Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Right Where I Am: Three Years, Five Months and Nine Days

Edited: This post is part of Angie's Right Where I Am project. Check it out.

Right where I am is clearly not here. Last post was almost six months ago and, truthfully, if it wasn't for this project, I'd likely still be silent. I read blog posts and then don't have words beyond "I'm sorry, I understand, I'm here for you." But here I am, here we are. Again.

Almost three and a half years have passed since my second child, our only daughter, Calla Valentina died. Lying in that hospital bed all those days ago, I swore I'd never smile or laugh or eat or breathe again. At the time I thought giving birth to my dead baby was the worst thing I'd ever live through. And it was brutally awful, inhuman, cosmically cruel. What I didn't realize then, and know bone-deep now, is it's the living the rest of my life without that's the hardest part. The nagging twinge of missing that pulls at every single breath.

It has gotten easier to bear, this missing. In fact, I go many, many days without shedding a single tear. There was a time when I sincerely believed I'd shrivel into a raisin from all the crying. But I didn't, no matter how much I cried. And then the crying tapered off to once a day, to maybe once every few days, and then somehow I wasn't really crying at all.

She is with me every day, though. The nagging pull of something wrong. Where I physically look for my two boys, where they are in the fray of life, I emotionally look for my daughter. Where is she in my consciousness, as that's the only place she really can be. She's certainly not hiding in the racks of clothes at the store or running around with her friends at the farmers' market.

I occasionally get bitter, though I've learned to shrug off the throwaway comments. Surprisingly, my daughter's death nearly three and a half years ago isn't at the forefront of everyone else's consciousness when they remark on O's "second child" behaviors, or ask if we're done having children after only two. I have a pretty thick coat of armor to deflect those comments, because they're not meant to sting.

There is a little boy at E's preschool who was born shortly after Calla's death. I know this because his mother was a cashier at the co-op and every time I'd go in we'd talk about our soon-to-be born babies--her first, my second. When Calla died I remember asking someone to let this woman know, as though this bit player in my unfolding horror movie would actually need to know this information.

But I see this mother and son occasionally, accompanied by a perfect infant daughter. My life, right over there--the one that wasn't meant to be. I try to be bigger than this, as my life is pretty awesome these days. It still hurts to have it waved under my nose, however unintentionally. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.

Things here, though, are otherwise really great. E is finishing preschool, off to Kindergarten in the fall. O will start preschool and I'll have a few hours a week to figure out some way to re-enter the world of gainful employment. I am in the best running shape of my life and am enjoying cooking, baking, living a (mostly) healthy lifestyle. We've gotten to the bottom of C's health issues and he's enjoying running agin, finally. Soccer, dancing, art camp, martial arts, reading, bike riding . . .  the normal stuff of life.

For these things I am so grateful. I can't believe it's been almost three and a half years. Here is my life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Almost Three

2013 has not been kind to our little household. My boys have been sick, trading germs back and forth, since before Thanksgiving. After rounds of antibiotics, ibuprofen, and days off from school, I'd naively assumed they were out of the woods.

Cut to 4 PM NewYear's Eve, a house full of parents, children, one dog and lots of food. And O getting crankier by the minute. He went to be at 7:30, only to wake up at 11 and stay up until 4. AM. And then get up for good at 5:45.

Two days later, E's sick with the same, only this time he gets a nearly 105 degree fever, sending us to pediatric emergency care on a Saturday night. We were panicky, a banner of "meningitismeningitismeningitis" flashing across our brains.

Not to mention, three years ago on this very same weekend, we were racing in the exact same direction to the hospital just down the block from the emergency care facility, with a similar yet distinctly different chorus ringing in our ears.

I sobbed the entire way there on Saturday, pleading with whatever energy there is in the Universe to please, don't take another one.

Double ear infection and conjuctivitis diagnoses after about an hour. Medicine prescribed, given, sent to bed. Nice and tidy, happy ending so far.


Tomorrow is Calla's birthday. Today is the day we found out she'd died. Three years ago right now I was starting to worry, but still wasn't even starting to freak out. That would come, a few hours to go.  Somehow three years have passed, and yet it still feels like just yesterday. But, that's not entirely true. Somedays it feels like a lifetime ago. And in many ways it was. Three years ago today was the very last day of my former life.

God, I can still hear the noises from that room so clearly; feel the soft, firm grip of the nurse's hand as we watched that terrible sonogram together, her gentle tears and my animal wails. The sheer horror that would ensue over the next twenty four hours, each minute that passed taking another shred of my hope and understanding of my world. How was I to survive that?

I did, though. There were beautiful moments, believe it or not. Holding my perfect, lifeless, beautiful baby girl. Her small weight heavy in my exhausted arms. My whole family, nearly, getting to hold her and bless her with their tears.  C and me, the only two people in the world who understand this particular loss in this particular way.

Damn. I miss her so very much. Always, the question remains for my dim little brain, is HOW? And also, WHY? But there never will be answers to those, really. I guess it doesn't matter.  The answer, as always, will be JUST BECAUSE IT IS.

Three years old. She might be getting ready for dancing school. Christmas may have been an even mix of pink and princess alongside the superhero-lego-playmobil insanity. Would she have kept that black curly hair? Who knows, really?

It's been three years, almost, since I held her. How could I have walked out of that room, left her there when it was time to go? She should have come home with us. But it was never to be. We had to leave, and so, I guess, did she. I hate so many things about her death. I do not hate that she was here, was mine, no matter how awful living without her might be.

I love you, baby girl. How I wish so very much you were here with us. I miss you, Calla Valentina.


We are on Day Five of our self-imposed quarantine. The boys are recovering, the marvels of modern medicine kicking in nicely. Tomorrow we will likely go to breakfast, spend the day together as a family, go on and about our day as usual. We will light our candle and the space between then and now  will grow a little wider.

I am grateful for our life. We have so very much and are really, truly, quite happy. The sadness will never leave, and what kind of person would I be if it did?  Being sad is important, so tomorrow we will honor our sadness even more.

Be well. Thank you for reading.