Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sleep deprivation

HEREBY LET IT BE KNOWN, hitherto and henceforth, that there will be no* clinking of dishes or playing of instruments in the kingdom while the little prince naps.

There will be paper plates and outside play only.

*update 5/25: 'NO' shall now include, but not limited to: sneezing, coughing, phone ringing, phone answering, opening of loud crinkly packages such as trader joe's flaxseed corn chips, chewing loudly, arguing, laughing loudly, yeehaw-ing, whining, indoor hockey with a superball and a drumstick, beeping of the microwave, knocking on doors, flushing of toilet, OR earthquakes.

ANYone who so dares to breech this decree will most likely be beheaded by the queen herself.

(it is perfectly acceptable to issue death threats during my national death month)

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Only a small handful of people could appreciate this.

Not for the faint of heart.
Then again, you wouldn't be here if you were.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mothers Day in Bodie

About 9 years ago I hiked to the top of Whitney with 7 good friends including my brother (the permit only allowed for 8). On my birthday. It did not make me a more popular party host, as my guests soon realized (I think at about 13,846 feet elevation) that they would rather be eating cake and drinking beer than gnawing cliff bars and sucking on camelbacks. But we all made it, and we eventually did have cake and beer. Which had been secretly hiked in by Dh, who was not at the time even close to being Dh, but certainly earned points to that end on that trip!!
After the trip I had my first experience at Bodie, CA. Bodie is a ghost town south of Bridgeport, east of the Sierras. It is a real ghost town, with a real badass history. Have you seen Deadwood? Yeah, that bad. What is left after a few fires is now preserved in a state park but in a no-frills kind of way. Everything is pretty much as it was left when it was abandoned; broken glass and rusted cans, rusted kids toys, eerily unfinished schoolwork, etc. All of it is coated in a thick layer of dust. There is a book full of letters in the museum written by remorseful people who took something away from Bodie (a book, a rock, a window latch) and then had grisly bad luck. Badass bad luck, not your garden variety. These people had sent the offending item back, along with their regrets and their stories. I was spooked enough to refuse even to buy a postcard from the place and carefully clapped the desert dust off my sandals before getting back in the car.
So, last week, after the Elijah retreat/adventure had taken us up the scenic eastern sierra hwy 395 for some skiing and hotspringing, I lobbied heavily for taking the 13 mile road in to Bodie. It was mother's day, which I had planned to avoid, but I soon realized that I could use it to leverage the roadtrip in that direction, so of course I did. Not to much resistance, mind you. Bodie has it's own pull. We were greeted by the still snow-scattered sparse desert hills, glaringly unforgiving sunlight, intense blue skies; the perfect backdrop to the rustic remains of Bodie.
I'm not sure what it is about Bodie that I am so attracted to. It is oddly beautiful, it is rich with history, it's history is rich with lawlessness. It is the stark desert and deserts intrigue me. It is tragic. Among other notable stories, there is the one of little Evelyn, a four year old killed by a miner's mis-swung pick axe, whose death caused the entire town to mourn, and whose ghost is one of many that are said to frequently haunt the area.
It is stilled.
So we walked among the ruins and peeked into the windows - legitimate voyeurs after paying our nominal fee to the ranger. After exploring the residential area and what remains open of the mine area, we ventured down to Main Street, where the school is in perpetual Halloween season, where on the saloon stools there remains a dusty butt-print, the general store is in vandalized disarray, and few storefronts remain after fires destroyed much of downtown.
Dh came around the corner of one small building on the corner with a dustprint on his nose and said, "I guess you don't want to look in this window this time, do you?"
I squinted. I realized it was the undertaker's building.
I had this vivid memory of the first time I had been there, my feet planted in the same spot, peering in the same window, focusing past the eye-catching glass-viewing-windowed coffin, and my gaze settled on what has doubtlessly churned chills up the spines of thousands before mine: A child's casket.
I stared at that the first time and felt immensely sad. I have an almost tangible memory of wondering at that time, if someone who had lost a child was seeing that picture, how would they feel? Would it be harder? Would it be even more sad? Would it be more personal?
About a month before Elijah died, I passed a dead cat on our winding mountain road. For whatever reason, that day I felt so sad for the cat, for the cat's family. For whatever reason, and apropos to nothing in sight, that day I wondered if it was harder to see roadkill if your child died. Would seeing a dead animal make you more sad, because it reminds you of death in general, or would you be more desensitized to the death of an animal, because you had experienced the death of a child?
Are these strange thoughts to have? This is what it is like to live inside my mind.
At any rate, I have the answers now to all those stupid questions.

It is harder.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dammit, we've lost another one

Please visit an amazingly brave life.
Jessica's life.
Bring your kleenex.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The sky is too big to just call it the sky

Dh was raised lutheran, is biologically half jewish, and practices buddhist beliefs. Gwendomama was raised episcopalian, sent to parochial school, and now a mightily confused agnostic, which is what we say when we are too nervous to take the atheist any rate, rejecting all forms of dogma and organized religion.
When Elijah died, we didn't use the terms 'god' or 'heaven' with Supergirl. We said his body was gone, but the memory of him is not. About a week after he died, we were in the mountains and Supergirl spotted a very large sundog. She decided then and there that it was Elijah and to her, he has lived in the clouds ever since. She always will tell us that Elijah lives in the clouds, and from time to time she will point out the one cloud that is he. Last week, on May 10th we saw another huge sundog over Mammoth Mountain, so I am inclined to believe her.
From hearing others using these words, she has occasionally applied 'heaven' and 'spirit' to her own beliefs.
As open minded and 'enlightened' parents, we of course wish for our children to make their own informed choices about their beliefs and their own paths. But how to expose them to these faiths as options, as a fruit to pick from the tree of their choice - if any - rather than the dogmatic principles that are indoctrinated in the children who venture into sunday school? She's so young, I just want her to be able to see these faiths and practices as choices, and she seems too easily brainwashed at this age (not yet five). I had hoped this would come up later.
But, ahh, parenting...every day a new challenge!!

Yesterday, Supergirl asked me if she could go to church.
Actually, she asked me this:
"Mommy, how old do I have to be to go to high school and church?"
I answered,"Umm, about 15 for high school."
The rest went like this...
Supergirl:Iwould like to go to church.
Gwendomama: Why?
SG: To learn things. And make things.
GM: Like what things?
SG: Well, like art projects and god.
GM: What?
SG: I want to learn about god and make art projects like Beth (best friend). Can I go to Beth's church?
GM: What do you want to learn about god?
SG: Well, I really already know about god. I want to learn other things about god.
GM: What do you know about god?
SG: God is where you go when you die. God is not a person who can talk to you. God is the sky. When you die you go there. But the sky is too big to just call it the sky. Because it has too much stuff in it.
GM: What kind of stuff?
SG: ALL the stuff!!! It has the clouds. And it has the planets and the stars. And the sun and heaven and rainbows. So we call it god.

Now, how can I send her to church? How can I let someone tell her she is wrong about THAT?

Monday, May 08, 2006

National Death Month

I'm not myself. I've been kidnapped by my emotions for national death month.
A favorite aunt died a week ago. A lovely, cool, artistic, fabulous woman.I can't even come up with the words to do her life justice.
On May11th it will have been two years since Elijah died. Oh yes, and coincidentally the 10 year anniversary of my favorite uncle's death. They died on the same day. Eight years apart.
Then I have mothers day to deal with....which has become a horribly grim day for me, since it was the day I took Elijah to our trusted pediatrician and asked if perhaps he should be admitted...he looked pretty sick.
We were sent home. He died the next night.
There is so much more to it, of course, so much more I want to say about him. But this is a hard time of year for me to get the words out. And so many feelings I want to talk to my therapist about. But oh! yeah! She died too...a year ago.
So I have few words to form these days...what, between the parenting and the back-to-working and the (nasty, pervasive, and inconvenient) grief. I think it will pass after this dreaded anniversary. The lack of words, that is.
We are taking an adventure; I need to get away for this day.

This picture of sweet Elijah taken May 5th, 2004. The last picture ever taken.

I miss my tiny boy.

I miss my tiny boy.