"No, not really. Um, well, one, uh, he doesn't cry much. My older daughter cried for three hours every night with no consolation, and he just doesn't much cry. Do you think he is okay?"
"He doesn't cry ever?"
"No, no, he does cry. Just not for long periods of time. He cries if he is hungry, or wet, but when he is changed, he stops."
And the doctor flicked Thor's heel a few times, progressively harder and harder until he screamed bloody murder. "Well, he can, in fact, cry. So he just appears to be happy."
Touch wood. "Stay happy, kid."
I wonder if that is in his medical record now. "Child, happy. Mother, crazy."
Often, after staring into Thor's zen chipmunk-like face, I am drawn to his belly. It is mesmerising. He looks like a boa constrictor that has swallowed a little baby pig. All animal comparisons aside, Thor looks so very much like me superficially. Dark hair. Olive skin. In the same way, he looks like Lucy with her dark hair and olive skin. But Lucy looked exactly like me in features, in coloring, in everything. Thor, on the other hand, looks exactly like Beezus in the face, who looks exactly like Sam. Now, when we are all out together, people say things like "What a beautiful family." It is like we suddenly look complete. Bea looks like Sam. Thor looks like me and Bea. To be honest, Bea looks so much like Sam, I think people were afraid to say things to us before. Strangers would ask me if I was her mother, then tell me she was beautiful. But Thor is our own little familial missing link tying each of us together. An obvious little combination of Sam and Bea and me.
Sam confessed to me that he chokes back tears when people remark about our family, because we are incomplete. No one can see Lucy. "We can't argue with a compliment, but we should argue," he said. "'No, we are not beautiful. Our daughter is dead. Lucy is not here.'"
Without forethought, I responded, "But our family is beautiful because of Lucy. Lucy made our family beautiful. Lucy made our family look like this." And then I thought about what I said. It was perhaps the most positive thing I have said in seventeen months. She does make our family beautiful. And it made my mind wander to last summer when I was obsessed with finding joy in my daughter's life. But I was so mired in grief, so mired in sadness...her short life, her beautiful face, her perfect being, while wracking me with complete unconditional love, also made me blindingly sad. I couldn't think of Lucy and conjure smiles, and puppies, and balloons. I could only feel bereft. The only image I could conjure was abyss.
But Lucy made our family beautiful.
I do not care to engage in the Choose Your Own Adventure novel of my life. "If Lucy dies, turn to page 345. If Lucy doesn't die, turn to page 125." Lucy did die. Pages 125-344 were ripped out of our book. We never got to peek ahead and read how that path ends. Thor is here. And he fits in perfectly. Whatever magical combination of fate, sperm meeting egg, timing, careful planning and readiness for another pregnancy happened, Thor was born right when he was supposed to be born--into a family ready for his little monk-like spirit bearing stout.
I asked Bea the other day is she remembered a time without her brother, and she said no. Thor has always been here. And Lucy has always been here--the daughter we miss.
Thor in his papa's arms, getting ready for a bath.
Saralee, can you see your painting of the broken pier in the background?