Date:

April 23rd, 2008

My dear Simone –

You would have been four today. It has been a hard and debilitating winter but all around plants are blooming and birds are singing, coming back to life, expressing breathtaking beauty. It is a rebirth, but not for you. I thought I might not write you this year. I thought I might move on. It is bitterly amusing to me how much of my ‘moving on’ is external only. I hold you tight and close inside of me and think of you often, but I never talk about you. I sometimes think I’m going to say something about you to someone, volunteer your existence to someone who doesn’t know about you, explain that I wasn’t always a person who cries at everything. But despite my image of myself as someone who talks incessantly and unstintingly, I never quite get to the point where I share you aloud. I write about you, of course, I let myself do that, because its possible to let you through on my fingers in a way I can’t seem to with my mouth. Sometimes I think it is wrong to spend so much time hiding you. It is a deliberate moat between myself and others: you do not know me, because you do not know Simone. Then I decide it’s a favor, really. People do not deal well with grief, specially a grief that’s not their own. Who can care whether I mention you but me or you? And you have that great luxury of being past caring now. So it’s just me, then, and I like keeping you in the depths of my heart. I don’t have to share you the way I have to share the living child.

On the few occasions where I’ve had to explain about you, I’ve found myself allowing misapprehensions and misconceptions. If someone fills in the blank themselves I go with whatever they’ve said. “Did she die of SIDS?” I was asked once and I just nodded; it seemed so much easier than clarifying. And in the end, that was the result of the autopsy, though it leaves out everything that counts. Which is a funny thing about facts. They don’t explain much. At the gynecologist, I am asked each year by the nurse whether I have two kids, because I fill the form out and state I’ve had two pregnancies and two full-term deliveries. I always say “No, just one.” and it feels like a lie even though it isn’t. The nurse then mutters to herself and fixes the chart. They assume two deliveries means two kids, why wouldn’t it? But I haven’t the energy to correct them, and what does it matter?

I have days of doubt, but I am mostly at peace with our decision not to have another child after you. I still have issues with my body about its failure to keep you alive, but most days I’m not foolish enough to think another run at pregnancy will change this. I remember more often now that I don’t actually like babies all that much, and I’m less conflicted at the sight of other people’s infants. I rocked a child to sleep a couple of months ago and it was not a fraught or terrifying experience. The coarser aspects of the trauma of losing you continue to recede. After I wrote to you last year and I confessed to my fears about Sophia’s only-childness, a dear friend of mine wrote to me and gently reminded me that she herself is an only child and that it has its rewards and that everything will probably turn out just fine. And she’s right, of course, it will. Sophia still periodically asks for a sibling, but she also periodically asks for thirty pieces of candy in a row, too, and she doesn’t get that, either. I’m less bound up in her request as the signal of a great void in her life. Which is good. She may have a harder time making family connections, but so long as she has other social safety nets and sources of stability, her life will work out just fine.

I grieve for the fading of my memories of you, Simone. It is not as though I can forget you, but the moments I had with you grow indistinct with time. I can still feel the weight of you against me while you nursed, and I can still see the sunshine dappling your face as you screamed while I bathed you, and I can still touch the fine strands of your dark hair…but sometimes I sift through these senses of you and I know there are minutes that are not represented. There are times that have vanished. I want each second to remain vivid. I wish I knew how to preserve every moment but I cannot. I have lost you and I will lose even the sense of you as time goes on. I think I can’t stand this slow erosion, but of course, I can. With sorrow and helplessness, I am losing you a second time.

I sometimes think Sophia has forgotten you. She talks about you as little as I do, but when she does, I can tell that she too holds you inside of herself. For months at a time she makes no mention of you. Then, a couple of weeks ago, she asked me when your birthday is. Then she asked how old you would have been and expressed sadness that you would not have a party.

Many things change, but not the fact that we miss you. If you were here we would have a party. And cake. I will eat no cake today without you.

I love you still,

Your mother

Simone's Memorial

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