Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Story Snippets - Sendring

Today I would like to share a scene with you from one of the writing projects I'm working on.  It is currently a standalone scene, with no lead-up and nothing to tie it to what I already have.  Hopefully that will change soon.

Sendring stared out the open window.  The wind caught the leaves of an aspen tree and flung them around, the late afternoon sunlight catching them in its glow.  He watched the girl called Mathilda as she laughed and danced with her friends.  She tripped over a stone and fell backward onto the path, still laughing.  Sendring felt his heart tug painfully and resisted the urge to run out and help her up.  Too soon, too soon, he cautioned himself.

He tore himself away from the window and paced around the room, his leather boots thunking heavily on the floor.  He ran a calloused hand through his night-black hair, making the spikes even more pronounced than before.  What was he thinking, looking at a human girl?  He might look human when he wished, but he would always be different.  He walked over to the mirror and watched as he slowly allowed the spiked ridge to appear, running down his skull under his hair and along his spine.  He felt it pulling on his shirt as the material was stretched beyond what it was accustomed to.  He looked down at his arms and saw the fine pattern of red-gold scales stretching up along his elbows and down to the backs of his hands.  Glancing back in the mirror, he saw the same red-gold scales sweeping across his cheeks.  His jaw looked more angular than before, and when he concentrated, a few wisps of smoke seeped out of the corners of his mouth.

Sendring sighed and flung himself heavily into a nearby chair.  Caught between two worlds, he could not fully assume the shape of a dragon, but neither could he pretend he had no dragon aspects.  The female dragons held no appeal for him but dragon pride scorned pairing with a mere human.  And yet, Mathilda--

He stood up abruptly and removed his leather shirt.  With his chest bare, it was apparent that the scales continued down over his torso as well.  He slowly allowed his wings to appear, growing out of his back next to his shoulder blades, stretching them to their maximum span of fifteen feet.  Nowhere near as impressive as a true dragon's, of course, but sufficient to let him fly and feel the wind on his face.  He flexed them once, twice--then folded his wings enough to run hurriedly through the back door, before launching himself into the setting sun.

Well, what do you think?  Does it make you want to read more?  Do you have any suggestions for improving it?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Remembering Leslie

Today I remembered.

I remembered that joyous moment, April of 2012, when I realized that I was pregnant again.  I remember being simultaneously elated and terrified--my youngest child at the time was just five months old.  I remember wondering how we would manage financially, and how I would cope with two very small children at the same time.  I remember not caring that it was going to be difficult; I was pregnant, and it just might be a girl this time.

June 13, 2012 I went in to see my obstetrician for my scheduled 12-week checkup.  There was no heartbeat, and measurements taken on the ultrasound indicated that my baby had stopped growing at nine weeks.  I wasn't going to have another beautiful child in December; I was officially the mother of a dead baby.

All three of my children have had due dates in December.  The first was late; he arrived in January.  The second popped out in November.  The third never had the opportunity to grow outside my womb.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  This is the first year I've attended an event for it.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  Savanna agreed to watch Rowan and Henry so I could go without distractions.  I dropped Matthew off at work at 4:15, then went to the park to wait for 7:00.  I walked around the park loop.  I called a good friend.  I took snacks to Matthew.  During all this, my heart thudded in my chest, asking me to please not go because I would be among people I didn't know, and I might cry, or do something to embarrass myself.

I went.

At 6:40 I pulled myself out of my van and went down the ramp to the Willamette Queen, where the event was being held.  I wrote my precious Leslie's name on a tag, which I hung on a tree, and also on a decorated rock.

 More people came in and sat down.  One of the last people to arrive was a friend of mine.  She sat near the front.

There is something amazing about sitting in a room full of people who know what you've gone through.  Maybe they don't know you personally, but they know the same grief, the same sorrow.  Every one of the people in that room had experienced the loss of a child.  Mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings--all of us there knew the raw agony of losing a precious life.

I sat there and remembered June 17, 2012, the day that little Leslie left my body.  I woke up in the middle of the night and knew it was happening.  My bed was soaked with blood.  I called my mom, who told me to call 911.  The paramedics arrived and we found that our lovely spiral staircase, which looks so elegant, presented a problem.  They couldn't carry a stretcher down it.  They asked me if I could walk down the stairs.  I took two steps away from the bed and nearly toppled over.  I had to sit down again, in a new wave of fresh blood.

They carried me down the stairs in a tarp.  My mother- and father-in-law stood by the door to watch me go.  There is something about an emergency situation which eliminates the compulsion to be modest.  I had put on a turtleneck to keep warm (and so I wouldn't be utterly bare), but that and my underwear were the only garments I had on, and I didn't care.  They loaded me in the ambulance and away we went.  Matthew followed in the van.

I remember talking to the paramedics, telling them that I was worried about leaving my children without a mother.  They said I was going to be just fine, but kept checking my vitals.  They put an IV in me and told me to keep talking, that they like it when the patients are talking.  "Well, most of them, anyway," one of them laughed.

My mom and dad met us at the ER.  I remembered that it was Father's Day, and I thought what a very yucky Father's Day it must be for my dad, to see his daughter bleeding in the emergency room, and for my husband, to be losing a child.  I will forever associate Father's Day with blood and antiseptic in my mind.

I knew the anesthesiologist.  My parents pointed this out to me eagerly, I think to distract me.  I said hello, and promptly vomited all over.  I couldn't get warm.  The nurses kept putting warm blankets on my feet, but I felt like ice.  The doctor came in--such a wonderful doctor he was, very caring--and told me I would need to get a D&C.

I don't remember much more beyond that.  I know I was put under at some point, and I woke up in a recovery room with a heart monitor taped to my chest.  Matthew told me that my heart had stopped twice.  I had received two units of blood.  I am very, very thankful for people who donate!

I went home that day.  Matthew thought I should stay in overnight, but I wanted to be home and lie in bed beside my husband, and the medical professionals agreed.  My sister kept my children overnight.  I think she would have kept them longer, but I needed to see them and hold them.

Grief hits when you least expect it.  I didn't cry then; I was too busy with taking care of my living children.  It was another two months before I opened the pamphlet for grieving parents that the hospital had given us.  I started to read it, and sorrow rushed over me in a wave, leaving me gasping.

People were kind.  Some were thoughtless.  Most tried to ignore it.  I'm sure they felt awkward and didn't know what to say.  A very few reached out in tangible ways.  My sister-in-law sent a tiny baby blanket and hat she had made.  A good friend sent a felt heart pocket, in which were little hearts representing all of my children, living and dead.  I carried that heart with me everywhere I went for months.

Tonight we wrote the names of our departed little ones on white balloons, then walked down to the lighted pedestrian bridge.  My friend and I walked next to each other; me with my one balloon, and her with three--two for her own children and one for those of friends.  We all stood on the bridge, wind whipping around us and making our balloons dance.  Then, on the count of three, we all released our children into the air.  We grieved, we mourned--and now we are letting them fly.

Fly strong, little children.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Let the Vomit Fly!

Sickness has struck our house in the form of a sweet little two-year-old named Henry.  Henry woke up late this morning, after waking up at 3:00 a.m. previously and staying awake, despite my best efforts, until around 6:30 or so.  This meant he breakfasted late.  When we went downstairs, Rowan and Henry started playing in the living room while I began fixing food in the kitchen.

All of a sudden, Henry started wailing loudly.  I walked out of the kitchen to behold Henry sprawled on the dining room floor next to a trail of vomit.  I cleaned him and the floor up, and put him in his chair.  When I don't eat regularly I get nauseated, and I thought perhaps the same was true for Henry.  He dove happily into a bowl of raisin bran, but it all came back up five minutes later.

At this point, I realized that something bad was going on.  I cleaned Henry up again and snuggled him while I discussed the matter with Grandma.  This time he vomited all over my jacket.  Thankfully that was easily removed, and then I called his doctor's clinic, left a message for the triage nurse, and prepared chamomile tea for Henry.

I got a call back shortly from the nurse, who advised to give two teaspoons of pediatric electrolyte every ten minutes for four hours, with no solids and no juice.  Unfortunately, Henry had by now downed his tea.  Guess what flooded both me and the couch a few minutes later?  But then I started doing the Two Teaspoons Every Ten Minutes thing, which is extremely annoying, I might add, and he hasn't yarked since.  And hopefully it will stay that way.  He was, however, extremely peeved that I didn't let him have any food.

He's asleep now, and has been for the last few hours.  He needed it desperately.  I needed him to sleep, also.  Matthew, bless his soul eternally, has spent the afternoon entertaining Rowan while I rocked Henry--despite having started work at 4:30 this morning.  Fantastic man!

I've been mentally composing a list of What I Could Do With Money, to hopefully inspire myself to write & submit articles and short stories.  Who knows if I'd actually get published, but I'd sure like to try!  The thing is, while money does not buy happiness or eternal salvation, it's a lot easier to do good things for people when you have a ready supply of cash.  Here's what I have so far (no limits or restrictions):
  • Let Matthew quit his job and take him on a vacation
  • Support various artists who really need it, like Jesse Sprinkle
  • get a membership to the Oregon Zoo
  • get a membership to the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village
  • renew membership to OMSI
  • buy a new dishwasher and oven for my sister
  • fix another sister's car
  • pay off the house
  • get a second car so Matthew won't be dependent on me picking him up late at night
  • take my children on a train trip
  • go visit all my relatives, especially the far-flung ones

If that isn't a list to inspire work, I don't know what is.  Now to actually do it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Like Mother, Like Son

Yesterday, having a little more money than I thought I would, and Rowan having had a rough morning, I decided to take my children to Dairy Queen for lunch.  Not to actually sit in there, you understand, but just to go through the drive through and bring our food back home to eat.

Rowan was very excited about the prospect, but it still took quite some time to get him in clothes and put his socks and shoes on.  By the time I had Henry's socks and shoes on, Rowan had gotten sidetracked by a book.  Now, who does that remind me of?  Hmm.. let's see.. Oh, that's right--myself!

I gently prodded Rowan toward the door.  He drifted onto the porch, still reading his library book, and wafted down the steps.  He got to the gate and stopped, too caught up in his reading to think about opening it.  I opened the gate and he meandered out to the van, stopping on the wrong side.  I reminded him that his booster was on the other side, and he made his way over there, nose still stuck in the book.  He stopped.  Opening the door was just too much work when there were words to be read.

After strapping Henry in, I opened Rowan's door and he wafted into his seat, still reading.  I buckled him in, then got in myself and started the van.  Rowan read "Mouse Soup" aloud to us the whole way there and back.

Now, I love it that my child enjoys reading "Oz" and "Narnia" with me.  We're four chapters into "Prince Caspian".  He is capable of reading those on his own, but much prefers that I read to him, because he doesn't want to stumble over words he's not yet familiar with.  But he will read Arnold Lobel aloud.  Frog and Toad, Mouse Soup, Owl at home.  And this without any prompting!  He is reading and enjoying!

Then today we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house, and Rowan plopped right down on the couch with another book.

Don't worry; we did get outside and play today, too.

The problem with being blond is that so often in pictures I look bald.