Beezus talks about death these days. She understands what it means to lose a three year old sister. Newborn to two was intangible. But three is something. Beezus remembers what it is like to be three, back when she was little. Three talks. Three runs. Three skips. Three has ponytails and smart alecky comebacks. Three likes the color purple. Three throws tantrums.
I throw tantrums sometimes too. I stomp around and smash the plates I always hated and wanted to break anyway. I want her back. RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW. I just want to see her face again. It was perfect, wasn't it? It was perfect. I throw myself on the ground. Kick. It isn't fair. I am going to hold my breath until she comes back or until I turn blue.
I am blue.
I sing the blues.
I sound like a dying creature. I feel like a dying creature.
The saxophone kicks up as I sweep up the plate. I am the mother. I clean up the mess. I pull it together. I get zen about justice and fairness and how it never has been in the history of the world. I channel my father: Who ever said life was fair? Stomp. Stomp. Sweep. Sweep. I keep maniacally busy. It is the holidays. It is easy to be maniacal. Must. Keep. Moving. Or. I. Will. Cry.
It's hard to explain how happy she makes me when it comes out it in such gut wrenching grief. The tears flow if I let them. I don't let them. That is the difference between now and then. I couldn't stop the grief in the early days. It came in waves over me, over my children, over my husband. It flooded my house. The water level rose marked the wall, marked our hearts. We tread water until it receded enough to find a mop. Then we worked on the water, one bucketful at a time. Now, I can will myself silent. It looks like a holy stance, but it is a kind of torment.
Did I mention that?
It seems like her defining feature, but it isn't. She is everything and in everything. And she is nothing and in nothing. Somewhere in there lies the truth, just as the truth sometimes lies. Like the truth is she is dead and always alive. She will always be a baby and the most wise being I know for she holds the secret of life and death. A tree, perhaps. Maybe she is an old staid tree in our yard.
When I edge on her day, I sit in the anger. Anger at everything else but her death. Or maybe I am just angry at her death. It is all conflated into a restlessness. This dialogue of resentment and sadness and anger replaces the mantra: This too shall pass. I want to DO something when I am angry. Sitting is the last fucking thing I want to do. Sweep. Mop. Cry. Anything.
Everything about my life changed after she died. Everything about me. And I feel attached to all those things I once was, like grape vines winding around all my character defects, my arrogance, my lightness of being. I cut the shoots and they grow back. I'm not sure I am a better person because of her death. I just want to be a better person. I want to have found my center. I want to have come out the other side of something. I want to have rekindled my life. Villages of friends are gone. I walk into the ghost town and sidle up to the bar. There is nothing left. I am not part of their tribe any longer. It makes me angry. It makes me angry that my daughter died and then I kept losing more and more and more until it was just us in this flood prone house.
I can see her sandwiched between Thor and Beezus, playing restaurant and wrestling and fitting into the bath. It makes me calm and happy to see them play. This week Thor wants to wear Lucy's butterfly towel. It is pink and has little antennae. I bought it for her a week before she died, and washed it and hung it next to Beezus' towel. Then she died, and I couldn't bear to move it. He points and stomps until I wrap him in it. This week, the week of her death and birth. He looks like her. My God, he looks like her. I tell him he is a beautiful butterfly, and Beezus sings Lucy's song.
Fly Butterfly Fly.
Fly Butterfly Fly.
Maybe I am doing a couple of things right in my life.