Watermelon Roses

A collection of random thoughts, commentaries, and journaling. There is a lot to explore here, including links to other sites of mine. These are mostly for my own benefit, but guests are welcome to browse and explore as much or as little as they like.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

3 Years On

Mina and K, before the Daddy/Daughter dance.

K and Layla in London.

Restland Cemetery in 2004.

On the third anniversary of the death of my daughters, I'm overwhelmed by the complicated feelings that my mind insists on trying to sort out at 5am. Unfortunately, at 5am, my mind is in no position to sort anything out. So instead, I find myself looking at all my favorite pictures of the girls, marvelling at how beautiful they were and wondering aloud (to a picture of Mina) if I'm ever going to stop crying over them. Not today, apparently. I miss them so much.

Three years ago today, almost to the hour, I was up early, already at the computer, when Mina came out to join me, insisting that she hadn't even slept all night. I argued that of course she had, I'd seen her sleeping, but still she insisted. She truly believed she hadn't. I wonder now if perhaps she had been in some sort of communion with God or his angels in preparation for the day. In retrospect, so many things seemed to be preparing us in the week leading up to our loss. Although I rarely allowed the girls to sleep in our bed, I did that last night. We went out together so much more in that last week than we usually did, as though being allowed to store up one last wonderful batch of memories.

Mina laid down on the couch with her Pooh comforter to watch some movie that was on Animal Planet and fell asleep again. When she woke up and found K up, she proudly told him that she still hadn't slept all night. The day progressed fairly normally from there. Justin played their Hamtaro game with them, then came with me to Sam's to buy supplies for the upcoming barbecue I was hosting for a support group for young doctors' wives. I was planning to take the girls to a new playground afterward, but K offered them the lake playground, and they were thrilled to go. It was getting late by the time Justin and I got home from Sam's, so I hurriedly helped them into their bathing suits, kissed them, and sent them off with K. Layla wanted one last Mama hug and kiss, but I was worried about the sun setting on them, blew her a kiss from the door, and told them to hurry. They looked concerned, Layla especially, as they watched me blow them kisses goodbye while the car pulled out of the driveway, but I didn't give it a second thought until afterward. That was the last time I ever saw them alive.

K called me about 10 minutes later to tell me that Mina reminded him that they didn't have their swimming vests, and to ask me whether he should come back for them. I was afraid it would be too dark if he took the time to do that, so I told him not to, and just to let them wade. The decision to let them go to the lake instead of taking them to the new playground, the blowing kisses instead of giving Layla that last kiss and hug, and telling K to go on without the vests ... these are the things that haunt me, the things I try to keep in perspective, but that I will always, always regret. K has his own regrets, but that's his story to tell or to keep, not mine.

After they left, I went about setting up the new backyard pool. It was filling with water while I tried to call K a few times to ask him to pick up rice on the way home to go with our dinner. He wasn't answering the phone, but I assumed he just didn't hear it. When the phone rang later, I thought it would be him, but it was the phone call that shattered life as I knew it. I recall every word of that phone call, every detail of the minutes, hours, and days that followed, and though the recalling of it no longer threatens to send me into long fits of sobbing, it does still inspire tears and heartache, and I wonder if time will ever be merciful enough to dull the sharp edges of those brutal memories.

Three years on, I still miss my girls terribly and long for the day that I will be reunited with them if God is merciful enough to allow it, but I am also blessed with a beautiful daughter and son that I might have never known had I not lost Mina and Layla. If that doesn't complicate feelings, I don't know what does. How can I regret having these two wonderful new souls in my life, yet how can I not regret losing the two I had before? When I'm wishing I could be with Mina and Layla, how can I be wishing myself out of this blessed life I've been given? When I'm cherishing my life, how can I not be wishing to be with the girls?

Some people deal with their grief by locking it away and trying not to think about it. I tend to dwell on things, though I do try to compartmentalize it. I no longer dwell on it all day, or even daily. There will be days and times when I just need to look at their pictures and think about what I had, what I've lost, the blessings I've been given, and what I've learned in the time since I lost them. In all fairness, I don't always think about all those things at once. Some days I'm focused on the loss. Those are the hardest, and mostly bring tears and heartache. Thinking about the wonderful years we had together usually brings me a bittersweet happiness and longing for the past, a feeling not unlike homesickness. The blessings I've been given since then bring me love and gratitude. The things I've learned since then bring me hope and some measure of peace. When I do take the time to think about these things, though, I think of little else for a while.

I talk to the children about the girls a lot. Layth recognizes their pictures, and though we usually talk about pleasant memories about the girls with him, in the past year he has come to understand to some extent that they have died, that we lost them because they didn't know how to be safe in the water (I used this to try to explain to him why it was so important to Mama that he take swimming lessons even when he didn't feel like it, and I hope I haven't done some unforeseen kind of damage by doing that,) and that they live in heaven with God. He doesn't really get the concept of what death is at this point, or where heaven is, but I'm not in a great hurry to force the issue. I just answer the questions when they come up and trust that God will give me the right answers if I listen for them.

Layth will help me pick out flowers today for the family to take to the cemetery this evening. As has become tradition for us, we'll artfully scatter them on the graves, I'll scrub the grave markers clean, and after the children have had a brief visit, we'll take turns sitting with them in the car so that we can each have some alone time at the graves. I talk to them a little, cry a little, and stare at the plot reserved for me while trying to comprehend mortality and the reality that there is no way to avoid the fact that I, too, will be buried someday, and what it will be like after I die. We'll be a little down for the day, but the rest of our children will help keep us grounded and glad to be alive. We'll have dinner together, then go home and become immersed in the routines of childcare and life in general. Time will march on, birthdays will come and go, we'll all grow older and shake our heads in disbelief over how old our girls would have been, trips to the cemetery will merge together in our memories, and the day will come when we realize just how short our time here really was. In the meantime, we'll grieve as long as we need to, and we'll keep loving, learning, and growing as long as we're able.

Mina and Layla, I love you, my girls.

To learn more about The Compassionate Friends, the support group that has helped us immensely with our grieving process, click here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

So Little Time

So much I want to write, so little time! I have so many ideas for new links, new topics, and new pictures. I often wish I had the camera with me, like when Layth and I saw a herd of cows packed so tightly together in one little corner of a huge field that I was sure they must have been beamed down from somewhere. Really, I'd already been wondering for months where the cows came from, because sometimes they are there and sometimes they aren't, but there are no barns or stables anywhere in sight. This particular time there were literally hundreds of cows packed so tightly together in the corner of this field that they reminded me of a mouse infestation I saw on television once. Magnified. A plague of cows! I do wish I had a picture.

Speaking of beaming down the cows, K is thinking of building in the neighboring town of Prosper, which is a very tiny town at the moment with a lot of potential for growth. I think they should put up billboards that say "Live Long in Prosper." K thinks they won't let me live there if anyone ever hears me say that. My geekiness is showing, I know. This is what happens when I am sleep deprived and chatty.

I suspect if I carry on any more tonight I'm going to lose readers, so I'm going to go recover my sanity before I post again.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Baby Rayan

Introducing ... Baby Rayan!

Finally, I can post! I still don't know if it was me or the host, but at least we seem to be in sync again! So, here's the summary, and for those who like all the gory details, I'll post those in the final post at 40 Weeks. Rayan was born in Dallas at 12:13am on Saturday, May 20, weighing 6 lbs, 14 oz and measuring 19 inches long. He was nameless and I was fretful until 3 minutes before the birth certificate lady went home on the day he was discharged 3 days later. Even then, it felt like a rushed, last-minute decision, and I wasn't happy with it. The original name we decided on was Rayn, pronounced like "rain," but K's research led him to believe that was a misspelling, and that it should be Rayan or Rayyan. We preferred Rayan, and were pronouncing it "RAY-un," and I had decided I was ok with that. The English spellings of Arabic names are a transliteration of the way the name sounds, so K found the name in Arabic hours after the baby was born in order to determine the correct pronunciation. He says it should be pronounced "ray-AHN," which I didn't like so well, and so the drama continued. As it stands today, hardly anyone calls him by his name, and when they do, it's a variety of pronunciations. If a non-Muslim asks me his name, I say "Rayan, like Ryan with an A." If a Muslim asks, I pronounce it "ray-AHN." K always says "ray-AHN." Layth's pronunciation is somewhere between the two, but closer to "ray-AHN." I often pronounce it somewhere between the two, but closer to Ryan with an A. K's parents seem to be trying to avoid saying it, but the few times I've heard them say it, it sounds more like Ryan or "rye-AHN." K and Layth often call him Peanut, K's dad has gone from calling him a cashew nut to a peanut, and I've gone from Peanut to my little Jellybean to mostly calling him Baby. No telling what we'll come up with when he stops curling up in that fetal position. I hope we all reach an unspoken agreement before he's old enough to suffer an identity crisis because of us! Our poor cat has no idea her name is Nutmeg because we always call her Kitty when we're happy with her and Cat when she's in trouble.