Friday, February 18, 2011

It's All Right

So I just had one of those moments where it felt like Hudson was really trying to tell me something. Or maybe this time it was Jackson. Or maybe it was both of them. I don’t know, but I had to write about it immediately.

This is the current state of my “craft corner”:

It consists of several retail store plastic bags of fabric, notions, and patterns that I have picked up as I’ve been learning to sew, as well as my knitting bag, which also holds the blanket that I started knitting for Hudson a few months before she was born and finally finished this week (I am starting a new knitting class on Sunday learning how to make hats, and I promised myself I would finish Hudson’s blanket before moving on to another knitting project that will most likely be for Jackson). The bags are just piled on a spare chair in our dining room where I can grab them as I go out the door.

My “craft corner” is not much of a corner at all. It is a big mess. I have not set up any place to keep this stuff organized or to use my sewing machine (so far, I’ve just been sewing on the machines in my classes). The reason I have not set up any place for this stuff is because there is only one possible place for it all to go:

This 6-foot table in Hudson’s playroom currently holds all of her memorial things: her ashes, her Elmo and some other favorite toys and books, her keepsake box from the hospital, many framed photos, two peace lilies and several other special gifts we’ve received since she died, some other mementos we have picked up since then, and the book of guests who visited us at home and who came to her memorial services. All of this rests on top of the large piece of monkey-patterned fabric I bought to use for a tablecloth for her birthday party, which had a monkey theme. Underneath the table are laundry baskets holding the vast majority of Hudson’s toys, as well as the diaper bag that still contains the clothes and shoes she wore on the day she was admitted to the hospital. Hanging on the walls in this room are the banner of Hudson’s turtle pictures along with a turtle wind chime I bought after she died, a framed collage of some of our favorite photos of her, some of her fingerpainting masterpieces, and the beautiful painting I gave to Ed for Father’s Day as a symbol of hope for us during this incredibly dark time:

I have really been struggling with this. I knew that at some point we’d have to disassemble the table. Maybe it wouldn’t be until we moved, but at some point, we’d have to take it apart. More likely, it would need to be a little sooner than that, as we will want Jackson to have the same great playspace that Hudson did. But part of me never wants to touch it, never wants it to change at all, unless we are adding something to it, because taking the table apart or changing it, just like packing away Hudson’s clothes one of these days, will be a very visible and tangible symbol of our lives moving forward without her, even against our will.

But now, I find myself needing the table and the space for something new, something that nurtures my soul and is helping unlock some creative force inside me that has long been dormant (since long before Hudson died), something that I believe will continue to help me heal and therefore be a better mom for Hudson’s little brothers and sisters when they arrive. But I don’t want to take the table apart at all, let alone for a selfish reason like making room for my new hobby.

After a long talk with Jess today, and a subsequent conversation with Ed, I began to try to open myself to the possibility that we can change the space without taking Hudson out of it. Jess and I talked about how there could be room for both our precious mementos of our girl and my new creative space, and that in fact, it might be really nice to have my creative space be in a place I can share with Hudson. And Ed suggested that we could rearrange some things in the room, maybe get a smaller table or shelves for all of our memorial items, so that we can keep everything in there and still clear the table for my knitting and sewing space. And that idea started to sound appealing.

But still, thinking about changing the room and looking ahead to actually doing it are two totally different things. And part of me still very deeply and strongly objects to changing it at all, for any reason.

Here’s where my sweet girl, or my sweet boy, or both, come in. A long while ago, probably sometime late last summer or fall, I was reading another mom’s blog who also rather suddenly lost her first child, almost exactly the same age as Hudson, and then gave birth to another child about 8 months later. They are Beatles fans, and when her second daughter was born, her “theme song” of sorts for the event was Here Comes the Sun. I had certainly heard the song before, but had never really listened to the words. But once I did, I was moved to tears thinking about the birth of another baby in our family one day. Here are the lyrics if you don’t know them:

Here Comes The Sun

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel the ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

It’s all right

These last few weeks, as Jackson’s arrival gets closer and closer, I’ve been meditating on it often, thinking it will have to be one of “his” songs.

Then today, we broke a high temperature record here in DC. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and after three long months of below-normal temperatures and gray skies, the sun was out, it was 76 degrees, a warm breeze was blowing, and Bess and I took a long walk with me in short sleeves. It was simply glorious. I hadn’t felt that good in a very long time.

And then, just a few minutes ago, as I was sitting here at the computer paying bills and taking care of some long-overdue administrative tasks, I was listening to Pandora. I was listening to an Erasure channel I had created, so I was hearing a lot of 80s pop like Erasure, David Bowie, Cindy Lauper, the Smiths, the Cure, and Duran Duran, with a few oddball artists like Weezer thrown in here and there. I had been ruminating about the playroom all afternoon and evening, trying to decide if I was ready to change it, wondering if my new need for the space was a sign that it was time.

And then I got a real sign. Out of nowhere, Here Comes the Sun came on. A song off an album from 1969 and in every other way totally out of whack with the genre on this particular Pandora station. Instead of bursting into tears, I broke into a smile, in total disbelief that this had just happened and yet feeling immediately that one or both of my children were trying to tell me something very important. Jackson’s song. Hudson’s message.

As I just wrote the other day, I often find myself poking in the dark corners of this grief, because the idea of going on without my incredible little girl just seems so wrong, and clinging to the pain is one way of staying connected. I don’t want to go on, but I also don’t want not to go on. It is quite a terrible place to be stuck in. But as my fellow grieving mama Judy so astutely observed, we are going on, whether we like it or not. We are forced to go on without our children because there really is no other choice.

And what happened tonight helped me begin to feel like going on just has to be okay. It’s not moving on, it’s not getting over, it’s not getting past. It’s just going on. And it has to be done. Life has to be lived, not just because I am still here living it, but because Hudson is not, and I owe it to her to keep living good enough and big enough for the both of us.

Whether I like it or not, whether I’m ready or not, the ice is slowly melting. And today, Hudson or Jackson or the two of them together were telling me, “It’s all right, Mommy. It’s all right.”


  1. I grew up with The Beatles. I know virtually every word to every song. "Here Comes The Sun" is my very favorite, hands down, and always has been.
    I'm so glad that you can feel the smile returning to your face.
    How wonderful that your children are holding hands and sending you a sign together.
    Big hugs,

  2. You made me smile tonight - thank you. I love what you said about owing it to your beautiful Hudson to live good enough and big enough for both of you; you are such a wonderful mom. Jackson will know his sister 'in' you....and Hudson knew Jackson 'in' you. You do know that, don't you? I am always amazed by you -- (((hugs))) Mariann

  3. Mandy, Thank you for this beautiful poignant observation. We've never met, but I'm a fellow Brooklander and have truly felt the loss of Hudson from our midst. I check in on your blog from time to time - and am continually brought (almost immediately) to tears but also miraculously challenged to appreciate life and the lives of those around me. Thank you. I hope we meet one day. Trust this message from your babies. It sounds true with a capital T.
    Michelle on Girard

  4. Oh, Mandy, this is such a beautiful post.

    Our "message" song is "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. That's how I think of my three children (living, dead, in utero), as my three little birds.

  5. Mandy,
    I read this post and then closed the tab. I had previously opened a tab of the local newspaper. When I closed your blog, the newspaper featured a picture of a Beatles tribute band that is playing in the area. How strange is that?!

    What a moving post. I am glad that your little ones are helping you along right now.
    Big hug to you!

  6. It makes me smile to think of you creating beautiful things right next to Hudson's physical treasures. I can imagine moving her things in any way is going to be so so difficult, but what better space to find inspiration and unleash your creativity. She is going to be right there with you, just like she always is.
    xoxo Susan L

  7. I hope you'll find a way to incorporate the physical reminders of Hudson, your creative space, and play space for Jackson in that room. It seems like it would be wonderful to have all those things together. Some day, Jackson can play under your watchful eye, while you knit or sew, and both of you can enjoy a glance now and then at the things that recall sweet Hudson. Just another, natural way Hudson's memory can become a part of her little brother's life.