There was one piece, though, that really stood out to me, and it was Charlotte's empty infant car seat. The symbolism of her missing in the family is obvious enough. But there is another piece. Just recently, my friend Erin asked me: Do you ever dream about Charlotte?
I answered her honestly, and sadly. "I did, I used to. But I don't anymore."
And it's true. In the beginning, I dreamed of her often. The dreams weren't ususally pleasant. She was going in for heart surgery, dying. She was taken from me at birth, was now being raised by another family. Dozens of dreams of her as a one year old, drowning. A few, scant, dreams of me, nursing a tiny infant dressed in yellow, but at the time that those happened, I was pregnant with Liam, and never felt certain whether the child was Charlotte or the baby I was growing at the time.
And so, it seemed obvious to me that instead of the empty seat big enough for a five year old girl, there was an empty seat big enough for the tiny infant that I once knew. The little car seat bought just for her, which I eagerly freecycled a few months ago, knowing it would be outdated for my next child and also knowing that it would never be within my power to throw away the car seat. So I heard of a woman taking in foster babies in need of a car seat and I lovingly wiped the dust from the frame and left it on my porch for her to take away, while I was out, so I didn't have to see her drive away with it.