Sunday, May 12, 2013

Already it is almost happening. It was an almost-day today, one full of sunshine and wistful smiles, where our family moved as if behind frosted glass. There had been plans, but we abandoned them and  hunkered down like a family should when they are waiting for something. I should rephrase that, because only two of us are waiting.
Today is May 12th, also known as last day. Ten years later I would have to return to my archives to re -read what I did, precisely, exactly on this day. I know I went to Deals and Steals, but I have now forgotten what I purchased. I know I swam in the pool at Smith. I know I sat for a time on my couch, drinking orange juice, talking on the phone to my sister. I wanted to wake the baby up before my swim. It took a little while, but you know what they always say. Babies slow down at the end. I was 41 weeks pregnant. She was probably already dying, but I was about to go for a swim. I don't remember what I did in the middle time, or what time I woke up that morning. I'm sure my house was as neat as a pin, every dish neatly washed. Who was there to make a mess? The lilacs were nearly open, but not quite. Apple blossoms were in a vase on my dining room table, waiting for the baby.
Tonight at 5:45, when the little girls were in the bath, I knew that ten years ago I was in my yoga class. I remember sitting there with the other moms and feeling proud that I would, inevitably, be the next to go. This is a moment I return to often: myself in the only place where she could have, perhaps, been saved. She was alive. I did not know what would happen next.
Our nursery has not been changed. The walls are still yellow, the ceiling pale blue with stars painted up the gabled roof. The red gingham curtain I sewed for Charlotte still hangs at the window, the bedskirt has not changed. Right now, Maeve sleeps in the crib that was purchased for her biggest sister. She does not know that her sister is dead. To her, all is well and good.
The pure white onesies that I washed and folded for Charlotte are probably in my doll-clothes bin. Her diapers have been worn by all her siblings and turned into washrags. Her first clothes, gifts at her shower, are currently being worn by my niece Avery, who is the sixth child to actually wear the tiny tee shirts and suits that should have been hers. Someday, when they have made the rounds, I will re-collect all the newborn clothing with "Charlotte" on the tag, but for now I prefer to see them used.
Ten years ago, it was not Mother's Day. That was yesterday, and a lady at the diner had given me a rose. It was on the kitchen table, back when we had a kitchen table. It was a symbol of motherhood, and I cherished it. Today is the eleventh Mother's Day I have celebrated. I have been pregnant or nursing a baby every single Mother's Day. This has been a long road.
Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be the un-day. My children will seize it from me with their incessant needs and requirements, but I will not take them to school. I will keep them close, and allow them once again to move me away from my pain. I would like to curl up on the couch right now and listen to the music Charlotte was born to, to feel the tears stream down my face and wet the pillow beneath my hair. But instead I will go upstairs and read my book and go to sleep, because it's easier sometimes to follow a routine, like a machine, than it is to feel sad.
I will lie in my bed, with the enormous window frame filled with photographs of Charlotte over my head, but I won't look up. I won't ruminate on the sadness of the moment. It's too hard. I crave, and need, time absolutely alone right now to do this work. Ten years. I have never done anything for ten years, not ever. I have worked so hard at missing this baby girl for ten whole years. I realize now that this goes on forever, that one day it will be twenty, thirty, forty. And I will still be here, missing my baby girl.
Tomorrow, it returns.

No comments: