Tag Archives: Ashes

Me

Velvet Buttons

It will be our second wedding anniversary in a week & a half. There are days where I feel as if the time has flown but honestly, right now, it feels like just the right amount of time.

Despite the last two years throwing some of the most difficult challenges at us, at me, that I have ever had to face I am amazed & proud to say that I can still get up each morning & look myself in the mirror. Okay, sometimes it is through the slit of one eye, but it is still me that looks back & at the end of (most) days I smile. The principal reason for this is the man who chose me to be his wife. After almost a decade of knowing him I can honestly say that I would not be here, if not for him.

With our cotton anniversary looming I have been, naturally, thinking about our wedding day – running all the memories through my mind, it is still fresh & beautiful in there – so many tender & spectacular moments that are too divine to describe. As always, I recall my favourite moments & there it is. Shining out in the light on its pedestal. That one shining moment, that is still my favourite from that entire day.

Corsmor & I left our wedding reception much later than we had planned – we were having so much fun & we had to force ourselves to leave. Under the arch of love we bid farewell to our guests & made our way to our bridal suite. We stood in the middle of our room & looked at each other. In the background the murmur from the reception continued on (& on for the next hour or so…)

Corsmor stood behind me & unbuttoned the back of my gown – there were over 30 buttons which were covered in velvet & encased a zip. His fingers worked them all & he slid the zip down with ease. My dress fell to the floor. I turned & kissed him, passionately.
   “Mr Rolfe, may I present your wife?” I whispered
He grinned & his blue eyes glistened. Lump in his throat, he laughed & kissed me again.

My feet were aching & I felt weak. Corsmor ran me a bath & I slipped into the bubbles with no complaint. It was then I noticed that my hands were a light shade of bordeaux – the dye from my velvet wedding gown had worn off onto my skin. I grinned.

I lied there with the handmade diamond pins still in my hair, my glossed red lips, my wedding ring & my engagement ring sparkling. I am sure that I was grinning, my cheeks were aching from smiling all day. I closed my eyes. I drifted.

When I got out of the bath & put on my warm linen robe & found Corsmor outside on our balcony – his suit still on, his tie removed & his top few buttons open. He was fine-looking. Handsome, strong & neat in his suit. He had, had his waistcoat made from the same velvet as my dress – his idea & it was soft to touch & the colour set off his dark, olive skin.
…”You look pretty” I told him. He laughed again & shook his head.

The moon shone behind us, a light fog hung over Mount Lofty & the music was still beating at the reception. We could see the room glowing from our balcony but we could not see in. It sounded like there was a great party, still, going on.

We sat out on the balcony for hours – we smoked, drank champagne & we talked. We traded war stories about the day, about our families & friends, about how happy we were & how much we loved each other.

This precious time on the balcony in the small hours of the morning are what I remember most from the day because it was just us. It was the first time we had been truly alone all day – our first time alone as man & wife & what did we do? We talked. Like we always had – talk had always come first. From the first moment we met online;
    “Are you going to say something? I am going to delete you if you do not talk to me” he wrote
It was a challenge & I accepted.

That is nearly a decade ago now.

Only hours previous we had our photo taken in front of that same balcony & in our window sill. I knew that years later we would want to remember our room & the moments alone. Pictures & notebooks full of stories; that is how I remember. Without them, I am lost.

When the air began to chill & the wild birds started to rustle; the music from the reception had stopped long ago (I had not noticed) we decided to go back to our room.

I texted my brother, Leo.

   “Happiest day of my life…”

& it was.

Wedding Day

Sing With Rapture & Dance Like A Dervish

‘Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. If you don’t start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy & who’ll love you the same way back. & how do you find him? Forget your head & listen to your heart… Run the risk, if you get hurt, you’ll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey & not fall deeply in love – well, you haven’t lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.” ~~ Anthony Hopkins, Meet Joe Black

Spring has sprung & we have had some good news at last – just one more operation to get out of the way in October & all should be well.

Running risks, getting hurt, trying, clawing, healing, screaming – all these things are living – but loving – that is still new to me every day & every day I wake up confused… he is still here… he must be mad, purely & utterly mad.
 Ashes & Corsmor

She Drove

Here is the morning after & my head is pounding. Bleary eyed & my stomach in a perfect storm. The physical suffering is not what bothers me the most it is the judge & jury in my mind on an endless questioning haze watching hours of reels of my actions & my words. Lying here I am certain I will die.

There is no going back. Now I am changed forever. These things have to be written into the story of me whether I like it or not. Whether I remember them or not.

As the day goes on I remember more & more of what I do not want to remember. The hatred in me grows ever more & by the time night comes around again, I have still not left the bed in which this happened. The saying “you made your bed” rings solidly in my ears.

At 4am I get up, my naked feet land on the cold wooden floor & they creak on the way to the bathroom. I force my eyes to look in the mirror as I force my knotted hair behind my ears. I am not sure who is looking back at me. Natural looking beauty worn down by the last 24 hours, there is another person smirking back at my tear-filled eyes. & I remember her name; Nectar.

She emerges from the bathroom – moving swiftly & I am left behind. She grabs the keys to my car. She leaves the house & she unlocks the car. Behind the wheel she rests her head on the headrest & breathes out as she turns the keys. The ignition turns & the car comes to life. Amanda Palmer starts to blare & sings “we suffer morning’s most of all”. She is not wrong. I reappear in the rear-view mirror but it is not me that pulls out the driveway.

If I had a memory I would detail her movements & what happened next. All I know is that Nectar drove a long way away having done the damage & I went back to bed.

I have to drive
I have my reasons, dear
It’s cold outside
I hate the seasons here

I suffer mornings most of all
I feel so powerless & small
By ten o’clock I’m back in bed
Fighting the jury in my head

You learn to drive
It’s only natural, dear
You drive all night
We haven’t slept in years

We suffer mornings most of all
We saw you lying in the road
We tried to dig a decent grave
But it’s still no way to behave

It is a delicate position
Spin the bottle
Pick the victim
Catch a tiger
Switch directions
If he hollers
Break his ankles
To protect him

We’ll have to drive
They’re getting closer
Just get inside
It’s almost over

We will save your brothers
We will save your cousins
We will drive them far away
From streets & lights
From all signs of bad mankind

We suffer mornings most of all
Wake up all bleary eyed & sore
Forgetting everything we saw
(I’ll meet you in an hour
at the car)

-Amanda Palmer “I Have To Drive”
Mirror

What I Carry Inside

I miss you but I am not sure you were ever really here? I would have really liked to know you all the same. You were never here, & now never really gone.
 
It is 3 days since they told us that our baby had no heartbeat. That little flicker of life we had been mesmerised by only 2 short weeks before was gone. Run away, put out, disappeared…
 
I already knew but I had hoped on hope & words from Corsmor that everything was okay; that I was just following worry instead of happiness. He was wrong about that but not wrong to hope.
My instant reaction to the news was anger & my head filled with the throb of “I told you so”. I felt strangely vindicated that all these 8 weeks of growing this baby I had known in the back of my mind that it was slipping away & though I had said it many times no one had believed be. Now I felt angry that no one had listened, when in fact nothing could have been done but to wait & to see.
 
Vindication quickly subsided when looking into the eyes of a truly disappointed & cruelly devastated Husband. One who hoped so hard & held me so many nights while I cried as I bled, as I cramped & as we hoped. His eyes filled with tears looking into my eyes. Not knowing what to say or to do, being only able to stare at me & clumsily rub my leg.
 
I got up from the table & entered the change room. I wiped the ultrasound material & spots of blood from my between my legs with a scratchy & stiff napkin. Put my still-warm clothing back on, the pants I had bought prematurely & with excitement for my ‘growing belly’ suddenly seemed so big that they could fit me & this entire empty nightmare into them easily. The numb began to wash over my whole body. I gathered myself in full knowledge that the technician & doctor had just gone to arrange to ‘fix this up’ to make sure we ‘get this out of you’. Like it was a dangerous, diseased growth that must be removed & I began to feel that’s exactly what it was.
 
Walking out of the change room I asked Corsmor if he was okay. He shook his head & said “I’d like to hug my wife’’ to which I requested he did not as I knew that I had a lot more of this to go through today & could not start the crying now. He understood or appeared to.
 
The technician came back in, her face ashen & so young, no more than 22, not knowing what to do or say except “you have an appointment at 10:30. You don’t have to see our receptionist or pay just leave & go to the hospital at 10:30am”. As I walked past her I said “thank you” & then instantly wondered what I was thanking her for.
 
So we went back to our house that to me seemed quieter & bigger than it ever had before. He grabbed me in the hall way & the tears escaped me. The heaving, heavy, snotty crying that explodes from you when you cannot hold it in any more – the opening of a terrifying door I was about to walk through. I closed it. I pulled myself away from him. I sat down & I stared. I had nothing to say. To be honest, this is the conversation that I do not remember. I do not remember what we said to each other in the dim, quiet lounge room while the rest of the world ran about on their Tuesday morning beginning to the business day.
 
I couldn’t stop moving so I called my sister. She came straight down – living only 4 houses up was a blessing this time.
 
She came in & knew. I shook my head & said “no heartbeat”. Her eyes, like my Husbands only half an hour before filled with tears. But Lara – she is tough & did not let me see too much. Knowing she is the expert on all things baby (having had 2 beautiful babies many years ago) I asked her “what are they going to do to me”. So she gave me some of the run down on what happens now. Why they do it & what all these strange words like “Curette”’, D&C etc. stand for. She really does know it all. The reality sank in a little that my baby was now becoming a ‘product’ that had to be removed. It was not alive anymore. I was not a mum anymore.
 
Since I could drink it now as I’d fasted for the ultrasound I made myself a double coffee. Making it was warm, it was familiar, it was normal. It was a comfort.
 
We sat in our lounge room & calm moved over me. As only Lara can she explained why this happens, why she was sorry for us but we talked about the positives too, we joked, we giggled, I winced at the pain from the cramping I was still experiencing.
Only days before I’d finally stopped bleeding & I had felt really well – healthy. I left the house for the first time in a week. My feet were so clumsy in the car that they slipped on the pedals until I was used to driving again by the end of my street. I went to the grocery store just to wander, to get out. I couldn’t believe how much energy I had. Half way down the magazine aisle I almost fainted. It had suddenly occurred to me that I had stopped bleeding & I felt good because the baby was gone. This was terrifying. The thought that I had suddenly felt well & was smiling because my baby had died was enough to make me sick.
 
It was then that I knew.
 
4 days later, here we were sitting in my lounge room talking about how they would remove the ‘missed miscarriage’. How they would take away the dead baby. That I would have to go to the hospital & sit in the maternity clinic with the other fortunate Mums & Dads knowing my baby was dead but still inside me. The emptiness was overwhelming. The numbness was a comfort.
We waited in the full car park as a lady reversed her car. Corsmor said “that was lucky wasn’t it”. I could not help but berate him. “Lucky? Yes I feel so lucky”. He apologised. I felt awful. We walked in,
   “I’m Violet Ashes, & I have an appointment” I said
   “Oh you’re Ashes, okay, yes, the doctor is in theatre but he will see you as soon as he gets out please take a seat” she motioned at the waiting room chairs
   “Thank you” again I wondered why I kept saying this?
 
We sat… & we sat. The tears came & fell as I watched the beautiful mothers & their round healthy bellies. They all had fuzzy black & white photos of babies to be born & I thought of the photos I had. The baby with no heart, the yolk sack, the foetal pole, our everything; our nothing. I watched their attentive husbands & their smiles. I felt so happy for them all, not begrudging at all. How wonderful it must be, I thought. Do they know how lucky they are?
 
It was half an hour before the doctor came in. Still in full scrubs & dragging another female doctor with him. He was hobbled. His back looked sore. He made a joke about the long walk to the consult room. I didn’t laugh. We sat in Birthing Room 4. He explained slowly what had happened, the hows & the whys. I heard words like ‘chromosome’, ‘natural’, & ‘25% of women’. I wasn’t really listening. He explained my options. Like any option except ‘get this out of me’ would have been acceptable. For the first time I started to listen. I was shocked. The option of ‘you can wait & hope your body expels the foetus’ & ‘we can give you medication that does that & you will bleed it out’. Was he serious? Does he expect me to unceremoniously & with absolutely no dignity or medical assistance bleed my baby out into the toilet over ‘the next few days’? I was disgusted that this was even an option. As if I had not been through enough. I opted for number 3. Put me under, take it out, & send me home – an abortion. The idiot in my head felt relieved; at least I would not have to deal with right to lifers.
 
He explained he would have to get me on the end of the surgical register as I had explained that it being Tuesday, waiting until Friday was not an option.
   “They will not be happy when I tell them they have to stay late” He said.
Again, shocked, I quipped,
   “Well I will swap places with them if they like. I would love to be at work complaining about working late instead of here.”
He agreed.
The next few hours were the worst in my life.
 
My husband & I were shuffled off into another waiting room. I could not hear what the Doctor said to the nurses except,
   “You can take of that can’t you? …”
   “Okay, take a seat” the nurse said to us.
We sat & waited, filled out some paperwork. It was quiet. We were quiet.
 
We sat in uncomfortable chairs, uncomfortable with each other, not knowing what to say. My mind drifted in & out of consciousness. Another nurse came out to ask if I’d been given any instructions & I opened my fist to show her two pills I’d been given by the Doctor.
   “Did he tell you when to take them?” she asked, to which I replied,
   “No, he said you would ‘take care of that’.” So she left us to call him — more waiting.
 
After 10 or so minutes she came back & said she would take us through to the next waiting room & a nurse would help me. Corsmor made himself comfortable & I looked for & used the bathroom. A typical hospital bathroom it had the smell of having been used extensively. That acrid scent of dry urine filled my nostrils & the bright fluorescent lights made me look pale.
 
Only six months prior to this I had been in hospital to remove a benign tumour from my left ovary. It was a terrifying & extensive experience. One I was not sure could ever be topped for sheer terror factor, until now. When I’d been led into surgery that day by a very grumpy nurse she had lost her mind over the fact that I had not taken off my make up (apparently I was supposed to know to take it off despite the fact I’d never been in hospital before). So, knowing this, I took my make up off this time. Most of it was blurred & sketchy now from all the crying – but I removed what I could with paper towel, hand soap & water. The taste of Glycerine filled my mouth – I turned to vomit but having eaten nothing that day I wretched.
 
Exiting the bathroom I was confronted by another nurse; but I smiled at this for the first time in days. It was a woman I’d known most of my life. Her daughter & I had grown up together in a round-about sort of way. Her face was kind & soft, I was pleased to finally see someone I knew & automatically trusted.
 
In preparation for my coming abortion I had to put 2 tablets in my vagina in order to widen my cervix. A most disconcerting & inaccurate thing to be asked to do – no real instructions given to me, just insert & wait so that half the job is done by the time the doctor comes to remove the ‘material’ from my womb. Yes, because that’s what really matters here, I thought to myself. Ensuring the surgeon can get home to his family on time & doesn’t have to mess around with me for too long. I’m all about the help. “Thank you…” rang in my ears.
 
Back in the bathroom again she’d instructed me on how to put on the oversized gown, hat, shoes & dressing gown made of paper. It was so big on me I thought I might disappear in it. Disposable clothing. Just like this pregnancy now felt to me, disposable.
 
Corsmor grinned a little at me as I came back to him & settled in one of the maroon, 70’s shaped & well-worn recovery chairs. Not long after this the cramping started again. Heavy cramping & I could feel the blood seeping from between my legs into the industrial sized pad the nurse had given me. I began to cry again. Tears, inescapable ran freely down my cheeks. Corsmor looked panicked & I told him he felt so far away. He picked up an office chair & moved as close to me as he could. His strong, twice-the-size-of-mine hands wrapped around mine & he stared at me unable to speak.
I began to tell him how I had known, how I had understood all along that I was losing the baby but that I had wanted to hope so much it was not true. He nodded along to what I had to say like it was an old favourite tune. Insecurities began to swallow my brain & I explained that I expected he might leave me now, not being able to follow through with the birth of our first child. He looked confused, hurt, astonished.
 
Corsmor is 12 years my senior & with me at age 32 I had always felt this was a race against time. Despite this we had done things the traditional way; the courtship, the marriage & then the baby. This is how we had planned & how we had wanted it. In the back of my mind a crazy lady (& I am sure many of our friends) whispered that he had married me to have his kids because of the age gap this could be the only explanation. Of course! This was obvious! How that lady misunderstood.
 
Corsmor squeezed my hand so tightly that my nails dug into my palm. He told me how wrong I was. How I was what mattered to him. Not a baby. That if there was a choice between me & the ‘pip’ it was always me. This was new information to me. It was wondrous & it was heart breaking at the same time. Heartbreaking that I had never realised how truly amazing my Husband was & how much he loved me. I was as much a part of him as one of his limbs & I felt so humble.
 
Tears plummeted down my face, as much from the cramping as from the emotional boxing match I was in. It was truly exhausting. Nurses came & went with more pieces of paper & more signing. More intimate questions about my pregnancy, my health. I cried all the way through the Anaesthetist telling me this was normal, & what the risks were.
 
The sound of risk sounded thrilling. The thought occurred to me I might not wake up. I embraced this thought. I went numb. I stopped crying & I was all business. Something inside me snapped, or woke up. I am not sure which.
 
Soon they came to walk me to surgery. A nurse took my arm. I kissed my Husband good bye. My helpless, lonely, hungry & tired Husband had to let me go. I watched him walk out, knowing he had to drive home & sit in silence until they called him to say it was done. & there was that face again. That terrified, only-just-holding-it-together face that he had shown me six month earlier when they had wheeled me away to surgery. I could not think about it & I turned away.
 
A nurse told me to lie down on the table. My paper gown ripped & rustled as I unceremoniously climbed up. They bickered with each other over their duties & how late they were now that I was on the register. They pricked me with needles, they put sticky tape all over my arms. I lied back staring. I felt like a piece of meat on a chopping block. No one smiled, no one looked me in the eye. I begged the universe not to let me wake up. Let me die.
 
   “Count back from 100” the nurse to my left whispered in my ear. My lips did not move. My mouth was dry & I could not speak. As a cloud of cotton wool filled my memory the nurse on my right removed my underwear.
 
I woke in recovery with a nurse holding my hand & stroking the fringe of hair on my forehead. “There she is” she whispered. “How do you feel?” she asked
 
   “Sad” was all I could manage before a barrage of tears broke through. I was confused & I was in pain. Nothing felt as if it was real & yet too real at the same time. I was cold & my body shivered. I cried. The nurse sat by me for half an hour. She talked me round to a soft sob.
   “The Doctors will tell you to wait to try again but they don’t know what women know. Wait until your next period then try again, you will be very fertile & I’ll see you in here before Xmas giving birth to a healthy baby.” She explained
   “I don’t think so. I can’t see me wanting to ever risk this again” I said.
  “Is your hubby waiting outside, when did you get married? The small talk had started & I told her about Corsmor. How much I loved him & asked when I could see him. I had never wanted to see anyone so much before. The nurse wiped my tears & brushed my hair with her fingers.
   “Let’s brush your hair for your husband & wipe those tears, okay” she said.
 
The woman in the bed next to me explained to the nurse that she had opted for an abortion because she was single & too old to have a baby. The nurse brushing my hair, her breasts knocking against my arm, breathed in sharply & looked at me with terror in her eyes. There was no escaping the conversation next to me.
 
   “It’s okay, that’s her choice & her right” I said. The nurse looked relieved. Here I was, just had the baby I had wanted more than anything removed & I was making the nurse feel better. No one can ever say that I am not charitable again.
 
They wheeled me out into the recovery lounge & I settled back into the 70’s recliner.
 
I do not remember a whole lot from this time. I felt sick & dizzy. Corsmor looking worried & the nurse would not let me go until I drank something. I got myself undressed & dressed in my own clothes in the overused bathroom again & wore another industrial sized pad that no oversized pants was ever going to hide.
 
Corsmor walked me to the car which he had parked too far away & expressed his guilt. The walk in the open warm air was nice, I never told him that.
 
The last 3 days have been a blur. Mum, Lara & Bella have visited, flowers from my boss & friends have arrived. The house looks like a funeral parlour. Corsmor has not yet gone back to work & does not let me out of his sight. His ‘unbirthday’ passed on the 28th February & he was miserable. My mum visited with cake but the rest of the world either forgot or stayed away which has only added to my guilt. I feel as if I have ruined his life.
 
I called my Dad & told him about it all today. He was upset. I couldn’t handle the disappointment in his voice & I hung up.
 
The anger is just about to come through me in the next week or so – I can feel it welling up inside. This whole process has been nothing short of the worst 8 weeks of my life. What began as something magical & joyful has become clinical & heart-breaking. The words ‘our baby died inside me’, torture me. The heart we saw beat had simply stopped. Even though everyone tells me that there was nothing I could have done, that I did everything right, the guilt the bare fact that I lost our baby that will never leave me. I will never be the same, I will never be that innocent again.
 
It is unlike me to think of a positive at a time like this. However, the one thing that I have learned in these 8 weeks that I will carry with me forever, the only positive, is exactly how much my Husband loves me. How much he supports me. That what happens to me happens to him too. He feels what I feel & he understands. I understand for the first time that his love is way beyond anything I ever imagined. I may have lost our baby but I will carry that with me, always.

Disappearing

Just 6…

We spent the long weekend for Australia day camping in Victoria. We decided that since we had just had a positive pregnancy test it would be good to get away, just the three of us, & relax. I felt fine. Healthy, full of energy.
 
I am certain I cannot be more than 6 weeks pregnant but the started bleeding started the minute we got home from our weekend away. I am terrified. I have read so many websites & books that all say bleeding may be  normal this early but many that say it is not okay. I have taken another test, it indicates still pregnant. I do not know what to do & I am not sure there is anything I can do. My immediate reaction seems to be sit here & stress. I cannot get  my mind off the possibility that maybe I have done something wrong, that I should not have told Corsmor & I should have just left it alone – waited a little longer. Maybe we should have not gone away? Stayed home? Maybe I pushed myself too hard? Perhaps this is just a warning & tomorrow all will be forgiven.
 
On our trip away ‘Pip’ was been mentioned so many times & become part of our lives. Preparations already being made in our minds.
 
I do not know what to do.
 
I am fearful it is all too late.

Us on holiday – our favourite beach – Bells Beach, Victoria.

Bell's Beach, Australia

Bell’s Beach, Australia