After Z died, once the reality started closing in and I was able to start understanding her death distinct from all the trauma of the accident, the thing that made me choke with fear and sadness the most was this idea of no more Z. I thought, that's it. My whole relationship with my daughter was over and done with before it had hardly started. 37 photos, some inky foot and handprints, a tiny amount of ashes and a drop of her blood on a blanket made by my mum - the count-able, finite remains of my child. It wasn't enough, it would never be enough. It was such a sad, awful, unfillable hole of 'no more' that to live in this world, I felt like I had to close that drawer, to look elsewhere for the 'more' that I needed.
Specifically, the 'more' that I was looking for was to get pregnant again. I was so sure it would happen - to be honest, I don't think I had really let go of feeling pregnant. This was my pregnancy and I would finish it, even if I had to mourn Z along the way. When I lost our first ivf pregnancy in March, all those self-delusions fell away, and I was left wondering, what if Z was my only child? Just even having to think about that question made me want to leap under a train, but with the molar pregnancy scare, I had plenty of time to think about it. I was scared that if really looked hard at my grief for Z, if I opened that drawer, the big sad black hole of 'no more' would suck me in and swallow me whole. Because there was no solution to it, there was no way my logical brain could think a way around the big stark reality of no more Z. I kind of lost my shit for a while there - as explained in this post. And then, exhausted with my own drama, me and all that sadness just lay on the floor, and breathed and looked at one another.
And I thought to Z, "Well, my love. I wish you hadn't gone and died. But there's not much you can do about it now." And in the spirit of parents whose kids have been conscripted to the army, I thought, "I wish you didn't have this job (being dead / being "one with the universe" or whatever it is that baby souls do after they die) but I still love you and I wish you'd send me a postcard or call me sometimes". And then I felt silly, because there was her star, which is always there twinkling at us, and the camellia tree which burst into bloom just when my heart was breaking, and her pomegranate tree, and her roses, and leaves in the river in Cairns, and clouds, and the sea at Somers, and the bird noises in the bush chapel where her ashes are, and I realised I really was being a pretty demanding mama. And I realised, I actually know Z better now than when she was born. And if somehow my knowledge of her and love for her has expanded, then there is more Z. She is still growing, she's finding her feet in the world, even if we have to guess about what exactly she's doing, even if I don't (in the way of all parents) really understand what her job entails. It's not how I wanted my daughter to be in the world, but I know now that whatever she is doing is important, because it is important to her, and therefore to me. If I just keep demanding her to fit in with what I need (which I know she can't do anymore) then we both feel awful, and maybe I'll miss seeing what she can do. I wish we'd had more time together in the conventional sense, but I can't be churlish about it because it's not her fault. And if I want to love her exactly as she is, then I have to be open to getting her little hippy-style postcards in brightly coloured leaves and odd cloud formations. I think she's also fond of slugs. Not sure why, but if she loves slugs, then I love them too.
Just when I was starting to get my brain around all of the above, I got an email from Angie attaching a mizuko jizo painting she has done for me - and there was Z, peeking out. And it all made sense - slowly my sadness for no more Z in my arms, and in our house in her fleshy, nearly 18 month old realness, is mingling with a wonder that I can still get little peeks of her. I was walking to the shops the other day and it hit me that she might have been walking with me by now (perhaps that shows how little I know about the energy levels of nearly 18 month olds) - but I suddenly thought, here, this is where her little hand would be, tight in my hand. Walking together. And I could just about feel her chubby fingers, the softness of her skin, and could suddenly feel both the no more and the more at the same time. I love you exactly as you are, my darling girl.
Painting by Angie Yingst, reproduced with permission.
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