Today is my mother’s birthday and I’m baking her a cake. The cake is my father’s mother’s recipe. Her name was Mary and her birthday was March 29th, Anja’s due date. As I measure and sift and mix I think of all the years I might have made this cake for her, but won’t.
We have had a string of beautiful days and the neighbourhood is in full bloom. Cherry blossoms fill the trees; they are like pink clouds lining the street, and the gardens are bright again with daffodils and tulips. ‘Is that Baby Sister?’ E asks. ‘There she is in the grass, Mommy. I can see her in the sky, just her toes peeking out!’ ‘Yes, love,’ I say, ‘Baby Sister is in the grass, and the sky and the flowers.’ ‘Is she in the sidewalk, too?’
She should be here with us. I know it is useless to repeat this again and again, but it is all I can think. She should be here with us. I picture this day with her in it: the blue sky, the trip to the park, the afternoon of cake baking, tonight’s party, and my big belly, our anticipation and excitement. There are only five days until her due date, and we would have been ready and just waiting to meet her. What a wonderful time to be born, I thought when I first calculated that date. A spring baby, we congratulated ourselves. And then, a spring girl, a sweet little thing to love in the midst of all the green and growth.
In the fall, when the days grew shorter and everything turned brown, I rubbed my tummy and imagined I was growing spring inside me. But my baby died, and that spring comes anyway, despite our tremendous loss, seems impossible.
We named her Anja M— H—-. M— for the grandmother whose birthday was her due date and H—- for the grandmother whose birthday was that liminal day between the day we knew she was dead and the day we held her for the first and last times. Today could have been her birthday and the cake I’m making for my mother is also for her, for my lovely daughter whose spirit will forever haunt my springs.