The day before you died I was crying.
I remember it vividly, the last time I cried over something trivial. Someone shared a coupon online and I had ordered the cutest baby girl leggings. A pair for St. Patrick's Day (in case you arrived early), a pair for the fourth of July, and a pair for Easter. Imagine the horror when the package arrived with three, identical polka-dotted pair.
I cried when I opened them. I am actually laughing out loud now, at three am as I think of it. I could blame it on the pregnancy hormones or the tantrum your brother had thrown at the mall just before, but I refuse to. I have learned that the blame game doesn't get you anywhere. Trust me, I've tried it.
The girl before that awful day had it all figured out. Her struggles, her little problems, how simply they could turn into the big ones. Until the big one came.
When I think back to that morning everything is a blur. I am told that shortly before your delivery, I was insistent upon returning to work two days later. I assured sisters and mothers and friends that I would be fine, just get me through this part. I've got it. It must have been the shock but I believed it then, as I believed so many things. Told others not to worry, that I'd be back. It was a lie.
For months I tried to find her. Turned on her favorite TV shows, read the dust-covered books repeatedly. Called old friends in search of a person who no longer existed, only to find that you cannot revive a memory.
The life I lived before is hazy. I think of that person now, and it is difficult to determine where she was headed. The things she found important, the things that annoyed her so. She looks like I do, but in truth she is a different person entirely. Simply existing somewhere quietly with a smoky eye shadow and thirty pair of pastel striped socks.
There are times where she makes her brief appearance. I hear her voice during afternoon traffic jams, cursing the inanimate objects. Impatiently, she taps her foot at the restaurant. I watch her complain to her husband about the laundry, unfolded on the couch. She builds her defense as someone spots a flaw. Simply, necessarily, she explains her intent, as if that were what truly mattered.
But she never stays long. There is someone else now, taking residence in these shoes. Someone who knows the fall from such a height. She is grounded, she is humbled. She cries during breakfast and laughs without pause. In her dreams, the shadows of a thousand strangers she has never met. She is morose and scatterbrained and without. She is the sanest person I know.
Daily, I feel them leave me. Her frustrations with the heavy sigh. The girl from February 22nd.
Perpetually I am stepping from that hospital bed. And she reaches for me, begging for the life she was entitled to. And I enter the one I was granted, full of a purpose she could never appreciate.
On my darkest days I haven't missed her. I thank you for that.