I’m here, muddling along. I haven’t got much to say, but feel the need to bump that last one down the line. It's been blowing the dog off the chain here lately, literally and figuratively, and I'm dishevelled and turned inside-out.
On May 12, 2007 we lay Liam and Ben side-by-side for the first time—Liam with ventilator tubes and tape obscuring his face, Ben with his oxygen, and we took a picture, terrified, desperate, overwhelmed. Poised to sell our souls. Hello brave boys. Here we are.
Liam calls for me sometimes. And sometimes I call for him, needing him to let me mother him. Needing to carve out some portion of every day to parent each of my children, living and dead.
God, how I despise that word. Mamas like me work to reclaim it perhaps like bitch or queer, diffusing it by bringing it out in to the open, putting it in front of the word baby. I understand why. To force people around us to acknowledge, to listen, to remember despite the discomfort. To challenge Don’t you dare tell me to get over it. Don’t you dare rush me. Pretending it never happened may work for you, but not for me.
I’m just not quite ready for that word. The pitifully hopeful, whimpering thing inside me bristles, needing to hold out for parallel worlds and pearly gates and cosmic mistakes. Dead is too final, too finite. Lost at least leaves room for reunion.
Evan: MOMMY I WANNA COOKIE!
Kate: What do you say?
Evan: MOMMY I WANNA COOKIE NOW!
Kate: What do you say?
Evan: MOMMY I WANNA COOKIE NOW, NO, I WANT TWO!
And then he looks at me grinning, bats his eyelashes and says PWEEZE! And then Ben projectile-barfs peas and hummus and I don’t get there in time with the bowl and the moment the digestive hose is emptied he cracks himself up, spitty pea-goop dripping off his chin. Then suddenly there’s this on the radio and Liam waits for me patiently, as he always has, and I run the dripping cloth back and forth across the white plastic with tears in my eyes, wishing I had twice the highchairs, twice the barf.
I worked until 3:45 AM this morning on a presentation for a client. Evan climbed into bed with me at 6:30 AM and said MOMMY! and I said uuunnnngggghhh and he said DON’T WORRY MOMMY, I ALWEDDY GOT MY BWEKKFIST and he curled up next to me under the blankets, munching in a pleased-with-himself sort of way, and I drifted back to sleep. By the time I woke up he’d plowed through four chocolate chip cookies and was nose-to-nose, blinking earnestly and shout-whispering WHAT DID YOU DWEEM ABOUT MOMMY I DWEEMED ABOUT MONKEYS ON FEWWIS WHEELS MOMMY, MONKEYS ON FEWWIS WHEELS.
Now and then I can see peace, a clearing through this claustrophobic tangle, and awash in gratitude I would do it all a hundred times over for the honour of being mother to exactly these children, all three.