This day last year was the last day of our mostly happy, mostly innocent pregnancy with Anja. I remember the day clearly. The night before I had accidentally deleted a chapter of my dissertation, the chapter I was hoping would be my last full chapter. I didn’t have much time left before our second daughter was to be born and I freaked out at how far back I’d just set myself. I stayed up late, late, late worrying and crying until suddenly I saw a way to write a new chapter, a much better one, and to do it quickly, to wrap the whole thing up. I woke up that morning feeling positive and excited. E was with me for the day and we took the short bus ride downtown to run some errands. E loves riding the bus and was pointing out all the interesting sights, singing Christmas carols, charming other passengers (and probably driving some of them crazy, too). We went to the Apple store and to exchange a few Christmas presents. She was my little buddy, and I was always thinking about how soon it would no longer be just the two of us, a bittersweet idea. We called R and he met us for lunch and we all crammed into a little booth and shared sandwiches and joked about how I could barely fit my big huge stomach between the bench and the table. It was sunny out, a rare, rare treat in Vancouver in January. It was a regular day, a happy day.
The next day Anja was dead. Out of the blue, no warning: she was moving and then she was not, did not ever again move, even once. And everything in our lives changed with her death. During the first weeks after she died, I would lie in bed every night and obsessively re-live the last several days she was alive. I have thought about the details of this day last year so many many times. What a normal day it was, how unprepared we were – or ever could have been – for what would happen the next day.
And today, re-living the day again, I feel I know too much about how easy it is for everything to change in a day. It is a beautiful morning, the cloudless sky streaked pink over the snowy mountains and reflected on the bay. A slight panic has sat at the back of my consciousness – sometimes not so far back – all week. We are in January, where it happened, where I worry and worry it will happen again. Tomorrow the days start: the day she died, the day we waited, the day we held her and left her still, sweet little body alone in a hospital room. I want to remember everything about those days, about her, how she looked and felt and was, and I also want to avoid everything: to protect myself and my growing son, to keep him separate, to be ignorant of what can happen, what does happen, what did happen.
Impossible, I know. It’s all impossible. Today, I will spend the morning working, and then R and I will take E to her first ballet class of the year and watch her dance and twirl and hope there aren’t too many pregnant moms who want to talk shop hanging around. We’ll discuss what to have for dinner and buy a bunch of daffodils on the way home. We’ll put E to sleep after a bubble bath and stories and eighty-bajillion songs and hugs, and then sit together on the couch and wait for baby kicks and nudges. It will be a normal day, the new normal for us.
And I hope against hope that tomorrow will be, too.
A year ago, she was here. A year ago, we believed she always would be.