April 22, 1985
We have a new dog. A puppy, actually: his name is Yogi, and he's eight weeks old. On Saturday before Ray's birthday party Terry brought him over. He belonged to some people from down the street, and Terry was "dog-sitting" for them. Jamie and Ray fell in love with him immediately. He's very cute ... some sort of Labrador/Malamute mix, with lots of fuzzy black fur, a stubby nose and curly tail ... he's also got very gentle brown eyes and a patch of white fur on his chest. We all played with him for a while, but then it was time for Terry to take him back. I got busy with last-minute party preparations and we forgot all about the puppy.
Twenty minutes later Terry was back with the puppy. Did we want to keep him? Apparently his new owners had decided they couldn't keep him - I don't know why - and they needed a new home for him. Against my better judgment, I said OK. Terry taped a red bow to Yogi's ears and gave him to Ray as a "birthday present." And that was that: we had a new puppy.
I should add that Wendie Kitty had her kittens late Saturday night - three of them - which brings our current animal population up to 12. (Two dogs, two adult cats, six kittens and two goldfish.) Which means the total population of P.ville right now, animals and people, is sixteen.
The girls are laughing and dashing around the front yard with Yogi in hot pursuit of them. He has a particular fondness for little girls' nightgowns.
Hmmph. Here I was, looking around the kitchen for my journal and a decent pen, preparing to sit down and write about how nice our new puppy is ... when what should I spot but yet another pile of poop in the corner of the living room?! That makes three this morning.
Jamie Lynn: "Mmmm I love bacon it's my favorite, nice good juicy BACON."
Kacie P.: "ACK! ACK! ACK! BUP-UP! BUP-UP! BUP-UP!" (Translation: Bark bark bark, puppy puppy puppy)
Jamie: "Yep. It's gonna turn sunny yippee."
Mom: "I'm going to sit down and write a little and drink some coffee, and then I'm going to take a shower and then I'm gonna clean my house."
JLP: "Wow! That's gonna be a WOTTA work! 'Cuz this house is all MESSY?"
Kacie: (dissolves into giggles)
Kacie: "Oh! Moh FOWRS, Ma-ma!" (bringing me another clump of wilted dandelions)
Jamie: "I'm cold as a whistle!"
When I got up this morning, I heard Jamie's voice coming from the front yard. I peeked out the window and discovered her sitting in the middle of the yard in the old denim stroller, blowing bubbles! She had dressed herself, in a striped shirt that was on inside out and backwards, a pair of pink jeans that are miles too big for her and her black velvet dress shoes (unbuckled and on the wrong feet). Her puppy and Dink were crowding around her, trying to push their doggy noses into the bowl of bubble soap sitting on her lap. She was blowing bubbles and talking to the dogs. I couldn't make out what she was saying, but I gathered she was mad at Yogi because he wouldn't chase soap bubbles, the way Dink does.
I purposely made some noise in the kitchen (clattering plates) and immediately heard little footsteps on the porch. "Who's making dat noise?" Jamie shouted happily.
While I was in the shower this morning, Jamie came bursting into the bathroom. "Sissy went OUTSIDE," she announced merrily. I rinsed myself off in a hurry and dashed into the kitchen wearing nothing but a towel, my hair dripping.
"GET IN THIS HOUSE!" I roared at a startled Kacie, who was puttering around in the carport. Before my shower I dressed her, but hadn't put shoes or socks on her yet. Now she was wearing one of Jamie's black shoes, her other foot bare. Going outside without Mama is probably the biggest no-no around our house, and I'm as surprised as I am angry that Kacie has broken the rule.
She clambered up the steps and back into the house, and I swatted her once on the bottom. After I spanked her she turned her face to the wall, silently, and I went to get dressed. By the time I reached my bedroom she'd started to wail.
I hate punishing Kacie. Of course I hate punishing either one of my daughters, but somehow it's harder with Kacie. She is so sensitive: I feel like I'm crushing her delicate little spirit, and I hate myself for it. When I was dressed and had my wet hair wrapped in a towel, I went back to the kitchen. Kacie seemed to have bounced back already: she was sitting on the floor playing with my pendant watch, and she gave me a big smile. All was forgiven and forgotten. I gathered her up in my arms and stroked her messy braids and kissed her face: she smelled like Captain Crunch and cherry Kool-Aid.
Funny how everything else pales in importance when something really traumatic happens.
I have just come home from Children's Orthopedic Hospital, where we rushed Kacie this morning after she went into convulsions on my bed. She is OK now, resting comfortably in her crib, but my heart is still beating double-time. I have never been so frightened in my whole life.
A few days later
We had to take Kacie to the hospital again this morning for an e.e.g. Peg drove us to the hospital. Kacie hasn't had any more seizures since last Tuesday, and so far the doctors can't find anything wrong with her. This e.e.g. is the last test they needed to give her, but we won't get any results until later in the week.
The nurse wouldn't allow me to go in and be with Kacie during the test, so I sat in the waiting room with Peg and Jamie and chewed my nails. Jamie struck up a conversation with a little boy about her age, and soon the two of them were busily playing with building blocks. Peg and I made sporadic feeble conversation, but I was worried and didn't feel much like talking.
We'd been waiting for an hour when the door of the waiting room burst open and in toddled an exuberant Kacie P.! She was all smiles and chatter, her bangs wet and sticky from the gel they used during the test, her cheeks as round and rosy as apples. She was pleased to see me.
We still have no idea what caused the seizure ... or, for that matter, if there even was a seizure. I get the feeling the doctors don't believe me, like I'm just this batty housewife out for a little attention. I was alone with Kacie when she went into convulsions on my bed Tuesday morning, so I have no one to corroborate my story. I swear on everything that is holy to me, it really happened. One minute Kacie and I were laying together on my bed, watching TV, and the next minute she went into a wild and violent fit of shaking that just went on and on. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, and then to have it all treated with such skepticism ... well, what can I say? It's very hurtful.
To look at Kacie now, you'd never know there was anything wrong. Her color is good, her appetite is normal, and she's as busy and full of bounce as ever. She loved riding in Grandma's big van today, and there were some things at the hospital that she liked: walking up and down the huge corridors, looking at the other small children, climbing the steps in the parking lot. Everyone says she's "fine," and I pray to God that she is. She is so precious to me.
Now Kacie is running a fever. It began late yesterday afternoon ... Terry remarked that Kacie looked "very pale," and when we took her temperature it was 102. She was listless and she had no appetite. Ray and Jamie didn't come home until after 9 p.m., so I sat in the living room, quietly rocking her in my arms. Every hour or so I checked her temperature. By 8 p.m. it peaked at 103.1, and I started to feel panicky. She was so limp and unresponsive.
... When I checked her in the middle of the night, her fever had lowered to 101 and she seemed to be sleeping comfortably. This morning it was back up to 102, and she threw up the Tylenol I have her. Her spirits are good, though: every few minutes she tries to sneak off the sofa and play.
We appear to be past the worst. Last night Kacie woke up and started to cry. When I picked her up, her little body felt like it was on fire. I took her temperature and it was a whopping 104. She vomited the Tylenol and water I gave her, and I was at my wits' end. Finally I tried giving her a sponge bath, and that cooled her off a little. Ray was no help at all. He stood there looking helpless, and then he went back to bed.
Her fever appears to have broken today, finally. When I took her temp at noon, it was 99.4. I was so relieved, I breathed a prayer of thanks to God. She is cool and cheerful today, and ate a scrambled egg sandwich for lunch. Now she's napping.
Summer has arrived today. The calendar gives us another four days of spring, and the neighborhood kids won't be set free from school until tomorrow. But in every other way that counts, summer is here.
I have just spent the last ten minutes setting up the electric fan. First I had to unearth it from beneath a pile of junk in the shed outdoors. It was covered with dust and grime so I sprayed it with Windex and wiped it off, praying I wouldn't get dirt on the white slacks I borrowed from Ray this morning (and which he doesn't know I wear). Now the fan is propped against the open front door, whirring noisily. It is a familiar sound. This will be the fifth summer I have taken refuge in front of it. (That first awful pregnant summer, when I was nauseous all the time and we were invaded by the flea army ... the summer Jamie was two and Kacie wasn't crawling yet ... and last summer, when the girls threw a bunch of teeny-tiny toys into the fan and shorted it out.)
Jamie hears the noise and wanders in to investigate. "I remember THAT fan!" she says, and she sits down on the floor next to it. The breeze tosses her hair around ... her clothes are damp from the sprinkler, and her cheeks are red round apples. I sit next to her on the floor, and we enjoy the coolness ... a blessing on this blisteringly hot day.
The sky is as blue as a tropical sea, and not a cloud in sight. When I was a little girl my grandmother would only let me swim in my wading pool if the sky was "all blue." Every morning during those four and five year old summers, I would anxiously scan the skies, hoping for "all blue." Now I'm telling my daughter the same thing. "Can I play in brinkler today?" she asked me earlier. "Dere's no clouds!" And I checked the robins'-egg-blue sky and gave her my blessing.
June 30, 1985
I am sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home as I write this.
The decision to come down and spend some time with Grandma was a spontaneous one. I was feeling nostalgic and lonely for my old home, so I called Grandma on a whim and asked if the girls and I could come down for a visit. Now I'm sitting in "my" backyard. (Maybe for the last time, ever. Who knows?) It is a warm, slightly cloudy summer evening. The grass is short and brown and dry; everything is more over-grown than I ever remember it being. The apple trees and the cherry trees are so broad and heavily laden with not-quite-ripe fruit, the branches dip nearly to the ground. The girls try eating the pinkish cherries and tiny green apples, but they aren't ripe enough yet.
This backyard is as familiar and dear to me a place as any I've ever known, and yet I feel so strange being here! First of all, there is the fact that all this is due to be demolished in the fall (by the Port of Seattle). God. My heart just turned over at the thought. The rock wall Grandpa built ... my brother's cedar tree ... the garden ... Dad's tree fort ... how can all of these precious memories be bulldozed in five months??
My daughter pedals her tricycle around on the flat stubbly grass. A sprinkler rains gently on the spot where our swingset used to stand: there are faint indentations in the grass still, where the swings used to be twenty years ago. Jamie asks me, "What's the magic word in dis backyard?" She is big on "magic words" at the moment. I look around my huge, wonderful, green, leafy, beautiful yard ... the scene of most of my childhood memories, good and bad. What one magic word could possibly describe all of that?
The girls are in a perpetual state of nudity these days, and for a change the house isn't littered with toys ... the front yard is. The kids have a new wading pool. It's about four or five feet across, maybe eight inches deep, hard thin green plastic with pictures of dolphins and starfish all over it. Jamie practically lives in it. She has spent so much time in the sun and water lately that her skin is the color of cinnamon toast. I cut her bangs yesterday and put her hair up in round Dutch braids, and she is such a beauty, with her lovely tan and her cute new hairdo, I can hardly take my eyes off her ...
Kacie refuses to wear clothes this summer, and her chubby little body is pink all over. She is getting some freckles across her nose and cheeks, and she reminds me more of her Daddy every day. She's talking all the time now, too. Every day her command of the language grows. The other night she said her longest sentence to date: "Mommy I all done Mommy!"
One of Jamie's goldfish died ... the red and white one she named "Billy." I found him sprawled across one of the shells in the fish bowl this morning, and sadly broke the news to Jamie. She said, "Oh, my fishy died like Rudy's fishy?" (the little girl on The Cosby Show). She seemed to accept the finality of it without much trouble. I gave her Billy in a cup of water and told her she could "flush" him. She went into the bathroom, and a minute later I heard her flush her dead fish. "Bye bye Billy," she said, "I'll see you in Heaven."
Kacie's annoying new habit: getting into the toothpaste and pretending it's "suntan lotion." She rubs it all over herself and it makes an unspeakably sticky, disgusting mess. (But at least she smells fresh and minty ...?)
There had been a terrible flood, and now the whole city was knee-deep in water. Jamie and I were walking to Sheryl and Jeff's apartment building to see if they had survived the flood. I looked out of a window and saw a massive wall of water -- a tidal wave -- headed directly for us. As it crashed through the glass I threw myself on top of Jamie and Tanya, trying to protect them. I was sure we were going to die, but somehow we survived it. The next thing I knew we were driving around town in a jeep, looking for survivors. There were piles of people all over the place, including a lot of small children. Suddenly I started screaming, "Where's KACIE? Where's KACIE?" And then I woke up.
I am shopping in a grocery store with Jamie and Kacie; we're picking out frozen breakfasts. "Stay here a minute," I tell them. "I'm going to get some milk." I walk across the rear of the store toward the dairy section. In one corner of the store there are three teenagers, dressed in bizarre punk outfits and sporting Mohawks. They are stuffing cans of beer into their jackets and laughing. I pretend I don't see them, but they notice me and immediately begin to menace me. They surround me, grabbing me by the arms, and push me towards the front of the store. I am being abducted, I realize. I try to ease the situation with humor. "Hey, do we have to walk around like Siamese twins?" I say, jokingly, but no one laughs.
I realize then that one of the punks is Theresa C., a humorless, black-hearted girl I went to school with. I try to reason with her. "I've got two babies!" I say to her. "They're only one and two years old!" Down the aisle I can see Jamie and Kacie, still waiting for me. They look the way they did in September 1984, the day we visited Grandma V.; Jamie is wearing her red sailor dress and braids, Kacie is in the white overalls with anchors on them. They look so little and almost unbearably dear to me. "I can't leave my babies alone!" I plead with Theresa.
"This will be nice and quiet," Theresa says, grinning, and she shoves a gun into my ribs and squeezes the trigger. A bullet enters my heart and I begin to die. In slow motion I see Jamie and Kacie skipping down the grocery store aisle towards me, pigtails flying. I am filled with an awful, wrenching grief ... I don't want to leave my babies ...
My daughters have matching rag dolls, gifts from Grandma Beeson last Christmas ... beautifully crafted dolls with pretty embroidered faces and dark brown yarn hair. Jamie's doll is Maggie, Kacie's is Molly. For the past several months Maggie has been Jamie's constant companion. When Jamie has crackers and juice, Maggie must have some also. At the park (which we've visited several times this week, while Ray is away on his fishing trip) Maggie rode on the swings and went down the big slide. Most of the time Jamie treats Maggie with unreserved tenderness and consideration; once in a while Maggie is naughty and Jamie has to punish her, like any good Mama.
Until recently, Kacie has treated her Molly much the same way she treats all her dolls: with total indifference. This summer, though, she's starting to imitate Jamie a little bit; Molly is often tucked under one arm and carried all around the house.
A pigtailed two year old in a Snoopy t-shirt just brought me a bouquet of dandelions.
Sunny morning. The kids are riding trikes in the driveway. Actually, Jamie is riding a trike ... Kacie's little Tyke Bike was accidentally crushed last week when Ray backed the car over it. So she is reduced to riding the old pink toddler car.
I watched the late news before bed last night, and now I wish I hadn't. Two little girls, about Jamie's age I think, were killed on Lake Sammamish yesterday afternoon. (The newscaster said the girls were three or four years old, although this hasn't been confirmed.) The boat they were riding in suddenly exploded and burned: the girls' mothers and brother were thrown clear, but the little girls burned to death. Rescue workers had to restrain the women to keep them from jumping into the boat after their children. When I heard that, I burst into tears. Then I spent most of the night awake, thinking about those poor women ... what terrible anguish they must be feeling. It all happened so fast: one minute they were having fun, the next minute ...
I thought about the little girls, too, and all the things they'll never enjoy again. No more Saturday morning cartoons. No more tricycles. No more McDonalds. No more dolls, no more Sesame Street. Writing about all of this, I find myself in tears again. Those sweet little girls.
God, I love my children. Please don't let anything like that ever happen to Jamie or Kacie. I don't think I could handle it.
Today I am going to be sweet, patient, approachable, tolerant and loving towards my kids. I'm not going to get upset about untidy bedrooms, cookie crumbs or smeared toothpaste. I won't raise my voice or make comparisons. I won't bully them, or play favorites. Kacie can get food in her hair, and Jamie can ride her trike in the house, and I won't say a single unkind word. These are my precious daughters. I love them more than words can say. They're alive, and they're healthy, and they're here with me today, and I'm going to appreciate every minute God gives me with them, while I have the chance.
The girls and I were standing on the banks of a great rushing river. We were all dressed up, getting ready to go to a wedding. Suddenly I noticed something brown, bobbing in the water. "Oh shit!" I thought. "Kacie has dropped one of her toys in the river!" Then I saw that it wasn't one of Kacie's toys, after all ... it was Jamie's beloved doll, Maggie! She was being swept along by the current and was heading for certain "death" at the falls. My heart sank. If we lost Maggie, Jamie might not ever get over it; it would break her heart.
I shouted at a man on the opposite shore, telling him to try and grab the doll as it floated past him. But he couldn't hear me. I realized that I was the only one who could save Maggie, so I plunged into the icy water with all my clothes on and began swimming as hard as I could. Just before the falls, I caught up with Maggie and grabbed hold of her.
End of dream.
August 27, 1985
I'm pregnant. I just know I am. What am I going to do?
Well, that's a pretty stupid question: I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to have a third child. The alternatives aren't worth thinking about, let alone writing about. I'm going to have another child, probably sometime next April, and that's all there is to it.
This is all I've been able to think about today.
Let's be honest here for a minute. The thought of having another baby isn't all bad. At least, not to me. I've been saying all along that I wanted one more child, someday. Although I never pinpointed an exact year and time to get pregnant again, I had the general idea we should wait until Kacie was three: I wanted a three year age difference between Kacie and another baby, for all kinds of reasons.
If I'm pregnant right now, the baby's due date would be ... April 23? A month after Kacie's third birthday. Hopefully she will be potty-trained by then. And Jamie will be four. Yes, I'll have three children under age five - but only one in diapers. It could be worse.
I baked a cake with tiny little penises inside of it; if you ate a piece of it, you got pregnant. I was serving Jamie and her little friend Erica a slice of the cake. I looked closely at Jamie's piece and said, "Oh sweetheart! You're going to have a little boy!" But she burst into tears because she wanted a little girl.
September 5, 1985
I had a very strange experience last night that I'd like to share with you.
Ray is sick with the flu. He stayed home from work yesterday, and he's home again today. Last night I slept in Jamie's room so he wouldn't be disturbed. Shortly after midnight I woke up and started thinking about being pregnant again. My mind began ticking off all the reasons why having another baby right now would be disastrous ... the financial burden. The added strain on an already troubled marriage. The work. The fuss. The effect on the girls. The extra weight I'll probably never lose. It all adds up to disaster, I thought. In the dark and quiet of night the low-level despair I've been feeling all week began to grow into full-scale panic. I fell asleep again finally, but I was very deeply troubled.
An hour or so later, something jolted me out of my sleep. My hands were folded across my tummy, and as my eyes fought to adjust to the darkness I felt a sudden ripple of movement across my belly. Astonished, I pressed my hands harder against my stomach and waited. A moment later - there it was again. There was no mistaking what it was: the baby was moving. At five weeks?? Wait a minute ... something wasn't right! I must be asleep, I thought to myself. This is a dream. But my eyes were open. I knew I was laying in Jamie's bedroom; I could see the outlines of her furniture, through the dimness. I couldn't be asleep!
I pressed my tummy again, and there it was ... distinct, unmistakable, and VERY real. The baby was definitely moving inside of me. I just lay there for a few minutes, loving the familiar sensation of a living being rolling and turning inside of my body. It was wonderful. Suddenly it dawned on me that I must be much further along than we'd suspected, maybe fourteen or fifteen weeks. There was no way, now, that I could consider ending this pregnancy. This baby will join our family, and it will receive all the love and consideration our other two children receive.
I thought, "I've got to tell Ray that the baby is moving!" I tried to sit up, but for some reason I found I couldn't move. I was flat on my back and I couldn't move a muscle, and all of a sudden I realized why: I was asleep, after all. And right then I woke up. I pressed my hands against my flat tummy and felt ... nothing. It had been a dream. I have to tell you, though, that it was the most vivid dream I have ever had in my life. I swear to you, my hands actually felt that baby moving. Even now, as I sit here in the light of morning, I can recall the way it felt.
I wish that I could tell you I got up this morning full of resolve and optimism ... that my experience, marvelous and weird and magic as it was, "fixed" everything in my heart. 'Isn't so. I still feel doubts and fears about being pregnant again. I'm still wondering how in the heck we're going to manage it. My dream last night was entertaining, but it didn't produce a miracle ...
... Or did it?
I don't know. There is part of me that thinks God had a hand in the dream, giving me a brief sensory taste of things to come ... reminding me that there really is a person in there. I'd love to think that He allowed me to feel the baby moving for a few dreamy minutes, while I was in a twilight sleep, just to let me know the seed inside of me is precious and viable and deserving of life.
Maybe it was a miracle, after all ...