On the beach in Fort Lauderdale, I was supposed to be escaping my grief. I looked up from my book as a lifeguard walked by. He walked beside a 3 year old girl crying, clearly lost. They were looking for her mother. I could see a woman running in the distance, scanning the beach frantically and a moment later seeing the lifeguard holding up his red rescue tube, trying to attract the attention of any one who has lost a child. Lost a child. It got my attention. It was just like in the movies- the mother knelt down a few feet from her daughter and the little girl ran into her arms. The mother tried to get up after a moment but the daughter held fast needing more comfort.
I watched this scene unfold before me as tears fell behind my sunglasses. I will never have that moment with Mabel. I’ve had that moment of panic, but will not have the joyful reunion. I cried because Mabel will never be that three year old on the beach in Florida and I cried because I will never be that mom for Mabel. Fort Lauderdale was supposed to be about getting away. I learned that there is no such thing. Grief knows no holidays and knows no vacations. And I’m not sure I want a vacation from my grief. This wasn’t the first time I shed tears behind my sunglasses. I spent much of my time on the beach reading “Three Minus One,” a book of people’s accounts of loss- miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death and “Dear Cheyenne,” a mother’s letters to her stillborn daughter. These books made me cry, but in the right way.
At both brunch and dinner the next day, I ended up sitting with babies in my line of sight. I even purposely sat with my back to most of the restaurants, hoping to avoid this. I passed a stroller on the street and glanced to see a baby that looked a few months old. I did it again at the airport. You would think I would have the will power to not look, but you’d be wrong. Seeing those newborns is so so painful, but it helps me envision a little what Mabel might look like- her size, at least.
This vacation served two purposes. It was the “if our baby dies” vacation I wrote about. But it also spanned Easter weekend. Easter is the first big holiday since I said good bye to Mabel. I was warned by people on my message boards that holidays are hard. Easter doesn’t hold much importance to me- I’m not religious. But Easter is everywhere. I have been trying to block all my friends on facebook with small kids (sorry, friends) but several who don’t usually post and so flew under my radar, chose today to do so. Pictures of smiling children, “Happy Easter!” My family called to wish me the same, but I didn’t respond (sorry, family). I boycotted this holiday. There is nothing happy about that day for me. Easter hurt more than most days, because Easter is about family and my family is broken.
Easter is everywhere. Eggs, chickies and bunnies. And carrots. I’ve been seeing them in the store for a month. Carrots everywhere. When looking for a burial outfit for Mabel, I knew I found the right one when I saw a simple white outfit, soft with satin trim and a little carrot embroidered on the shirt and hat. Bunny slippers too. For Easter, Mabel wore this outfit. She has worn it everyday since we buried her. Her grandmother gave her two stuffed bunnies to take with her in her casket. It’s almost like Easter is her day. I only wish she could be wearing that outfit in my arms rather than in the cemetery.