Wait, you still have a BLOG, you ask? Well, technically, yes. I am rarely here. Today I am here, as I was four years ago. I cannot promise to be back for awhile. My grief has changed, grown mostly silent, internal. I am no longer constantly compelled to scream at the sky or beat the walls or pull at my hair, although those feelings do surface from time to time.
I ran at the cemetery today. Not because it is her birthday, although that was a bit of a comfort today. mostly because we are digging out of snow-buried streets and the cemetery across the street offers plowed, though slippery, quiet roads. It is often my place to go for reflection, solitude, and exertion. A bucolic few miles plunked down in the middle of the city; maybe it's the loud city that was plunked down around this roundish haven. Maybe that's why the gates are so tall and spiky, to keep the the noisy, gritty outside on the outside.
The road was, indeed, slippery and smooth. In truth, I didn't want to run, despite being housebound this past week. As I carefully made my way past snowy headstones and bare trees, I noticed another set of footprints from a runner who'd been there before me. I kept my eyes on those footprints, telling myself that if that small-footed person had done this, so I could do it, too. It was hard, that lap. Bright sunshine nearly blinding me, my whole body alert for hidden patches of ice. My legs working double-strength to push off the packed snow.
And then I got back to where I started. I could have left the cemetery and gone back home. But I did another lap. This time the tracks I followed were my own. I remembered from my previous steps where the road was hard, how I had to adjust for the uphills and downhills. Where the wind was strong and where I could relax. And that lap was easier.
I am forever grateful to the blogging friends I've made along this journey of grief. Women and men I've never met and, if I am being honest, will likely never see in person. People I've come to know through blogging and other social media outlets. People I feel I know and are part of my closest circle of friends, to whom I'd love nothing more than give a huge hug. Parents whose babies died before Calla, and helped show me the way through the tangled, dark, foreboding forest that was my grief.
I miss her. I am stunned that it's been four years. That where I could be planning a fourth birthday party, I am instead lighting all together different candles. Four years seems like the blink of an eye in the context of the rest of our lives, but it feels like a million years since I held her tiny, lifeless body; looked at her perfect face. I will never stop wondering how, or why.
E talks about Calla often. Just the other day he asked, "Mom, if my sister was around, where would she sit in the car? How old would she be? How old would I be?" I just keep my game face on and answer as honestly as I can. Sometimes I laugh. "E, YOU'D be the same age, darling. She would be four." I haven't the strength or desire to explain to anyone anymore about the implosion that happened four years ago; I am sure, knowing him, Calla will come up at school and his teacher might shake her head, wondering about E's imagination. We've made several new friends in the past four years, and I just . . . don't lead with that information. In truth I don't know who knows what about Calla. It's all good.
My friends are the best, and our family is wonderful, too. Everyone gives us a little more breathing space today. and that is just lovely. It is not, again, the raw, wailing gash it once was, and those who love us can tell how we've healed. The scar is visible, if only slightly, and it is jagged.
I miss my daughter. I miss who she could have been, where she would fit in our family. I can't believe she is not here, still.
Happy Fourth Birthday, Calla Valentina. We miss you and love you so.