Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wife Strength

There is a twitch under my right eye and my knees and ankles are throbbing. I have poison ivy that is drying up on my wrists, forearms, chest and at the left side of my solar plexus. I'm strangely glad for it's remaining itch. Part of me wishes it was five days ago when it was still an oozing and all consuming mess.

It's Thursday. No, it's Wednesday.

Last night I stayed up until 2am waiting for the news to go public. I knew it was going to. I kept going online to the major local news sites to see if it was there yet. It wasn't. I fell asleep on the couch using one of our dogs as a pillow and one corner of a little blanket over my shoulder to convince myself I was warm.

At 4am I got up, peed, and got into bed next to my husband who had been sleeping since around 10pm. He could barely stand the whole thing and had finally gone to sleep to avoid thinking about it anymore. I couldn't blame him.
I knew she'd done it. I always know when people have done things. Bad things. The worst things. I can tell. I can feel it. The more evil, twisted, depraved, sick, disgusting and horrifying it is; the more I know it.

Around 6pm I had been in the shower and my husband pulled the curtain back.
He said, "T's baby is dead."
I was holding my head under the shower head to rinse out the shampoo. I closed my eyes. I breathed. My teeth clenched together so hard that I thought I might crack one. I opened my eyes and watched my husband. He wanted me to do something; to make it better. To make it go away or take my beautiful, strong and sun filled arms and hug the earth until little sunflowers pop up all over the place and everyone is happy. I'm good at that - sunflowers and happiness. But not for this.
"She did it," I said.
His eyes widened and he started to shake his head.
"You know she did it and we might as well deal with that fact right here and now."
He closed his eyes, pressed his lips firmly together and continued to shake his head.
I moved away from the shower head and put my warm and wet hands on either side of his face.
"Give me your eyes," I said firmly.
He opened his eyes and I hated everything about everything in that moment. I hated his pain, his running for the hills of denial, and his loss.
"Do not close your eyes while I am telling you this," I said, pressing more firmly on either side of his face.
"Do not look away from me. Keep your eyes on mine."
I could see him shift into gear and get with me. He moved forward until our noses were almost touching and put his hands at either side of my waist so I could get the reality train started.
"She did this, and you know it. She killed her baby and that's all there is to it. She is horribly, terribly, sickeningly, enormously mentally ill and there is nothing - absolutely nothing - in the Department of Family Services system that would or could do anything about the fact that they had to return that baby to her. Our society did nothing to protect her before she had a child, and is not capable of doing anything for any child that has or ever will come out of her body."
I let him close his eyes at that point, but continued to hold his head firmly in my hands. I waited for what I know is one of the loss things in his heart; the death of his own son at 10 days old from an uncontrollable and irrevocable illness.
His chest heaved and his hands drew into fists on either side of me. He pulled me close to him and we stood as one at the edge of the shower. I wanted to pull him into the water with me - to stand him there and strip him down naked. To load up our body sponge with every bit of shampoo, bath gel and soap in there and begin scrubbing. To make him tip his head back and drink water directly from the shower to cleanse his insides as I scrubbed and scrubbed his outsides. Something. Anything. To make it go away.
Alas, he released one deep and lonely sob and said, "My son."
I said, "I know."
He released me and we pressed our foreheads together.
"You in this?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said.
"You really in this? Ready to look at this, because I am telling you, without doubt, that she killed her baby and we are getting ready to hear some horrifying shit."
"I am," he said.
He pulled away to look me in the eyes again.
"Are you in this?" he asked.
"Yes," I said.

But I wasn't. Not really. I lied to him because his son died 10 years ago and the thought of a baby dying at the hands of another human being, its mother no less, takes him down a road of anger and grief that will need lots of support. I am already talking with two of my most trusted friends about this; dumping my own horror, shock, disgust and grief outside of my home so I can support my husband with the strength he deserves.

So I stayed up. I monitored the local news sites. Nothing happened until around noon today when this came across the wire:

October 6, 2010
In _____________ a woman has been charged in the death of her not quite two-month-old son. She admitted using pillows to suffocate her son for one hour, and has been charged with 2nd degree murder in the baby's death. Police were called to the scene where they found the infant lying unresponsive on his mother's bed. He was transported to ______________ Hospital where he was pronounced dead.


  1. I remember once you told me you were stronger than nine yards of garlic. I am horrified and sickened at the thought of this, of that woman and her baby, of the desperation and sickness and of the thought of your husband going through that tunnel of pain. Thank God he has you to be with him in that dark place. And thank you for writing this, for getting it out of you and giving it to us. I am here, sending you strength and light.

  2. That is so tragic. Was it a friend, neighbor? It's hard to be empathetic in these cases even when there are clear mental health issues. I always think that if I ever got that depressed or psychotic that I would know enough at least to just go away but we never really know unless it happens to us.

  3. I'm in recovery, Rubes. I know lots of people who do/have done lots of things.
    And I am and will remain completely empathetic to this woman who killed her baby. She has an enormously deep and complex level of mental illness that leaves no trace of "ability to parent" on her person. Depressed and psychotic are the understatements of the century when it comes to what she is. Her level of depravity is visable at a distance and most certainly up close. Her baby had been removed on Sunday and our grossly under-funded and under-supported Department of Family Services returned him Monday; he was murdered Tuesday. With such lack of funding and support, the department has had to set their standards so low that even this horribly disturbed woman (who has already had her parental rights removed for an older child) was deemed fit to parent her infant.
    In my opinion, our society and, therefore, this sytem, is broken. Unless a human being is somehow able to fight for themselves it is only a stroke of luck if they end up in the care of someone who will do them no harm. Being a child, elderly, or otherwise unable to care for oneself is, in this society, a dangerous proposition.
    One of the burning questions I have is when the man who impregnated this woman will be taken to task. I think he should be charged with rape for sticking his dick into a woman who has no way of defending herself.
    I also want to say that I plan on visiting this woman in jail as soon as I can. I want her to know someone cares. I can only imagine that when (hopefully) she is finally properly treated for her myriad of issues that she will be devestated with the reality of what she has done. Who is going to explain to her that this, EVEN THIS, is the result of untreated illness?
    Yes, I realize there are many who will paint her with a brush of "evil". Fuck those people. She is not evil. Just because someone has the body of an adult does not mean they have an adult mind to go with it.

  4. My 43-year-old niece is, and always will be, profoundly mentally ill. Her parents had her tubes tied years ago knowing that she would never be able to care for an infant. I am definitley on the empathetic side when it comes to this woman. Crazy doesn't always know it's crazy.

    As for Hellbilly's loss--my sister lost her 22-year-old son six years ago this past September. It's a permanent sadness that she manages to keep at bay most of the time, but the weeks before and after the anniversary of his death are hard, as are holidays.

  5. Thanks E. Part of my commitment as a wife includes supporting Hellbilly through any moment he has regarding the death of his on - no matter how big or small. He's doing well with this now. The truth is handles his shit - he really gets where he's been and where he wants to be.
    Thanks for understanding about the woman who killed her baby. You're damn right that crazy doesn't always know it's crazy, and the universe knows no one was willing to deal with the fact that she is.

  6. Any mother knows it is impossible to imagine bringing harm to your child. Therefore, it is beyond our ability to understand the depth of her despair.

    I am mourning the loss and mad at the broken system that couldn't protect this child. Yet, on a spiritual side, it is said, we make agreements and choose to whom we want as our parents.

    These are the most difficult aspects to grasp. Why would anyone choose to be born, only to die at the hands of their mother? I have to believe it is all written by our own hands, the reasons will be revealed later.

  7. ZM: Actually, I know it is possible for a mother to imagine brining harm to her child. One of my female relatives asked for help from the rest of the family when her youngest was about 2 months old. She admitted she could not stop thinking about killing him. Our family stepped up, got involved, took care of her baby, and got her the help she needed for severe post partum depression. She got help from us, her doctor and a psychiatrist familiar with ppd. She healed up and went on to be a fantastic mother until she passed away many years later from a lung disorder.
    In my opinion, this highlights part of my previous comment - In this society the only way a human being who is a child, elderly or otherwise unable to fight for him/herself ends up in the care of someone safe is by way of a stroke of luck. Our society, in general, does not care to protect these people. Nor to we hold accountable those who slash and burn the budgets of those (Depts. of Family/Children's Services) we've put in place to do it for us.
    Also, I do not subscribe to a system of belief that includes the idea of anyone choosing to be born or who their parents will be. So, no comment on that.

  8. i live with what happens to people who are unfit to parent. one of my brothers and one of my sisters are the product of a woman who did unspeakable things to them.

    and then, the foster care system took over, and did worse.

    we fail our children as a society. we allow them to be treated in ways we wouldn't allow a dog to be treated. and even worse, we fund it.

    i don't subscribe to the belief that we choose our parents. i don't think my brother or sister do either. they're in their 30s now, still grappling with the whys and hows that left them broken.

    and i too, have been there to support a friend going through a times when she was afraid she might harm her kids. she's a social worker, and one of the most grounded people i know. if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

    MG- i'm so sorry for what you're going through.

  9. MG - I'm so sorry about this. You are awesome for Hellbilly. Wish I could bear hug you both.