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.