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Monday, September 21, 2015


Dear Josie,

There is a perpetual Earthquake beneath me.  I know it sounds absurd, but I can think of no better way to describe this time without you.  My life on the uneven bars.

It was the hardest part, initially.  The most difficult thing for me to grasp was the finality of it all.  In one second, everything in my life shifted.  Altered.  Kinked.   In one second and there was no going back.

Minutes would pass and people would walk in and around me and it was comical, almost, in a very cruel sense because it was so incredibly wrong and awful and horrific and everyone knew it, and there was nothing anyone could do because it was already done.

I remember driving home from the hospital and wanting it to be ten years from now.  I wanted the song playing on the radio to be old news, people scanning the archives of their respective collections to hear this very song, because so much time had passed and they'd forgotten and they wanted to listen again.  To reminisce.  To remember. You died and immediately I wanted you to be a memory.  This most distant thing that I had to strain to think about. I longed for the day where thoughts of you became a forceful, purposeful action.  A reminder of some specific time.  How was it again?  Oh yes. 

I remember a conversation with your uncle one night, during those first few torturous, grueling weeks without you. When the volume turned my stomach.  When your melody, so beautiful and so tragic and so repetitive, was all that I could hear. 

I told him what's the point, essentially, because if I live to be ninety and if I have twelve grandchildren and if I die in protest, fighting to be here until my very last breath I will still never be as happy as before you left me.  I will never be 100%. 

I appreciated his response very much, because he didn't tell me this was untrue or unwarranted or that life would ever resume what it once was.  He agreed that 100 wasn't an option, but he said maybe I could get to 99.  And was 99 really so bad?

Sometimes I feel so happy that it's almost like this never happened to us.  The guilt that consumes me as I read that sentence is worth noting, but it's true.  Sometimes I wish it weren't true, but I have gotten used to wishing things weren't I guess. 

Your little brother will be laughing, the most perfect and most contagious baby belly laugh, some of the very best stuff this life has to offer and I will forget, momentarily, that you never took a breath.  I will forget how you looked that morning, so peaceful and so very far from me, how my body failed you.  Or when I step outside just before a storm and I can smell the water in the air, and I'm puzzled because there's a gratitude that once escaped me.

Sometimes I'll be sitting in traffic and I can see it so clearly, my parallel universe.  She drives to the hospital that night and hears your heart beating.  They send her home and she digests the reassuring paperwork with the leftover ravioli.  Climbs into bed next to her husband and wakes to eggs in the morning, laughing at the absurdity of it all, this notion that a perfectly healthy baby could just die.  Just, die.

This weekend your father and I attended the wedding of two of our closest friends.  They are more like family, actually, and it was an absolutely beautiful day.  People were taking pictures and smiling and celebrating, and I couldn't help but allow my thoughts to wander to you.  It is during these happiest of times where I find it impossible to ignore the disparity.  My dead daughter's ashes beneath the Earth and the people dancing above them.

During the reception as I lifted the fork, your name seemed to scream at me from my wrist.  I felt the ground shift and it became difficult to hear the clanking glasses.  For a moment things grew dark and I couldn't taste the food on my plate.

I pictured us leaving.   Your father holding my hand in his left and my pointy black heels in his right.  I tell him where I want to go.  We reach your tree and we bend, openly aching and yearning and sad, and we drive home together feeling better because we cried.

And it would have been granted, our exit.   It would have been appropriate.  I could have gone home to my babies, explaining to friends in the morning how it had consumed me so abruptly and they would have understood, only none of that happened.  I felt the shift and somehow I didn't fall.  I was sad because you weren't home waiting for us in your fuzzy pink pajamas, but I could still appreciate the garlic mashed potatoes.

While I certainly felt the urge to run, I want you to know that I didn't run this time.

I didn't run because I also wanted to dance.


1 comment:

  1. Nora - good for you for wanting to dance. It's amazing how we can live with the conflicting emotions, how we can learn to balance them. But you're right, and I'm proud of you.