Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
The details of that post, and all the private conversations and exchanges it refers to, have been a great source of my pain, sadness and anger over the past few months (although obviously not the greatest). In the times that I cannot help myself but to think about my family, I have no regret for my actions or my words. Maybe somewhere along the line I could've tried a little harder, but I don't feel that it would have made a difference.
I am happy to report that I have had some positive contact with a few family members during these last few months. I truly appreciate those kind and understanding souls that have reached out with even the simplest of contact.
But a little birdie came along recently, a well-intentioned birdie looking to protect its nest, and it reminded me of some things.
In particular, it reminded me of slander, liable, and harrassment.
Now, the little birdie and I must agree to disagree, and I think in the birdie's references, the above-mentioned vocabulary means nothing.
BUT (and this will finally bring us full circle) in my little manifesto (see link at top, lazy) I made mention of a wonderful email I received from my Uncle...an email I thought I'd left a link to with the manifesto. Instead, I posted the link in a second less-noteworthy blog.
So for those of you in the here and now, and anyone concerned with the birdies vocabulary in regard to my Uncle, here is his "open letter" (which would mean it isn't private and can be shared) to me where he fully expresses his desire to be punched in the face.
Why even insert a jump... (click the pic if you want to see the full email)
I don't know if that falls into any of the little birdie's vocabulary, and I don't particularly care because I'm not the litigious type, but I think this covers that anything I said in my original comments about good ole Steve were fair and at best no more slanderous that Conan O'Brien's Kirstie Alley fat jokes.
And for the record, I never acted upon any of the items listed on that Facebook poll, not because I didn't want to, but because I realized that I could never say or do anything to Steve that would be any worse than what he has already spent 50 + years doing to himself.
As for the rest of my family: as I've said before, Steve's email, and my conversation with my sister, confirmed a lot of things. I know they have simply expressed what everyone else was thinking and saying behind our backs. If that weren't the case, the other members of my family would've stepped up and said otherwise. I've had only one person do that, and that person wasn't even involved in this maelstrom to begin with.
I hate that along with the greatest tragedy of my life, I also lost the family I grew up in, but I am sooooooo happy to be rid of their bullshit. So these instances where it pops up again, well, I hate to say that at least with this one, I'm thankful for it. It reminds my sentimental little candy-ass of why I pulled my family away from that twisted patriarchy. It reminds me of the odd behavior they trigger in me (behavior I always find myself realizing to be wrong, and apologizing for over and over and over and over again...I should really work on that. )
So look, I posted this to address the supposed legal implications of my response to my Uncle, but through the course of crafting this post, I've come (through various means, but monstly my own. [ no, really]) to this statement (because while implied, both internally and externally, I don't think its every been quite clear): As I feel that Steve speaks on behalf of my family, and I thank him for offering himself up as that lightning rod, my feelings for him are greatly the same as my feelings for other members of my family who are perfectly happy to let him do so.
More direct? okay, just for them:
I hope you don't misconstrue anything as a desire to forgive or forget. Even those whom I may not consider to be responsible for certain things are still being held accountable for their own actions (or inactions).
You may cry for me and pray for me, and I kindly ask you to stop; save the tears and the desperate prayers for yourselves, you clearly need them.
Fix your family, don't try to fix mine.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get ready for Vegas...
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Now, the "It's never simple, Charlie Brown" (or "AAAAARRRGH!") news:
The doctor dumped my wife. Why? Because, if we are to take things at face value, we're skeptical. So lets go back through the timeline and figure up what is going on here, as best we can.
After Joel's death, we both had quite a bit of bloodwork done to determine if there were any genetic risks for any further pregnancies. We took said results to a High-Risk Specialist in Charleston, WV. In looking over the results and all of Jess' charts and records, he determined that there was no genetic disorder or blood disorder for us to worry about. He said that we would automatically be considered "high risk" but not high enough to be seen by a specialist, just additional monitoring during the pregnancy, and probably a planned induction.
Now, she does have one mutation, but it is one that is only a problem when paired with another mutation. If she had both, she would have to be on a daily injected blood thinner. Still, High Risk Specialist says no biggie, probably no need for injections, but he wouldn't be seeing us so it would be up to the doctor that does.
This was, of course, before we even tried getting pregnant. Flashforward a few months and Jess heads to this new doctor who is loosely associated with the hospital we've had our problems with, but it is a self-contained office, so we're happy and hopeful. Initially all is well, blah blah blah.
Today we go in for the ultrasound and are very pleased to find out that our Picadilly is alive and well. Afterwards we met with the doctor, who was pretty nice and well-spoken and impressively open about his thought process (not used to that with guys in lab coats). He brought up his concerns about the mutation and the need for blood-thinners, expressing that he wants to do everything possible to make sure we take home a baby. Well, okay. Us too.
He explains that he consulted with the local High Risk Specialist about this. Uh-oh. See, we went to Charleston because the local guy is the same one that told us Joel had two kidneys when in fact he only had one. Naturally, we're a bit skeptical of dealing with that doctor.
So anyway, Uh-Oh Specialist says use the blood-thinners. Well, okay, we're fine with that. You know, better to err on the side of caution. Conversation over? Nah, the doc still isn't sure that the blood thinner would be okay, even though he really trusts Uh-Oh Specialist. So, his feeling is that we should go and meet with Uh-Oh Specialist.
Yeah, we turned down that opportunity, which confused the doc, and we finally had to tell him the most basic version of our interaction with Dr. Uh-Oh. The solution? we go back to the Charleston High Risk Specialist...you know, the one who already said Jess isn't high risk and that he saw no need to see her. When they tried to set up an appointment, the OK Specialist said they needed records first and would determine if Jess needs to see a high-risk specialist. See where we're going here?
So we found ourselves looking for yet another OB because, well, we were skeptical. I suppose I understand the doctor's issue. Obviously he intended to give Jess additional care and keep a close eye on the baby. Unfortunately, if any issues came up, he would be consulting with Dr. Uh-Oh, and inevitably, Dr. Uh-Oh would want to see Jess.
Of course, since Jess' last visit, all the doctors associated with the office we were at today were 'searched' on her blog by someone at the 'Corporate Health Hospital'... I'll let your mind run with that as it will.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
A lot can happen in 5 months. I would know. I mean, a lot has happened in the last 5 months.
We certainly tried to keep ourselves occupied at first, just to keep moving through the days. If anything, we've been spending a lot of times focusing on things we can control; taking back our lives, I suppose. Working on our home, visiting friends, spending time with family, going back to school, and even making time for ourselves. Still, none of it makes Joel's death any easier. There is still the unnoticeable empty space: where nothing was before, but something should be now.
The baby swing in the back room, fully assembled, but never used. So we worked on doing what we can to see that it does get used.
Thing is, as time has gone on, life has started doing its thing again, and we've started running into things we can't control. Little bumps, big bumps, bumps from the past: we've got bumps.
Tomorrow we go for the first ultrasound of Picadilly...and I'm pretty sure we are both scared to death. ... and all the bumps aren't helping.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Speaking of not having time: I really don't mind teaching, some days I even enjoy it, it's just everything that goes with teaching that I can't stand. I have to take grad classes to keep my certificate, so I figure why not put those credits towards an actual degree. The problem with that is that the only degrees I can really work that with (other than a Masters in Literature too much work) are degrees in the education field. ...and you realize in graduate courses they make you do things that actually resemble work, right? I mean, I spent 6 long years bullshitting my way to a college degree. Now I spend 40+ hours a week bullshitting 97 students and then bullshitting my way through parenthood and husbandry. Do I have time to act like I care about how to properly build a curriculum? Well, okay, maybe I do, but not for a pre-school class, which is for some reason what one of my classes is about (don't ask, because I don't know) I actually do care about middle school and high school curriculum because I figure if the people that make those decisions ever get their shit together, it might actually make it easier for me to bullshit my 97 students and I can cut that 40+ into just plain 40. :) (God I hope President Obama isn't reading this... at least my principals will think I'm being sarcastic)
Anyway....to the things that I'm honestly not dealing with, but actually do take up my "mental time": corporate bullshit. Admittedly, I am a financial moron and I'm bad with paperwork (ask my principals), fortunately my wife loooves paperwork. The unfortunate side of that is she ends up dealing with just about every issue we have with any company, this includes dealing with any and all financial/business fallout from Joel's death: insurance, hospital billing, lawyers, credit card companies, and I'm sure the list goes on. Me, I just feel like a useless douchebag as my wife relives the days surrounding Joel's death time and time again by having to explain paying for an autopsy and trying to submit it to insurance, and somehow having to explain all of this time and time again.
The interesting thing, however, comes as a result of my wife's blog garnering quite a bit of attention from the online community and even locally after she was interviewed about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (October 15th) by our local news channel. We're both nerdy and nosey and use stat-trackers on our blogs. In the same way that it lets me see that 99% of my average 6 hits per day come from my own house, it has also let my wife see her ever increasing number of hits from the large, local hospital that we've had so many complaints about. The hits come from email links, Google searches, and even bookmarks.
Clearly these are people with offices and time on their hands, so it certainly can't be the hard-working nurses and residents that have been so good to us, but perhaps the office workers, receptionists and administrators that have always been such a pain in the ass? Except Jennifer in Patient Relations; she was very sincere. And these people must really have some time on their hands, because they aren't just readoing my wife's blog, they're also checking in on our Canadian friend's blog.
I can't help but to think that ifthese folks weren't spending so much time checking into their PR, they might be able to spend some time actually helping to improve patient care. We're awfully glad you're taking the time to read blogs about complaints we've already sent you, but why not take the time to do your real job?
People that should be focused on providing the most basic of care to the community are instead having to think in terms of sales and marketing, worrying about Public Relations over individual patient relations. Corporate Health Hulk, why don't you quit reading blogs and do something to help my student that comes to school in pain and nausea because the specialist at your hospital won't return calls and tells him his pain is in his head? Why don't you do something to help the student that comes to my classroom and lays her head down in pain because her family can't afford to get her tooth pulled by a dentist?
CHH is a hospital full of good workers, nurses and doctors and I certainly don't mean to insult those fine people that work their asses off each day while I bullshit my way into a paycheck. But marketing and PR healthcare -- when dealing with the hospital is like calling customer service at the cable company -- something is wrong with the system. I mean, I've admitted to bullshitting through my schooling and my job, but at least when I'm at work I'm helping people as best I can, as opposed to sitting on my ass reading a blog. sheesh.
**oh, but last I checked, even they weren't reading my blog. Go figure.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
(Yes, I have unfortunately developed the back hair that I have often mocked...now I tease it...with a pick)
We'd just spent a marvelous weekend at the George Washington Hotel in Winchester, Virginia, a beautiful and cozy colonial town, where we enjoyed our friends' wedding as well as some horseback riding. ( If that sentence sounds a bit pompous, it should, but it was that fun AND classy of a weekend) In many ways, we had looked forward to this weekend away from home as a reprieve: a chance to stop and not think so much on our troubles, and just enjoy ourselves a bit. Just a week or two ago, we had been very focused on our Quest and had faced some hard truths about just how much I'd recovered from the reversal. According to my own microscopic examination, as well as that of a local lab, I was completely spermless (only so many sperm metaphors I can go through...).
After 400 miles on the road, there was a great need for bathroom utilization. On a whim, my wife decided to use one of the test strips she had bought (in bulk). I got in the shower, where she had finally conceded to help me out with that damned back hair, and as I lathered up she started freaking out. I assumed there was a spider or something...
nope, just a line. a faint, but very obvious line -- and trust me, we've seen enough negative tests to know what a line doesn't look like.
(15 minutes later)
Tried two more: more lines.
(...one hour and a half...)
Yeah, so we're still in shock and I don't even know what to post here.
WOOOOOOO MUDDA' FUCKIN' HOOOOO!!!!!!
Now I know it's early, and TRUST ME I know we have plenty to worry about...but this is really great. :)
Now, back to the "odd timing". First, today is October 11th, my father's birthday. Wait, don't say "awwww". I mean, if you've read this whole blog, you know things aren't cool there. But somehow I still take it to mean something that we found out on his birthday. I mean, he made it pretty clear through his absence of inquiry that he didn't care about Joel, so quite honestly, we have no interest in giving him the opportunity to care for this pregnancy. So we found out on his birthday, AND went horseback riding... I guess take it as an extra "fuck you" to him (not that I like to associate hateful terms with birthdays, pregnancies, or horses, but he brought this on himself)
Another coincidence of time that occurred to me is that this is also the week of my truly best friend's son's birthday (he'll be a great big ONE this week. very awesome!) He and his wife also experienced a loss before this little cutie came along, which I suppose makes the date all the more meaningful (and coincidental). Now I don't know what they think of all this, and I'm certaionly not wanting to put anything on them, so to speak, and its their perogative to deal with those ideas and feelings as they wish. But what I can say for sure is this: I'm very happy and honored to have received this most exciting news in the same week as their son's birthday.
So it would appear that The Quest will now take on a new form (I'm tired of talking about sperm anyway...) as we keep a very close eye on this pregnancy.
oh, and there are STILL lines.
and I never got my back shaved...
Friday, October 9, 2009
Naturally this results in catalogs of unpublished works, at least for the dedicated writer, which means I have about 10 pages (not counting the plethora of created, but discarded, smartass work emails)
In regard to ye ole blog, I have a few things I've sat on for a while. Blogs that went unfinished, or ideas I started with but never polished. I honestly think of this whole blog as a mid-process window: I don't consider much of anything I post to be "finished", I just write it and post it (a longer process than it sounds, trust me) without much revision. Of course, knowing myself, I would edit out the emotion in favor of (more) lame jokes and sarcastic banter, because that's how I operate.
SO: Here are a few nuggets that I didn't want to post alone, but couldn't find a perfect fit elsewhere. Forgive my "short sentences double-spaced" (or freeverse poetry)
It's a WRISTBAND
Ever so sweetly, a girl in one of my classes asked me, "What does your bracelet say?"
I paused as I was erasing my whiteboard and thought, "Bracelet...?" I looked down at my wrist, at the black band that keeps a nice, constant pressure on me. "Oh, my wristband" (because apparently even in grief gender stereotypes persist)
So I shared, not much, but I shared. It wasn't the first time I had told this new group of students about Joel -- some of them knew from being around last year and, of course, in introducing myself to them on the first day, I wasn't going to mention one son and not the other -- but there was an odd feeling about it. It wasn't so much wanting to avoid being a "downer" to my students, or even to avoid distracting from class with our story; I felt like I was protecting them.
What a strange #@$%ing day.
(I censor because it is supposed to be both visually appealing and more comical...although I've always been curious if there was a key for replacing the letters in curse words. I mean, $#!% ( or shit) is pretty easy, but I', just @!$$!*& in the dark when it comes to replacing f-u-c-k. Ah, #@$% it)
All the love of a lifetime poured into one day.
I had felt your kick,
Saw you make your mommy squirm and shout
I listened to your heart a dozen times:
Every time, there is a moment,
time stands still and the world is silent
waiting for you
waiting to hear your only sound
the beat of a heart not yet exposed to the world
Every time there is a moment of excitement and fear
anticipation and dread
The emotional spectrum exposed
while the universe waits to hear your beat.
So many times I heard it; every time, a sigh of relief
But not this day,
This day, the cosmos stay still.
I knew you,
rambunctious and lively,
a monkey in mother's belly.
I felt you,
she felt you,
Our son was real.
His life has consequence.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I looked to the baseboard next to where his head lay for signs that he had hit it. I felt his head for a bump, for blood, for something; all the while talking to him and trying to keep my voice calm for him, and just trying to get him to respond.
Having not seen him fall, I didn't know if he had been standing or fell in some other way; if he'd hit his head on anything more than carpet; I didn't know if the seizure made him fall or if the fall made him seize; I was clueless and helpless.
My wife, frantic on the phone with the 911 operator, trying to explain our situation.
I tried my best to keep his position still, to avoid any possible neck injury, but I had to keep him turned a bit to his side to try and avoid choking. It didn't work.
I saw the bit of foam at his lip. I swiped his mouth; nothing there. I saw his lips grow a shade of blue as his eyes... his eyes started to go dim.
I lived and died a thousand times in that moment; in the time it took me to breathe, and for him to not. I screamed to my wife. I cried for my sons and called to Jules, searching deep into those sweet, little eyes for a sign of what I saw slipping away. Holding his head in one hand, and his limp hand in another, I felt the sun dying, and knew how it felt for God to turn his back.
It blasted through my head like a comet, bringing light back to my world, and I could see, I could assess, I could take care of my son. I began CPR, silencing the panic in my heart when it felt like the air wouldn't go. I felt the air go in and I continued, finally feeling him breathe, and (Thank God) seeing his eyes light back up and give some recognition. Still, he had no control of his body, he couldn't move and for a moment, couldn't even move his eyes.
As the paramedics rushed in, he finally started to grasp my finger with his left hand and my heart lifted a bit more. I let the EMTs take over and just tried not to be in the way.
My wife, who had been on the phone with 911, and kept watch for the EMTs, and took care of getting Jules' information, later explained to me that what I had felt like was an eternity had been but a few moments (only 4 minutes for the EMTs to arrive).
Once we were in the ambulance, I'd never been so happy to hear my son scream and cry, and finally, fight. He had been very slow to regain control of his body, but now, finally, he was at least confirming for me that he wasn't somehow paralyzed. Perhaps an irrational fear, but again, not knowing how he might have hit his head, I was concerned.
We had been eating dinner and Jules didn't eat much, and had been a bit fussy earlier, and instead wanted to watch Elmo (not an unusual occurrence with a 20-month old). My wife and I stayed at the dining room table, less than 5 feet away from where he sat to watch tv. My back was to him, and I would occasionally look over my shoulder at him; my wife sat with Jules in her peripheral. She had seen that he was sitting when he fell over.
Knowing he didn't have a fever earlier, I was shocked when we arrived at the hospital and his temperature measured over 102 degrees. The EMTs had not detected a temperature either (at least it was nothing I ever heard them say).
As it turned out, our son had experienced a febrile seizure (a fever induced seizure), which it turns out is sometimes the first sign a child has a fever. Our fear that we had ignored a fever or illness was put to rest two days later when his fever broke and a rash broke out on his back and chest: roseola. First the child develops a fever, then when the fever breaks, the rash shows up. A simple and non-threatening ailment. Just not for us, but then again, what ever is?
I know losing both my sons would've been more than I could bear. I also know there are parents out there that have had it happen, and they've survived. To them, I give my deepest sympathy, because as much as I've been told, " I can't imagine what it must be like..." I can only begin to imagine what these parents have been through, and I know I could not withstand it.
It is a moment that made me thankful for every experience I've had in my life, especially some of the crazier ones; the ones that in some way prepared me to be of some kind of use during this. Maybe, just maybe, there is some kind of order to all this chaos.
This was two weeks ago this past Thursday. I still get a very weird feeling looking at the doorway to my dining room, where I kneeled in the floor with my son. My son, however, has no such issue. He was right back to running around and keeping us busy with his toddler antics. He's been having a fine time ever since, considering we've spoiled him even more than usual ever since this. It started, however, with popsicles at the ER (which we've already received a bill for...)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I particularly enjoyed the post I am linking to. While I'm not Jewish, it's still pretty relevant. I like to think this is what I was going for here (although gal does a much better job)
Glow in the Woods
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Well, my last post, "negative" kinda summed up how that went. We'd read a bit about other couples who in their attempts to conceive had opted to do their own at-home semen analysis. Sure, it ain't completely scientific, but the fact of the matter is that if they're there, you'll see em with as little as 100x magnification.
Now, I never got bad grades in my science classes, but I can tell you that I've never done well with microscopes. I mean, I know how they are supposed to work, and I know how to use the knobs, but I've always had trouble focusing. Really its because of the things teachers don't really tell you (or at least mine didn't). Exactly how far do you jam your eye against the eyepiece? Should the circle encompass your entire sight, or just a bit of it? What the hell are all those other dots? and Where the hell did that hair come from and why can't I seem to get rid of it?
So naturally I'm spending the entire time thinking of Bob, my co-worker, a long-time Science teacher who just-so-happens to continually complain about how students just don't know how to use a microscope. I love Bob, I really do...but not a time I'm wanting to think of him.
Sparing you the details, I spent the majority of that Sunday rubbing my eyes, moving slides, making slides, and relentlessly searching for something that just wasn't there. It was simultaneously awkward, comical, and tragic. (Hmmm...maybe that'd be a good tagline for this blog )
Thinking that maybe I really was just that bad with a microscope, I cashed in the legit analysis I had leftover from the original vasectomy. Turns out, I do just fine with a microscope. Damn proud of that, I am.
Meanwhile, a friend and co-worker was finding out that he would be a father soon. For a far longer period of time than myself, he has had to cope with the prospect of not having a child of his own, so naturally I am overjoyed for him and his spouse. Not that we are the closest, but of what I know and have seen, I think they'll be great parents.
I know I love being a parent, and clearly I love the idea of doing it again. Yet there is a duality to my happiness for others; it's just hard to separate my "baby happiness" from thoughts of Joel. That feeling of, despite all evidence to the contrary, being a failed parent. It's even more interesting when the new baby in question is due around Joel's 1st birthday.
So the world keeps spinning, and new life keeps being created, and thank goodness for it.
I just hope theres some goodness in there the next time I look in the microscope.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When they called me to say it was negative (no sperm), my first feeling (and I say feeling instead of thought, because I wouldn't truly think this, but nonetheless it is how I felt) was, " I can't bring him back."
I know that isn't what we are trying to do. I was the one to first say that we should never allow it to be looked at that way. I will raise my third child to know that she or he is a very special someone that fate brought to us. (aww, isn't my defiant optimism cute?) But I guess somewhere deep inside there is that hope that a piece of him would enter this world through his younger brother or sister. Letting my heart place its focus there allowed it to quit screaming for someone to tell me my baby isn't dead.
We are just shy of four months of this shaded reality we now live in. As so many others have accurately depicted it: this shadow-world, where you live the same life as before, but it is all washed in black, stained and just a little out of focus (Thank you Pearl Jam, you can bet that song takes on new meaning these days) Every day I shuffle to work and interact with classrooms full of reminders of what my son will never be. Every day I muffle my screaming heart as I look at kids whose parents look at them like 18 year prison sentences; they're beaten and neglected; taught at the dawn of puberty to flaunt their perceived-to-be only valuable asset; and my pain rages at these parents, ungrateful for the gift they've received.
Getting past that, there are still a dozen little reminders, every day, that make that lump rise in my throat. Thankfully most work days go by fast enough that I can't stop to feel bad, but it is still a daily struggle, and I imagine it will continue to be for quite some time.
For my wife and I both, we've got through life by trying to laugh through the tough times. As you can imagine, we now try to laugh perhaps more than ever before. We try to bring as much light to this shadow-world as we can. Maybe we're just trying to distract ourselves, or maybe we're just trying to find whatever foothold we can to get up, out and back into the sun.
I don't think the shadows could ever go away, and I don't know that I'd want them to; but if we can help spread a little more light, and help others shoulder the pain and confusion, that might be nice. Not to make something special out of ourselves, but to just let people know that this is where we live, and there are a lot of us, living here silently among the world, looking for peace.
So yes, I'm the father of a dead baby, and I still whine and cry about it, and my loss has absolutely turned my world upside down: revealing truths, severing ties -- admittedly making me a bit more of a loon than I was before. If that should warrant my being some sort of a spectacle to be whispered about, then so be it, because I doubt I'm thinking/feeling/doing much different than anyone else.
Coming soon: The Quest - hope is not lost
Monday, September 21, 2009
There has been plenty going on in the 10 days since the last update, and I'll get to them soon, but first, a collection of the thoughts I started, but didn't finish
should I be hiding?
Partook (is that a word?) in an interesting discussion at work today about that old issue of 'what do you let people see online?' I know for myself, one of the initial joys of the internet was the anonymity of it all; just a voice with no face being able to freely say whatever you like. Myspace and Facebook changed that a bit, but now at least we have 'lists' to be able to separate who sees your dirty undies and who only looks at your church robe. And hey, thats the way it oughta be.
trust me, I know from experience.
All of our relationships are on different tiers; different levels of security clearance. You can joke about strangling a hooker before work with some people, while others might put in a call to the police if they hear something like that. Some people don't mind reading your more emo status updates, while others just get a little wierded out that you sit around dressed like that guy from The Cure.
But in thinking about this, and in my recent reintegration into the world at large by way of work and grad classes, I've noticed just how disassembled my life really is, at least socially. Now the core is strong: my wife and my son; no issue there. And I still have my extended network of close friends. I say extended because they are all long-distance relationships at this point, but still strong and supportive relationships. With these people, it is full disclosure (well, not my son, but you know what I mean). But do new relationships start at a low level of disclosure? hrmmm
I was thinking recently of a woman I used to "care for" in a group home setting. For those that knew me back then, well, you remember the stories. For those that weren't around, well, when I actually get some sun, you can still see all of the fingernail scratch scars. In fact, I have a very noticeable one in our wedding photos. I saw some rough times in that house, and that is putting it mildly.
I've been thinking about those days a lot lately, and I don't know why. (or at least I didn't at the time, I do now -- future blog) For what reason did I go through that mental trauma? The physically and emotionally draining days of trying to reason with insanity and fight through obsessions that were not my own; the biting, the kicking, the clawing, the blood and the fecal matter and the urine. Why? I've seen Katrina since I left that place; nothing has changed, at least not for the better from what I've been told. She doesn't seem to remember me, although she never seems to remember many of her long-term caregivers once they are gone. So I guess my time didn't necessarily make a huge impact on her life, so how does it all fit into where I'm at right now?
Little did I know at the time I thought about these things that the answers were right around the corner, in a form I know I will never forget.
He's not breating!
The Quest, part 7: fun with science!
Friday, September 11, 2009
So I have this little story that I tell in my class to commemorate September 11th. Despite the subject matter, I enjoy telling it and it even grabs the attention of my "bad" kids. So, I thought I would try and share it here.
Now I don't have a "where were you when..." story. Truth is, I was in bed trying to decide if I wanted to go to my speech class that morning. I told my mom, "that stuff happens all the time" when she said a plane crashed into the first tower. I figured it was just a commuter plane. She had me up out of bed in time to see the second plane live as it happened. But we all had some form of that experience.
My story happens about 6 weeks later in mid-November of 2001. I was on a Model U.N. trip up to Montreal, Quebec, Canada (in case you were thinking of the other Montreal) and we stopped for 3 days in New York City; my first time to New York.
New York had been the backdrop for everything I ever thought was cool, so being there was mind-blowing for me and I followed our little group through the city only halfway paying attention to what we were doing or where we were going; I was too busy takingeverything in. Not just the sights, but the overwhelming sounds. The constant hum of bustling people talking away as they rush down city streets; street vendors calling out,
"We've got the lowest.." "Need a watch?"
"Live nudes!" "check out my improv group!"
Not to mention the cabs honking and rushing and screeching to a halt; folks whistling for cabs and the cabbies cursing one another in seven different languages. The construction and the machinery, the music pouring form stores and Times Square advertisements; crosswalks and policemen...
The city was alive with sound and while I'd heard about it before, it was nothing I'd ever experienced. So there I was, lost in amazement, and following along toward the back of my group. I know I was talking with someone during all of this, but I honestly can't remember who; I'm sure it varied. But I remember as we rode the subway to our next destination, I noticed our car getting more and more roomy, which seemed especially odd in the afternoon.
When we stepped off onto the platform, it was nearly empty and there was a noticeable lack of chatter. As we climbed the stairs into the sunlight, everyone in our group fell silent and something felt off.
We turned right coming out of the subway, heading out to the next street, and I remember seeing a cab drive by, slowly, without making a sound.
As we approached the intersection, I observed the usual throngs of people making their way down the opposing sidewalk, along with the cabs and the bicycle messengers, but without all the sound. Standing there amongst the office buildings, the taxis and the business men, New York was silent.
I turned to my right, and I realized where this deafening silence originated from as I found myself standing at one end of a city block of makeshift memorials. I understand now that there was still dust in the air, even six weeks later, and maybe that explains it, but I know I've since breathed air so thick; it was as if the silence itself held weight, and I suppose it did.
A wall of blue stretched almost as far as I could see, blocking any direct view of Ground Zero. But on that blue lay flowers, posters, notes and pleas: "If you find my husband...", "If you find my daughter...", "..my child..." A small, dusty and damaged bicycle set leaning against a lamp-post, the story of a young boy who delivered food from his parents' restaurant attached to it...
We looked at those memorials for what seemed like hours, but above all what I remember is the silence. The power of that event to, still six weeks later, bring silence to the city that never sleeps.
May all those who died that day find peace in the Universe. May all of us.
Friday, September 4, 2009
So, today I had to call-in to work: I brought home some sniffles, Jules got them and, well, sleep didn't happen. Now that he is up and running around, it's just a runny nose and hopefully won't get any worse. But after I awoke from the three hours of sleep he did let me get (this being after I still had to go to work to drop off lesson plans because the network had crashed) I found a lot of talk about the health care debate waiting for me. I suppose half the world setting their facebook status to:
No one should die because they can not afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.will do that (myself included). With the things that have happened in our lives as of late, the wife and I have certainly given some thought to all of this health care brew-ha (I've only heard broo-ha, never seen it written...or is it broo-ha-ha?) . Jess has even been invited to officially give her input on some health care reforms, at least for the local medical giant.
For myself, I honestly don't get the debate. Well, I get the debate on how to make reforms work, but I just don't get the arguments objecting to reform. I've been trying though, I honestly have. As I get the opportunity, I try to read or watch anyone I can who might give a reasonable argument against healthcare reform; I just haven't seen it.
I either see folks that simply ignore pro-reform information and strategies that have been presented (ie: where the money will come from) or the people that just spin it (ie: death panels). The only honest argument I've seen against it was basically someone saying, " I don't want to pay for these other people." I don't get that either, but at least I can respect someone just flat out saying it instead of spinning it around and trying to scare everyone else.
Others -- and this is the real debate, in my opinion-- focus on the statement that it is unfair to tax one portion of the population more than another. Essentially, the idea is that tax money from the rich would go to help cover what those of us below the $250,000 mark can't do for ourselves. Well that's just un-American! We live in a free market and if I'm able to make more money, then I deserve to keep it because I earned it! This isn't what the founding fathers had in mind.
Well, Daddy Warbucks, you're probably right. Yet somewhere along the way, our Supreme Court decided that it was unfair for our schools to be "separate but equal" because it was a distortion of reality. Now we have government funds( tax dollars, believe it or not) that are spread out to the schools standing in impoverished communities, to make sure that all American children are afforded a fair shot in regards to education. If we deem education an inalienable right, and a burden that all members of our country should shoulder, why not the right to be healthy enough to go get that education?
I'm not saying the government should have paid for my vasectomy reversal; that was completely elective. But I do think, "What if the the haggling of insurance companies weren't involved?" Would I and my family be where we are today if our health care system had been different? Maybe, maybe not.
Perhaps the Perinatal Specialist, when he decided to cancel the ongoing scans that would have caught Joel's worsening condition and perhaps given us a fighting chance, was concerned that our insurance would deem weekly tests unnecessary and/or too costly. Maybe he was concerned more with my paying the 20% co-pays than the insurance paying out. I don't suppose we will ever know, but in this climate, I find it hard to believe that no thought was given to the business end of things.
Admittedly, I have decent insurance. It certainly isn't great, and it actually gets worse every year, thanks to rising costs, but still, it isn't the worst out there; a lot of people are worse off than my family. Still, we aren't in great shape. Losing Joel brought on many burdens; thankfully we had family to help us out (among that family we now happily include friends and my incredible co-workers that went above and beyond for us; they rock beyond words). Despite our own troubles and concerns, we try to help people when the opportunity arises; perhaps even more-so now.
The argument is that helping isn't something the government can force us to do. I think we've already agreed as a nation that sometimes it is (I was going to use FEMA as an example, but then I started snickering...). We live in a 'free market' and so our money should be ours to do with as we please. In the free market, money equals power; nothing new being said there.
I don't hear a debate about money; I hear a debate about power, and what people with power do with it; and I see our President being called a socialist by people that maybe just don't know what a socialist is...
I wouldn't call him a socialist, I don't know him that well, but I know what looking at this debate makes me think of; and do I know the President learned the same lesson from the same place that I did:
With great power, must also come great responsibility.
Thanks Stan, you're still "the man".
Monday, August 31, 2009
Life as a middle school English teacher has once again intruded on my life. I say 'intruded' because it doesn't really commandeer my life nor is it just a nuisance: It's this thing I've got to do. It's that same feeling you get working a 9-5, low-wage job (I've sooooo been there) of "let me get through this and life can start back up" but instead of 8 hours it's 9 and 1/2 months...ish. My instinct is to compare it to pregnancy: it takes up your whole life for 9 months. Not that you can't still have some time for yourself or even have a good time with the whole experience, but it's pretty damn time-consuming in and of itself, even when you don't feel that you are actually doing anything (worn out because your body has been creating life all day v/s sitting through another training about finding educational websites...at least creating life is noble)
Of course, teaching is a bit like being a surrogate because at the end of that 9 months you pass the kids off to someone else.
...okay, so honestly, teaching isn't that similar to parenthood, pregnancy, or even surrogacy, at least not in those beautiful ways. I think maybe it's a bit more like being the high-functioning alcoholic ex-step-parent w/ partial custody the spews out cliche words of encouragement for an hour, buys the kid a so-so lunch and then sends them back to whoever gets to collect a check on them. Not that I am cynical about my position, or that I don't like what I do (captive audiences are awesome!) , or even think that I'm unimportant to my students; I mean, hell, I've always looked up to the alcoholics in my life.
Teachers, and I don't mean just anyone who fills that job title, but teachers, the tried and true folks that are still effective after years in the trenches (and the people out there that teach us things, but don't have a classroom), perform a delicate balancing act. It's a great mixture of individual personality, bluntness, tact, hope, realism and knowledge...and a million other things, all shifting every 45-55 minutes. Working with kids takes a lot more than the "open heart" to call a group of strangers "your kids".
I don't particularly know that a classroom is where I'll be for the rest of my life, and I'm certainly not saying that I'm one of those great balancers, but I recognize it, respect it, and bow to it.
There's my ramble for today. Gotta keep this thing moving.
Friday, August 21, 2009
But you knew that already.
At this point, I am about 90% recovered and 2 weeks post-op ( I'll explain that 10% in a bit). It was actually my wife that reminded me, as I sat in the living room wishing I had something to do, that I had yet to tell the tale of my vasectomy reversal. All this build up and no pay off?? That's no way for a "pleaser" to act!
Don't worry, all you co-workers and relatives (yes, I know you're out there) here to try and figure out "what is wrong with that Culver boy", genital mutilation is not it.
But yes, it was in fact an enjoyable trip. Do I wish it didn't have to happen? Well, of course I do, but like I keep saying, we make the best of it. And since there are no original ideas left, in honor of our good friend, supporter and fellow blogger Liz , I present "Eating through a vasectomy reversal"
Why aren't you excited? OH ... no, no, not pictures of that (or should I say those...?) pictures of myself with various food items which were, besides my pre-op cocktail of meds, the highlight of the trip. (where did you think I got the title eating through a vasectomy reversal??)
We dropped Jules off at his grandparents a bit before noon and hit the road for our wonderful pilgrimage to Burlington, NC to see Dr. Daniel. We had reserved a room for the next two nights since it was a 5+ hour drive and my consult was at 9am with surgery following and a night of rest needed after that.
On the trip down, we began our culinary escapades in Beckley, WV. Why Beckley? Well, we were hungry by that point, and when in the southern part of the state, we always try to make a stop at Macado's.
Not familiar with Macado's? Well, with locations mainly in Virginia, around Roanoke and Blacksburg, I'm not surprised. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I have yet to find a better menu of sandwiches. Although, I personally would suggest making your way to Bluefield because I always thought their Macado's was higher quality. Of course you would never know it is there because anything worth checking out in Bluefield (quit laughing) isn't advertised alongside the interstate!
Then when you take the exit, you find yourself on what is primarily an empty road, except for the old Wisdom Channel studios, but unless you're some kind of whacked-out hippie, that holds no appeal. That road takes a couple miles before you hit what appears to be another empty road, but left or right at that point, you'll hit something... I'd be specific, but at that point you're just glad to find civilzation again. (macado's, and the 3/4 empty mall, are to the right)
Our journey to Burlington was quiet and uneventful, except for my wife cowering like a bunny as we went through East River and Big Walker Mountain tunnels. Oh, well we did get kinda lost when we were right on top of Burlington. I blame Yahoo! maps because, well, they're horrible and have always sent me on crazy routes, but Jess uses Yahoo! like an old man uses the same mechanic that keeps cheating him. ( love you , dear)
Our first order of business, after finding the hotel, which both yahoo and google thought was on a different part of the road than it was, was to hunt down Red Robin. We'd always been interested in going to a Red Robin, but it became a priority after we saw it on Top Chef (new season just started! Wed @ 10 on Bravo..WATCH IT!( ...if I had more readers, I'd start charging for all these plugs... Anyway, gourmet burgers is their specialty, but the fact that they had Guinness on tap made my day. 'Tis a rare gem to enjoy a Guinness from the tap, at least in WV.
Don't worry, I only had one. But of course we went for the burgers (although the bottomless steak fries were spiffy too) and while they may not have been the greatest chunks of meat we'd had, the toppings were good. I had the royal (I believe...) with a fried egg on it. You cringe, but it was tasty!
So after an evening of exploring the area, we settled in and rested up for the big day.
I was a little nervous going into the consultation. Worried they might decide it was a wasted trip for some wild reason. "I'm sorry sir, you're belly button is too low for us to perform this procedure." !?!?!
But it went really well. Dr. Daniel and his staff were all really pleasant. Like, really. I'm a bit standoffish myself, and really don't like overly nice people, but I wanted to hang out with these folks! Dr. Daniel himself was pretty straightforward about everything, as well as being very confident in his skill, but without making me think some high school football star was working on my fellas.
He even joked with us about a few things, including some of the various doctors we'd researched, and even made a few dinner suggestions! But before we get to that, we have the best "meal" of all: the pre-op cocktail. Dr. Daniel explained that 1)to keep costs down [no anesthesiologist] and 2) to avoid any of the complications and weirdness of intravenous drugs, he has his patients take a selection of meds about 1/2 hour before the operation. This only included a couple of painkillers, and mostly items to help avoid infection, keep me sleepy, and deter any side effects of other drugs (like benadryl for itchiness).
So we headed to the local Target, which was AWESOME...made our Target at home look like a Big Lots. (Starting to feel like the Beverly Hillbillies here.) So we picked up my drugs and a converter for the X-box so we'd have something to do while I rest.
We also, conveniently, got a preview of what my recovery would be like...
The fact of the matter is that I've never really had reason to be on any kind of major painkillers or prescription drugs, period. Even with the vasectomy I only took a few tylenol w/ codine, and the painkillers I was prescribed for my wisdom teeth removal were apparently for us to make a mortgage payment because I never really needed them. Well, from the time I took this cocktail, with a side of McDonalds, at 12:10, to the time we were at the doc's office at 12:25, I thought I was back in college.
What felt like 10 minutes later, Dr. Daniel was turning off his ipod stereo thing (I can't remember what music it was, but I remember enjoying it) and telling me I could get dressed. With my years of experience maneuvering while intoxicated, and judging from the look on the doctor and my wife's faces, I made my way back to the waiting area much quicker than expected. Apparently things went very well from Dr. Daniel's viewpoint and he was very happy with the procedure...except, of course, for my legendary snoring (probably should've warned him).
After this I was fairly coherent for the ride back to the hotel. I even hooked up the X-Box converter and after a bit tried to play. Instead I just kept waking up with my character facing a corner ala Blair Witch. From there, things are hazy, but I do remember a few things:
Remember Dr. Daniel suggested some fine local eateries? Well, we opted for The Village Grill, which specializes in a 'key lime chicken' that they use in various dishes.
Here's how I remember it: BEST. FUCKING. CHICKEN. EVER. Yes, the "fucking" was absolutely necessary. I remember being very thankful that Jess went out and got it, but also having a flash of anger that she didn't buy more. Then I passed out again.
Feeling guilty that I was spending our "romantic getaway" half-passed out and trying to play X-box, I got Jess to make some coffee for me. Little known fact: I love cheap hotel coffee.
See? I told you so. Even better was that on her next trip to the ice machine for me, Jess made another stop:
Where she bought the, you guessed it, BEST. FUCKING. SNICKERS. EVER.
I'm sorry that this blog is turning into an endorsement for taking percasets before your meals, but honestly, it was like tasting food for the first time!
Alas, we finally gave into sleep and rested for the night. I penguin-walked my way downstairs for breakfast in the morning (I just can't pass up the free continentals) where everyone thought I was the guy that left the Natural Light case out in the hallway. What can I say, I looked the part.
Armed with a couple of instant-cold packs, I bravely took the wheel and started us on the drive home. Here's a tip: instant-cold packs don't stay nearly cold enough long enough for this kind of operation. Those suckers were gone fast. Luckily, we were hungry and stopped at a Hardees for lunch and then Jess took over driving duties while I enjoyed the BEST. FUCKING. CUP-of-ICE. EVER.
So, that is the story of my vasectomy reversal, of which I mainly remember the food. Lucky for you, the wife and I are tag-teaming this one, so she'll have an whole other take on it which I'm sure you'll enjoy (there's a porn store in her story!)
On a final note, my apologies if you came here looking for serious information about vasectomy reversals. Search through the rest of our 'quest' and it's there, you just have to dig through my bad jokes. But hey, I've never tried to say that I wasn't
Thursday, August 20, 2009
im⋅po⋅tence/ˈɪmpətəns/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [im-puh-tuhns] –noun
|1.||the condition or quality of being impotent; weakness.|
|2.||chronic inability to attain or sustain an erection for the performance of a sexual act.|
|3.||sterility, esp. in the male.|
Generally, the idea of impotence, as I've perceived it at least, is the inability of a man to, well, be a man. Not just being unable to create life, but being unable to protect, to care for his wife, to provide for his family, you know, to be a man. ( save the commentary on gender stereotypes for another day)
Knowing your son is gone and never even having the opportunity to do something, to protect him, to save him... well, that is beyond impotence. It is far beyond being a man. It is the indescribable feeling of being snatched up by a piece of your soul and feeling it's thin substance pinched between two awful claws of fate, leaving you dangling in the wind as that piece, that small but important piece, rips away, and all you can do is fall.
Waking up back on the ground, the change isn't always obvious. I mean, you constantly feel the absence, but the things around you, your interactions, seem roughly the same. But then there's the impotence, the kind that there is no procedure to reverse.
Watching the wife you cannot comfort, knowing her pain, but not really knowing her pain...standing in a doorway, watching her in her pajamas, moving with grace and beauty and heartache and pain.
You want to hold her, to help her, to take away her despair... and all you can do is stand because what comfort can you truly offer?
complete and utter impotence.
Friday, August 14, 2009
One that won't make me sick.
One that might make you smile
Won't make me feel three feet thick.
Ah, Huey Lewis...how you sing right to the soul of this world.
Okay, so maybe Huey Lewis isn't the Walt Whitman of his generation, but really, who doesn't like Huey Lewis and the News??
So with all the hub-bub and hulabaloo of my family situation (or dissolution thereof) I've had quite a bit on my mind. To perhaps put it in the simplest terms (and so I don't post another Lifetime movie of a blog-post), I think of the allegory of the cave: we -- my family and I-- all live in a cave, sitting there watching the shadows on the wall. The shadows are all we know: they are our reality. As things have happened, I've started wondering what makes those shadows, and I've turned and started looking for the light source. My family seems content with the shadows, wondering why we just couldn't leave well enough alone. Doesn't mean everything about my family's lives is a lie or something like that. I mean, the shadows are real I suppose...
I could keep going, expanding and explaining, but ah hell, who wants to read that? And, personally, I'm tired of it myself. Time to focus on actually walking around outside the cave, living my own life, with my own family, out in the sun.
In other news, I'll have a 'Quest' update very soon (I'd do it here, but I like to keep those separate).
Also, I start back to work soon. My goal is to not allow work to keep me from posting regularly while simultaneously not allowing posting to keep me from doing things for work...and doing work for my grad classes. But don't worry, work comes first! ( I say since my boss might be reading this...)
One final thing today, for those of you that haven't quite got enough of my family drama (*updated*). Originally, I posted a link to a favorite message board where you could read a copy of my Uncle's email along with some reactions and suggested options for myself. I suppose really there's no harm there, considering my blog tracker says at least 4 of you followed that link before I decided to change it (I had no idea I was that popular). Still, I decided to opt out of linking to the site because, I dunno, maybe the board deserves to remain it's own little corner of the Internet, safe and sound.
Plus I thought it would be more fun to just post a screenshot of the actual email...
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Then something else in me asks, "Is it really destruction if you are tearing it down in hopes of rebuilding it?"
Lots of time alone in ratty apartments can certainly be unhealthy, but it does allow one a lot of time to examine one's own character. Amongst a myriad of observations, I did come to understand one thing about myself, my personality, and perhaps most importantly, my relationships. See, I came to recognize that I don't have much of a backbone. Lots of thoughts, opinions and snazzy words, but never really the willpower or courage to do something about much of anything.
I used to reason to myself that it wasn't a lack of backbone that made me a man of inaction, but that I was reasonable and often saw the multiple sides of an argument or situation. I still think I have a knack for understanding opposing views, but honestly, I know that I just never wanted to step on any toes or make anyone unhappy. I was a "pleaser": a lot of things to a lot of people, but not really much of any one particular thing. ( Except 'a clown', which kinda works into that whole 'pleaser' thing....and 'one helluva lay', also in the pleaser category.... sorry Ladies, taken)
I looked back at my relatively short adult life and saw a series of moments where I wouldn't even stand up for what I wanted because I didn't want to disappoint. ( On the upside, I did see a lot of great self-depricating humor sprout from the demotion of my own wants and needs. ) Let's just put it out there, I enjoy teaching, but the only reason I went that route is because I didn't want to be some disappointing "dream chaser" or some such shit; I had to do something practical. It isn't necessarily something I regret, but hey, I'm being honest here, right?
There was one thing I always wanted that I never downplayed; maybe because it is a simple, practical dream, or maybe because it is one of the first things I can ever remember wanting: a family of my own. A wife, a kid or three...pets, oh..a house too. I also dreamt of being a super-hero, so don't get too worried about my childhood, okay?
That dream came true for me, and I built it with my best friend: a woman that share's my horrible sense of humor, oft-bad timing, and self-important need to write about our feelings. She also has a backbone. Honestly, she has enough for both of us...and all of you reading this.
Really, it seems like a bad combination, doesn't it? A man who seeks to please and a woman who bows to no-one: let's watch Adam get abused! But I'd actually already went through that relationship 5 years before. My wife, strong-willed as she is, wouldn't let me be 'the pleaser'. Sure, she enjoyed some perks, but generally she saw right through it and would call me out on it. She wanted a husband she could respect, not one she just bossed around ( although, you know, that still kinda happens... stupid 'foot rubbings' )
So, why all this exposition? What, my dear Culver, set you on this line of thought? Well, this apparently has just been the prologue. Geez, maybe I should break this into a series??
Well, this week I stood up for myself and my family. Okay, so maybe it isn't the first time I've spoken up or defended myself, but I put my foot down in a pretty big way.
Originally I wasn't going to blog about this; I thought, "this...this I will keep to myself" because honestly (there's that word again) I didn't quite know how I felt about it. Over the past few years, I've been at odds with my parents about, primarily, my wife. In actuality, we were at odds over how I'd changed, but the real problem, the reason I was speaking up, was how it materialized in their treatment of my wife. It was clear that while their problem was with me, they squarely blamed her.
I've already explained how I think I've changed. For them, I guess when 'the pleaser' isn't always trying to please anymore he is considered "stuck-up, too good for his family, etc." I remember seeing it flash across my mother's eye in the dim evening light when on vacation, on a beach-house deck, I told her of my intention to graduate college then move to Boston to try and be a comic with my friend. I really don't even know what the hell thats supposed to mean. Like, how is that being such a bad guy? Stupid? sure. Crazy? probably. But c'mon, at least just tell me, "but Adam, you're really not that funny" instead of a dead look of "where is my son?"
So when I got married, they had their outlet. They had found what must have changed me. Since I've already written a lot, I'll skip the details and say that during the 3+ years we've been together, there have been a lot of shitty moments on the part of my family. Plenty of arguments where I would plead the case for them to just be nice. Even more times where she was just ignored; treated as a second-class citizen. This was never acceptable, but I suppose at least bearable until we had a child.
How could we stand to let our son grow up seeing his mother treated this way? Thinking it was okay to treat her this way? Ignored, set aside, scoffed at. So I fought harder to fix things. The harder I fought, the more they resisted. The more they resented the fact that I stood up to them when we'd never had a cross word in the past. ( we had crosswords, lots of puzzles actually, but no arguments... )
As time went on, we didn't see much of one another. We all regretted that, but hell, if they couldn't play nice... you know? Then the time came that we found out we would have a second child. I think I've noted their reaction before, but if not: they weren't happy. They didn't hide it. In fact, my father went so far as to say, "it's like he isn't even part of the family." We basically quit speaking after that. Some lame attempts at communication, but my parents still never asked about how my second child, their third grandchild, was progressing. Didn't ask if it was a boy or girl. Didn't ask what the due date was. They did not care.
Eventually, Joel died. Born without a heartbeat on May 28, 2009. I spoke to my parents for the first time in a while on May 26, when we found out we would not be bringing Joel happily into this world.
Through the time at the hospital, the days waiting until the memorial, then through and after the memorial itself, my parents never apologized for not being there through the pregnancy. They never apologized for the pain. In fact, they seemed to expect things to magically be better between all of us. Except for when they would become stand-offish and visibily uncomfortable (to the point of rudeness) in the presence of my in-laws, making the death of our son even more painful and uncomfortable; placing more pressure and work upon myself and my wife, trying to keep the peace. I had thought, for a time, that that was all there was to it.
Since then I have learned that my father, on the day of our son's memorial, was busy taking calls from his renters, and took offense when my father-in-law disapproved. My mother, whom I saw clutching the piece of paper with my mother-in-law's phone number, left it crumpled in their driveway when they left. But to top it all off, I found out that at the hospital, while my wife lay in a bed laboring to deliver our dead son, my father spoke to my mother-in-law, stating that he and my mother had had to “drop” me because of a blow-up we'd had, and how he and my mother never approved of this midwife, going on to insinuate that my wife's decision to use a midwife was the cause of our son's death.
I put my foot down. For my son, and for the family I've built, I put my foot down.
I sent an open letter to my family. Emailed, actually, after a converstaion with my sister ended with her critiquing my wife's behavior on the day of our son's memorial, saying that she ought to have been more social.
I don't feel bad sending that letter because the conversation with my sister confirmed a lot of things I had feared. Basically, that every conversation and argument I'd had with my parents to try and make things better had been ignored. It was a retrospective of every complaint my parents ever laid out, that I had explained and apologized for, put out there as if it were brand new. I had never had any impact on my family's perspective; my words and time had been meaningless.
Two days after sending that open letter, where I also call out my Uncle Steven Tibbs for being a jerk at our son's memorial, I received an email from my uncle. He really let me know that I had made the right decision in sending out that letter. He bombarded me with some amazingly juvenile insults (he called me a candyass... really??? 50 odd years on this planet, and 'candyass' is the best you can do?) He insulted my wife and prophesized the end of our marriage (something he has experience with). But worst of all, he openly mocked Joel's death and our memorial for him.
There are really no words to describe just how I felt when I awoke from napping with my son to be told about that email by my wife (he wrote his and hers emails. very considerate). I have, however, thought of sending him a Thank You letter. Thanking him for justifying my decision to separate myself from that part of my family. I haven't decided what to send with that Thank You, but you can help me decide! Eventually, I'll send it to him at this address, Steve Tibbs
120 Summers Street Bluefield, WV 24701. No particular reason I made his address available to the Internet... no reason at all.
My uncle opened his email by referring to me as a 'formerly Culver'. Hell, even Jess and I joked about changing the last name ourselves, out of shame, but I've always been very proud of my name. At this point, I don't know what might remain of my ties to the family I grew up with, but I know I've smashed it up what good. The name 'Culver' is soiled. Myself, I feel a bit pathetic that it took my son's death to finally make me stand up for something. Now that I'm up, I have more to do. For the grandmother that taught me what love and care really are, for the woman I made take the name, and most of all for my sons, I'll make it a name worth having again. My son, Joel, was very very real. His was a life of consequence; as short as it was, it meant something and it made an impact. I hope to do the same with my time.
self-destructive? No, no... just laying some foundation.