Monday, April 13, 2015

The Yellow Rose

This winter offered multiple snowstorms with single digits and never ending cold that an engine belt squealed every morning I started the car, announcing to neighbors I was leaving for work. During the month of March, our home was visited by the flu, aches and sore throats as more snow and sleet roared in, adding inches to our back yard already filled with three-feet of snow. In addition to licking our wounds, we nursed a beloved ailing cat of 16 years who died peacefully in front of our woodstove. Now that the snow has melted and spring thaw in New England has begun, we were able to break ground and bury her on April 11, 2015.

My morning quiet time helps ground my heart before I head out to work and to a world that can sometimes bombard me. During the morning of March 25, I forwarded my sister the photo of her yellow rose with a text that said, “Thinking of you.” My phone buzzed her response back, “Yup, we’re related,” because vocally or silently we can’t help but think of each other on this day. Quiet time over, the mad dash begins. After blending my breakfast drink, ready to run out the door, my eyes catch swirling red lights out the kitchen window.

Fire trucks are next door at the green house where a young newlywed family live. I don’t see smoke. I’m sure the husband is already gone because he’s a teacher. Well, what a stupid assumption, maybe that’s why the fire trucks are there. Something is obviously wrong. In milliseconds chills run through me as I say to the kitchen, “Oh no, the baby. I hope it’s not the baby.” I text my co-worker letting her know I’ll be late. My husband and I run next door.

The ambulance unloaded the gurney, wheeling it up the sidewalk in through the front door. I walked around the house and entered through the back door. Two firefighter paramedics were in the kitchen with the young mother who was crying while holding her three-month old baby boy. Making my apologies for being bold to come in I asked if everything was okay. Mom said her baby had stopped breathing for one and half minutes. Fortunately she had called our other neighbor who is a mother and works with prenatal moms. She helped save her baby.

I stroked his little cheeks, kissed and hugged mom and baby. Through tears of joy, she insisted I go to work, that her mother would arrive any minute and she still had the aid of the paramedics.

I walked outside where my husband Curtis waited with other EMT's.

He said, “What’s wrong, what happened?”

“It was her baby. He stopped breathing but he’s okay now. Mom and baby are fine.” Then unexpectedly, I burst into tears.

Befuddled he asked, “What’s the matter, I thought they were okay?”

I blurted, “Today is the anniversary of Sandy’s death.”

Curtis held me in his arms as I cried.

My baby sister had been born in December and only three months old when she died of SIDS on March 25, 1971. Our neighbors’ baby was just born three months earlier in December 2014 and had stopped breathing March 25, 2015. My sister and I had just texted the yellow rose in memory of our sister.

The following day, March 26, coming home from work, I couldn’t help but notice several cars in front of our neighbors green home. Pulling into our driveway, I saw the mom sitting in her porch swing, crying uncontrollably while her father tried to console and comfort her.

Dread washed over me. I prayed it wasn’t what I was thinking. I paced in my kitchen as I prepped dinner and prayed this baby better be okay. I wouldn’t understand otherwise. Two hours later our phone rang. Our neighbor called, "I know you would've seen me crying so I wanted to let you know our baby is fine." She had been decompressing the last two days while her dad comforted her. My husband and I rejoiced.

During the remains of this bleak cold winter I stewed on my experience and wondered why would I share this little vignette of the day in the life of Tammy Sue? There are no bells or whistles or aha moments.

In the meantime, April 11, the day we buried our cat, provided warm weather and a walk with a girlfriend. I shared with her my March 25 story. She said, “See, it never goes away! It’s still in there.”

My friend understood and spoke from experience. She too was young when she lost a sibling in 1964. Because I opened up, she shared that recently she met an 85-year-old woman who is almost certain she held my friends baby sister in the NICU during 1963-1964. As we walked and revisited each other’s loss, I realized that sharing is why I would share the day in the life of me.

Although I don’t dwell on March 25, I can’t help but reflect on the anniversary of my past, a poignant moment which helped shape me. I was a seven-year-old girl who found her three-month-old baby sister dead on moving day.

Tammy Sue Willey Blogspot
Cyndi Jo, Sandra Gay, Tammy Sue
December 1970
When I walked out of my neighbor’s house, saw my husband and without reservation cried, I stopped holding my breath that I didn’t know I was holding.

  • So I share because on March 25 when my morning was still quiet, my sister and I shared the yellow rose that she had placed on our sister’s grave March 2013.
  • Perhaps this made me more alert to my neighbor that morning.
  • I share because my friend was right, no matter how much time goes by the wound doesn’t go away. It remains a part of what shaped us.
  • I share because the walk with my girlfriend revealed scar tissue for both of us yet our stories of reflection and closure offered a soothing balm to our wounds that continue to heal.
  • I share because on March 25, 2015 the emotional jarring of my loss reminded me I am still very much alive.
Tammy Sue Willey Blogspot
March 25, 2013 the yellow rose

Tammy Sue Willey Blogspot

We may lose a piece of ourselves from the loss, but because of the loss, we share a piece of ourselves. It’s in the sharing that somehow gives us peace and perhaps offers comfort to another because we understand. Maybe this simple act of sharing is how we continue to heal and how we give back.

Can you think of a time when your loss gave comfort to another?

Or when you found comfort because someone understood and shared their loss?


Anonymous said...

Love it when you write. (LCM) 4/13 at 5:02PM

Anonymous said...

Powerful blog, TS. Thank you. (SB)
4/13 at 6:53PM

Anonymous said...

Wow!! You couldn't just have told me what you went through that day?? My gosh!! I'm so sorry!! BUT - I'm glad you got a good cry. Really. (CJH)4/13 at 10:01PM

Anonymous said...

Terrific, Tammy. Beautiful and poignant. I love it. (LL) 4/13 5:27PM