Thursday, January 29, 2009

I saw a little girl at the pool not so long ago.
A friend's daughter, all lanky and legs, thin and stretched like a spaghetti noodle, maybe six inches taller than the last time I'd seen her.
Her hair was longer now, it had gone darker, it was cut neatly under her chin and was pulled back out of her eyes with a small barette.
She had grown so much, her body was so elongated and lovely, and her mid-section looked so tiny and thin in her bathing suit as she tugged her little brother's hand and pulled him down the stairs into the little warm pool at the Y. On the bench, her mother had their little sister on her back.
Sister, brother, sister. Just like my family.
And the little girl?
Her mother and I had been friends, we are friends, in a strange, sifted sort of way. We met while pregnant, both of us not knowing any other people with small children or babies on the way. We went to yoga classes together and would sometimes go out for supper afterwards; courting in that way that new mothers do, desperate for company in this new and frightening journey. We were both sure we were having boys, we would talk about the names over dinner.
When Charlotte died, the mother called me. Called me! On the telephone! The bravery that almost nobody else posessed. She had not delivered her baby yet, she was still nine months pregnant and waiting, and she heard my news and instead of lowering her eyes and slinking out to CVS to sign a card she picked up the phone and called me. I was so grateful to speak to her, to tell her about how beautiful Charlotte had been and how profoundly affected I had been by my loss. She cried, and so did I.
Nina, the girl at the pool, her daughter, was born three weeks to the day after Charlotte died, she left the hospital on the day that we held Charlotte's memorial service in the Smith College Chapel. I have seen her, and her family, only sporadically since the girls were born. Each time I see her, while her mother does not bring on that uncomfortable feeling that others do, and while I know she looks at me and sees me as absolutely bereft, and missing one child, I have trouble casting my eyes upon Nina. She is mostly the only girl I know who is just the age of my Charlotte.
And that day at the pool I imagined the little girl of mine, stretched thin by her age and growing like a weed, nearing her sixth birthday and full of so much life and love. I imagined holding her slender hand and wondering how much longer I would be able to get away with it. I imagined her helping me with her younger siblings, her brother and sister that I still imagine even though their births and very existence are inextricably linked to her death.
It catches me, every time, when I see those girls and how they grow. I wish mine could, too.


Hope's Mama said...

I'm so sorry Carol. This is all so unfair. Charlotte and Nina should be good friends, just like their Mums are. I think you and this other mother are brave for carrying on the friendship. I don't know if the girls in my yoga class know about me. I have seen one of them twice at the shops (with a girl in a pram) and each time I have hid. I wish she was here growing for you Carol. I really, really do.

ezra'smommy said...

Nina's mom is a very special person that she made that call. I'm still waiting to hear from my cousin & friend who were both due the same week as me...5 months, and the silence is deafening...

Dalene said...

Oh my. I don't know of any baby boys who are the same age as my Baker, but I do a little girl who was born 3 wks later at the same birth center. I ran into the mother and her baby out walking 6 wks after my son died...and she said nothing, not even "I'm sorry". I was livid and focused much of my anger about Baker's death on her, because I had no one else to blame. I don't know what I'll say if I see her again.