Thursday, June 9, 2011

Between Two Worlds

We have an old clock on our wall.
A blue and white dutch plate with an hour and minute hand that has never worked.
We have had it some 5 or 10 years and never so much as wound it or put a battery into its back.

Last night, after we put the snowflakes to bed, I started to tell hubs about how a visit to see my uncle who is battling cancer had reminded me of what a cruel thing cancer is. I told him how it got me to thinking about Peyton and how just royally screwed over she got in this life and that as I was driving home from the visit, I had started to cry. As I was telling this story, an electrical storm rolled in - the kind you get after long hot summer days with loud claps of thunder and bright shocks of lightening - and wouldn't you know it, that little clock on the wall started to tic-tic-tic.

The storm lasted maybe ten minutes, and as it moved out of our area, that little clock went back to a standstill. I couldn't help but to feel that it was somehow a message from Peyton. But of what?

If Peyton could reach me I would like to assume that she would give me a message like "hello" or "I love you," but last night the feeling I had over that little clock was not one of comfort. It made me wonder if that was her message - to let me know that she is angry with me.

If it was, I can't say that I blame her for it.

When I replay the last day of Peyton's life in my mind, it doesn't matter that the doctors told us she had no hope. Nor does it matter that they walked us through, in painfully graphic detail, the way the fungal infection caused by the chemo was going to overrun her body. It doesn't matter that they proposed removing large portions of her face to combat this, a move that would not have cured her, but perhaps bought her some more time living in intense pain.

I am familiar with the above facts, but what do they matter, really?
I was her mother.
I should have found a better way. 
A way that didn't involve my five pound little girl struggling for breath as she left this world. 
There is no making peace with something like that.
I know, because I have tried.

I am living between two worlds. 

As I wash pacifiers and bottles for the little joys that have come into my life, and my mind wanders to all that we couldn't do for their big sister. 
Not being able to enjoy treats here or there because where others see a junk food indulgence, I see additives and preservatives and chemicals and poisons, and don't want to take the chance with my kiddos. 
When the topic of something cancer causing comes up, and everyone around me plays it off as no big deal and my mind and body go into the mode of hyper-vigilance because I NEED to protect my living children, or when the light hits a sleeping baby in just such a way that the sense of calm that I am feeling is overrun by memories of those final moments with Peyton in my arms.

Each of these things just reinforce the fact that new joys (and yes I feel an incredible amount of joy from the snowflakes) cannot erase old sorrows. 

I can not un-learn what I have learned. 
I can not un-see what I have seen.

There is no such thing as un-remembering. 

People in the witness protection program are forced to assume a new identity. They are told to act as if nothing has happened as a means of remaining safe. To those around them they seem fine. Normal. They blend in no differently then the rest but the truth of the matter is that they are living a sort of half-life - hiding behind a new identity while constantly looking over their shoulder and running from their old one.

As a bereaved mother with two rainbows, this is what I have become.

I am that woman, the new mother of twins, the one with the huge smile on her face as she pushes a stroller into her future, forever checking over my shoulder for the fears from my past.


  1. There is no such thing as un-remembering. Very powerful.

  2. Wow. Witness Protection. That is an incredible way of describing it. I never thought of it like that.

    I always wondered if my babies were angry with me. Watching them suffer and knowing there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it is one of, if not the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

  3. It's so funny about clocks. My grandfather made clocks as a pasttime. He made a big grandfather clock that my parents have and a smaller mantle clock that my aunt and uncle have (amongst others).

    The clock on my aunt's mantle requires winding periodically to keep it moving and she doesn't always wind it right away. It had stopped about 2 weeks before my grandfather passed away. We got the call from the nursing home that they were transferring him to the hospital and that he would imminently die. His children kept a vigil over his bed for hours but he did not pass. They asked the nurse whether he would really die imminently or if they could go home and get a little rest and come back. The nurse told them to give their father permission to die and that he believed that would allow him to pass peacefully. They discussed this and decided to do it. Although he was unconscious they went back into his room and told him they loved him and that it was okay to let go and they would take care of mom. Within minutes he was gone.

    They all went back to my aunt's house to sit and be together. My aunt asked my dad what time my grandfather had passed and he told her. She was shocked. The time of his death is the exact same time that his clock stopped two weeks before his death.

    Several months later my parents moved to a new house. The grandfather clock got discombobulated during the move so my mom called a clockmaker to come fix it. While he was fixing the clock they got to talking and she told him the story of his other clock and how it had stopped prior to his death at the same time he would die. He wasn't surprised. He had seen with his own eyes many such happenings. He said the most interesting story he had been involved with was a case where a man left his clock to his wife when he died and it kept breaking. Like the internal workings of the clock kept getting twisted and malformed when she didn't even touch the clock. He had to go back and fix it several times.

    Anyway, I believe our souls leave behind energy and if you felt the clock was a message from Peyton it may have been. if you felt it was angry it may have been, but I don't think she is angry at you. She knew nothing but love from you for each moment of her life. Maybe she is angry that she had cancer, that she had to leave you to grieve when she wanted to stay and bring you the same joy as her brother and sister. It may also have just been a message from her to you and the anger you were feeling colored the experience.

    You did with Peyton what every parent does with their children--the best you could. You loved her and fought for her with all your might. You made the best decisions you could for her health and comfort. She is not angry with you. She loves you and always will.

    My grandfather's grandfather clock in my parent's house says Tempus Fugit on it. And so it does, time flies. Life is so short and so precious. Take the love and try to leave the rest. What a fortunate woman you are to have shared love with three precious children. You will hold Peyton in your arms again, and when you do you will only be feeling peace.

  4. I don't believe that those in spirit, especially children, feel anger. I especially don't believe that Peyton feels any anger towards you. If she was to say hello, wouldn't it be through a strange event that happened just as you were talking about her?

    I also believe that those in spirit don't have an age, e.g. maybe she isn't an infant in spirit, she could be looking over you as a kind of very mature soul - watching over you as opposed to thinking that you couldn't stop what happened to her. Your very own guardian angel xxx

  5. Peyton is in heaven. She's not angry, she's living a crazy glorious life. One with no fear or sickness or cancer. You did everything you could for her.

    Your rainbow babies are adorable!

  6. That last paragraph - exactly as it is for us. And I haven't had your experience as you, but I feel the same way about many of those cancer-causing fears. No junk food here for my little man.

  7. Well said! As happy and as blessed as I am to be giving birth to our rainbow in a few short weeks, I am still the mother whose last words to her son were "go baby, I love you so much, but let go". Our other children will provide us with many blessings and we are truly grateful, but the lives of our angel children will also remain close in tow. I hate it when people tell me that when our daughter gets here, we can create new memories, which is true, but they say it like the old memories of our son will just melt away.

    I don't think Peyton could EVER be mad at you, she won the Mommy lottery as did your snowflakes. HUGS to you! Please be gentle iwth yourself! :) Sharon

  8. Oh Kristin, I can not believe Peyton is angry with you for anything that happened in her life. She might be reminding you not to focus so much on the broken or bad things but I refuse to believe she is angry with you.

    Your comparison of parenting after the loss of a child to the witness protection program is brilliant and it paints such a clear picture of what it must be like.

  9. Just by looking at the picture of Peyton looking at you, it's hard to imagine that she could know any other feeling but LOVE for you. Perhaps she's angry and/or upset that you and your family are dealing with cancer again with your uncle. Praying for you & your family.

  10. I agree with these other women that Peyton is not angry with you. But, I understand that feeling as a mother that somehow we should have been able to do something to keep our babies safe. In reality we know there is/was nothing we could have done. Unfortunately, we don't have the control that we would like and no amount of mother's love and protectiveness can ultimately save our babies. A very hard reality to come to terms with. I believe you made the right decisions for you daughter although the hardest decisions you will likely ever have to make.

    Sending so much love your way.

  11. I also know, yes KNOW in my heart, in my gut, that she is not angry with you. Maybe that sign from the clock had a reference to the time she was allotted here. You in that moment were upset over just that. Maybe it was her way to tell you that she is at peace with that span of time. She came here and touched all our lives. She left an impact on us that some who live 90 years do not. I have my own opinion about God's plan, I don't believe he causes pain or death & I won't go into that here, but maybe, just maybe she came to do what she was meant to. I know that doesn't bring any parent peace because I live that each day but I am grateful that our little girl's tiny footprints left huge imprints on this world.

  12. It is an odd struggle, for sure, for those of us who have suuffered the loss of a child(ren) but are so fortunate to know the ultimate joy in having one(s) who live(s). Certainly a tug-of-war of the emotions.
    Peyton could never, would never, be angry with her mother, whose love is so obvious and genuine, IMHO. :)

  13. I can relate to this post in so many ways. thank you!

  14. I don't believe Peyton could ever be angry with you. She knows you are the best mommy she could ever have and you love her so much. That is quite odd about the clock!! Wow!