So: I was going to thank you (thank you all, by the way) and go all Stephen King on your asses and tell you about writing the last week, and how it came to be and how it made me feel and yadda yadda yadda, eyes glazing over, but with a bit of profanity. But I'll save that post until tomorrow.
Last week, during our time out for grief, Bella was rather nonplussed by the whole thing. On Tuesday, she asked why we were buying flowers, and we told her. She asked why we were lighting a candle, and we told her. But she didn't follow up, and I don't like to push things down her little eardrums that aren't sought, and so I said nothing. I can't say I blamed her for not being interested, because really, how could she possibly remember or know?
This morning, on the way to school, we passed the hospital. Not THE hospital, delivery hospital, but our little local hospital that's a routine sign post en route to her school parking lot.
Bella: There's the hospital!
Me: Yup! There it is!
Bella: That's where I was when I was a baby.
Me: No, sweetie, you were born in another hospital, in [state where we used to live], by our old house.
Bella: No, that's where I went to visit you in the hospital, when I was a baby yesterday. (Her way of saying, any time in the last 3.5 years.)
Me: (Suddenly realizing what's going on) You did come to visit me in the hospital. But not that one. Maddy was born in a different hospital.
And suddenly, from the back seat, in Bella's small but articulate voice tumbled memories of her coming to visit me the morning after Maddy's birth. She remembered everything: the pictures of Maddy that the nurses had put on the wall, sitting on my bed and eating snacks off my tray, going to cafeteria to eat lunch with her grandparents. When I parked the car, I turned around and said, "you have a very good memory. That was a year ago. You know, Maddy's birthday was last week. She would've been one year old."
Bella: (looking a bit alarmed) what did we do? Did we have a cake?
Me: No, we didn't have a cake. We bought flowers.
Bella: Anything else?
Me: Flowers. And we lit a candle.
Bella: No cake??? Anything else?
Me: Well, we're thinking of getting her a bench, with her name on it at [park Bella knows].
Bella: (silent for a moment) You know, I think they have PUPPIES IN THAT PARK!! PUPPIES! puppies puppies puppies puppies blah blah blah puppies . . . . segue . . .
Only yesterday, did I comment on Searching's blog, that Bella never met Maddy. Bella fell below the age-limit for the NICUs, and worse, she was at the time in the midst of a four month runny-nose and post-nasal-drip hack. The nurse at Children's was geared up to "get around this somehow," but I demurred -- the last thing I needed on my head was Bella cough-spitting in the NICU and giving some poor tot with a deficient immune system a virus that would prove deadly. (I felt somewhat vindicated when two days after Maddy's death, she ran a temperature of 101, and had to be taken to the doctor.) Plus, I thought, she won't remember anyway. She's too young. Now, this morning, I realize, she remembers everything. Oh my God, what have I done?
Last fall, at the Deli Counter in the supermarket, I found myself in conversation with another mom from Bella's school (child in another class). I have zero idea how this came up, but you know it does with certain people, and there she was with her two boys telling me how she really wanted a third, next summer, maybe August. Did my best not to sputter at the absurdity of simply desiring a child and presto! having it happen, but let it go.
And this morning, after this conversation with Bella, I found myself walking out of the school behind this woman, talking with another mom, and suddenly heard her announce, "By the way, I'm pregnant. Eight weeks."
Yes, apparently you CAN simply desire children (live ones, duh) and they will fall into your lap like fresh fruit hanging from a tree. There are people who can casually discuss conception and pregnancy as easily as if they were ordering a latte, while some of us have discussions about baby death in the car before preschool. Everyone was right: so far, year two is worse. Much, much worse.