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at home in the in-between

Our Los Angeles family, captained by the ever-loving Steve and Jim, hosted a perfect celebratory memorial service for Felix yesterday.  Laurie’s stubbornly loving sister Liz and wonderfully sincere nephew Dane flew down from the Pacific northwest for the sun, I mean for this event (and Dia de los Muertos, which we celebrated in overwhelmingly festive style on Saturday at Hollywood Forever, with a bit of Felix in my bag and admiration for the altars, dancers, and beautiful moon-lit dusk).  Yesterday afternoon, we sat in a circle on the warm patio in the hills of Los Feliz, (Felix’s namesake neighborhood) and spoke of what Felix means to us.  Becca, our doula, described how she has always felt that, at the birth of each infant, the baby is born with one foot in this world and one in another.  Felix, she felt, never fully became of this world — he always had one of his winged little astro feet in the beyond.  I feel this too.  When Laurie and I let Felix go, we felt that we were letting him become wholly who he was and where he was, because he never fully inhabited that little body of suffering, he was always fluttering above, we freed him to become together in himself.
Now, Becca feels that Felix is her own personal Hermes.  Guiding baby spirits into this world for her, Felix attends Becca as she attends her mommas’ births.  I am sure that this is true.  Lucky Felix.  I also know that Felix is now with all of us.  All of us who were at the service yesterday, all of us who have been a part of my pregnancy with Felix and his little body’s struggles, everyone who has flown to Los Angeles in a jiffy, and sent love in the form of flowers, encouraging cards, supportive messages, prayers and love, love, and love, Felix is in-among us where he belongs.  Laurie and I feel a profound bond to all of you through Felix.  We can’t wait for our wee laughing star to usher in his little brother or sister so that the power of our motherhood, of our family circle with all of you, might grow one more spirit strong, here.  Between and among us, we thrive in the strength and grace that we receive from you, that we give to you, and that Felix conveys to us all from our world to the beyond and back again.
I think this will be my final post on Felix’s blog.  The blog’s url ‘nostos felicis’ translates to ‘Felix’s homecoming’ and today I feel that Felix is home.
I’ll sign off with a few of my favorite stanzas from Astro Bunnies by Christine Loomis:
Astro bunnies
Work together
Measure comets
Chart the weather
Gather moondust
From a crater
Scientists can
Study later
Ride their rockets
In slow motion
Through a silent
Starry ocean
Gliding by
The Milky Way
Where night is dark
And so is day.
– Jody

Pickled eggs, fifty-dollars taped to the back of a gift card for gas, a lemon zester, several skeins of safety-orange wool yarn, a quote from my wonderfully anarchist nephew: “i am praying for the first time for felix, even though i hate god,” and new beds for the garden a là Laurie and Katy:

these are a few of my favorite gifts from everyone surrounding us with love and other oddities during these past few weeks.  Not to mention a house full of gorgeous flowers, food from doulas (some who I’ve never met), lentils, blueberry pies, cards and messages and visitors from near and far.

But the pickled eggs are my favorite.  What one needs most of all when grieving is a jar of pickled eggs, I’m sure of it.

Love and thank you, thank you, thank you, to all.  You know who you are.

twinkle, felix, little star

Kitty-corner to star Beta on the bottom of the Big Dipper’s cup, a star named Felix Soren Valentine “Astro Bunny” shines.  Laurie and I used to talk about whether we believed in the transmigration of souls — Laurie did.  My mom has always said that she does — but I wasn’t sure.  I just didn’t know.  But when Felix was practicing his rhythmic gymnastic routine in my belly and I didn’t know how or who he would be on the outside, I felt his spirit had just alighted in me for one whirl around and when Felix passed out of his petit hard-pressed body, I knew that his journey wasn’t over.  I felt he would continue and that he would watch over us.  I said that I hadn’t known we needed a spirit to watch over us, but that it now seems as if we do, and luckily we have two — Felix and our lawyer.

And thanks to Carol, forever Felix is a spirit and a star.

Richard Elis made a long journey across the pond to accompany Felix’s ashes home from Hollywood Forever Cemetery yesterday.  We received the little boxes — one for us, one for Washington and one for Tennessee.

Today we are planning a day of therapeutic gardening.  Katy is here, so we are putting her to work helping us with some construction.  We’re going to reconfigure our garden bed and get the barrels prepped for the winter season of sweet peas, snap peas, kale, arugula, and lettuces (plus strawberries!).   I’m trying to ease off the daily dose of pie into a healthier diet so that someday (soon?) we might be able to grow Felix a little brother or sister.

With all this love and support that we have — and with Astro Felix watching over us — our family feels strong this morning.

today you are you

Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you.

Lydia wrote this quote from Dr. Suess on the ribbon that she wrapped around Felix in my belly in July.  Today that ribbon adorns Felix’s box, contributing to a carnival of love for the little burst of a boy who lived in me for six months, in his spaceship for two weeks, and who now continues his journey on this bed of flowers, plucked from our yard and the bouquets we have received with love and gratitude.

We feel so blessed to participate in the ritual of Felix’s cremation by decorating this box, with the love and support of our family and friends, near and far.  Felix will be cremated amidst this beauty, surrounded with love, bunnies, an elephant and a quick scene of Mount Olympus, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery tomorrow.

 

moments of beauty

During the difficult labor induced by the infection that caused the tragic loss of Felix, my nurse midwife at Kaiser, Susan Minich, stepped in and coached me through the final phase of pushing Felix out — too soon — into the world.  I was so angry at this moment.  It was too soon for Felix to be born.  My heart and body and spirit refused to allow the birth.  But Felix knew that he had to come out, that the infection had destroyed his safest space and there was no more waiting.  Susan told me that I had to get the baby out.  So I did.  In between pushing contractions, she asked me to relax  and imagine a beautiful, happy place.  With a fever of 102+ and every tube, wire, and contraption imaginable strapped to my body, I couldn’t believe any place remained in the world that would feel good.  So I imagined myself curled up safe and secure with Laurie, and I felt a wave of love so strong and beautiful that gratitude washed over me.  How lucky am I that my beauty and happiness are embodied not in a place, but in my partner? And I knew then that whatever came next, we would survive with beauty and love.  I recalled the birth and this moment several times over the next two weeks, even as I recall it now.  That night, which I doubted I could survive, which I didn’t choose and didn’t want, became a microcosm of my life.  Full of painful, out of control seizures that I cannot stop, but can only breath through and then, in the interstices, curl up with Laurie and feel gratitude for the beauty and love.  Today our home is full of beauty and love and I am so grateful to you all.  Thank you.

felix forever

 

 

On Friday, October fifth, we said goodbye to the NICU with a small bouquet of flowers from our garden: lavender, zinnia, lemon verbena, a wee grapefruit, rosemary, african blue basil, and sage.  A little microgarden of the home that Felix knew before he landed in his NICU rocketship.  We met with Jane the lactose nurse, who told me that it will take me about a month to safely wean off of pumping.  The long time is due, she says, to the fact that I was working so hard to keep my production up and because I’m just on the tail end of the Listeria infection, so mastitis could be dangerous (in addition to miserable) for me.  So, another month of pumping…  oy vey.

 

 

 

Doctor Suki Aragarsamy and the social worker Beth met with us at the NICU and offered us support and guidance for making plans for the rest of Felix’s journey.  They gave us a memory box with pictures that the nurses took and prints of Felix’s hands and feet.  We’ll print these onto nice paper and make cards for everyone.

Laurie and i knew that we wanted to have Felix cremated — that we would bring a bit of him to Mount Ranier and a little to Tennessee and that we would keep a bit with us.  I suggested we have the Hollywood Forever Cemetery do the cremation.  This beautiful cemetery in the heart of Hollywood hosts movie nights on the lawn and, later this month, a wondrous Dia del los Muertos festival where families adorn graves with glorious altars and spend the day feasting and commemorating their dead.  People come in costumes and journey around the cemetery, hearing the stories of those who, though dead, are with us for the day.  Every year, Laurie and I and any of you who wishes to join us, can join the ritual and remember Felix.  Hollywood Forever will become part of his journey.  They are also giving us a little casket, in which he will be cremated, to bring home and decorate.  We will use flowers from the garden, the ribbons we were given at Dash Point by one contingent of the Felix family, and some of the cards and notes we have received.

Again, we cannot thank you all enough for the love and tears you have been sending into the universe for Felix and us.  We feel so protected — in the circle of you.

 

this bird has flown

With broken hearts, Laurie and I let Felix go yesterday.  The doctors determined, both via the MRI and other tests, that Felix had left us already and that only the respirator was keeping him alive.  His brain was gone.  I felt him say goodbye on Monday; and Laurie knew in her heart that it was time.  We did what mommies do:  what was best for our baby.  We agreed to let him go.  The kind doctor and nurses brought him to us on a portable respirator in a quiet room so that I could hold him and Laurie could hold us as he went.  It felt so good to finally feel his body next to mine.  He had some weight to him, at nearly 3 pounds.  They removed the respirator and within five minutes his heart had stopped.  We felt all of your love and support around us as we held Felix in our arms and released his spirit.  We believe that Felix is free now.  Our little astro bunny is adventuring around, gathering moondust,  meeting bunnies from another place, and, we believe, keeping watch over us all with all the love that we are keeping watch over him.  With love, Felix, we let you go.  

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