Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dancing in the Playroom

There is nothing a like a certain smell or song to bring me back to another place or time. The smell of a cooking roast instantly brings me back to a Sunday morning at my grandparent's house in Iowa. The song "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, brings me back to a dormroom with two friends, a lot of beer and a brilliant idea to do a music video. Yep. That's right. I said music video.

Since Ellie died, the smell of certain things have the power to instantly make me feel better, or instantly make me feel worse. Generally, any smell that reminds me of her, washes a large wave of peace over me. I can still smell her on the giraffe in her crib. It's funny because she wasn't particularly attached to it, she would just play with it when she woke up until we came to get her. We kept it in her crib hoping she would soon go no where without it and have a cute little "security" friend; she hadn't gotten there yet. But Giraffe spent enough time in the crib with her to absorb her smell. And some days, a whiff of my Peanut, is the only thing that gets me through the day.
Since going through our house and trying to get it ready to sell, I've come across a couple things that have a spit-up smell on them. I know, this is gross. But I have reflux babies, and they smell like Nutramigen spit-up. Even this makes me happy...
But there is a big difference between throw-up and spit-up. And last night, at about 3:30am, I discovered that the smell of throw-up brings me back to sitting on the couch, covered in puke. It reminds me of when it all went bad. Before Ellie started to lose consciousness, she threw-up all over everything. And she threw-up a lot. So when Max threw-up in his crib last night, I started to panic a little. The smell when I walked into his room was like a time-machine. I had to consciously remind myself where I was and what was really happening. The whole throw-up thing has never bothered me. Probably because I used to work on an oncology floor, a day with no puke was almost unheard of. But now, it gets to me. It don't care about it's obvious grossness. Now, it reminds me of the moment we knew something was very wrong with our Ellie...

Music has really helped me since Elle passed away. Sometimes I want to listen to sad songs and be sad. Sometimes I need a song to remind me that Ellie is ok, and eventually, hopefully, we will be too.
When it came time to plan Ellie's funeral, Dave and I didn't want "old person church music." I think we sang one hymn- honestly, I don't really remember. My cousin, Brian, sang "I Will Carry You" by Selah. Everyone sang Baby Beluga to Ellie. Finally, we walked out to Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe". Eddie Vedder's voice is undeniably comforting. As soon as I hear this song, I am right back in the front row of the sanctuary. I can remember staring at her casket while the first verse and chorus played. Then I remember looking at our Pastor and knowing that it was over. Our little girl's funeral was over. And the only thing left to do was to bury her. I can remember being strangely calm and numb. I don't remember walking out of the sanctuary. It strange how this song brings back my exact state of mind from that moment.
Even though, "Just Breathe" reminds me of Ellie's funeral, it doesn't upset me. Really, the only song that has haunted me, is "Rhythm of Love" by Plain White T's. For a while, I couldn't go anywhere, without it being on. It makes me catch my breath everytime. It makes me miss my girl so much.
About this time last year, the weather was nice enough to open the windows in the afternoon and a slight breeze would blow through the playroom. Ellie was just over a couple months old and her reflux was just awful. She would bring her legs up to her chest, throw herself back and let out this sad, pathetic cry. The only way to make her feel better was to hold her. She liked to be chest to chest, arms tucked in and legs curled up (see picture below). One afternoon, while in the playroom, I had itunes going and was holding her like that and standing in the middle of room watching Max play. "Rhythm of Love" came on and I started bouncing her a little and patting her butt. She calmed down instantly. It was magic. I played this song over and over again, dancing in the middle of the playroom and quietly singing to my girl until she felt better. It worked almost everytime.
Eventually she outgrew her reflux enough so that it wasn't painful anymore. And eventually, she decided it was more fun to play with toys on the floor than dance with Mommy. But everytime this song came on, she would stop and look for me. Like she remembered. In the few weeks before she died, she had started dancing. This was a favorite (along with "King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles). I can just see her funny little back and forth dance...
"Rhythm Of Love"

My head is stuck in the clouds
She begs me to come down
Says, "Boy, quit foolin' around"
I told her, "I love the view from up here
Warm sun and wind in my ear
We'll watch the world from above
As it turns to the rhythm of love"

We may only have tonight
But till the morning sun, you're mine
All mine
Play the music low
And sway to the rhythm of love

My heart beats like a drum
A guitar string to the strum
A beautiful song to be sung
She's got blue eyes deep like the sea
That roll back when she's laughing at me
She rises up like the tide
The moment her lips meet mine

We may only have tonight
But till the morning sun, you're mine
All mine
Play the music low
And sway to the rhythm of love

When the moon is low
We can dance in slow motion
And all your tears will subside
All your tears will dry

And long after I've gone
You'll still be humming along
And I will keep you in my mind
The way you make love so fine

We may only have tonight
But till the morning sun, you're mine
All mine
Play the music low
And sway to the rhythm of love
Play the music low
And sway to the rhythm of love
Yeah, sway to the rhythm of love

Lately, "Rhythm of Love" doesn't make me want to scream anymore. Instead, it almost makes me happy. Well, a sad-happy... Now when I listen to the lyrics, I see how much of it actually applies to Ellie and me. It's obviously not about a mother dancing with her baby, but certain parts, just fit. As soon as it comes on, I am back in the playroom, dancing with Ellie while the spring air floats in through the windows... and it's amazing.


New Year Mum said...

Lovely post... such a beautiful song and memories of dancing with Ellie. Smells are such a powerful reminder... you are so brave. I often think of you during the day and admire your strength and compassion along such a heartbreaking journey. Love always xoxo

Deanna said...

Oh, Tiffany! I am in tears. Reading this post, I could see you with beautiful Ellie, much like the picture you added at the end. This is such a wonderful image, and one that makes me smile.

Thank you for sharing some of your best and worst moments. I hate that we are both on this journey, but fortunate that our paths have crossed. Hugs to you, and remembering Ellie always!

P.S. I hope that Mr. Max is feeling better soon!!

TanaLee Davis said...

I love how descriptive you can be! I really feel like I can picture the memories you have talked about. It brings a certain sadness for you, I can relate to so much that you blog about. I agree 100% about smells and they can essentially transport you back in time, back to that time that your memory lock in. I love the memory of the playroom, the surroundings and the moment you felt safe and happy with your Ellie.
Thank you for sharing. FYI- you are NOT weird for having a semi attachment to fluid smells that remind you of your Ellie. I have similar attachments to smells...I still haven't cleaned the last blanket used for TanaLee because it smells like her...the medications she was on, ect. You are normal to feel the way you do.

LauraJane said...

That's a beautiful picture and the dancing is such a wonderful memory.
I still go into Jack's nursery and sniff the last outfits he had worn. Love that sweet breastmilk barf. :)

Anonymous said...

Such sweet memories. And yes, the "sad-happy." That is it absolutely.

Tabatha said...

I just adore that picture!! :) Don't worry about the spit up... We just barely threw her dirty diapers away that were in the diaper genie just a couple weeks ago. Might sound crazy, actually it probably does.. but it was just a reminder for me that Savanna really did live.. and she really was real. (come to think, that probably sounds crazy too!) I love music. The perfect song always comes on depicting the specific mood I am in. the last paragraph brought tears to my eyes.. just know i think of you daily my friend. xoxo

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