Monday Musings--No Matter What Happens

Monday, October 6, 2008
There was a lot of talk about "comfort" in the media this weekend. In at least 3 different publications, I saw printed recipes for "comfort food"--macaroni and cheese, soups, starchy carb-y goodness--accompanying articles about simple ways we can get through this moment in our nation's history, and still smile. In the Bay Area on Saturday, the period of rain began--this is how we mark the seasons out here--and people took the opportunity to bunker down, stay home, unplug. The economy has people down, the highly-anticipated VP debate has passed, we are in a little bit of a respite before the Diwali, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Holiday parties. Time for rejuvenation, relaxation--time to comfort ourselves.

Comforting my kids thus far has been easy. They are 2 1/2 and 8 months, and even the most body-shaking tears can be soothed by hugs, diversion, and, yes, candy. They are blissfully, heart-breakingly oblivious. They don't even need macaroni and cheese to feel safe yet--they have no idea what "feeling safe" means and even if they did, they would never be able to understand the connection between that box of pasta and powder and the feeling of comfort (and in that way they are more intelligent than we give them credit for!) There must be some part of them, on some subconscious level, that knows or feels or reacts to being taken care of. How else to explain the empty, soul-crushing eyes of neglected children? But that part of them--the part that is appreciating us even when they have no capacity to appreciate us--that part is happily below the surface, so much so that it is barely there at all.

Yesterday, my kids and I cocooned. We made hot chocolate, ate cereal for lunch and dinner, forewent baths and makeup, tackled each other on my bed, let the phone ring, didn't wash the dishes. During the dress-up portion of the festivities, in which my eldest son teetered around in my heels and my youngest bounced himself in his bouncer with a light-up necklace around his neck, a purse I hadn't used in about 9 months fell off a shelf in my closet. It was the bag I carried to and from the hospital every day, for 24 days, when my youngest son was re-admitted to the hospital at 10 days old. Just as seeing my prom dress takes me back to 1995 and puts "Night Swimming" on in my head, seeing this bag transported me back to February. For a few days in February that, at this point, play in my head like a movie as opposed to my life, the fate of my son was unclear. He was tiny and he wouldn't eat and I barely knew him and every doctor and nurse was doing everything they could for him, but I felt completely helpless, completely unable to comfort him and make his world better. I made the proverbial deals with a God I'm not even sure I believe in, only to mock myself for doing the same; I chanted "you will be okay you will be okay" over and over in my head, just so my mind wouldn't wander to any other alternative. I wrote letters to my 10 day old son.

Inside the bag were some of the letters. I couldn't get myself to read all of them, but I did read the first one on the pile. It is more of a snapshot of my heart than it is prose. It's written in dark Sharpie ink--from a marker I borrowed from a nurse--and it's on the back of a brochure about breastfeeding. "No matter what happens," it begins. We didn't know, when I wrote this letter, whether my son would live. We didn't know what kind of life he could have if he did. We didn't know if he would ever smile, or talk, or walk, or laugh. We didn't know anything. "No matter what happens," the note says, "you will know love."
10 comments:
achattha said...

i am overwhelmed by your words and my heart and tears fell as i read this

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing these beautiful words that help to put things into perspective.

Mira said...

I have never commented on a blog before. My friend forwarded your blog a week or so back and I checked in last week and enjoyed it. But this post is amazing, I had to comment. I am pregnant with my first baby. I am touched by the way you can convey humor and insight at the same time. This really moved me.

Mira said...

Soory I posted before I meant to. I wanted to say that I have many friends who have kids and they are all wonderful parents. But it seems like the main dialogue of parenthood these days involves complaining about our children. Obviously life changes but it's nice to read something that reminds us why we have kids too and it's ncie to read it without a saccharine overcoat so thanks.

Sandy said...

wow this made me cry...beautifully written.

MarathonMegs said...

Wow. That was beautiful and moving. Thank you for sharing that.

parutron said...

xoxo

deepa said...

Thanks for all these kind words--it felt awesome to write this post, and it felt awesome to get such wonderful feedback.

Neha said...

This is one of the most beautiful things I have read in recent memory and I'm not even a mom. (Found your site through Ultrabrown and then Sepia). I think you guys have something here, I have many friends (who are moms) who don't feel like there is anything that talks to them, specifically. I can't really relate yet but I'm sure all of them can't be crazy?

Anonymous said...

That is really very touching indeed to read, how well you have written it, I can feel right in my heart what you would have gone through all those days in the hospital. Many times we can't even express those feelings as it is so heavy in our hearts, you have done a great job of putting it all into perspective. Lots of love and hugs...

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