Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two Years

I don't have many words. I barely have any.

As these days loomed, I somehow imagined that there would be a natural separateness to them, a setting apart. Cocooning, maybe. But they are just days like any other, with potential for warmth and closeness. But also for distance and hurt. And, just like two years ago, the world,-- with a few marked exceptions, and how grateful am I for those exceptions-- doesn't stop for us and our pain.

The days are a little too ordinary, a little too crowded for me. Though I imagine I might find that to be the case no matter what was happening around me. But there've been moments.

The sky over the cemetery yesterday.

Our new* onyx candlesticks for the kid Shabbat candles. I feel funny saying "a present" or "a gift," even if I say "to us" or "to myself." Maybe just "something to mark the occasion."

*The very first time we lit a candle for each of our children in addition to the regular Shabbat candles, we burned down the one wooden candlestick we used because we didn't have three matching ones of any kind. After that we lit tealights for a while, in little IKEA colored tealight holders. And so Monkey wanted us to keep doing that-- to have the kid candles be tealights, and shorter than the main candles.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And we're off

Two years ago I was just a pregnant woman.

In the Old Country the decorated tree for a winter holiday is called, and is, a New Year tree. It is entirely nondenominational, and equally as defining of my childhood memories. And so we put one up every year, but not until after Christmas. When we decorate it, the way one decorates a New Year's tree if one is from the Old Country-- lots of lights, deep in the tree, then ornaments, then the shiny, culminating with copious amounts of icicles-- it looks nothing like any Christmas tree I've ever seen.

Two years ago we didn't take ours down until less than two weeks before A died. My dad took it down, actually, one day when he was not painting the nursery. Monkey didn't remember the date her brother died. But somewhere in her brain the whole thing got sequenced as "after we took down the tree."

I know that because last year she kept talking about helping JD put the decorations away, and then she ran off to her room, discombobulated and rather upset, before the first two shiny balls made it into their storage container. I don't think she remembers it consciously, but it is a strong association nonetheless. This year she stood on principle against letting us take the thing down. Finally, while JD was away I extracted a promise from her that we can undecorate and get rid of the tree after Daddy gets home. She claimed to want to help.

In the end, JD did a big chunk of it himself, and the World's Best Nanny finished the job. The tree only made it out of the house and onto the deck this week. I wonder how long it will be until it gets kicked (or thrown, whichever) off the deck...

Two years ago I was-- still-- just a pregnant woman.

Monday, January 26, 2009


There are flowers in my house, just like two years ago, and for the same reason-- Monkey had her piano recital this past Saturday. Bringing flowers for the performer is a very Old Country thing. Two years ago my parents were in town the weekend of the recital, and so there were flowers from us, them, my sister, and, I think, even her beloved Nanny. So many flowers, all over the house. When the deadbaby flowers started to come eleven days later some of the recital flowers were still standing. I remember making sure to keep them for as long as they held out.

Two years ago it was her first recital. Sunday, January 21st. Wednesday before that my parents arrived-- my mom had a business trip in the area, and dad, who works from home, came with her to get the baby's room painted. Tuesday after the recital, one week exactly before A died, his room was fully painted. Yellow and blue this time, a change from yellow and purple of Monkey's babyhood, a brighter yellow this time too. Next day, Wednesday, they left. A week later, Wednesday the 31st, they flew back.

I was irritable and irritated the week they were here. The couch didn't help. Not the couch on which I spent a whole lot of time, but the one that was evicted from the soon-to-again-be-baby's room but not yet installed in my office because that's where the parents were sleeping, on the queen size inflatable mattress. And so the couch, in two pieces, sat in the not particularly big entry-walk space on the first floor. I had to walk on the tippy toes every time I walked by it-- me and the belly didn't fit otherwise.

I don't remember what exactly I was doing on January 26, 2007. But it was a Friday, and so we must've had a Shabbat dinner. Maybe my sister came. Or maybe she didn't, begging off on account of having been to the house entirely too many times while the parents were here. Monkey must've said "Shabbat Shalom, little brother" into my belly. For what turned out to have been the last time. I don't remember because it was, by then, so ordinary. And after the helpful but crazy that was my house the weekend before and the surrounding days, I must've been looking forward to the weekend. I don't remember much of that weekend either.

That the flowers are here now is an accident of nature-- recital this year was rescheduled from way back in December, a victim of a snow storm that had itself passed but left a complete parking ban for the neighborhood of the recital hall (a very nice room in a public library) in its wake. That when we got home the flowers spent a good long time parked on the dining room table before I finally put them in vases after Monkey was asleep, hours after we came home, that I don't think was an accident. Avoidance strategy perhaps?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Heart, string, hand

I've never had any dead baby jewlery. I am nowhere near talented enough to have designed my own, and I never saw anything that spoke to me. Until, that is, I saw the Waiting Heart, designed and made by Chance.

In introducing the hearts, Chance talks about them representing our "shared, yet singular experiences". And that is what I suddenly wanted-- her vision, for herself and all of us, on the front, singular experience of my heart on the back.

Thank you, Chance! It has meant more than I can express to wear the heart, to have my younger son grab and pull at it, to trace the words, on the front and on the back, with my fingertips.

Today is Chance's birthday. Today was also the transfer day for two perfect embryos from Chance and Apollo's first surrogate cycle with the Amazing Kym, who is always happy to put the business end of her very own superheroine cape to good use. Tonight, I imagine, that use was likely a combination blanket/napkin dealie-- after all Frank the Incredible was in charge of the feast-ivities.

Happy Birthday, Chance! I wish you nothing out of the ordinary. Just that in a year's time you will be able to share with us pictures not unlike these.

Chance and Kym, for what it's worth, I am holding my breath for you through these next slightly less than two weeks, and, hopefully, beyond.

P.S. I am also over at Glow in the Woods today, talking about dreams.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Baren Bitches Book Brigade: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

How did I first hear about this book? It seemed like it came out of nowhere, all at once. I saw or heard a very short review of it somewhere, a review that now that I've read the book, did it no justice at all. The next day a friend mentioned seeing it at a bookstore and thinking of me, and not knowing whether to get it for me. I told her no, on the mix of that review and my reaction, clearly colored by the review, to the title of the book. For some reason I let myself believe the book was about the rainbows and unicorns, or, you know, peaceful zen side of dead baby life. Could I have been more wrong? Don't think so.

But then the bloggers I like started reading it, and saying poignant things about it. Some even liked the title. I came to understand that I was wrong about the unicorns, and that I will read it. I just wasn't sure when. And then Tash got to interview Elizabeth at GITW. In a curious way that interview made me put off reading the book for longer-- it became absolutely clear that this was a book that deserved all of me, that I couldn't just read with half my brain or half my soul. Of course then it was on the book club list, and that I couldn't pass up.

Things conspired to keep me from reading well in advance of the tour date, but I finally started last week. At first, along with being pulled in, I was annoyed with myself. For putting it off for so long. I wanted to sit with each little chapter, with so many sentences. And that was even before I got to the much-quoted "closure is bullshit" line (which I love-- can I have a t-shirt with that in bold print? Or one of those rubber bracelets? In pomegranate, of course.).

I thought of the dwarfs of grief and black humor in general. And, as proof of both my infinite geekiness and that very same black humor acting much like a gas (see, there's the geekiness again) in expanding to occupy any and all volume available to it, I immediately thought "These are not the dwarfs you're looking for." And I swear, it went around and around in my head like that. For hours. Cheerful, I know.

Happiest story with the saddest ending. For the rest of my life, I think, plurals will confuse me. A sudden harmless moratorium on babies being born. I wanted to sit with each of these, and so many more. I wanted to think and feel and be. Until, that is, I couldn't stop myself. I wasn't reading anymore-- I was drinking, inhaling, mainlining. And yet, reading each and every word, feeling the impact of each and every word. And, towards the end, anticipating.

Knowing what was coming, I was both crouching and standing tall. I knew the force of the impact to come. I didn't want it to come (hence: crouching), but I knew it had to. It had to because it already did. Warning: mush ahead, might want to skip. But here's the honest truth, truth that also applies to many a blogger for me-- by the time I've walked all the way to the final chapters with Elizabeth, I felt like I was standing on that precipice with her. To turn away now would be cowardly. And so I would do it, the calamity, I would do him, Pudding, the honor of meeting it, meeting him, standing up. He deserves no less. Each and every one of our children deserve no less.

And what of the title that was such a big hangup for me early on? I remember wondering some way through the book when we might find out what it refers to, but only in a very fleeting way. Curiously, by the time I got to where the title is actually explained (and what an explanation it is!), I was startled to find it-- I'd forgotten all about it. Funny, ha?

Now, on to the book club questions.

I understand the author's need to let us know at the beginning of the book that she had another (live) child. Generally, I liked her matter of fact tone and writing style. However, I sometimes felt like I was missing some of her raw emotions about the loss. She rushed over the first few months after the loss and hurried towards the second pregnancy, writing about the affect that the loss had on their lives through that second pregnancy. This could be because she did not want to dwell on it, or because she did get pregnant again so fast (within a year). I wondered what it would have been like to read the book not knowing about her successful second pregnancy (if that was even possible to separate out from the loss). Did you find that it took something away from the way you took her loss or took her book as a whole?

I did not find that the new baby took anything away. In fact (surprise-surprise) this is a bit of a sore spot for me these days as I find myself concerned that others might consider the Cub our fix or a replacement of some sort. I know exactly what Elizabeth means when she says "The love for the first magnifies the love for the second, and vice versa." And I couldn't agree more. I am not asking for a grief medal of any kind, for her or for myself. Nor am I saying that I am in any way worse off than a woman with no subsequent children. I am only asking for the respect individual missing babies surely deserve, as, you know, individuals, loved fiercely and missed equally, regardless of the number of subsequent children their parents had, or the timing of the arrival of the same.

I also disagree with the very premise of this question. I do not find any of the emotions missing. I recognize the raw, even if it is expressed without the use of exclamation points. More so for the lack of exclamation points, possibly. I recognize the suffocating open air flea market, even if my own trigger was never this. I recognize the drinking, and the black humor, and the movies, and the horrible unreality of having dinner with people who won't talk about the only thing echoing through your brain.

But the thing, I think, is that without the distance the year and the second baby afforded Elizabeth, all there would be is that raw pain. And while that is honest and necessary, it isn't easy or even always possible to articulate gracefully while you are right in the middle of it. A year and some weeks (and a live baby) later Elizabeth's truth is different. Her new truth, contained in the final three sentences of the book, is also mine these days. And one I wish for every bereaved parent everywhere.

I don't think you necessarily need a live baby to get there, though I can't deny that having a live baby helps immensely. As, of course, does having an older child. I think that losing a child does change some things about our world fundamentally, one of them being the parameters of happiness. But I do wish happiness within this new definition, with the undercurrent of love and loss, to everyone who isn't there yet. And I wish I could fast forward it for you to where you get there. But I also know the trick is that I can't.

Early in the book Elizabeth talks about her second son as definitively not a "Miracle Baby" and of leaving behind her belief in luck and minor superstitions. How have your ideas of luck, prayer, miracles and superstitions changed as a result of your experiences of infertility and/or child loss? If your ideas changed, how militant are you about your new views? Do you see the changes as casualties, another thing(s) lost? Or do you perceive them as perspective gained, part of the evolving you?

This is actually my question, and I was moved to pose it both by the book and by the conversation in the interview at Glow. And so the core of my own answer comes from the comment I left there.

I am now sort of obnoxiously deliberate about confronting a great many superstitions (as well as some of the people who hold on to them, to my mother's great chagrin). I think of it as being consistent in my world view-- if nobody "up there" made the decision to take my son, than there is no ground to the superstitions either. Perhaps more to the point, conversely, if I succumb to the superstitions, it's like allowing that there is a possibility that there was a decision picking us in particular for this fate. And I just can't go there in my mind.

I also don't view this change as a loss. It's actually kinda freeing.

If you had gone through what Elizabeth McCracken had gone through, would you have wanted a picture? Why or why not?

Thinking about my reaction to the book, I found that it is not that I deal with A's death in exactly the same way that Elizabeth deals with Pudding's. In many places her sentiments are mine exactly, and in others-- not at all. Like with the pictures. Pictures are now emerging for me as the one regret about how we did things. We took our own with the high resolution camera on my blackbery. We had a better camera at home, but not by much. We didn't bring it, and we didn't ask my sister to bring hers. Now I think we took too few. But that's now, and that was then. Then we did things right, for us, then. I will talk more about the pictures soon, but for now that's not the point.

The point is that we could make a big huge table where columns are events, feelings, experiences of baby loss, and rows are people (see?-- geek again). We could find people who come close to matching our little pattern of yays and nays in the table, but that doesn't mean we would only understand them, and not someone with a polar opposite pattern. In the end, I think, we recognize each other's grief, and we honor each other and the child(ren) we each grieve. And that's enough, however we need to grieve them.

On page 94 Elizabeth McCracken writes, "I've never gotten over my discomfort at other people's discomfort" also "I don't even know what I would have wanted someone to say", and I am wondering how you have handled that discomfort when something terrible happened to you (suicide, miscarriage, failed cycle, etc.) Is it better for another person to say something cliche that makes you feel awful or is it better for them to ignore the topic all together?

Option c: it is better for the other person to think of the bereaved rather than of how the other person will look or come across. Say something thoughtful and honest, don't try to fix things, don't tell us how to feel. Don't try to say something profound-- that is about you trying to look good, not about helping us. Given how many people choose options a and b, just not making things worse is a huge accomplishment. Just say you are sorry. Try it-- it's not that hard, I promise.

Hop around to other stops on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Catching up

JD is on a business trip slash skiing in the Alps with friends thing. My aunt was visiting this weekend, but is by now long back in her own house, plane flight and all. Plus we had another lovely snowstorm or rather two, in rapid succession. All of this conspiring to explain why I am waaaaay behind on blogging (and other things, but we won't mention those). Again. This includes me now pushing a show and tell post to next week for the second Sunday running. Better not find another excuse next week...

On the plus side, while my aunt was here and two glasses of wine to the wind, she told me a story about my mother from their childhood that was so hilarious and simultaneously embarrassing in the you are SO busted way that it merited a phone call to the party in question to convey the same sentiment, all without stopping the laughter. Because, you know, it was just.not.possible. This morning my sister stopped by, and we told her the story, and all of us laughed till we cried again, the rapidly cooling lattes be damned. And we called mom again because this was just too rich for one round. We laughed a lot while my aunt was here, which was not necessarily to have been expected. We also ribbed, joked and talked a lot, and generally had a good time.

Except for the whole way behind on everything thing, it was a great long weekend. Oh, and Monkey, while the rest of us were still asleep courtesy of the Cub's generosity, cut a portion of her bangs. Really-really short. Do I need to point out that she didn't, prior to cutting her hair less than 48 hours ago, have bangs? Didn't think so. At least she cut them in a fairly straight line and fairly evenly centered. In case you are wondering, trying to extract the story from her only resulted in more laughter. This shit's funny, yo!

So in celebration of slacking the spirit of catching up, I offer these two shots I took way back in September. I like these a lot (if I do say so myself) even if I didn't get around to posting them in anything resembling a reasonable timeframe.

And one from today, by way of illustrating the snow thing we've got going on.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Straight and narrow

The Cub met the approximate hour of his five months birthday by doing what he has taken to doing in the early hours of the morning these last couple of weeks-- nursing. He did that a couple more times before seven o'clock when he gave a significant portion of it back-- I am pretty sure the kid overate.

We met and dispatched the day by doing nothing in particular, and certainly nothing remarkable. My mom called to say happy five months to him and us, and I said thank you. We mentioned it again at dinner, and JD said "wow, Monkey, can you believe the Cub's been living with us for five whole months now?" And she corrected him by saying that no, he hasn't been at home for that long-- remember that whole week he had to be in the hospital. "Yes, but still with us," JD persisted. Of course, always with us.

For a little over a month now we have been able to make him laugh. Predictably sometimes (by doing particular things, and I certainly do take the opportunity whenever I can), and randomly at other times. He has the infectious laugh of a happy infant, and the unmistakable features of my father's line when he does laugh. And he is in love with his sister. As well he should be. She's been in love from, you know, many many months back. She tells us he is getting heavy (he is), but she doesn't think much of the "so you don't have to pick him up" solution.

And yet, as I've recently told Tash, the Cub exists on a completely different plain inside my heart than his brother. The glorious everyday-ness of his existence is no match for January, for me missing his brother in the particularly intense way that demands that I stop, every so often, in the middle of my day to name the well above the ambient dull ache-- I miss my son. I only say it to myself, inside my head. But I want to scream it on the street as I walk to buy the lunch I didn't have the time to pack that morning-- I miss my son. I still miss my son. More today, these days, than at other times. But I think I will always miss my son.

I've been at this long enough to know that with the significant dates, with the anniversaries, the bark seems to always be worse than the bite. The dates will come whatever I do, and when they are here, we will do what we need to do to get through them. But the days before the days... those seem long, torturously long, stretching towards the last two days of January. But they also seem short, like they will fly and then I won't be ready.

I've been more or less (much more than less) unproductive at work the last couple of days, almost a week. Which is silly because the new semester won't wait for me to be ready. I have to get ready, and in time to help other people get ready too. That the new semester starts in the middle of the last week of January is, I would say, incredibly inconsiderate of it.

I think I have been dragging towards today. From here on out it's A anniversary express-- all aboard! Nothing but build-up, anniversaries of dates and events edged in my memory. And yet, just as there is palpable joy and beauty and gratitude in my every moment with the Cub, I know there is fragile and quiet tribute in the days that lead me to the days. The joy, of course, is plainer to notice, more obvious. Not to mention more pleasant to sit with.

But I will do my best to not wish these days away, to not stomp through them. I will endeavor instead to walk them with the attention and care they deserve. Endeavor, that's all. No promises as to how well I'll do at it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I had to cancel on my sister for tonight. Because I forgot we had other plans, forgetting stemming from my continued inability to synchronize the days of the week with the days of the month in my head. January is messing with me. Ugh...

The thing I canceled, likely moved to tomorrow actually, is our monthly sisterly date. So ok, it hasn't been every month, but we have done well. Usually we go out. This time we are supposed to stay in and mess with the me-s on our new Wii Fit (pooled New Year present from said wonderful sister and BIL and our wonderful parents-- see, blogging can be profitable; um, no, parentals don't read, sister does). Stay tuned for my "actual" age. I am kinda not looking forward to learning what it assigns me. Or exactly how round it makes my me. Can we say embarrassing?

Anyway, I was thinking today of how the sisterly date thing started. My first period after A was weird. [Warning: avert your eyes and scroll for a few if you are not interested in exactly how weird it was.] It took longer to come than the literature says. It sort of started, then disappeared, then started for real. And then on day three of for real got much heavier. Which never happened to me before (or since). [Ok, you can stop averting now.]

I made a mistake of mentioning the weirdness to my mom, who promptly decided that SOMETHING WAS WRONG, and commenced pestering both me and my sister that I should go be seen. Knowing that sometimes the price of peace is doing what she asks, I called. And was told to go to maternity triage. The same triage where I learned that my son had died. Exactly eight weeks before that day. Um-hu.

Luckily, my sister came with. While they ran blood tests, we talked, we snarked, we trash-talked about the long arms of the law mom that caused us to be there in the first place. We laughed, bitterly and sarcastically, but we laughed. And afterwards we went to dinner. And resolved to do that again, once a month or so. Minus the trip to triage, if possible.

I wonder if we looked weird, not two months later, laughing in that place. I wonder what the nurses and midwives who staff that room thought. If they thought our (my, really) reaction strange they never said a word. The one nurse gave us a look after one of our very dark humored jokes, but she rolled with it. And was nice to us.

In the many visits to triage I ended up making in my pregnancy with the Cub I never got anything but kindness from them. Even when I knew I was probably overreacting to this symptom or that, they assured me that they had absolutely nothing better to do, that whatever I needed to do was fine, that they weren't tired of seeing me. (I think, actually, the next time after the visit with my sister that I walked into triage was the time that Dr. Friend and his wonderful ultrasound machine on wheels saved my sanity.)

The reason I am seemingly unable to let go of the memory of us on that triage visit, it having been called up by the sister date thing, the reason I am wondering how we looked... Hey, I know we are judged everywhere. Are we grieving appropriately? Healthy? Or what is it, are we grieving still? Everyone's a critic, I know. It just that it still blows my mind, though I know it shouldn't, how sure some people are of their own infallibility. And how close to the bone they can cut. And how there are some quarters we just don't expect it from. It must be nice to live your life that sure though. Must be simple. Prosecutor, judge, jury, all rolled into one, no defense attorney necessary.

It didn't happen to me this time, but to a friend. But it comes on the heals of another friend getting gobsmacked with a similarly ridiculous and unexpected weirdness, though in another realm altogether. And I stand here, squinting as if at a bright light. Really? Really? The world, is it this fucked up? Still?

So tell me your stories, please. Desensitizing therapy, I suppose. Tell me of how you were stabbed in the back. Or tell me of how it was for you going to the maternity floor, after. Or how you think it might be, whenever you get to go.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


When she started her blog I was still pregnant with A. But not for long. When we exchanged our first emails, I was still so newly grieving I didn't even realize I was still newly grieving. That was on A's due date-- twenty two months less a day ago. And this morning Niobe's baby son was born safely into this world.

I keep trying to express how happy I am for her, and no words seem adequate... For once I am so happy I am nearly mute.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One less

People have been telling me that I look good. What they mean, because I, at nearly 200 pounds on my five-one-and-a-half frame and often with no real time to pay mind to my appearance most decidedly do not look good, is that I look lighter. The other lighter, the less encumbered one rather than the less hefty.

One mom in Monkey's class even went so far as to observe, not two weeks ago, that I go have a new baby and suddenly look better. It's supposed to be the other way around, she said. She didn't remember that she saw me pregnant with A, and I can't really blame her for the very human fuzziness of her memory-- we were only looking at the school then, both of us there for one of the Open Houses. I reminded her, and sometime in the next bit of the conversation came "ah, that explains, then, why you always looked so unhappy." Heh. Good to know, I guess...

Which is to say I knew I looked like hell. I just didn't know I looked that obviously or that consistently like hell. Grief, anxiety, responsibility-- it's a heady cocktail I was living on. Not FDA approved or recommended. I'm just sayin'.

I told JD sometime in the fall that it annoyed me when close friends told me I looked good. Not because I didn't want to look good, but because I didn't. And because them saying I did implied that they could no longer remember back to when I wore sizes in single digits and didn't have to strategically plot my movements around my own house lest the squeaky knee let me know exactly what it thinks of me, my ass, and the stairs. Good, as it applies to me among the people who have hung in apparently means jaw no longer in lockdown mode, smelling baby head with a drunk on love look in the eyes. And I know that's a lot, I do. It's everything, in fact. But it's not looking good, it's looking lighter.

I feel lighter, too. I felt it from the very moment the Cub exited my body. The push that propelled him into the world felt like it took off fifty pounds, or a hundred instead of the less than seven it actually did. It's not that I haven't been flattened with a strategically dumped ton of grief, or driven to deep sadness or profound anger over things that might seem insignificant to anyone else. It's just that it's not all the time now, and that, mostly, the stuff of daily living is not hard.

JD felt terrible that his very important and rather fun business trip left me to fend for myself with two sick kids, and the ever wise Tash reminded me that it's not like I do not have a right to complain. And G-d knows I am not one to suggest that a dead baby mama in possession of a new baby is not allowed to complain about the daily grind because she "got what she wanted." Never. It's just that it didn't feel like there was anything to complain about.

I am not a saint, people, nor do I play one on the internets. There are things I will complain about. Like the seemingly complete lack of sleep now two nights running-- alas I no longer possess the stamina of my undergraduate years and I do not do well on no sleep. I do not even do ok, if you get my meaning. There are even things I will take a certain amount of enjoyment in complaining about, said enjoyment located mainly in crafting the story for maximal effect. It's just that many things that should trigger the desire to complain (see: sick kids, husband away) simply don't. Or not so simply.

We had a gathering for the parents of the kids in Monkey's class a few months ago. I overheard a conversation there, and it's been worming its way inside my head since then. A father of four was telling a mother of three that just that weekend one of his kids had an unexpected sleepover, and suddenly they were able to get so.much.done. I am sure you know how it is, he said, when you temporarily find yourself with just one less than you are used to-- there is all this time you normally spend dealing with the kid who is off at a friend's, and you can now put that time towards a ton of little things that you wouldn't otherwise get to.

Maybe that's just it-- I always have one less. And no, I wasn't used to caring for three, and this is not temporary. Nevertheless, this feels a lot like a key to understanding the source of the very bearable lightness of my being these days-- most troubles are temporary, but I always have one less. Oh, and the troubles that look like they could possibly be non-temporary? Those still freak me right out.

P.S. Somehow this seems apropos here: I noticed that I have trouble saying "both kids". I can do it without the "kids," if, for example, in a previous clause I have identified them individually, e.g. Monkey wants an apple, the Cub could use his toy from the kitchen counter, and they both need baths tonight. But I feel like without the setup it's the wrong word to use for the two when the one in the middle is missing. I noticed that I am having the same issue in both languages. Anyone else with me, or am I overthinking the heck out of this?