As a joke, sorta, I taught my wee little soccer team some physics last fall. You know, fun goofy things like: a well-kicked ball can travel faster than a person. (We had a race. Everyone lined up, I said go, and they sprinted and I passed the ball and we saw which made it to the 20 yard mark first.) The ball does not run out of stored energy, but you do -- let the ball travel for you. (Yes, yes, I know the ball has some too when kicked, but let's not blow the young children's minds just yet, m'kay?) Goalies can train and learn to jump; but because of that crazy thing called gravity, it's harder to learn to fall fast. Ergo, shoot low. I sent them forth to run in circles and kick wildly and discuss the oeuvre of Justin Bieber. Bella complained the whole time, "But I don't like Fidgets!" A malprop which I'm going to tuck away until she wins a nobel prize for her studies in plate tectonics.
When soccer ended, I thought I'd have some time to do stuff, like wash dishes and write here. My endless hours of computer bureaucracy were over (seriously, that is mainly what the modern coach does that kills time -- practices and games are 90 minute stretches of fresh air and contempletude by comparison), complete with two additional gaping holes in my weekly schedule. But what's the principal, nature hates a vacuum? The mud encrusted cleats remained (and I believe, still do) in the mudroom while we shuttled Bella to her Nutcracker rehearsals and tried and reschedule her ice-hockey initial fitting because it conflicted with a dress rehearsal. One of these years perhaps she'll do Nutcracker! On Ice! But until then her angel outfit will remain separate from the shoulder pads. (For the record, you cannot get a hockey helmet on over a ballet bun. In case you were wondering. Also? Please look for me in the Olympic Ballet Bun Hair-do competition, I'll be in the "moving target" division.)
The holes, they filled with dump-truck alacrity -- there was quickly hockey, and more hockey. The third floor bathroom was demolished (in the longest demo ever, where it was discovered bad bathrooms merely beget other bad bathrooms) and rebuilt. And I decided after years of participation to chair (whatinfucksnamewasIthinking) a big fundraiser in my neck of the woods. Mr. ABF is co-chairing with me, and together we are pulling our hair out and madly doling out our cell phone numbers and email. Good golly, the email. How much time can it possibly chew? Very much time, as it turns out. There are no more holes to fill; I put children to nap or bed and in the space where I used to do nice things like shower and do laundry, or clean dishes and tidy up and maybe read a blog or do a crossword or curl up with a book club selection, I ponder email and spreadsheets. And I stress.
Last fall, a few long-time, long-term members of this corner of the blogosphere finally got good news. I circled around to all of their comment sections, and even wrote a few emails, and I tried so hard to explain that it was good -- no, it was great -- that they could feel joy and happiness and relief.
And glee, and smile uncontrollably.
And cry at the drop of a hat.
And that it was totally possible, within the realm of medical science and understood nature and math and quantum mechanics, to feel better and whole . . . and not. To finally feel full, while still having a hole that was totally impossible to fill, no matter how busy you feel you are now, no matter how emotionally and time-wise stretched. Your life may be full of cherub photos and dirty diapers and solid food and babies who won't sleep, and somehow that gap between the mountains looms there.
Funny how that happens.
I think because of the crammed boxes on the calendar and the bizarro spring-winter we seem to be having here (I swear. to. god. I saw poor cherry blossoms wondering what gives around Thanksgiving, and a peek of forsythia in January, and already bulbs popping up and then pausing to ask what month we're in because this? is odd) February snuck up on me. That and it's been a whole five years. Half a decade.
I don't measure in Maddy's would-be time -- frankly, I really never have because it was so evident to me that she would have never lived, but I do measure in my children's time in relation to the very bad thing. And so it was last week when Ale was sliding down our backyard playset by himself (almost) that I realized he was the exact age that Bella was when we looked at this house. In fact, she slid down that very slide with my MIL, while we wandered through rooms inside. And ergo, he is the exact age Bella was when I found myself surprisingly, relatively easily pregnant with Maddy. And now this funny clock will start and I expect that while today and next Saturday will hurt me some, that the kick to the solar plexus will come in November '12, when Ale will be the age Bella was Maddy was born. It is then I will see, without bloodshot eyes and dehydration and leaky breasts and crushing sadness, what it's really like to have a two-and-a-half year old. I think it will be then that I'll emerge from the overgrowth, the now flowered weeds, to discover that all this time they've been covering an abyss.
Black holes aren't really you know, they're filled with dense matter. So I'm realizing I can't fill these holes, and nor do they need to be filled. It is entirely possible to function, to function normally and even -- dare I say -- well, with a mini-van swallowing pot-hole in your soul. My days are filled with the stress of planning and the boring regularity of groceries, and great joy of finally having the Soccer Channel, and eating a seven course seafood feast with my neighbors, and coaching a teamful of beautiful girls, and watching my own cherub glide across the stage in what I hope is her first Nutcracker. There is unabashed smiling at a seven year old who can skate backwards and do a hockey stop, and a 1.5 year old who occasionally uses the toilet, prefers mushroom/artichoke pizza to plain, and says "crap" in context. My toddler-wannabe scores a goal with his miniature hockey set, holds the tiny stick above his head, and shouts "GOOOAAAL!" And then very methodically pushes the nets aside and boards his push-bike and rides it around, imagining life on a Zamboni. I am, all things considered, quite happy. Very happy. Strangely, I feel very blessed.
All while occasionally peering into the hole that I know leads through to another galaxy, where horrible things occur, and beauty is snuffed out before it is realized. A place packed with great sorrow and unspeakable horror. A tiny wee bit of beauty perhaps, and a precious few furry-purry kisses but mostly a nightmare that I don't dare consider on any given day.
I guess I've learned to drive around it, except for in February, where I stop and peer over the edge and remember, and ponder what might have been, and what on earth will be.
I realize now looking at my blond big-eyed children stuff their faces with warm waffles that all my children are, and were, beautiful. All of them. I love them all completely. And I do what I can in a jam-packed world to remind them -- all of them -- of that fact.
Today I park my car on the edge of the floral, cedar-fumed forest, and stroll up to the edge of the craggy canyon, peer into the stank vapor and lonely darkness, and I know it's not really an empty hole at all. So I shout into the echo and am somewhat comforted to hear it bounce back at me:
I love you, Maddy. I miss you terribly.