The apartment is so quiet today, with E at daycare and R at work. The quiet feels like something I can touch; it sits across the table from me while I try to work, brushes against my skin as I pass it in the hallway, stands next to me at the fridge while I try to decide if there’s anything I want to eat.
I check my email compulsively. Wait for the phone to ring or for the guy from Canada Post to ring the buzzer. I think that I am waiting for someone to reach out to me, to send me the perfect message, but really, what I’m waiting for is her cry at the end of her nap, her need for me, instead of my own terrible longing for her. I am waiting for the sounds that should’ve filled this apartment this summer but don’t, maybe won’t, ever again. It’s too fucking quiet in here and it’s making me crazy.
This morning when I dropped E off at daycare, there was a plastic bag full of artwork she’d done in the winter, when she was in the toddler program, in a different part of the building. We looked at it together, until I pulled out a picture of several snowmen glued together out of different shapes and looking distinctively festive. A Christmas-time project. I felt like I was going to throw up and had to quickly shove everything into my bag before I cried. Christmas. When we were happily preparing for our Baby Cheeses. Before everything became so sad and ugly. I feel like a different girl made those snowmen and I can’t bear to think of the way this experience has changed my first-born daughter.
E found a heart-shaped rock on the beach yesterday and pressed it into my hand. ‘A heart,’ she said, ‘for Baby Sister. Because she’s still in our hearts, right, Mommy? We can put this in the rock jar for her.’ And so, this morning, I dropped the heart-shaped rock and a few other stones we collected into the jar on the shelf. I dusted off the ceramic jar that holds A’s ashes. I watered the orchids my mother gave to E and I so that we could each have something to remember A by in our rooms. I mothered my silent baby the only way I can.