The Latest “Year By Year” and “Word By Word”

I revised what will be going into my husband Tim’s book on his paintings of Temma. Here are the journal entries that will be a small part of the book.

Piece for Tim’s Book

Dream from my journal dated 8/14/1985
…our baby is incredibly intelligent and becomes an object for study, is taken away. Have to go to the Press Club to talk about getting him back. I see S.A. [A writer friend] there. She is sort of interviewing me. Then when trying to get in I lose my I.D. Strange things are happening–like I have other people’s I.D.’s but not my own. and I fall down into a hole that is like an alarm system.

…you invite me to fall with you—fall through the hole down and down, swirling around, Alice falling into Wonderland. I fall with you still in my stomach, in a dream landing on an altar. You invite me to relinquish my symbols of identification—social security number, driver’s license, anything that lets others know who I am, to let them all go and become a nothing, a cipher, lying on the altar.

Temma Day, at your first, “there was an evening and a morning” you went to sleep and called it good.

After hours, minutes, an eternity…a doctor comes to tell us that we can go and see her. Her heart is beating, she is having continuous seizure and is on a respirator. Soon she will be in a phenobarbital-induced coma. For now, all that I can say to her when I see my baby, is “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” A nurse sitting on a stool beside her bed, tells me, “She does not need to hear you say that, she needs to hear you say I love you.”

10.3.85 …sometimes I feel like telling you to just let go and leave, die quickly, life is too hard, too painful for such a little one.

10.15.85 I wake up in the morning and there you are.

Like blankets we used to make a tent, I crawl under the doubt, blame, shame, anger, and rage, a sacred canopy that covers me in the shape of guilt.

11.15.85 I wish I could go back and start over again. Start out nursing, no…even farther…start out by feeding you with the bottle. So, even here begins the confusion…and we bungle along.

2.11.86 Temma makes a book with an EEG. A book that I can’t read, except very, very slowly. Continuous seizures are probably doing more damage to her brain. I fight to accept, with passion.

12.31.86 Death no longer looks so frightful…a change…never in a way I would have imagined. You do not allow me to think of God in a mere sentimental way.

1.6.87 I do not pay enough attention to Temma, to really stop and look at her, for there is God whom I can love.

8.23.91 I hardly ever can stop and say “You are good.” I want to say over and over to Temma “I’m sorry,” “I’m sorry,” “I’m sorry.” Then I hear the nurse in the hospital room with Temma saying to me,”She doesn’t need to hear you say ‘I’m sorry.’ She just needs to hear you say ‘I love you” to fight with her, to go on.”

4.8.92 I have a sense now of “choosing” Temma rather than the victim of someone else’s choice forced upon me. Temma is part of my calling, my vocation.

12.12.92 …raising to full stature, becoming strong and patient. Temma has been a conduit, a stream in the desert for me with this strength. I had to let go of a lot in order to receive it, and still need to do that.

2.14.93. Temma and I have forgiven each other, this week.

3.14.95 Perhaps this is my Lenten wilderness, to keep putting myself out without much return…to keep loving and caring for Temma…a faithfulness and discipline about it all.

To struggle with my fears, with my inability to pray, to “embrace” the child promised to me but maybe I didn’t want. It’s maybe not what she wanted but it has been given life and she now must embrace it.

“Rage is the deprived infant in me but there is also a compassionate mother in me and she will come back with her healing powers in time. In fact, if I have learned anything in this year of recovering, that is what I have learned.” (May Sarton, Recovering: A Journal. W. W. Norton & Co., 1994)

One dream I had last night was very joy-filled. I remember only that it had something to do with a baby walking. It could have been Temma.

I have come to a good inner peace in relationship with Temma. I’m no longer seeking for answers but am living in the beauty and the grace.

Temma’s 24th birthday and I believe her mother is finally over her great guilt.

I saw a blind cat today. She reminded me of you. There she was lying on the bed, the white part of her fur blending in with the cover so that I did not notice her there until Joyce C. pointed her out. “That’s Ruby, she’s blind.” And I do a double – take over my shoulder. There she is, lying on the big bed, her eyes looking at me and blinking. “She knows her house,” says Joyce. “Are you enjoying the bed, Ruby?”

What do you see, Temma? A fog in the night? A lamb in the fight. Your eyes dart back and forth with seizure activity, occasionally becoming intense with a momentary spasm, fixed off to the left other times when in some other seizure zone.

Later, Joyce points out Ruby’s way of finding the front steps. Out on the front walk, Ruby tentatively stretches out her right leg. “She knows the step is there and is looking for it.” Again, I watch her with amazement and curiosity.


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