Sunday, May 20, 2012

Now my daughter would be nine, nine long years old.
Long years, long hair, long legs.
I had always envisioned her blonde; but now Maeve has dark, dark hair, so I can't be sure. She has slipped back into the illusion she was once before my younger children outgrew her.

The night of her ninth birthday, Greg said, should we make a nice dinner"
I said no, let's spend hundreds of dollars and order everything we want off the gourmet menu at the best Indian place in town.
So we did, we had two shopping bags full of the best things I've always wanted but been too cheap to order, and we laid it all out on the table with beautiful placemats and candles and ate most of it up.

Liam and Aoife joined us. The babies were in bed already. Halfway through the meal, Aoife regarded me with huge, haunted eyes.

Mimi, she carefully said, Did it make you really, really sad when you had to burn Charlotte's body?

Yes, I said, Yes it did.

Beside me, Liam burst into quiet, sad, tears. Please don't talk about this, he said. It makes me too sad.

I asked, Do you children want to hear the story of the day Charlotte was born? It occurred to me that they didn't really know the story. It seemed part of their family history they ought to know.

Aoife nodded, but Liam continued to cry. It makes me too sad, he said, it's too sad. He leaned into my shoulder and wept.

I told Aoife we could talk about it later, but then when the time came, the moment had passed.

It was the end of a long, cranky day. Nine years into it and what I really wanted was a day alone to count my blessings and beat the dirt for my one huge missing piece. This has been a year of incredible loss to those around me, invoking a feeling of near-guilt for my own grief over my one lost girl.

But she was my very own girl, and I wanted her very much. I am entitled, and I weep for her even surrounded by the eight loving arms I have since grown.

I am so lucky, but still remember.