Sunday, March 18, 2012

Seasoning the Skillet

In my possession I have two wonderful cast-iron objects, a skillet and a griddle. I inherited them from my husband's grandmother. When I got them they were perfectly seasoned-much better to cook with than any non-stick skillet on the market. We learned they needed different care than other pots and pans. They have to be washed just so and oiled just so. When cared for properly, they can last for generations.

This morning I wanted to fry an egg on the griddle. To my disappointment, my perfectly seasoned griddle had been damaged. It wasn't in any way intentional. In fact, I'm sure it was done lovingly. Last night someone dear to me washed my dishes while I was out. No doubt she put a lot of elbow grease into scrubbing that pan, trying to remove all the layers of oil that caked it's surface. When she realized she couldn't get it all off, it was probably with resignation that she placed it in the dish drain to dry. And rust.

After pulling out my skillet to cook the egg, I thought about how I should respond to the situation. Should I approach the person who washed the griddle and gently teach her how to care for cast-iron cookware? What would be the result? It's not as if she's ever going to go buy herself any; she does not cook. I was glad to come home to a clean sink and clean dishes. Would she feel that if I said anything negative about it? I don't think so. Even if I said it kindly, there is a chance she'd be left with hurt feelings. I don't want that.

In truth, it's not too late to save my griddle. I'm going to have to do some work to fix it though. It'll probably take some sanding to get the rest of the layers off. Then I'll have to re-season it. It might take a while before it's got a perfectly slick surface again, but I'm sure I can do it. Although it will take a little effort on my part, I think it will be easy. Easy, compared to repairing a relationship that could be damaged if I weren't careful.

In some ways I think I'm like my little griddle. There have been times when well-meaning people have said things that marred me a bit. Completely without intending to hurt, they've poked me in a way that felt uncomfortable. I hear this from others as well, mothers who have lost their child for whatever reason. It's hard to know what to say to someone who has lost a child. Things like, "He's better off where he is," "Now you have an angel watching over you," and "You're lucky he didn't live, it would be hard to care for a disabled child" are all well-meant but they can hurt just the same. They hurt because I would have rather had my child with me than anywhere else. Yes, any of us would be better off in a place we didn't have to worry about all the negative aspects of this earth life. Any child is going to be work to raise, no matter what abilities they have. And, while I'm happy to know I have angels watching over me, I really, really want to hug my little boy. I cannot. He is not here. I miss him terribly. I'm rusting.

Even though there are times I've been hurt by what was said, I've mostly been uplifted. It takes some thought and love to find something to say. I know because I struggle to find the right words when I want to reach out and console others. Every time. So, instead of telling you how to season my griddle, I'll probably just stow it away when you come visiting. You may not even be aware it's there. Perhaps someday when I've finally given it enough heat and enough coats of oil we can take it out and cook together. I'm glad you care enough to be near me and I'm glad you remember my son.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ultrasound Results

Yesterday afternoon Kyle and I went to see the perinatologist. I suppose the medical reason for such a visit would be to check for birth defects. It's probably not to cause stress, but it did. I didn't realize exactly how worried I was about the visit until after it was over and suddenly I was ravenous.

I really enjoyed having this particular perinatologist read the scans. He's the same one we saw when we were waiting for Donovan to be born. Now that I've seen him twice, I think I like him because he talks about each scan. He explains what he's looking for and tells us what he thinks each measurement means. While he warned us that an ultrasound is not conclusive in ruling out Down Syndrome as a possible condition, all of the baby's measurements looked good. I was especially happy to see a full, round head.

My main concern was whether the baby's parts were all there and in working order. However, most people don't ask me about that. Most people, including my children, have been terribly concerned with the question of gender. We've put away all the little girl names for the moment and are getting ready to welcome boy number four into the family. I'm thrilled, because I absolutely enjoy little boys.

There has been some grumbling in the ranks though. This morning Conrad complained, "We don't have any girls in our family." Donovan had made the same observation a couple of weeks ago. When I reminded Donovan I was a girl he said, "No, you are a woman." Conrad, aware of that conversation, added to his complaint a definition of "girl", "A girl is a woman that is little or really young. I really wanted to have a little sister." They are sure to warm up to the idea of another brother eventually. I hope.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Belly Bump

Last week Donovan put his hands on my belly giving me a little push. Then he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and exclaimed, "Mom, you have a BIG belly!" Conrad, who was standing nearby, decided it was time to tell me what Sophie had told him several days earlier. "Sophie said her mom told her you might be pregnant."

I wasn't sure what to say at that moment. While it's very true that my belly has been getting larger, I had hoped to wait a little longer before having this conversation with my children. I thought it might be best to wait until my visit to the perinatologist. That way I would be able to tell the boys how their new sibling is doing physically. They've expressed concerns over the last year about any more babies we might have. They've wanted to know what would happen if we had another baby with anencephaly. My answer has always been that we would love the baby until we had to give it back to heaven.

Instead of admitting Sophie might be right, I decided to probe a little further. I asked Conrad, "How would auntie Holly know I'm pregnant." He looked at me indignantly and said, "She's had four children. She should know what a pregnant person looks like!" Who could argue with that? The truth of the matter is that I told Holly myself months ago. Sophie, being the observant little girl she is, probably didn't need to be told as my belly bump has just been getting larger in spite of visits to the gym.

I dropped the conversation for a bit. During lunch I told the boys that Sophie was right; I am expecting another child. Conrad looked up in disbelief and asked, "How do you know?" I did my best to contain my laughter while trying to think up a response. It came through a question, "Why do you think I've been going to the doctor so often lately?" Then Conrad's face lit up, "Oh! Oh, that's why you've been going to the doctor." Convinced we would have another baby, his questions reverted to the normal questions children ask. He wanted to know if it would be a boy or a girl, what we would name it and where in the world the baby will sleep.

Now all I want to know is whether Conrad will be able to handle sharing his birthday. It's very possible he will have to since the expected date of arrival is just two days after Conrad's birthday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Roasting Pan

Today a beautiful roasting pan joined our much too large collection of pots and pans. There's no room for it in the cupboard yet so it's current residence is on our dining table. This afternoon I was sitting at the table near the pan when Donovan came to sit in my lap. I teased him saying the pan was big enough for him to sit in. He gave me a goofy look and glanced at the pan. That's when he noticed his reflection. In the convex curve of the lid, his face was quite distorted. He giggled, moved closer and learned that his reflection became more distorted the closer he came to the pan. He began to sway forward and backward. All the while his giggles became more contagious. I joined in the fun swaying and laughing with him. At one point Donovan looked at me with a big grin and announced, "I look like Fisher". Then he was back to giggling and swaying once more.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

People at the Beach

Yesterday evening we went to a party at my grandmother's condominium. As we were waiting at a stoplight looking at people on the sidewalk, Kyle asked me if I ever saw someone I didn't know enter a house and thought about how it is that other people who live in the same town have separate lives from me. I thought it strange to be asked that question as I had been pondering something along those lines that very morning.

While I was at the beach, I noticed others who appeared to be there for completely different reasons than I. The driver of the truck I had parked next to was sitting in the cab listening to rap music and reading the newspaper. After about half an hour, he drove away. Another man was there with his dog. He walked along the beach gathering things from the sand and putting them in a plastic bag. I thought I'd have to compete with him for beach glass. But, I was wrong. He was picking up litter and stopped only to chat with a couple of women who sat near the lifeguard tower with their little dog. Later on a group of young men came. They stood looking at the huge waves for a bit. One of them finally dared jump in the water. His buddies soon followed. A middle-aged couple strolled up and down the beach speaking softly to each other. There was one woman who stood at the far end of the beach gazing upon the water. A wet suit garbed man swam along the shore with what appeared to be a metal detector in his hand. As I was leaving I noticed a woman sitting in a meditative pose. Her eyes were closed and she smiled so serenely. We were all doing different things yet we all were there at the same beach on the same morning-people seemingly not connected, yet connected just the same.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fisher in Beach Glass

Yesterday I told Kyle I needed to take a mental health day today. I didn't realize it at the time, but today marks three months since Fisher was born. I must have been aware of the date subconsciously, because I woke up this morning around 5 AM with a burning desire to go to the beach and watch the sunrise. I also thought it would be an opportune time to write Fisher's name in the sand. I had planned to do it on Christmas morning, but there was wonderful weather today. Who knows what it will be like later?

I gathered items I anticipated needing, a candle and a glass vase to serve as a hurricane, matches, beach glass, and a wooden spoon. After bidding my sleepy family goodbye, I headed to Sandy Beach.

It would have been nice to light a candle to remember Fisher by. Yes, it would have, but I didn't. The candle I brought with me had too little a wick. I gave up after scraping away wax and wasting no less than five matches. It seems the hurricane wasn't needed afterall. The malfunctioning candle was soon abandoned for other pursuits.

After giving up on candlelight, I decided to write Fisher's name on the sand with the beach glass I had brought. Beach glass is a nice reminder of him since my older boys and I had started collecting it while I was expecting Fisher. After I wrote his name, I took a few pictures. They didn't come out too well as it was still quite dark. However, I noticed as I was writing his name that today would be an excellent day for collecting beach glass. So, I set off to add to my collection.

When the sun finally started to rise, I pulled out my wooden spoon and used the handle to write Fisher's name in the sand. I took several pictures trying to get a great view of the sunrise with his name near the water. I got a couple that I liked, but my favorite came after I resumed my beach glass hunt.

In just a short time, I realized I didn't have room in my container for all the beach glass I could find this morning. Rather than find an alternative way to carry it all, I decided to ignore all the brown glass. Then I elected to pick up only glass with a slight tinge of blue. The rules changed one more time when I found my very first piece of cobalt blue beach glass. Ever since my boys and I had started collecting beach glass, I'd hoped to find some of a cobalt blue color. There was only one piece for me today, but it was enough. After I found it I wote Fisher's name one more time with beach glass. Lovely.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Butterflies and Sunflowers

Things that were just things begin to have meaning when you associate them with those you love. Butterflies and sunflowers are two such things for me.

A dear friend who had also lost her baby to miscarriage a few years ago named her baby Pulelehua which means butterfly in Hawaiian. Whenever we saw butterflies we would think of our little babies playing together in heaven. Now butterflies also remind me of little Fisher. Three butterflies are extra special to me. The first one was from Donna, the nurse at the hospital who checked me in for Fisher's birth. Although we only saw her those first few hours, she made an incredible impact on our experience there. Not only was she kind and supportive, but she also painted a beautiful butterfly for Fisher. Another butterfly was drawn by Sophie who gave it to me the day she came to meet Fisher. It is a happy butterfly in a lovely garden. A third, silver colored butterfly came with a bouquet of pale pink roses from dear friends. They are all very different but, they all remind me of the love of friends and especially Fisher's sweet spirit.

Sunflowers! I love them. I'm so glad Sarah thought to bring them to my home after Fisher died. When I walked in the livingroom I saw the bright yellow blooms and felt a surge of joy. Yellow is such a happy color. It's wonderful to have it around to lighten my mood. Last week Kyle gave me an umbrella with a huge sunflower print on it. I almost cried when I saw it. He explained he had seen a woman walking by the road with an umbrella like it and knew it would be perfect for me. It is. I love sunflowers because they now symbolize the incredible joy I expect to feel when I am with Fisher again.