Thursday, April 28, 2011

After the Before and After

Thanks, everybody, for reminding me that it's okay for me not to be "over it" or better or less sad at this point.  Or ever. 

These past months have dragged on forever for me and I think I have aged a million years and grown a long white beard to match my hobbled gait, but I know it's really only been a short time.

And thank you for remembering Eliza.  That goes for everybody who reads this even if you are the strong but silent types or the text or e-mail me privately types.  Since I cannot demonstrate my love for my baby by investing in her wardrobe, I feel compelled to keep stating for the record that she is loved and wanted and valued and missed so desperately (hence the broken record...). So thank you for remembering her with me.

David is home from fourth grade camp and man-oh-man I am happy about that.  Maybe not as happy as he is.  I think I should err on the edge of caution when I talk about David's work stuff, but it seems safe to say that over the last three days he spent hours outside, tromping around in rubber boots in the POURING rain, had to have a "come to Jesus" meeting with his cabin group of fourth grade boys who had serious aiming issues in the restroom, and was awakened almost every hour of the night for various reasons while sleeping in a cot in the central room of the cabin.

(Note to self:  I hope to never see the the toilet in a bathroom shared by a bunch of ten year old boys.  From what I hear, it ain't pretty.)

Last night he got in bed while I was still brushing my teeth and shutting down the computer.  By the time I got to the bedroom, he was sound asleep with the light on and the TV blaring.  I scheduled a massage for him on Friday evening.  I kind of think we should submit the receipt to his school district, but that's just one person's opinion. 

As for me, I just might get a massage myself.  And I have a few other pleasant distractions going on at the moment--dinner plans with a friend, the busyness of the end of the semester, and thrilling professional and personal news for friends who are defending dissertations and getting jobs and getting married.

Here's something of interest: 

So I was thinking the other day about my students and my blog and the potential risks of putting my guts out on the internet for anybody to see and so I googled myself.  You know, just to see what popped up.  Well, guess what?  Someone who shares my first and last name is famous.  She was the star of an HBO show called Cathouse and, according to Marie Claire magazine, "By 26, Brooke was America's most famous hooker."

Excellent.  From what I can tell, we're nearly the same age but she has way better abs.  Also she is a whore.  Professionally speaking.  So basically we're just alike.  Except different.

I really hope my students just don't care enough to google me.

* * *

Since I spent my last post lamenting over my sorry state of affairs and wondering how to fit my old self into this new, sad life, I really want to say how much all your comments and e-mails helped. 

One dear friend of mine e-mailed me a quote from one of the Hunger Games books.  It is when Katniss visits one of the other districts and she's glad that she didn't wear the make up or clothes that had been suggested to her: 

The damage, the fatigue, the imperfections. That's how they recognize me, why I belong to them.

The thing is, I so desperately wanted my life to work out perfectly according to my very detailed plan.  I planned to cross off everything on my checklist of husband, PhD, vacation(s) in Europe, and baby before 30.  Losing my vision of my perfect life was a painful side effect of losing Eliza.  But I am slowly realizing that my idea of a perfect life didn't really matter to anyone but me.

Nobody ever loved me for trying to be perfect.  Checking off things on my list of life goals didn't win me any friends.  Nobody but me really cares about what I'm accomplishing when.  They just like me for the nerdy little freakazoid that I am.  And that certainly hasn't changed.

Right now, I have to remember that I don't necessarily have to be fun or happy or even all that pleasant for people to keep liking me.  Those who care about me are willing to forgive imperfections and embrace the broken parts of me and let me take my time to heal.  It's true that some people will find that awkward and difficult, but those issues are theirs, not mine.

Just as this loss has brought David and me closer together, it has also introduced me to funny and smart and wonderful women I would never have met otherwise, and it has brought me unexpectedly closer to friends I already had.  This is no silver lining or Pollyanna moment--it just is what it is.  And I can see the good in that.

It might seem crazy to pour out my guts online where anyone could google me and then wonder if America's most famous whore ended up going to grad school and marrying a neatfreak elementary school principal and having a stillborn baby.

(Answer:  No.  In fact, I have never starred in a show called Cathouse, nor do I want you to contact me about scheduling a "girlfriend experience."  Although I would watch a show called Cathouse if it were on HGTV and featured people who designed and decorated their homes around their pets because that would be AWESOME).

But I guess the point is that I'm writing this stuff and showing my scars Mockingjay style because there's nothing to be gained from pretending everything is fine or that my life will ever be perfect (or that it ever was, for that matter).  And when somebody else sees my fatigue, and my imperfections, they just might recognize it as their own, whatever their hurt.  None of us has to be alone in this.  In fact, we have each other.  And wine.  And young adult fiction.  And the occasional ray of hope.

And if all else fails, today you can be glad you're not sharing a toilet with twenty fourth grade boys.


  1. Is it creepy if I just tell you how much I adore you?

    Now I know, I didn't know you "pre-scars." But Brooke, even in the depths of your darkest hours, I find you so enormously engaging, interesting, witty, wonderful. Is that okay for me to say? I am ever so grateful to call you my friend. Both for the moments of consolation that you provide as we walk this nasty nasty dark and awful path of bereaved motherhood, and also for the moments where I know you as a great friend and pretty spectacular woman - smart and funny and clever and hip to pop culture references and also so well-read and really delightful in way too many ways to list.

    And um, the Cathouse idea for HGTV? Brilliant.

  2. mwahhahahahaha! Talk about Pollyanna moments: "just be glad you're not sharing a toilet with twenty fourth grade boys"!!!! Too funny, and too true. Hey, sometimes I shudder that I have to share a bathroom with one 36 year old man. lol I just have to say Thank God for rubber gloves! Gross, ok, moving on...

    I too have lived my life feeling like a pretty lucky lady. I didn't have a checklist, and I am no an over-achiever by any means, but have you seen that Seinfeld episode where he is "Even Steven"? (He gives Elaine $20 that she crumples and throws out the window just to see what will happen. Then, Jerry reaches in his coat pocket and pulls out a $20 bill that he didn't know was in there. Hilarious). Anyhoo, that is sort of what I have felt like in my life. I have always thought that everything will just work out in the end. The power of positive thinking and all that jazz.

    And then Love died.

    It just didn't fit in with how my life had been rolling up until that point. I am in labour and my baby isn't going to make it? Huh? I'm sorry, you MUST have the wrong person. Things like that don't happen to me. But I guess they do.
    And I'm not really upset that that fact ruined my view of my perfect life. I'm upset because my baby died.
    I read somewhere that death and suffering makes you a member of humanity (or something along those lines...), and I am almost thankful for that. I feel like I will be a better friend to those around me when they go through difficult times. *But*, I would gladly go back to the way it was if I could have my baby back.

    It was 99 days ago today that I lost my daughter.

    Remembering Love, and Eliza, and all our lost babies today.


  3. I'm glad you're getting a massage; I found them extremely helpful in the first months of Sam's death. In a weird coincidence, the therapist I ended up seeing also had a full-term stillbirth so she was a great support to me in the beginning. Do all the self-care you can afford - massage, new shoes, haircuts - spoil yourself rotten.

  4. I'm wondering what in the world a "come to Jesus" meeting is! Sounds like something I'd want to miss if it involved the toilet though.
    I very much enjoy reading your words, and I relate to quite a bit. As much as I wish you didn't have to go through this, that no one would have to, I'm happy I've found you.

  5. I have only been reading for a short time, but I find your words comforting and entertaining. I, like you, hope to discover my identity outside of the babyloss, as it is not ALL of my identity. xo

  6. :) I like to think the hooker Brooke is googling her name and hoping people don't think she traded in her hooker thigh-highs for sensible heels. ahha :)

  7. I'm with Sarah, I enjoy reading all of your posts and find you to be all of those things. Who else could write a post about grief, 10 year old aim, and hookers? It's the best of all worlds! I also must say I am halfway through Catching Fire and am thoroughly enjoying the series. Awesome suggestion! My captcha 'sisters'

  8. You and David are both such great teachers. Between everyday comma exercises, bathroom aim, beautiful poetry, and ropes courses in the rain, the world is definitely a better place for a lot of young people with you two in it.

  9. You absolutely crack me up.. I am grateful for the levity! And for the fact that I have never seen said bathroom!

  10. There's this moment in Notting Hill, when Hugh Grant takes the famous Julia Roberts home to meet his family and his sister was all goo-goo eyed and says something to the effect of "I want to be your best friend," and it's true, because, who *doesn't* want to be besties with Julia and anyway, the point is, that's how I feel about you. (In a totally fun, non-stalkerish way.)