No one else can say that

Since Eva died people have told me about recent research which shows that during pregnancy fetal cells migrate into the mother. Tonight, I sat on my couch, watching TV, drinking wine and I looked down at the pictures of Eva, still to be hung and I felt a physical lurch in my stomach.

I felt her. The feeling of her presence was so palpable and yet so illusive. I looked at her smiling face and heard her laugh but I couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t hold onto it. It slipped away as soon as I tried to fix my gaze on it.

I turned to google. And sure enough I quickly found the research which states that “fetal cells migrate into the mother during pregnancy. Fetomaternal transfer probably occurs in all pregnancies and in humans the fetal cells can persist for decades”. I wanted to see this myth in writing. To know the truth of it. To feel that truth and to feel closer to Eva.

And sure enough. There in black and white science it says that I carry Eva in me. Physically as well as in my metaphorical heart. In Eva’s funeral leaflet I had E.E. Cummings poem, I carry your heart. That poem feels so resonant for me, and it’s true. I carry Eva in me. Quite literally. It’s comforting and heart wrenching at the same time.

Now, three months since her death, life is ticking along. My classes are going well. Assessments are being completed. But every few days I feel the air sucked from my lungs as the reality of the loss of Eva hits me again. As if my brain had tried to let me forget momentarily. I don’t blame my brain, it’s just trying to get by, but the shock of that feeling still hurts just as much.

I look at the photos of her, so animated and full of vitality and it doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t even really seem possible. Sometimes it still feels like I’ll wake up from this to Eva’s snuffles on the baby monitor.

But I know that’s not going to happen. So I let myself feel that loss and try to think about how this girl who got so little time still lives on in me. So many people loved her, but I am the one who carries her in me. While many feel her loss, no one else was her mother. I feel both honoured and weighed down by that responsibility. Because no one loved her more. And now, no one misses her more. While many miss her and mourn her, no one who mourns her lost what I lost.

I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m missing my daughter. But I’m also feeling lucky that I got to be her mother at all. That I get to carry a bit of that girl who meant so much to so many people in my very stomach. I get to know Eva has literally changed my physiology, my anatomy. I am a different person because of her and I carry her heart in my heart. No one else can say that. 11006370_10153118878090799_1085089886074086215_n

Avoiding the flatline

I wrote a few weeks back about meeting the couple at sign language class with the deaf eight month old daughter.

A couple of weeks ago they told me there was a high probability their gorgeous girl was also blind, or at least had visual impairment.

When the mother said this I felt myself mentally suck in my breath. A hundred things went through my head. I wanted to say, “shit”, and worse. I wanted to give her a hug. But I also wanted to be able to react as if this wasn’t the worst news you could be told. Because it’s not. It’s devastating. It’s a blow. But it’s not the worst thing, and I know this because I was told it too. I wanted to try and hear her and listen and respond in a way that was helpful instead of histrionic. I wanted to behave as a peer and an understanding parent with common ground rather than someone who feels pity or sadness and ignorance. I didn’t want her to feel that this news needed to be isolating, more than she might already feel. But I also didn’t want to dismiss it as if it was nothing. Because it certainly isn’t that.

I paused and then asked the question I would never have asked before. “Is there anything else?”

I’ve learnt from Eva that when doctors and therapists and nurses see more than one anomaly or issue, they go looking for others. The mother then told me her daughter is also hypo-tonic. Low tone. Like Eva was. She needs extra help with head control and sitting, just like Eva did.

After being in a very similar spot to this girl’s parents I found myself in the strange position of not knowing quite how to react. I know what the wrong way to react was when it was me it was all happening to, but everyone is different. The words that soothed me might irritate someone else. The perfect thing to say to me might infuriate and insult someone else. There is no fool proof response when people are in this situation. No matter our experiences, we are all searching for the right words.

So I decided right then and there that I would try to help in anyway I could. I didn’t, and don’t, want to crowd them or make them feel like my experience was universal, but if they can benefit from anything I learnt in Eva’s short life, that would be a good thing. So I offered to send them the tactile and co-signing matrixes I had been working on for Eva and give any information or contacts I might have if they are helpful.

I found a massive gap in knowledge around deaf/blind communication in my immediate vicinity, and while I am far from an expert, being able to pass on what little I learnt would at least mean they had a jumping off point.

Meeting this couple and their lovely, happy little girl, has felt both serendipitous and painful. Connection with them means I get to see this lovely little girl who reminds me so much of Eva, but that is simultaneously brutal and beautiful. I watch them with her in class. I listen while she giggles as her dad blows kisses on her cheeks and I think about what it would be like if Eva was at that class with me too. I picture the two of them on the floor, rolling around together. It makes me smile to imagine it, but that smile is quickly replaced with tears, wishing it were the case.

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I get the feeling they would have got on well.

Eva’s death has been philosophically, emotionally and socially life changing for me. I’ve realised I would rather embrace the brutal if it means I get to have the beautiful alongside it. I’ve been teaching my year 10s the novel Warm Bodies this term. This zombie novel has big messages about how we should live our lives. It talks about life being like a heart monitor. We can live in flatline or we can experience the highs and lows, the peaks and troughs that life is meant to have. If we live in flatline we may as well be zombies. Emotionless. Safe. No surprises. Or we can risk the lows and win the chance at the highs. I taught this book before Eva was born, but when I talk about it to students now it feels real. Eva embodied this idea. To love her was to open yourself up to a world of beauty and pain. You couldn’t have one without the other. They were two sides of the same coin.

One thing that meeting this family has cemented for me is a need to keep involved in the special needs community, either in a professional capacity, or through volunteer work. I’ve been thinking about how and where I could do this and a few ideas are starting to take shape.

I’ve started investigating the possibility of a move into Educational Psychology and will be spending some time with my school’s special needs programme to see how that side of education works at a high school level.  This would be a long term plan, and I would want to keep teaching full time while I study. Since I went back to university to become a teacher I have been trying to decide where my teaching career will take me, and the idea of being able to help families and schools to find solutions to help children with extra needs to learn and live is so exciting to me. I was doing it for Eva every day. Helping her achieve what she could within the parameters of her day to day life. I’d like to keep doing it for other people. I’d like to help other parents and teachers to provide the best for kids like Eva.

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She owned me

They say newborn babies have a witching hour. 4pm through till whenever they see fit to sleep. It’s a time of restlessness and tears and screaming. Today, and other days, I feel like my grief has its own witching hour.

I had gotten to dinner time today without any tears. I had my tattoo finished. I thought of Eva. I pictured myself in the kayak on the sea paddling with the guide pointing out the Iwa birds to me (without physically pointing of course, because to point at an Iwa bird is to bring in a storm). I remember the feeling of hope and determination I had felt when he had explained this bird to me. In that moment I knew we were going to be ok. Eva and I, like this bird and the waves I was sitting on, were a force of nature and we would be fine. While the needle was colouring my ribcage in with the sky for those birds, I thought of Eva and I didn’t cry.

I came home, I lit a candle. I didn’t cry.

Then I watched these videos. And I’m floored. I am out of breath from crying. I am turned inside out.

There’s a moment in the second one where she “talks” and as I was watching it I felt my face transform. I had been smiling. A huge grin in response to the amazing baby I saw in front of me and I felt that smile switch into an gasp and then a sob. Its a feeling I’ve become familiar with. My mum told me she heard that when you lose a loved one, grief is that love with nowhere to go to, no outlet or target to land on. It feels like that when I watch those videos. The love and the pain are so intermingled and so close together, they are impossible to tell apart or separate. I feel the extremes of emotion flashing back and forth in an instant when I see her on film. That pain can only be generated by a love which never fails to make me smile.

Last mother’s day I felt conflicted too. Eva was just a few weeks old. I had been delivered most of the bad news by the doctors. I was in shock and under a cloud of postpartum hormones which are not to be trifled with. Eva was still in hospital but I had been discharged weeks before. I drove in each day and spent the working day with her. Me and her, day in day out, together. We got into a routine. I cuddled her until it was time for her to be fed. I set up her feeding tube and held her while she was fed and then I left her to pump milk for later feeds. I came back and we cuddled some more. And, of course, I cried. I cried a lot. I cried so much the nurses put us in a private isolation room so I could be alone with her and my tears. Last mother’s day I was hurting. I wanted to ignore that day, but for very different reasons. I had been told the worst of what I would hear about Eva’s condition and I didn’t think I could do it. I was overwhelmed and paralysed by fear and indecision. I wanted to be her mother so desperately but I didn’t want it either. I didn’t want to accept that was going to be my life. I was terrified and desperate and I didn’t feel I deserved a mother’s day. So I shrugged off people’s calls of “happy mother’s day”. I didn’t want that acknowledgement. It wasn’t my holiday.

Now. A year later it’s still not my holiday. I am very much Eva’s mother and I wish I could go back to that moment and do it all again. Do it without fear. Tell the doctors I could handle it and we would be leaving the hospital and they could fuck their tests for the moment and let her be. Let us be.

I wish I had dug deep last mother’s day and growled at anyone who tried to pull me away from my daughter, intentionally or otherwise. But I didn’t. I was pliable and desperately trying to hold onto the life I thought I still had. And now this mother’s day I don’t have her, and I wish so many things that will not help me now.

I was looking at this video and Eva just felt so real and whole and complete to me it amazes me I ever saw her in any other way. It amazes me that I ever second guessed my role in her life. And I realised I had been thinking about it all wrong. I had been thinking about Eva as if she was mine. Someone I owned. She was never mine.

I was hers.

She was Eva, and I was lucky to have her. It was never going to be easy. I’ll never find out how hard it would have gotten, but she had me. She didn’t belong to me, I belonged to her. She owned me.

I knew this day would be hard. I just wish I could walk into the world of that video and be in that moment one more time. Hear her chuckle again and know it was me making her that happy. Because she owned my heart, and she knew it.

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Mother’s day – to all the other mothers

Sunday is mother’s day. It’s a day I’m dreading in a lot of ways. A day that is hanging over me, like Eva’s birthday did a month ago.

It feels laden in meaning and everything about it seems to insult me and remind me of what I am and what I am no longer.

I am still Eva’s mother. I will always be Eva’s mother. But I don’t feel like A Mother anymore. And that breaks my heart. I know it’s a matter of semantics, but it’s a matter that matters a great deal to me.

I know I’m not the only one who looks at this holiday and sees what they are missing, rather than what they have, so I wanted to send some love out to you all for Sunday.

To all the women who never got to meet their babies, because of miscarriage or still births; to all the women who desperately want to conceive but can’t and look at the word mother with a mix of longing and dread; to all the women who adopted or fostered their children; to all the women who have their babies through surrogacy or IVF; to all the mothers struggling through new diagnoses and medically fragile babies; and finally to all the women who were mothers but lost their son or daughter too soon, I am holding you in my heart. Mother’s day means something different to all of us, and when your journey doesn’t fit the norm it can feel like a brutal day, so I just wanted to send some love you way and let you know I’m thinking of you all. I don’t pretend to understand all your journeys, but I do understand the heaviness of a day dedicated to celebrating something that feels so conflicted and raw. I do understand the longing and wishing for something different. The wish that the day would both disappear and mean something different for you at the same time.

So on Sunday I will light a candle for Eva. I will get my tattoo finished and spend the day by myself and think about how I can honour my own sense of myself as Eva’s mother. I will watch videos of her and smile, and most likely cry. It’s not the mother’s day I ever wanted. But it’s the one I’ve got.

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The definition of bittersweet

Most of my posts are written in tears, or shortly thereafter. They often represent the extremes of emotion. I don’t write about the days where nothing happens. Where I teach and eat and sleep and exist. I write when compelled to, which is usually when the pain and hurt is bubbling out of me through my fingers and onto the screen.

This weekend just been though, I had a moment that was different and I wanted to share that too. I worry sometimes that my posts make people concerned for me. I haven’t pulled many punches when it comes to describing my grief. It is raw and real and it hurts. But I don’t want people to worry about me. I’m not a burning pile of pain all the time. It lifts me up and down like an ocean in a bitter southerly. But there are gaps between the troughs. I am ok most of the time.

And then sometimes, I’m better than ok.

I had one of those moments on Saturday. I was in Napier for a good friend’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid so had a full day of salon visits and make up and photos, but before all that started I got up early and went for a run. I’ve been running since Eva died. I bought a treadmill and had planned to run on it while she either rolled on the floor of our apartment or sat in her high chair. Now that she’s gone I need it even more and have been working my way back into running, slowly.

So I headed out into a beautiful autumn morning. The sun was shining. I put my earphones in and started my timer. At first my legs felt heavy. The road felt hard after the rubber of the conveyor belt on my treadmill. After a few minutes I hit a rhythm and stuck to it.

Then this song came on.

The sun was on my back and as the lyrics, “all I can picture is held hands coming apart” I felt my lungs implode with a sob from nowhere. I held myself together and kept running. I felt the concrete hard under my feet and I pushed off harder and sped up. I saw the balloons we released the day of Eva’s funeral in my mind and felt a weight lift off me for just a moment.

This sounds quaint, or trite or arrogant, I guess I’m not good at writing about the bubbles of brilliance in amongst the grief, but in that moment I felt free and strong and like I could do anything. Before Eva was born I think it’s fair to say I was suffering from fairly low self esteem. I didn’t rate my intelligence particularly. Or my skill as a writer. I didn’t see myself as anything special. I didn’t compare myself favourably to who I wanted to be. I deferred to too many people. I let too many people put me down. It’s not that I now feel like I’m something amazing, I just felt full of potential and strength. With each foot hitting the pavement I felt a sense of lightness and power and possibility.

And the beauty of it was that in that lightness Eva was still there, ever present, surrounding me. While I pictured those balloons floating away I didn’t see it as Eva leaving me. It felt like she was with me, nudging me on. Reminding me how much we went through together. Reminding me I got through it, and that’s no small feat. Reminding me to keep putting one foot forward and to keep going. Telling me she’s still there in my heart when I need her.

And heck, now I’m crying again. But in that moment, I was happy and I won’t forget that, even if that feeling is fleeting.

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A friend told me that she read that in grief all things are heightened, including joy. That was perfectly what I felt. As if Eva was smiling on me, as if Eva was in her pushchair on that run with me and instead of making me cry it made me smile with a sob contained in my chest. The true meaning of bitter sweet.

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One last paediatrician appointment

I have only been back to Eva’s hospital once since she died. I was dropping off her unused feeding tubes and I dashed in and out without pausing. I didn’t want to pay for parking. I was in the grounds for under 10 minutes and in the children’s outpatients for maybe 30 seconds. I didn’t get a chance to think or reflect or feel anything. I got back in my car and got on with my day.

Yesterday I went back to the hospital for one last meeting with Eva’s paediatrician. I was pleased to get the appointment call, because yes, I did have unanswered questions. As soon as I sat down in the waiting room I felt myself slip. I felt strange sitting there in a children’s waiting room with other parents and their kids. Toys scattered about the play area. Without Eva. I have visited that part of the hospital, and the hospital in general, so many times, but always with Eva in tow. Sometimes in the front pack. Sometimes in her push chair. And when I was feeling particularly strong, with her just in my arms. We knew the halls well. The shortcuts and through-fares. Where to park and how to escape quickly. We knew where to get a coffee, and where not to. Where we could go to feed Eva, and where to go when we just needed some time out and peace. When Eva was sick, she and I literally lived at the hospital for weeks at a time.

It was where she was born, and where I paced about in labour. I remember walking around the rose gardens with my mum and having to stop and brace myself with every contraction. Months later I walked that same rose garden with Eva in the pushchair when we were early for an appointment. Even before she was born I spent many days in that place, having the amnio and talking with obstetricians about terrifying possibilities.

So it felt strange to be there, without Eva. I felt very alone. Surrounded by her absence.

I hated the hospital. Hated our ties to it and how we couldn’t escape it. But now that I don’t have to go back there, sitting in the waiting room felt immensely sad. Eva and I, for better or worse, spent so much time there. The nurses knew her. The doctors knew her. The emergency staff knew her.

I realised quite quickly that my straight forward questions where going to be delivered in between gasping sobs as I sat in the waiting room. I felt that familiar tug at the back of my throat and tried to focus on at least getting in to the doctor’s office before I let the first tears fall.

The doctor had barely asked me how I was doing before I crumbled. I’m allowed to crumble. I’m expected to crumble. So I let myself.

Between sobs, I asked about her last MRI. The one I never got the results for. Her doctor told me a few things were different. Her absent corpus callosum was in fact a partial corpus callosum. She did have one, it was just smaller than normal. Her frontal lobe was essentially normal and the lack of folds that they had identified when she was first born now looked normal. The only other issues they could identify was the presence of grey matter in her brain in amongst the white matter. Her doctor explained this can lead to seizures, something I always feared for Eva, or it could mean nothing.

This news means nothing. So she did have a corpus callosum, it was just much smaller than normal. So her frontal lobe wasn’t abnormal. So she had grey matter where it shouldn’t be. It didn’t mean anything to Eva and by the time she died it meant very little to me. She was still her. She was going to achieve what she achieved, scans be damned. I remember a nurse saying to me when Eva was born, “she is her own person” and I didn’t get it. It felt hollow and meaningless, but I get it now. The scans, the diagnosis, the results, they might help to identify future health issues or areas to keep an eye on, but they mean nothing to the child. They are who they are, just like I am who I am without ever having an MRI to examine my brain. When Eva was born the results meant too much to me. I clung on to them. I dug my nails in. Acknowledging sayings like “she is her own person” felt naive and foolish and ignorant, as if I was turning my back on some elemental truth. That was until I got Eva home and got to know her and realised it was all some imperfect, imprecise joke. The doctors could tell me these results, but not what they meant. They knew little more than I did. But Eva, she didn’t mind. She was Eva, plain and simple. She never saw a scan of her brain or heard doctors worriedly talk about seizures. She just lived. The elemental truth was not hidden in some scan or blood result, it as sitting right in front of me. It was in Eva’s smile and laugh. In her cuddles. Her diagnosis didn’t matter. Her scans mattered even less.

After talking about the MRI we went through the preliminary results of the post mortem. There were things I didn’t know and some that I did. Eva’s lungs and blood results showed signs of an early pneumonia infection. She had a cold at the time, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as her previous illnesses. So hearing the word pneumonia  surprised me. In saying that, any illness can turn nasty quickly, so perhaps she was on the brink of something worse. Her trachea was inflamed, from the coughing I would guess. But aside from that there was no real cause of death. Nothing to pin it on.

This photo was taken around five hours before she died. I would never have guessed this happy baby had pneumonia in her lungs.

This photo was taken around five hours before she died. I would never have guessed this happy baby had pneumonia in her lungs.

Her doctor also explained that the right sided aortic arch coming from her heart, which was picked up in some of my very early ante-natal scans, had resulted in the aorta pushing on her eosophagus and potentially her trachea as well, although this wasn’t totally clear. This would have made her reflux worse and potentially have affected her breathing.

One side of her heart was inflamed, due to her ASD (hole in her heart) and she had some minor hypertension in her lungs. This I knew about from her cardiologist.

But the kicker, the thing that somehow cut through all of it was something new. Something that explained so much. Her trachea and tubes leading to her lungs were “floppy” instead of firm. Most people’s tracchea is firm, which means when they need to clear mucus, coughing results in the mucus shifting. The walls of Eva’s trachea could be squeezed together meaning when she coughed instead of clearing the mucus, they folded together, preventing her from breathing clearly and clearing her airway. It makes a lot of sense in terms of her noisy breathing and the way illness lingered with her longer than most babies. I seem to remember an ENT doctor mentioning it could be a possibility eons ago, but it was never diagnosed while she was alive.

It seems a pointless thing to get worked up about. Even if they had discovered it there is no way to fix it. As the child grows the tracchea strengthens and the problems caused by it are lessened. In some children, the doctor explained, they have to be on CPAP constantly because it forces the tracchea open with the pressure. Eva was on CPAP at the height of her sicknesses, but the idea of her being on it at all times broke my heart. I know there are CHARGE kids out there in this exact state.

Hearing this additional problem that Eva faced, unbeknownst to all her doctors and carers, made me feel like I was back in the chair when Eva was born hearing the worst of the news all over again. I felt devastated, as if Eva were still alive and having to live with this. I felt again how brutally unfair it is that Eva had so many ailments. So many challenges. Was it not enough that she was blind and deaf?

So many parents of special needs children say they would not change a thing about their child. When it comes to medical issues, like being able to breath without assistance, or eat without worry of aspiration, or being able to sleep without worry of apnea, I would challenge anyone to say they wouldn’t take that part of their child’s condition away. It seems so universally unfair that these children who already have physical delays and intellectual impairments should have to suffer with medical issues as well. I guess it makes sense in a physiological sense. If something happened chromosomally to make Eva the way she was, why wouldn’t it affect the normal functioning of other parts of her body. But at a certain point it just makes you want to yell, “enough!”

I recently heard from another mother of a deaf blind baby. Her son has multiple other issues and has just recently had an MRI which reveals he has a brain tumour. When she emailed me with the details of her son’s issues I felt like hitting something. I mean, what the fuck? Where is justice in that? For her, for her family, for her son?

But again, I say this as someone who knows there isn’t some cosmic scales in the sky. Luck is not existent. You don’t use up your good luck or your bad. Bad things can happen to people who already have more than enough to deal with. But it’s such a hard impulse to switch off, the idea that surely, surely I have had enough bad luck, that Eva, this woman’s son, have had enough bad luck. That surely we will all be in for a lucky break. It’s a beautiful delusion.

Eva’s doctor posited that perhaps a combination of factors had contributed to Eva’s death. If she had built up mucus in her nose and throat and tried to clear it, perhaps her tracchea had collapsed and when she couldn’t breath for a short moment her heart slowed down and just never picked back up again.

She told me there was nothing we could have done. I know this. Intellectually, I understand this. But it does sting to know there was an underlying health issue that I wasn’t even aware of that could have contributed to her death.

I walked out of the hospital yesterday not knowing when I’ll ever go back there. I’ve moved areas since Eva died and now if I were to get sick I would go to a different hospital. If I were to have a baby I would deliver in a different hospital. It’s a fact that is both liberating and tragic. I don’t want to leave Eva’s life behind, but I also want to move forward.

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Quality of life – a crowd sourcing question

I have been reading Emily Rapp’s book, The Still Point of the Turning World. It is amazing. Breathtaking. Thoughtful. Beautifully written. Raw.

The section I just finished was around some of the challenging medical questions they had to answer with their son. She addresses the difference between “value” and “quality” when considering life. It got me thinking and quickly I realised it’s something I want to write about more. I’d like my essay in the collection I’m putting together to be on this issue and how my definitions for “quality of life” have changed since Eva was born. Were forced to change.

I don’t want this essay to just be my thoughts. I want to do some research. So, I’m crowdsourcing and looking for advice and direction. Have you read anything interesting on the issue of quality of life, or know of an author who has addressed it well?

A force of nature

Yesterday was a hard day. After a lovely brunch with my sister I came home and felt the two weeks of holidays without much to keep my mind busy piling up on me. I know I shouldn’t complain, and I’m not. I love the holidays that come with being a teacher.

But the lack of routine, the idle hands, the time alone; it had all built up over two weeks. The result was me, sitting alone in my apartment looking at photos of Eva on the day she died and after she died and sobbing.

When the grief seizes me like that it feels like exquisite torture. It hurts. My god, it hurts. But I don’t want it to end, because while I’m hurting, all I am thinking about is Eva. She fills my stomach and heart and head. It’s that feeling when you sit down in the shower and let the water wash over you. It hits you and you soak in it. It gets in your eyes and stings, but the drumming on your skull is therapeautic.

Today is a new day. School is back and I felt myself smiling and talking. A bit of routine and normality changing my chemical make up.

After school I drove to the courier post office and picked up my airline tickets to America at the end of the year. On December 5th I fly from Wellington to Minnesota and begin my great American trip. Holding the tickets in my hands felt exciting. Something to look forward to.

I got in my car, clutching my tickets and drove to my sign language class.

The class was good. People were less nervous. We had all been practicing. We could laugh more easily and enjoy the process without worrying how we looked. We had made progress.

There was a new couple there. With a baby. I had watched them pacing about before the class, the baby asleep in their arms. Just before the class started they put her down in a portable crib. Since Eva was born I can never take my eye off babies in my vicinity. I never used to be baby crazy, but now I want to see them and hear all about them.

At half time I approached her mother and asked about her. She told me her daughter was deaf. I hesitated and then said, “my daughter was deaf blind”. She looked at me and I waited for her to pick up on the “was”. She surprised me instead by saying, “I know. I read your blog”. She told me she saw it in the Longest Shortest Time facebook group and then realised I was in Wellington too. She said when she saw the blog she wanted to meet me and Eva. I smiled, thinking about it. We both would have liked that.

It was such a nice moment, and while we had to hurry back into the class and put away our speaking voices, I felt the little pieces of today fill me up and buoy me. I drove home smiling.

Grief is exhausting. It batters me and buffets me. It feels like there are so many metaphors to describe it because it is so universal and so complete. It’s overwhelms and submerges us. Every time I reach for description, for definition, I come back to water. The cup of grief, the waves, the storm, the shower hitting me on the head. It’s nature at it’s most elemental. Just as death is. Just as Eva was. A force of nature.

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The next time my cup is overflowing, or I’m in the trough between waves, or in the eye of the storm, or I’m sitting on the floor of the shower because standing up is too hard, I’ll try to remember days like today. When there are things to look forward to, and laughter, and new friends with unexpected things in common. It’s not the eye of the storm, but I can see light through the clouds.

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