Sunday, August 9, 2009
I was trudging up one of the incredibly steep hills in my neighborhood today, listening to Richard Shindell on my iPod, and thinking of Charlotte. Specifically, I was thinking of what I had written a few days ago-- about 7 years of loneliness-- and knowing in my heart that that number is terribly wrong, because for the first 9 months of that 7 years, I was nothing but joy. Joy, hope, peace, and absolute certainty that I was the luckiest woman in the world.
But for those of you who have been there, and even those of you who haven't might be able to imagine, that when one looks back on this pre-disaster state of bliss, it is with a sense of horror. I think of myself cavorting around, flaunting my ever-swelling midsection, naively buying diapers and signing up for childbirth classes and speaking in definite terms about my future with my baby, and I almost have to look away. There is a part of me that cherishes that innocence, which I will never have again. I am grateful that I had the opportunity-- if only once-- to feel like the glowing, proud pregnant mother that so many people take for granted. Now, feeling like a ticking time bomb, I look back on that with a greater sense of envy and disbelief than anything else. It's not that I think I was actually dumb, or truly naive, I was just doing what almost everyone I know has the luxury of doing-- I was loving my pregnancy, my baby, and I was absolutely optimistic. Why wouldn't I have been?
So those nine months were not lonely, not by a long stretch. They were probably the happiest nine months of my life, to date, and while my living children have brought me joy that certainly matches that which my unborn Charlotte brought me, it is almost unfathomable for me at this point to remember that the joy I felt with her, before her birth, was ONLY that, it was just joy. It was not joy with a huge potful of grief on the back burner. I was just happy. Only glad. Simply full of hope, with nothing else to speak of. What an amazing place to be.
And yet, at the same time, I sometimes pick apart the quality of that naive joy, and wonder if what I feel now with Liam and Aoife isn't somehow a bigger joy. There is something about having climbed such a huge mountain of loss, and to be walking with a practiced gait down the other side, that makes the sun feel especially warm on your back.