Yesterday marked three years since I went into early labor and lost my baby girl. I struggled with how to mark the day, mostly because instead of a day of acute sadness, it felt like any other day. Maybe because it was a Sunday, and not a Wednesday. Maybe because it was 65 degrees out at a time of year that usually means subzero temperatures around here. Maybe because I am so utterly immersed in the life I thought I had lost, that all of the grief I felt on that day in 2012 is no longer there. My grief over the loss of motherhood, and all of its details, no longer applies. I have that life.
But I don’t ever get to know who my other little girl might have been. I won’t ever have the memories of her soft baby skin, her little wiggling toes, her first steps, her favorite foods. I won’t ever stop wondering who that little person might have been.
A big part of my guilt yesterday was about how things “look”. How would it look if a mother did not go to her child’s grave on that day and weep? How would it look if I did not decorate the site for Christmas? Etc. But when I think of that baby’s spirit, I feel strongly that the best way I could honor its fleeting presence in my life was to do just what I did: enjoy every second of the day as a mother.
My sister and I took our kids to meet Santa, they decorated Christmas ornaments with enormous piles of glitter glue, and we all snuggled on the couch to watch Polar Express. I delighted in every tradition, every hilarious moment, every time M clapped her hands in excitement during the movie. I savored the minutes that I peeled her sleepy body out of the car and carried her to bed. I relished in everything motherhood, but I did not stand over a grave.
There is, after all, only comfort there for me, when I need to seek it. My other daughter left me years ago, when M came into my life forever. She left me as she found me: a mother eager to love her daughter.