Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Birth Day, VI

Remind me of my blogger password.

Remind me how to edit and spellcheck on this thing.

Remind me how to write.

Remind me why I start clenching my jaw in January, and why during winter I have vivid daymares involving my children and blood and hospitals and machines that go beep, and feelings of anguish.

Remind me why that story on NPR my husband told me about  -- the one with the woman whose infant died from Whooping Cough -- pushed every fucking button on our panels.

Remind me why I have a button panel again?

Remind me why there's this monstrous age gap between my children?

Remind me why driving to Children's for a completely innocuous, non-life-threatening, totally completely superficial appointment for one of my children made me tense?  Why I had to take deep breaths in the parking garage?

Remind me why people (people I don't even know) who said the whole Sandy Hook thing on TV made them so "sad" they had to turn off the television and "get away from it" made me hate my in-laws all over again?


We went to a child's birthday last week where my husband had a chance to finally meet the new baby of the family who lives a few doors down in back.  For some reason I thought they had another boy, but it turns out it's a girl.  In the safe warmth of my kitchen, after the party, with Bella standing two feet away from me, Mr. ABF said, "Do you know what they named her?"

(stunned silence, perhaps my stomach and fists clenched)


"Jesus," I said, gripping the wall corner and immediately apologizing to Bella for saying something I don't allow her to say.  She gave me an "It's cool" look.

And you know, it's a beautiful name, it's not her name, and when this girl is five and everyone is calling her "Maggie" I'm not going to care remotely.

But right now?  Today?  Because she's a baby and it's February?

Remind me why this is like a punch in the gut?

Today I will undergo the annual traipse to the flower store, and lighting of the candle at 4:30 p.m.  Mr. ABF will be at Bella's hockey practice, which will just be getting underway; Ale will likely be riveted to a "Little Einsteins" or throwing something or narrowly avoiding stitches and a trip to the ER.  But it won't matter, because it's impossible for me to forget as much as I'd like to.

Funny how so much of that week fades to black during the year when the schedule is jammed -- sometimes it takes something really grossly obvious like misplacing my bracelet for me to even remember the events of six years ago and why I even wear a bracelet at all.  It seems so "normal" to have two children at the ages they are that there's seldom a thought as to why so many years fall between them.

And then I get to this week and I can remember every last detail:  starting with the total humiliation of February 12, 2007, where I came to realize that things do not always follow the plan, you know, the plan you had just totally assumed would occur while holding your newborn,  from napping on the couch to teaching her how to walk in heels to chatting about her professional life over a glass of wine.  The plan that you never gave much thought to because, duh, of course it will go like that!

Until it didn't.

I don't need reminding of how I almost passed out the first night when they finally started to go through her litany of problems.  How I howled through the second night.  How Valentine's Day has become the ultimate irony because I remember every vivid detail of a doctor coming into my room and telling me my daughter's heart had stopped.

I remember what I ate for breakfast on the last day of my daughter's life.

I remember the ride home after she died.

It's not that I think I outright forget the rest of the year, but I think the memories have become just that:  memories, not something I touch and feel and bump into every day like I did for years.  Back then, they weren't memories, it was grief -- tangible, identifiable, slap-you-in-the-face grief.  I felt like I was in a daily wrestling match with the memories big and small, everything from the final moments to the ice-machine location would cause me to slump and ponder.  Grief slid away eventually, hallelujah, and now I'm left with memories that are part of a blurry background that contain millions of others, good, bad and indifferent.  They just sit there through the seasons, occasionally wave hi from their shelf, maybe do as much as poke me in the side and cause me to verbalize out loud:  "huh."

It's only now, in winter, especially this week in February that the memories are unpacked like holiday decorations, dusted off, and trotted in front of my conscious self in a parade of horror.

I won't need reminded, but I may need to find some time around 4:30 to actually light a candle, and then keep someone from throwing a book or cheese stick right at it.

Today, I'll remember.

Today, and even all the other days you sit quietly and observe from your perch in my subconscious, I'll remember.  Those other days, I just won't feel remotely as hollow as I do on this day when I wink back.  I love you Maddy, and miss you terribly.


A.M.S. said...

Sitting quietly, abiding with you. Understanding perfectly. Much love.

We remember and speak her name.

Julia said...

Remembering with you.

A's name is so rare in this country that I have yet to get that gut-punch directly. But a few years back a friend was recounting a trip to a country where it is a much more common name, and out comes a mention of one of the faculty people/tour guides. Jolt. Even though it was an adult, and it was summer out the window....

loribeth said...

Tash, so good to hear from you, even on a sad occasion. (Especially on a sad occasion!) These dates never leave us.

One of the young girls at work is "Kate," but today, one of other girls called her "Katie" -- and I froze in my cubicle.

Sending love & (((hugs))).

Kate Zalesky said...

I'm sorry. There just aren't really other words.

We spoke a while ago via email - I'm from Philly too and today is the 3rd anniversary of the day my son died at CHOP.

My youngest was hospitalized at CHOP this past summer for over a week (he is fine, he had MRSA) but the news from the local ER doc that we were going to be ambulanced to CHOP late at night felt like the absolute worst deja vu. I avoid University City like the plague, honestly.

I still think about your blog occasionally (not in a creepy way?) and it seems serendipitous that you posted today-a day when my husband and I often feel very alone. I don't mean to hijack your grief; just maybe ride along next to you on a different, but vaguely parallel road.

luna said...

remembering maddie with you, tash, especially today.

such a bleak time of year for so many of us, no?

Sue said...

I am remembering her too.

moplans said...

thinking of you all Tash.

still life angie said...

Remembering with you, Tash.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and remembering Maddy.

I'm new to the loss world personally, but have read about your Maddy over the time you've been blogging about her (I used to have an IF blog back then). Your blog title has been in my mind of late as "awful but functioning" is a pretty damn good description at this point.

Anonymous said...

Tash, Thinking of you and remembering your Maddy. I thought of you early in Feb (because this month seems to just suck for so many and how could I not).

Tree Town Gal

Sophie said...

Remembering with you. Sending love.

Anonymous said...

thinking of you. with love and tears.

Janis MK said...

I looked up from my calendar Feb 12, and I thought, "Sheesh... I ought to write Tash..." The story why I only arrived here today is not important. I just want to let you know I remember, and will remember, every freaking February. Big hugs to you.

dspence said...

Heartbreaking...I'm so sorry.

missing_one said...

Stopping by to say hi. I remember. I remember this little corner of the e-verse.
Our babies join our hearts forever.
A few months late, but remembering with you.

Joy Saah said...

remembering, always.

(hey- it's charmedgirl.)
i'm re-reading all the blogs of you guys who had the baby-after, cause now i need to know how the FUCK you did it. it's been 6 years and you know, i was just SO OK, it would almost be like i was just a normal pregnant girl now! RIGHT!?! i hate to drop this on your post but can't find your email. anyway, yeah. that last post, too...the people asking about the gap. i have an out, because i DID recently re-marry...but still. and the times...those times, like in the bathroom brushing my teeth looking at my belly and automatically thinking 'paige' and then remembering, NO, wrong girl. (it's a girl, no less...) anyway, really really glad i can come back here and read. -joy

ShastaFizzy said...

Remembering with you, today, Tash, and thinking back to that awful, heartbreaking week. I will light a candle for Maddie today.