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I am on an elliptical orbit. I have consumed myself in a work and play combination that includes adventure, grind and passion. My oval shaped journey feels anything but linear. My daily life is repetition and destination has been hard to achieve. There is comfort in the familiarity that my community organizing challenges and the directing of a non-profit bring. There is peace in reconnecting with family and friends and laughing and cooking again. I fill up my days, hours and minutes with activity and people.
My orbit is held and propelled by the gravity of losing Lincoln. The sun that I circle is my relational life force. It is my constant existence of sorrow and life combined into a flaming ball. I need its danger. It burns in me hope and pain and exposes my very small presence in the universe and my desire that Lincoln not be my only child.
I am pregnant. The doctors say according to my HCG numbers I will likely miscarry. What do I do with this two pronged announcement that pierces through one side of my eager heart and re-stabs the other? Brock invited some of our favorite friends over this weekend for late nights, wine, cigars and lots of food. I cooked and talked a lot about the activity and ponderings of my orbit. I did not expose my sun. It is my sun. I like hording its drug affect as an addict not willing to share. How do you tell someone you are to miscarry? It’s 95% sure says the doctor. Silence is easier. One in four women remains silent.
If gravity, as Issac Netwon says, is a force, why do some objects like fertility attract to some couples and women and then defy that same force for others? I like Albert Einstein’s more advanced understanding of gravity better as the result of the curvature of space and time. While both definitions of gravity are widely held I see today how truth is present in this science. Mourning feels like gravity pulling all your insides out, charring them completely by the burning sun and pushing them back into a broken shell duck taped together by people who care. As days pass and my life progresses the straight line I try to walk with my own exertion is humbled by the space time curvature controlling my universe. I am on a geodesic path, a combination between the straight world line I want and the curved path in space and time that is my continuum to have and to accept.
Today Kai ritually enters the Christian family and Brock and I are his two baptismal sponsors. Kai was born the day after Lincoln. His Mom and I were pregnant together. We shared stories and met as couples at the theater on a regular basis. Our boys loved the sound of cinema and kicked to the beat. Lincoln’s birth story influenced the story of Kai. I met Kai when he was almost one month old. How strange to hold a baby that looked back at me with blinking focus. We were all reacquainted over ice cream last week. I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t be super cute. He was.
He is a beautiful baby boy with perfect features and a shining, full of life face. His smile is contagious and instantly attracts the heart in a new feeling of gravitational pull. He was wearing adorable orange and blue overalls and he seemed to love me. What a delight. I woke up this morning excited for the baptism. It will be the first time we return to church since the Christmas Eve service, the day before Lincoln died. There will be a hootenanny afterwards, and the daily on goings which make up my geodesic curved path will continue. I am completely and tearfully honored to stand for Kai this morning as his God parent. And so as I get ready with my brownies baking in the oven and I prepare to again circle my own blazing sun and to also have some fun. I genuinely look forward to light hearted conversations:
Oz: We should figure out what kinda deal this is. I mean, is it a-a gathering, a shindig or a hootenanny?
Cordelia: What’s the difference?
Oz: Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it’s chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.
What a beautiful day. It almost always is. I bet it was a mother who chose this spring time day on the calendar, with wisdom and nurturing. A mother knows happiness comes when the sun shines in early May. I saw the depth of meaning in this day and ignored the commercial enterprise built around it, meant to stimulate flower, card and chocolate sales. I worked hard to find the beauty. Brock averted me from the popular mother places such as church, restaurants and public venues. Instead we opted for a motorcycle ride and hit the road on the sleek gray Ducati 1,000 Supersport that will soon be up for sale once Zelda returns.
We started along scenic Highway 5 in Kansas, through the stoic prison town of Leavenworth on our way to Atchison, a quaint downtown with moral fiber. On the way as we wove through yards and fields I saw handful of goats at the crest of the hill. They were black and white and some brown spotted. They were sweet little things, enjoying the sunshine and munching on the long grass. At the top of the hill next to a quaint country home there was a man sitting in the middle of the overgrown field. He sat with his knees propped up and his arm around one of the dotted goats. He caressed the goat he held close with tender emotion even a motorcyclist flying by could see. I admired the love he showed.
Highway 116 on the Missouri side toward Westin gave us the hills, swoops and curves I needed to feel alive again. I had some happy and grateful moments today. I was thankful for two amazing Mothers and three beautiful Grandmothers still in my life. I was grateful I know the love that comes in being a mother. I was numb and my tears were loosened. I will never forget the Happy Mother’s day text from 21 year old brother, Jordan or the beautiful message from Stacy or the sweet card from my mother-in-law. The corsage, Mom, Dad, Jesse and Erika gave made me feel cared for and lucky to be so loved and to love.
During our motorcycle ride Brock talked me through downshifting, clutch function and braking options. It was my first official lesson. Learning the motorcycle in a new way was scary and exhilarating. It gave me a new something to look forward to. As we rode I felt the radiance of the spring budding trees. I smelled their hopefulness and was shadowed intermittingly as we passed under their newfound radiance. These trees were no longer barren with winter’s harshness. They unfolded as I watched them. There is a becoming to these trees, an almost but not yet. Spring is the right season for me now. I am done with winter.
During my Mayan abdominal massage the pain of the deep tissue work and the emotional cavity of a womb emptied caused me to sob. It’s one of the few times recently when sorrow flowed and it came from deep inside without control. As painful as this uterine, stomach and gut work is when another’s hand presses down to spine, I needed it. I want to feel. It has been four and a half months now since Lincoln died and numbness has lined the routines that have again become mine. I survived the winter and now I wait for new life. I will always be broken with pain and the sorrow when pressed hard enough will come, but my spirit is present amidst the sorrow and the beauty. Mother’s Day is a happy day for many. Today my empathy was deep in thought for women who are single or struggle with fertility, for children whose mom’s have died, for relationships estranged and for other mom’s who have lost their babies.
Twenty four dozen cookies; I’m aiming to please. Half monster, half Neiman Marcus million dollar, with and without pecans. I ate the ugly ones because they need love too. Tomorrow we will have the real deal Mexican Tacos, pastor and asada, homemade guacamole, grilled veggies, margaritas, Dos Equis Amber and lots of cookies. It will be a good homecoming.
5 cubed, that’s the love we felt tonight plus the most fabulous Ruben and Kevin. Friends are true when they can just hang with the entire family. In the arrival of family today we felt the love of 5 parents, 5 brothers, and 5 nieces and nephews. How fortunate we are and we love them even more. We had surprise arrivals that brought tears of joy and so many notes saying “see you tomorrow.” It’s already a beautiful weekend and with the chores behind us and the routines in sync we are ready for this very significant day of dedicating Lincoln’s tree, honoring the impact of his life and celebrating the lives that remain.
The Kansas City Royals won tonight against the Minnesota Twins with a victory run in the 8th inning. My blind Great Grandma Stella used to listen to the Twins on the radio as one of her favorite pastimes. I therefore like both teams and enjoyed the show. With 20 people taking up nearly two rows we were successful in starting a populated wave that lasted four sections, that was a first. I’d like to start one that goes 360. The fireworks are always good and they met the expectation tonight, rounding out perfect weather and dollar dogs for a satisfaction guaranteed outing. The family and friends surrounding us made the fireworks even more special. Couples have few occasions to experience the love and commotion of the complete set of family members from both sides with the exception of wedding and death. Lincoln brought them together in their beautiful, chaotic, laughing entirety and it was perfect all except for the reason.
During fireworks you want to be with the person you love the most and I was sad tonight as I was with Brock thinking of Lincoln. I wish I could feel his presence. I want to be an intuit that senses he is with us. I grasp at coincidence and feel lucky that people discard Lincoln pennies so commonly. Their appearance now obligates collection. Avery said she dreams about Lincoln. I wanted to take hold of her comment and squeeze every ounce of understanding from these dreams. I felt my desperation and tried to guard my tone as I asked her about the dreams she could not articulate. I accept as true, little ‘t’ that people have bona fide experiences of people gone before and I want to learn from them. In learning, however, I feel a deficit because of the absence of my own. Nonetheless, I am excited for tomorrow because I hope in the love of so many family and friends I will feel my son and he will again know he was loved.
These words were graffitied in standout white color and neatly lettered words onto a clean brick house. The long empty house frame with peaked apexes mounted no ceilings and framed no doors or windows. The graffiti, which typically claims territory or names art prowess, almost seemed a part of the design, a call to the modern, saying this is a contemplative building and a zen kind of place. The graffiti message is unseen from the industrial meets Ralph Waldo Emerson pathway that carves its way gracefully along the muddy Missouri. The trail was recently redone to showcase the powerful river front and the wild train tracks converging across the river and alongside it.
I am home in Kansas City and careworn to find my way back into living life settled. Our trip was 23 days and it was freeing, life giving, and pain validating. I’ve loved seeing family and friends especially because so many are congregating this coming weekend for the planting of Lincoln’s tree and to celebrate our homecoming with us. My struggle in the return is entering back into the dreams; like a clock reset upon my return, the black and white film is rolling again. My struggle is also seeing the items that Lincoln left behind. They look different then before I left.
My dreams do not need interpreting, they are obvious in their message of loss and desire to resurrect. When I wake during the night I think of the things that bother me: my baby is still dead and Brock threw away our backyard birds nest on Easter, wrecking another creature’s world in some of the same ways ours was stolen. I also dreamt that I threw my hair into a helmet and worked the clutch and gears into a go around on my very own motorcycle. This felt good and I was glad to dream it. Today Brock and I looked at my possible future bike. I like yellow, maybe a Monster 620 with flames.
I’ve decided it is time to put some of the items Lincoln left behind away, the blanket he was wrapped in, the giraffe rattle we thought he would like, the abundance of pictures scattered across the house, the statue of the mother, father and baby. These bits and pieces of memory comforted me before but at this moment make me gloomy. I do not need them to show the eternal love I have for my baby. We will keep a small memorial in our bedroom with his most precious of photos, hand molds and for now his urn.
Love lasts as long as we do if we want it to. The song Brock used during the Zelda slideshow was a comfort to me in the weeks after Lincoln’s death. Craig Cardiff sings “Sadness is just love wasted…” The sorrow I feel will last as long as the love I hold for my baby boy. Its confinement to a house with no windows, doors or ceiling will help me to practice love on others.
I hated writing letters before, most likely because my hand writing isn’t great and I never ever really did hold my pencil right despite my Grandpa’s attempts to instruct. Now, I know how much they mean to the addressee. I am the humbled recipient of love that lasts because the words written to us in cards, notes, e-mails, texts, and now blog posts will never be forgotten. These words helped us to open our eyes and collapse our broken hearts to the embracing world around us as we work to breathe again.
Our trip was our re-entry into living and beauty. Tonight on my walk along the riverfront watching the sun go by and the conductor stopping the train to toot and blow his horn for little nephew, James I felt alive and I felt love lasting. The troubling dreams and deep night moments of sorrow may persist. In waking I feel the love of our community and am grateful this love followed us on our blog in the several hundreds each day through our symbolic journey.
I am writing this post from my humble abode here in Kansas City. Neo is under my feet and Eva is nestled right beside me. How I arrived at this point over the past 30 hours involved my first encounter with our Amtrak train system. After a grueling 3 days of negotiations concerning the fate of our totaled motorcycle, the details on completing this journey, and our impending return to reality I was in need of some TLC. The options of a rental car taking the place of the motorcycle = no way, a plane and the commotion involved = absolutely no, a Uhaul with the bike towing behind = that’s funny, traveling back via train = intriguing. I have sampled life on the train during our adventures in Europe, however it felt like an interval between stops vs. the adventure I have grown accustomed to during the past 3 weeks. Eva smiled when I mentioned the idea and I had my answer (smiles were harder to achieve at this point).
As the Southwest Chief departed I began to understand the “culture” that surrounds the US train system. Our hostess was attentive and relaxed, our cabin cozy and intimate, and the chug and sway of the train car lulled me into a hypnotic high. That sense and feel of “vacation” instantly arrived; I missed that. Our meals (provided and surprisingly good) involved some great conversations with fellow travelers. One spry 93 year old gentleman (Tom Snodgrass) was journeying across the US via train to NYC for an ocean liner across the Atlantic. After 70 years of marriage he is traveling solo, however you can tell by his demeanor that his wife is still with him. After today Lincoln’s urn will remain at home, he will forever be with us and the symbolism of having it during this time was healing.
As the week progresses we will continue to post recaps/highlights from this trip…Lincoln’s tree dedication is this Saturday at Historic Union Hill Cemetery and will be covered via this Blog.
We are at the end of three stressful days that felt like work without reward. Despite the scoring of the poll we have little choice but to take the Amtrack home. I’m trying my best to be excited. I love Amtrack. As a child our family took coach Amtrack all over the country and I went to graduate school on the beautiful and famous Zephyr route from Osceloa, Iowa to Berkeley, California. I spent 15 months in Europe enjoying life on trains. My study and work abroad friends and I would jump from track to track exploring Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and the Czech Republic. What a fortunate life chugga chugga choo-choo-ing.
The train is a soothing way to see the backyards of America and it contains entertaining options such as the dining car and the starlight coach. I may have been more enthusiastic about this new form of steel wheels if we had not test ridden the 2011 red hot 1200 version Multistrada. The wind, road and freedom of the bike after 38 hours of negotiations and deliberation whet my appetite to continue on with our trip the way we intended. It was almost as motivating as the sopapillas and green chili stew I so desired from the plaza diner in Santa Fe.
PJ’s Motorcycle took great care of us. The guys were awesome and highly competent. We were glad the lovely but thwarting vortex of Mexican Hat landed us at that Albuquerque shop six hours after the UHAUL adventure.
We had very bad new buyer luck. We are not swapping parts with the demo bike despite Ducati North Americas best efforts. Instead they are going to resurrect Zelda! This was a surprise to all involved as it involves new frame, shocks, seat, tank, main electrical harness and cosmetics…basically a whole new bike with the same engine we broke in and had many important memories on. The last few days of our vacation have been more testing then the first days of cold and rain. Our route continues and the train will follow a similar path home. Our video will still be rolling. We’ll get Zelda back in about six weeks. We hope life looks very different for us at that time.
Last night we enjoyed the hob nobby hill area around the University of New Mexico. This evening we migrated downtown to the boutique hotel Andaluza, half a block from the adobe clock train station. We enjoyed delicious comfort food, sushi, in this landlocked region and found a Chama River MicroBar from Noel’s recommendation. It felt like Cheers and was surreal as the fiddle music played and the passing city buses turned the natural light from on to off at six minute intervals when they blocked the street facing windows. It was really cool.
On the way out we walked by hundreds of Albuquerque teens awaiting a punk band concert. One rather large teen’s t-shirt reflected the atmosphere of the pending band. It said “Lamb of God, Walk with me in Hell.” As we walked behind him I thought about how appropriate that t-shirt was on this day of Good Friday. While I did not witness the different rituals and services so important to Christians and Jews during this most holy of weeks, my understanding of the stories recognized is more complex and personal then it has been. At this moment it is hard for me to see liberation or salvation through the lens of death. Death did not pass over my privilege and joy of having a first born son.
I do not believe it was God that took Lincoln. Aaron, a pastor who I just met through a kind e-mail, reached out to us shortly after Lincoln died. He shared words that comforted him when their baby died before delivery, ‘It was death that took your baby, and God took your baby back.’ I resonate even more with God who on this recognized day across the Christian world also mourns a son. We had company as we walked through our hell. And so, today we ate fish and heard the trivial, surprising and righteous news that our motorcycle may ride again. We are waiting…