I lay in bed last night looking at the stars and the lights on the mountain. The same view I had the night I came home from the hospital, knowing Anja was dead inside me, waiting to deliver her, in shock and such deep sorrow.
This neighbourhood is full of her. I tell the kids, when they ask where she went when she died, that she is in all the world around us; the daffodils that are blooming late and long this year and still accompany us on every walk to school or the store or the library; the tall tall trees in Stanley Park, our ‘backyard,’ where we play after school and into which we look from all our windows; the lagoon, with its ducks and turtles and trailing willow trees. I should have been packing this morning, but I spent an hour slowly walking along the seawall and through the park, soaking in the grey of the ocean and sky and then the incredible green of the park in the rain.
We’re moving and it hurts everywhere right now. I feel like we’re leaving her behind. I worry I won’t be able to find her in our new neighbourhood. We’ll still have tall, tall trees and we won’t be far from the beach, but they won’t be her trees and her beach. What if I can’t feel her there the way I feel her here?
All our memories of her are here. There is nothing special about this apartment except the view and all the memories it holds inside its walls. As I pack, I’m confronted over and over again by memories, good and bad. There is kid art stashed everywhere, drawings and paintings of hearts and flowers and a family that is never quite complete. Photos of E as a baby, of me pregnant with Anja, of E when she was 3 and I was the worst mother she could have had. My heart breaks over and over. I want to scoop that little 3 year old up and hold her and tell her how sorry I am and just keep her in my arms for a year, never let her go, til she’s 4 and her baby brother is born, safe, alive.
I find notes I wrote to myself everywhere. A list I made for Thanksgiving dinner when I was pregnant with Anja, still on the fridge, stuck behind other lists and photos. A card I wrote to her one month after she died, Valentines Day, stashed in a drawer of sweaters. Journals full of her and also of our life before her, which seems like a dream almost now, before we knew this grief, this love, this awful gorgeous neverending contradiction.
I should be packing and I’ll get back to it now. There are four more days here. Four more days to feel all the memories, to find her in all the old places, to drink in the greenness of this rainy spring and all my love for my little lost girl.