I was all set to write about choices today. About how making them is a means of constructing a reality you can live with, like I did with Mother's day yesterday. Define the parameters (no calling anyone else, and if they need to pout about it, they can do so in their favorite corner; only Monkey self-initiated stuff is ok as directed at me, no making a deal out of the day merchandised beyond the last inch of its life; it's just a Sunday) and see what happens. It was nice, by the way. Mostly peaceful, and when Monkey remembered, she wanted to sing a karaoke song for me, and she did, very well. I even got in a short trip to the cemetery, and while I was there I had a thought that, look at that, it's just me and my boys. We learn to jump for scraps, don't we? But it was still nice, especially since I think the cemetery people put some effort into cleaning the temporary markers for the babies buried years ago, the markers that started to sink and that have been looking forlorn. Yesterday they all looked cleaned, and I think even dug up a bit.
I was also going to write about how making choices requires having choices. Oh, sure, we always have choices. It's just that sometimes all of them suck. I imagine bereaved mothers with no living children would have a much harder time pulling off a similarly ok day for themselves yesterday, no matter how they dress up their choices. They were never far from my thoughts yesterday.
So I was going to wax poetic about this-- making choices, having choices, defining choices. And then this morning I heard that there was a big earthquake in China, and it was likely that many people died, and at least one school collapsed, trapping about 900 children. My mind wanted to make it just that-- trapping. They will be ok, once the rescuers come. Slowly, slowly I got it. No, most of them won't be. Even slower-- this is China. This is 900 families facing the loss of their only children, facing the rest of their lives as bereaved parents with no living children. My mind reels, and I have no words.
Later in the day I had the radio on again, and other things slipped in-- the bodies outside, uncovered until the parents can find and identify their children, parents laying out their children's bodies on whatever they can find nearby, covering them in a religiously appropriate manner, using whatever they can scavenge, burning small fires near the bodies. Burning money, for example. I know the actual religious point of that is not the image it evokes for me, but that is still the image it evokes for me-- who needs the money now? What amount of money can make this ok?
Monkey is having a hard time again, for no reason I can pinpoint. She was in playdate heaven Saturday-- we picked up an extra kid after her dance class, and then friends were coming over with their two. So for a while she had three other girls here, and overall she had kids here from before noon until ten at night. But suddenly, in the middle of happy, she ran for me with tears in her eyes. She was sad about her brother. She missed him. She made a card for him, leaving her playmates to fend for themselves for a bit. We haven't had any cards since March, around her birthday and the anniversary of his due date. We also lit a candle before bed, and she was happy to discover that a whole new box of them arrived.
Today she had another moment, in the midst of playing upstairs, and she wrote him a letter. With an envelope and everything. The envelope has hearts and stars and jar candles, and it's signed From the older sister to A. The letter itself is over a very good drawing of the dining room, complete with the correct color walls, a reasonable rendering of our fairly unique table with the candle on it, the puppy, and a few other things she has since added to the setup around our candles, and it reads "Dear little brother. I miss you very very much."
We lingered at pickup today. One thing to another, and walking out it was only us and this other mom, Ora, who I have long thought was cool. We happened upon one of the teachers, who proceeded to say something like "We have been hearing things, and I don't know if they are correct..." I fessed up, and Ora's eyes got really big.
"That's one well-places shawl," she said, which was funny because she had previously complimented me on the design thereof. Yes, yes it is, I said. She asked whether it was on purpose, and then asked why. I drew breath and said because this is the third child. I couldn't have possibly wished for a more appropriate reaction, with the sorry, and the how far along, and the sorry again, and the no need to explain the hiding, and that they had losses, but much earlier. I left knowing I was right about her general coolness, and putting her mentally firmly in the good third.
That, as we say at Passover, would've been enough. But Ora sent an email tonight. She didn't think she expressed clearly that she knows nothing of what our loss was like, implying that she was afraid she trivialized it with mentioning her own, and can she take me out as we get to that 34 week mark. I haven't replied yet-- still looking for words that say how much that meant to me without going high melodrama on her ass.
Some days people surprise you in good ways. Today it was particularly poignant, coming as it did on the day I had been thinking of that rule of thirds (and reading about everyone's experiences in the comments there), and with everything else in the pot. I notice, too, that I never realize how much I need a thing like that, an inflator of the universal goodness, if you will, until I am staring right at it.