Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Strange days

Today is my grandfather's birthday. The one Monkey is named after. Last one he celebrated was eleven years ago. Well, celebrated is a strong word for it. He was in a hospital, the same one he would die in nine months later. Stupid accident due to profound negligence by the driver of his medical transport-- the one that was taking him for his dialysis, the very procedure that was drastically improving and prolonging his life-- left him paralyzed and started his slow but maddeningly irreversible slide towards the end. A product of a second-cousin marriage, he was not a well man. But neither was he a timid man, a man to be cowed by life. I wonder now whether it was my general cluelessness or that ever-present twinkle in his eyes that caused me to never consider, despite his many illnesses, that he might die. Until that fall or even winter that is, when he wasn't improving, when every step forward necessarily brought two back, never, not even once the other way around.

Yesterday was my cousin Jay's 26th birthday. My grandfather's only grandson, my favorite and closest cousin. The day of my grandfather's funeral he was a shell-shocked teenager. JD poured him some vodka at the memorial lunch after the funeral. It seemed to help. He is funny and quick and fun. We are not as close as we once were, what with living half way across the country from each other and having busy and not exactly problem-free lives. I miss him, though.

Tomorrow is the seventh monthaversary of A's death. I miss him too. A lot. But this last month has been hard in a new way too. Even though I thought, in my rational mind, that we might have some trouble conceiving this time, I don't think I had really confronted fully what that would mean. As we were leaving the hospital, the nice nurse who was walking us out said "Maybe we will see you here in two years or so." JD got upset that she said two years. I didn't-- I understood that she didn't want to pressure us but wanted to give us hope. But in truth, I didn't consider then, or for a long time after, what it would mean for me to still not be pregnant today. I am now. Considering and confronting, that is.

I had a meeting at Monkey's new school today. I asked to meet with the teachers to talk about how they would handle any talk of siblings, babies, or pregnancies in the classroom. The meeting ended up including also the principal and the head of lower school. They wanted to know what we wanted done or not done. They reassured me that they will be mindful and watchful whenever such topics come up, that they will be sure to validate Monkey's sadness if she chooses to express it, that it will always be safe for her to talk about her brother. I was worried about two types of kid reactions to finding out about A-- not believing her/dismissing her loss, or getting freaked out. They assured me that they will be prepared to handle both. They also wanted to know what she likes to do, what brings her joy. It was actually a little funny to hear the sound of four pens getting picked up in unison when I said something apparently key. Like "English is not her native language." They also emphasized even before I had a chance to bring it up that they will make sure that A will not become Monkey's identity, that she will not be "the girl whose brother died" to them or to the kids. I feel a lot better about school now.

There is a number of trees growing all bunched up together just where I turn onto the street leading to my street. A few days ago I noticed that one of them, a scrawny one, one whose freedom to grow and spread its seed has obviously been grievously abridged by its more bushy-crowned neighbors, that one was starting to show some color. I thought that was both a little weird and a lot cool-- an early messenger of fall, well hidden by its bossy neighbors, I thought it was my secret. I love fall, and I looked at it as a way early sneak preview, a promise of a real treat. But today I had to go a little north of us. Well, my car had to go, for a scheduled maintenance, and I just couldn't let it go by itself. So I drove north, just a little, mind you, and was dismayed to see how many trees were starting to show color there. I guess my "far away" fall really isn't so far away. How did we get here?


Beruriah said...

I have no idea how we got here - I've been in a daze for months and months.

May your grandfather's memory be for a blessing. I'm sorry he was taken in such a tragic way.

I'm so impressed by Monkey's school. Really. It's good she can be in such a supportive place.

I can't imagine how your frustration is building with your cycles - I wish I had some answers or insight about it. I'm just sad at how cruelly unfair this all continues to be.

niobe said...

It's very easy for a dead sibling to become a huge part of a child's identity among her classmates. I switched schools a lot in elementary school, and, at one of the schools I went to for a year there was a girl who had a twin brother who had died at birth. She talked about him all the time in a very spooky way.

It was particularly striking because the girl looked like she was not of this world. She was tall and fragile-boned. Her skin was translucent, like a china teacup held up to the light, and there was something about her eyes that made you think she could see things no-one else could.

Bon said...

i too am really impressed by Monkey's school...i'm glad. i think it's great that she - and also you and JD, by extension - will be supported through your grieving of A and your celebration of him as a family member, also.

your grandfather's birthday. the nephews birthday. A's monthaversary...days that bring reminders.

just thinking along with you. hoping that this process of ttc becomes smooth for you, and soon.

S. said...

I am now officially in the one-year-anniversary territory of the Bad Months of last year, and I'm going to be in them for the next six months. I weathered the anniversary of Ilsa's death better than I thought. I'm not sure how I'm going to make it through the High Holiday liturgy, though.

slouching mom said...

That last paragraph was really beautiful, and poignant, and yes, where did it go?

What a lovely school Monkey must go to!

Adelynne said...

The one-two punch of Jay & grandpa's birthdays always heralded the end of summer for me. (I now realize that while I remembered both of theirs, I'd forgotten my friend L's, who is the 27th, sad.) I recall being annoyed when Jay's birthday crept up, but that may well be because I spent a great deal of my childhood annoyed with Jay.

This summer has crawled by for me, and while I usually love summer it's been too full, too much. I think I'm glad for fall.

I think Monkey will be fine. She has the type of outgoing nature that even a great sadness will not be the whole of her - she's a gymnast, a musician, an artist... She is more than the sum of her parts in this way.

meg said...

We had the same thing said to us by the nurse who looked after us, after the twins died! I remember being annoyed, too, that she said maybe we'll see you in two years. I guess they just didn't want us to feel bad if it took that long. I know it didn't occur to me, either, that I would have any trouble conceiving. And I can hardly believe that it has been this long. I truly hope that it won't be much longer for you, because I know far too well, how much it hurts.

I am impressed with Monkey's school too--they seem very supportive.

wannabe mom said...

echoing the sentiments above. Monkey's school sounds really great. sensitive people are so rare. i always feel like the girl whose babies died, but i probably bring that on myself.

thanks for sharing the memory of your grandfather, and i'm sorry that your cycles are taking you for a ride.

Carole said...

The school sounds so caring. It sounds like a place she will feel safe to talk or not talk...whatever she needs. I know how important that is for those left behind.

Rosepetal said...

I asked the same day that V was born when we could try again. I think even my OB was a bit taken aback at the question but she did answer it. The answer was 4-6 months and it seemed like 4-6 months plus 9 months was such a very very long time. Little did I know that it would take even longer.

Lori said...

What a collection of days, and important events you are celebrating/remembering right now. Such a mixed bag, isn't it?

That sounds like an excellent school, and that you handled it very well. My younger son used to talk quite a bit about Molly and Joseph at school, but I don't think he does anymore. Big J never did. It has never been in his nature to want to be singled out for anything unusual or potentially awkward. But I always felt comfortable that their teachers would handle it well if they did. That is a good feeling to have.

Julia said...

Thank you, everyone. I do think the school will be good for Monkey. I hope so. And thank you for your sympathies on my current predilection. I am starting to formulate some plans of action for if Tuesday's tests support the bad hypothesis, so I feel like I am doing something.

Adelynne, notwithstanding some of those well-deserved annoyances, he did want to punch out that ass of the ex-boyfriend of yours, no? Actually, I think had his parents kept down the competitiveness, you two would've gotten along much better.