Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Missing Sister

It is midnight, exactly.

Driving at night always makes me sad. There is so much time for thinking, and truth be told, I have a lot to be sad about. Being sad takes a lot of time, and in the busy-ness of everyday life, I don't prioritize it. It sometimes seems too hard to take the time to feel sad, and it also is hard to be sad about something that absolutely cannot ever be fixed.

Today I went to a Children's Museum nearby, in a town I had never been to before. While I was there I met another mom who I had seen at a school open house last weekend, so I connected with her about that and we stood chatting while our kids played. She had two children with her and was heavily pregnant, due around the same time that I might have been had I conceived around when I thought I might last spring. In addition to her two year old son, she had a beautiful, shining, joyful five and a half year old daughter, Louisa.

When I had seen Louisa at the school a week earlier, she had stood out to me: something about her was appealing. I had thought maybe she was looking for kindergarten next year, but her mother clarified that she was going to be in first grade. I should have known, looking at her more closely, she was clearly one of those girls I pick out on the street, just a little older than Liam, somehow my radar sucks them in, she is a spring baby from 2003.

I so desperately wanted to ask when her birthday was. I wanted to know exactly. Was she a few weeks older, or younger than my child? How can I compare them?

I didn't really know why Louisa was making me feel so agitated. I do see five year old girls all the time. I have become accustomed to being around them.

A while later, Aoife wandered over to the dentist's office area of the museum, where they have the real dentist's chair that you can sit in and all kinds of things to play dentist with. Louisa was there, and as Aoife sat in the chair, Louisa played the dentist, and it hit me: they look the same. Not Charlotte and Louisa, but Louisa and Aoife. Louisa had the same delicate little features, close set eyes, and very straight, blonde hair in a side part with a barette. Any person walking by would take a glance and assume that they were sisters. Without a doubt.

They were giggling and laughing, enjoying this two-to-five year old interaction so thoroughly, and she looked like her sister, a big sister, just like my Aoife deserves. It makes me want to stamp my foot on the wood floor so hard that the little table in the middle of my kitchen bounces up and down, because I did have a baby that should be that old, and she was absolutely perfect in every single way except for the fact that a freak accident crimped her cord while she was trying to be born.

Did you know that my midwife said "fuck" when she was telling me this? Her total human-ness in this situation made me feel so comforted, for real. She said, it was an accident, that's all. She was perfect. A fucking freak accident. Yeah. Can't really say much after that.

So there, in the museum, I watched this grown-up Aoife play with little Aoife, and I thought about my big girl who is missing, about the things she might enjoy, and about how she might explore and love this new museum we had discovered not half and hour from our home. It made me so, deeply sad for myself to be missing my girl. Somehow she stood for my girl, somehow in her straight blonde hair with the little barette and her cute pixie face, a face that Charlotte didn't even have, only Aoife does, but she looked like my daughter's sister and that was enough for me. It just broke my heart.

I have been having a very emotional time of it lately. There are many more posts for me to make in the aftermath of last week's conference. Just being there and surrounded by all of this babyloss constantly, being on the parent panel, it brought me back to a place I have not visited in a long time. I also have several friends who are getting ready to welcome their own new babies, which is such a joyous prospect but I selfishly turn inward and remember that absolute joy of anticipation that I got to experience just once, the one and only time where I thought my baby was a sure thing, only she wasn't.

Day after day lately I am just brought into this whirlpool where I feel like what I really want to do is have a good, hard cry.

Why is that so hard to do?


Anonymous said...

I honestly never know what to comment, but it's in my nature to want to say something. anything. to converse.

Tonight it hit me. I love your sheer, unadulterated openness. Your honesty no matter what the pain or sadness or hurting you're feeling. I love reading your blog for this reason. Your writing style makes you more "human", less "just a blog".

It also makes me realize just how inappropriate it can be to hush our children and tell them to not mention lost babies. I haven't had to hush my own, they're not at that age yet. But I do remember my mom telling me it was impolite when I had asked her boss' wife about her lost son.
Makes me think that maybe it would have been okay. Makes me think that she feels how you do.

Thank you for sharing Charlotte with a complete stranger. I can see how beautiful she is, just by looking through your words.

Meg said...

This was beautiful. I'm sorry you've been feeling so sad lately. You have such a way with words.

Shannon said...

I know how you feel about being back in that place you haven't visited for a while. I'd give you a big hug if I could.