It's just another night, tonight. Boys in the tub, going bananas, screaming and laughing and making me incrementally crazier by the second until I pop the manic bubble. Then let it fill again.
I realized while overseeing tooth brushing that this, this crazy-normal-frenetic night of routines and pajamas and stuffed animals--this is all I ever wanted. And if Past Me, who lived about five-and-a-half years ago, were to step into a time machine, program it for January 8, 2015, and arrive here, tonight, she'd never even see the rip in the fabric, the ragged but intact stitches holding everything together.
But then she might squint, look a little closer. The math, the ages, the timeline; they don't add up. Shouldn't that younger one be just a little bit older?
Five years ago, almost to the minute, I was in a cold sweat, rushing to the hospital knowing everything was wrong, but hoping it was just my instinct that was wrong. Five years ago tomorrow she was born. Calla Valentina. Our second baby who would be five.
I blink my eyes now and am back there, can hear every sound, every word; see every dot on the ceiling tiles I counted over and over and over waiting for her to be born, for everyone to be wrong and it all be a huge mistake and oh gosh weren't we insane for thinking she'd died when here she is alive and perfect and breathing and let's go home carry on now.
But that's not our story. It's not her story, is it? Every word I want to write comes out stale, flat, already written a thousand times before.
I miss her.
I can't believe she died.
It's been so long since I held her.
I love her. I loved her.
She is in my every thought and every breath. When I count my kids I always get to three, despite only two there in front of me. It's voodoo math that only the unlucky can calculate. I don't know how to be a mother to a baby I never knew, who never cried or laughed, never made me crazy with her bathtub antics or demanded the biggest hug and kiss.
This year, this fifth birthday, feels calmer. The hurt is more mature, less raw but no less stinging. It's a sweeter hurt. My anger has mellowed to bewilderment. I carry her with me always, I look for her in the faces and movements of the boys. I never stop wondering why. I miss her. I do everything I do because she never will.
Calla Valentina, who would be five. We love you.