Sunday, October 9, 2011

All That We Let In

Sometimes you are just going about your business, watching a goofy movie with your husband, getting ready for bed, and wham! It just whacks you in the face like a sock full of pebbles.

Right after I brushed my teeth last night, Jackson woke up and I took him into the bed in the guest room to nurse him. We laid down and as he nursed his way back to sleep, I suddenly found myself thinking about how we would never get to see Hudson’s first day of kindergarten. I was trying to picture it in my head, but all I kept picturing was her 17-month-old self in first-day-of-school gear, her little head of baby hair with a backpack, a toddler going to kindergarten. It was probably more like what her first day of preschool might look like, something else we will never get to see. I tried to picture her with long hair or pigtails with ribbons, but I just couldn’t see it. I thought for the hundredth time about the slightly insane idea of going to an age-progression artist to see if someone else might give us some idea of what she would look like as an older child.

Once Jackson was back to sleep, I scooped him up off the bed. He stretched his arms up over his head, like he always does, and then I brought him to my shoulder where he tucked his face into his chest, like he always does. I pulled him tight, feeling the warm, limp weight of him on my body and was suddenly overwhelmed with deep longing, wishing, in that moment, that it were Hudson in my arms, her warmth, her weight. The last time I felt it was just after she died, when they finally took all the tubes and lines out of her, and I was able to hold her close to me for the first time in three days. All at once, memory and consciousness and wishing and reality swirled together and washed over me, leaving me in hot tears as I put Jackson softly back down into his crib.

Then, for the first time since I can remember, I dreamed about Hudson this morning. After Jackson woke up at 6:30, we went back into the guest room to nurse and we both fell asleep there. I can’t remember much about this dream except that in it, we knew that Hudson was very sick and was going to die in about a month. I saw her sitting in my arms looking as though she were having a seizure, but then it passed and she looked peaceful again. I remember thinking that even though the doctors thought it would happen on May 13, maybe she would get more time. I felt hope. And I remember thinking that I was so grateful for the month we were going to have and that we would live it up for all it was worth. We’d have so much fun. And more than anything, I remember one image of her, looking whole, like the sweet Hudson we knew, standing next to a chair in a white long-sleeved shirt tucked into some leggings, with her little brown fleece-lined boots on her feet, a very typical outfit for her. She had that thoughtful expression on her face, that wise-old-soul look she wore so often. She didn’t smile at any time during the dream, but just the chance to see her whole, as the Hudson I remember, was such a gift.

I was then roused by my real live baby, who was stirring and stretching next to me. I woke, remembered the dream, and was instantly grateful for it, as I had been hoping to dream of her for such a long time. Many nights before I go to sleep, I “ask” her to visit me in a dream, because I want so badly to see her alive again. I regretted waking up and wished, as we often do after sweet dreams, that I could go back to sleep and see her again.

Ed came and got the baby and I did go back to sleep, but I didn’t go back into the dream. I woke up again about an hour later, hearing Jackson babbling downstairs, ready to eat again. I was feeling so very sad after the experiences of last night and this morning. I started down the stairs and just as I got to the last step, “All That We Let In” by the Indigo Girls came on the iPod. And I knew that it was true. We are better off for all that we let in—the sorrow, the joy, the memory, the consciousness, the dreams, the reality, the loss, the love. Especially the love. We just have to let it all in. All of it.

Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin
But we’re better off for all that we let in

Lost friends and loved ones much too young
So much promises and work left undone
When all that guards us is a single centerline
And the brutal crossing over when it’s time

I don’t know where it all begins
And I don’t know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in

One day those toughies will be withered up and bent
The father son the holy warriors and the president
With glory days of put up dukes for all the world to see
Beaten into submission in the name of the free

We’re in a nevolution I have heard it said
Everyone’s so busy now but do we move ahead
The planets hurting and atoms splitting
And a sweater for your love you sit there knitting

I don’t know where it all begins
And I don’t know where it all will end
We’re better off for all that we let in

See those crosses on the side of the road
Tied with ribbons in the medium
They make me grateful I can go this far
Lay me down and never wake me up again

Kat writes a poem and she sticks it on my truck
We don’t believe in war and we don’t believe in luck
The birds were calling to her, what were they saying
As the gate blew open the tops of the trees were swaying

I’ve passed the cemetery, walk my dog down there
I read the names in stone and say a silent prayer
When I get home you’re cooking supper on the stove
And the greatest gift of life is to know love

I don’t know where it all begins
And I don’t know where it all will end
We’re better off for all that we let in


  1. The "never wills" get me all the time. I hate the fact my Jack will never have a family of his own... It drives me mental, even though there are so many other things about "him" and "his life" I will miss for all of mine.

    I miss the snuggling too. When Jack was ill in the hospital he was on ventilators and I wasn't able to put his chest to my chest. I ache for that feeling, quite often. Ugh.

  2. Perhaps knowing what Hudson would have looked like still wouldn't make her age.

    I try to imagine what Alexander would look like. Funny thing is, I KNOW what he would look like today, EXACTLY... Maximilian is his identical twin.

    Even still, I can't picture what he would look like past the nine days that he lived. Even with the "almost real thing" in front of me. Trust me, I've tried.

    Maybe that's just the way it is...


  3. Oh gosh... I know how those dreams go.They can be painful. So glad you were grateful for this one.