Zebra's Child

Living With Common Variable Immune Deficiency and It's Autoimmune Friends

Category: Love

In Honor of Mothers

Here in the States it is Mother’s Day. But I want to expand the definition of what it is to be a mother. You fulfill a mothering role if

  • You are the beloved Aunt or Grandmother helping to raise a child
  • You are that favorite teacher to whom a child turns when their home life is in chaos
  • You are a foster mother, adoptive, or step mother

I want to especially wish a Happy Mother’s Day to those whose

  • Children are far flung and none of them are able to spend time with you today or call
  • Children have predeceased you, and people are afraid to wish you a happy Mother’s Day because they don’t want to bring up painful memories

I want also to acknowledge mothers whose children are critically ill.

And I want to add to this list perhaps the most forgotten category

  • Mothers whose child was born still, died shortly after birth, or was born too early to survive. To you, especially, I want to acknowledge that you, also, are mothers.

I want to honor each of you, wish you the best, and offer a collage of virtual bouquets.

 

All Images were taken at our wonderful local flower shop on Grand Avenue in Oakland, California. It is an oasis of calm, and has the comforting feel of a French flower shop.

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All above images: Zebras Child 2019

Tuesday Tea

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Image: Zebras Child 2019

I know I said I would just post photos for at least a week, but I want to tell you the history of this kettle.

The predecessor to this kettle was given to me by husband about 15 years ago. I had fallen in love with it through a store window up in Mendocino, California while I was visiting my mom. Let me remind you that my husband was the cook of the family, so it was his kitchen. He didn’t want to replace our large Revere Ware kettle with anything else because the Revere kettle could hold enough water to make enough drip coffee for guests all in one go. And there was nothing wrong with it. I couldn’t argue with that, but eventually the little plastic bit that enabled you to lift the small lid and pour, broke, as plastic bits are prone to do. Revere no longer made those extra large kettles, so he agreed to get me one of these wonderful pure copper English kettles for my birthday.

We used that one happily for about 12 years. But alas, we had originally bought the design that could only be used on a gas stove. Our retirement community only has electric stoves, so we needed a replacement. But in the intervening years, the price for these kettles had shot up a whopping 300%. That is not a typo. The original copper works factory that had been making these kettles for over 100 years found it too expensive to continue to operate and had closed down. These kettles had gone overnight from being ubiquitous in England and passed down from mother to daughter, to trendy and rare. Only the quantity that remained in the warehouse existed. I told him how much they now cost. He paled a little, but then said, “Sweet Love, I know how much you have loved using this kind of kettle. No matter the price, I will still get you a new one for your birthday. He did, and I think of him every morning as I fill the pot with water and turn on the electric stove.

Caught In a Web

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Aloe Vera Plant and a Web                                             Image: Zebras Child 2019

The past week has been exhausting. In a mostly good way, but exhausting none the less. Observing Holy Week, celebrating Passover with my Jewish older daughter, her husband and my grandkids, and sadly, going through both holidays for the first time after my husband’s death. I still can’t get used to the singular pronoun of “my” grandkids for instance, rather than “our” grandkids. Each time I find myself erasing the word our and replacing it with the word my it is an additional reminder of loss.

I need to rest, and I have decided for the next week at least, to focus just on my photography rather than both my writing and my photography. I find both activities healing, but in trying to post five times a week, I find that I have time and energy for little else. I have loved getting immersed again in both and trying to re hone my skills in both. But the apartment needs to be cleaned, I rather desperately need to shop to replace my glacially slow 6 year old laptop, and above all, I need sleep. Massive amounts of it, actually. Perhaps as I put up a photo some words might occur to me, but I make no promises. So I hope you enjoy the process as I experiment more with my camera and start to retrain my eye.

Celebrations

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Flowers in Our Common Garden                           Image: Zebras Child 2019

I am fortunate that some of our family is Jewish and some of our family is Christian. If you have been celebrating Easter today, Happy Easter, and if you are in the midst of celebrating Passover, Chag Sameach. If you celebrate neither, I hope you have had a lovely weekend.

The Return of Grief

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Unexpectedly, this week has been an especially hard one in terms of the death of my husband. It has hit me hard, because, well, as I mentioned, it was unexpected. I don’t think that it is necessarily this hard because it is Holy Week, although I’m sure that doesn’t help. Rather it seems to have been a series of seemingly small things that have hit me like small blows, one after another, each one adding to the impact.

It started on Monday night with a concert. We have concerts in our building every Monday evening, and since my husband’s death, I have been choosing to sit off to the side and in the back, rather than our normal place close to the front, so that I could leave discretely if I felt too tired or too overwhelmed with memories. But this past Monday night, there was an empty seat right next to a good friend and I chose to sit there. It was in the third row, a place where my husband and I often managed to sit by arriving as soon as the doors into the performance space were opened. Our favorite cellist was playing this past Monday, and in the past, I have always wanted to sit as close as I can to her so I could watch her fingering and bowing. So I didn’t give it a second thought as I sat down four nights ago, simply glad that I had found a seat so close when most of the seats were already occupied. But then the cellist and the double bass player bowed the first note, and within five measures I found myself weeping, partly because the music was so beautiful, but mostly because it was impossible not to remember all of the string concerts here that my husband and I had enjoyed together.

After that, the week just seemed to pile up one assault of memory after another. Tuesday I was taking the dog out for her last walk before bed because our friends who normally do the last walk of the day are away. As I turned around to walk back home, I saw the lights on our skilled nursing floor and remembered looking up every night a year ago to find the room that my husband was in. In April of last year, he was still alive and awaiting the surgery to remove his gallbladder. It was before the fall that proved fatal, and at this time last year, we had every reason to believe that after the surgery, he would recover well and return to our apartment on the 10th floor.

Everything about this time of year reminds me of the hope that I had for his full recovery: the fact that it is still light after dinner, the temperature that’s running in the high 70s, and the way the light hits newly blooming flowers. I have been crying hard every day this week, and I haven’t done that in months. Certainly I have moments and days now when his death hits me hard, but I thought I was done with this constant grief that presses down on me and makes it difficult to find joy in anything. Each night I go to bed hoping that I will wake up in the morning without this stone weighing down my heart, but for now, at least, it seems to have settled in.

In Memoriam

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                                                                        Image: Zebras Child 2019

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week for churches that follow a liturgical calendar. It is the most holy week of the Christian year and leads up to Easter Sunday. I have posted about Holy Week before, but each year the internal experience is a little different because our experiences of the past year have necessarily been different.

This is the first Holy Week since my husband’s death so this Holy Week is fundamentally different to start with. But adding to the already high emotion of the week, we lost two members of our retirement community over the weekend. In a retirement community that provides care for the rest of your life, it is natural for deaths to occur. But there are 250 people in our community and the grief of a death is not felt equally by all. The deaths this week, however, both hit hard. One person lived with his wife just two apartments down in our short hallway, and the other death was of a dear friend of both my husband and I. Both were 15 years older than my husband, so they had had a full life. But that doesn’t really soften the emotional blow of their passing. I feel the loss, and I grieve. But I also feel an additional lack, for normally I would be remembering these lives with my husband beside me and we would be able to tell the stories of our friends and grieve together.