We are in Mexico right now. It is hot, hot, hot and it is Semana Santa and down in the town the discos are full of sweaty Mexican tourists from the city; the music drifts up the hill to us, along with the pounding of the surf.
We flew here on Saturday. It was a Saturday the last time we flew here, too. Two weeks to the day after Anja’s silent birth. I remember sitting on that plane full of happy tourists thinking: two weeks ago at this time, I was in labour; the contractions were just starting to strengthen; I was beginning to realize what I was going to have to do. Such a surreal situation, my two-weeks postpartum body amidst all those people already in shorts and sandals, ordering small bottles of rum and vodka, trying to get their holidays started as soon as possible.
I thought I would be overcome with memories here, but that has not been the case. I find I can barely remember anything of that week we spent here after Anja died. We came because my parents live here in the winters and they thought the sun would be good for us and bought us tickets, convinced us to come. I mostly remember hiding out in the back bedroom, the one we’ve always called the happy bedroom, reading An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and They Were Still Born on the kindle I’d wanted for Christmas that year so I could read while breastfeeding. Feeling desperate in that bedroom, not wanting to come out and face everyone. I remember sitting by the pool while R and E swam, unable to get in myself because I was still bleeding from the delivery. A couple who live two floors below my parents was often at the pool at the same time as us and I wished they would ask me why I never swam. I wanted to tell them the whole story, my daughter’s life story, the story of her death and birth. How out of place it would have been. I remember feeling like I would go crazy because no one would talk about her. I remember feeling bitterly alone.
This trip has been different. Obviously. Tonight I was suddenly aware of feeling a desperate kind of happiness. There is my beautiful girl, my eldest daughter, swimming by herself and beaming for it, and there is my beautiful boy, my only and unexpected son, with his crazy curls and his toothy grin, gleefully kicking his legs in the cool water, wanting to swim on his own, too, laughing at his sister. My family. With one missing, always. I am so happy to have her and him. So desperately missing her, still, always.
I have had strange and sudden fears. This building is high, high up in the hills and I have had to force myself to stop imagining the hill collapsing, the building crumbling and falling down the hill, my children lost in the rubble. Each night when I close my eyes to go to sleep, this image comes and I can sense our bodies, all four of ours in our various beds, hanging out over the edge, in danger. I have had dreams of losing M, of searching for him, panicked and so afraid. I have been sure that he has stopped breathing in his crib. He has a cold and he woke up yesterday morning with his eyes crusted over and red. I decided to try a day of rinsing his eyes with a light saline solution before contacting a doctor, but then I went to bed last night sure he would wake up blind in the morning, that the goop in his eye was a symptom of some sneaky killing illness.
This morning a lovely doctor made a house call. He gave me a prescription for something for M’s eyes and they already look better. Tomorrow we will go to the beach and I will relax and everyone will be fine.
I search the storefronts and vendor’s stalls every time we walk down into town for something special for Anja. I don’t know what it could be, but I know I want it. I am always looking for something for her, and always I know I won’t ever find it, because really what I’m looking for is her. Just her. And she won’t ever be returned to me, no matter how diligently I search for the perfect object to conjure her.