I remember knowing in the first week after Anja died that I was not feeling as awful as I was bound to feel, that as sick and sad and anguished as I felt, it was going to get worse. Over that first year, it felt like every few days or weeks or months, a new level of shock  would set in; it was that old metaphor of the onion being peeled…below each layer of grief, there was another and another and another. In the last few days, I’ve felt as if a new layer is about to reveal itself to me. I think of what happened to Anja and I feel a strange distance from it, which I know now is a precursor to a new realization of loss. Now, I am just waiting…with some trepidation for the heaviness and sorrow that I know will descend on me, but also with an eagerness, a yearning, for this is how I know my daughter,  the only way I know her, through the loss of her, and there is a part of me, a large part of me, that wants always to feel the weight of that loss, the full weight of it, to lie down with her absence and wail into it. These are the days I want to open the bag of her ashes, to feel the physical remains of her once-so-real-to-me body filter through my fingers; to take out the baby bonnet with the smear of blood and fluid on it and touch it to my lips and tongue. These aren’t the ‘pretty’ days of grief, where I buy flowers, collect stones, write her name in the sand. These are the ugly, hard and necessary days, the ones my ‘normal’ friends might worry I’ve gone off the deep end, the ones my friends here know so well. She is gone – gone – and I wonder sometimes how many times I will have to realize that anew, how many times I can bear to realize it anew.