I'm still losing.
Last week I visited my (new) hairstylist. She cut my hair and she made it darker, and she covered the gray spots in the front (seriously, why the front?), and she never asked about you because she doesn't know and because I never said.
Before you died I had a wonderful hairstylist. I loved her. Whenever I went in we would talk about our children, (she had two and I had one) and our jobs and our significant others. She could always make me smile. I loved the feel of the studio and the decorum and the pretty Christmas tree next to her chair in December, with the chic leopard print stockings and the glittery shoe ornaments. I love the wonderful memory of taking my bridesmaids there the morning of our wedding, sipping mimosas and being pampered while listening to love songs. I loved that I got to travel downtown once every eight weeks, to that sophisticated block with the very best little thrift shop right next door.
After you died it became frightening. The thought of pulling into that parallel spot and digging the quarters out of my purse. Walking in and having her innocently ask about you, and having to say. And although I haven't visited that thrift store since I was pregnant with you, perusing all the vintage tunics and mourning the size 6 jeans, something tells me that in there, now, it might be hard to breathe.
A secondary loss, so I'm told. My affinity for cheesy baby shower games. The taste of birthday cake. My hairstylist.
Some are more manageable than others. And all feel minor, compared to you but none of them are easy. None of them are fair.
It should be enough that my baby died. I should get keep it all. Everything else. I should get to keep the casual morning conversations with the maintenance staff but I don't. In its place, the memory of my first day back when one of them asked how the baby was and I had to say you died. I can still see the horror, sense the regret and the way they were so very apologetic and so very kind, but we haven't discussed the weather since.
There are the friends who were pregnant with me then, whose babies lived and whose birthday parties I've yet to attend. Beautiful, perfect, growing little miracles I cannot see without feeling dizzy. Strained relationships and awkward moments and empty spots on couches. There are the friends who stopped calling when I did. There are people who've said the wrong things and there are people who've said nothing, fearful of the invisible cloak I most certainly wear. And every one is different now. Less familiar than it once was and every one is a loss.
And I grieve all of it. Not all at once but definitely all of it. At various times and observations I am forced to compare this life with the old one, and it mostly feels like a loss only sometimes it doesn't.
On the last day of school she approached me. And she told me that she was sorry for my loss. And she said that her baby brother died, some twenty years ago. She told me they still talk about him and think about him, and then she hugged me, and then she cried.
As it turns out, her hugs trump any conversation we ever had before. And as it turns out, they feel nothing like a loss.
In fact, I'd consider them a gain.