straight into the lake
Sometimes I wonder: why am I not much sadder? How can I enjoy things, how can I feel happiness, what kind of awful mother am I to forget my own dead daughter?
Of course, I haven’t forgotten her, but often I just feel that I should be remembering her more. Visiting her grave site more frequently. Crying with more regularity. Not coming home, staring adoringly into the crib at the sleeping baby stretched out there, then slipping out of my clothes into the velvety softness of the lake, my favorite place to be in all the world. I shouldn’t be thinking, “ahhh, my lake, my summer, this is splendid,” because to feel content in that moment somehow means to betray my grief, to sell it short.
Then I think of all the times that I’m holding Jo Jo, and wonder, “what would Avalon be doing right now? Would she be this big? Would her smile be this pretty? Would I feel closer to her because I gave birth to her? Would she have my nose? My eyes? My hands, or toes? Where would Jo Jo be? With another family, one who loved her as much as I do? Would they have been better for her? Would she have been happier with them than with me? I think about the grave site, and how many times I almost go there, and then don’t, my baby’s ashes still on my night stand, because I still can’t put them into the ground. I think of the pain that stops me in my tracks when I see a heavily pregnant woman, or hear a birth story, or meet another woman who has lost her baby… and I know, I know that I am not neglectful of my love for Avalon. I know that my guilt is misplaced, because she doesn’t need anything from me now.
She sent me Jo Jo. She said, in a sense, “Mom, life goes on, and you must go on with it. Here is a gift of love. Be happy.” She went back into the everywhere, and it’s only for myself that I need to mourn. Not for her. I haven’t betrayed her at all by being happy.
In fact, maybe I’ve honored her instead.