Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hijacked

I don’t really know what’s going on with me this past week. I’ve had a hard time even thinking about writing. Maybe I wore myself out with Monday’s post and just didn’t realize it. I’m sure that coming to the end of my second full week of work is at least some of the issue, and I “worked” (I use that term lightly because it is nearly impossible to sustain my attention for anywhere close to a full work day) an extra hour each day this week to make up for some time I missed on Monday when my sweet niece was in town. I feel tired. I feel like I still have so much to say, but none of it is new—it is all simply a repetition of the same themes over and over again.

I am exhausted from what I call getting my thoughts “hijacked.” This is when, out of nowhere, I am struck, either with a specific memory or just a sudden overwhelming sense of the loss we have experienced, and I just immediately get pulled right down into the thickness of the grief. When it’s a specific memory, like something that happened today, it usually only lasts only for a bit, marked by a quick crying jag. When it’s the other, like it was this past weekend, it lasts for a few hours or days, marked by a seemingly unending malaise, where I feel like I am walking around in a fog—I am functioning and talking to people, but it’s almost as if I am outside of myself. It is utterly frustrating to have so little control over my emotional state from one moment to the next. Grief’s unpredictability is probably one of its worst features. And if it seems sometimes as if I speak of grief as a whole separate being, that is, indeed, how it feels—like its own entity that is just always with me, a most unwelcome presence everywhere I go, even in my sleep.

Today, I was brought to quick tears by a sudden memory of a Facebook post I made not long before Hudson died. I said something like, “I looked down today and realized that I no longer have to lean over to hold Hudson’s hand. Yay for my poor back; boo for growing too fast.” The naivete, the unknowing, the carefree quality of those words just shook me. Even more painful than the memory of the words was the fact that I could remember the exact moment earlier that day when I had the realization. Hudson and I were walking out of the front door of St. Ann’s after school one day. I was holding her left hand in my right, always keeping her on the inside of the sidewalk. She had gotten to the point where she sometimes rebelled against holding my hand at all, so eager was she to leave me and go play in the grass. I was starting to have to be firm about holding Mommy’s hand on the sidewalk. But that day, I just noticed for the first time that she was tall enough and her arm was long enough for her hand to rest fairly comfortably in mine without a stretch on either of our parts. I had no idea how we’d gotten there so quickly.

Now, I have no idea how we’ve gotten here at all. Where is my little girl? Why can’t I hold her hand anymore? Why isn’t she still growing too fast?  And it just spirals downward from there.

This is what I mean by hijacked. Now I will cry for several minutes and then go to bed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Until Tomorrow

I am exhausted and emotionally drained tonight and don't have the mental energy or room for a full post, but I just wanted to thank everyone for your very heartfelt and loving responses to yesterday's post.  The responses I got yesterday surprised me in their intensity and brought me great comfort.  It's funny to me when people remark at how private these moments seem-- I guess I feel like I threw the privacy out the window the day I first started writing about my grief.  It all just runs together now for me--none of it seems more or less personal.  It's all terribly personal.  Some memories and reflections, like yesterday's, are decidedly more painful than others, but sharing them always, always helps.  And to anyone who ever feels like an intruder, please don't.  I've invited you in for a reason and am glad to have you here, whether I know you or not. 

Thank you all again.  Hopefully I will be in a writing state of mind tomorrow.  Missing my girl so very much tonight. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Skin-to-Skin

I have really been struggling these past few days with why this happened to us. With why, with all the many precautions I took for 17 months and 12 days (plus the nine months that she was in my belly), why I couldn’t save Hudson’s life. Even though I have gotten over the worst of the guilt, I still, always, imagine in my head how things might have been different if we’d made that trip to the ER at 4AM. I want so badly to have a do-over, one that somehow brings Hudson back to us. Because I have also been struggling, again, with the finality of all this. I look at the pictures of my sweet girl, and I just can’t fathom that she is really gone forever. It just seems like there has to be some way to bring her back.

When I was pregnant with Hudson, I read a lot about breastfeeding and attended several breastfeeding classes. I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed her for at least a year, so I wanted to have as strong a foundation for that as possible. One of the things I read was most important for establishing the breastfeeding relationship early on was frequent skin-to-skin contact, starting as soon as the baby is born. I’d read that the baby should spend some time on the mama’s bare chest just as soon as possible, and certainly before the baby is whisked away for measurements and eye goop and cleaning.

When they held Hudson up in front of me, my first reaction was, “It’s a girl!” realizing only then for the first time that despite all my assertions that I didn’t care what we had, I’d wanted a girl the whole time. My next reaction, a split second later, was to start tearing my hospital gown off—it was tied in the back and I couldn’t get the knot undone. I was desperate to get that little girl on my chest, to hold her close so she could smell me and try nursing. (I realize now, as a member of many online grief communities for babylost parents, how fortunate I was to have that time with Hudson, how lucky we were that she was born perfectly healthy and did not have to be whisked away to the NICU.) We sat together, with Ed right next to us, for at least 20 or 30 minutes, with the OB, the nurse, and the doula all nearby trying to help Hudson and me learn how to become a successful “breastfeeding pair.” Again, I know now how incredibly lucky we were yet again that Hudson took to nursing like a champ, that breastfeeding came very easily to us. But for as long as I live, I’ll never forget my fervor in trying to get that gown off so I could pull my daughter close to my skin, trying to give her the best start I could.

On the day Hudson died, we spent the entire day with her, knowing it would be our last, knowing that at around 8:30 that night, the doctors would do a second test for brain death and that barring a miracle (which thousands of people we knew and didn’t know were hoping and praying for), she would be declared dead. The doctors and nurses had told us that we could hold her, even though she was still hooked up to so many different tubes and machines that were keeping her systems functioning so that the results of the brain death test would be accurate. We pulled an armchair up as close as possible to the bed, trying to make the distance we had to move her as small as possible. I sat down and as the nurses began to prepare to try to move her into my lap, I said out loud, “You know, I’m also tempted to tell everyone to get out so I can take my shirt off and hold her skin-to-skin.” My sister looked at me and said, “Do you want us to?” I thought about it for a second. I remembered what Ed’s friend Scott had told me earlier that morning—he’d said that I should be sure to do anything I wanted to today and to say no to anything I didn’t want to happen. He said, “You don’t want to have any regrets about today.” I looked at my sister and said, “Yeah, I think I do.” I thought to myself that maybe, just like when Hudson was born, the skin-to-skin contact would have a magical effect, that just having my skin so close to hers might make her well. I pictured her in my arms, against my chest, slowly regaining consciousness.

I didn’t want to come to the end of the day and regret not having at least tried.

The rest of the family left the room. I was still a little shy and at first took off only my shirt, but then I realized that these were nurses and had seen a lot more, and probably a lot stranger, than a bare-chested mother holding her baby close, so then I took off my bra, too. We got Hudson situated in my arms--it was no easy feat. My poor little girl, so very different than the tiny baby that had been placed on my chest 17 months and 12 days before. So much bigger and yet so lifeless. I wished so hard that she would open her eyes. I thought wildly that if I could just nurse her (which I had not done in almost 5 months), then she would be healed. I wondered whether she’d have been able to avoid the terrible strep pneumo bacteria if I’d continued breastfeeding her after the first year—maybe her immune system would have been stronger or I could have given her the antibodies to fight it off. She slumped against me. The day before, her temp had dropped into the high 80s before anyone realized it—a very bad sign for her brain activity—and she’d been getting warming fluids and lying under a warming blanket ever since to keep her temperature normal. When they took her out from under the blanket, her temperature dropped a few tenths of a degree. I held her and waited, hoping that my skin next to hers would make that temperature start to rise again, just like skin-to-skin contact is supposed to help regulate the temperatures of newborns. I waited, and was crushed to see that her temp dropped another tenth of a degree while she was sitting with me. I could not save her. My chance to save her had been early Monday morning and I had missed it. I could not save her. I could not save her.

We then changed places so Ed could hold her for a while. I can’t remember if he took off his shirt, too—we’d tried hard when Hudson was younger to let her have skin-to-skin contact with her daddy, too, although it obviously wasn’t nearly as frequent. Moving her to the chair in the first place, though, had inadvertently caused a crack in her central line apparatus, but no one had realized it yet. Her blood pressure kept dropping, marked each time by a terrible alarm on the machine that monitored it. I thought it was possible that we might lose her then and there (even though we knew, of course, that she was already gone—her body was only with us because of the all the medicines being pumped into her). At one point, about 4 different nurses and the attending physician were in there, trying to replace the central line valves so that her medications could start flowing regularly again. The doctor told us that it was possible that these fluctuations in her blood pressure were just a sign of her body shutting down, that Hudson might not make it until tonight for the second test, and the doctor needed to know whether we wanted them perform any life-saving measures. We both immediately said no. As I said, we knew she was gone—all we were holding on for was a little more time to be with her, or with her body at least, and a chance to really say goodbye without alarms sounding all over the place. Ed and I looked at each other and I think I said something like, “We need to be prepared that this may be it.” And he nodded. We were so incredibly calm somehow. But they managed to get the central line fixed, which stabilized everything pretty quickly. I remember feeling traumatized that our attempts to hold her had almost been the end. How very wrong that seemed.

I have been thinking about these moments—again, two very incongruous images battling in my head—all weekend as I’ve been struggling again with disbelief, with the question “WHY?” and with my torment over my inability to keep my sweet girl alive, or to bring her back from the brink of death, or now, to bring her back from I don’t know where. Two poignant and precious moments: my first chance to hold her skin-to-skin seconds after she was born, and then my last chance to hold her skin-to-skin when she was only hours away from death. If only the latter could have saved her. Why couldn’t I save her?

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Big Girl

I looked at this photo the other day and thought it might be the closest well ever come to knowing what Hudson would have looked like as an older child. 

My big girl.

My precious, sweet, brilliant, loving, free-spirited girl.

My beautiful Hudson.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Almost 300 Good Things

Today, Rich and Lynn Matheny sent me the list of books they’ve collected to donate to the DC Public Library in Hudson’s memory. There are 276 titles on the list, and there are multiple copies of many of them. I am, as ever, utterly overwhelmed by the love, kindness, and generosity shared with us since Hudson died. The knowledge that nearly three hundred books with our sweet Hudson’s name in them will be enjoyed by children here in DC for decades to come—well (and this doesn’t happen often), I can’t really even express in words how that makes me feel. Reading, playing with, and talking to her books were some of Hudson’s favorite pastimes, and one of our favorite activities with her, too—many of her most beloved titles are on this list. It is difficult to imagine a tribute more fitting to her spirit of curiosity and her love of books.

Thanks so much to Rich and Lynn for conceiving of such a wonderful idea to remember our girl and for all their hard work coordinating with the library system, collecting all the books, and creating and placing all the bookplates. And thanks to all of you who donated books in sweet Hudson’s name. We’re just so grateful to everyone who took part in this beautiful gift for our girl.

I wanted to share the list with you not only to say thanks, and not only so you could marvel with me at how amazing it is, but also in case there are some titles you haven’t seen before that you might want to share with the little ones in your life.  And maybe you could tell them Hudson’s story, too.  Thank you, everyone.  Thank you so much. 



Each Peach Pear PlumJanet & Allan Ahlberg
Baby Einstein: First WordsJulie Aigner-Clark
A You're AdorableMartha Alexander
Heaven is Having YouGiles Andreae
Dinosaurs Galore!Giles Andreae
Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding HoodMike Artell
Once Upon a CurseE.D. Baker
Humbug RabbitLorna Balian
The Grey Lady and the Strawberry SnatcherMolly Bang
And If the Moon Could TalkKate Banks
The Donkey's DreamBarbara Helen Berger
Pelle's New SuitElsa Beskow
Franklin's Birthday PartyPaulette Bourgeois & Brenda Clark
Barnyard Dance!Sandra Boynton
Belly Button BookSandra Boynton
* Hippos Go Berserk!Sandra Boynton
Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!Sandra Boynton
The Going to Bed BookSandra Boynton
Your Personal PenguinSandra Boynton
What Can You Make of It?Franz Brandenberg
Hand RhymesMarc Brown
* Goodnight MoonMargaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Moon 1, 2, 3Margaret Wise Brown,
The Little IslandMargaret Wise Brown & Leonard Weisgard
Little BeautyAnthony Browne
A Little PrincessFrances Hodgson Burnett
Choo ChooVirginia Lee Burton
Mike Mulligan and His Steam ShovelVirginia Lee Burton
* The Little HouseVirginia Lee Burton
The Dark, Dark NightM. Christina Butler & Jane Chapman
The Bears' Famous Invasion of SicilyDino Buzzati
Princess in the SpotlightMeg Cabot
Biscuit Goes to SchoolAlyssa Satin Capucilli
Eric Carle's Very Little LibraryEric Carle
My Very First Book of ShapesEric Carle
My Very First LibraryEric Carle
* The Very Busy SpiderEric Carle
The Very Hungry CaterpillarEric Carle
The Very Quiet CricketEric Carle
Alice in WonderlandLewis Carroll
Eugene the BraveEllen Conford
Miss RumphiusBarbara Cooney
Maisy Takes a BathLucy Cousins
Maisy's Big Flap BookLucy Cousins
Maisy's First Game BookLucy Cousins
Chasing Red BirdSharon Creech
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That TypeDoreen Cronin
You Are My I Love YouMaryann Cusimano
The Story of BabarJean de Brunhoff
Bluebird's NestDorothea DePrisco
Llama Llama Red PajamaAnna Dewdney
Neela: Victory SongChitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Shore Road MysteryFranklin W. Dixon
The GruffaloJulia Donaldson
Leo the Lightning BugEric Drachman
Hello, TillyPolly Dunbar
Go, Dog. Go!P.D. Eastman
Sam and the FireflyP.D. Eastman
Color ZooLois Elhert
OliviaIan Falconer
Olivia Saves the CircusIan Falconer
Olivia…and the Missing ToyIan Falconer
OppositesNina Filipek
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11Brian Floca
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald PartridgeMem Fox
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little ToesMem Fox & Helen Oxenburg
* On the Day You Were BornDebra Frasier
Blueberry GirlNeil Gaiman
Christina Katerina & the BoxPatricia Lee Gauch
EnvyAnna Godbersen
My FriendsTaro Gomi
Rules for SchoolAlec Greven
Bad Dog, MarleyJohn Grogan
Is Your Mama a Llama?Deborah Guarino
Daddy CuddlesAnne Gutman & Georg Hallensleben
A Good DayKevin Henkes
Misty of ChincoteagueMarguerite Henry
I Like Black and WhiteBarbara Jean Hicks
Where's Spot?Eric Hill
Minuk: Ashes in the PathwayKirkpatrick Hill
If You Were My BabyFran Hodgkins
Garmann's SummerStian Hole
Everything on a WafflePolly Horvath
Peekaboo MorningRachel Isadora
The Littlest Christmas TreeJanie Jasin
What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Mommy Loves MeJohn & Wendy
The Phantom TollboothNorton Juster
A Mother for ChocoKeiko Kasza
A Potty for Me!Karen Katz
Where is Baby's Mommy?Karen Katz
The Snowy DayEzra Jack Keats
Nancy Drew: The Clue in the DiaryCarolyn Keene
Nancy Drew: The Clue in the Old StagecoachCarolyn Keene
Nancy Drew: The Clue of the Dancing PuppetCarolyn Keene
Nancy Drew: The Hidden StaircaseCarolyn Keene
Nancy Drew: The Moonstone Castle MysteryCarolyn Keene
Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Fire DragonCarolyn Keene
* Nancy Drew: The Secret of Shadow RanchCarolyn Keene
Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Golden PavilionCarolyn Keene
My Senator and MeSen. Edward M. Kennedy
Diary of a Wimpy KidJeff Kinney
Life-Size AquariumTeruyuki Komiya
Life-Size ZooTeruyuki Komiya
We're Riding on a CaravanLaurie Krebs & Helen Cann
Head, Shoulder, Knees and ToesAnnie Kubler
The Philharmonic Gets DressedKarla Kuskin
Cora Cooks PancitDorina K. Lazo Gilmore
* The Story of FerdinandMunro Leaf
Wee GillisMunro Leaf
WaveSuzy Lee
An Undone Fairy TaleIan Lendler
Henry's Freedom BoxEllen Levine
I'll Always Love YouPaeony Lewis
Owl at HomeArnold Lobel
Froggy Learns to SwimJonathan London
* Put Me in the ZooRobert Lopshire
Fergus the Sea DogTony Maddox
The Feelings Books: The Care & Keeping of Your EmotionsLynda Madison
The Laughing DragonKenneth Mahood
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best FriendsJames Marshall
Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
* Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do you Hear? (oversized edition)Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
The Babysitter's Club Ann M. Martin
I Spy: A to ZJean Marzollo
Elmo's Big Lift-And-Look BookJoe Mathieu
Guess How Much I Love YouSam McBratney
Blueberries for SalRobert McCloskey
* Make Way for DucklingsRobert McCloskey
Elmer's ColorsDavid McKee
Just Like My MomDavid Melling
I Love You As MuchLaura Krauss Melmed
How High is the Sky?Anna Milbourne & Serena Riglietti
Baby FacesMargaret Miller
Little BearElse Holmelund Minarik
Sesame Street Elmo's Favorite PlacesCarol Monica
Anne of Green GablesL.M. Montgomery
Lighthouse - A Story of RemembranceRobert Munsch
Love You ForeverRobert Munsch
The Three QuestionsJon J. Muth
Daughter of VeniceDonna Jo Napoli
Helping Our Animal FriendsNational Geographic
The Boys Start the WarPhyllis Reynolds Naylor
Tax and Sugar - A Big City Kitty DittyBarbara Johansen Newman
Fancy Nancy Favorite Fancy WordsJane O'Conner & Robin Preiss Glasser
Junie Jones Has a Monster Under Her BedBarbara Park
The Family BookTodd Parr
The Peace BookTodd Parr
The Kissing HandAudrey Penn
Bradley and the Great Swamp MysteryRuth Lerner Perle
The Big Orance SplotD. Manus Pinkwater
Mommies Say Shhh!Patricia Pollaco
Peter Rabbit's Giant StorybookBeatrix Potter
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-DuckBeatrix Potter
* The Tale of Peter RabbitBeatrix Potter
An Extraordinary Life - The Story of a Monarch ButterflyLaurence Pringle
Where is Bear?Tish Rabe
Baby BelugaRaffi
How Full is Your Bucket?Tom Rath & Mary Reckmeyer
Goodnight GorillaPeggy Rathmann
I Am a BunnyOle Risom
My Big Animal BookPriddy Roger
The More We Are TogetherTanya Roitman
Oliver Finds His WayPhyllis Root
Little PeaAmy Krouse Rosenthal
I Love You Through and ThroughBernadette Rossetti-Shustak
Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceJ.K. Rowling
All in a DayCynthia Rylant
*All the WorldLiz Garton Scanlon
Richard Scarry's Best Word Book EverRichard Scarry
Skippyjon JonesJudy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones in Mummy TroubleJudy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones in the Dog HouseJudy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones: Shape UpJudy Schachner
The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for GirlsValerie Schaefer
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownCharles M. Schulz
What Makes a RainbowBetty Schwartz
Where the Wild Things AreMaurice Sendak
Green Eggs and HamDr. Seuss
Horton Hears a Who!Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!Dr. Seuss
If I Ran the ZooDr. Seuss
* My Many Colored DaysDr. Seuss
* Oh, the Places You'll GoDr. Seuss
* One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishDr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss's ABCDr. Seuss
Sneetches and Other StoriesDr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat Comes BackDr. Seuss
The Foot BookDr. Seuss
The LoraxDr. Seuss
Black BeautyAnna Sewell
No, DavidDavid Shannon
The Complete Tales and PoemsErnest Shephard
* The Giving TreeShel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk EndsShel Silverstein
FredPosy Simmonds
World's Greatest MomKath Smith
Encyclopedia Brown Mystery CollectionDonald J. Sobol
So You Want to Be PresidentJudith St. George & David Small
Millie Waits for the MailAlexander Steffensmeier
Sylvester and the Magic PebbleWilliam Steig
Dinosaur Roar!Paul Stickland & Henrietta
Where, Oh Where Is Huggle Buggle Bear?Katherine Sully & Janet Samuel
Joseph Had a Little OvercoatSimms Taback
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a FlySimms Taback
Flossie Flounder, a Tale of a Flat FishSuzanne Tate
Katie K. Whales, a Whale of a TaleSuzanne Tate
The Cay Theodore Taylor
Hope Is An Open HeartLauren Thompson
Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the WorldRoseanne Thong
* On the Night You Were BornNancy Tillman
Baa Baa Black SheepIza Trapani
Down to the Sea with Mr. MageeChris van Dusen
If I Built a CarChris van Dusen
The Circus ShipChris van Dusen
CatMatthew van Fleet
Lyle, Lyle, CrocodileBernard Waber
Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?Martin Waddell
Can You See What I See? Treasure ShipWalter Wick
Are You Ready to Play Outside?Mo Willems
City Dog, Country FrogMo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!Mo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!Mo Willems
I Am Invited to a Party!Mo Willems
I Will Surprise My Friend!Mo Willems
* The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!Mo Willems
The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!Mo Willems
The Pigeon Wants a PuppyMo Willems
Today I Will Fly!Mo Willems
The Velveteen RabbitMargery Williams
"More More More," Said the BabyVera B. Williams
A Chair for My MotherVera B. Williams
The Bog BabyJeanne Willis & Gwen Millward
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry BearDon and Audrey Wood
Spring Pearl: The Last FlowerLaurence Yep
The Wheels on the BusPaul O. Zelinsky
123 Sesame Street
ABC and 1, 2, 3: A Sesame Street Treasury of Words and Numbers
Aladdin
Baby's First Quack
Big Cats
Bolt: Luxury Edition
Curious George - What Do You See?
Goldilocks and Other Fairytales
If You're Happy and You Know It
Just for Mommy!
Little Golden Book: The Boy and the Tigers
Little Golden Book: The Fire Engine Book
Little Golden Book: The House that Jack Built
Little Golden Book: I Can Fly
Little Golden Book: I'm a Truck
Little Golden Book: The Jolly Barnyard
Little Golden Book: Kitty's New Doll
Little Golden Book: The Pokey Little Puppy
Little Golden Book: The Saggy Baggy Elephant
Little Golden Book: Seven Little Postmen
Monarch Butterfly Mini Book
Noisy Peekaboo!
Ocean Tails
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar
Peter Rabbit: I Love You
Safari Pop-Up
Snow White and Other Fairytales
Ten Baby Animals
The Cheerios Halloween Play Book
The Little Mermaid
Things That Go
Toy Story 3
* Multiple copies

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tired

Going back to work is exhausting. I am almost through my first full week (the position is only 4 days a week) and I am really tired.

I remember when I was teaching seventh grade (which seems like multiple lifetimes ago now), my body would run on adrenaline all week long until Friday evening, when it seemed to know it could quit for a day or so. And I would just collapse.

This feels much the same, except that it happens every day. I spend the work day trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to stay focused on what I’m doing. I’m sending emails, talking on the phone, taking meetings. This, after four months of almost total solitude, with the exception of a lunch date or two every week. Now, I’m on adrenaline again. I’m almost on autopilot, in fact. It’s a good thing I pretty much already know what I’m doing. When I walk out the front door of the building at 4:00, I feel utter relief.

Don’t get me wrong—I think I am going to like the job, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it is the perfect fit for me in the current circumstances. I’m certain that I’d feel the same way no matter what job I might be doing right now, unless I were getting paid to sit on my couch and watch episodes of The West Wing in rapid succession, cry a lot, walk the dog, and write on this blog every once in a while.

But it is tiring. And hard. Even though I know Hudson is always with me, I still feel like work takes me away from her. And it’s hard to be away from her for such long periods of time for the first time since she died. And when I walk out the door in the afternoon, when I’m alone again, I can be with her again, fully and completely. There hasn’t been a day since I started last week where I haven’t cried during the walk home. But it’s OK. It feels like a release, like I’ve wanted and needed to do it all day and just haven’t been able to.

I also realized today that it doesn’t matter that this is a new job. I had thought it would be impossible to go back to my old job in part because I would have to face the end of each day, when I used to drive out of the parking garage and head to pick her up from school, knowing that I would just be going home. Without her. I thought a different routine would make that less awful. And maybe it does, to some degree. But no matter what, I can’t escape the feeling that I should be coming home to my child. I long for those days when she was always waiting for me, ready to make my day brighter, no matter how crappy it had been.

I’m tired. And I miss my girl.  And I’m tired of missing my girl.  I so wish I didn’t have to.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On Turtles

You may be wondering why we named Hudson “the Turtle” when we were pregnant with her. Long before Hudson was born, I had already decided that sea turtles were my spirit animal. Ed and I have both always loved sea creatures of all kinds and we have always been the types who would stop on a dime to save a turtle in the middle of the road. Three years ago (I write that and cannot believe that my beautiful girl was dreamed about, conceived, born and taken from us in three short years—it takes my breath away), Ed and I spent three amazing weeks in Hawaii for our delayed honeymoon/post-bar trip. While snorkeling near Hanalei in Kauai, we encountered several sea turtles (called honu in Hawaii), adults and babies alike. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. My clever husband, unaware (as was I) of a federal law prohibiting people from coming within like 50 feet of sea turtles, pulled some seaweed off a rock and held it out to one of the turtles underwater. The turtle gobbled it up. Well, you can bet I wanted to try that one immediately. I held some seaweed out to the same turtle, and it gobbled it up, too, but grabbed my finger along with it—apparently, I didn’t let go of my end quite fast enough. Those jaws are so powerful that I felt lucky I didn’t lose the tip of my finger with that little stunt. It bled a little, but otherwise I was fine. For the rest of the trip, anytime I saw people anywhere near the turtles, I instantly felt unjustified righteous indignation, wanting those people to get the hell away from them. I steered clear myself for the rest of the trip, too. I felt incredibly protective of them, I guess as a result of my terrible violation of their sanctity. But from then on, sea turtles became my spirit animal.

When we first found out we were pregnant with Hudson, we went in to the OB at around 6 weeks. Even I thought that seemed a little early to do an ultrasound, but the doctor did one anyway. She saw a gestational sac of the right size but couldn’t see anything else in there—she thought I had blighted ovum, which meant I would miscarry soon. She said it could be just that I was not as far along as I thought, though, and that we should come back in a week and see what happened. That entire week, I was beside myself. It was a terrible feeling, walking around just waiting to start bleeding and lose the pregnancy. The next Monday, we went back in and as soon as we saw the screen, even our untrained eyes could see that something was there that hadn’t been visible the week before. And sure enough, it was Hudson, her little heart beating away furiously. Here’s the picture.



So later that week, we were trying to decide what we’d call the little peanut we’d seen on the screen. I remember this all so clearly—we had just walked out of the house and turned down the sidewalk on our way to the metro. Right as we passed our driveway, I turned to Ed and said, “The Turtle!” Our little baby was just a little shy and took its time showing itself to the world, but then came out of its shell at just the right time. And given my pre-existing spiritual connection to sea turtles, the name couldn’t have been more ideal. We planned the nursery around a turtle and sea creature theme, and bought a ridiculously large stuffed sea turtle that became Hudson’s measuring stick for the pictures we took on her month birthday every month for the first year.

Of course, once she was born and started growing, she wasn’t very turtle-like at all, and I easily slipped over into calling her “my little monkey.” At least as far as personality went, it was much more fitting.

As I think about it now, it becomes even clearer how appropriate the name “Turtle” was for Hudson. Once the mama sea turtle has gone ashore and picked the safest spot to lay her eggs, she doesn’t have much more control over her babies’ destiny. They face a terribly dangerous journey back to sea, one that the majority does not survive. As I was thinking about this post today, I read that while the mama is nesting, she sheds huge salty tears. Although the reason is purely biological, the image is incredibly powerful.

I also read the Hawaiian legend of the honu today—believe it or not, it is the story of a mother and daughter. The mother turtle was a magnificent, supposedly supernatural sea turtle with a pure white head. Her egg hatched into beautiful Kauila, a turtle who could turn herself into a girl and thereby keep watch over the children playing by the ocean. Kauila is considered to be the mythical mother of all sea turtles. Although I have no idea about the afterlife, it brings a smile to my face to think of Hudson, the St. Ann’s day care “class concierge,” out there somewhere, watching over all her little friends who are still with us. And it certainly brings me comfort to think of her “mothering” somehow, just like her mama mothered her.

And of course, the turtle’s lesson is to slow down. Enjoy. Breathe deeply. Float. Bask in the sun. Take risks. Carry with you only what you need. This is Hudson’s lesson, too: cherish what is

This is the ring I found several months ago when I was looking for something I could wear that would keep Hudson with me always. It is a mama and a baby honu. I always wear it so that the baby is swimming toward my heart.  If only my sweet girl could have been one of those rare sea turtles that lives for a hundred years.



Monday, September 20, 2010

Incongruous

Today went a little better, but it was still hard. I’ve had four months of not having to concentrate on anything, so trying to concentrate for 7 hours a day, especially when it’s still hard to think of much other than my dead child, is rough. And exhausting.

These past few days, my brain has been stuck on two images. The first is the one below, of Hudson’s daddy swinging her around in the air by her feet, her arms outflung embracing the world, her wispy hair blowing in the breeze, her face grinning from ear to ear, her laughter lighting us up from within.


The second is of my sweet girl lying in the bed in the PICU at Children’s Hospital. This one I’m glad I don’t have a picture of—the picture in my head is bad enough. Sometimes I see her, eyes closed, with the ventilator tube taped to the corner of her mouth, IV tubes running into her little hand all taped to a board to keep it in place, her face and lips swollen from all the fluids they’re pushing into her, white sponge-like things taped to her forehead measuring the oxygen saturation in her brain, her hair a mess from the sticky adhesive they’ve used to attach sensors to her head for an EEG. She looks like a bigger little girl than I realized and yet she still looks so incredibly small in that big, impersonal bed. More often, I see her after they’ve declared her dead, after they’ve removed all the tubes, after we’ve tried to wash her hair a little bit, after the swelling has gone down. Her head is turned slightly to the right and downward, her arms are at her sides, and one of her blankets we’ve brought from home is pulled up to her shoulders. For the first time since she was admitted three nights before, she looks like my little girl again. She looks as if she is just sleeping peacefully.

These images are so fundamentally incompatible with one another that I still can’t reconcile them. When I think about the first, I think, “How can that precious creature really be gone? How can that laughter, that playful spirit no longer be in the world?” Those are the moments where, for a fleeting second, I think surely it can’t be. And then all I have to do is remember the second image of my little girl lying dead in that hospital bed and I know that it can.  And is. 

And what I still struggle with every day is this terrible sense that I somehow let her down. I did not do my most important job of keeping her safe so that her daddy could keep twirling her around until she got too big for it. Even though I have let go of the worst of my guilt about not taking her to the ER sooner, I still just feel responsible for her not being here. I can’t explain it any other way—it’s just always there. Every time I picture her lying in the PICU bed, this muddled feeling comes over me and I just think, “Why couldn’t I save her? Why couldn’t I make it come out differently?” I just feel so responsible.

Maybe this is some form of survivor’s guilt and I’m just not recognizing it for what it is. I guess that makes sense, given that what I feel most awful about is how she is missing out on all the damned fun she could be having right now. Why should I get to go on living? Why should I get to enjoy watching Hudson’s daddy swing her younger siblings around one day when she doesn’t get to do anything ever again? Why is she gone and I still get to be here?

These two images—one of my beautiful girl very much alive in every sense of the word, and one of her dead, forever asleep—have been with me constantly these last few days. I can’t resolve them. They just don’t go together.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Season of Struggle

I didn’t write yesterday. And I felt bad about it. But I had been wallowing down in the sadness pretty much all day and just couldn’t bring myself to do it. At one point, I had said to myself that writing every day would be one way to keep Hudson close, to keep my connection to her strong. I am realizing as the days go on that she is always right here with me. I don’t have to write every day to make that happen. And to expect myself to just opens the door to more guilt that I can’t handle on days when I just can’t find it in myself to write.

Yesterday, I began to realize why fall is hitting me so hard. We’ve lived an entire season without Hudson. This week and next, my three guilty pleasure shows are airing their premieres (the fourth, Grey’s Anatomy, is one I will never be able to watch again). Their finales aired in the spring the same week Hudson died. A whole season has passed. A new season is starting. And she is not here.

And I realized that one of the reasons I’ve always loved fall is because it is prologue to the holidays. As the air turns cool and crisp, thoughts of pumpkins, stuffing, and yes, even Christmas trees, begin to take shape. I’ve never been a huge Halloween fanatic, but last year I got a sense for the first time of how much fun it could be, how much fun it would be, with Hudson. This year, I will have to sit by and watch as all her little friends dress up in their costumes, go to parties and pumpkin patches and hayrides, maybe trick-or-treat for the first time. And I will have to think about how much she is missing. How much we are missing. It is just so wrong.

And for as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving and Christmas have been my favorite times of year—they are my seasons of love. Last year, I had the best Thanksgiving and Christmas of my entire life, celebrating Hudson’s birthday in between and introducing my favorite holiday traditions to my sweet girl and looking forward to so many more as she got older. This year will be the worst Thanksgiving and Christmas of my entire life, even worse than 2002, the year I spent those holidays helping my mother die peacefully. This year I will have to pass my favorite holidays without my child. I will have to celebrate her birthday without her. I will have to watch her cousins open their presents when my girl never will again.  For someone who loves the holidays as much as I do, it is awful to dread them instead of look forward to them.

It is incredibly difficult to be a passionate person and yet not care about a goddamned thing. The seasons change, days march forward, new jobs begin, and none of it matters at all. No matter how much I want to care, I just don’t.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It was a less-than-good day. Just a long string of triggers, one right after the other.

I woke up feeling sadder than usual.

I made a smoothie for breakfast and finally used up some of the frozen mango chunks in the freezer—they used to be a staple for Hudson’s snack.

Ed and I walked to work together (him to the metro, me to my office just beyond) and realized it was the first time we’d done that since before Hudson was born.

Once I got to work, I got a message from the Southwest executive who has been helping us saying that they still haven’t found the journal, that they would keep looking, but that it “seems like it must not have made it through our normal process.” I called Ed from the law school student lounge to tell him and had my first crying fit on the job.

Then I had to sit through two hours of benefits orientation, learning about emergency room co-pays and hospital services and the 24-hour medical line that would be available (something in hindsight I wish I’d thought to use in the wee hours of May 10 with my old plan—maybe they would have told me to go the ER ASAP). And about life insurance for dependent children—apparently they’re not worth anything until they are 14 days old. From 14 days to 6 months, they are worth $500. And between 6 months and 19 years, you can get up to $10,000 for them. WTF?

By the time I was done with that, I just wanted to go home and cry. And it was only 2:00.  At 4:00, I did go home and cry. 

Three days to recover and then it’s back for more on Monday. I know it will get better. And then it will get worse. And then it will get better. It is what it is. I miss my little girl and I want her back. Everything else is background noise.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Day

Speaking of veils, I kind of wish I had one. But not as much as I used to.
When I first started contemplating my return to work, to an office where I knew no one, I remember thinking that I wished I could wear some kind of cloak, or veil, or armband, or even just a damned button that says, “My child died. It’s OK to talk about her. I might cry and that’s OK, too.”

According to Wikipedia (the best source for information, of course), mourners in Victorian England, especially women, wore black clothing and heavy veils, often with a lock of hair of their loved one in a locket or brooch. Widows were to wear mourning for two to four years and siblings for six months. Parents, however, would wear mourning for a child for “as long as they feel so disposed.”

Hmm… well, I just might feel “so disposed” for a very long time. Why don’t we do this anymore? Even outside of the context of returning to work, I can see how such clothing rituals could be so helpful to mourners after a loss.

I wanted to “wear mourning” in order to tell everyone that I had suffered a terrible loss. I wanted to wear my necklace with Hudson’s name on it every day and have her pictures in my office, but not be forced to tell my story over and over again when people ask about her. I just wanted people to know ahead of time. Especially in a job like this one, where I will have to meet new people, lots of students, on a regular basis.

And I still feel that way. I still wish that there was an easy and painless way to broadcast my grief and my loss before people meet me. But after the first day, I feel a little bit less so. Amazingly, I find myself in an office of all women, where one colleague has a critically ill husband and another has a child with cystic fibrosis. Everyone seems kind and laid back. Granted, I only had to tell my story once today, and it was in a context where I didn’t have much opportunity (or need) to get dragged down into the sadness, but still. At least for today, I felt like I am going to be OK there, even if I do have to tell my story over and over. I imagine there is some healing, and obviously even some good (in sharing that Hudson joy), that can come of my doing so. This doesn’t make it much less scary—it just makes it seem not so insurmountable.

I did wear black today, although not on purpose. But I also wore my necklace with Hudson’s name on it. And my One Good Thing bracelet. And my Hudson-turtle ring. I braced myself to be asked about any of the three. Or to be asked whether I have children. I didn’t get any of those questions yet, but I feel like I’m dreading the possibility just a little bit less. I think I am going to be OK.

I want to thank everyone for your words of encouragement this week.  I continue to be humbled and grateful for all the support that keeps flowing our way.  We would not be making it through this without you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Veiled

Jess sent me a passage from a book this morning. She’s reading Out Stealing Horses by Per Patterson with her book club. She says that the main character, a 15-year-old boy, after experiencing the hardest thing in his life, says:

It was as if a curtain had fallen. It was like being born again. The colors were different, the smells different, the feeling things gave you right down inside yourself was different. Not just the difference between heat, cold; light, darkness; purple, grey, but the difference in the way I was frightened and the way I was happy.

I can’t imagine a better way to describe my grief. Everything is visible but only through a veil. Everything is muted. Everything feels fuzzy at the edges. Maybe this is why fall is coming harder than I hoped—fall makes things feel even fuzzier. In the past, it’s always been fuzzier in a warm, welcoming way. Now it feels fuzzier in a sad, melancholy way.

I start my new job tomorrow. I still don’t know if I’m ready to leave the shelter of these past four months of very private grieving. I still cry at the drop of a hat, even in public. But ready or not, here I come, I guess.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Four Months: Remembering

Four months. One third of a year. Almost one quarter of the time Hudson was alive. How is this possible? The youngest of Hudson’s little friends are soon to be older than she was when she died. Really, how did this happen?  These fall days are proving even harder than I expected-- the slight chill on the breeze just fills me with longing for my little girl. 

I wasn’t sure what memory I would write about this month until we were at the beach this weekend. Even when it finally became clear what I should write about, I’ve been dreading writing it. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I can both see and feel the shift that the grief has made since August 13, and it makes me indescribably sad.

We spent the first week of September last year with Jess and her family at Topsail Island. Ed, my dad, my brother and I rented a house two doors down from the one that has been in Jess’s family for many years. Ed’s dad and Deniese also spent a few nights with us down there. It was Hudson’s first trip to the beach. Little did I know it would be her only chance to swim in the ocean. Little did I know that her life was already halfway over.  How is that possible?

When we arrived on Topsail in the late afternoon, I couldn’t wait to get her out to the ocean to see what she’d do. She’d proven herself not to be afraid of water, having been swimming a few times in a couple of different pools, but I still wasn’t sure how she’d react to the ocean. And wouldn’t you know it? Our little monkey was game for anything, and the ocean was no different. She loved it. But she couldn’t walk yet, so the best we could do was hold her hands while she waded or sit her in our laps and let the waves wash around her.









The weather was only so-so that week, so we only spent a few days actually out on the beach. But she made the best of them. She was fascinated with sand (as I’m sure most babies are) and could not stop putting it in her mouth (as I’m sure most babies do). Already in love with birds, she could not get enough of all the ones she saw on the beach, and she’d say “Ooooh! Ooooh! Ooooh!” every time she saw one flying in the sky or skittering across the beach.







On one particularly cloudy day, we took a trip to the Topsail Turtle Project, where they rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles. There, she got to meet her spirit animal up close for the first time. She got a t-shirt to remember it by.



Of course, we had to take the obligatory “beautiful baby in the dunes” picture. She obliged without complaint, as you can see. 





And I don’t know if it was because we were with her all day every day for the whole week or because she was getting so much stimulation from so many different people, but she learned a whole bunch of new tricks that week. She said her first word, “Uh oh!” and used it appropriately when I dropped something. She started playing pattycake back with us for the first time, clapping her hands when we said, “Pattycake!” and saying, “puh-puh-puh.” She started giving five and waving and saying “Bye bye!” It was a pretty big week.

This past weekend at the beach, it was a lot more crowded than we’d anticipated for the weekend after Labor Day. It was impossible to find a spot where we weren’t surrounded by several different families with young children. I had brought a book to read and tried to stay focused on it, but my eyes kept being drawn to one little girl in particular. She was just the right size, with just the right amount of hair so that from the back, I could almost imagine that she was Hudson. And this is what I imagined:

Hudson runs down to the water, chasing the waves out and then runs back towards us, shrieking in delight as the tide chases her. She plops down and lets the water run over her ever-more-muscular legs, squishing her fingers in the sand. She gets back up and wanders back towards us, stopping every once in a while to squat low and peer at shells in the sand, occasionally picking one up and holding it out to us to see, saying, “Shell!” We nod and say, “That’s right, sweetie! A shell!” A seagull flies right over her and she looks up and shouts, “Bird!” She picks up the shovel and bucket we’ve brought with us and starts trying to dig a hole, working hard to keep the sand in the shovel long enough so at least some of it falls in the bucket. She dumps the sand out of the bucket and onto a small pile she’s making. She grabs the bucket and runs to the water, fills it and comes back to her work site, then pours the water in the hole she just dug, fascinated as it sinks into the hole and disappears. She then grabs the sand off the pile she was making and puts it back into the hole and packs it down. Then she starts all over again. Her daddy gets up and runs towards her saying, “I’m gonna get you!” and she throws the shovel and bucket down and starts to run in the other direction, gleefully laughing as she goes. Her daddy gains on her quickly and scoops her into his arms, swinging her high into the air. He walks her down to the water and puts her back down, then grabs both her arms and starts to swing her around, every once in a while swinging her low enough that her feet skim the top of the water and she laughs. Her hair glints in the sunlight, hints of blonde and red in the mess of brown. Her daddy puts her down and she runs to me, arms out, and I fold her into a hug and say, “Give mommy a snuzzle!” And she patiently holds her head still, looking at me out of the corner of her eye, while I rub her nose with mine. And then she squirms back out of my arms and runs away, ready to play some more.

How vivid they are, these images that will never be. I am so very, very sad for her that she is missing out on so much.

We miss you, my sweet girl. We all miss you so very much.


With Uncle Jason

With Poppy

With Aunt Jess

With Grandpa

And Grandpa again





Friday, September 10, 2010

One Good Thing Bracelets Are Still Available

With so many new visitors to the blog (8557 since Tuesday to be exact--amazing) in the wake of the search for Ed's journal, Kirsten and I thought it would be a good idea to remind folks about One Good Thing bracelets, a concrete and visible way for us all to remember Hudson's lesson to cherish what is.

We remain so grateful to all our friends who have made these bracelets possible. As my friend Keely put it, we are remembering Hudson's life by celebrating One Good Thing, and celebrating Hudson's life by remembering One Good Thing (thanks, Keely). I never take mine off.


If you would like a free bracelet, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with three 44 cent stamps -- because of package thickness -- to Kate Zeller at 50 F Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001.

Also, if you are on Facebook, you can join the One Good Thing page, where all kinds of folks come to share their One Good Things when they happen.

Some Good News: Journal Update

Just wanted to give everyone an update on the search for Ed's journal. Some Southwest Airlines friends of friends of ours were able to make contact with the flight attendants on board our plane and one of them confirmed that they definitely found Ed's journal after we deboarded the plane (and remarked to the other crew how sad it was-- so we know it's the right one) and turned it in to operations in Las Vegas. Now we just need to wait until it turns up in the system, hopefully soon at central baggage in Dallas. So while it's not found yet, this thankfully means that at least it is not in a gutter or dumpster somewhere.
I will take time soon to more properly thank everyone, but for now, please just know how incredibly grateful we are for the efforts you have all made, even when many of you did not even know us. Just amazing. Thank you again.

We are at the beach on the Eastern Shore for the weekend, so I may not sign back on until Monday.  But I just wanted to say thanks again before any more time passed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Needed Reminder

Well, we think we may have a lead on the journal, but neither of us wants to get our hopes up too much just yet. Hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow. Keep sending all your good vibrations this way. We’re due some good luck, I hope.

But whether we find it or not (and I really hope we do), the kindnesses shown to us during the past two days have been astounding and humbling, not unlike those we received during the days we spent in the hospital with Hudson and the days and weeks afterward. Hundreds of our friends (and consequently their friends) posted notes and comments on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, contacted friends or relatives who work for Southwest, and offered us lots of good wishes and moral support. Dozens of Southwest employees at all levels of the company who don’t even know us have been making personal calls on our behalf so that this journal would not just become another lost and found claim.

I can’t speak for Ed (if I had lost my computer and this blog did not exist as a record of all that I have written during this past four months, I probably would have done a lot worse than kick a hole in the wall) although I know he is also incredibly grateful for everyone’s efforts. But for myself (and for others who have shared their thoughts about this with me), these past two days have given me a much-needed opportunity to reflect on Hudson’s lesson of One Good Thing. If you follow the blog at all, you know that the last several weeks have been rough. I told one friend that I felt like Winnie the Pooh with the little black rain cloud following me everywhere. It seemed like we just couldn’t get a break.

And then, with another whirlwind of emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, and Twitter posts, I am reminded. Again. About how much we are loved. About how much goodness there is in the world. About how people reveal themselves again and again to be kind, compassionate, and selfless.

One of our most lasting memories and lessons from Hudson’s death came when Ed’s friend Lisa posted on his wall on the last day of Hudson’s life, the day we had thousands of people around the world hoping and praying for a miracle for her. Lisa said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that she had spent all day hoping for a miracle for Hudson, and then that evening, in a quiet moment, it came to her that Hudson’s life itself was the miracle. Indeed.

In much the same way, whether we ultimately find Ed’s journal or not, these past two days have themselves been their own form of miracle. Not only have we been enveloped and uplifted yet again by love and kindness, but 5,608 new people have been exposed to Hudson’s message by visiting the blog for the first time (that is exponentially larger than the average day, where about 500 new visitors stop by). Even if only a fraction of those new visitors stopped to read more of her story than was visible on yesterday’s lost journal entry, even if only a fraction found some meaning in their visits here (and I have received many messages and comments indicating that they have), I am grateful. As I’ve said many times before, that meaning is the only consolation I can take from my sweet daughter’s death.

Lately, I’ve been really struggling with finding the One Good Things under my little black rain cloud. In the last two days, you have all made it so easy. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lost Journal

Readers-- When Ed and I returned home from Vegas on Monday night, we realized that his journal, which he has been keeping since Hudson's death from meningitis, was missing from the things he packed for the trip.  Our friends have started a Facebook and Twitter campaign to help us find it and I'm trying the blog, too, since I know a lot of folks who read here don't know us personally or on Facebook. 

We suspect it may have been left on our outbound flight, Southwest Flight 2743 on Sept. 4 (BWI-LAS-OAK), probably when we deplaned in Vegas.  The only flight attendant whose name I remember is Brandy, but we did not talk with her personally.  We sat on the very last row on the left side of the plane (if you're facing the front of the plane), middle and window seats. The journal is about 5x7, hard, textured cover with multicolored (but mostly green) stripes.  It has some pages from another journal attached with a small binder clip to the front cover.  Hudson's name and my name (Mandy) are obviously scattered throughout the journal, and at least the date of her death (May 13, 2010), if not her full name (Hudson Lily Hitchcock Chaney) are written on the inside front page. 

I've contacted lost and found at all three airports where the plane traveled, the airline (including central baggage services in Dallas, where I have someone personally looking for it, as well as a few flight attendant friends who have posted on the Southwest crew online message forum), and the hotel.  If you can think of any other way we might try to locate it, please let me know, and if you are willing to post details to your FB or Twitter accounts, and ask your friends to repost as well, on the off-chance that someone has picked it up somewhere and is trying to return it to its owner, we'd be most grateful for that as well.  Anyone who comes upon it can contact us here at the blog. 

Thank you all so much.  This is a much-treasured item, the return of which would be incredibly special.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Flight

We flew to Vegas on Southwest. When we got back to BWI, I was flooded with memories of Hudson’s first trip on an airplane. She was four months old. It was April of 2009. We had driven down to North Carolina where Hudson met her Aunt Laura and many cousins for the first time. Ed had to come back early, so I flew home alone with Hudson on Saturday night. We came back Saturday night instead of Sunday because our Tar Heels were playing in the national semi-final against Villanova, which I had to watch with Ed, of course.

Hudson and I were both in full Tar Heel regalia.  I remember I watched some of the Michigan State-UConn game in the RDU airport before we had to board the plane. Hudson got a certificate for her first flight from a Southwest flight attendant, which I thought was such a nice touch. She was perfect on the short flight to BWI. I nursed her during takeoff and landing, as I had read I should do to help her with any pain due to pressure in her ears. The rest of the time, she was totally chill—either asleep in the Ergo or sitting quietly in my lap.

My little monkey. I wish I had so many more opportunities to fly with you, including long into the future, when we’d have taken mother-daughter trips to faraway places and brought back souvenirs for your daddy and siblings. I miss you so much, sweetest.

Here are a few pictures from that trip, and of course, of us on her first flight.