M has had a bad cold this week and is asleep in my lap, his mouth slightly open and sweetly exhaling, his head turned so the delicious skin at the back of his neck is caught in the orange light cast into this room by the setting winter sun. Soon the room will turn blue, and the heavy snow on the branches at the window will glow blue, too.

A blue room will always send me back to that blue room, to her.

I understand, finally, that there was never an either/or with these two babies of mine. When I was pregnant with M, and for months after he was born, I thought if I wanted her, it meant denying him, and vice versa.

Because if she were here, he wouldn’t be.

And vice versa.

And that is still true…except that she was here…and then was gone. Two years ago, she was here. Two years and 8 days ago, she was gone.

And that was it. That was her lifetime.

And his came after.

There is no ‘if she were here, he would not be,’ because she was always already (to borrow a phrase from my deconstructionist past) gone, when he was here.

I am not expressing myself very clearly, I don’t think, but as my second daughter’s second birthday approaches, I find myself understanding her goneness differently. I am refining my understanding of my family. It is not either/ or; it is both/ and.

Both/ and.

Sister and brother.

Blue and gold.

Sweet and sweet.

Loved and loved.