I am participating in Angie's Right Where I Am Project for the second year. It is an incredible compilation of stories, voices, and families along this path of grieving. Please check out all the rest of the stories here. And this is where I was last year.
Well when you put it that way it seems like a blip. Two years? And a little bit? That's nothin'.
And yet is is so very much something. Right where I am . . . well, judging by the frequency of my blog post, not HERE, so much. But where I truly am? Is kind of complicated.
Two years. And a little bit. Two years ago I was just inextricably tethered to this blog, this space, this community keeping me afloat. I was freshly grieving Calla and newly pregnant with O. To say my head was fucked is an understatement. I was barely surviving, clinging to grief and hope and the tiniest bit of sanity.
But now here I am, in a place I never, two years and a little bit ago, thought I'd ever be again.
Right now O is just the same age E was when Calla died. It is a strange place. I don't remember a lot of what E was doing at this age, and that makes me sad. They have their own distinct little personalities; okay, they have their own distinct BIG personalities. I look at O an then think back to E and wonder, what the hell was I trying to do back then? Another baby at THAT stage of the game? Hoo. But O is a different chap than E. E was all chatter and business and non-stop go-go-go. O, not so much. He's content to communicate with several little half-words, leaving us to guess the rest, fill in his blanks. He'll sit for what seems like hours amusing himself with made-up games and ideas. He is content.
Which is lovely, because when he was inside me I was anything but. I couldn't imagine what the FUCK I was doing having another baby. Daily my blood was a cocktail of anxiety, worry, hope and sheer terror. That poison pumped through my body and luckily passed right through O. He is the happiest little clam in our ocean.
Our life, as it stands, is actually pretty wonderful. Something I never, two years and a little bit ago, thought would be the case. We have fun as a family, and hoo boy are we busy. E dances (tap! so cute! recital next week!) and plays soccer, along with preschool three times a week. O and I hang out; I take him running in the stroller and on errands while E's busy at school. The days just fly by, filled with trucks and superheroes and playing. C and I manage to go out a few times a month just the two of us--granted often those dates are other people's weddings or some such obligatory function, but a child-free night does wonders for our collective married soul.
And man are those child-free nights a world away from the nights we once spent, missing our toddler at home and our baby girl in the stars.
But where I am isn't all sunshine and roses and unicorns pooping Skittles. The overriding emotion, the one that threatens to overtake sadness, is disbelief. Monday night as I manned our grill, C inside with the boys washing hands and setting the table, I looked around our sun-washed backyard, toys strewn about, mulch and sand settling into the bottom of the baby pool, and wondered how, again, did this come to be my life?
I look around at families of two children, older brother and younger sister, and feel a distinct stab in my upper abdomen. But then I look down at the strawberry blonde boy heads bobbing at my sides and can't really imagine our life any other way. This is how we are supposed to be, sadness and awfulness and all. Without Calla there would likely be no O, and that makes my already taped-together heart start to wobble.
E talks about her a lot, but I think he's just trying to make sense of it all. He has a sister who had to go live in the stars. And she can't come back. But she's his sister. And we miss her. Around and around we go, in the maddening-yet-heartbreakingly-adorable way of the almost four year old.
So she exists in our family, in a nebulous, vague sort of way. I miss that baby girl I left, lifeless, in that cold hospital room two years and a little bit ago. Fuck. I miss her with every ounce of flesh on my skeleton, every breath in my lungs, every hair on my head, every pulse in my neck. Every second of every day.
But I can't imagine it. I can't see her. I can't believe she was ever actually real, or meant to be. I look at our life now, and know this is real.
But, still, how?