In my real life, I stopped wanting to hear her name. It is like a sacred prayer mispronounced in broken Latin. She is mine. My moment of horror. My moment of meditation. My secret love. Only I know her. Only I whisper to her. Only I miss her.
I know that isn't true. Grief perverts the truth. It makes me see the notes not there instead of the ones there. It makes me see failures, instead of successes. I makes me feel lonely in a room of people. It makes me feel like I knew her, or that she was ever mine. She was not.
I wrote her name on my body. Or rather, I paid someone else to write her name on my body in my handwriting. It is all I ever gave her-a name. See, after she died, I didn't always paint and write. I sat at the table, head in the crook of my arm crying, writing her name over and over and over again in a notebook.
She existed. It says it right here, fifteen hundred times.
I spent all of my daughter's naptime some days, writing her name. It sounds crazy when I type it out, but I didn't know what to do with all this Lucia energy. If I were a runner, perhaps I would have ran for miles, each step I would have said her name, "Lucia. Lucia. Lucia. Lucia." One day I wrote her name all over my arm, like she was my eighth grade crush. I thought maybe I would tattoo it on me. And I thought at two years if I still wanted it, I would do it. I still wanted it, so I did it.
It took ten minutes to write her name on my body.
I waited for over an hour for the artist to arrive. A girl stood and talked to me about what kind of tattoo she should get. I couldn't bear to tell her that I was tattooing my dead daughter's name on my wrist. She had scars across the eyebrows where studs once pierced through her skin. She asked me if I liked dragons, and I said yes, very much. I remembered this tattoo I once saw at a party of this green dragon, and it read, "I survived the Green Monster." Someone later told me that it meant he was a PCP addict. PCP is the Green Monster. I don't know what PCP is, really, except that I have heard urban folklore about PCP addicts doing insane things to escape the police. The girl said she had been a heroin addict for eight years. She told me she was 25 now, and had been saving for tattoo. It looked like she was carrying all of her possessions with her. "I used to always be broke when I shot up. Or about to be." She said she has been clean for a year, but I could tell she wasn't quite clean yet. She went into the bathroom for fifteen minutes. I could hear her getting her rig ready, the smell of a lighter. I felt sad suddenly. It was Lucy's day. I didn't want anyone to slowly kill herself. She was someone's Lucy.
The tattoo artist remembered me. And then I told her that I wasn't who she remembered. She tattooed my identical twin sister six months ago. Philadelphia is the biggest small town in the world. She remembered the ladybug she included in Lucy's honor. That comforted me. She already tattooed Lucia on someone. It didn't hurt. I remember my other tattoo hurting, but this one just felt like she was writing my darkest secret on my skin.
We spent the afternoon napping. We decided to have sushi. The baby and Beatrice ate rice, edamame, miso soup and other little bits of yumminess. I used to joke that Beatrice ate once a month when we went out for Japanese food.Thomas is the same. Everyone was contented and in good spirits. I eavesdropped on the couple behind us. She came into the dark-nooked restaurant in a silver sequined dress. Her date said, "You are very sparkly." Beatrice couldn't keep her eyes off her. She asked me if I could buy her a dress like that, only smaller. I have bat hearing. I hear conversations all over the place. I overhear people talking about every sorst of thing, including me and my family. But what I overheard was that he was cheating on his wife with this woman. Broken people and a broken marriage. And it made me wonder if my secrets were just as visible as all these other people hiding their addictions and affairs under tattoos and sequins.
After we came home and put Thomas to bed, we lit Lucy's ring of Santka Lucia candles, and said one thing we missed about her at each of the twelve candles. There were not enough candles. Beatrice said, "I miss playing dress up." And I said, "I miss kissing her tootsies." And Sam said, "I miss her crying."
We have spent three days in ritual and remembrance. It felt right. It felt important. This year was filled with setting and achieving goals. Of explicating my grief in word and art, and not being present enough to feel it. I have realized that I have been running away in projects, escaping my grief in grief art. These three days I realized how easy it has been to pretend everything is normal. To put Lucy in this space that I have included as work space, or creative space, but not feeling space. I didn't feel her loss as much as it must seem. As my head rested on the pillow, feeding Thomas Harry before bed, the almost full moon sat in the window, illuminating his head. Tears ran off my nose onto his little head. She is dead. My baby girl died. I write her name.