So I’m coming upon a stage where I’m mourning Anna anew. I can’t tell you how or when it started, or if I’m fooling myself in thinking it’s maybe something new when in fact it’s 2 years, 3 months and 3 weeks old but just hitting the surface again instead of staying buried enough for me to get up and do what I do everyday.
I had mixed emotions, leaving for Arizona. Nervous to be far away from the perinatal doctors and medical system that has all my records and history - y’know, just in case. Looking forward to Tucson, bracing a bit for Phoenix. I would be seeing the memorial area my parents had built for Anna in the backyard for the first time. Having finished it not long ago, they wanted me to see it in person rather than by Skype (which is how they’d showcased other changes made to their winter home). Usually hanging out with my parents is no big shake. But this time... I know I’m leaning towards the fruitcake side in general with this pregnancy. I am running on constant low-level anxiety that needs only the tiniest prod to rev up. I am perpetually preoccupied. It’s the first time I’ve seen them since being pregnant again. And I knew the memorial was waiting for me.
The memorial is obviously special to us all (mom, dad, Brad and me), and Brad and I are touched that they wanted to do it, and did, making it a priority in their home improvements this year. But I always knew it would be hard, too. That when we visited and hung out outside, it would be like a silent siren, screaming that she wasn’t there. Not like we want her to be. Not playing in the rocks or going to the pool. No dirty hands or sticky face from a melting popsicle or ice cream cone. No reading with Grandma and Grandpa or kissing them good-night. While we live with those kinds of losses every day at home, it’s absolutely fresh when we’re confronted with it elsewhere, never more so than when we’re with my parents, for me anyway. (Being with Brad’s family, particularly on holidays, is often hard as well.) And while we need no physical landmark to remind us of what we’re missing, there’s something about having one that’s disarming. Confronting, if you will. So I’d been nervous about how I’d react. I wanted to be authentic as well as satisfy my parents’ expectations and their emotional needs - after all, they’d worked hard, put a lot of thought and certainly a lot of their own emotion into the project - but I didn’t know if I could do both at the same time. You see I tend to shut down more often than not around my parents when it comes to Anna. Which is completely messed up, I know. The two other people on the planet most affected by Anna’s death and I can’t Be There with them in it. The only way I can explain it for as much as I understand it myself is that I can’t handle their pain as well as my own, and my grief for them is as powerful as my grief for us, and when put together it all implodes somehow into having to feel nothing at all to get through it. Mostly, anyway. So hopefully one might see how their anticipation at my reaction to their act of love might be met with distress on my part.
Anyway. It turns out the memorial was much more beautiful, bigger, and more heart-wrenching than I’d expected. I couldn’t go past the porch to get up close and see. These pictures were taken a day or two later, when my parents were gone. Only then did I dare get close enough to read the saying they had chosen. I’ve seen it many times, of course, but in this case it hit me hard - hard because it was so very true. And this was my parents voice, so to speak. You know how it’s harder to see the people you love most suffer than to suffer yourself? It’s like that.
In case you can’t read it, it’s the one that says “If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.” So within 5 minutes of arriving I was overcome with emotion around a number of different things, but mostly around not having Anna there - again. About never having her there and having to have this achingly lovely memorial instead.
Suffice to say I’ve cried more suddenly, fiercely, and purely about having lost her than I have in some time. The kind that dives right into the rabbit hole and feels it as if it were just weeks ago - fresh and raw and searing.
I miss my girl.