This photo was taken in Florida in 1957. The man and woman in the photo were my in-laws: Sherry from 1981 till she died in 1986, and Jim from 1981 till he died in 1998. They were divorced less than 10 years after this picture was taken, so I never knew them while they were a couple.
In the photo, Sherry is 37 years old, which would make Jim 38. They had already had all 3 of their children by then – all boys. The youngest, born in 1950, would grow up to be my husband for 22 years and the father of my three children, thus gifting me with the closest thing I ever had to actual parents, albeit all too briefly and long before I was old enough in wisdom years to really appreciate them completely.
Marceline’s favorite blanket and bed were in the wash a few days ago, so she quickly threw together a new, temporary bed – made out of bubble wrap.
Now bear in mind that she first went to the shipping area to fetch a large sheet of bubble wrap – all on her own.
And then she competently and quickly, well, burrito-d herself.
Pretty cool, huh?
Rumor has it that potbellies are problem-solvers – and Marceline is still a piglet at only about 9 months…
So I’m pretty sure we’ll come home one day soon to find a pretty pink sturdily constructed princess canopy bed. Love our piggy!
Twenty-five years ago today, I became a mother for the first time, but not the way I had dreamed it and planned it and imagined it. I went into labor with a live baby girl in my uterus, but I knew going in to the hospital that I wouldn’t be going home with a live baby. I knew that my daughter would be born dead; I had made arrangements for her at a local funeral home the day before. Nearly six months in to a happy, seemingly normal pregnancy, I had had roughly 24 hours to prepare for this.
Twenty-five years ago yesterday, a terrorist’s bomb sent Pan Am Flight 103 down over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 more on the ground, 189 of them Americans, the single most deadly act of terror that would affect the US before 9/11.
This was a pre-internet world, long before the days of facebook and twitter and instagram, but the hellish aftermath of the disaster was a horrible endless loop on CNN, and I watched it all, during my own hellishly painful pitocin-enhanced labor and pitiful delivery. Many of the dead were young people, students, whose parents were shown on camera in varying degrees of horror and grief and rage and a numbness approaching catatonia. I laid there in that hospital bed, knowing that my child was dying and that I wouldn’t get to hold her living body, not even for a moment, and I watched those parents on the TV screen high up near the ceiling in my room. They looked like I felt. Their pain was a soaring black plume that rose to the skies, and my own, equally black, spiraled out to mingle with theirs. I wept for them, and I wept for me. I wept for their children, and I wept for my own.
When I do my grieving on this day every year, I cry again. I still cry for those parents as well as myself, and I still feel their grief and sorrow as a tangible presence in my heart. My pain stays mingled with theirs out there in the ether, where somehow it becomes lighter, if no less painful. And even though I know that none of them knows about me, none of them knows about our shared one-way bond, in some way that I can’t ever quite find the right words to explain to anyone on the rare occasion that I’ve tried, I find a sort of comfort, and peace.
The tears of a grieving parent are our holy water, and with them we bless the memories of our lost children.
Kay was taking photos for our etsy shops a few days ago, and had set up a clothes rack with a curtain draped over it for a background. When she finished shooting the clothing items, she stepped away, and when she came back, there was Marceline, posed gracefully in the middle of the rack and curtain, looking up expectantly. She really worked it, too – striking poses like a boss, baby. No flash, please! It’s not good for my complexion… Porcine perfection.
Iola held on to the splintery wooden oar and to her now painfully frozen smile as if they were the only real things in her world. She felt almost eerily detached from everything happening around her: the gently lapping water in the little lake and the slight rocking of the canoe; the photographer, a mysterious older man standing in a few inches of water working with his tripod and camera equipment; his assistant, a younger man, large and blonde and shirtless, only a few inches from her own nearly naked body, holding on to her end of the canoe for the shot; Nadia posing in the other end of the canoe, oblivious to Iola’s misery as she gave the photographer her sauciest look…
The bobbed hair, the camp for girls, the horseback riding, the racy bathing costumes … it had all seemed like such a good idea only two short days ago. The wedding wasn’t until December, so her hair would grow back in some by then, and any traces of sun and memories of fun would be fading quickly to ghosts, and she’d be ready to walk down that aisle, at the end of which she would magically no longer be Iola, but Mrs. Claude Carpenter, wife and household manager and soon, hopefully, mother…
The photographer’s assistant shifted a little and his nearness, his sweaty, salty smell, broke Iola’s reverie with a jolt.
It should be Nadia in this end of the canoe, not me, she thought almost wildly, her heart pounding and her head spinning a little. Too much sun… it’s just too much sun, and I didn’t eat breakfast… Claude doesn’t smell like that …
The guillotine dropped, the shutter snapped, the moment passed, the world stopped spinning, and my grandmother was a blushing December bride.