A few weeks ago I started wondering what was wrong with me. People were getting on my nerves more than usual. I cried more than usual. I’m not a crier by nature. I couldn’t sleep. Some days I got up to eat just so I could take sleeping pills and go back to sleep. Other days, like today, I just felt like a slug.
The end of June. That’s the problem. Mirinda’s birthday was approaching. I should remember this. I go through it every year. And yet, each year these mood swings sneak up on me and I wonder what’s wrong with me.
I was going to go to Hobby Lobby yesterday to buy flowers for her, but I thought I’d wait until today and get them at Michael’s to save some gas. I like Hobby Lobby flowers better because they have better quality and selection, but usually Michael’s is all right. Well, apparently, they have downgraded their floral department severely and what’s popular now is huge, gaudy single stem flowers. Nothing really pretty and dainty and forget roses.
Roses. It’s not imaginative, but that’s what I like to do for her birthday each year. This year I planned either tropicana roses with baby’s breath and purple statice or sterling silver rose with baby’s breath.
I wound up with some purple delphiniums and heather.
My left knee is so bad today I couldn’t get down for fear I wouldn’t be able to get back up. So, I didn’t clean her headstone and vase like I usually do.
I didn’t lie on her grave like I usually do. Yes, I know it sounds macabre, but that is our time. That’s when I feel the warm of the soil and graze my fingers across the headstone, feeling the letters and flowers. That’s when the dam breaks and tears hang from blades of grass like tiny crystals.
Then I just close my eyes and go to that place where we are together and laughing. For years she aged each year and I imagined her triumphs and tragedies. Now, for many years, she’s been frozen in her twenties. She has three children and a husband who adores her. Her hair is long and dark and she has the same wicked sense of humor as her brothers.
We kid around while we fix dinner. Her birthday cake sits on the counter top. It’s chocolate because everyone loves chocolate cake. The kids are racing around and playing. All is well with the world.
For a little while, I indulge the madness, but, perhaps, the small tinge of madness holds off the pool I fear I will drown in.
Losing a child is the hardest thing a parent will ever have to do. If they are older, like my brother was, there are at least some memories. He died three weeks before he turned six, so he didn’t have a long life, but there are the funny things, the infectious grin, the hurrying from one adventure to another. With a baby, there is only emptiness. There is nothing happy to hold. There’s only a hole in your heart that never heals. So it is with the death of any child. Time heals, but it doesn’t cure. The ache never really goes away.
You pretend everything is fine. You look for reasons to laugh when all you really want to do is drive your fist through a wall and scream at a life interrupted.
Happy birthday, baby. Mother loves you.