Sunday, September 11, 2011
I remember asking my parents where they were when Kennedy and MLK were shot, and asking my grandparents what it was like when Pearl Harbor happened. I knew that in my lifetime there would be defining events- things that I would remember- remember where I was when I heard the news... The OJ verdict, Princess Diana's death... but none will come close to that day back in 2001 when the world literally changed in a matter of moments.
Where was I?
I was in my early weeks of school. It was my first year being "Mrs. Doran," as I had been married just that last April and was getting used to my 'new name'. I was getting ready for my second graders to arrive to school. It was a beautiful day and I loved September. I remember getting an email from my husband that morning. Something about a plane hitting one of the twin towers. I didn't think too much of it at the time... Of course I prayed for the family of the pilot and anyone else who may have been on board at the time. I assumed it was a small plane and maybe it had hit the top part of the building since those buildings were so high. Little did I know the severity of what was happening and that my husband (working in business at the time) was huddled around a TV with coworkers getting the horrific details of that day in real time as they unfolded.
I was going through our morning routine, counting the days of school and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance when my principal came over the PA asking everyone to make sure that all TVs in the school were turned off. Mine was off but still I remember wondering what was happening. A typed letter was brought to all of us letting us know what was happening though at the time, no one really knew WHAT was happening... It was soon after, that I saw another email from Jeff. Another plane had hit the other tower and in that moment I knew that whatever picture my mind had of that first plane- that picture was far off from the reality of what was happening in New York. Something was wrong. There couldn't possibly be two planes. America was under attack.
I immediately started praying. Thinking of the busy city. Wondering about my childhood friend who worked near and sometimes in the towers and praying that she wasn't there that morning. At lunch I was able to call my husband. I learned about the building collapsing, the other planes and what he described to me still was hard to picture. Some parents came to school to get their children. It wasn't until I got home and every channel on my television was showing the same picture... over and over that I saw the magnitude of what had happened that sunny morning. All I did was cry. I sat there and cried and cried and didn't know what else to do. I couldn't turn off the television. I just sat there watching and crying and praying that somehow we would all survive what was really happening. Our world changed that day.
September 12th was equally hard. I remember praying that I would have the words- the answers to the questions my second graders would ask. As I had expected, they were trying to make sense of what was going on. Seeing this was hard for me (at age 25) to fully comprehend, I can't imagine what it must have been like for a seven year old mind. They asked so many questions- about people dying about PARENTS dying and about those kids who no longer had a mom or dad at home. They were sad and they were scared. I assured them that they were safe and that our school was safe but realizing that we were living in much different times- I hoped that my words didn't give me up. At that time I really wondered if we were safe.
It was strange~ those days. There wasn't a plane in the sky and while I don't often think or notice planes, their absence was loud. My husband told me when he first noticed a plane return to the sky, he wondered. Perhaps we all did. The truth was anything was possible. If the twin towers could fall, anything could happen.
The days and weeks and months that followed September 11th were a blur. I would see a flag and begin to cry- and in those days flags were everywhere. Every car had one and they were on every front porch. People wore pins upon their jackets and red, white and blue on their shirts. People seemed kinder because we all somehow knew that we were walking witnesses to our world changing~ and the reality that it could change in just a moment was the one thing that I remember sitting with the most- and that unified us.
The need to "do something" was so strong in those days. I remember writing checks for hundreds of dollars in hopes to help the families that were directly affected. My students too wanted to do something and many went door to door collecting blankets, toys and games. For they were still remembering the children- their peers- who perhaps lost a parent and they wanted to make them smile again and know that children far away were still thinking of them. I remember loading up my car with things they brought along with handmade cards, crying again because I knew that they too wanted to help- put a big band aid on the enormous hurt that was everywhere. And they saw that hurt on every adult face that knew our lives were suddenly different.
I don't know if I will ever be able to fully explain the days of 9-11 to my children. The images I have sitting in church with tears just streaming down my face (and the faces of others) for weeks afterward is something that will stay with me. The country was in so much pain, but we somehow were in it together- even those of us far from the city- for those images were everywhere. Try as I may, I will never get those images out of my mind. The planes- the buildings crumbling and yes- the people jumping to their deaths to escape whatever hell they were experiencing in those buildings that would soon be no more.
And now ten years later, America has changed. I have changed. I cannot recall the last time I saw a car with a flag on it (and our cars do not have them either). My children and students do not know the word "terrorist" like those students ten years ago. People don't look at each other and somehow know what the other is thinking. We've gone back to 'normal'.
Today our family all wore shirts with our country's flag. I spoke to my children about why we were wearing them on this day and what happened to this country before they were even born. I know from their faces that they understood my words but the magnitude of it wasn't felt and I wonder if they will ever fully understand. Like my grandparents and Great Uncle would talk about Pearl Harbor- the history they lived- that was something that happened in the history books. It wasn't MY history. But September 11th~ September 11th was my history. I remember where I was. I remember what I felt.
At church today there was a baptism. A little boy who looked to be only a few days old. His father held him in his arms. His father had made it home for his son's birth. You see, he was serving in Afghanistan and in a few days, he will return. Upon hearing this, our whole congregation rose to their feet and applauded. The room filled with appreciation and it kept going. My daughter looked at me and wondered why I was crying like I was (more than my usual baptism tears). It isn't often that you get to share a room with a hero.
My world has gone back to 'normal'~ but I know for many, many families the tragedy that happened on September 11th is always right there below the surface. Much like September 15th for me is always right there...
The reality is that post September 11th, there are still people trying to hurt us simply because we are Americans. Post September 11th there are still brave men and women giving their lives to protect us. And Post September 11th I know that I live in a country that is resilient and will survive. Today I thank those brave men and women who served during our country's worst tragedy and those who continue to serve and give us a world of 'normal' back. Today (and every September 11th), I will remember them. Thank them. Pray for them.
And I have a feeling that I am not alone.
Where were you?
If you feel so moved, please leave a comment below of your 9-11. History is not just in books, but in the lives of those who live it.
Friday, September 9, 2011
It is September 9th.
Three years ago today, I lost a baby.
Three years ago-
I didn't think it would happen. I didn't think it COULD happen. Losing Andrew seemed to be it. Though I was always fearful in all of my pregnancies after him, I somehow felt that losing Andrew had gained me something... perhaps the assurance that it wouldn't happen again- it couldn't happen again.
But it did.
It seems only natural that I would compare the two. We cried like we did with Andrew- lost our voices- crumbled to the floor. It was as if I was watching an old movie- of myself. I immediately went into the mindset that~ I had done this before. I had survived it once. I would do it again. And I did.
This was different.
There was something with Andrew that made it easier... He had a name. He had a body we held. And people saw him (albeit in me). They knew he existed- and in a sense they watched him grow. We were allowed to mourn him.
E was different. We saw a heartbeat three times, but hadn't let many in on our secret blessing. They hadn't watched E grow. They didn't know how I loved her and prayed for her and begged her to stay. My tears were mostly shared in our house -in the evenings. When everyone was in their own homes watching the evening news~ we were living our own tragedy. Grieving a child that was long out of the minds of those who knew she even existed.
No one really knew. And so when she was gone, nothing changed.
I wasn't showing, so my body didn't give me up.
I missed only a couple days of work.
And I was back again. Teaching young children~ all the while thinking they all made it... and I have had two now that haven't... How does that happen??
I was back again and it seemed I had fallen into the pattern of living too soon. Of course I thought every day that I should be pregnant, but felt that I couldn't really talk about that... You see, E was "Just a miscarriage". "Everyone has them."
But gosh it hurt.
I still have the notebook I wrote in that day at school as I taught my third graders. The one where I begged and pleaded for E to stay- please stay. Perhaps I knew what was happening and just wanted to hold on as long as I could. How I wished she'd hold on... But she didn't.
Three years later though, I know she is safe. With her big brother. Waiting for the day we are all reunited. And I like to think she is glad I remember- and so many of my friends did too. I like to think that she knows my love for her never died. That I think about her still- and share her with the world. In a sense she won't die, until I do.
Today is September 9th and again today I was in school and my mind often drifted back to that day- three years ago- remembering all that took place like it was just yesterday. But it wasn't just yesterday and I went through the motions. I gathered my first graders at the end of the day and we joined our school in tying wishes to balloons and letting them drift off to the heavens.
I didn't have a balloon.
I didn't need one.
My wish lives in heaven.
Waiting for me.
Happy Birthday sweet E. I didn't forget. I never will.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I recently wrote about a game that was on facebook. My intentions of course were what all of my "Pause" blog intentions are... to get whatever is swirling around in my crazy mind out so that I can be 'free' of it. Because the internet is far-reaching, there is opportunity for many to hear my rambling thoughts- the world according to Laura- my therapy of sorts. I wrote often in those early days too- via letters to Andrew and whether I be angry, sad, or just plain missing him, those letters felt like a big exhale as did my blog (and apology) about the facebook 'game'.
As I write this, over 3000 people have read that post (which amazes me still) and I realize that this 'therapy' of mine can sometimes help not just me, but others too. I heard from many who I do not think realized how this 'game' could have hurt others- and those of you who shared it with your friends, I thank you. In a sense, this game (through this blog and others like it) shared the feelings of what people (like me) who have lost a child, carry with them everyday. This 'game' allowed others a bit of an insight into my life and reminded ME of another lesson that I sometimes forget. Your best lessons can come from your biggest mistakes. Though I know I was forgiven and had a 'free pass' from my community on this 'game', it still was a big mistake for me... I should have known better- but I have learned- and I have reflected and now I have more thoughts swimming in my mind that need to come out.
I was blessed to have an amazing mentor in my life- someone I looked up to and watched. From a very young age, I knew that there was something different about him- something special and so I learned from him. Not like a student learns from a teacher- but how most of us learn the really important lessons in life- by watching.
I watched for a very long time and then in those dreaded 'tween' years, we became penpals. I would bend his ear, ask his advice and memorize things he'd write to me. So poetic. So poignant. I wanted to be like him, and I want to be like him still but I am (clearly from my last post) still a work in progress.
Whether you are aware or not you are being watched- by adults and children in your life. Your choices impact far more than you think- even if you don't post them on a blog for the world to read. Similarly, I like to think that Andrew and E continue to touch lives and make a difference in me and through me (for the better). Emily Dickinson very wisely said, "A word is dead, when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day." This is true of not just her words... but yours- and mine. Words can take on a world of their own. They can anger you, move you to tears or make you laugh until you cry.
Words are powerful.
All of this has reminded me of one lesson I learned from my mentor. One that some of you may have heard before (as it comes from a much greater teacher), "Be quick to listen and slow to speak." I love this quote so much, that I even had it written in my public school classroom (and loved when the occasional ~elementary~ student would recognize its origins). If you are unfamiliar, this is a quote from the manual for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (otherwise known as the bible: James 1:19).
This lesson is (clearly) something I need to work on and I think many in this day and age may need as well. With social media the way it is, we think it, we type it, we press send and its out there- a delete key is too little too late. And what you say or write is there for the taking- free for anyone to interpret in any way they like. So I need to pause. On this blog I am quick to listen. I listen to your words, I read your emails, blogs and comments. I hear it all. I pause. I choose my words as carefully as I can, praying that my words will come out the way in which they were intended and the thoughts swimming in my head will leave me be.
Why did I watch my mentor so? Because he was quiet. He was funny, quick-witted and wise. He was quick to listen and slow to speak and after all, we learn not from talking but from pausing- reflecting- thinking- watching. Today's actions may and probably will impact someone's tomorrow.
Clearly I am (VERY) far from perfect- but this all (0 Weeks and Craving Forgiveness) has reminded me that pausing is something that I need to strive for- for today.
That mentor of mine, the wise man who made me want to be more like him- a better listener- a wise friend- I think would be pleased. Yes. He'd be pleased with my words. These words.
But then again, sometimes the greatest lessons aren't expressed in words, but in actions.
I watched him. I watched him that day in church as he cried, tears streaming down his wrinkled, wise face, watching me with my little Jonasen- thinking of Andrew- and remembering the pain of losing his own son. He remembered. He didn't have to speak, I heard volumes. But I never thanked him for those lessons.
My twinless twin, my son Jonasen has no idea the lessons I learned from his namesake- and like Andrew- though he lives now in the heavens- continues to teach me.
My Grandpa Jonasen
And thank you for reading
And sharing yours.
Friday, September 2, 2011
When I think of who I am and how I got to this point in my life- what has shaped me- the number one "thing' would be Andrew. The kind of Christian I am, mother I am- The kind of wife, friend, teacher, person... it all comes back to him.
I remember when I was numb- months out- driving- and a woman gave me the finger mouthing some words at me- clearly quite angry at something I did... I still don't know what happened, but I remember (literally) smiling and waving. I did this while thinking, poor thing... she probably had a really bad day~ perhaps she just lost someone like I did... Maybe she lost a baby too... I thought this because everyone must be like me- You see, I had just gotten out of the 'angry at the world' stage. I was oblivious- but at the same time, keenly aware.
I chose my words very carefully (though you probably wouldn't notice). I never asked someone how many children they had because it was a question I hated to answer. I didn't ask people who had been married for some time if they were 'trying' because my assumption was that they were and it wasn't going well and that -in itself- is a loss... a loss of that dream us little girls have- we grow up, fall in love, get married, have babies, the end.
I don't talk about my living children here (unless it is their thoughts of their brother or sister) and I am careful (as much as I can) to not talk about them with friends who are trying so hard to have a baby.
But recently I dropped the ball and for that I feel sick and apologize from the bottom of my broken heart.
I was on facebook when I read many friends (most of them older and from my church) who were writing how many "weeks they were" and what they were "craving". The inference here was that they were pregnant. I thought it was funny (because clearly they weren't) and I wanted in on the joke. I played along (most of my friends knowing that I had had a tubal so wouldn't be pregnant) but my computer lit up, and my phone rang off the hook with people asking me (for real) if I was pregnant... (clearly their friends hadn't gotten the same forward I had about the 'game' whose purpose was apparently to raise awareness for breast cancer). Some people laughed and thought it was funny- and to be honest- at the time, I thought it was 'funny' that people would honestly think that I was pregnant.
It wasn't until a friend sent me a message- (A friend who lost two beautiful twin boys, a friend with no living children but an overwhelming desire to be a mother of children that people SEE)- wrote me congratulating me, that all laughter and smiles stopped. I lost my breath and my eyes started to water. I realized what I had done. I realized that I had turned into one of 'those' people... those people whose mouths drip insensitive questions and thoughts not out of malice but because they are clueless. Those people who are the topic of most meetings I have attended and countless posts on support group pages. I wondered how many people read my 'status update' and wanted to give me the finger while I smiled and waved... oblivious. I felt sick to my stomach, let her in on the 'joke' and quickly posted the message I got to every 'baby-loss group' I am a member of in hopes to save others from the 'sting' of hearing a friend was pregnant... when in fact they were not. Some thanked for the clarification but after that came outrage, and rightfully so.
To this community being pregnant is no laughing matter.
To many in this community when they become pregnant they know the week and day of their pregnancy and 'first trimester' safety... Ya, that means nothing to us. Hell, my twins were good and cooked at 39 weeks... well passed that 'first trimester' safety mark.
When you want to have a baby... if you've been trying for two months or two years- while you may be happy for someone else, you can't help but be more sad for you- it is human. I learned that when my brother and his wife were expecting their first child a month after I had lost baby E. As excited as I was to be an auntie, and as happy as I was for them... I felt sick and sad. Sad for me. I remember being glad that I heard their exciting news over the phone so that they didn't have to read my face in that moment. It wasn't about them... it was all about me...
I wonder how many read that post about my 'cravings' and had that same feeling~ sadness~ and my "playing along" had caused that for some and for that, I deeply apologize.
I have since 'removed' the post.
The purpose was to 'raise awareness for breast cancer'... how the game did that, I don't know. Trying to find a reason for everything, my guess is that the hope was to get people talking and get some air time on the Today Show or Good Morning America- but perhaps what this game can do is bring more awareness to my number one 'cause'.
Yes. I know people who have suffered from cancer. It claimed the life of my father-in-law. My mother-in-law is a survivor... my sister-in-law...
But I am a survivor too. I survived losing a son. Holding a son who was dead in my arms. Holding a son who I carried for 39 long weeks. Holding a son who just mere hours before I delivered him had been alive within me... kicking! A son who would have been here had I delivered just that morning. Look at your child. That could have been Andrew.
But no one really knows my struggles. They may have remembered my now 'once upon a time' story but they don't know how I still think about him everyday- that just turning the calendar to September brought a lump in my throat knowing that that precious boy would have been 8 in just a few short weeks and I never got to see his smile.
Somehow I survived.
I'm surviving still- but for some reason my 'cause' doesn't get air-time.
Oprah never talked about me (though of course I wrote her as I'm sure many other of us 'Secret Society' moms did)... Perhaps your baby had to live a while to get on her show... Perhaps I was going crazy... Perhaps it was just me...
But now I know that it's not just me and I'm not crazy... or maybe I am. But there's a whole lot of us crazies out there that are suffering from a disease that eats us up... a broken heart from someone that we loved dearly but that no one else saw and therefore was forgotten by the next week or two.
I can tell you non-members of this society that those who suffered a loss were hurt by this. And I assure you that those who want nothing more than to become pregnant were hurt by this and THIS is what I hope spreads like wildfire. I am sure no one meant for anyone to get hurt, but I am 0 weeks and craving forgiveness- for not being sensitive to MY group. Perhaps this 'game' will bring attention to "us"- Attention to a group that doesn't have some celebrity spokesperson or representatives on the morning talk shows.
But there is talk- of that I assure you. The world will say that there is no pain like losing a child- But I don't fall into that category because my children never took a breath- not one that I didn't breathe for them. They didn't count.
The world never talks about me. I have no color. No ribbons worn by celebrities as they make their speeches at their awards shows. They never talk about 'me'. But perhaps they will now. Maybe this game will bring attention- just to a different cause. Mine. Ours.
So talk about that. Talk about us.
The Secret Society.
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