Monday, December 5, 2016

six.

It's tomorrow. On the sixth. She would be six.

Her golden birthday! A party full of gold and glitter and giggles.


She would be a kindergartner. She would know how to read, you guys.

I can see glimpses of her. I think she would have light brown hair and blue eyes like Coco's and a giggle like Zuzu's and a silly nickname like Za-za. She would be stubborn and funny and our house would be even more full of little girl shoes and mismatched socks and Disney figurines and rogue crayons and dried out markers and well-loved children's books.

...

How can it be six?

Six years is no time. Six years is a heartbeat--or a lack of one. 

That's a lie.

Six years is an eternity.

It's long enough to go from newborn to new reader. Long enough that the baby pudge melts away so she becomes all knobby knees and bony elbows with softness still in her cheeks. It's long enough to build a family of three daughters. To become associate professor instead of assistant. To look at your husband and wonder how it is you've now been married for 1/3 of your life.

What does it mean to miss someone for six years? I'm not sure I realized how sustainable grief actually is, or how drastically it would change.

...

I'm doing better this year than any year previously. And sometimes that feels like progress, but often it feels more like a betrayal.

Six years is forever.

It's long enough to discover that you won't die of heartbreak, no matter how inviting death seems at first. It's long enough to recover some version of your old self, broken and twisty and unable to tolerate long conversations about pregnancy, but eventually finding the old enthusiasm for tacos and make up samples and just the right light fixtures. It's long enough for color to seep its way back into your life.

The distance gives you breathing room, but it never gives her breath, so the breathing room feels a little unfair. Unwanted, even.

If the sadness is a bruise, this time of year I push on it. I can still go back there. The day of. The day before. The day after. I can relive it like an out of body experience or simply like the sensation of suffocating. That room in the hospital. The smell of the soap and the sheets. That cold dread becoming colder realization. The shock. The numbness. The incessant ache that replaced the numbness. The ache that, over years, faded to longing that will never, ever entirely go away.

When I let myself think about her, the ache comes back. It starts in my chest and it radiates down my arms. It is so fierce I hold my breath and I don't let it out until the tears well up in my eyes and then they spill over with a long, shuddering sigh.

I count up all my regrets, I whisper aloud my apologies. I don't talk to her very often, but when I do I always say I'm sorry.

It's been six years, and some of them have been the best years of my life and all of them have been the most heartbreaking, and there's a small part of me that still wants to grab the wheel and turn back time, if given a chance to save her and walk a different path.

...

I can't bring her back. I can only do what I can to make this shitstorm of a life beautiful, while always wishing that she were part of it.

And when I wake up on her birthday, as sad and empty and angry as I will feel, I will also feel how much she is a part of this life. Being pregnant with her brought me an unbelievable amount of joy, and there is so much good in my life today that is a direct result of being her mom. Her life--and also her death--set me spinning on this path, and she is the reason behind almost every important thing.

No matter how many years out, the earth keeps turning and it will always come back to her.

She's the baby who changed everything for me, in all the best and the worst ways.

...

And tomorrow, she would be six.




22 comments:

  1. Brooke, sending love to you. I know how much she is loved and missed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sending light and love to you and your family. Giving thanks for Eliza, who connected me to you. (But couldn't we have magically known each other AND had our babies live?)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Much love to you, sweet mama.
    Thinking of your perfect little Eliza today, and aching with you.
    Thank you for sharing her -- and your thoughts about her, about grief, about life After -- with us.
    Your words here are a wonderful tribute to her. As is your life, I'm sure.
    Much love to you all...
    Katherine

    ReplyDelete
  4. Much love and light to you. Happy Birthday sweet Eliza. I wish I could say it gets easier. It gets less....painful some years. But other years it's worse.

    Birthdays are hard, so very hard. Breathe and give yourself time to cry if you need it

    ReplyDelete
  5. Happy birthday, Eliza -- and big hugs to you, Brooke. <3 Thank you for sharing her with us these past six years.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happy 6th birthday Eliza. Brooke, you always give me a glimpse of what the future will be like for me. It started two years ago when I devoured your early writings about Eliza. And it's like the poem Heavy. I don't want this grief to go away even though it sucks. Sending so much love to you and all 3 of yours girls.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Happy birthday sweet Eliza. I shed tears for you and Andrew today, and for mine as well. Love to you Brooke.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm thinking of you and your sweet Eliza today, Brooke. Your post made me ache, but also to remember the good - the simple phrase: 'being pregnant with her brought me an unbelievable amount of joy' - it's so easy to forget that joy in the aftermath. I'm hoping for a glimpse of that for you today - more than a glimpse - and for peace, and love, and if you need it, a really big cry. Eliza will be on my mind today. Sending love.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thinking of you and Eliza today. Sending hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sending love to you, David, and each of your three daughters, with birthday wishes to a dearly loved and longed for little Eliza.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wishing she was here. The more I read and see her name, the more I love it. You gave your daughter such a beautiful name, she continues to leave such a beautiful legacy. Lots of love to your whole family today.

    ReplyDelete
  12. When I cry like this, with the tears welling in my eyes and my throat hurting from biting back the tears... FUCK. I love her alongside her because you've shown me her beauty and told me all the wonderful things about her. I wish so much that she was there alongside you, ZaZa, ZuZu, and CoCo. The trifecta of beautiful girls.

    Wishing things were so different, as I do every year, and in fact every day. Wishing today was much more jubilant than it is. Loving her and missing her alongside you. <3

    ReplyDelete
  13. "The distance gives you breathing room, but it never gives her breath, so the breathing room feels a little unfair. Unwanted, even."

    Thank you for writing this.

    We wish Eliza was here as well on her golden birthday. I dug up some gold twine this past weekend when I realized it - you were the one that first taught me about golden birthdays.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Her golden birthday...sigh. Happy birthday Eliza. You are loved and so missed.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Her golden birthday...wow. Missing Eliza with you. This post brought tears to my eyes. My youngest was born on September 6th, so her 3 month birthday was on Eliza's birthday. I feel honored to share that special day with Eliza.

    Love to all of you.

    Kel

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have loved so many of your posts, but right now this is my favorite. You write for you and for Eliza, but in such a way that you write for others as well who don't have the gift of putting the experience into words so powerfully, beautifully. So raw but yet so soft. If anyone who ever read my blog wasn't also people who read yours, I'd be really inclined to simply re-post this next week for Anna's 7th birthday. With credit given, of course. I adore you and all your girls. Thank you for sharing the lot of you with us.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you. Your six years habe helped me get to my six months. Thinking of you and Eliza

    ReplyDelete
  18. I feel like I was sort of ripped off from your insights and writing, like I found you too late, because this was beautiful, and exactly what six felt like for me in October. Happy birthday to your daughter Eliza, and lots of love to you and your David xo

    ReplyDelete
  19. My emotions and my darling, frustrating living children keep me from articulating anything except yes. You express it all so beautifully and I'm right there with you. Celebrating and lamenting. Loving, missing and loving some more. xoxo Eliza

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is beautiful, Brooke. I can feel your love and your sorrow through these words. Eliza is so very loved and so very missed.

    Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and emotions with us. As a reader, but not really a commenter, I can say that your blog and Eliza have touched more lives than you may know. And because of that, Eliza lives in many many hearts.

    Sending you love, hugs, and peace on this sixth anniversary. <3

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am sorry I missed your posts earlier this week, it hasn't been notifying me of your new posts suddenly.

    I thought of you and Eliza all day Tuesday and even how it was her "golden birthday". I am sorry the day was so chaotic for you guys :( Missing her with you, always.

    ReplyDelete