It's snowing. The second (non-accumulating, damn you global warming) snowfall of winter is lightly filtering past the street lights. It's romantic. If getting kicked in the solar plexus by steel-toed shoes is your idea of romance.
Maddy was born on Monday, and died on Sunday. So I woke up Monday morning, without my daughter, honoring? remembering? trying to forget? the one week anniversary of her birth. Like a contraction, there were a few hours in the morning where I could catch my breath, and like a snowball gathering speed, into the four o'clock hour I went, lurching downhill through a week's worth of ghastly memories. I went through the first week without her, with my nerves building and my jaw clenching through the weekend, until I hit Sunday evening again. And then woke up to another Monday. And on I went, Monday, Sunday, Monday, Sunday, every week a cruel testimony to the true measure of a week made up of significant hours.
The twelfth to the eighteenth. The twelves would pass slowly, one, then two . . . six was hard. The eighteens for some reason, after the first, less obvious.
After a few months, the Mondays and Sundays became days again and toward the end of the first year, the twelves and eighteens began to roll underfoot unnoticed. I remember actually being startled one month to look at the calendar and realize I was on the 21st or somewhere having sailed through both without incident. And now they all pass, silently, like mile-markers on a highway, only occasionally catching my eye if I need to pen something on that square or write it on a check, giving me pause and illiciting a resigned "huh." She would've been 14 months. 18 months. 20. I notice today, preparing this post, tomorrow -- a Monday, incidentally -- 23.
What stands out on the calendar anymore is February. All of winter, really. It's an ugly signal flare in the middle of my serene winter snowfall. An torturous electric jolt in my once cozy hibernation. I think I'm doing ok and suddenly I realize I'm teary during a commercial, or an otherwise gooey song on the radio. My patience is thin. My bitter is up. My jaw is starting to ache from clenching my jaw, my heartbeat is slightly on the uptick. Everything spoken makes me wince, everything is meaningful and hurtful. A woman in a school meeting the other day, while trying to make a point about how children learn language, used for her example the word "chop." "What do you think when you hear the word 'chop'?" I'll tell you what I hear, and it's not what I do to onions. It's the acronym for Children's. It's where I spent 48 hours, the last of my daughter's life. It's a shrine, it's a ring of hell. It's where my hope and joy and vision of the future died. It's like approaching the weekend used to be, the final turn into the final curve where I know the collision of memory that lies in wait.
So many Mondays and Sundays and twelves and eighteens have passed underfoot, you'd think I'd be farther than where I am now. That I would've discovered something about myself, or come to some profound conclusion about life -- mine or hers. That the phone might have rung, and someone on the other end might have had an answer. That I'd hurt less. That I'd miss less. That I'd know exactly how I want to handle the upcoming series of twelve and eighteen having passed through it already.
I'm finding I'm simply staring ahead, arms akimbo, crestfallen. Winter is cruel. The lead-up into February and the denouement into March is the sun around which my universe now orbits. I'm assuming one of these days I'll break free from the tug of gravity, and February will pass in an almost unassuming manner, much like the Sundays, Mondays, twelves and eighteens. Perhaps someday I'll come to like to winter again, minus a brief six-day sojourn around Valentine's Day.