The Serviceman

He could feel the sweat begin to pool on his brow.  It was 11:43, exactly seventeen minutes until he felt he could reasonably break for lunch.  As he turned the Phillips screwdriver on the riveted glass of the light fixture, he thought about the sandwich he painstakingly made this morning.  Two swabs of mayonnaise on both bread slices.  Three leaves of lettuce.  Four slices of meat.  A slice of tomato and a two slices of cheese.  His mouth began to water.  Seventeen minutes.

At 12:01, he was replacing the glass to the light fixture when Terry arrived, asking if he could eat lunch first.  The answer was an instinctual yes.  Terry was known for taking longer than a half hour, but he could take a look at the flickering light in the foyer while he waited.

He bit into his sandwich at 12:46, the same time Mike - his manager – told him one of the A/C units was on the fritz at the main office.  Let me know when you’re finished, Mike had said.  But he ate the sandwich in three large bites and followed Mike, leaving the bag of chips and chocolate M&Ms for later.

Three-forty-five and the A/C unit was not yet working on a 90-degree day.  The employees at the office were leaving suit jackets on the back of chairs and fanning themselves.  He was due to take a break, but he knew if he could just isolate the problem, the solution would reveal itself.  It was almost time to go home, and he didn’t want anyone to swelter the next day.

The cold air was moving through the office at 4:02.  A few people clapped and one young intern cheered from the cubicles.  Their last hour of the day would not be spent in an oven.

His cell phone went off at 4:16 while he was fixing a sticky window in the office of one of the assistant managers.  It was his wife, and she wanted to know what time he would be home for dinner.  He told her he didn’t know, that he had to stop and see his mother on the way home, and he still wasn’t sure what time he would be leaving work.  She sighed and said she would put his dinner in the refrigerator so he could reheat it when he got home.  Meanwhile, in the background he could hear his grandson squeal and scream near the phone.

At 4:58, Terry said he had dinner plans with his girlfriend and wanted to know if he could leave early.  Before he could tell him to go, Mike appeared with the news that there was something wrong with the electricity in one of the auxiliary buildings.  He could see the reluctance in Terry’s face as he offered to stay, so he told him to go on home and that he would take a look at it.  Mike sighed with relief.

It was 6:30 when he got into his car.

He pulled in his mother’s driveway at 6:47.  Her garbage cans were still by the street, so he brought them in as he entered the garage.  He shouted hello from the kitchen, and he heard his mother greet him over the TV.  Before he could go see her, he noticed her pill dispenser was out, and several pills were on the counter.  He asked if she had taken her medicine with dinner, and she replied that she wasn’t sure which ones she needed to take.  He sighed as it occurred to him that she was becoming more forgetful, and less independent.

He poured a glass of water and shuffled the pills into his hand and brought both to her.  She smiled at him and asked if he had eaten any dinner, and he said had dinner waiting at home.  Then he asked if she needed anything before he left, and she told him her bedside lamp wasn’t working.  A simple bulb replacement later, he said goodbye with the reminder to call him if she had questions about the medications she needed to take at bedtime.  She said she would, and thanked him again for coming to see her.

It was 7:59 when he arrived home.

There was no one to greet him, as he heard the water running upstairs, signaling it was his grandson’s bath time.  He placed his keys on the shelf by the door and was about to head for the kitchen when his cell phone rang.  It was Mike.  When he answered, Mike told him that one of the managers of the main office had accidentally left his keys inside, thereby locking out the staff in the morning, and could he get there before 7:00am the next day to make sure everyone could start work on time.  He said he would be there, and he hung up the phone.

At 8:15, he took his plate of food out of the microwave and sat down to eat.

After two bites, he heard his grandson’s quick descent down the stairs as his wife shouted instructions for him to say goodnight.  His grandson appeared in his pajamas, smelling of Suave.  He opened his arms and his grandson fell into them, quickly muttering something that sounded like “night” as he avoided eye contact with his grandfather.  He said goodnight and wished him good dreams, and his grandson clapped his hands in front of his face eight times.  The ritual completed, he ran out of the kitchen and back up the stairs, his deepening voice squealing at every step.

He ate his dinner quietly and methodically as he listened to his wife’s soothing bedtime stories travel down from the second floor.  After two lullabies, he was finished with dinner, and he took a deep breath as he heard the soft shuffle of her gait.

She sat down at the table across from him and asked how his day was.

Fine, he said.

She asked how his mother was, and he considered telling her about the pills.  Instead, he replied that she, too, was fine.

She wiped her face with her hands, clearly exhausted, before she began to recap her day.

She was late to work this morning because she was on the phone with the insurance company to dispute a denial of coverage for one of her surgeries.  She was berated at work by a patient who was demanding a second round of pain medications that the doctor refused to fill.  Then that afternoon she received a call from the middle school that her grandson had bitten another child, and they were holding him in the office until she could pick him up.  On her way to the school, she stopped at the store for a few essential groceries.  When she picked him up from school, he screamed the duration of the trip until she took him for an ice cream and he finally calmed down.  Then she told him that their neighbor had been laying in front of her house, having fallen trying to go up the concrete stairs, and she had to call the ambulance to pick her up.  She spent the rest of the evening keeping her grandson occupied until it was time to get ready for bed.

He sighed and said nothing.

She blinked a few times before suddenly exclaiming that she forgot to bring the groceries in from the car.

With being prompted, he immediately jumped up from his chair and started for the door.

He pulled the two plastic bags from the car in the driveway.  Laundry detergent.  Granola bars.  Nothing that would have spoiled.  No money wasted.  This made him so cheerful, he was whistling when he walked through the front door a second time.

At 10:00, his wife turned on the TV.  He settled into his favorite spot on the couch as she tried to engage him in more conversation.  But the day was almost over, and conversation was as difficult a task as staying awake.  He fell asleep three times before the 11:00 news came on, and his wife went upstairs to bed.

At 11:27, he turned off the TV.

As he got ready for bed, he reminded himself that he needed to be up early tomorrow, and that he should set his alarm accordingly.  He pictured the faces of the staff as he arrived with the key, and smiled at the realization that he was both their savior and their prison warden.

His wife asked what he was smiling about, and he said nothing, that he was just thinking about work.

It was 11:59 when he got into bed and turned off the light.

And before he fell asleep, he remembered the bag of chips and chocolate M&Ms he left on the table in the break room.

Three Words

Recently I entered a contest on This Is Nowhere, the unofficial fan blog of The Airborne Toxic Event.  The rules of entry were simple: Submit three words that best summarize what the band means to you via text or video, and win a prize.  When I read the contest rules, however, I smiled and shook my head and immediately disqualified myself.

Three words.

Suddenly I was back in elementary school, sitting at a wooden desk that smelled of pencil shavings and art supplies, with a stack of lined notebook paper.  I could see my arm shooting up as soon as the teacher finished explaining the rules.  “Does it have to be just three words?  Can we do more?  Can we write a page?  Can we write a short story?”

How about a blog post?  How about a novella?

No.  You already did that.  Stick to the assignment . . . er, contest rules.

Three words.

The task hung over me like a raincloud.  How was I supposed to come up with just three words that summarized three years’ worth of music, of raucous rock shows, of testing my husband’s patience and wallet?

I was never supposed to.  I couldn’t.  After all, I was the reason for a teacher’s long sigh at a 12-page story for a one-paragraph assignment.  Three words?  Forget it.

Then other fans started sharing their three-word entries.  Instead of diving into the Deep Significance of Life, they chose the clever route.  Some were laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Some even got their children involved.  And I realized that, once again, I was way overthinking things.

I brought Hubby into the brainstorm.

“Help me think of three words that best describe Airborne,” I said.  “What three words would you say?”

“Poop monkey butt.”

He always knows which buttons to push to get me just upset enough to laugh.  “No, seriously.”

“Well, it would have to be something about music.  And something that captures the show.  Because they put on an amazing show.  I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

“It can’t be something lame.”

“No.”

“This is hard.”

“Oh, come on.  You’re The Girl With the Bird.  You’ll think of something.”

And I did.  Eventually, at the last hour.  I went the clever route.  Something I hoped would encapsulate their music, literary edge, and crazy devoted fans like me.  Hubby helped me make a little video.  I watched it once through squinted and scrutinizing eyes and sent it along with the request that I not be included in the running.  I made this just for fun.  The serious stuff I save for here, on this blog that has become the public version of my heart.

The day after I submitted the video, I started thinking more seriously about it.  How would I describe its significance without the need to break out a bottle of wine and a box of tissues and the warning that some people are unable to even read it?

That’s when I stopped thinking about the band.  I stopped hearing the music in my head.  My mind fell silent, like someone had hit the mute button.

Three words.

Three years.

The mental photographs I took began to flood my mind with little 3-second memory montages.  The innumerable amount of times I listened to the music.  All six shows.  Road trips and one trip to California.  All the fantastic people I met, all the sweaty hugs I’ve received, all the times I cried when a certain lyric or swell of the violin punched me in the gut and left me crying on the treadmill, in the car, at the grocery store, in an empty house, and on the way to the hospital the day my second son was born.

This is life after Wesley.

Life.

After.

Wesley.

Three words.

Three words that are meaningless to anyone else, and have nothing to do with the people that make up The Airborne Toxic Event.  They are not clever or profound.  But its these Three Words that reflect more to me than pages glutted with verbosity ever could.

Life after Wesley.

It’s not the life I wanted, but it’s living nonetheless.

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The View from Here

Her words were kind.  Well-meaning.  She chirped good intentions like a cheerful bird in springtime.

“I hope things go back to normal.”

“I hope you find your old self again.”

From an aerial view, things look promising, like a construction zone.  Reorganize, rebuild, recover.  There are a million things to do and an endless amount of diapers to change.  Instead of sad songs, there are lullabies.  There is laughter.  Empty days of melancholy are now busy days of work and progress.  There is always laundry.  Dishes.  And more diapers.

There is a smile from a little boy that is like gentle sunshine through clouds, making the flowers grow amongst these ruins.

But there is still darkness.  A dread exists in the quiet of night.  I chase away fear on a daily basis.  I scold it like a naughty pet.  Don’t think about that.  That’s bad.  Then I tell myself:  Things are okay.  They are good.

Like the nurse at the hospital who kindly reminded me that I was in the “healthy” wing, not the NICU.  We were there because I had a full-term baby, and he was fine.  Still, she put a butterfly on the outside of our door, as a reminder to other nurses that we “lost” a baby.

Things are hardly normal around here.

I used to be sick when people asked if this was our first baby.  “No,” I would say as my throat threatened to close, “we lost our first baby.”  But I am sick of that word.  Lost.  As if he suddenly slipped away without our knowledge.  “Losing a baby” could mean a miscarriage or a stillbirth, both excruciatingly painful realities for a mother.  But Wesley died in my arms.  So instead I make myself say the word died.  “Our first baby died.”  The truth stings as it liberates me from ambiguity.

This truth makes me cherish every moment as much as every moment serves as a reminder of what we lost.  Every milestone is one Wesley did not reach.  Every hug, every cuddle, every coo.  I work to suppress the past and focus on the now.  Focus on the boy who is living, and remember the boy who lived.  It’s a balancing act.  One boy should not have to live in the shadow of the other, and neither should he live under the constant unwholesome fear of his mother.

Being a mother is hard.  Being a mother with a child who passed away is even harder.  Daily I am struggling to figure out who I am.  “I’m just making this up as I go along” is my official motto.  All I know is I want to be a kind, nurturing, patient mother with the ability to inspire confidence in my child.  This is a constant work in progress.  This is a construction zone.  Reorganize, rebuild, recover.

In the last few years, I have been a wide array of different people.  There are several different versions of myself in between the “old self” and the one that is presently occupying my body.  I haven’t been my “old self” in years.  In fact, I don’t really like that version of myself at all.  Yes, she had good intentions.  She was well-meaning.  But she was also judgmental, ignorant, and naïve.  While I hate the reason for the state of these ruins, qualities like genuine compassion and empathy that were borne from the ashes are priceless.

In the constant hustle and bustle that is happening here, I try to find a quiet moment when I can look back and see how far I have come.  Sometimes I am so deep in the rebuilding of myself and my life that I forget where I am in this journey.  In the past, the only way to do this was to climb a tree and see my progress from a distance.  Now I feel like I can fly.  I’m still a wounded bird, but at least I can soar to greater heights that would be unable to scale otherwise.  And I can see the mountains and rivers I’ve crossed stretch out before me to the horizon.  It amazes me that I’m still alive.

Things will never be “normal,” and I’m not interested in rebuilding with my “old self” in mind.  The person I want to be is far better than that, wounds and all.

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The Journey of Grief

Congratulations.  You’ve won.

You’re going on a trip.  There is no time to pack.  The realization swallows you up and drops you in the middle of nowhere.  A dusty road is ahead, stretching all the way to the horizon.  There is nothing for miles.  Your only option is to start walking.

Except you don’t.  You sit in the middle of the road and ask yourself how you got here.  Why you?  Why now?

The sun beats down in you in the day.  The night is cold and dark.  More often than not, the torrential rains pour.  You’re completely exposed to the elements.  Hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, wet.  Confused, afraid, angry, alone, and indescribably sad.  You realize you can’t stay here.  You have to go somewhere, or you’ll go insane.

The Journey begins.

This is no walk in the park.  You’re already weathered, your skin sunburnt, your body fragile and probably sick.  You gradually realize you’re just trying to survive, and most days you wish you wouldn’t.

Somehow, you do.  You find food along the way.  It isn’t much at first, but it sustains you.

Still, the rain pours more often than the sun shines.  Both tax your reserves.  There is no middle ground.  Not yet, anyway.

Eventually, you notice the scenery changes up ahead.  A few trees offer shade.  You find refuge from the rain.  But you can only set up camp for so long.  You have to keep moving forward.

There are days when the weather is favorable and you cover many miles.  But then there are weeks when you barely move at all.

You find there are other people who communicate with you, but often at a distance.  They are afraid of getting too close to your road.  They know you will face many perils they are unprepared to witness.  These are the people who cheerfully talk about the weather.  “The sun is shining,” they proclaim from behind their sunglasses, but it is burning you.  “Learn to dance in the rain,” they advise, but it is drowning you.  These are the people who judge your position in this journey.  “Why are you still at Point B?  Shouldn’t you be at Point C?”

Yet they have no understanding or comprehension that there is no gradual progression to a point.  There are no places of interest on this road.

However, there are people who don’t say anything at all.  And if they do, it is usually in the form of “Keep Going.”  Some may hold the umbrella during a downpour.  Some may even walk with you for a spell.  Others will come during your darkest hours and sit with you until the first sign of light returns.

This journey is not a race.  It is a lifelong trek across a dangerous wilderness.  There are no detours and no shortcuts.

But you start to realize there isn’t just an end.  There is a destination.

Years may pass along this road.  Decade after decade.  The seasons will change, but the road doesn’t get easier.  Any peace or sense of calm you may have is always followed by a sickening dread of reality, that you are on this road alone and you have no idea when you’ll get There.  Sometimes you wonder if there is even a “There” at all.

But you have to believe there is.  And when you finally arrive, people will want to know how you survived.  Those who’ve never been on this journey will marvel at your seeming strength.  And you will laugh at them, remembering all the times you fell down and failed.

But you know how you survived.  And at the end of this road, the people who held the umbrellas and walked with you and sat in the darkness with you will be there.  And you will know that you were never truly alone after all.

You survived.  You made it.  Let the healing begin.

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Concert Buddies

Oh, the injustice.

There she was, standing next to him.  She was smiling, he was laughing at something she said.  She was inches away from where he stood, and I was miles.

I zoomed in on the picture on my phone, if only to torture myself.

So he was real.  So I didn’t just imagine him.  She had met him.  She was the proof.  Though I hadn’t seen her in months – wait . . . years – she hadn’t changed at all.  Still the tattoos.  Still the same signature ‘come hither’ smirk she was now using on him.

I tried being reasonable.

I hate her, I thought to myself.  I hate her stupid face.  I hate everything about this day!

I blinked back tears and looked up from my phone.  The scene was more than I could bear.  I was nothing short of trapped at an airport, waiting to get on a plane that never came, while my favorite band was about to take the stage just miles away.  And an old acquaintance of mine had just met the lead singer.

There was more than jealousy going on here.  This was some kind of twisted metaphor.  This was the story of hopeless defeat and crushing disappointment.

I was supposed to be on a plane, comforting myself with the knowledge that I was going on vacation and they probably weren’t that good anyway and the likelihood I would have been as lucky as the woman in the picture was next to nothing, and they were only just a band.

But the plane was delayed.  Then the flight was canceled.  Then the crushing disappointment finally got to me.  I officially lost all common sense.  The rest is history.  It is Madness.

There is a loneliness to being in love with a band that no one has even heard of.  It is not the same for people who love The Beatles or The Killers or The Rolling Stones.  If you put ten people in a room, there is a one-hundred percent chance they have heard of those bands, and the odds are just as great that two out of ten of those people will like the same band.  A kinship is then born.  What’s your favorite song?  Favorite album?  Who’s your favorite band member?  How many times have you seen them perform?  Why does that particular band speak to you?

You get my drift.

Instead, when I’m in a group of two or ten or even a hundred people, there is a ninety-nine percent chance I’m going to hear “The Airborne Toxic Event? Who is that?”

So for months, it was just me, by myself, alone.

Then my best friend ran into an old acquaintance at a music festival.  She was glowing and excited, having met Mikel Jollett only minutes earlier.  She had the pictures to prove it.  My best friend sent me her pictures while I was feeling sorry for myself at the airport, with the disclaimer (or warning) that “she’s just as obsessed with the same weird band as you are.”

It’s like being an only child and then finding out you have a twin somewhere.

Once I got over my petty jealousy – and met the man himself at a show two days later – I decided we were long overdue to get back in touch.  After all, she was in her mid-twenties and I was just a stupid teenager the last time we hung out.  Back then, we didn’t have very much in common.  Now she had a family and I was a bereaved mother.  Things had definitely changed.  But somehow, for some reason, we liked the same obscure band.  I wanted to find out why.  I wanted to know her favorite song, her favorite album, her favorite band member.  How many times had she seen them perform?  Why does this particular band speak to her?

Later, through the magic of social media, I went from having a twin to an entire family – a whole group of people who shared the same kind of obsessive love for the same band, for reasons not unlike my own.  We are a kind, empathetic lot.  Most of us have experienced the uglier side of life.  But at a show, all of us remind me of happy children, laughing and singing and smiling in spite of our circumstances.  We have more in common than we even realize.  And we are sharing a moment.  We are making memories.  These concerts are snapshots of our lives, and we’re all in the front row, smiling like we have never felt pain.  But more than likely, we smile and sing and dance like this because we have.

The acquaintance in the photograph is now a friend again.  We are each other’s devil’s advocate, plotting ways to get ourselves to Airborne shows, be they a hundred miles away or a thousand, perhaps to the chagrin of our long-suffering husbands.  It could be said I am grateful to her, for without her I never would have gone to California once or Chicago twice, and we never would have hung out backstage with the band That One Time.

But at the end of the day, I was right the first time.  They are just a band.  She and I, however – we are friends.  And I am grateful to the band, because I know so much more than her favorite song.  Without them, I might never have known what a kind, selfless, passionate, funny, and fascinating person she truly is.

I might never have stood in the pit of the Chicago venue with her, several feet away from Mikel Jollett.  We were not in the front row.  We didn’t have the chance.  My obsessive-compulsive need to be in the front row would just have to get over it.

Oh, the injustice.

But there we were, standing next to each other.  She was smiling, I was weeping during “The Graveyard Near the House.”  She was inches away from where I stood.  Then she closed the distance between us – all those years we were out of touch, all the space and time we could have been friends but weren’t – and she put her arms around me and held me as my shoulders shook and the tears poured down The Airborne Bird on my cheek.

I love her, I think to myself.  I love that she is here, and that I am not alone.

So many of us are waiting for friends like her.  The next time you go to a concert to see your favorite band, take a look at the people around you as you share a moment and make memories.  You have more in common than you realize.  Such friends are closer than you think.

Until the End of Time . . .

Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place . . .

A friend told me she recently watched the movie Moulin Rouge and it reminded her of my wedding, specifically the song “Come What May.”

I laughed at first, for two reasons.

The first was that I forgot there was a prior version of myself from way-back-when, when I used to love that movie and that song.

The second reason I laughed was because I forgot it was our wedding song.

I forgot.

How do you just forget the song you danced to at your own reception?

I spent nine months planning our wedding.  Years of dating had yielded plenty of inspiration.  Then there was The Proposal, but I was uninterested in using a Disney song.  Or perhaps Hubby was not on board.  I can’t be expected to remember these details when I can’t even remember what we chose.

No one particular Disney song fit us, anyway.

There really was only one song that we could even begin to call “ours,” though perhaps it was a stretch at the time.  After all, “we were only seventeen . . .”  What did we know of love and life?  We weren’t even dating.  Yet.

Hubby’s band was playing a gig for friends in his grandparents’ backyard.  And since I was part of this rather unusually large network of friends spanning two states, my best friend and I were invited, though my invitation came straight from the bass player himself.  I had an inkling that he liked me.  And I was surprised that I was falling for him, too.  We were already good friends.  He was a gentleman and he made me laugh.  He also played the guitar.  Just how well I didn’t know until that day.

I must have told him that I could kind-of, sort-of sing, because I remember him asking me to sing something that day.  Any old thing would do.  I remember wondering if he was joking, or just trying to be nice.  He did have a reputation for being a nice guy . . .

However, on the day of the gig I came down with a bad sore throat and a fever.  Singing seemed out of the question.  But nothing was stopping me from going to hear the band play on that warm summer day – August 2, 2002.

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There were a lot of firsts that day.  It was the first time I heard them play.  It was the first time I became something of a band’s fangirl.  And it was the first time I knew without a doubt that the bass player had a crush on me.

“I’m sick,” I told him when the band took a break.  “I can’t sing.”

“You’ve got to try,” he said.  “After I told everyone how good you were and everything!”

“But you’ve never heard me sing.”

“I don’t need to.  I already know you’re good.”

“Um, okay.”

Then his cousin chimed in.  “Come on, Colleen.  I’ve heard you sing even when you were just goofing off and you were still good,” she said.

One reluctant agreement later, I was in the living room of his grandparents house practicing to an audience of one, Hubby’s 14-year-old friend.

“Man,” he exclaimed suddenly after the first verse, “that’s how you sing when you’re sick?  You must be really good when you’re healthy!”

“Not really,” I told him modestly.  Anything else seemed a lie.

Nevertheless, I told my friend the bass player that I was ready.

Since they had already been videotaping his band perform, he grabbed the video camera and stationed himself stage left as I nervously stepped into the hazy evening sunset glow that served as a spotlight.

I closed my eyes as friends’ and strangers’ voices fell to a hush.

Never knew I could feel like this . . .

When I close my eyes now, I open the ones that remember that moment like a snapshot in time.

The first thing I see is the bass player holding a video camera cocked to one side, as he stares at me transfixed.

Now it makes me laugh, seeing him like this – the 17-year-old boy with a crush on me.  But back then, I was too stunned to do anything but close my eyes and try to not to look so obvious as I trembled with the microphone and tried to sing.

There was no rhyme or reason why I chose the song from Moulin Rouge.  I just liked it.  I spent that whole summer obsessing over that movie, over Ewan McGregor (he can sing!), and that one scene where they dance in a Parisian sky and pay homage to Singin’ in the Rain with the Eiffel Tower.  The movie itself was nothing more than a bloated music video that stole songs from 20th century, from Elton John to Nirvana.  “Come What May” was an original song written for the film – just as hopelessly romantic and bloated as the film itself.

But I was 17.  I practically lived on bloated hopeless romance.

For me, however, the romance was just beginning.  It was this tiny, blossoming little thing out of a friendship with a bass player.  Three days after the backyard gig, we were dating.

Fast forward five years and I was on a mission to find our wedding song.

Why not this one?  After all, in those five years we had – for all intents and purposes – stuck together “come what may” in spite of it all.  High school, college, disapproving friends who thought we were too young, not too mention the distance between us – we overcame it all.  We even overcame ourselves and our own youthful selfishness and hot tempers.  We had broken up more times than I can remember.  But we could never stay apart.  We were each others’ best friends.  Naturally, the next step was to get married.  We felt like seasoned pros at hardships in our relationship.  Bring on the storm clouds and the colliding stars.

And so we danced to “Come What May” on our wedding day.

We really were tempting fate, it seemed.  Laughing in the face of it.  Double-daring life to really put the screws to us.  Invincible wedded bliss.

Nearly seven years have passed since I married the bass player.

Storm clouds gathered like the jobs we had and lost, the apartments we lived in, the house we bought.  Seasons changed and we changed with them, and somehow along the way I forgot all about our wedding song.  With each situation and challenge, I evolved into someone who probably wouldn’t even like that movie anyway.

Then I found myself sitting on the toilet in the bathroom, sobbing as I held the hand of the bass player, who was sitting in a dry bathtub because I could not be alone for a moment – not even to go to the bathroom – because just a few days ago our baby boy had died and I was terrified to be alone for any stretch of time.

Those bygone days of backyard gigs and pool parties and bloated hopeless romance were blown away, leaving barely a memory of them here in this wasteland.  I stopped singing, and he stopped playing the guitar.  Even our wedding day seemed but a hazy dream.  Were we ever really that happy?  How was it possible to experience such joy, when the only things we felt were excruciating, unimaginable pain and the cry for numbness that followed?

The days came and went like the tide.  They would have come regardless, stretching out the time between our wedding day and the present day.  The days between are what make a marriage.  Not the wedding day.  Not the song, either.

But now, the bloated, pretentious song seems ironic when I see the bass player hold our newborn son in his arms in the middle of the night, his eyes betraying both lack of sleep and the joy we thought would never be ours to experience again.

Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place . . .

My friend’s words are recent, but they seem to echo from the past.

“I watched Moulin Rouge tonight, and I got to thinking about your wedding song and how fitting it turned out to be. You guys have loved each other through thick & thin, come what may. I admire you two.”

I guess I chose the right song after all.

More importantly, I chose the right person – that boyish bass player who became my best friend and then husband and undoubtedly the man I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with, no matter what life has in store for us.  No matter what happens next.  Every day, I love him more and more.  I love him until the end of time.

Come what may.

 

Surprise(s)

I’ve been carrying a secret for the past eight months.

It started last year in June when Hubby and I went to California in pursuit of a certain band, The Airborne Toxic Event, for a special performance in the little town of Visalia with the Tulare County Orchestra.

That's me severely fangirling, with the bird on my cheek and everything.

That’s me severely fangirling, with the bird on my cheek and everything.

If you’ve been to an Airborne Toxic Event concert, perhaps you noticed at the end of every show, Mikel Jollett thanks the audience and then very tongue-in-cheek declares for everyone to “go make some babies.”

This is exactly what happened.

It didn’t take long after we arrived back home for me to realize I was pregnant.

It also didn’t take long for me to descend into a constant, swirling storm of anxiety, fear, and disbelief.

The last several months have been a whirlwind of doctors visits, ultrasounds, miscarriage scares, progesterone injections, and alternatively the Most Support I’ve Ever Received from Friends and Strangers.  Even from the band members of The Airborne Toxic Event themselves (thanks guys).

I couldn’t be more grateful for this, and for the fact that I’ve made it this far, 34 weeks and counting.

The Bump

A most recent picture of me, sans bird. But the disbelief is still evident all over my face.

But the reason for this post is twofold:  To explain why I’ve been M.I.A. from blogging recently (pregnancy eats creativity, much in the same way I’ve been eating for two) AND because you and I and everyone else have been invited to a Virtual Baby Shower being held in my honor.

I wish I could explain what a Virtual Baby Shower is.  But I can’t.  It’s a surprise, hosted by a few Friends I’ve Never Actually Met, but whom – for some reason – are moved to show their support in a way that befits our method of communication in the realm of which we have gotten to know and care about each other.  Pretty cool!

At the bottom of the page are links to the party.  And since you’re invited, go ahead and check them out with me.  It’s a surprise for all of us.

Thanks for coming to this special event.  I’m not even sure a Virtual Baby Shower has been done before, or even one that is Airborne Toxic Event-themed, so you might be apart of both Internet and band history here.  And I don’t quite know what to expect.  All I know is that I’m grateful and excited, and – as you probably already know – being a mom was All I Ever Wanted.  Thank you.

P.S. -

It’s a boy!

Here are the links to the party:

Jamie’s TATE-inspired Baby Gift

Susan’s TATE cake

TATE Trivia Challenge by Glen

Wendy’s Stylish TATE Baby Gift

Stephanie’s Fashion Forward TATE Baby Gift

Thanks, everyone! <3