Friday, May 20, 2016

The Unknowable

About a month ago, my dad passed away. It took me two weeks to start writing this, and another two weeks to feel like I could come back to finish, but the one-month anniversary of his death feels like as fitting a time as any to come to terms with the feelings I've mostly been pushing aside in the hustle of returning to work and life and pregnancy and trying to forget and not forget at the same time. His death was sudden, and unexpected, though he had been in recovery from major cancer-related surgery. To summarize: everything was going relatively ok, he was stable, and looking at a long and slow recovery. But a recovery was in the cards. And then he crashed. His body couldn't sustain the trauma of the multiple surgeries he'd been through (there were a few surgeries following an infection that came on suddenly more than three weeks after the first surgery), and at around 3:30am on April 21, he was gone. The doctors said it likely took less than 15 seconds for him to pass, and that he didn't feel anything, as he'd been sedated and on a lot of pain medicine for over a week. It was less than 15 minutes between when they called my mom to tell her they were trying to resuscitate him and when he passed, moments before she got to the hospital. It's been a really tough road since then.

My sister said it very well this week:
4 weeks today and everything still feels wrong and fake and like this is someone else's life and from what I've been told it will feel like this for a long time. 
We're getting through each day one at a time and all that, but it's still sort of incomprehensible, and the grief comes in waves. The remembering comes in waves. The realization that this wasn't just some thing we were practicing for, some scene in someone else's life, comes in waves. And each time it's a shock.

I don't want this to just be a post about grief, though I know that the overwhelming permanence of it all is normal, and all ways of processing are normal, and of course it's my right to write an entire essay on how this just doesn't fucking seem normal and I find myself just unintentionally believing it's not true. That it's not real, that in a few weeks he'll come back from wherever he's been and we'll tell him the stories of how we rehearsed our emotions and how much work we did and he'll be proud of us for trying so hard and loving him so much. I try to teach myself that this isn't some fire drill, and that it's real and true and forever, but I don't really know how to teach myself, and if I'm being honest, I don't really want to. I hope that someday I'll come to terms with it and not just cycle through not believing and then realizing my mistake over and over again.

Anyway.

As far as I'm concerned, nobody knows for sure what happens after we die. There are theories, and there are strong convictions, but I'm not convinced of any certainty here. It's the unknowable.

In the days and hours before my grandma passed about ten years ago, she had moments of (morphine-heavy) lucidity where she talked about how her long-since departed sister and husband were waiting for her. She was ready to join them, and they were ready to take her. Where, I'm not sure. She mentioned something about them waiting under the trees, so I've always pictured a dreamy forest, dappled with near-dusk sunlight and that sort of misty fog you see in dream sequences in movies. It was comforting for me to think that maybe that was a possibility -- even if it's just the drugs, or the way brain synapses fire when you're about to pass on. That there was a chance that death is a welcoming, warm embrace from your loved ones and not just a light switch turning off.

My dad and I often talked about the insanity of certainty in the face of the universe's expanse. How absolutely ludicrous it is that the universe just keeps going. That outer space just keeps expanding. Into what? Where is the edge? And what's on the other side of the edge? Obviously, it's something that is conceptually just too great for our minds to conceive. We'd look up at the stars, realizing that what we see is already gone, that what our brains could understand was barely the beginning. I like to think that he knows now, or that he's learning now. That there's some secret unlocking of the mysteries after you've passed (to where?). We agreed that it was impossible to know, and silly to feign assuredness.

But even if I imagine my dad hanging out with the philosophers and Bowie and Prince and his beloved dog Charlie, and having a never ending view of the stars, learning about life's mysteries, I still miss him. I think about going to Yosemite to scatter his ashes next month, and I wonder if I'll ever be able to visit my favorite park with a full heart again. I wonder if he can really talk to my unborn daughter through some silent cosmic portal. I wonder if these moments of breathless emotional floods will become less frequent, and less intense, if the moments of levity will become the new normal. I wonder if I'll be able to have a normal life, and how guilty I'll feel if I "move on" - even though I know that's what he'd want.

It's impossible to believe that he's just gone, and not a phone call or a short flight away in LA. Even when I picture his body laying peacefully at the mortuary, it's hard to reconcile. I still remember the last week we spent together when he was recovering from surgery and wish I could go back to our mutually-pained walks up the stairs and to the end of the block. When we fell asleep on the couch watching nature shows and tried to come up with foods that didn't sound nauseating. It was such a weird time to spend together, and of course I'm grateful that I had the chance to spend so much concentrated time with him, not knowing it would be the last time. But I'm still fucking pissed that it was the last time. It shouldn't have been the last time. And I say these words, and I feel these feelings, and even still it doesn't seem possible.

I was unable to speak at his memorial, an amazing music festival of a tribute full of family and friends and light and music and food. I was unable to speak because it's easy for me to turn into an emotional wreck in normal life, and I knew that with that and the pregnancy hormones, I'd just fall apart (I was right). I was unable to speak, but I had the cantor read something I wrote, that you can read here if you want to. I still have a hard time speaking about my dad being gone. It's easy to relay the facts, with a sort of "yeah, it was and is incredibly shitty" shrug. It's nearly impossible to talk about how I feel without breaking down, and it's unthinkable to talk about the rest of my life devoid of the dad I loved, and will always love, so deeply.

It's been a month, and it's still tremendously difficult. I hear it will slowly get better, and that I'll even be ok with it getting better. That it won't feel like ignoring or forgetting, but healing. I don't quite buy it yet, but perhaps that's yet another mystery of the universe that I'll understand when I get there.


I love you, dad.







Sunday, April 10, 2016

What I thought I knew about pregnancy

I'll admit, I was a little cocky about pregnancy. I know a lot of pregnant women and moms. I've done a ton of research. I've read the blogs. I've thought about pregnancy pretty much since I was a kid. I was pretty sure I would rock this thing with minimal surprises.

And while I have generally known what to expect, the symptoms and experiences have been a little different than what I thought they'd be. If you're someone who, like me, thought you knew what you were in for, maybe this post will resonate with you. If you're someone who does not want to know the TMI of pregnancy (mine in particular), maybe skip this one. I've included a handy page break for easy skipping if this isn't your bag. I'm writing about it on the internet because I like normalizing something that should be normalized. Let's not be ashamed to speak candidly about the wacky and awesome things that our bodies do.

Welcome to "What I thought I knew about pregnancy" - aka "TMI: All the stuff going on with my body".

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Quickening

I was worried I wouldn't feel anything, or that I wouldn't recognize it when I did. I hit the 16 week mark on Monday, the point at which "sometime, over the next few weeks" I might start to feel a lil fetus moving around in my uterus.

I kept thinking I was feeling something.

But this morning, it actually did feel different. I know, I know they always say "oh, you'll know." But I was skeptical! I didn't know what I didn't know! I figured it would just feel like gas, but a little different.

It feels like...pop rocks, on the left side of my belly. Or like bubbles (ugh, just like they said it would). I don't know about a goldfish, but my friend described it as being "like the wingbeat of a butterfly but like if you swallowed it and now it's in your abdominal cavity", which is very accurate.

It happened this morning for about 5 seconds, and then this afternoon for a full couple of minutes. And it was totally trippy.

Bring it on, 2nd trimester! Bring. It. On.


And is it just me or does The Quickening sound like the name of a horror movie?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mommyblogging?

Well, friends, the time has come. I'm officially knocked up (we're 13 weeks in at this point!) and ready to join the ranks of my friends The Mommybloggers. No, this blog won't turn into 100% parenting and pregnancy, but if you'll recall my past hobbies/interests, the blog does tend to shift topics along with what's going on in my life (knitting, weddings, moving, etc). So. Fair warning. You are likely to see some babby content around these parts.

I'm not looking particularly pregnant at the moment, more just burrito-bloated, but I'm looking forward to growing and showing and glowing and crowing and whatever else pregnant ladies do. We're officially concluding our pregnancy announcement communications rollout (TELL EVERYONE!), and I'm lamenting the lack of cold medicine in my life (head congestion without meds is no joke). Starting to make lists of lists and Pinterest boards and floorplans and feeling the urge to purge, but that's par for the course.

And yes, I'm still planning to go to BlogHer '16. 35 weeks pregnant. It'll be awesome!

And because it's my favorite pregnancy announcement ever:

How did you announce your pregnancy? Have you ever attended a conference while preggers? How pregnant were you? TELL ME EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Living Room Makeover

This past fall, I did a little redecorating. I always seem to get a little bit homebody-ish when the weather cools down, even though the "doesn't really count as cold" 70-degree October we had wasn't exactly cozy nesting weather.

Ahem. The towering stack of board games in the corner of our living room was stressing me out.

Left photo: towering stack of games. 
Kind of impossible to get one without knocking them all down.
Right photo: much better.
Now I feel like I need something to fill that space, like a 3rd picture or something.

Once I'd moved everything out of the corner, though, it needed a place to live. I purchased two of my favorite IKEA storage shelves, and loaded them up in the corner, perpendicular to each other. The little brown wooden table sits in the corner space between them, holding our wooden Settlers of Catan board and puzzle mat (we are very cool), and probably a fair amount of dust as well. One of these days, I may find a lamp that fits nicely in that corner, but alas, not yet. 

Left photo: before, with rocking chair kind of blocking the whole
corner, and video game controllers  
Right photo: games are neatly organized by type, and a basket
(also from IKEA) corrals the controllers. Swapping our two chairs
also meant more room in the corner.


This new layout also meant that there was finally a spot for the "bubble hockey" game to live, and now we also store the Fisher Price hockey game (this one) on top of that. Both childhood hockey games in one place, where they're easy to take down and use, but otherwise out of the way. 

These photos were taken in October, and things have changed up a bit since then. The stack of games next to the plant is gone, replaced by a hammered "gold" bowl (Nate Berkus, Target) and a small wooden elephant (souvenir from our trip to Thailand - did I mention we went to Thailand?), which makes the space look purposeful and planned. And we have a rug. A RUG!

I'll have to do a Part 2 of this post to showcase the elephant and the rug. They're that awesome.

I'm feeling sort of inspired to purge and organize lately...it feels like springtime in the Bay Area, and that makes me want to Spring Clean All The Things. Last night I bagged up an entire grocery bag full of shoes that I never wear. Some I've held onto for sentimental reasons, and some I just don't know why I even have, but it felt good. I foresee a great many more posts of this nature in the next few months...





Monday, February 15, 2016

BlogHer '16 - Who's In?

I'm Going to #BlogHer16 in Los Angeles!

What about you?

Introduce yourself (and your blog) in the comments!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Accomplishing

There's something so lovely about a Saturday of Accomplishing. Finally unpacking from holiday travel, cranking through several loads of laundry, throwing some frozen chicken and buffalo sauce in the slow cooker, and realizing you have the energy somehow to change the sheets (well, enough to take the sheets off and wash them. Putting new sheets on is another matter entirely).

This weekend, we take down the holiday decorations, including our very sad, dried out, droopy Christmas tree. It's time to move on, to pack it all up for another 11 months or so, and to reset the house to normal conditions. I always enjoy packing decorations away...I think there's something comforting about stacking up the familiar comforts of a holiday and tucking them away, safe and sound, until next time.


Anyway, there's a lot to do this weekend but the weather is perfect for nesting. It's grey and cold outside, with wind and the threat of rain. Not too nasty to prevent me from going outside to do laundry (our basement access door is outside), at least not yet. And nothing inspires me to nest more than a gloomy day when I have nowhere to be but inside taking care of the home. And there's a lot to take care of today! Onward we go.