Sunday, October 31, 2010

Opening and connecting

Elan's parents are doing well. We have had a meaningful weekend of rest, recreation, and stimulation. Yesterday we joined Allie and Jim at a symposium (Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream) that made us think and connect, followed by a walk to the grocery store and cooking a delicious soup together. Today we woke slowly and played with each other. We went for a hike at Torrey Pines State Park. We stopped to assist a fallen cyclist until the paramedics arrived, yet another reminder of the blessing we have all been given. We walked, talked, and connected, synthesizing ideas and heart.

We realize that another one of Elan's gift to us, has been to awaken parts of us more fully. We have been creative in our expression, open to many new things, and find meaning easily. Mostly we move slowly and it allows perspective. While we don't have a physical child to cherish, we cherish the symbols he has left for us and those we create together. We discuss how we want to live and hold space for ourselves, for our son, and for our future children. We have hope.

While we still have moments in the dark, the light continues to shine and we revel in the miracle of the everyday.

On our walk today, we talked about our deepening sense of spirituality; connection to each other and to the world beyond our embrace. Our senses are heightened to the space around us and we are guided by the strength and beauty within each of us.

While we had created space, slowness, and intention for this spirituality in receiving Elan each day during the pregnancy we are now able to more fully actualize it. All of our daily practices had prepared the soil for a deeper sense of purpose. While we were anticipating embracing our son's physical form and nourishing his spirit and creative expression, we planted seeds that allow us now to connect to a deeper sense of who we are. Through expression and discussion of our son, he gifts us and allows us to receive more spiritual and creative fulfillment ourselves. When something like this happens we seek to understand more fully, we look to faith or that which is unseen or unknown; that deeper sense of knowing, that is not manifested in practical explanation, is our spirituality.

In our walk today, we also discussed how the concept of success is intertwined with spirituality, however is often interpreted as an external achievement, rather than the contentment of connection with life. In it's simplest form success is in living and breathing, not in the attainment of something we do not have. We have life, in all its glory to celebrate. We all get to succeed each day in the simple act of living. We have arrived just by being. While ambition may lead us to pursue other images of success, compete towards some goal, or attain something, we are content that we have breath. We have been bestowed the ultimate gift already. We experience the miracle of life, thus we continue to be successful. This does not take away the human spirit or great accomplishments, but it equalizes success as something we all have achieved each and every day just by living. Everyday you wake up a success, there is nothing to battle, nothing to fight, regardless of position or status, you have already won.

Elan also has succeeded. Though he did not live outside the womb for a day, he inspires us to live. His spirit is miraculous as was his physical form.

We live in the simple; knowing that all that is to be attained comes from within and from the connections we have with others and life. Life is precious and miraculous, to be cherished. It is a gift to move slowly and savor it, connect with and receive it. It is beautiful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The meaning of today, tomorrow, and the next

All the days are filled with love.

Today we were surrounded by the love of so many. The thoughtfulness and conscious prayers. The sharing of sorrow and the sharing of joy. The arms of others wrapped around us in the sweet honor of Elan Vie. We soaked it in.

Tomorrow we will surround each other with our own love. We will hold each other tightly and focus intently on our love story. We will be mindful of the gift of Elan Vie, our living vows, the journey at home together over the last weeks, the love in our gazes, our arms wrapped around each other. We will soak it in.

The day after tomorrow marks a new chapter as RJ returns to work. A chapter that we are hesitant to enter and yet know its value too. We will be loved in it and love back.

The days to come hold many gifts for us. They hold the gifts of new experiences, new sights and sounds. They hold the gifts of old and favorite soothing graces as well. They hold our son fondly in our features and in our hearts.

You who have held us and learned new ways to love are such a gift. You live with us more richly than ever before and you walk our path and build bridges for us. There is a knowing that we all share now that knocks at our doors in many ways, it has entered our lives. It is a knowing that asks no questions and demands no favors. You too have birthed, and you too absorb the beauty of the days that are to come.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elan's great grandmother Bobe Tillie and the legacy of love

The weekend before Elan's birth, on Saturday September 11th, 2010, his last living great grandparent Tillie Panush, who we all affectionately call Bobe, passed at the age of 96. She lived a wonderful long life and has watched 4 daughters, 11 grandchildren, and 17 great grandchildren grow. Her passing was not shocking given her long life, but in the days preceding we interpreted the symbolism of her making room on earth for her 18th great grandchild, the son of her youngest grandchild.  We never really had time to mourn her and only now is it really sinking in that she is gone.

Bobe mingled with auspicious dates. She was born on December 25th and would joke that she had a special relationship with Jesus. Of course she would pass during a national day of mourning and reflection. As our family tells us, the Rabbi explained in her service that passing between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur indicates a special relationship with God. That Elan and her share this is somehow puzzling and beautiful at the same time to her grandson who does not seek religious answers, but finds comfort in spiritual ones.

Bobe had zeal and passion. She knew how to set the record straight, had a strong sense of moral equity, integrity, and she never hid her feelings. She read the NY Times cover to cover well into her nineties. She was a champion word-smith and scrabble player. She was tough and wise. She probably would not be best described as sweet, but she had a sweetness for children. She was tender, hid her problems, and protected the youngest.

We think on what Bobe's legacy is to our family, what she shares with Elan, what wisdom she would have imparted, and the blessings she offers in her living and dying. We miss her and yet are at peace with her passing, with easy knowledge of her time here. She shares a legacy of love and hope, of lightness and dark, of peace, with her youngest great grandchild. Perhaps she is holding him in her arms right now and together radiating their love on us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

4 weeks

Tonight at 10:09 pm, Elan would have been 4 weeks old. We would probably be sharing photos with you, and telling our tales of baby adventures and learnings. We may be a little tired and with new tones in our expression. We would be bathing, changing, feeding and falling asleep with our son in our arms.

The reminders are everywhere on how precious it is to bring a life into this world and makes us still ask why us? Why after having such a healthy 40 weeks did our baby succumb to a bacteria in the last moments that is present in most women? How is it possible that his lungs could not take what is so routine that it is not screened for? Why could we have not gotten some warning sign, a change in heart beat, a fever in Jalene? Why do we have to be stuck in this after preparing with nothing but sacred energy? Others are blessed, some do not even value what they have and yet we have to live with this.

The autopsy conference has not happened and results are not final, but what we have learned would have changed nothing in our birthing process. Experts have told us that they would not have done anything different. We know there is peace in that and yet it is incredibly infuriating.

One of the stages of grief is acceptance. How is this acceptable? How can we ever accept that this happened? It does not mean that we cannot find meaning. We will find peace, but acceptance, who knows? Maybe it is just semantics.

We read chapters from the grief books and then we throw them against the wall. This is not fair, we shouldn't have to be reading this and you shouldn't have to be reading this.

Strength comes and it goes. We know you want us to be strong. We know you want us to eat and exercise, to do things for ourselves and have answers to small talk questions. We know you want to take it all away from us. You cannot. Know that 4 more weeks will arrive and we will still be Elan's mom and dad, that we want to talk of our son and we will still want to hold him in our arms. We are not easily distracted from him.

You can still fill us with love and peace. You can live each day fully. Hug your family and friends tightly. Say nice things to people, even strangers. Fill yourself with some meaningful activity and feel connected. Make up your own rules for life and be a good person.

Live each day in Elan's glow. Feel his champion heart and the power of compassion and love that you feel when you think of him.

Thank you to all of you who brought us meals, sent us food, flowers, plants, gave us books, held us, cried with us, and to all of you who have written to us over the last 4 weeks. Thank you for remembering our Elan and acknowledging our family. We all learn much together and through our suffering find new depths to our soul, and new ways to live.

The Spanish expression for giving birth is "dar luz", translated as to give light. We love sharing this expression as it reminds us of the beauty of child birth as the labor is so trivial when compared to the gift we are given. Life is about living in both the light and darkness, about being balanced, about rising to face each day with purpose and not being afraid when there is no illumination.

RJ and Jalene

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Parents forever

How do we parent you when you are everywhere at once and nowhere to be found? We show up for you unconditionally, always putting your needs ahead of ours. We celebrate the small ways you have improved our day and reminded us about importance, patience, and resiliency. We laugh when we all feel ridiculous, we cry at the pain, and model the honor it is to be your parents. We wear it on our sleeves, we are mom and dad to Elan Vie! We fill our home with new worlds for us all to explore. We live to our vows as your parents. We hold you so tight and release you in the same breath. We brag about how good looking you are. We wake up in the middle of the night for you. We love you deeply so that you may always know how and where to find peace.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dear Elan

Dear Elan,

We miss you so much. It is true that your mommy and daddy have each other and for that we are eternally grateful. We have tremendous friends, family, and coworkers who have made it clear that they love us and you. For that we are also eternally grateful. But we miss you, our sweet son.

Do you remember how daddy would read The Places You'll Go, The Prophet, The Mojave, and My Daddy's Moustache to you in bed? Do you remember how mommy used to say "daddy is making us pancakes"? Do you remember how mommy used to feed you such excellent foods and how your palette was so eclectic already? Do you remember how much you made mommy race to the bathroom in the last few weeks? Do you remember how much mommy liked to take naps with you and feel the joy of deep contented rest? How mommy radiated and glowed with the joy and excitement of you? How people would tell her how beautiful she was and she would tell them that it was your light shining through. How we giggled at all of the little things, the joys, the wonders, the miracle of you.

We wish you could have met all of the little friends you had out there. Hudson, Ostend, and Ty were your buddies in waiting. We played with Hudson today and loved every minute of it, but it was also hard because we want to also be playing with you. For you to climb on our backs and throw grass at us, laugh at our silly faces, and hug us so sweetly.

We realize that we mourn the loss of what we were expecting to be and to do with you, but we so much mourn the loss of you. What we know of you and what we know in our hearts of who you were to become. We wrote of your gentle spirit, how we knew you would tread lightly, but firmly rooted. Your loving soul is so evident to us.

It is also evident, how vast the community is that was to raise you. Wilmington, Spain, DC, Nashville, St. Paul, San Diego, Canada, Kenya. There are people that love the people that love you that were waiting for other news of you. Your grandparents moved across the country to San Diego to be with the three of us in retirement and adore you, their first grandchild. We are so thankful that they are here with us now.

Your Nona wanted to show you the Shenandoah and PoppiStan wanted to teach you to sail. Pappap wanted to show you the birds, the butterfiles and dip your toes in the sand. Bodhi wanted to be your tree, get creative with you, dance with you and love you up. Your Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Jena would adventure with you to Africa and teach you of service to others. Your cousins Ben and Ziva would show you winter in St. Paul, celebrate Channukah with you and teach you silly things while Aunt Dani and Uncle Herman would watch you chase Lilly around the house. You would learn from them the grace of silence and the power of sound.

Trees have been planted in your honor, books given to children in need, artwork created, nourishment provided and love has truly surrounded our home. You have inspired your community with ripples of love and the preciousness of life. While we continue to take that in, we would give anything to hold you in our arms every day.

Good night son. We love you and we hold you close.


Mom and Dad