Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Evening

The spring arrived early this year.

I feel programmed like a Canada goose or something; my spring calendar is dictated by the bloom of the lilacs and the weeping cherry outside my kitchen door.
But this year, the cherry is all finished, its blossoms scattering about my driveway and lawn already, like a fresh coating of pale pink snow that covers the new, bright green spring.

And outside my living room window, where my screen porch used to be, the lilacs are already heavy with nectar, their scent wafting up into my bedroom.

I went running tonight just at sunset, down my long country road. I passed by the dairy farm and the hayfield, and through the trees to the next horse farm. Along the road, lilac bushes leaned into my path, hunting me with their sweet smell.

May is here, May is here.

As I ran, my feet pounding against unforgiving pavement, I noticed that the sky, which was becoming less blue and more gray with the descending light, looked almost as it had in the early beginnings of dawn the day we drove to the hospital with Charlotte for the last time.

Eight days, eight days.

Cinco de Mayo. Today is her due date. Seven years ago today I went to a restaurant with my friend Beth and we ate cinnamon buns together over our huge, 40-week exactly bellies.

I think of my other children, who, at 40 weeks gestation, all lay in my arms, a week old, give or take. And I weep for Charlotte, having lost that chance.

But as I ran, and the lilacs chased me, and the dawn-like light drew me back, I thought about the eight days to come. I must be careful, I thought, about who I surround myself with. Already I can feel myself pulling out, pulling away. I am fragile, barely mended. I must be with only the opportunity to be just me, present with what I need.

And what do I need?

It stopped me, almost, from running when I realized that I really do not, and I really could not, really speak about Charlotte to anyone. I do, in some ways, of course. I do in that I say, "It's Charlotte's birthday on Thursday". Or in that I say, "My first baby died a year before Liam was born". Or in that I say, "This is a difficult time of year for us."

But I never really talk about her. I never really tell anyone what it was really like. I never really describe for them the horror of finding out, or waiting for her to be born. I never really try to explain to anyone the miracle of her birth, the absolutely suspended in time experience of having her in our arms, and then the awful, dreadful, tearing-my-heart-to-shreds awfulness of having to let her go. I never, ever really talk to anyone about that. Nobody ever asks, not that I blame them. And I don't think I really can talk about it. I might start to cry, and I don't usually feel like doing that with anyone except just myself.

I remember that when my article came out in Mothering years and years ago, a very, good, true friend called me in tears. "I never really knew the story," she told me, and it was true. For the most part, nobody really knows the story. They let me tell what I want to tell, but I am careful only to tell them the parts that won't make them cry.

Sometimes, I wish that someone would ask me about the sad parts.

Especially in May.


Erika P said...

Oh, Carol. For some reason I'm feeling like shouting my sad parts right now, because I don't think anyone else in my life really understands what it was like and how much it still hurts. But I'm (mostly) not shouting, well, because. I hear you, and you know I will always listen to any part you want to tell, but I also know that's not exactly your point. I'm thinking of you and Charlotte so much, now that it is May. And the copious lilacs on my drive to work keep reminding me too, as I know you associate them with her. I'm looking forward to the walk on Saturday and to giving you a hug, my friend.

Shannon said...

They are all the sad parts. This time of year is especially difficult. For me too.

Hope's Mama said...

Sending love, Carol. It is the daffodils for me that signal my season of grief.

Sara said...

I have been thinking of you and Charlotte with the lilacs bloom, though there seems to be little rain this year.