On Decorating

I’ve said it before.  The body remembers.

I didn’t realize it until this afternoon while I was knee-deep in the process of spontaneously painting my kitchen.  I’ve spent the last month of my life decorating, redecorating, organizing, reorganizing, and checking out of the library every decorating book known to man.

I’m nesting.

But it’s almost midnight and my kitchen smells of the strange, appealing odor of new paint and my decorating books are stacked up beside me and I have plans for step two in my decorating project – which, I might add, I’m doing for free because I’m the sort who buys random gallons of paint and stashes them in my basement until I decide what to do with them.  Comfort Gray came in handy today!

It’s just that I couldn’t stand looking at the kitchen anymore.  It was orange.  I love orange.  But I had loved this orange for five years and it had begun to feel heavy and old and stained and representative of the person who I was then.  Which is not, quite certainly, the person I am now.

You know what I love?  The gray.  It’s cool and fresh and totally different from the energy of the warm, rusty orange.  That was intense.  This is calm.  That was specific.  This is amiable.  That smelled of five years of food that baked into the walls.  This smells new.  I told Tahd that the smell of new paint is just as good as the smell of new babies.  He laughed and agreed, but I think he was lying. 😉

I’ve been struggling a lot with what place to give Mara in our family.  I’m the only person who’s had a miscarriage I know who has integrated the baby into her family as much as I have.  And I’ve been feeling self-conscious about that.  In my head, I think, I had a miscarriage.  Not a stillbirth.  Not a baby who died from SIDS.  Just a miscarriage.  People have them every day.  I shouldn’t make this any more special to me than others make it to themselves.

But it was different, too.  Most people don’t miscarry at 13 weeks after everything looks fine.  No, perfect.  I lost Mara just after I had fully let go and embraced the pregnancy as a “sure thing.”  I had just started gaining a sense of sanity over my anxiety.  I heard her heart beating every day.  We were good.  It happened fast, too. Of the few people who miscarry around 13 weeks, most actually lost the baby several weeks earlier.  I didn’t.  I know within 24 hours of her last heartbeat that she was gone.  And it was Mother’s Day.  Nobody miscarries on Mother’s Day.  That’s just crazy.

It occurred to me today, though, that the biggest reason we’ve integrated her into our lives is because of Gabe.  At about 11 weeks – when everybody said we were good to go – we told him.  We got him a book about having a sibling.  We started using the word “brother.”  He thought of her as his baby, and he kissed my belly tenderly and his eyes sparkled with excitement.  When she left, thinking about taking that identity and joy away from him was too much for me.  So we integrated her as a part of our family – a member of our little group who didn’t stay long, but stayed long enough to change us.

This struggle would undoubtedly be different if we hadn’t told him.  I would have grieved privately.  It would have been hard.  He would have been protected from the heartache he has experienced.  But that’s not the way it turned out, so I’ve decided to make my peace with the fact that it’s okay for me to think of us – and talk about us – as a family of four.  I wish our “family of four” experience would be different, but to deny there is a fourth presence in our family is to deny everything I know for sure – like that Tahd loves flashlights, that Gabe loves recess, and that my body remembers.

So for now I’m nesting – not in the way I hoped to be nesting, but in a way that feels good anyway.  And I look around at the changes I’m making with a smile on my face.  This is not the reality I hoped for, but I like how I feel when I make my surroundings reflect the transitions my spirit is experiencing.

Comfort Gray.  I like it and all it represents.  Especially the “comfort” part.

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  1. Never, ever feel about honoring Mara. She holds a special place in your lives; even if she was only here for a short while. A loss is a loss; pain is pain.

  2. Keshet Shenkar says:

    Pain is pain–no more, no less than if things had been different. You loved her, and that’s enough, I think.

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