My first daughter, Charlotte Amelia, was born silently into the world on May 13, 2003. Since her birth and death our family has welcomed four living children. Joy and gratitude prevail in our life together, yet my sadness is always with me, tucked alongside the beauty of every day.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The date has been on the rear bumper of my car for three years now, like a mantra, and seeing it today at the bank, on my computer screen, seems surreal. I remember thinking this on my wedding day, It's finally it, I thought, the eighteenth of August. It had seemed it would never come. (and I think this again, now, every year, on the 13th of May, in a very different way-- does this day actually exist? it is so celebrated, so famed, so infamous?)
But today was a day-- a day long awaited, much appreciated.
The day was busy, we watched little Sam and we picked up Liam early from school so we could all gather around in the sunroom and watch on our new, teeny-tiny television that gets exactly one channel (which is why it's so great when what you want to see is on EVERY channel). The afternoon was spent at the library; perusing the collection in the tiny little cape-style house that is our town's library, and chatting with the librarian who has a special affinity for our family and for our children, who have both been voracious readers since they could sit up straight and focus their eyes. I fed them early, bathed them, and then Greg's mum surprised them with a couple of store bought, fancifully-iced inaguration cupcakes, complete with icing american flags and striped candles. They were delighted, amazed by the amount and texture and pure sugari-ness of the icing (I don't know if they've ever experienced store-made cakes), of course they were indifferent and even slightly rude to the cake portion of the cupcake, preferring to almost faceplant into the red, white and blue icing, slurping and sucking it in with pure, unadultrated joy.
After the children were tucked into bed we enjoyed an adult dinner, Greg, his mum, and I sat around the table, feeling grateful and full and happy. We talked about the amazing fortune of our families, of our lives. Greg and I have two stable, married, happy, joyful families, and we have been able to merge them into our own, and I can't think of anything to give us stronger roots than that. We are so divinely blessed.
And my sweet son, my darling little Liam, drew his first true family portrait today (he does not presently care much for drawing or writing, preferring to curl up and read). I let him do it all on his own, careful not to influence or suggest anything. In my family we like to have sing-alongs, he said, and he drew the people, hard as they may be to make out: Liam, Daddy, Mimi and Aoife, and the guitar and pick. His family, his surroundings. His one sister, and two parents. I wished that I could put Charlotte into it, just lightly pencil sketch her in beside the black fine-lines, just a hint of color in her watery-watercoloured dress. Just a hint of a daughter, a might-have-been sister, a ghost of a chance of a child that could have happened.
But it is his world, and it is true, isn't it. Charlotte isn't at the sing-alongs. She never has been.
Liam and Aoife in a joy-filled, wildly laughing embrace today