Friday, April 10, 2009

A Year of Memories

About two weeks out from Lucy's death, I felt this desperate need to be in the sun. Yeah, sure, I knew that however light you pack, you still carry all your shit with you. But at least your baggage can be in a beautiful place too.

For now, we are in New Jersey. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

When I took Beatrice to the doctor a few weeks ago, he told me she didn't need any vaccines, except Hepatitis A. "Which she doesn't need now," he explained, "unless you are planning on going to the jungles of Central or South America in the next year." I looked at my husband and then the doctor, "Well, we are planning on going to Panama this summer, and the highlight will be lots of jungle treks."

He cleared his throat, "Well then, you might want to consider getting her immunized, but perhaps not today." He looked over at the tear-streaked face of my little girl intent on figuring out the next level of torture she was to endure.

We are planning a trip to Panama this summer. It is exciting to think about getting away from our little house, leaving the confines of the last few months. Every feeling I have had seems etched on my ceilings, my walls, on my book shelves, now dominated by books with grief, hope, sadness, death in the titles. At one time, I could not imagine living in suburban New Jersey for any longer than a year; now, I have a hard time imagining not living here in this idyllic small town with a beautiful farmer's market; restaurants, art galleries and shops accessible by walking or riding; a lake a block from our front door; festivals every other weekend in the summer...a place where we brought one daughter home from the hospital and where another daughter was conceived.

When I said that people have disappeared from our lives, yes, some have. Old friends I expected to be ever-present. But never would I have imagined how brave my neighbors are. They come out of their homes to say hi, tell us how sorry they are, talk to us about Lucy, even now, if our last conversation was about trash collection, any one of them might ask how we are handling our daughter's death in the next. Everyone gives this place a bad rap, but we have a little community here. A safe place amongst normal people. A place where I can easily manage the slippery slope of grief, lightness, sadness, smiling...for some reason, I don't feel self-conscious here about my kaleidoscope of emotions. Everyone has made it easy to be true to myself.

As we delve into April, I find myself more and more reticent to talk about time, dates, anniversaries....see, up until now, the anniversary day of Lucy's death hasn't really bother me up any more than any other day. In fact, just this morning, I wrote it in an email. It is just a day, the 22nd, just like any other day now. Shitty, but not more shitty. It's not that I forget it is her day. It just doesn't make me any sadder than I already am. But the reticence is more complicated than that. I have a good memory for dates and being sort of an uber-organized person with my schedule, notekeeping and memory. And well, uh, today is the anniversary of the date that I conceived Lucy.

Perhaps that is too much information. But I know because we were TTC for four months, and I tried April 10th, though it was four days earlier than I thought my ovulation was, because I sort of felt the magic of the morning. And to keep giving you tmi, it was the same sort of day that began Beatrice's journey too. The windows were open, and a cool breeze blew over us, and I knew it was the day for a daughter. After we lay on our bed, letting the sun come in our high bedroom windows where we only see the treetops, I turned to Sam and said, "I think we made a girl."

Thus, today begins the next painful year of memories. A year of remembering being pregnant with Lucia. I am afraid of the next seasons, and the smell of spring, where I can actively recall digging my hands into the dirt to pluck weeds. Deep deep, my hands searched through the soil, and I felt so alive and maternal and ripe. Summer, where I spent days in long flowing dresses with my belly popping out, or wearing tanks so I could pull out my belly to feel the sunlight dance on my girl, warm my skin. And now this flabby skin once pulled taut over my girl reminds me of what I have lost--hope, innocence, expectation, my girl all just hangs there waiting to go back into an acceptable shape, though we all know it will never be the same again. So, no, it isn't a date that matters, but the "before" time is painful. So fucking naive. So fucking oblivious to the horrible turn my life could take.

When I meditate and my mind drifts to thoughts of my shopping list, or the laundry, I simply say, "Thinking." And try to reground myself in nothing. As I continue this journey, I try to do the same thing, when someone says something about what their baby would be doing now. Like three months, my baby would be doing X, Y or Z, and I find myself drifting into what Lucy could be doing, I simply think, "Longing." And reground myself in reality. She will never do those things. She is not ever going to grow beyond zero. She will never gurgle for me no matter how much I long for her to gurgle. But this memory of pregnant time will be remembering a time when I know she was alive. Dare I say, the happiest time in my life, and now, juxtaposed with this reality, it seems almost too much to bear. But I will. Like I always do.


  1. Hitting that moment, the date when Ezra was conceived, and onward, has been a whole new painful layer of this grief journey, that hits daily in all sorts of little ways. I've been feeling it hard recently as spring begins, because by this point last year, I was beginning to show and was telling people I was pregnant - it was like the whole world was blooming and I was too. Sending love as always.

  2. You write so beautifully, Angie, and always give me some amazing nugget to take with me and mull over. I will take what you said about how you move past the longing by reigning your thoughts in and try to use that myself.

    A year since you conceived Lucy with so much love and hope, that is beautiful too. I'm so sorry that so much of the good has been crowded out by the pain and loss. On my better days I hope that we can regain some of that goodness and find more peace. Much love,

  3. Layers upon layers of...time? presence? awareness? You are teaching me to meditate.

  4. I remember that year milestone. I agree, the memory of that day is sweet. Before the education about babies who don't come home with their new parents. That day is filled with hope and love and a future. Its a good memory to have.

    Love to you and your hubby.

  5. Such sweet sad words Angie. I feel so deeply sad we are hitting these dates, hitting those 'milestones.' Those horrinble dates that signify that they have been gone longer than they were ever here. Sneding love. xxx

  6. It's all so hard, the reliving of the short time they were alive. I hope you have some vivid memories that give you comfort.


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