Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hell, frozen

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.

Maybe.

28 comments:

Amy said...

I wish I had words but you seem to take my breath away.

Thinking of you, thinking of Maddy...Always.

missing_one said...

Yes, as if everyday is now a reminder of sorts and will always be to an extent, but we know eventually, they will become merely passing thoughts of remembrance to fade into the deadbaby cadence that has dropped off into a pianissimo fermata.

Julia said...

I am in a similar place, though the winter is slightly less jarring to me, but I think only slightly. Though I am not sure where I would be sans the Cub. Not because he fixes or makes up, but because that was a separate fight we were in... to have another baby after. If I was still fighting that one, compounding the grief... not sure where I'd be. I've been thinking about the grief recently, and I judged myself to probably be where expected, where I would've predicted some months back, if I was to go all out nerdy and plot intensity vs time, complicating the function with surrounding memories and time of year associations, before and after. Which is to say entirely aware at all times, but not drowning as bad as last year. Interestingly, I see the Cub as a separate layer of my emotions. He does nothing to the grief, he exists on a different plain, where he is a gorgeous and achingly lovely person. But he does not lessen the grief. Some moments the layers collide, and the grief intensifies. Never the opposite, though, never. Which makes for an effed up bimodal state most of the time, but I'll take it...
Anyway, long way of saying it's snowing here too, and very much unlike myself of years before I feel no need to be in it. But I do feel strong need for comfort food. Hence, I am off to the kitchen.

charmedgirl said...

it's like, time itself doesn't pass fast enough...there's a slight of hand that allows enough of the mondays, sundays, 12s, and 18s to pass...but the year markers...not enough. we'll suffer through hard years in order to have (maybe? a promise of?) enough to take the edge off. and what is it, really? some imaginary social construct labeled with consecutive words and numbers...what is it really, that happens inside us over time? i don't know. i just want it to happen faster.

Aunt Becky said...

Winter is too cruel. Thinking of you, Tash, you and Maddy and the whole ABF clan.

Sue said...

I can't imagine ever liking winter again. Yes, the days of the week pass, the numbers of dates. Sense memory is too strong. I can imagine getting through it, not hating it. But liking it? Don't know.

This was such a beautiful post, showing how the world really does change in so many ways, even as some things seem to go back to "normal."

Aurelia said...

You are further, much further. It's just hard to see it. And maybe February will always suck a little, but it won't feel this bad and this fresh, forever.

Betty M said...

Thinking of you

Megan said...

I wonder if I'll ever be able to lie in bed and listen to freezing rain outside without finding myself in a hospital bed after delivering Georgia. Will I ever note the first of the month without calculating how old she should be now. I know I'll never be able to see an ambulance idling on our street without an intake of breath at the memory of that futile race to the hospital.
Thinking of you, Tash, and amazed – as always – at how you can articulate the wordless.

The Turtle and the Monkey said...

I know after two years, the 17th still hangs with me. I think to myself how long it has been since I have held Noah. They do pass occassionally without notice and then the guilt takes over.

Like your February, December is not a time of festivities and joy for me. It is dreaded, sad, and all consuming. I do think as the years pass, the pain may subside (I hope), but our longing for our children will remain.

Take each day as it comes and hold tight to your memories good and bad as they are Maddy. You are in my thoughts.

Kymberli said...

If I could stretch through time to push the cold days through faster, I would. Holding you in warmth....

Hope's Mama said...

It is Mondays and Tuesdays for me, 18ths and 19ths. And also at the end of our winter, August. Not looking forward to any of it. And I don't think we will ever miss them less. Ever.

loribeth said...

This is the first year in 10 years that I haven't circled all the 7ths (delivery date) & 14ths (due date) on all the months on my calendars (aside from August 7th & November 14th). I found I wasn't thinking about them as much anymore, & thought I'd see whether I missed the monthly red circles. So far, so good. November (due date month) still isn't a good month for me, though. (((hugs)))

ezra'smommy said...

This post resonates with me so. In the beginning, every Friday (death) and Saturday (birth) was like being thrown off a cliff over and over. Now the days of the week don't matter so much but the date in the month 29th (death), 30th (birth). I go from numb on death day to deep despair on birth day. Who knows where I'll be by next August...

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I have no good words (are there every any?) but I wanted you to know that I thought this post was beautiful and I'm thinking about you this morning.

Melissia said...

Many years out, I use to be able to avoid those feelings you are describing, having dealt, I thought. Doesn't that sound superior and smug? Well, my mom died and my son went off to Iraq and suddenly I was back there fresh in the grief of that August (all three things just happened in that same month). So 2 years later I still struggle with those feelings as if she had just died.
I get where you are, are I am with you during these coming weeks Tash.

CLC said...

It's weird how the calendar holds such significance now. I find myself always looking at it. There are many days that are important to me as far as Hannah's life and death go. Days that other people would probably wonder why that day is important to me. But then, they were all important, weren't they? I hope the winter passes quickly for you. It certainly does nothing to lift the mood when everything is dull and gray looking.

Which Box said...

Winter is the cruelest month, hmmm. I'm so sorry.

This reminds me of the link I did last year, maybe, about how people grieve. It's ok you don't have any answers or a profound answer to the all of it. It just is.

G$ said...

Tuesday, Wednesday. 7 & 7. Days of the week, numbers, months, it's a wonder that people don't think we speak a whole different language.

c. said...

And yet, I'd want to hold on to the Sundays and Mondays and twelves and eighteens. I'd want to hold on to them like they were Maddy herself. And I think sometimes that's the reason we tether on to those days, those moments (whatever ours may be) so tightly - because we need them as much as we need our babies themselves.

Maybe, indeed. But I hope not. Maybe a little. Oh, I just don't know.

XO.

k@lakly said...

I know the days but I don't mark them on paper. Just in my head, which is probably why they sneak up on me and knock me over when I least expect it. That's what I get for not using a datebook I guess.
What an extraordinary writing Tash. Just achingly beautiful.

niobe said...

I know I've talked about this before, but when the twins died, I made a conscious decision that I was not going to remember the day or the day of the week, that I was going to force myself to forget every detail as quickly as possible. It was easier because I was in the hospital for several weeks, most of it doped up with huge amounts of mag, so days passed in a murky haze.

I suppose I could -- if I wanted to -- go back and calculate the days and dates. But denial seems to have worked pretty well for me -- though I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea.

luna said...

I hate february too. just wonder how long I'll have the energy to write about it -- this is my 3rd.

this is a really beautiful post. tash.

Michele said...

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays... 1sts, 16ths, and 23rds... February and now November... We do something special on each of their days, the 1st, 16th, and 23rd, and it is hard as the weekend rolls around. Remembering is all we can do in so many ways... Even when it hurts.

Lani said...

for us its the 25th and a thursday. my father in law and my mom and I all feel it and have spoken about it. i don't know if it affects anyone else the way it does the 3 of us. but we all noticed, every thursday for weeks upon weeks.
and fall, man, fall is going to be brutal. so much of who silas was going to be had to do with fall. when the orion constellation (which seems to bring sadness to everyone now) comes out, and that change in the weather when you all of a sudden need to put on a sweater to go out at night. i dread what i once loved.
such beautiful writing tash. thinking of you and maddy.

MsPrufrock said...

I think I leave the same comment every time, and I also think I also say that every time as well.

You always amaze me with the beauty of your writing. I can't write emotional posts at all, so when I read yours, I'm consistently floored by their brilliance. Heartbreaking to a point which I wonder if I can read on, but I always do.

I also tell you this all the time - whenever I hear "Be OK" you are the first thing to pop into my head.

Melissa said...

i'm so sorry.

for me it's mondays and fridays. 7ths & 18ths. i miscarried on the 7th and my best friend killed himself on the 18th. even now i dread fridays and mondays counting how old both would be. i despise July.

Kristin said...

What a beautiful, touching, heartbreaking post. I wish I could bring the warmth to you and chase away this time of the year.