Monday, April 14, 2008

Gut Check

I've spoken occasionally of the cool woman who lives down the street behind my house. We were pregnant at the same time, and she also had a toddler, although her son was a bit younger than Bella. I had gauzy daydreams of the two of us, sitting outside in the sun with our babies, watching the toddlers fall over the dog. The last time I spoke to her was a week after Maddy died; her family appeared at the back door to inquire about "the baby" and I simply said "she died" as I fell in her hugely-pregnant arms, sobbing. We finally disentangled, and I closed the door, and her family filed out my back gate.

I have since spoken to her husband, and Mr. ABF can speak with both of them, but I cannot speak with her. I cannot look at her. I can hardly stand to think of her. Because I know the child, her daughter is always with her. I knew exactly when her baby was born, because I noticed strangers walking her son around the block. I looked out the window in disbelief on the first warm day when I saw her out pushing a double stroller by my back fence. I cross the street if I see her coming because I cannot bear to see her daughter, the being who parallels my ghost.

My neighbor often walks down to the corner and back, cup of tea or baby in her hand, as her son meanders along examining the plants, sidewalk, weather, dogs. The baby is always in the stroller, on her hip, over her shoulder. Today I was in the yard with Bella and the dogs when I saw her out of my peripheral vision, slowly making her way down the walk with a toddler.

But it wasn't her son. It was a small, blond girl, holding her mother's hand, testing out her feet.

This girl is my bellwether, gauge, yardstick, my internal barometer of all things Maddy -- where she would be, if things went as planned, and where I am now in my missing. I averted my gaze, walked under my enormous magnolia tree, looked up at the fragrant pink blossoms, and sobbed.

37 comments:

Lisa b said...

tash I am so very sorry.

c. said...

Oh, Tash. All I can say is I'm sorry. I'm just so incredibly sorry.

Newt said...

Oh Tash. This is such a lovely, heartbreaking post, and I want to leave a comment but don't know what to say. I'm sorry, too.

You're so articulate in your grief, I wish I could be smarter and say something that's any damn use to you, but I got nothing. I'm so very sorry.

CLC said...

I am sorry too. This post actually made my stomach flip over (well it felt like that). It is so painful to see children that are the same age our daughters should be...

Becky said...

Oh Tash, I can only imagine.

I'm so damn sorry.

Emily said...

This was an absolutely beautiful post. I can't even begin to say how very sorry I am for your loss and for the reminder of this lost. Thank you for sharing this heartbreakingly soulful post ...

Beruriah said...

Oh my god Tash. That hurts so deeply. I am so so sorry. How can so much time have passed?

sweetsalty kate said...

Ouch. Just plain effing ouch.

Cry, tash, and then come here and tell us how you feel so that we can think of you and send you light and warmth.

Sarah said...

When we lost our daughter I was talking to a friend's mom who had also lost a little girl, more than 20 years ago. She told me that she had a friend - another parent from her son's class - pregnant when she was, who then had a little girl. She was expressing the difficulty of watching that little girl grow up - and how even by high school graduation she still felt the pinch of what should have been her life. My sister's sister-in-law was due right after me, and when I recently saw them I turned and bolted to avoid having to look at her daughter.

It just plain sucks to see the ones that lived - that sounds heartless and horrible, but while in theory I am happy for them, I can't do that without being mad for me at the same time.

Amy said...

Tash,
I am so sorry, so incredibly sorry.

STE said...

Oh, Tash...

My heart breaks for you reading this post. Really. I can see it, and feel it. I can smell the magnolia as you weep.

And I know it, too. The bellwether. It's almost as if the universe wants you to never forget (as if you would), wants to remind you of what you are missing with that "being who parallels [your] ghost."

Oh, Tash. This is the fist to the chest, the solar plexus that I fear. I'm so sorry you haven't escaped it. As if it wasn't already hard enough.

I'm weeping with you, wishing something could ease your pain, bring you some peace.

Antigone said...

You need a hedge. A tall, dense hedge.

janis said...

Tash, I don't even know what to say. I have a bellwether in my life too. I have people who keep promising me it will get easier; one day I will remember without the tears. These are people who have been there. I dare not even hope. Big hugs to you.

Natalie said...

I have two bellwethers, and I am constantly trying to figure out how to navigate. One I'm doing an okay job of, the other I'm not sure.

It hurts so very much. I know how much it hurts. ((many hugs))

luna said...

oh tash, it's just so damn sad. what a heartbreaking post is right. we're right here sobbing with you. it sucks to measure our lives in terms of what we've lost. I wonder if that will ever change. ~luna

k@lakly said...

You're not crying alone, if that helps. I hate this for you and for us. I am so very sorry.

Galen said...

Oh, Tash, I'm so desperately sorry that your heart is forever broken. I wish I could take you in my arms and make it all better, but I can't. (((Tash)))

Brooke said...

I am so sorry. As if we dont have enough reminders in our own lives, to see a child, a mirror of where your child should be...I'm so very sorry.

niobe said...

As I'm sure I've mentioned, my SIL has a little girl born at pretty much exactly the same time the twins were due. I haven't seen my SIL or even spoken to her for a year and a half.

One time, I was talking to someone and I said something like: "Y'know, right now, the twins would have been a year old." And the person said, "But, Niobe, the twins would never have been a year old." Strangely, that comforted me enormously. (YMMV)

G said...

Oh Tash, I am so sorry. That and eyes brimming with tears, is all I have.
Hugs
G

Dayna said...

Ah, Tash, that's really rough.

samill said...

I have one of these too. A friend from uni and his wife - her due date was a week before mine.

I haven't been able to bring myself to go and see them yet, which I feel slightly bad about. It's not like they've done anything wrong. The woman in question had two miscarriages before this one though and I know she understands what it can be like. M has seen them and the baby.

I'm so sorry tash, it's horrible.

Coggy said...

I'm sorry Tash, this post just made me so sad. There's no escaping any of this, the reminders and the gauges that exist for all of us with friends and neighbours. I can't see how these things are ever going to get any less painful.
I'm sorry x

Anonymous said...

Tash, am new reader. Found your site by typing in something to the effect of "love, baby, girl, Maddalena." Am catching up to present posts slowly. Read Oct. yesterday/ Nov. today. My name is Allie. I don't have a blog. I have three sons, and lost a girl, Hannah, five years ago. Just fantasizing about trying for my baby girl... I have picked the name Maddalena...hence my discovery of your blog. Thanks for all your refreshing honesty and perspective. Kudos, Allie

Tash said...

Allie, thank you for commenting. I'm not sure what kind of kizmet this qualifies as, but thanks for looking and reading. And I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter, Hannah. Another reader lost a daughter of the same name last December. Small world, this.

loribeth said...

I had to leave this post for awhile & come back again because I found it so moving. I too have a "bellwether" next door. She is six months older than my Katie would have been,& she was the first baby I held after Katie. When she was a toddler, she played a lot by herself & looked so lonely. I kept thinking she & Katie would have been friends. Now she's just turned 9, & has tons of friends running in & out of their house, which is even more painful to see. She adores dh too. Seeing her skipping to the car in her tutu for a ballet recital, or off to school in September, inevitably brings a huge lump to my throat.

I like Antigone's idea about the hedge. ; )

Julia said...

I saw our bellweathers two weeks ago. They are twins, one gestational week ahead of A. Born about ten days before he died. They are the ones it was hard for me to see. A friend's daughter who was born in early January was fine, and the friend whose son was supposed to be A's best friend, we managed too (had to do that one, couldn't loose our friends too, and Monkey would've lost friends in that divorce, so NO). But the twins-- much harder. They were so much smaller than A, and they made it. Love their parents, just couldn't see them for over a year...
So Monkey and I finally went two weeks ago. And then JD surprised me by saying he wants to get together with them too. I guess he misses his friend (from the first professional job with his highest level of education-- very close), and feels strong enough now to give it a try.

I guess my only point is that I am sorry. This sucks, and it's unfair. The continuous price of grief.

MsPrufrock said...

I have nothing to contribute here beyond saying I'm sorry you have this constant reminder of your grief. I can't begin to imagine how horrible it must be for you.

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of such a barometer and after 17 years, when I look at my daughter I still see the ghost of the girl who could've been her playmate.

From this side it never has gotten easier to live with the guilt of simply "lucking out" so I can't even fathom your pain or that of my long lost friend. We moved away. Seeing the pain me and my daughter caused her was too much so I ran. At the time I said it was to spare her, which for awhile I'm sure it did. But over the years I've grown and I no longer think it was just to ease her pain. That realization has only added to the guilt.

I'm sorry. I found your blog through many others within the community and your writing spoke to me so I read. I always feel like an intruder when all I'm really hoping for is to find a blog by the woman I once knew and admired to selfishly see if she's forgiven me. I don't even know why I wrote this.

Tash said...

Anon, I'm so glad you did write this, it brought tears to my eyes. I have no idea how my ignoring her, and turning away with my eyes tearing over impacts her, but I know it must affect her a little. I know she asks after me. I know she cares. Your compassion toward your friend is simply amazing, and I hope you find her, too. Just so you know, I have this pipe dream that someday I will walk to her door, martinis in hand, and we will just cry until it's out and it's over. I thought this day would happen last year, but it hasn't yet. And now I'm not sure it will happen any time in the future, either. I guess I'm trying to say, I bet on some huge level, your friend misses you, too. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tash,

Remeber me from the e-mail? I decided to take your advice and just start posting. Maybe I will have the courage to start my own blog soon.

It is interesting that you posted this. I have an almost parallel story that is unfolding right now. My next-door neighbor is due next month- a week after I would have been due. We announced our pregnancies at the same time. Our other children are the same age.

I can't stand to look at her and find myself avoiding her whenever possible. I think I am doing OK with my grief until I see her (even out the window) and her enormous belly. She is literally bursting at the seams.

I noticed the other day that she has set up her bassinet in the bedroom right next to the window. With the way our houses are built, I can't avoid seeing it, and I have to force myself not to look. I think this has by far been the biggest kick in the gut.

I know as time goes on, I will constantly look at her family and wonder how things should have been. With the possibliity of future pregnancies (mostly) out of the question for us, I am realizing that it will be a dream forever unrealized. And there will be a unwelcome reminder next door smacking me in the face daily.

Daisy

Aurelia said...

Tash, I was affected by your post, and now reading this comment, oh honey...

Anon, you have really affected me as well. I'm not the woman you mean, but oh god, I could be.

I think I need to forgive some people, and maybe let some things go that have been weighing me down for too long.

Alice said...

I know exactly what you mean. There are loads of people who I've never seen since my daughter died. It just upsets me too much to see all their living and happy children. I'm not jealous. I'm very happy for them - but I can't stand to go anywhere near them. I've never been near a new born baby since Laura died and I don't think I ever will now.

Alice

SarahSews said...

I'm so sorry. This touched me deeply and I can only imagine how painful it must be to have it in your life so constantly.

DH and I have 5 nieces and nephews 3 and under. All born and conceived since we started TTC. Watching them grow up while our dreams stalled was hugely painful and we didn't lose any children along the way.

wannabe mom said...

i am so very sorry. this post breaks my heart. for me and my husband, all of the babies born after our twins (esp. the girls) make us sad. it's so unfair.

Searching said...

I'm sending you my thoughts and prayers and know that I do think about that, the babies that do make it at the same time that others don't. I'm one of those. The preemie who did amazingly well while the term boy born the same night died of a heart defect not known before birth. I know my parents feel lucky I lived and continue to live. I feel guilty that the little boy who should have had everything perfect and joyous did not when I should have had everything wrong and did not. I'm so sorry.

LAS said...

Just catching up reading here...I am so so sorry. I wish I knew what else to say - my heart feels like it's breaking for you and it just makes me so sad. You are a wonderful writer - this post really brought emotion to the surface, because although I haven't had your experience, I can can glimpse the pain.