Thor stares at Beezus' post-nap fake oreo like he has been hunting cookie for weeks. I put him on his belly, and he arches his back, mouth extend------o. Or while sitting up, he swipes, and misses. Beez, she of the ninja reflexes when it comes to anything with *sugar*, darts left, inserts cookie, and she smiles at him, tauntingly.
It reminds me of my favorite Onion article, "Hey, You Got Something to Eat?" by a Goat. "Uh, you gonna eat that, sis?"
It's not that he has mastered the solid, or even the mushy food. Cripes, I feed him like one meal a day, if that, so he doesn't even really eat much real food, it's just that deep in him, like an instinctual, genetic memory, he knows the cream-filled chocolate cookie are the way of his people.
I delight in him. His perpetually moist bib, his drooling lip, his faint scent of milk and bread. His chubby feet. His absolutely insane nom-nom thighs. His smile and giggle and even his scared little scream when the dog barks too loudly. I am still amazed he is in my lap most days. I still feel like I am borrowing him and some angry archangel is going to knock on the door and demand him back.
"Do you have a really adorable baby who is perfect? You don't get him. We made an error."
Today, a torrent of tears came. The emotions I mostly push into a ball in the back of my head until they finally build up and explode out tear ducts and nostrils and open mouths in one rush of everything. I cried because he is really here. I cried because I love him. I cried because he is happy. I cried because he lived. I cried because Lucy didn't live. How did Lucy not live?
Recently, I have tried to friend some other mothers from around the hood and other kid-like venues. Hey after three kids and four years or whatever, it is time to have a lasting mama relationship. I have no fucking idea what I am doing. Did you ever realize you were coming on too strong when you were coming on too strong and not quite be able to stop yourself? And my brain rationalizes it all. I want them to know that we are flexible and want friendships and also have no idea what we are doing.
We are installing a woodstove which means building some slate thing for the stove, and then a stacked stone backdrop and this meant moving everything around--all the furniture and altars and rugs and toys. We also moved the antique secretary that houses my daughter Lucy's ashes. I hate moving my daughter like she is one of my things, even though she is in one of my things. Is an urn something you own? You buy it, certainly, but is it yours to own? It feels otherworldy, somehow, like sacred and profane, and it bothers me that someone inscribes their maker name on the bottom of it. I didn't notice that before. That the inside of the urn was touched by someone before it housed the ashes of my baby.
I moved her and tried to keep to business, even though it still surprises me that she is dead. Now we simply put hands on each others' shoulders, look at the ground and nod, "I know, honey. I know." I keep going, putting the ashes somewhere they won't knock over until we move everything. I realize today is the 22nd. It has been a long time since I have thought about the 22nd as her day of the month. Funny that. Like babies, you mark their weeks, then their months, then only their years of age, and same with Lucy, I guess, I mostly only mark her years now, except when the seasons change it reminds me of her death.
Mabon altar. It suggested going into the wild and picking some plants going to seed for your altar. And we headed out into the backyard, Thor in the backpack, Beezus with scissors, and we stared at our weed-y yard. Christ, it is a mess back there. But suddenly, with our eyes open to beauty and flowers and the seasons, those weeds transformed. We had goldenrod, and butterfly bush, and even our fuzzy grasses looked stunning together. I was in awe of how truly beautiful our bouquet became. Then we had a basket of our Lucy altar (from moving everything to build a hearth), and placed things that meant something to us on the altar. Beatrice put a glass heart from her shiny rock basket on the altar. "This is for my family," she said.
I fought against the world for taking my daughter. I felt like by taking that one baby, the universe took everything. I can admit this now, but I tried to manipulate the laws of physics and the universe with my mind. I tried to turn back time, and save her. Magical thinking and superstition haunted my every move. I crossed myself, and threw salt and promised to never do anything bad again. I starved myself. I meditated. I wished on every fucking star, and blew every dead dandelion head to bring her back. I pushed my eyes so hard some moments, watching the stars behind the lids, wondering if I punished myself enough, if I could bring her back. Now, when a star streaks across the sky, I wish for a long life for my kids. May they outlast me. Oh, I am still fucking angry, but I also am grateful for what I have, the abundance of love and good fortune, even at the end of the harvest season when all the sweet fruits dry up and we eat roots for six months.
The little I have is enough. That is what the point is. The little I have, not all of what I thought I should have, not with all my children, but the little beings I do have, and the love with my husband, and a chill dog, and a little hearth, is enough. And it is not just a little. It is a fucking lot.
Autumnal equinox is a time that people read the story of Persephone taken to the underworld--kidnapped and raped, really. Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the grain and the harvest, searches for her. She hears she is in the underworld, taken by Hades as wife. And Demeter's grief causes the crops on earth to die. She mourns, and wanders the earth. And it is said that she is taken in by a family who asks no questions of her grief, but simply sit and love Demeter as the old crone. They simply abide in her grief, and she blesses them. The world's abundance dried up and Famine roamed the lands. Persephone holds out in the underworld, tries not to eat, hoping to be saved, but eventually she sees her husband as a good man, a decent man who tempts her with six pomegranate seeds. She eats them so is doomed to spend six months in the underworld, without her mother. Mabon marks the time she travels with her husband, and her mother Demeter, the goddess of abundance, mourns again.
I have spent twenty-one months mourning my daughter, roaming the land, causing famine and anguish. Honoring my daughter with the change of seasons feels so right and important to me, that this is what feels soothing, I think, to imagine that a mother controls the world, a grieving mother at that. This is my season of mourning. This is my season of grief. And it is right to come into it through a day of pure contentment.