow?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm in a better mood. The family enjoyed dinner Danny asked for a prayer, which was sweet - shared vor everything from rolls and jelly to the park to each other, and ending with a blessing on the baby and for peace for Ruth and Chris. It was good to eat together. The family liked the meal and I felt good to have made something that pleased them..

Chris dropped by for a minute to bring a bag I had left in the car last night. It was good to see/hug him - and to watch him in the backyard playing with the boys and the football - bittersweet.

K.K. let me read her email exchange with Ian, her dancer friend who is a boy and whose presence makes her glow. Sharing that was sweet. Life has good moments even on hard days.
This is the worst day so far for me - and for Ruth too I think. She and Chris are apart for the first time since the near miscarriage started - today the week anniversary of the last good day and the scary night. Its right that Chris in at a gaming convention with friends who love him and can comfort him. Part of me wants to run out and be with Ruth even though she's chosen to be alone, but she knows herself and I trust her boundaries and choices. I had a hard time with the way people wouldn't let me have sufficient solitude after Kerry died and I don't want to crowd her. But I know its hard, and I know she's dismembering the nursery and that tears me up. She's a real do it herself person with a flair for decorating and she'll do a super job of turning that room into something else altogether (for now) but she shouldn't have to be doing this - should be working harder on getting further on making the nursery the perfect nursery for the Friedling. I find myself irritable with my living grand children (Bob is at the park with the boys right now and K.K. is dancing - I'll get myself together before they come home for supper). I was feeling like the kids weren't visibly "sad enough" about the death of their almost cousin, which I knew was ridiculous even in the middle of feeling it. Of course they are sad enough - just aren''t showing it every minute because they are kids. I don't even show it every minute.

I just don't have much bounce today. I think my problem is that I've reached that point where I just want to be able to focus completely on loss - to read infant loss bogs on the internet for fifteen hours running and not talk to anybody - to wallow, and I really don't have time to do that. Maybe in the wee hours of the morning, three or four hours, not fifeen. everythings a compromise and right now I resent that a little. Until today I was sad but in a clear spiritual place where I accepted this loss as part of the human condition and just wanted more than anything to help Ruth and Chris get through it. Today I feel really raw, human and hurt. I remember this phase with other losses and it does pass. I know my mood will pass, and Ruth's and Chris's too. We abide. We survive. We will thrive again. It just sucks right now - for her and for me too.

Friends have been reminding me that "It's not fair" feelings are normal. I really hate to go there. It seems like a slippery slope toward expecting a just worls - which just isn't correct and is dangerous. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people all the time. But its good to be reminded to accept the transitory feelings and thoughts, even those I don't like and choose to keep.

Now I will gather my will and wash my face and fix some supper for my living grand children, who deserve the love and attention that at this moment I want only to give to my dead possibility of a grandchild and his/her grieving parents. Act of will. Act of will. Cook pasta.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tonight was hard and sweet. And odd. Ruth and Chris had the baby cremated today and tonight they asked me if I wanted to go to synagogue with them. I did. So we went back to the synagogue Ruth and I used to attend when she was in high school - close to my office, services at a convenient time, sweet memories. Before the service started Ruth and Chris were discussing placement of her soft cloth purse, didn't want to put it on the floor because the baby's ashes were in it - so I asked if I could hold it during services and they let me - and it was odd and sweet, cradling the baby shaped bundle that wasn't a baby and letting go of the possibility of ever having this baby sleeping or squirming in my arms at shul. Saying kaddish - traditional mourning prayers, with the ashes in my arms. I am so sad. I want to ease Ruth and Chris' suffering, and I can't much - of course they are suffering. They lean on each other and they are strong together, doing absolutely everything a couple in their circumstances could do to sustain each other and to thrive again. and they will thrive again. and I choose to believe that they will have the child they both want so much - a new child, in time.

Its hard to sort out my own suffering - how much is missing this opportunity to love this baby and how much is aching that my children have to be bereaved parents. They shouldn't have to be deciding where to be putting the baby's ashes. They should be picking out strollers. And part of me knows that losing love is part of loving and it doesn't matter what should or shouldn't be happening - just how we bear, and help each other bear what IS happening.

Bob is home for spring break, tired and sore from being very active supervising the kids' spring carnival yesterday. He also had the shock of having the terrarium in his classroom fall and break today with Rex, our beloved classroom pet, a Russian woods tortoise, in it. Rex seems to have survived, but we are worried for his well being - and hard to assess the health of a tortoise. he is moving and eating so I;m hopeful. We don't need more death, even a tortoise.

After shul Bob, Ruth, Chris and I went out for dinner - pasta - Ruth's comfort food. I'm glad she's able to eat. And, though we talked about our grief in the car, once we were in the restaurant we talked mostly about Ruth's work, her successes and frustaations, and those of her students, and it was good talk, good company, almost as if it were a week ago and she was still pregnant.

Except that all through the conversation a back tape in my mind kept going on about my terrible, high risk pregnancy with Ruth and K.K's near death from meningitis as a new born and the other grieving couple, with a loss at sixteen weeks today, whose path has crossed mine today - and there is just no sense to when the worst happens and when it doesn't. I don't do "It's not fair!" but tonight is as close as I get. Ruth shouldn't be here. I was advised to abort her because of severe placentia previa and I was too stubborn, just wouldn't do it - and here she is magnificent, but grieving. No reason her baby shouldn't be here, far as we know, and that baby is gone. Moving on from here is going to be uneven, stepwise, awkward, and successful.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life goes on in face of the death of the Friedling. I work and read and enjoy the red buds - and sorrow sits in the back of my heart. I have a yearning to wear a traditional Jewish mourning ribbon for a month for this grand child i will never hold - but probably that's too dramatic -just a yearning. I wish Bob and I had been able to talk more this week. I need him now and last night we had some kind of technical glitch with his phone and were cut short - cut short again tonight because his throat was hurting from yelling out numbers for an event at his school's Spring Fling (very successful and fun - so that at least is good). He'a about to be home for a week, but I'm having toruble waiting.

I don't go twenty minutes without thinking about Ruth and Chris, wondering what they are doing, thinking, feeling. I check and comment on Ruth's blog compulsively - a lifeline - connection I can have with them without getting in their way while they grieve together. I know they will visit the baby's body at the funeral home tomorrow and place it in the vessel for cremation. Knowing that floods me with tenderness for themand with memories of the cold reality of going to the funeral home to pick up Kerry's cremains in their cardboard container - Marie drove me. Ruth had a swimming lesson that day. All I wanted to do was sleep. Sorrow connects to sorrow. And love is stronger than loss.
Especially in light of much of the welldeserved antiAmerican sentiment in the world today, I had an interesting taxi ride to work this morning. My driver commented on my name as being that of the English Queen, then mentioned that he had been a civil servant in Hong Kong and attended an audience during which Queen Elizabeth spoke. he said that he very much enjoyed seeing the queen. But then he started talking about how happy he is to be in America now because our country has given his son a chance for a professional education which he wouldn't have had in Hong kong. The son did not score high enough on standardized tests there to qualify for the university, but here, he received an education which allowed him to graduate last spring from the IUniverrsity of Texas. The father really felt that our educational system tries to teach individual children, not to simply sort and classify, as he said the system in Hong Kong did. listening to him did dmy heart good, even though I know our educational system has plenty of problems.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm puzzled by how many articulate caring people say they have no words - that there are no right words to say to us in our loss. Then they go ahead and say exactly the right words - really helpful words. Words help when they acknowledge the reality and depth of the loss, express caring, and don't go beyond that to explanations or platitudes. The people I know have been saying very much the right words, and it matters. It helps. Thank you.
The body is such a betrayer. I am doing fine, holding steady regarding the death of the Friedling - being present for Ruth and Chris through computer - letting them have space otherwise. I even just pulled a bunch of beggar's tick out of the back yard before it could make burrs. Everyone, especially Lobo the long haired, will be better for that. I put in a good work day, took out the trash, even started a healthy supper for myself and am catching up on the wash - BUT I have a cold. There is always a price - the pain surfaces somewhere. It's not a bad cold and I'll be fine (and I hope noncontagious before Bob comes home for spring break) but I wanted to note this because it is so much the way things happen. When life kicks us we do stumble in some way or other. For me the physical quadrant is less managable than emotional, spiritual, or intellectual. Those I can pretty much channel with hard work, but not the body. it has its own truth.
I should get dressed and go to work - someone will be waiting for me to be fully present to his very challenging, life shattering problems - and I will be ready and do a good job. But I just read Ruth's entry this morning about the whole process of moving on from the death of the baby - the what to do with the onsies kind of questions that are the bread that feeds coming back toward life in the early stages of loss, and I needed to write down how much I grieve that all of us (especially Ruth and Chris) can't have this baby this fall abd have this set of dreams come true.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I am relieved tonight. Ruth got through the D and C without physical complications and seems to be physically safe - at home. Emotionally the care she and Chris received, especially from one nurse and a chaplain, was healing. They were talked to respectfully, as parents of a baby who died, their loss taken seriously -arrangements made for them to make private arrangements for the baby's body. This respectful, kind treatment helped them through a difficult day, and that helps me.

I've been pretty normal today, calm, working - but every hour or so my mind chronicles another experience I won't have with this Friedling - singing "The Ants Go Marching One By One" off key trying to help her fall asleep, heavy head, soft curls against my cheek - playing "Where is the moon?" - first foot in salt water at the beach - so many firsts that won't happen. My grief is quiet, lapping in my heart, rippling up as the loss becomes more and more real.

Being a secondary mourner is different. I miss the possibility of this baby deeply - and my focus is more on supporting Ruth and Chris than on my own missing, my own loss. Knowing Ruth got through the D and C safely is some kind of first step that lets me think and feel more about not having this baby to love.

Life is so fragile - even staying alive to get born - surviving infancy, childhood, teen years - reaching the age I have reached already. I am thankful for the moments of my life tonight.
Nature is providing cruel ironies. The first spring moon is waxing and it's red bud time - my favorite moment of spring - ping blossoms increasing in richness every day on branches against pale sky - by personal favorite symbol of hope and renewal. Ruth's belly should be swelling with pregnancy as the sap flows in the trees and more and more blossoms push forth. Instead she is having her D and C this morning. I hate it.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Water of life,
salt shed, shared
honoring loss
honoring love
I weep that
I will never dry
my grand child's
wet salt tears.
I don't want to write this entry. The Friedling is dead - sweet baby of promise and hope - little one who already brought us so much delight (and now none of us will be able to cradle you or laugh with you or teach you or learn from you). I hate this.

I don't believe anything about life happens for a reason or that concepts of fairness apply to medical situations, but Ruth and Chris should be happy not sad - no more trouble for them! I want to stand at the entrance of the cave and keep anything from hurting them ever again - and little Friedling too.

I wish I could bethe all-protective matriarch and keep my clan safe. Impossible.

So what do I know tonight?

I'm glad Ruth and Chris have each other.
I'm glad they conceived this baby Friedling and that she grew within Ruth for three months.
I'm glad they shared this pregnancy from the beginning and didn't try to protect themselves or anyone else from the possibility of having to grieve.
I hate it that Ruth has to have a D and C - don't want her to hurt physically as well as emotionally.
I miss deeply, achingly, the hope of this baby in my arms, nuzzling close. i've been imagining another flame haired little girl, (know that was not anything but an imagining but it was my imagining) toddling along after K.K., swung up on K.K's hip as easily as that little one rode her Auntie Ru's hip, and now that won't be, at least with this baby right now.
I trust that Ruth and Chris will thrive again - and I know they will hurt along the way.
I hate that.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bob and the kids and I are fighting off death (of the Friedling) by putting a garden in the ground. Nothing is a more basic assertion of the possibility of life than planting. The kids are excited, and it was fun digging in the earth with them. We've divided the little garden patch into four quarters, one for each kid and one for Bob and me. K.K's planting sunflowers, along with several kinds of vegetables. Danny, who loves to teat them -has the tomatoes, and as is a tradition in our family Zachary, as the youngest, gets the fast sprouting radishes.

Ruth's home and resting - has more tests tomorrow - ER doc thinks it was a "near miscarriage" and suspects she will finish miscarrying within days. I don't want to accept that possibility. They saw a healthy, active baby on ultrasound - good heart rate. Its odd after she passed so much tissue. Even the doc said "You never know." hopefully she will get more information tomorrow. Positive information.

She and Chris seem OK (whatever that means) - worn out and scared but mostly waiting. They are good at hanging onto each other. I think they will come through this strong (though grieving) should they lose this babe. But Ruth told me on the phone that her heart will break if this baby dies, and my heart will break if her heart breaks. And anyway - I already feel so attached to the Friedling - to someone very real. I wonder how many times in a lifetime the average heart breaks?

I hate it that this has happened just when they had really relaxed about the pregnancy and told the community at syanagogue and started picking nursery colors and buying onsies. I haven't given up on this pregnancy though. NOBODY thought I could carry Ruth to term.
I hate middle of the night phone calls. This time nobody died, but Ruth had (possibly is still having) a miscarriage scare. During a social evening with Marie and Bill she suddenly experienced a sudden spurt of bleeding, as yet unexplained. onogram shows the baby's heart beat is still strong and baby is still moving and behaving normally - they are keeping her long enough to find out why the blood . Friends relaxed enough to leave to sleep some. Chris sounds pretty steady ( joyful words "Amazingly we're still pregnant." and Ruth is uncomfortable and scared but sounds strong.- I wonder if it is placenta previa like I had with her. The bleeding she described is no more extreme than I experienced with her and I don't think I passed tissue, as she said she did. But I remember how terrified I was by bleeding cups of blood on Halloween night. We got through that and I'm hopeful she and Friedling will get through this - good that it is spring break for her, so she will have nine days before even having to consider returning to work. At this moment I'm hopeful. Should try to sleep a little.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A good Saturday for K.K. - very good. It was watching day at dance and she found her balance on several elevations - strong and solid. Her teacher praised her. Her turnout was perfect all through class, first time I've seen that - and Ian met her eyes and smiled every time it was feasible. This afternoon, on his invitation, K.K. and I went to see Ian play the violin in his recital, to meet his friends and family. These two young dancers have such a sweetness and tenderness toward each other. Ian brings K.K. delight and it seems reciprocal - a miracle at their age.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A member of my writing group mentioned the idea of a six word memoir - and it appealed to me. The words came easily:

struggled, delighted, lost, transformed, served, created

That really is the pattern of my life as I perceive it and would be a useful skeleton for any memoir I did write.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Its sad to me how much everybody involved in the schools hates the government mandated tests - so much rides on them and they are so artificial. K.K. hates them. Bob hates them. Chris hates them. They simply don't serve (Today was the first wave in Texas this year). I hope they are history with the next administration.
Last night I paricipated in a memorable Democratic party caucus/ I've been to caucus before (the second part of the Texas twostep election process which provides one third of the delegates) Never has it been so lively.

I arrived ten minutes before start time to a school caffeteria bursting with neighbors. We ended up with 253 voters and at the beginning many had their children with them- babes in arms, interested elementary school kids - so there were well more than 253 bodies. It was hot and close in the room, but for me very exciting. Our young precinct chair did a great job through out, reading rules to us, organizing, double checking, admitting what he didn't know about working with such a large group, cheerful, accepting suggestions - like the very good suggestion to let the people with small children either present or waiting at home go first so they didn't have to wait to sign in.

We lined up in groups based on whether we had all appropriate ID or not (I did), People who didn't have stamped voter ID cards (showing they had voted in this election) had to be checked against the voter rolls. Our lines proceded slowly to the tables where volunteers directed us to sign in with our names, addresses, and Presidential candidates of choice. We had the chance to provide optional information about race, sexual orientation, or disability for affirmative action purposes. The volunteers taking information worked smoothly and helpfully - good sens of cooperation on that end. My only disappointment was that, even after those with children were allowed to go first,some people were (to my great surprise) impatient wanted the process to go quickly. I'd known it wouldn't, couldn't and wanted to savor every minjute of what I see as an exciting chance to be a citizen. I wanted everyone to be as excited as I was and had to keep myself from making a couple of judgemental comments to people who were complaining about waiting. I had brought a book - but mostly I watched people and the process.

It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to get us all signed in, then another half hour or so to get the votes counted and the delegate numbers determined. My precinct was spilt pretty evenly - so we divided into two groups of about the same size and very efficiently chose delegates and alternates for the county convention on March 29. I'm an alternate - would have chosen to be a delegate but decided to stay more open for grand kid keeping so my daughters can be delegates. At my precinct the Clinton and Obama camps didn't look particularly different - age, sex, race. I noticed some young voters in the Clinton camp and we didn't have many African Americans. I think more of the people who are very politically experienced ( a couple of retired State Representatives for example) were in the Clinton camp. My neighborhood friends were pretty evenly divided.

Joanna's closest neighborhood friend is her neighborhood's Clinton precicnt captain, and she had asked Joanna to volunteer to sit at the table to count sign ins. The friend, Cindy, was concerned about irregularities with all the people. Joanna said it was pretty chaotic, but exciting, and mostly good natures at her caucus. Bob reports that hes teacher friends in Corpus almost all went to their caucuses, even though the next day was a stressful one for teachers, with the mandatory TAKS testing. Voter apathy is clearly not well in Texas this year. It is exciting for those of us who have participated in fairly dead, small, Democratic caucuses for years to see the interest this year. For me, caucus night was an exciting esperience in participatory democracy and a good chance to talk to neighbors I don't see much, and probably a close as I'll ever get to Philadelphia in the summer of 1776.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Last night Ruth and Chris and I finished our grand tour of major Democratic presidential contenders. we saw Barack OBama at a huge outside rally here in Austin last spring, John Edwards in the old railroad station in San Antonio and last night, here in Austin on election eve, hillary Clinton. This time K.K., strongly committed to Hillary Clinton and suddenly immersed in the political process, was with us.

It was a cold night and we had to wait outside Burger Center for an hour or so, excited and wrapped in layers of sweaters and coats. K.K, especially looked tiny with all those clothes on and was a bit anxious about the security procedurs and the presence of so many big men in uniform. There was a moment when we reached the security check and K.K. had to step away from us to go through the metal detector alone . She looked back at me with wild, slightly panicked eyes and I saw her as if in a very different context - a child bundled into all the clothes she owned I Poland or Germany in the nineteen forties, terrified to be separated from her family in one of the Nazi selections - who to the gas chambers?

The sobering moment passed as we filed into the arena. K.K. and Ruth, by virtue of being young, female, and enthusiastic looking, I guess, were offered spcial blue tickets to go down to the floor. Chris and I stayed in the higher seats and were able to watch them from above. K.K. looked both thrilled and shy in the crowd, and Ruth was wonderfully protective of her. It was a kick to sit above and watch the two of them in such a positive political crowd.

I was disappointed that Gonzalo Barrientos, for whom I voted many times did go negative - against OBama instead of just proHillary - It feels so without class to do that and has got to turn off more people than it wins over. Everyone else who spoke stayed positive and focused - especially the candidate herself.

We sat right behind a group of women wearing "Out for Hillary" buttons and I was pleased by their open and delighted presence.

I don't know why there isn't more talk about charisma regarding Hillary Clinton. The air around her crackled - and her policy statements were right on - concise, strong, brilliant. I came away believeing that if we can elect her she can produce the kind of change she offers. And I've got to say - though I don't like cheers for the most part - being part of a group cheering "Madame President" gave me good shivers.