Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blueberry Birthday

A few minutes ago it was 9:38 p.m., the time Natalie decided she was ready to greet the world. Oh, what a strange day today was. So many emotions, so many memories, so many wonderings. What would she be like now? As painful as it has been to lose precious Natalie, I am forever blessed that she came into my life three years ago today.

The yellow and black swallowtail butterfly came back to Natalie's garden this morning. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I'm not so crazy after all. Is it a coincidence that the butterfly returned today? I like to think not. It made for a special way to start this most difficult day.

This afternoon, Roslyn and our friend, Laura, went blueberry picking in Seekonk. It was perfect weather and the picking was good. I thought how appropriate it was that Natalie liked blueberries so much, as they are perfectly ripe and in season on her birthday. It is fitting.

Christopher, Roslyn, and I commemorated her birthday and her life with us by having a blueberry birthday cake like the one I made for her first birthday, two years ago. Roslyn blew out the one candle and we all cried, and then we laughed as Roslyn remembered how Natalie used to like to grab her hair. (Of course she did, Roslyn's hair is so beautiful, it begs to be touched.) Oh, my sweet baby girl. You are forever in our hearts.

Thank you to all our friends and family who reached out to us today. It is nice to know Natalie is still remembered and loved. For me, the next worst thing after losing Natalie would be to let her memory die, too. I pray that anyone reading this blog will keep Natalie's joyful spirit in their hearts.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Natalie Joy.
Always Love, Mommy

Monday, July 28, 2008


Natalie's birthday is tomorrow. I cried a lot today. I feel so unbelievably sad. Just sad, sad, sad. I almost feel like I did in the first few days and weeks after she died, when I was in that grief fog. It's so exhausting.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Arms wide open

It was a beautiful day today, and I decided to walk the 2.6 miles home from work to get some exercise and fresh air. On the way, I passed a house where I'd gone to a yard sale with Roslyn and Natalie two years ago. Looking toward the house, I was suddenly struck by the powerful memory of going there with my girls. I had Natalie in the back pack, which she always loved. I felt sad, but also glad to have another memory to remember. Today was Natalie's original due date three years ago. It was so hot that week.

As I approached home, I saw Roslyn and her friend Margaret standing on the sidewalk in front of our house. Roslyn saw me and came running with arms open wide and a beaming smile on her face. I felt a rush of joy and ran to greet her, too. Biiiiigggg Hug! That made my day. Thank you, sweet Roslyn.

"How are you?"

Yesterday a guy from the gas company came to do a routine check on our gas meter. He rang the bell and I answered the door and greeted him. He said, "hi, how are you?" Without batting an eye, I said "fine." Then I noticed he had tears welling up in his eyes, and he motioned to the faded picture of Natalie and the notice of her passing that we still have posted on our front door. I immediately knew why he looked like he was about to cry. I sighed and clumsily said, "well, fine is all relative." He said, "that just breaks my heart."

I showed him the basement and after a couple minutes he reemerged with the information he needed. He apologized for upsetting me, as I was getting teary-eyed, too. I said, "No, I appreciate it. It's nice to know people care." And then he left.

I never know when something is going to hit me like that. Living with this grief now, as it comes in waves, is very unpredictable. One minute I may be "fine," and the next, I'm a blubbering mess on the couch. People often apologize to me for what they perceive is "reminding" me of it. I always feel bad that they must think they've said something to upset me. But it's really impossible for anyone to "remind" me of it. I can't escape it. And it's nice when people give me an outlet for it.

I am grateful to the National Grid guy, whose name I don't know. Grateful that he was moved enough to take the time to acknowledge Natalie and our tragic loss. In some ways, it would have been easier if he didn't say anything about it, but I would be left feeling like the world doesn't care anymore. And that's an extremely painful thing to deal with. I am always grateful when people say Natalie's name, or have the guts to ask me really how I'm doing.

The standard greeting of "how are you?" is so loaded for me now. Most of the time, I just say "OK" and leave it at that. In other cultures, there are outward signs to show when someone is grieving -- wearing all black, an armband, etc. But it doesn't work that way in our society. It's an awkward feeling sometimes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Sighting

I saw the first monarch butterfly of the season yesterday, in Natalie's garden. This picture was taken last year at the dedication of Natalie's garden we had to commemorate her birthday. We released 24 monarch butterflies, a beautiful symbol of her short, but oh so sweet life. (She would have been 24 months old.)

I was feeling particularly sad this morning. After taking Roslyn to "summer camp," I decided to have a quiet cup of tea in Natalie's garden. As I sat there admiring the beauty of the garden and thinking about everything from how much I miss her to wondering if I planted the hydrangea too close to the Japanese maple, I was visited by a spectacular yellow and black butterfly, the kind with the pointy tips on the end of its wings. I'd never seen one like it in our yard before. It was very interested in the light purple butterfly bush (the same one in the picture), and returned many times to the blossom closest to where I was sitting, about two feet away.

I often wonder if this is, in some small way, a sign from my sweet Natalie. I like to think it is her way of letting me know she's ok, that she's still here with me. But then, my practical, rational side kicks in and I think, "that's just crazy." I have conversations back and forth with myself about it. If it gives me comfort to think it's a sign from her, it's ok. I am ever mindful to "pay attention." But really, it's just a butterfly. It's not Natalie. But who's to say it isn't? And so on it goes.

In any case, watching the silent flutter of its delicate wings and its graceful flight as it searched for the best landing spot on the bush, a peace and calm came over me, and I felt better. So, at the risk of sounding crazy, I would like to thank the universe for this gift today. I am grateful.

Friday, July 18, 2008


On March 18, 2007, my life was suddenly shattered. My heart was forever broken. I woke up that morning to find my daughter, Natalie, had passed away in her sleep. Suddenly I was living every parent's worst nightmare. Natalie was only 19 months old. She was a happy and healthy little girl with a pure heart that was full of love and sweetness. As I write this now 16 months later, I still cannot believe she is really gone. I still can't believe she died. She died. Oh, my god, she died! How could this have happened to her? To our family? And now, 16 months later, after the rest of the world has moved on with their lives, I am still here. Still living the nightmare of March 18. Still in agonizing pain. Still constantly missing my baby girl. Always wondering what she'd be like now, as a bright and busy three-year-old.

Natalie's passing is the single most difficult and painful thing I've ever experienced. No mother should ever have to find her child like I did. The horror of that morning haunts me each and every day. I cannot shake the images of her lifeless body, the way she looked, the way she felt. It isn't fair! But one thing I have learned is that life isn't fair. Bad things do happen to good people. Natalie certainly didn't deserve this. None of us did.

There will be much more about this part of my life WITHOUT my child in future postings.

Now, let me introduce the other half of my life WITH my child. Roslyn, Natalie's big sister, is now almost 5 1/2. She is growing by leaps and bounds and radiates with self-confidence and charm. In so many ways, she is my savior. She is my reason for getting up in the morning, and a big part of what brings a smile to my face despite my overwhelming grief. It's such a bizarre dichotomy to feel so much happiness and so much sadness all at the same time. Sometimes I feel a little bit crazy.

Roslyn continues to delight me. She took this picture herself. Yesterday she drew a picture for me. It's a picture of me in my Halloween costume as a bumblebee standing on our very colorful (in the picture anyway) living room rug. I took it to work today and proudly hung it on my office wall. Seeing it makes me smile.

More soon.