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Anja was supposed to be my spring baby. I took this photo four days after she was born. A rare Vancouver snow scene: black bare trees, a winter’s sky, and the grey ocean. The world felt barren; I felt barren without her.

I think of Demeter and Persephone. How Demeter was filled with rage and sorrow at the loss of her daughter, and how she scoured the earth, searching incessantly, consumed by her grief.

And I think: Persephone must have been an only child.

How often did I want to abandon everything and go in search of my daughter? How often did I wish to succumb to the grief? How often did I wish to throw a curse on the world that killed my daughter and leave it barren and dead, too?

I know Persephone was an only child, because if she hadn’t been, Demeter would have been more like me: holding it together, pushing back the rage and the crushing sorrow, putting on a happy face, so that meals could be made and eaten, teeth brushed and hair combed, and clothes washed and games played and hurts soothed and songs sung and beds made and books read and and and and and.

Persephone came back in the spring, but my spring girl stayed gone.

How often I wished I could be like Demeter, and make my grief into something mythic, furious and beautiful too in its fury, its force. Instead, I found myself feeling more often like a 1950s housewife, playing along, making nice, a fake smile sitting atop a burning ball of fire. Simmering; simmering when what I wanted most was what seemed, then, so much simpler: to erupt.

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