I remember that Catherine often used to use the word ‘bewildering’ to describe how she felt several years after the death of her sweet Georgina. I recognized that that was a good word, an apt description, but I also thought that it didn’t quite explain where I was then; my own brand of bafflement a couple years ago was a bit more virulent, and bewilderment seemed to me to have softer edges. These days, bewilderment is the exactly the right word. Today, for example, it is perfect. It’s a good friend of mine’s birthday, and I will forever remember how on this day in July 2011, I took a pregnancy test because R and I had a babysitter booked for the evening, and I had a feeling, and I wanted to know if I could have a beer or two while we were out. The test was positive. I was pregnant with Anja. I remember leaning on the windowsill, looking out over the park, and talking to my friend about her birthday, her twins who were only a few months old, the most recent pregnancy test, the hopes I had for this one. Four years later, her twins are riding bikes without training wheels and Anja has been dead for three and a half years. As I sit here, in a coffee shop, writing a paper about post-mortem photography for an upcoming conference in Amsterdam, a song comes over the speakers that was popular the winter and spring I was pregnant with M and I feel myself thrust back suddenly to the anxiety of those car rides to the hospital for ultrasounds and NSTs. And now here he is, two years old, and coincidentally we’ve been at the doctor for him today because he’s covered in some kind of viral rash, but he’s just fine – in fact, he’s perfect. He’s a delight. He astounds me every single day by the deceptively simple fact of being here.
It is bewildering. How have four years passed since that hopeful summer? How have two years gone by since the terrible strain of my pregnancy with M? My living kids have grown and grown and I have aged and our lives have changed in innumerable ways and it is utterly baffling: four years?? I remember coming home from the hospital without her and finding blogs written by women who were two, three, four, five years out and thinking: I can’t do this for that long. And if I can, I don’t want to still be blogging about it four, five years later. I want to be better. I am better. But also, there is no better. Time passes and passes and passes and she is still gone and I still miss her and I still wonder: how did this happen to us? How did we get here? And here is different now than it was at two weeks, two months, a year out; here is almost, but also not at all, ‘normal.’ And ‘normal’ is utterly bewildering. How did we get here? Where did you go, sweet girl? I know you were here. Four years ago today our story started, with me hanging out the window, soaking up the sun, hopefully telling one of my best friends: ‘I’m pregnant again. Cross your fingers for us.’