I started today with a very nice gentleman from the city park maintenance department, getting approval for the spot Brad and I have chosen for Anna’s memorial bench (shown in the picture above). There’s a quiet meadow overlooking bluffs where you can watch the moon come up - or the sun, for you early risers - 5 minutes walking distance from our home. I used to go there to Be during in the year of in vitro, and it’s the first place we went upon returning from the hospital without her. I like to think both my dreams and my screams scattered across the snow that day and melted there in the spring. My remembrance.
The plans I had immediately after this meeting were re-scheduled at the last minute, so I took advantage of my ‘out of the house and in public’ mentality to get as dressed up as I get these days (aka appropriate to shop at the mall) and run some errands. No sooner had I completed the first than I locked my keys in the car. One hour and $65 later, I was back on my way. But the esthetician I’ve worked with since 2004 was 5 months pregnant with her second child at that first errand, a fact unknown to me until today when her belly was telltale swollen (I see her only every 3 months.) She knows well my history, and the interaction was uncomfortable (for us both) and resigned (for me). Between Anna’s bench, the pregnancy, and the keys, I was a little feisty by 1:30.
I went to replace the purse that had been stolen in July, and as the only customer in the store, the saleswoman was “attentive” and trying to upsell me. Finally I told her the original had been stolen and I just needed to replace IT, nothing else. As I left, she wished me better luck. I turned to her with flat eyes and said, “You have NO idea.” As I was walking out of the mall, past the Motherhood store, I could feel my emotions rising to the boiling point. I was unable to exit the Dick’s Sporting Goods door I’d entered in, for some godforsaken reason having to go around the cashier’s area through a different set of doors. I fully processed this about the time I should have been able to actually walk through the entrance doors, also when the nearest employee stated the obvious and directed me to the exit doors. Between me and the most direct route to an exit, only a railing. Easily travailed by the likes of a flexible - and desperate - 41 year old in 3-inch boots. The employee read my mind and my body language almost before I moved, jumping a bit in her little space behind the counter, voice rising in both challenge and anxiety. “You have to go around!” As she saw my defeat (only because the railing was partially blocked by carts and I would have looked mentally ill or criminalistic to pursue that mode of escape), she softened her tone with “We don’t want you to get hurt.” Yeah right. My safety has not one iota of a thing to do with what door I use to get in or out. There’s some security feature here that eludes me, but whatever. Five seconds later I’m outside in the balmy air walking calmly to my car, realizing this was the exact mental space Brad was talking about from early January. When some poor stranger picks the wrong day to mess with you. Or talk to you. Or look at you. Because somehow it all turns into messing with you. Your daughter is dead. And the sun is shining. Your only child. The one you dreamed of, worked for, paid for, were denied time and time again, and then was miraculously blessed with months after you thought it was all over. “You have a healthy, beautiful girl in there.” You never got to see her alive, look into her eyes and tell you loved her. She never saw her Mommy and Daddy. “It’s going to be fine! Get your camera! We’re going to meet your daughter.” Salespeople expecting you to be pleasant and conversational and follow the rules. Empty nursery, empty house, empty hearts.
Going crazy, blowing up, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Maintaining a semblance of civility, feigning that you care one whit about what you look like or whatever activity proves your responsible participation in this first world sitcom we’ve got going... that’s the challenge of a lifetime.