Remembering Little Lentil

Yesterday, October 27th, Little Lentil would have been one year old. All the writing, all the painting... everything I've done has been for LL, everything has been for me. In honoring LL and myself and all my feelings of loss, grief, joy, courage and the full spectrum of emotion and living, I'm re-posting one of my first writings about my radical miscarriage, Dream Journal.

Dream Journal

4/1/14 Tues 3:53 pm

I wake up in our bed, weak, so weak. It’s warm in the room. Our curtains are closed but the afternoon sun heats and still gets in. I feel warm and safe and in the heat of our bedroom, the air is full, a wholeness.

I wake up and remember my dreams. In them I tell my family and friends that the baby died. They look like the faces on the Look Kin side, my father’s side, but they are everyone. I’m in their house - Auntie Yuk Moy’s? - with people friendly, happy but some have questions. And some are so frustrated because they didn’t get the email - What’s going on?! Tell me!? So I tell them. We’re looked at with awe and horror.

I bolt awake and realize I forgot to cancel with my Spanish teacher.

I go to the bathroom for peeing and pooping and The Blood. I write this to Billy: Thank you Billy. We’ve been sleeping and I dreamt of telling everyone what happened. Even in my dreams the truth is present. Thank you for thinking of us on this strange and beautiful and horrible day. Much love to you and Savi and Lena - wow, she lights up our hearts. xoxox

Savi called. Barbi left a voice message. I want to call them but I don’t. I don’t feel like talking to anyone right now. I spoke with Rita but she doesn’t understand though she’s trying. Everyone is sharing their love with us the best way they know how. Sometimes, though, it’s more for them than it is for us. Even when we shared our joy of discovery of this baby, it was wonderful love and response but also a reflection of that person and their feelings and who they are.

I know I’m in shock. At this I break down, falling down a crumbled person. And then I’m calm and philosophical. I can’t help it. And I feel very protective of D. This is hitting him very hard - as excited as he was when he found out - and the the opposite. Deep sorrow. I feel it too. I’ve never seen him cry before. He cried and cried. We’re confused. We’re sad. I’m disappointed. You try to anticipate what you’re going to feel - you can try to be prepared for some things but not for everything. That’s not the point. We have no control. We are powerless, but we are also powerful. I found a new person inside of me as this little person was growing, and she was powerful, almost limitless mama/earth/crab powerful. And creative, so creative. A person who does have a green thumb, who loves life and helping things to grow. And making food - baking banana bread (albeit from a Trader Joe’s box but so delicious) and mashed potatoes for the first time. Hungry + fearless + road-rage-filled on her bike, barking at everyone and that felt good. Being honest + open in a way I haven’t been before. Loving my body. She loved her body. Growing out the hairs, reclaiming her hairstyle. Loving this body: curves + curves + belly + boobs + thighs + beautiful. Trusting the inner wise self - she is there, she is alive, she is here. Accepting things. Becoming more patient. Communicating even clearer than before.

I’ve thought a lot about this quote I read on a doula’s website + I think of it now: “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” - Barbara Katz Rothman

Even though the baby is gone, a tiny little thing that looked like a miniature person, I am still here. This mother is here and she is strong. She is sad and she is strong. Strength is knowing that crying and sharing our sad emotions is ok. I won’t try to “heal” soon. What happens is what happens. As I have throughout this pregnancy, I will listen to my heart, as I am right now, and listen to my inner wise self because she is always there inside of me and she is me. I will know what to do and how to feel and it’s all ok. It’s all ok. It’s all ok.

Therapy Tuesdays and the 12th Anniversary of my Father's Death

Dad as mattress with Dawn, Orleans, Cape Cod, early '84

Dad as mattress with Dawn, Orleans, Cape Cod, early '84

For the past 6 weeks, Danny and I have been attending a bereavement group for pregnancy loss. Although it was my idea to attend, going every week has been so difficult for me and I'm relieved that today is the last day of the program. Tuesdays is also when I have my own personal therapy. And today is also the 12th anniversary of my father's death.

July has been a strange and difficult month for me despite all the fun things that have happened. I celebrated turning 32 with a party, something I haven't done in a decade, went on camping trips and to friends' birthday parties. I go to these gatherings, these fun things and I say hello to people, to my friends, but I don't feel like myself. I'm a numbed version of me. I say I'm ok but I'm not. I've been feeling the pain of death.

Often July 29th passes and I don't realize it has but this month I've thought about it almost every day. I wanted to make a ghost bike for my dad - paint a bike white in his memory and chain it near to where he was killed with a note, with flowers. I really thought I was going to do it this year. But once more it's not happening and I feel I've failed his memory again. I've been crying all day and yesterday too. Death is so hard. I don't know if I'll ever get the hang of it.

Last night when I was sitting in my hot shower, sobbing and letting go, I told myself, after the session tonight, I'm going to ride over to where he was killed on his bicycle, on 34th St and Dyer Avenue, killed by a city bus and a truck, and light candles for him, say something, do something. My hope is that after today I can find some release, at least for this year, at least for this summer. All this loss is ripping me apart and I feel so broken all the time. His death is apart of me. Little Lentil's death is apart of me and everyone else that I've ever lost. And I am still here. And I am still alive. How do you live after death? I ask myself so many questions and I tell myself, Yes today is going to be a hard day. That is the truth and it is my truth.

A quote that I have on the wall above my bed, that I remind myself frequently is this:

"Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles." - Charlie Chapman

Please remember my father, Victor Look Kin, on this sad day of remembrance.

Every day is a time for forgiveness

The Hairy Goddess of Love Takes a Spirit Bath, 9" x 12" watercolor

The Hairy Goddess of Love Takes a Spirit Bath, 9" x 12" watercolor

Last night after rehearsal, five of us walked, Jessica, Onome, Lizzie, Ashlie and myself, singing down the street. At the corner of 8th and Avenue C, we sang and we chanted, we improvised and supported each other, sang songs that we knew and made up the rest. This was a gift.

Every day takes courage for self love. And every day is an opportunity to be reborn. It's been a long while and today I had my Spirit Bath. While the hot bath was filling up, I smudged my whole home with sage, blessed with the friendship of birthday love, blessed with my living plant babies.

I rang bells in every room, to the closets, to the guitar. I came to the living room and realized I had created a space for creativity, a space to support myself. This is a space of courage. What is courage? Courage is asking for what you need. Courage is speaking your truth. Courage is owning your story. Courage is setting boundaries. Courage is reaching out for support (a quote from Brené Brown).

Last night I made three signs with this affirmation. One in orange craypas and then in permanent blank marker and then I painted it. This helps me to remember what courage is and believe that I am full of courage. Courage means being open to making "bad" art and "poor" writing and still wanting to share it with the world. Courage means making mistakes. Courage means allowing myself to be imperfect. Courage means embracing myself every day.

Have Courage My Friend (inspired by the inspirational quote by  Brené Brown ), 9" x 12", watercolor

Have Courage My Friend (inspired by the inspirational quote by Brené Brown), 9" x 12", watercolor

In my Spirit Bath I poured lavender Epsom Salts, my large and interesting shells already beneath the water and rang bells around me. I drank and drank my water. I asked myself what was the intention for this bath? I didn't know. In silence I got in and allowed my mind, myself to wander. I cried and cried. I forgave myself for misjudging old friends and new friends too. I forgave myself for misjudging myself. I thought about my father. July 29th will be the 12th anniversary of his death. I cried and cried. Is this Shadow Grief? It is my truth and it is my story. I thought about him and what I can do to honor him this year and honor my own grief. I want to make a ghost bike for him - paint a bike white, have a ceremony and lock it near where he was killed on 34th St. and Dyer Avenue. It's time.

I get out of the bath and notice some soot from my sage stick on the bathroom sink and I tell myself Every time I want to clean something or do something that is not apart of my new habits of living with Spirit Baths, singing, eating and painting and writing, I will take a moment to breathe. Ten deep breaths.

I find that I forget who I am or forget that I am loved. I can be so hard on myself. Every day is a time for forgiveness. And a time for singing. A time for swimming.

Roar aka Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving aka I just want to be free

This week, Danny and I are in Miami visiting his family, his birthplace and also to have (hello!) a long, sunny vacation, and some beachy treats especially after the month that we’ve both experienced.

I just got off the phone with “Jane”, a volunteer through PLSP, a person who herself has experienced a pregnancy loss, and who I’ll get to have one more free phone counseling with before I’m eligible for their bereavement groups. The first time we talked, I was on a retreat with D & my mom, feeling very vibrant, and feeling the love. This time was different, because I am different. I now find that every day has its difficulties and I am crying daily again. I never know what will spark (inspire?) the crying, the sad feelings and although I always go with whatever emotions sweep over me, I feel I have no control.

When we were at the airport getting ready to board the plane to come down here, there were all these families with little kids, little girls. A father extended his big finger, as a steady hand, for his daughter to take in her hand and walk around. I went to tell D how sweet this was and in that split second that I turned to tell him, I found myself crying and sobbed and sobbed into his shoulder. He understands; we just express things differently.

500 year old trees at  Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

500 year old trees at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We started planning this trip when I was still pregnant. I would have been pregnant at that moment in time - this is how I dreamed it. And I lost my baby. We lost a baby. His parents and my mom lost a grandbaby. His siblings lost a niece or nephew. So did our friends-family. That is the truth. I don’t have any physical indicators any more to show that I was pregnant, or questions into my physical health, the easy questions. All I have is my own sadness, taking me to new heights and depths. I walk around every day now with the my own shadow of darkness following me, living below the surface, simmering inside of me. Jane asks me what the triggers are but I never know when its going to happen. It just does, and I allow it to. I allow myself to feel. I allow myself to be free. I am free. And in achieving this freedom, I see in these difficult weeks, this is another transformation - I keep changing, becoming new people, emerging from multiple cocoons, shedding old ways and taking on new ones - but I’ve been here before, I’ve said these words, this is all familiar and I am awake.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for days and art comes when it comes and when you make time for it. I announced the title of this post to D and he said, Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? And that’s why I love him! And that’s why he loves me. So let me explain. It started as Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving because yes I am on vacation in the land of the sun and when you go to the beach you wear a bathing suit and most often a bikini. Now, even before I knew I was pregnant, I was taking a Spirit Bath (before I started calling them that), and said, When I’m pregnant, I’m not going to shave anymore. In fact, I’m starting now. I had read that Busy Phillips  stopped waxing because she wanted her little girl to look at her and know that "grown women have hair on their vaginas". I want to be a role model to whoever was going to be born, one that allows their body to be natural and to be free. But there was one thing I was going to cut - the hairs on my head! I also decided, in that space and time when I was weeks pregnant but had no idea, that this long in the middle, shaved on the sides is the hair I’ve been wanting for years and that though I love it right now it its shortest stage, I will also love it when the middle grows long. I want to have a long mane of hair down the middle when I am laboring and joyfully giving birth to our Rainbow Baby (inspired in part by SQUAT).

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

And so here I am presented with Naples/Miami bikini season and here is my futuristic-post-modern-post-misogyny-hairy-body and ohhh I’ve got dilemmas. I am comfortable with the leg, cooch and armpit hair but I don’t know how to navigate these waters on a clothed beach with my family. I know that society thinks it’s ugly because I’ve thought the same. While, I would love to wear what I’ve brought and let it all hang out, I feel like a parody of this offensive SNL skit I once heard which goes I’m Helga the German Waitress with the very long armpit hair. Oh Helga, your armpit hair is in my soup! Ohhhhh sorry!! My armpit hair is not that long, but my - I honestly do not know how to refer to the stretch of jungle growing in between my legs. Well, my snatch hair is growing - I’ve shaved for years so I have no idea how far it will go. But it looks pretty comical with a string bikini worn over it. I borrowed a tankini from my mother-in-law (mine were oddly stretched out and the string bikini top...no) and wore little hot pants shorts over the bottoms. While walking on the beach with D, I showed him what was going on downs-below and he was shocked. Yes it is shocking! He asked, Did you bring a razor? And I said, No I’m not shaving! But I need a different bathing suit (or a nude beach!). Everyone wants to feel beautiful and confident and sexy especially at the beach and this was an awkward barrier to that for me.

bird2.jpg

That night we got vegan food and I saw this brightly lit superstore of touristy beach wear and bathing suits. I was elated. I want to swim, I want to navigate mainstream waters and not freak people out (too much) before they get a chance to know and like me - this is part of the reason why I decided to continue to wear a bra in public - but only until I get pregnant and have a baby!! So we went in and they were actually about to close. I scoured the racks for hot pants/underwear in my size - this place runs so small just like American Apparel that I got a Large but needed a non-existent XL. D helped me find matching tops and it is all a hot mess, running around, time time time against (or for?) me, bathing suit tops not fitting. I definitely tested D’s patience, as I do every day but not his love, he said. This is why we love each other. And, I got my hodge-podge-bikini: blue hot pants underwear bottoms that conceal the va-ja-ja forest and a badeau top that's easily adjustable, won't let my boobs fall out and has palm trees on it. I did have some crazy revelations in the race to try them on. Shopping for bathing suits (jeans or bras) is one of the most horrible experiences for a female bodied person, at least for this one. Regardless of how skinny you think other people are, or how people often refer to me, I am not skinny. I have a lot of curves that do not fit into skinny people clothing. I was at an Indy party once and a (weird) girl approached me and said You have a womanly figure. So there you go - I have a womanly figure! But don’t we all? Anyhow, I tried on these hot pants which are electric blue and so comfy and cover up the comically offensive hairs and then I start criticizing myself because I got this muffin top thing going on. I think Oh no oh no! Not long after I realize the irony of wanting to be free and getting something to cover up that freedom only to be ashamed that my body doesn’t fit into these freedom pants. So I said to myself, If I can deal with this muffin top, so can everyone else. It has to be less culturally unacceptable than the growing terrain beneath it and the store is closing and we gotta go.

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We come back to the (incredibly fancy) hotel and just chill there. I finally get my Bloody Mary and it’s more perfect than my fantasy because it’s me, D + his Vodka Tonic with our legs in a hot tub. I submerge into the hot tub for a while and then go swimming in the pool. I lay on my back there, staring at the stars, at bright Mercury or is it Jupiter, D knows. I look back at the universe, the dark sky, the lights, so vast, I see my baby there, when all of it came out of me that day, and saw the universe that had been growing inside of me and I cry and cry into the lake of the pool, of myself, floating, floating and I fall asleep. I am very good at floating.

The following day we’re packing up to head over to a protected Everglades swamp and I decided to pursue a song I heard on D’s parent’s car radio. The song is Roar by Katy Perry. As I was packing, I listened and watched the music video and found myself sobbing. This song, this video spoke directly to me. I kept watching and playing the whole thing until it wouldn’t make me sob (which was about 4-5 times). That is now one of my mantras. I went to read about it and discovered another related song, Brave by Sara Bareilles. Last night after the Mogwai show with Team Danny, between 2 and 4am, I listened to many versions of this song, a duet with Carol King melded with her song Beautiful and one two three different videos of people dancing to this song. I went to go into the backyard but the door was locked and I didn’t know where the keys were so I quietly put the music on in the living room and danced there.

jungle.jpg

Coupled with the temporary phone therapy, therapy with a social worker, bereavement groups and support from friends-family, these are my song mantras, they make me stronger, I sing them in my head when I wake up in the morning, they help me to maintain my confidence in myself, living this life fully, leaning into the discomfort, the pain of the loss of losing this baby, this tiny life that was growing inside of me and birthed a new Dawn, that is me, and knowing that I’m not alone and I am powerful and I am weak and there is courage in my vulnerability because one can’t exist without the other, they are all parts of me, all feelings are valid, all living things are valid and we all deserve freedom.  

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Dear little lentil

4.15.2014 Tuesday 1:48 am

I was going through my thank you cards I had been compiling - I wanted to write special thank you cards to everyone who has shared their incredible kindness with me. At times I’m overcome and crying, overwhelmed with my friends-family’s deep generosity of spirit and am moved.

I keep buying more dollar beautiful thank you cards and in looking at them in my small plastic drawer, I find one that is pink and green and white, like a woodcut of a floral still life but is so alive and majestic. It is this card I had originally purchased for little lentil. It is this card that I was going to write to the baby. But I had also asked myself if I would write a love letter to myself instead. I still have yet to write the thank you cards, but I sat down and wrote this:

4.8.2014 Tues 10:26pm

Dear little lentil,

I didn’t know if this card was going to be for you or a love letter to myself but I guess they are both since your whole celestial existence was inside of my body and it’s difficult to separate me from you.

You told me what to eat + when to sleep + how to feel. You are my inner self, the voice that guides + talks with me. Is that why this has been so difficult? Because you dying was me dying too?

You, little lentil, feel like a dream. I feel like I’ve had to accept that you have gone very quickly. I was still in denial, but I knew.

I loved you so much. Even though I was angry + afraid + disappointed when I first found out I was pregnant, it took me only four days to fall in love. There were many days where I had to make adjustments but I was so happy + so looking forward to meeting you some day. I couldn’t + can’t wait to become a mother - that’s what you taught me. Part of me wants to say I would give up everything to have you alive inside me again but that’s not possible. I can’t change what happened though I am changed. You changed me. I changed when you grew inside of me. And I changed when you died inside of me. You help me to deepen my sense of life and love and how important that is to me. You taught me to love my body and all living things. We are all children of the universe + if there was no dying, there would be no living. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be alive + to be a living creature (among) the cosmos.

Love your mama xoxoxo

Dream Journal

4/1/14 Tues 3:53 pm

I wake up in our bed, weak, so weak. It’s warm in the room. Our curtains are closed but the afternoon sun heats and still gets in. I feel warm and safe and in the heat of our bedroom, the air is full, a wholeness.

I wake up and remember my dreams. In them I tell my family and friends that the baby died. They look like the faces on the Look Kin side, my father’s side, but they are everyone. I’m in their house - Auntie Yuk Moy’s? - with people friendly, happy but some have questions. And some are so frustrated because they didn’t get the email - What’s going on?! Tell me!? So I tell them. We’re looked at with awe and horror.

I bolt awake and realize I forgot to cancel with my Spanish teacher.

I go to the bathroom for peeing and pooping and The Blood. I write this to Billy: Thank you Billy. We’ve been sleeping and I dreamt of telling everyone what happened. Even in my dreams the truth is present. Thank you for thinking of us on this strange and beautiful and horrible day. Much love to you and Savi and Lena - wow, she lights up our hearts. xoxox

Savi called. Barbi left a voice message. I want to call them but I don’t. I don’t feel like talking to anyone right now. I spoke with Rita but she doesn’t understand though she’s trying. Everyone is sharing their love with us the best way they know how. Sometimes, though, it’s more for them than it is for us. Even when we shared our joy of discovery of this baby, it was wonderful love and response but also a reflection of that person and their feelings and who they are.

I know I’m in shock. At this I break down, falling down a crumbled person. And then I’m calm and philosophical. I can’t help it. And I feel very protective of D. This is hitting him very hard - as excited as he was when he found out - and the the opposite. Deep sorrow. I feel it too. I’ve never seen him cry before. He cried and cried. We’re confused. We’re sad. I’m disappointed. You try to anticipate what you’re going to feel - you can try to be prepared for some things but not for everything. That’s not the point. We have no control. We are powerless, but we are also powerful. I found a new person inside of me as this little person was growing, and she was powerful, almost limitless mama/earth/crab powerful. And creative, so creative. A person who does have a green thumb, who loves life and helping things to grow. And making food - baking banana bread (albeit from a Trader Joe’s box but so delicious) and mashed potatoes for the first time. Hungry + fearless + road-rage-filled on her bike, barking at everyone and that felt good. Being honest + open in a way I haven’t been before. Loving my body. She loved her body. Growing out the hairs, reclaiming her hairstyle. Loving this body: curves + curves + belly + boobs + thighs + beautiful. Trusting the inner wise self - she is there, she is alive, she is here. Accepting things. Becoming more patient. Communicating even clearer than before.

I’ve thought a lot about this quote I read on a doula’s website + I think of it now: “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” - Barbara Katz Rothman

Even though the baby is gone, a tiny little thing that looked like a miniature person, I am still here. This mother is here and she is strong. She is sad and she is strong. Strength is knowing that crying and sharing our sad emotions is ok. I won’t try to “heal” soon. What happens is what happens. As I have throughout this pregnancy, I will listen to my heart, as I am right now, and listen to my inner wise self because she is always there inside of me and she is me. I will know what to do and how to feel and it’s all ok. It’s all ok. It’s all ok.