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Aside

In Memory of Sadie Reynolds Gomez

19 May 1980 – 29 August 2011

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There is a garden in her face,

Where pink petunias and a Lily grow.

A heavenly paradise is that place,

Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow.

So loved, so treasured, so missed.

Love Mom and Dad

In Memory of Sadie

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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Valentine’s Day

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I took a hard line against Valentine’s Day when I was raising my two kids. It’s for young lovers, I insisted, but still I capitulated and purchased the punch-out sheets of cards for the classroom. At least it had progressed to an inclusive observation, unlike when I was a child and only the same four or five popular kids would haul in 30 or 40 cards apiece while the rest of us settled for the one from our best friend – if we were lucky. A child’s life in those days was more Dickensian than the egalitarian approach of today.

It was a surprise to me, then, when my late daughter experienced a full-blown love affair at the tender age of eight with the character of Frederic in Gilbert and Sullivan’s light opera The Pirates of Penzance. We were a theatre-going family. Showboat, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors – we saw them all but it started in Penzance with Frederic at the helm. Her eyes followed his every move and she hung on to each note like a prize. She left the theatre that night a singer and music became the one lasting expression of faith that never let her down, all thanks to Frederic and young love.

This Valentine’s Day, after attending my granddaughter’s dance recital, festooned and flanked by red hearts, I am reminded of that other little girl – my little girl. She lives in my heart today, as ever.

I still crabbed about the cards even as I made them (I’ve progressed to that!) I made sure to tell her the day was for young lovers and couples that need to remember to tell their partners they’re appreciated. This time ’round, though, I’m aware of a gentler, more subtle knowledge. Sometimes a fake Hallmark holiday can evolve to mean more than the retail sales surge for which it was originally created. Occasionally, like this year for me, it brings with it the memory of music and one girl’s first brush with sweet love.

Her love didn’t stop there. It grew to include Harry Anderson from Night Court fame (although we never could figure that one out), later including Jason Priestley and real boys, then men. But it started with Frederic and, now that she’s gone, it spirals back to the start where lightness and love first meet, so much like grief unfolding on the spectrum’s opposite end. I meet her there today, cinnamon heart-in-hand. Happy Valentine’s Day, love. I miss you.

© Kim Reynolds 2013

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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She Died on a Monday

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In the seven years leading up to my daughter’s death, she suffered through hundreds of hospitalizations. I use the word “suffered” and I mean it. When I’d get the call from her husband in her distant city telling me she was once-again hospitalized, I’d do a quick survey of where we were in the week. Tuesday to Thursday = probably okay. Friday to Monday = disaster.

And now we have a new television show, entertainment, if you will, from the TNT network entitled “Monday Mornings” and penned by CNN’s top medical guy, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which explores something all-too-many of us are all-too-familiar with: Medical mistakes.

My concern over the “entertainment value” of such a television show bumps up against relief. Real people with real lives and real families that love them die in real life versus now people will know some of the truth. The problem is that real people get lost in the drama of storytelling. My daughter is real. Our family is real. The loss is untenable always and in all ways.

As you watch this new program, I ask you to keep in mind that they will focus on one error at a time that results in a patient’s death but the truth is quite different. The errors come fast and furious, one atop the other, each moving the individual’s body further and further from its norm until, seven years later, no one can remember what the original problem was; nor can they find it. Instead, the medical collective has created so many new problems, it is virtually impossible to know or understand what they are dealing with today.

Amidst it all is a young, beautiful woman that trusted them to do their best for her. How tragic, then, for her to have to face the multitude of truths she must come to terms with on top of the outcome she must accept. Their “best” made her die. She backed the wrong horse. Their only interest now is to protect themselves.

If this new show turns out to be the type of entertainment you will consume, please remember that it presents nothing close to the truth. It has been sprinkled with just enough truth to make for a good and palatable story but not enough to frighten you and you should be frightened. Like most of you, there was a time I believed in the medical systems and structures put in place to protect me and mine. Having witnessed first-hand the depth of dysfunction in our health care system, I can tell you unequivocally, there is nothing healthy or caring within it. You will meet some fine people there, however, they are powerless and must comply completely in order to survive its political environment.

Should you choose to watch “Monday Mornings”, I can only hope that you will keep in mind that as you sit watching, real medical mistakes are happening. It is not fiction and the people experiencing it are not characters on a television show. They are loved ones. They are beautiful daughters. And they died on a Monday.

© Kim Reynolds 2013

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Where's My Kid?

 

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Diamonds

It’s ball season again. I used to be able to see the remnants of softball season’s past at the ballpark as each Spring revealed its new recruits and last year’s echoes pressed themselves against the white lines between first and third. I spent the last few years turning away from that magic, unwilling or, maybe more accurately, unable to look at the promise in those young faces. I didn’t know that the time would come when I would let the memories return and bring my child with them.

While I prepared to lose my daughter, I found the pure simplicity of softball too painful to remember. Parents pace the park, desperate to see their girls win. I’d wonder (bitterly) if they knew how good they had it. Do they know the outcome doesn’t matter? Can they see the metaphor that lives in the relay throw from left field to home plate? I doubted it. I doubted them. I used to be them. This season, now that she’s gone from this physical world, the same ballpark calls me.

Year after year the park photographer lines the girls up and they heft the bat onto their shoulder and squint into the sun. Those photos come home with them at season’s end and find their way to the bottom of a lint-filled drawer, stuck in the folds of a box or the back pages of yet another full photo album. When the unthinkable happens, and that child dies, the flow of life’s photos stop, too. Every picture you have must last the rest of your life. Some spark of some photo somewhere dogged me. I rooted through the stacks of photographs of her that fill every vacant surface of my home and there they were. Two photos, a decade apart – same park, same place, same grip – you can seeImage the church across the street over her shoulder. Hat-head. Check. Sun-squint. Check. Good stance. Check.

This season, as I sit in my car across from the park and eavesdrop on this year’s version of her past, I am struck by how each team looks as hers did. There’s the future softball scholarship winner at Virginia Tech on the mound; the stocky, fit third baseman with a gun for an arm; and the requisite one that doesn’t give a shit about ball but enjoys the camaraderie and uses the outfield hours she logs as opportune tanning moments. Through all the years that she was ill leading up to her death, I couldn’t see these girls for what they are. They represented a past with no future possibilities to me, and they broke my heart.

Now that she is gone, she takes her place beside them once again. She’s in every play at home plate. And each time one of them swings the bat and drops a high, hard one in no man’s land behind third base, I’ll see her trot off the field, casually toss her helmet into the dugout and glance my way just long enough to say with a look, “Did you see that?” Of course I did. That picture has to last a lifetime.

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© Kim Reynolds 2012

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Where's My Kid?

 

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Where’s My Kid?

IMG_2623_2There’s a secret known only to those of us whose children have died long before their time. It’s unspoken, yet understood. Once the obituary is written, the prayers said, the tidy crust-less sandwiches eaten and everyone who surrounded you with love goes back to their corners to lick their own wounds, you confront it for the first time. Where’s my kid? That’s where the real journey begins.

The months that follow kick the crap out of you. In and out of the proverbial rabbit hole you go, emerging when you must; retreating when you can, and still the question remains. Where are you? For some, like my husband, her father, the trip takes him back in time to the church pews of his childhood, where he seeks her in every hymn that is sung each Sunday. Sometimes he can hear her whisper to him there.

His place doesn’t work for me and I dig into string theory and quantum physics with a vengeance, its confounding numeric a welcome relief from the ever-present thrum of pain. If energy can be neither made nor destroyed, my daughter and I reasoned together, we just have to find where it goes to find each other once again. That lone goal drives me now.

I hear her voice in my head. I ask, she answers. I don’t tell everyone this for obvious reasons. Imagined or real? I don’t know but the conversation continues daily and with it the conviction grows that I am finding her, one tiny atom at a time.

She and I spent hours debating the merits of television psychics like Sylvia Browne and John Edward who, for a fat (and I mean really fat!) fee, will link you to your lost loved one. If they can do it for cash, we reckoned, we ought to be able to do it ourselves in the name of love. Imagine my shock when I discovered that after death communication has become big business in the grief community and I’ll admit, I struggle with that. Surely it’s not ethical or even wise for someone offering their services as a grief counselor to take a vulnerable individual to any spiritual place they may not be prepared to go. But I know that a parent that has lost a child will go to any lengths to find her and that alone opens the door to exploitation. I proceed with caution. I look for science-based explanations that rub up uncomfortably against spiritual theories and hope that the friction they stir in each other will lead me to the garden of Eden I seek – the place where my child now resides – the place where our conversation can continue ad infinitum. That’s where my kid is.

© Kim Reynolds 2012

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Where's My Kid?

 

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