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A purple love story

She sat in front of the simple mirror, running the boar-bristle brush through her ebon hair. She smiled as she thought fondly of her handsome fiancé for whom she waited with trembling excitement. Their love was deeper than the deepest ocean and, according to their families, they fit together like hand and glove. They had fallen in love at first sight, and today would be another full day spent together, a joyous meeting of the minds. Tomorrow they would be married, and her heart yearned for him.

The door to her private bower was flung open with great force as he stumbled over the miniscule threshold. “My love!” he exclaimed passionately as he landed on his well-formed knees. “At last we shall have time to truly know the bliss of each others’ company!”

She noticed that his clothes were exceptionally sturdy, but even so there were small patches and rents just as her patient handmaidens were forever repairing in her appealing garments. She felt a frisson of excitement at this evidence of their similarity.

She stood and extended a hand to help him up, her delicate sleeve sweeping the small table clear of all of the bottles and colorful jars. She had learned early to make sure to put caps back on bottles, so the mess was minor. In any case, she had more important things to consider. “Ah, darling! How I have desperately awaited your arrival! We have such pleasure to look forward to for the rest of our blessed lives.”

Their fingers met–hers lovely and delicate, his rough and strong–and they both sighed at the electric magnetism that coursed through their bodies. He was suddenly hungry for her, and she was throbbing in places she had thought herself too innocent to know about.

She blushed and pulled away, but he pulled her to his manly chest and breathed in her intoxicating scent. She pushed futilely against his iron muscles. “We must not!” she whispered. “Not until tomorrow!” He reluctantly released his powerful hold, his fingers brushing her alabaster cheek. “I suppose you are right,” he said.

They proceeded to the private nook in which the servants had set up an intimate repast. He pulled her chair out with a flourish that ended with the chair in pieces against a wall, and a servant quickly brought another. She sat down, flustered by his might. He settled across the small table from her. She picked up a succulent grape and reached across to place it into his inviting mouth. Her other arm knocked over the sturdy water pitcher. Both ignored the servant who put the replacement carafe on another table just out of reach.

He bit the grape gently and pulled it out of her fingers, then leaned forward to kiss the delightful extremities. The garnet wine next to his well-turned elbow spilled in a flood over her ivory dress. She stood up quickly, tripped over her chair, and managed to sprawl in a way that left her looking radiantly mussed. A single, jewel-like tear crept down her fair skin.

“Are you all right?” he gasped.

“I believe my leg is broken,” she sobbed daintily.

He rushed to pick her up, forgetting, in his haste to be dashing and romantic, that tripping over her broken leg would probably not help matters any. He came down on the table with a resounding crash, and when he stood, white-faced, his arm was at a very unnatural angle.

Servants came rushing in to help, but he manfully waved them away, the rippling bicep on his unbroken arm making her gasp a little with desire despite her pain.

“I shall take her to the car!” he cried.

The servants looked very worried, but acquiesced, as they must.

He gently picked her up, feeling her faint as he put her over his muscular shoulder. “You’ll be fine, beloved.” His gallant voice was ground between his teeth, but he was determined to take care of her as he had promised her family he would.

Unfortunately, the path to the car included stairs.

As the lovers lay next to each other in pristine white traction, only their fingers touching, they both felt the depth of their love through that subtle caress. They knew that once they were both healed, they would have the wedding of their dreams and ride off into the sunset, forever for eternity.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Major Bedhead challenged me with “Give me your purplest prose, your heaving-est bosoms, your ebony-est hair, your single-est tear slipping down your alabaster-est cheek, your manliest man, your most delicate-est of maidens. Unleash your inner romance novelist.” and I challenged Fran with “Globe lilies and glide paths: include them in your piece.”

Postcards

“Your father traveled a lot.” She smiled. “In some ways, though, it seemed like he was here. He sent postcards and letters from everywhere he ended up, at least once a day, sometimes more. He was very involved even when he was across the country. Open a box!”

He pulled the top box from the pile and took off the lid. Four stacks of postcards were arranged to fit neatly. He picked up a small stack and flipped through them.

“Welcome to Sunny California!” proclaimed the first over a picture of the fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge. The other side was a chatty, cheerful note about tourists wearing shorts and obviously just-purchased sweaters. There was also a promise of chocolate, and he had a vivid memory of the dark, slightly bitter taste of the small pieces, carefully doled out to make them last.

A picture of a desert with mesas on the horizon, with a description of the heat in Phoenix making the roads a little bit soft, was next. “I went for a walk before the sun came up and the ground was still hot from yesterday!”

The next, a picture of pouring rain seen through the windshield of a car, had a different tone. “It’s been a long couple of weeks. I miss you both so much. I’ll be home soon after you get this and they’ve promised at least a month with no travel. We can catch up and I’ll fix everything around the house. I can tuck Nate in every night, too.”

He showed that one to his mother, and she teared up and sniffed, then smiled. “We were lucky that time. He didn’t have to ship out for six months. It was so nice to have that much time with him.” Her smile turned to a grin. “Well, except for his socks left all over the house. Small price to pay, though.”

He reached back in and picked one at random. A picture of Hawaii from the air, with “The weather is here, wish you were beautiful” across the top. The back read, “Hi, darling. I can send this because I know you’ll laugh. You are the best part of my life, and I can imagine your smile as you read this.”

He looked up and saw that his mother had gone back to sleep. He opened another box and settled in. When she woke up, they’d go through more memories. She was in her last few days, and he wanted her to be as happy as possible. For all the times his father had been gone, he did make her happy.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Michael challenged me with “”The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful.”” and I challenged R.L.W. with “”We are, all of us, in the gutter…but some of us are looking at stars.” – Wil Wheaton”

To write or not to write?

I’m feeling selfish.

If/when we end up with a child, I will want to write about that experience. I don’t, however, want to write about it here. This is my space.

I am not a mommy blogger. I don’t have any issues with mommy bloggers; I think they fill an important niche, and in a lot of ways help people feel like what they are going through is a little less lonely. That particular niche can create a very important community.

I don’t want this little corner of the internet to be part of it. This blog was created because I needed to sort through a lot of things that were going on in my life at the time. I had left an incredibly toxic seven-year-long relationship. I was redefining myself. I was house hunting, working, trying to find my balance again, and learning that a lot of people I thought were friends had decided that I was not an acceptable human being because of what the other person had been saying. I used words then, as I do now, to help me find my way through life and to understand it better. I suppose it is also useful for understanding myself better. I still need this space to make sense of a very strange world. I will have a place to write about being a parent, but it will be private, not associated with this.

I do not expect many people to read my rambles. I’m sure that if I became part of the mommy blogging community I could have more readers and make more connections, but that isn’t what I’m doing here. I don’t particularly care how many people read this. I certainly enjoy seeing hits on my statistics, but I’m not shattered if they don’t come. This is the space I use to figure things out.

I have been limiting what I say here lately. Adoption is a frustrating process, and much of what goes on, I can’t talk about, either because of privacy issues or because it would not be sensible for one reason or another. I have, therefore, been ignoring the blog for the most part. I simply can’t sort anything out here. Despite having very few regular readers, it is a very public place and I am very easy to find.

One thing I have been thinking about, though, is the question of privacy in adoption. I have read several bloggers who say that they haven’t told anyone about the biological family of their child because it isn’t their story to tell. I completely understand not telling perfect strangers, but not telling family seems odd. We are going to make sure that the child (if this works) knows from the very beginning that he or she is adopted and was picked out special. The “how you came to be” story will include the biological family. There won’t be any surprises. If there were information that we wanted to keep from the child, I could understand it; for instance, if you didn’t want your mother in law to tell your child that their biological parent was in prison, then perhaps you would hold that piece of information back so you can broach the subject at the appropriate time. We are lucky enough to not have that issue. It would also depend on your relationship with your family, I’m sure. I’m not very worried about it. We’re not giving anyone else information that will surprise or upset the child, because the child will have all of the available information from very early on.

I have also been wrestling with other things, like the possibility of raising a child of a different race. Raising a child to be strong, independent, and curious, and how that would be different depending on whether you are talking about a boy or a girl. Reading about the impressively insensitive questions people get from strangers and trying to figure out how to answer them. Thinking about nature versus nurture and wondering what will come of that.

This is the first time in the five years that we have been trying to have a child, one way or another, that I have felt like it might actually be possible. We might actually be parents sometime soon.

Oh, and I’ve discovered that nesting is most definitely not hormonal. I have been cleaning and organizing and painting and trying to make the house perfect. It won’t end up being perfect, of course, but at least it will not be quite as cluttered. I was not expecting that, but it is rather amusing and good for the house.

Now that the blog hosting has been shifted, I’ll be taking part in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge again. I do enjoy that, and, if you are interested, please stop by!

Mail order bride

It’s time again for the Indie Ink Challenge! We started out with just the editors challenging each other, but decided that it would be more fun to open it up and see who wanted to join in. Ever week we are challenged by a different person. This week I’m being challenged by Andrea. I’ll post the prompt at the end of the story. I’ve never been much on writing fiction, but this was rather fun. My Plaid Pants answered my challenge on her blog.


“Let us go somewhere romantic this weekend. A lake. Somewhere quiet, where it can be just us.” Her heavy Russian accent still charmed him.

“I think that’s a great idea, honeypie. I’ve got a tent and we’ll pick you up a sleeping bag. Y’know,” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, “one that’ll zip up with mine.”

She smiled at him. “Of course. If I am to be your wife, we need to get to know each other better. Too many people here.”

The next weekend they went camping. It was a beautiful spot, a small, quiet lake without too many mosquitoes, even in the middle of summer. She stayed wrapped in a voluminous dress with a large hat until sundown, and then she took off the dress and hat to reveal a swimsuit that covered everything necessary but no more. He looked at her in wonder.

“You look awful purty!”

“Thank you. I do try to take care of myself.”

“When I went on those internets to see if I could find me a wife, I kind of expected that she’d end up bein’ one of those gap-toothed ugly women, y’know? Somebody like you…damn, I hit the jackpot!”

She smiled, that same slightly reserved smile, but he didn’t notice.

“You go swim, and I’ll get the tent set up. Then you can show me how a good Russian wifey cooks for her man.” He wandered off in the direction of the truck, humming tunelessly.

After he set up the tent, he came to check on her. When she saw him coming she walked out of the water slowly, making sure that he was paying close attention. She dried herself off and began to work on dinner.

“That ain’t enough for both of us. I eat a lot. If you want food, you’d best make enough for yourself.”

“I will be fine. I am not terribly hungry. Yet.”

“Whatever. Just don’t think I let people take my food.”

She finished cooking and made sure he was settled in, packing away the food like he was starving.

“I’m going to get clothing on. I am slightly cold.”

“Whatever.” Still shoveling the food, he paid no attention as she walked away.

When he had finished eating, he leaned back in his chair, let out a satisfied sigh, and burped loudly. “Hey, you ain’t half bad as a cook. Maybe I will keep you around.” He patted his lap, looking around the campsite. “Come on, baby, time to get to know each other better.”

She was suddenly beside him. “Of course,” she purred. She settled onto his lap and twined her arms around his neck. “I am looking forward to my dinner now.”

He looked at her blankly. “What?”

“You are going to be my dinner. I am going to suck your blood.”

“Baby, if you want something to suck, I got it for you right here!” He grabbed his crotch suggestively, somewhat impeded by the fact that she was still on his lap.

A trace of irritation showed on her perfect features. “No. I will open your jugular and drain you. I am a vampire.”

He smiled broadly. “Oooh, you like playing games? I think you should be my teacher and hit me with a ruler. I don’t much like blood games.”

She snarled a little. “You are not sharpest marble in flock, are you? I am going to kill you by drinking your blood. I have never met a man so stupid as you!”

His grin started to fade. “You wanted to marry me. You don’t want to kill me, honeypie. You’re a sweet little thing.”

“Not sweet. Not at all. I did not live seven thousand years to be stopped by stupid man. I need food, and you are prey.”

A dawning realization began to creep across his face. “But…but…” he sputtered. He grabbed her, threw her away from him, and ran for the truck.

She laughed. “All tires are slashed. You will not go anywhere.” Her accent was getting thicker. “Come back, stupid little man. It is dinnertime.”

He ran for the woods, but she was suddenly there, still laughing. He lunged for her throat, hands outstretched, and found himself on the ground staring up at her. That sweet face was not quite human anymore, and she looked very hungry.

“Ah,” she said as she leaned down and traced her very sharp fingernail along his vein. “I have heard that here, you eat wife when you want her to be happy. I do not know what that means. In Russia, wife eat you.”


The prompt was “Write a horror story or a comedy that includes a lake, internet dating, flat tires and bleeding.”

IndieInk Challenge: Week 1

The Indie Ink editors have decided to issue writing challenges to each other every week to stretch our writing abilities. I like the idea. My first challenge was this:

“Best 300 words on how she knew her husband was to be her husband. No more than 300 words.”

To be completely honest, I didn’t have one shining moment, but here’s one that certainly played into it. Also, limiting me to a certain number of words made this much harder!


It was Thanksgiving with his whole family, and he decided it was time for me to be introduced. I had met a few of his siblings and his parents already, but not the cousins, aunts, uncles, or the matriarch. My family is very small, comparatively.

I admit to a certain amount of trepidation. I was head over heels in love with a great guy. I really liked the people in his family that I had already met, and they were very accepting towards me. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t fit in given my capitalistic tendencies and the fact that I’m not terribly artistic, but he said it would be fine.

I walked in to noise, color, and a lot of people. One of the aunts that married in sat me down and asked how much money I made. I managed “Enough!” with a grin, and she accepted it. Another aunt asked innumerable questions about my family. All of the cousins, most about my age, were friendly. Everyone was busy cooking or talking or drinking. I was assigned to get seeds out of pomegranates for a salad. I sat, warmed by the sun, surrounded by people talking and laughing and playing, watching everyone interact, and I felt apart, but not unwelcome.

His immediate family came in a wave of sisters and brothers and parents. His youngest sister jumped into my lap, narrowly missing the bowl of jewel-like seeds. “When are you going to marry my brother?”

I laughed. “We haven’t gotten that far yet!” Less than a year into this relationship, it hadn’t come up.

“We think he should keep you.”

I looked over at the kind, loving man who made me laugh and helped me heal, surrounded by his fascinating family, and thought, “That wouldn’t suck.”

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Daniel’s birthday

Sometimes I can sit down and write and everything comes easily. I don’t have to work at it; I have an idea and it just flows.

Some subjects, though, leave me groping for words, stumbling around trying to find a sentence that works, writing and deleting and then doing it again.

Daniel’s birthday is January 21st. Just to start off with, I have a hard time writing that. Should it be present tense or past tense? It isn’t important. It’s distracting. I think that’s why it keeps coming up, because if I’m distracted I can’t write about him, his death, how different life is without him, even from several states away.

I write postcards ever week. Daniel used to be on that list. Now, of course, I can’t send him postcards since they wouldn’t go anywhere. I still find myself picking out a postcard for him every couple of weeks, just going on automatic pilot until I remember that I can’t write that postcard.

He would have been 29 this year. He would have gone to baseball games, listened to music, danced along with his current favorite musical, and he and I would have tried to make each other laugh over the phone. He said it was okay if I had a child with Xander when I asked a few years ago, and I was looking forward to introducing him to a niece or nephew, one way or another. I didn’t know we’d be going through the adoption path rather than the biological one, but I know he wouldn’t have cared, any more than the rest of my family does – our baby will be our baby, no matter where he or she comes from.

I miss him terribly. I miss seeing him play with Nyx and laugh at her. I miss hearing his chuckle over the phone. I miss his hugs.

My little brother would have turned 29 on January 21st. I can’t call him this year. I can’t send him anything.

He was born when I was about to turn seven years old, and he has been a central part of my life ever since. I didn’t live nearby for the last several years, but I thought about him, wrote to him, talked on the phone when he felt like it, and sent him neat stuff. We sent him a blanket from our baseball team because it is a feeder team for his baseball team. I was hours away, but he was still a big part of my life. I don’t think I realized how much until he wasn’t there anymore. It still feels like there is a hole, a spot where someone important is gone. It’s like having a tooth missing but it hurts more.

The pain is dulled now, an ache instead of a constant, piercing reminder, but it is still there. I still think about things he’d like and how I’d like to tell him about them before remembering that he isn’t here anymore, that I can’t reach him.

I’m not sure how to deal with the absence of my little brother some days. It’s life, now, but over half a year later I still miss him, and I don’t think that will ever go away.

A rambling we will go

I’ve tried to write for several days and I just can’t come up with anything specific to write about. There are a lot of little things, but nothing that I can really craft a reasonable post out of, so I’m just going to ramble for a bit.

We got to spend an hour or so with a very tiny baby, less than a week old. I like babies. They can be loud and exhausting and all of that, but I love the feeling of that weight settled in my arms, watching those eyes that are just learning to focus following my face. I like little kids, too, and school age kids. Once you get to the teenage years, I’m not quite as fond of them as a group. Part of that may be that most of them are taller than I am and generally somewhat obnoxious. It’s good that Xander actually likes that age.

I miss Daniel. I know I always will, but sometimes it’s harder than others. I still love him fiercely, but there isn’t anywhere for that feeling to go. I am learning to let myself be sad and miss him, let it wash over me, and then keep on with the rest of life. I have his picture on my computer screen at work. I write a lot of postcards to various people, and I used to write postcards to him every week. I still find myself composing postcards for him in my head before catching myself and remembering that there’s nowhere to send them. There is an undercurrent of sadness in my life now, even when everything is going well. It isn’t changing my life in a bad way, just reminding me that there is no guarantee that I’ll be here tomorrow. I’m trying to live better in small ways because of it.

On a completely different note, Disney has put out a fishing pole with princesses on it. The first glance I got of it, I thought Ariel was one of the princesses featured. That would have made me laugh much too hard. A mermaid whose best friend is a fish on a fishing pole. Apparently, though, it was Belle, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. I suppose that’s at least more politically correct. Not nearly as funny, unfortunately.

The puppy will be visiting again later this month, so I should have more amusing training stories.

We’ve decided to have a traditional Jewish Christmas dinner, so we’re going to go out for Chinese food. My favorite Chinese restaurant will be open, too, so that’s a bonus.

Overheard in a hardware store last week:
Female employee: “I have it, sir, it’s fine. I can handle it.”
Male customer: “But it’s so long!”
I couldn’t help snickering.

I’m kind of coasting right now. There are several things on the horizon that could have huge effects on our life, but nothing is happening right now. I’m getting up early and exercising, being careful of what I eat despite a lot of temptation at work, trying to remember to write now and then, and trying to learn a few pieces of music for a present I’m making for some kids I know. I’m trying not to spend much money. Life is pretty good right now overall. I spent some time last weekend making pumpkin soup and it came out very well, which is perfect since soup is pretty much my favorite food in winter. There’s nothing quite like tucking in with a hot bowl of soup when the weather is below freezing. I am reminded of a children’s book – “In January it’s so nice while slipping on the sliding ice to sip hot chicken soup with rice.” That’s from a Maurice Sendak book, “Chicken Soup with Rice”, which I remember reading when I was little and got a copy of (along with its companion books) a year or so ago. It still makes me smile.

I think this is enough of a ramble for the day. I hope you find something to smile about, something silly, something that brings that spark of joy, and that you stop for just a moment to savor it.

Can’t see in the dark

I don’t know how to write. I’ve tried to write this several times and I end up with meaningless words on a page. I miss my brother. I wasn’t a huge part of his life in recent years. He knew I cared about him, and he sometimes liked the postcards I sent every week, but we weren’t hugely close.

Still.

For the moment, it’s baby steps to get through the void.

We were planning a trip to see family soon. I wanted to see him and my older brother again, to talk to them, to get a picture of the two of them, to get a hug from him. We were good at hugs, fierce ones, ones that made you feel like you belonged in someone’s heart. We had a lot of silly special things, and all of them make me cry right now. I can’t give him any more hugs. Somehow hugging an urn with his ashes just isn’t the same. I can’t help making stupid jokes, making myself laugh even when I’m crying. I can’t get through the dark without laughing.

It is dark. I mean, it’s night as I’m writing this, so that’s a given. Even during the day, though, even when it’s brighter than I want it to be, I don’t feel like it’s light. I feel like everything is grey, dry, desiccated, lifeless. I put on my public face and everyone thinks I’m fine, and then I come home and curl up and wait for it to get better.

I put some books on hold in the library, ways to get through grief. I bought another that might help with the physical issues, since I am still physically hurting a lot. I want to do something incredibly stupid. I want to go hit someone, start a fight, make something make an impact, but I know on some level it won’t help. I go back to what I know. I will study, work through it, talk, cry my eyes out. Once in a while I’ll get tipsy and let out some of the anger that won’t come with my barricades as high as they are now. I know I should be able to get through this.

Should. I’m not sure.

I saw my family when we went to Arizona. I’m glad I got to see them – it’s hard not being completely sure everyone is actually getting through this. My sister was too busy to come by, as is often the case. We missed her presence. Maybe next time. My brother’s caretaker spent some time talking with me about Daniel, and that helped. Having memories to share is important.

We saw my husband’s family, too. They were loving and welcoming and helped me talk through some of the pain. They even liked Nyx, who, while she was trying to be good, still couldn’t resist a running cat at one point and took off like a rocket. It was pretty funny, and the cat was fine, if spooked. We went hiking in the heat. I am definitely not a desert rat – I was exhausted and sweating.

My brother was the heart of my family, and that heart has been torn out and extinguished. We don’t seem to know how to handle it. I’m not sure anyone really wants to move forward without him in some ways. I know I don’t. Thinking about him always made me smile. I knew I could make him laugh even from another state, even just passing messages to him, and it made life better to know that chortle was there. It isn’t now.

I don’t have the same loss as the family that was with him or his caretaker who loved him, too. I was not an integral part of his life. At the same time, my grief is still real, palpable, physical, painful, dreadful. I don’t sleep well. I wake up crying some nights, waking to the dog trying to climb into bed next to me to help me calm down. I wake up to pain. My heart skips beats. My stomach and back cramp, my legs hurt, my feet send stabs of pain first thing in the morning. Any old injuries ache.

I am supposed to be strong. I am supposed to get through this. I am supposed to be able to weather the storm and be able to come out better on the other side. At the moment, there is no other side. Now I am walking in the dark, bumping into pain whenever I move. I can’t find joy. Laughter, sometimes, but not those sparks of pure delight that I’ve always been able to find before. There is a pall over my world.

I’m looking for a therapist. I may go to a support group meeting for people who have had a sibling die, as long as it isn’t god-focused. I don’t think I can handle another person telling me that there is reason in this, that god has a plan, because if that plan involves killing off one of the best people in my life, then I really hope that particular god rots in the worst imaginable hell. See? Just a tad bit angry some of the time.

I know that no one knows what to say. It isn’t something you come across on a regular basis. Grandparents die. Parents die, eventually. Siblings, though, shouldn’t. Parents should not have to deal with the death of a child. Should, however, is not something that matters. This happened. My brother is dead. I don’t know how I can get through this. I have had one good night’s sleep in almost a month, now, and I’m exhausted. I’m sad and angry and listless and lost.

I can’t make this better. I can’t make Daniel not dead anymore. I can’t stop crying at weird times. I can’t sleep. I can’t stop hurting.

So I walk. One step at a time, I move forward. I’ll start swimming again, because I can push through water and it helps the pain. I’ll walk Nyx, and maybe we’ll run a little. I’ll grieve and try to let myself exist without judgement. I’ll read books and try to learn how other people have come through this overwhelming loss. I will try to stop telling myself what I should do, how I should be able to get through this, and just be. I’m not good at not overthinking everything, but I don’t think I have a choice here.

I have always been able to make it through, even if I’m slow at it. I can’t think fast or move fast right now. I am pinned by lead weights, walking through sand. There is no right way to go, no way to fix this, no way to remove the pain. Maybe in a few months I will be able to sleep again. That would be good. Maybe I will stop hurting. That would be good, too. Maybe I will have energy and curiosity and joy in my life, eventually. For now, I just have to not stop existing. I’ll wake up tomorrow and do what I have to do, and maybe I’ll take a nap. Maybe I’ll watch silly TV. Maybe I’ll find something that serves as a rope for me to hold for that next step.

I don’t know. I can’t see in the dark.

Working through

This has been a hard year, and I’m not sure what to do other than write.

First was infertility. We lost something then. Not a child, but the hope of one. We lost ideas and dreams and things we thought would be true. We grieved over it in some ways as if we had lost something more tangible. We’d tried for years, and suddenly there was a hole where all of our expectations got sucked in. It is hard to understand unless you have been through it, so many people could not understand why it was such a big deal. I am still fighting the feeling that I am not truly a woman if I don’t have a child. I know it is illogical, but it permeates our culture. Women with children have more status than women without. However unfair that may be, it’s true on some level. I get asked by women I’ve just met how many children I have, or when we are expecting to have kids, and when I say, “We can’t,” there is an often not-so-subtle movement away. The circle closes and they talk about their children and I am not welcome. That’s not true of everyone, especially those who know how much I’ve worked with children through my life, but it has happened.

I was working on healing, working on accepting the new way of thinking and approaching life, and the next piece happened. My grandmother, at almost 93 years old, stopped remembering people and places. She stopped being herself, in some ways. It felt to me like that hole from infertility got another part dug out, widening it a bit. I had always wanted to have a picture of four generations of my family: grandma, mom, me, and a baby. The baby was not going to happen, and now grandma was slipping, too. Another piece of grief, although for me this was kind of anticipatory grief because I had to face the likelihood that she would not live a whole lot longer. She might; I don’t know. I hope, if she does, she is enjoying life. It was another blow, but we were coping.

June 9, my younger brother died completely unexpectedly. He was 28 and had no health problems that would explain the blood clot that killed him. I still don’t really have words for what that did to me. It took the grief from infertility, the grief about my grandmother, wrapped it up in a physically painful grief, and dropped a bomb on me that opened up a chasm.

I have never had such a physical response to grief before. Food has always been a comfort when things got bad. Now food is necessary, but not enjoyed, and I often have to be reminded to eat. I don’t taste much, and my stomach hurts all the time. My back hurts, too, and sometimes my feet, and sometimes my head. The first three days my chest cramped up regularly. I have never had such physical pain related to mental anguish. I am tired all the time, too. I’ve been sleeping 10-12 hours a night just to be able to get up in the morning, but I’m not sure I am resting very well. I’m exhausted. I get through by focusing on one thing, one step, the next thing, on making sure I eat and drink enough, on sometimes just breathing deeply.

I don’t know how to talk about this. I talk around it a lot. I cry a lot. I talk to Xander, who is possibly the only reason I have gotten through this. He has been amazing. I spend a lot of time with Nyx. She has been very attentive and snuggly since this happened.

I have a really big hole inside me, surrounding me, engulfing me, and I don’t know how to heal. I know that all of this is normal, but it’s harder than I knew it could be. I’ve lost a lot this year, and every once in a while, when I’m just holding still, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I want to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me, but I know that won’t help. The world keeps going. I can grieve, but I can’t disappear.

Having work to do helps. Having some purpose, the feeling that I’m doing something useful, is good for me. Dealing with people right now is hard, and by the end of the day I’m wrapped up in pain again, but I’m mostly making it through the days. Weekends are spent on the couch, reading or watching TV. I don’t have much interest in going out.

We went for a walk down to the farmer’s market yesterday. That was the first day I’ve been able to do anything even close to exercise since Daniel’s death without getting exhausted or cramping up within five minutes. It was a good, long walk. We got food for the week and picked up nectarines to eat on the way home, and mine actually tasted good.

It’s not better, though. I still can’t work through my little brother being a pile of ashes, never seeing him again. I had nightmares the first few nights, and one of them was just a voice, saying over and over, “There are supposed to be new lives in a family before the children start dying.” I was standing in the dark, listening to a voice. That was all. I woke up crying because it was true and I couldn’t make it better. There were others, much worse, but that one, I think, shows how all of this wraps up together in my head right now. On some level I can’t believe that I won’t see him again. He was the focus of our family from the time he was born. I knew that at some point I was very likely to be at least partially responsible for him again. We had talked about how to work him into our lives if it became necessary, and we knew we could handle it.

Daniel was incredibly important to me. It’s very hard for me to use past tense. I keep slipping. I woke up with him when he had night terrors. I could tickle him from across the room and bug him from hundreds of miles away. I could make him laugh, and he could do the same for me. We had nicknames for each other that other people didn’t necessarily understand. He gave really good hugs. We loved to sing together and we’d crack each other up when we sang certain songs because I’d be silly on purpose and he’d add to it.

There’s so much more to him, though. There was. I can’t explain who he was as a person because I don’t have enough words, or the right words. I am floundering. Our family was centered around him. He gave us focus and meaning. I would not be who I am without him, and I don’t think the rest of my family would, either. He changed how I look at the world. He made me more compassionate, more willing to look for the good in people instead of stopping at the differences. He showed me how frustrating it can be to know where the goal is but not quite be able to reach it, and also how angry it can make people if someone tries to help when the person wants to get there themselves.

I don’t know if I’m making much sense. I needed to write. I’m sure I will write more again, but I’m not going to be on any consistent schedule for a while. We’re going to go see family soon, and I don’t know how to write about that, either.

The world is a lesser place without him.