Tuesday, March 31, 2015


It is turning into Spring.

A few weeks ago the pear trees all over the city burst into fleecy white bloom, as if each tree was arraying herself in a delicate bridal veil, modestly preparing herself to meet her bridegroom. The cherry trees followed, and then a pale green mist started to settle on the trees as tender new leaves unfurled from the bare branches. Half a mile down the country road that leads to where we live, one of the fields lay in a purple mist of some kind of wildflower. Brown grass is giving way to green. A week ago my husband tore up the ugly bushes in our front garden patch and planted liriope and rose bushes instead, and the peachy rose blooms smile through our front windows. I bought snapdragons and dianthus and a wallflower plant and transplanted them in the empty plant pots behind our back porch.

It is my first springtime here, even though we've lived here almost two years. Last spring I was sick in bed with unrelenting pregnancy nausea through all of March and April. I didn't see how freshness and greenness crept in and pushed back the drab brown of winter. I didn't see how the golden pollen dust covered every outside surface, and how when it rains the pollen collects in yellow veins in the cracks and crannies of sidewalk and street. I didn't feel the springtime air, warming the blood after the chill of winter, refreshing senses dulled by too much indoors. I didn't see the misnamed redbud trees peeping shyly out from thickets of other trees still dormant– splashes of pinky-lavender color like a promise of all the richness of summer to come.

Yet both these springtimes I've carried life inside me. And even as the earth ripples and trees bud and ripen and the spring sunlight dapples the shadows with the promise of spring, my body swells with the little one growing inside me, my belly ripples and undulates with his movements, my breasts ripen in preparation for feeding him, and my heart remains caught in the chiaroscuro dance between dark and light, grieving still for what was and learning to feel the joy for what-we-hope-will-be.

Because how do you do it? As a dear friend put it who also mourns her first daughter even as she cares for her babies here on earth: how do you be a mother to children in two worlds? How do you walk in the sunlight and weep in the shadows in the same day, sometimes the same hour? I talk to our little boy and grin at his wild gymnastics, and the grin fades into tears as I remember how I never reached the point where I could feel his sisters moving inside me. We finally screw up the courage to buy a carseat– the same carseat we looked at a year ago, and I have to have Nate put his hand over mine on the computer mouse to help me click "purchase" because every day gets me closer to meeting this little son and every thing we do to prepare for his arrival is a reminder of what we never did for Livia and Lucy. I finally reach a place of clear-sightedness to see just how much I've shut down emotionally during this pregnancy with our Tadpole, how much trauma lurks in the corners and in the memories, how much I am in need of help to sort through it all, to drag it out from darkness into the light. I find a therapist who is trained in grief, in post-partum depression, in post-traumatic stress disorder. There is a kind of relief in pouring it all out before a kind, gentle stranger, in admitting that I am lost, that I don't know what to do, that I both long for and fear the birth of my son, that I don't know how to bond with him and yet guard the bond I have with his sisters.

I suspect that I will be wrestling with these things the rest of my life; that as changeless as the cycle of seasons will come the ebb and flow of hope and hurt. Springtime will always follow winter; death must always precede resurrection– until that Day when He will wipe every tear from my eye.

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