I took this picture on October 1st last year on my phone on our way to the airport to fly across the country and visit R’s parents. It’s just a crappy, iPhone picture, but I wanted to try to participate in the Capture Your Grief project. I think I was still too overwhelmed, though, and too resentful of anything that smacked of meaning-making. I didn’t want my grief or Anja’s death to mean anything. I just wanted her here. I hated so much that she was gone and I was so angry and although I came here and put words on the screen to tell her how much I loved her, if anyone else, anyone outside my own head, tried to suggest that there was healing in the writing, that there was purpose, integration, growth…well, I would’ve wanted to spit in their face. (I never would have done it; I am still too polite.) I don’t think this project is any of those things anymore and I suppose that is a testament to how much my own grief has changed.
Last year, when I took this picture, I was about seven weeks pregnant with M, sure I was miscarrying, wishing I could do so in the privacy of my own home. That night we arrived at R’s parents and it was a shock to encounter so many reminders of A there; baby pictures of E that looked eerily like Anja; photographs of our family when I was still pregnant and we still felt whole and unbroken, so uncomplicatedly (in retrospect) happy; the baby things R’s mom was saving to use again. I felt so alone there, in that cold, drafty old house near the Atlantic. So far from my baby and so close to her, too. I felt her in the wind. It is a ghost-y part of the country, and my ghost-girl rolled in with the mists off the marsh, swooshed out with the tide and the clacking of the rocks.
This year? Right now I am so busy I feel like I can’t get at her, not even at the ghost of her. I hope this project helps and I am going to try it. I still fight against meaning, but it’s a gentler fight now and I don’t see any attempt to make grief beautiful also an attempt to accept it, or worse, as a suggestion that somehow life might even be better. It won’t ever have been better than it would have been if she lived, and I don’t even know if I believe my life is better for having had her in it, even if only briefly; but she was here. She was here, and this month I will honour the simple fact of her hereness, and the not-so-simple fact of her goneness.