Friday, February 12, 2010

Birth Day, III

This year was odd. There was very little of that anticipatory stress and lockjaw. This year I kept forgetting . . . . and then remembering at the oddest times. I'd be going to the bathroom late at night when suddenly, right there on the loo, bam -- tears. Uncontrollable tears. Flashbacks to holding her and being unable to; memories of leaving Children's on a frigid evening with the doors swishing closed behind me knowing I'd never see her again. And I'd cry for a few, and pull myself together and splash water on my face and open the bathroom door and go back to worrying about snow, and more snow, and rearranging schedules, and thinking of activities to occupy a five-year-old. Back to my television program, or the computer, or the dogs. Back to my book, my workout, dinner.

It's not unlike being pregnant. I can go hours -- literally hours -- and not think about it and suddenly realize that the jabbing sensation around my midsection means the baby is moving. And I have to catch my breath and remember that this crazy messed up shit is my life.


:::


Rather out of nowhere -- I think we were discussing what to bake on Snowpocolypse Returns: IceMan vs. SnowZilla (versus this week's Snowpocolypse III: Hell Freezes) -- Bella asked from the backseat,

When is Maddy's birthday?

Next Friday.

I want to bake a cake. A cake with a heart on it, since it's so close to Valentine's.

And I'm not remotely, even close to one of those people who bake cakes for their dead children but I realized this is what she needs to do. I need to cry in the bathroom (apparently), and order some flowers for me and Maddy, and light a candle at the time of her birth, and spend some time with my husband who can confirm that we did indeed have a second daughter for the briefest of times and Bella needs to bake and eat a cake. And I need to respect that, and honor that, and recognize that she's got one of the toughest big sister gigs around. If she needs to go crafty with the frosting and consume (more, lord this snowbound week has been awful on the all-around diet) sugar in order to remember and mourn on her terms, than that's what she needs to do.

The flour will come out today.

We had another conversation in the car about a month ago where she asked if we could visit Maddy's grave on her birthday, which of course prompted me to say rather chippily, "She doesn't have a grave. We cremated her. We need to figure out where to put the ashes and maybe you could help us." She was pretty adamant on internment, and while sometimes I concede her point -- it does seem nice to have a set place to visit -- I think I'd rather visit a forest or river or soccer field or sunset. I answered like I do when she asks for something wretchedly horrible for her for dessert before discovering I'm about to give her something drastic for dinner: "We'll see, Love. We'll see."

:::

I have spoken more about Maddy to strangers in the past few months than I have the last three years. Just last week I coughed up my history at the gym to a total stranger (hey, she asked) and tears welled up in her eyes and here she was a NICU nurse. We had a lovely, sane, germane conversation while a few people around us looked down and away, clearly wishing they could sink through the floor. It was one of the first times I realized that others were uncomfortable, and I was truly, remarkably, not.

:::

I'm amazed that three years later I'm still stunned by who remembers, and who does not. I'm still brought to tears of gratitude by my SIL who remembers and sends the sweetest note, and by a distant cousin of Mr. ABF's who gives money to Children's every year on Maddy's birthday, in her memory. I'm still perplexed that the phone sits quietly while certain other family members avoid the phone call and hence the discussion and the memory altogether. You'd think I'd be used to this by now.

:::

I am not angry today. I don't think I'm tired anymore, either. And yet today hurts like hell, the cruelest of days on the calender followed closely and only by Valentine's Day, when her heart stopped and we realized that the roller coaster had screeched to a halt and the worst was indeed here. The anniversary of her death seems quiet in comparison to these two points that still burn.

Mostly really I'm just sad. Sad that it ever happened. Sad for her, sad for her sister, sad for us.

You'd think three years in I'd have a game plan of sorts to get through today, but today is odd -- it's the third snow day this week so Bella is home for the first time on this day, and I realized making waffles this morning it's the first February 12 morning I've spent with her since '06. Three years ago I pulled away in the car in the dark of morning, sobbing, Bella still asleep to be greeted by my parents upon awakening. Sobbing that I missed her, crying because I was worried about how this new child would impact our lives, tears of absolute relief that this hellacious pregnancy would be over by nightfall.

Little did I know.

Today has begun in a crazy normal snow-day kind of way: waffles, video games, monitoring my injured dog (Max appears to have torn something in his leg -- canine orthopedist appointment on tap for next week), getting out my recycling. Mr. ABF's business trip has blessedly been put off until at least tomorrow. The usual walk my husband and I take on this morning is undoubtedly off; the place where we walk is assuredly closed and I'm not sure I want to risk the roads to get there even if it is open. I'm hoping I can navigate the slush in order to pick up some flowers. Tonight I'll mosey off to book club. I don't want her day forgotten just because we're in some abstract kind of schedule and the roads are impassable.

Perhaps the cake is a good idea, after all.

Today however will find me like I always am: sad. It's the day to be that, regardless of where the hours find me, and what they find me doing. Baking a cake, making a snowman, doing yet another load of soggy dirty laundry, walking Max on a leash around my arctic lawn, overseeing neighbor children in front of video games or the craft table, making umpteen servings of cocoa or grilled cheese. Or just staring out the window, remembering that day and how everything I ever imagined today would be went sailing over a ledge pulling me over with it.

I miss and love her so terribly much.

59 comments:

Dora said...

Keeping you in my thoughts today.

c. said...

Maddy, very clearly, came to my mind the other day as I remembered these days were swiftly approaching. Three years. I can hardly believe it is here.

I know you miss her, Tash, and today, 3 years later, my heart still hurts for you and for her and for Bella and your family. I'm just so sorry and I'm just so sad.

Enjoy the cake, Tash - making it, baking it, eating it. And have a piece for me, will ya? XO.

Sue said...

There are no words. Abiding with you, Tash. Thinking of you, and the whole ABF family.

A.M.S. said...

Keeping you close today.

Bluebird said...

Thinking of you all today.

janis said...

typing through tears, Tash. Thinking of you mightily, and remembering with you. I wish I could give you a big ol' hug.
Stay safe amidst all that crazy snow.

stephanie said...

I've been reading for quite some time, and think of you and your family often. But today, I wanted to let you KNOW I'm thinking about you. Even though I'm a stranger. I care and I'm sad with you and I will remember her with you.

ezra'smommy said...

Remembering sweet Maddy with you today and always. We'll light Ezra's candle for her too tonight.

Michele said...

Oh Tash... Crying here... Sad too and remembering with you..

Anonymous said...

Tash, thinking of you today.

Love,
Dayna

tree town gal said...

Thinking of all of you today, Tash... tears and all.

debbie said...

tears for you Tash, lots of them.
hugs and love,
Debbie

Audrey said...

If such things are possible, I am sending good chi -- lots of it.

Julia said...

This brought tears to my eyes.

The cake thing is weird, if you are not a cake person, which I am not either. I had a bit more warning the first time, as Monkey declared the need to bake some months beforehand. And it still was odd. This year with the frosting and the candles? Even more so. But for me too it's about her story and her grief. So we do the baking.

Thinking of all of you on this strange snow day.

Rebecca Russell said...

I'll be lighting a candle for your sweet girl tonight. Your family is in my thoughts.

Kymberli said...

I remembered, and I came over today specifically to let you know that I did.

Thinking of you and abiding with you all.

luna said...

remembering maddy with you today, tash. abiding with you.

missing_one said...

*hugs* remembering Maddy. She is famous here in my eyes on the internets. I still remember reading her beautifully written story and just crying my eyes out as if I were living the event right there with you.

Cake is good. What a strong big sister Maddy has!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. Just beautiful.

Janette

mrs.spit said...

Remembering, you aren't walking alone.

kriswaldherr said...

Thinking of you, Tash. This is a beautiful tribute. And I love that you're baking cake.

Aunt Becky said...

I think of Maddy a lot. Oddly, I am sure it seems to you, but I do. She's there often. Holding you close, Tash. Maddy too.

Melissia said...

Keeping you and your family in my heart today, and and lite a candle for Maddy on her day.

after iris said...

Thinking of Maddy today, Tash.

With love x

myskytimes said...

I officially delurk to tell you how much your story touched me. I'll be thinking of you today and light Sky's candle for Maddy. She shares her birthday with my little sister... and today 3 years ago is the day that I found out I am pregnant with Sky. I so wish they could be here with us now.

Be safe and warm... xo

Life in Eden said...

Sending you hugs and kind thoughts on this day. I'm sure it must be different than other years, as each must be -- but I'm hoping that it is a peaceful one. (((you))) and all the ABF crew.

niobe said...

Thinking of you and Maddy.

moplans said...

thinking of you tash

k@lakly said...

You've been on my mind all week. I was remembering coming to know you, Maddy and her, your story, as you wrote it that first year 'anniversary'(ugh I hate that word)each day its own entry. I felt as though I was sitting with you as everything happened and eventhough I knew how things were going to go, I still sat in a crying heap as I read your words about those last moments with her.
And now here, 3 years. And I'm still a crying heap remembering her.
Cake sounds lovely, but I'll bet you know what my preference is:) Liquor up girl. And being the friend I am, I'll take one for the team and do it for you. But next year, we'll toast Maddy and Caleb together. And we will celebrate the lives of their little brothers.
Holding you close Tash. Always.
xxoo

Ya Chun said...

three - it is your family day.

It's wonderful that your one relative remembers Maddy and sends a memorial to the hospital. That's really special.

I guess Bella just needs to *do* something - to express herself.

I talked to my parents the Monday after Serenity's birthday, and they were really bugging me more than normal - I realized it was because they hadn't called on her delivery date and that they didn't mention anything about Serenity while on the phone. It hurts, but I guess they are just chicken. And that is probably what I'll get from here on out.

It's just us sometimes, standing in solidarity.

Alexicographer said...

Thinking of you, and Mr. ABF, and Bella, and Maddy.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and Maddy.

-Tiff

Reese said...

Keeping you guys in my thoughts tonight---

Janel said...

I hurt for you and your Maddy ache. You and she are remembered.

Mirne said...

Oh Tash, I can so much relate to what you wrote. About realising that this shit is your life. About being so sad. About just wishing it had never happened. About all of it. I'm not a cake baking person either. I know that you will miss her always. I know, because I will always love and miss mine too.

Sophie said...

Thinking of you and lighting a candle for Maddy.

xx

CLC said...

Remembering Maddie with you, Mr. ABF and Bella. I am so sorry she is not here in yours arms, where she belongs.

Azaera said...

Thinking of you today.

Catherine W said...

Thinking of you and your family. Remembering Maddy.

Sue said...

Maddy is not forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I've never met you Tash but i'm the student midwife who commented many months ago about writing my dissertation & how your blog had prompted me to choose my topic.

Today I was at work on the delivery floor & it was so quiet & no one was even in labour, so we were talking about our dissertations & I hope you don't mind but I told Maddy's story.

It is quite heartbreaking & quite wonderful that thanks to you & your eloquence & your honesty.... your daughter is known by people all over the globe, who actually think about her quite a bit.

Thinking of you quite a lot this week x

Megan said...

I wouldn't have thought I was the kind of person who baked cakes for her dead baby, either. And yet I do and it helps, somehow.
I hope the day was as peaceful as it could be and that you and Bella had fun baking.
Thinking of you.

Tash said...

@anon 6:46: I'm deeply humbled, honored, and touched by it all. I do remember you. I still would love to read it when you're done -- absolutely no pressure, because I know from experience these things can take, um, a while.

Thanks for thinking of me and Maddy this week especially.

Mary Beth said...

I'm a newbie around these parts, but I have been reading your blog for a little bit. I am thinking of you this week.

There are no words, no "right" things to say or do. But I do thank you for your writing, honesty and candor. It makes me feel less alone.

When I was in Venice a few summers ago, I enjoyed a little wine bar in the Piazza di Maddalena. I loved that name then, and still do--it's a beautiful one.

Holding your hand, even as a stranger.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Holding you in my heart all weekend.

angie said...

I was thinking of y'all on Friday, though I was away from the computer almost all day. Three years--the longest and shortest time. Remembering Maddy, and abiding with you. xo

Ange said...

Thinking of you and your family and wishing it could all be so different. Hugs. Ange

K77 said...

Thinking of your family and always remembering Maddy.

loribeth said...

Bless Bella. I think in kids' heads, a birthday deserves cake, & maybe they're right, although I've never been one to bake a cake for Katie's birthday either. I love that you're doing it for Bella. Happy birthday, Maddy. (((hugs))) to all of you.

Betty M said...

Thinking of you all over this week and beyond.

C. said...

I'd apologize for being late in adding my thoughts of you and yours, but maybe it's good to know that there are days upon days that people think of you and honor Maddy.

tireegal68 said...

Sorry I'm late to Maddy's birthday remembrance. Her big sister is wiser than many adults in wanting to mark this special day. Abiding with you and thinking of dear sweet Maddy a lot.

Hope's Mama said...

So sorry I'm so late (laptop been on the blink).
Thinking of you all though and remembering your sweet girl, Maddy.

She is loved and missed.

xo

kate said...

Happy Birthday, Maddie. Belated, obviously....but still thinking of your family.

Gal said...

Oh Tash. You took all of the words out of my own heart and wrote them perfectly. Sad. Just sad. That's the word. Thinking of you.

ms. G said...

I'm very, very late, but wanted you to know you and family are in my thoughts.

I'm still swept away by how much I can miss them. I'm glad you guys tried a cake. I've been finding that trying different things every year is better than having some set plan.

Kathy said...

Tash - What a beautiful post in honor and memory of Maddy. (((HUGS)))

I too am sorry that I did not comment here on her birthday, but hope that you will still appreciate knowing that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers this month and always.

Wow, three years. How time flies and also seems to go slowly at times. I love that you were able to talk about Maddy with someone and not feel uncomfortable about it. That is huge!

Anyway, remembering your second child/2nd daughter with you and hoping that Bella, your baby in utero and all of you enjoyed the cake.

Rest in peace Maddy.

Alice said...

I am so sorry. I really don't know what else to say - but I'm really, really sorry. Alice

Hanen said...

Thank you so much for these words. This bit puts it perfectly.

"remembering that day and how everything I ever imagined today would be went sailing over a ledge pulling me over with it"

I've only discovered your blog recently (thank you for your kind words when we lost our baby) - but I'm so sad for you and Maddy and your beautiful family. Sending lots of love, h.