Winter Gaze

Female, age 61 – (click on image to enlarge)

I look just about what I expected to look like at 61. I’m getting my father’s eyebrows which when I was younger I dreaded because I was really afraid I’d get them. He’s got those really, really brittle, white Scotch eyebrows that poke right out like whiskers over your eyes. And I’m starting to get them…what surprises me though is when I see them now, I pluck them out, but as I do it I say, hi dad, thanks for these. Now I kinda like them because every time I see them, they remind me of him.

On aging gracefully…we just went and saw Burlesque with Cher and I was so unhappy with what I saw because she’s about my age and it looks like she’s doing everything under the sun to keep from looking anything over 40 and I really thought that’s a shame. That’s a real shame to not allow yourself to grow and look beautiful for your age. I love the way Judy Dench looks. I would like to see, what would Cher look like at 61 years old. I don’t want to see how she looks now, all reconstructed. I’d like to see what she really looks like.

My hardest challenge was losing a baby at birth and it nearly destroyed me. I think it’s one of the hardest things you ever go through. I’ve talked to many people since then and I’m astounded how many don’t get through it. It breaks up marriages, it destroys families. Because it puts you in such an incredibly deep black hole that nobody can reach you and you can’t reach out. Just time is the only thing that does it, time. That’s the hardest, the very hardest. I carried him to full term. Full term and your expectations are high at that point.
You’re going home with a baby, you’re all set, you’ve got the nursery all set, everything’s ready and on a dime… everything turns on a dime… All of a sudden everything crashes all around you, first one. It was especially hard because my husband was on tour with a show. He’s an actor and his character’s wife in it has a baby and it’s a boy…we lost our baby, a boy…in the middle of the show there’s a celebration, a birth where he and his father in the play, they do a dance and at one point they turn and face each other and sing a song called ‘It’s a Boy’. It was very, very painful. It almost drove him out of theatre completely. It’s the toughest. And then it made it even harder because we were on tour so not only was it us and our family and our friends that were caught up in it, but the entire cast as well was waiting for… I was going to have the baby on tour; we were going to tour with a newborn. We were in San Francisco. So in a way I always felt like we were put there. It happened and we were put there because that’s where my family was. We could have been in New York still. We ended up in the exact place we had to be at that time, but yeah, that was the toughest.

We still have not really talked about it. We’ve talked around it, but he and I have not really ever had a real conversation over it. It’s still
too deep, you can’t. It was 32…32 years ago. It still can’t come out full force I would say probably if I had to put it on a scale I would say 60% of the emotional part of it is still shut down. Only maybe 40% is surfaced…yeah, I fully expect one of these days to pull over to the side of the road and be stuck there for hours. I don’t think people fully realize that until you go through it ‘cause I never did with people I knew before, I never knew how intense it is. People try and help you through it and it’s very sad because there’s nothing you can say or do in that situation, it will all be taken wrong. You just have to live through it. And you know, people say with real tragedies, you don’t start to heal from them for at least seven years and I can vouch for that because it was just over seven years when I was actually
able to sit back and say, “Oh my god, I didn’t think of it yesterday.” It took seven years for me to go one day without thinking of it.

I had three more children by then. And that was a world of difference, that heals an awful lot but it’s still there.  It was terrifying with each one because on the first one I had one of those perfect textbook pregnancies. I went to the hospital and everything was fine. We were at the point where I got to the delivery room. The doctor said, “OK, you’re ready, go ahead and push.” I had a fetal monitor…and I pushed and everything went wrong. The cord wrapped around his neck twice. He had very broad shoulders and they said when I pushed
the shoulders locked in the pelvic bone and compressed the cord and cut off all his oxygen. From there it was almost an hour in the delivery room until they could get the baby out…so yeah, for the next three, when they said push… With the first one, when the doctor said, “You need to push,” my reaction was, “No, I won’t, no, I won’t. I’m not doing this.”

But the upside of it is that after that – after having gone through that, you never take for granted that your child is alive. They don’t have to do anything to make me happy, all they have to do is breathe in and breathe out, just take another breath and I’m happy, that’s all that I need… just keep breathing. So the next two that came along were incredible gifts. Every now and then, when I really need something to happen for me, I say a little prayer. I keep saying, “You know, I know you gave me three wonderful children after that, but that first round was such a really nasty job, you still owe me.” So I figure no matter what happens, God is not off the hook with me ever. No, that one is way, way too big to ever be made up for.


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