Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Reappearance

Those of you who have been with me from the start may remember this story, which was written in the third person but is quite obviously autobiographical. This little baby, who at that particular event was just the straw that broke the camel's back for an overwhelmed, bereaved mother, nevertheless was cause for much thought and amazement. This little girl had been adopted by two loving mothers, and then reclaimed in a bitter custody struggle for several months. Around the time that I lost my Charlotte, they lost their dear little girl, but the story ends differently, of course. Not only was their little girl merely lost to them, and was still alive out there, but she was ultimately returned to their custody permanently. This was what was so hard for me in seeing her. Not only had they gotten their lost baby back, which seemed so unfair, but also there was out there somewhere a mother who had given up custody (the mother herself had never been involved in the custody battle, as I recall) and had willingly said goodbye to her little girl. And there I was, I had had my daughter snatched from my grasp while I slept and there was nothing I could do to change the situation. There was no choice, no fight, just submission to what had already happened.
Gina, of course, was who knew this little girl, and when Liam started kindergarten, of course I sent her all the photos of his magnificent and remarkable first day. Liam's class contains both kindergarten and first graders in it, and somehow this has taken the pressure off of me ogling the first grade girls and knowing I ought to have one. Instead, I see a room full of girls and boys and some of them are five and some six and some almost seven and I don't really know who is who. Somehow this seems easier than gazing at "her" class in and of itself, although I do feel dreamy about the idea that my two children could have shared a class and peer group. So I hadn't invested much time in the thought that some of these girls were Charlotte's peers, born perhaps in the same month as her, and maybe even I had known their mothers when I was pregnant. Who knew. Gina looked at the picture. She looked at Liam, sitting on the meeting rug, and at the little girl sitting next to him.
You know who it was? The baby who got returned. The little girl who was won back. I, of course, had no ability to make the connection, but Gina did. There she was, the miracle baby who has lived in delighted innocent bliss with her family for the six years that we have trudged along without our daughter. She was itting right there next to my son, the boy who brought us the bliss, side by side, like any two classmates.
Did I feel envy, when I met her mother? Did I cry to myself?
No, I did not. It is different now. The rage doesn't accompany the pain anymore. The sadness just percolates in a gentle, calm way that I am so used to that I walk along with it almost all the time without even noticing it. It is sad, very sad, because my daughter isn't there. But it is wonderful that this little girl still has her family, and they have her.
And that is what six years can do.

1 comment:

Hope's Mama said...

Amazing story, Carol. Thanks for sharing. As always, I saw a lot of myself in Clare as she faced the world again after her loss. I very much look forward to finding out what six years can do for me, as much as I know it will take me that much further away from my Hope.