Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Owl and the Pussycat

Have I ever told you how much the poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat" means to me? 
No?  Really?  Okay then, here goes...

I memorized this poem when the big boys were babies, and I'd rock them and I'd whisper it to them as they fell asleep.  I love the pea-green boat (did I mention my father was a sailor?).  I love the owl looking at the stars, playing a small guitar and singing about his love for the pussycat (I taught myself how to play guitar very badly, but it still was fun).  I love the idea of the owl and the pussycat sailing away for a year and a day to the land where the bong tree grows (some days I wish I could do that too).  And I love that at the end of the poem, the unlikely couple danced by the light of the moon (I have yet to do that). 

Then Aidan came along, and the poem helped me cope through the first five terrifying months of his life.  The times when the doctors had us thinking he had liver failure - and they put us on a transplant ward overlooking the crematoriam. Or when they said he probably had necrotizing entero colitis, and he was put in the NICU ward where we had to watch families grieving when their tiny babies did not make it. And then there was the news that he had three holes in his heart, and that we would have to watch him slowly go into heart failure before his surgery could be done. 

I started whispering or singing the poem softly to him during our hospital stays, heart clinic visits, and while he was recovering from his surgery.  When they poked him repeatedly (and on several occasions) trying to find a vein, I pulled the poem out from deep inside me and it gave me strength to hold him. 

The other thing that helped me tremendously had nothing to do with the poem exactly.  Or maybe it does.  Anyhow, I was sitting in the emergency room, completely stressed out.  Aidan in my arms while doctors came and went and scratched out one anothers orders and I couldn't think straight, and I couldn't breath deep enough I finally closed my eyes and imagined my deceased family members standing behind me with their hands on my shoulders. My two grandmothers, my grandfathers, my father, one by one putting their hands on my shoulder.  Each one giving me strength. 

And I felt immediately calm again. 

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