Saturday, April 9, 2011

Second Spring

Dear Andrea,
It is spring.  It is the second you have missed.  The cherry trees are massive clouds of pink against this gray Washington sky.  There is still a coldness in the air, frost in the mornings.  But there are daffodils, tulips, hyacinths in bloom.   All my plants that died back last winter are pushing back the dirt, their leaves bringing promise of buds and then flowers.
This spring I am those leaves.  I hold the promise of a flower tight within my chest.  I know I will never get over this.  I will forever be cradled in the hands of grief.  I have grown comfortable there.  I lay there in the warmth of it.  I close my eyes and feel cool breath entering my nostrils, warm breath leaving my body.
Bathed in tears, I am softened to possibilities.   
I had no idea how fierce love could be until you were born. Holding you as you nursed at my breast until your stomach was full and you fell asleep there in my arms milk falling out of the corner of your mouth, the smell of Johnson's baby lotion on your skin, I sat there cradling you, watching you sleep unable to put you in your own bed. I buttoned my shirt and watched you as you slept. And as you laid there cradled in my arms you'd twitch and smile, your eyes would move under your lids, and I wondered, what does she dream about? Being so new to this life.
This year, as the trees are holding a little less tightly to their buds, my spring is filled with images of you.
You in your Johnny jump up clipped to the doorframe between the kitchen and the living room. You loved to bounce and you were quite exuberant about it.  You in your high chair, Oreo cookies smeared all over your face.
Sleeping on the couch in pink footed pajamas, asleep with your Cabbage Patch doll I made for you in one arm and a bag of nacho flavored Doritos in the other arm.
Standing on the vanity in the bathroom in the little green dress with white eyelet pinafore I made you, brushing your hair.
Splashing in the bathtub until the floor was soaking wet.
Three years old sitting on your sister's piece of birthday cake. When she screamed and cried "Andrea sat on my cake." You smiled and said "Yeah. And I farted on it to."
I want to hold your three-year-old hand again. I want to help you brush your teeth, bathe you, wash your hair, make your favorite breakfast, a Farmer's omelet of eggs and sausage and fried potatoes.
My cells and nerves all memorized the sight, the sound, the shape of you pressed up against me in a hug. If I sit still long enough I can feel you here. 
It is Spring again.  I am going to lie beneath a cherry tree and feel the coolness of the ground seep through my jacket and my jeans.  I am going to curl myself around the trunk, feel the roughness of its bark against my skin.  I am going to let the cherry blossom petals fall on me until they form a blanket I can sleep beneath.
You will find me in my dreams.
                                                                                       Love You Always,

Why Dead Letters?

September 2, 2010. 
When I write the date, it all comes back to me.  I retreat into the shelter of myself, braced against the hurricane of grief.  The hurricane bears my daughter’s name. I am carried on winds I cannot brace myself against.  I am pelted with rain.  I am everywhere.  I am nowhere.
I know I am not alone.  We mothers of dead children find each other.  We have been initiated into a sisterhood no one wants to join. We can speak our children’s names to one another, talk about how we are changed, share stories of our child and no one tries to change the subject.  Or walk away.    
I go about my life quietly, silent in a grief only the initiated understand.  In this world without my daughter, Andrea, I grab my pen and paper, I sit in front of my computer, I write.  Then I share.  I am mapping the latitudes and longitudes of grief I travel through each day, each week, each month, each year.  Without a compass, no points to mark the way, I am often lost.  But I keep moving.
I create my posts to remember where I have been, and of the moment I am in.  I still do not know where I am going.  That is not important now.  It is only important that I keep moving.  And that I break the silence surrounding the event no one wants to even imagine, let alone have happen—a child’s death.
I am a mother.  I miss my daughter Andrea.  In losing her, I am finding myself, a new self.  My grief is always there.  There are no stages.  The whisper of her existence is the first thing on my mind each morning and the last thing at night.  I feel her around me.  She bathes me in warmth before I fall asleep.  She visits me in dreams. 
And she has told me—when the winds blow, the colors are incredible.  I will love it there, where she is now.
For now, I am here.  I am among the living.