Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Letter to the Life I Had in Me, Two Days After Mother’s Day


I love you and miss you.

My mom – your Nana – gave me a Mother’s Day card. It said, “Happy Mother’s Day to My Daughter.” I had always wanted to get a card like that. Inside it said: “You will always be the mother of my first grandchild.”

She also gave me a necklace. A little-known fact: When you have a miscarriage, you get a lot of necklaces. Or at least, you do if you’re me. I’m at four and counting, and I can’t bring myself to wear any of them. They make me too sad. Except for maybe the angel-wing one with your “birthstone” (I’m sorry to have to use quotation marks) – an opal-colored bead for October, the month in which you were conceived.

You would be sad to see what’s happened in Nepal, the place where we conceived you. Or maybe you can see it. The earth shook and shifted there, and many people are dead or devastated. There’s a crack in the hotel where, if my calculations are correct, you first began to spark to life inside me.

It’s the most beautiful hotel in the world. Himalayan mountains and rhododendron and village schoolchildren in navy-blue uniforms who chirp “Namaste!” to a couple of travelers lost on a hike.

Or maybe you were conceived in Kathmandu, in the bustling capital, with its vibrant-colored temples and rickshaws and Buddhist monks and holy monkeys.

Or maybe even Doha, where we had a one-night layover on the way to Nepal. (Sorry if this is TMI, but it *was* our honeymoon. There are several possibilities here.)

I feel you in the wind. I remember that time you and I went for a walk in the woods near my house, when I first knew I was losing you. The wind rustled the yellow leaves of a very tall tree, and I said: “Do you know what that sound is? That sound is God.” And I meant it, even though I’m an atheist.

Which means, of course, that I don’t believe in an afterlife. Right now I am writing to your memory.

I couldn’t write this on Mother’s Day, and not just because I was out of town. I went with my sister – she would be your Aunt Gina; she was so excited to be your aunt – to New York City for the weekend. My own mom understood. It was a scheduling accident that made me feel like a bad daughter when I realized what weekend we’d planned to be away, but I also realized it would be best for me to be distracted on that day. And NYC is good at distracting.

You would be almost ready to enter the world right about now, if I hadn’t lost you. You would have had a summer birthday, probably a lot of cook-outs and sparklers at your birthday parties. Maybe you would have been ticked at having a birthday in the middle of two school years, when your friends are away on family vacations. Or maybe you wouldn’t have minded.

At five weeks you were the size of a sesame seed.

I only knew you were there for four days before you began to go.

I tried to keep it a secret but I couldn’t help it – I told my family. They all knew about you, when you were here.

On Mother’s Day I sat on a bench overlooking the beach at Coney Island, a Ferris wheel behind me and a chili dog in my lap. None of it helped me forget you, for even a moment. Your loss has changed me on a cellular level. Your loss is always there.

The only reason I sometimes try to forget you is because it is still painful, eight months later. If my sentences are short here it’s because I have to stop. I have to stop or I’ll cry.

In some ways it gets harder with time.

I love you. I will never forget you. You will always be my first baby.

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