Monday, February 28, 2011


Ale woke me up on the 14th, and I went through the usual paces of getting him out of his crib and trudging downstairs to the couch for our morning feed. On the staircase landing I glanced out the east-facing window and was awestruck by the most unbelievable sunrise. The sky was audaciously pink and orange, mixed with small shards of the most electric turquoise. It was not the stuff of poetry and postcards, but Vegas. Four years ago, at approximately this very hour, my daughter's heart failed and I was informed shortly thereafter that "we're there now." "There," the point of not saving, not doing heroic measures, but slowly somehow allowing her to die. Bizarre doesn't do justice to how I felt now, staring at this incredible jumble of color while holding a fat, hungry infant.

On the 18th, around 5:30 p.m., there was a small space of time between whatever and dinner, and so I went out in the yard with a baby on my hip to kick a soccer ball around with Bella. Who was in shorts. It was in the 60s.

Our game was interrupted by two over-the-fence conversations: One with the UPS guy about why he decided not to wear shorts, and one with a neighbor who was out walking the dog. From all corners lilted the sounds of children -- laughing, playing, whining and crying, no doubt because it couldn't possibly be time to go in for dinner yet, and no, I don't want to wear a jacket tonight, mommy, thank you.

Maddy is February, and February is Maddy, and both are marked by white (ranging from blinding to dirty) arctic chill. The morning her heart stopped framed by the horizontal sleet; the night we finally left Children's empty handed, exiting through the swishing doors into the dark frigid blast. The days following were clear but wretched, my Southwestern-based family wondering how to deal with single-digit windchill. Hell, hath frozen.

This? Outside my window this February? Was May.

It was as if the Universe was testing me, taunting me, daring me to remember -- daring me to conceive of a time and place so incredibly horrific and inextricably bound to the weather. It couldn't possibly have happened like that, it couldn't have been that cold, did it snow? Am I remembering this right? Did it happen at all? It couldn't possibly have, on a night bright enough to play soccer in the evening, warm enough that my neighbors set up tiki torches in the front yard in anticipation of the monthly party.

Bella and Mr. ABF went to the party, I put the baby to bed, lit Maddy's candle and huddled on the couch. And the winds came. The front came through carrying with it hurricane gales, extinguishing the tiki torches and driving the party inside. The next day, the gales continued, tree branches fell like rain, and the 45 degrees felt decidedly worse given the stinging wind.

She was here, after all.

I'm pretty sure of it.


Midnight the 14th, possibly early early on the 15th we were awakened by . . . well, I believe now we were awakened by a crash and woke to the sound of an alarm, but as it was, we heard a deafening-close car alarm. Mr. ABF jumped out of bed, determined it wasn't our car, notified me that there were some people across the street but everyone seemed to have their cars sorted out, and we went back to sleep.

The next morning, at the same picture window where 24 hours earlier I stopped to gape at a sunrise, I was greeted by the sight of my neighbors' two cars, both smashed into awkward twisted shapes, one assuredly totaled. (Drunk driver. Thankfully, he got stuck on the second one allowing the police to get there and arrest him on the spot instead of driving off and killing someone.) I let loose a stream of profanity, followed quickly by a hosanna of thanks for our off-street parking, and then in wonderment, Wait, isn't this sort of shit supposed to happen to us this month?

February has not left us unscathed -- in the waning hours, Ale and I have succumbed to some horrible cold virus avec fever which dropped me in the fetal position, unable to breathe, shaking from chills, wondering about that promise I made to myself about not being a breast-feeding martyr this time around. (I could just go chug a mugfull of cold-n-flu with a chaser of sudafed, rim-lined with crushed painkiller!) Neither of us has slept in days, but the fevers have broken so now I presume comes the discharge of snot and the hope that it will not fell Bella and Mr. ABF. At least quite as badly.

In like a Lion? The Lion, she's been lurking here all along. Waiting, waiting, blowing my nose impatiently, for March.


loribeth said...

There has been some truly bizarre weather this winter, hasn't there?? So glad February ended (relatively) well for you. (((hugs)))

jessica said...

Wow, this is truly a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss, I too, lost my daughter Emi that same month and year.
I too, get caught in those moments with my now (living, thriving) daughter...wondering if it really did happen....

erica said...

Thinking of you and Maddy, and glad you made it through February. I hope Spring decides to stay a while.

Jenni said...

been thinkin' about you and maddie. glad, for both of us, that february is over, and wondering what is next. remembering your little girl. xo

Alice said...

What an amazing post. I write for a living and I teach and I'll tell you something - you do something with this writing! You have a story to tell and you tell it so well! It's fantastic. Alice

k@lakly said...

God it's so true Tash, the feeling now of "WTF, did THAT really happen to me?" "How the eff could I be this person now if THAT happened to me?" And then something will happen, for me it was my husband inadvertently knocking over a bag in the closet(and as is typical, not picking it or its contents up) and spilled on the floor of the closet as I walked in was the outfit I was wearing when, indeed, THAT, did happen.
I fell to my knees and wept.
Arctic winds come in many forms I guess...
Remembering Maddy and damaging my liver a little for you both.