As days go by, I start to see that Lyra sometimes look like her older sisters when they were babies. We have said to each other—That’s exactly like Val when she was a baby! The girls are thrilled when they hear things like that; they adore their baby sister so much they feel flattered that she bears resemblance to them as a baby.
How about you, Ferdinand, how about you??
Yet, despite her looking like her siblings, Lyra is very much who she is- Lyra. She has her little temperament and she has her big personality. And she has her unique destiny that she shall envision and fulfill.
One day while at Trader Joe’s, an old lady hobbled up to me as I watched the two girls run off to grab loaves of sourdough to put in our shopping cart. She nodded her chin at the baby wrapped snugly to my chest and asked, “Boy or girl?” I replied, “She’s a baby girl.” And she looked over to the other two girls and said, “You have three girls!” I nodded, and she looked at me and muttered, “You are very lucky.”
I replied, “Yes, I am.” (while saying in my head, “But you don’t know the whole story.”)
And then she walked away.
I was not sure what to do. I wanted to run after her and asked, “Why did you say that?” Did she experience babyloss? Did she want to have a girl but only had boys? Did she just want to tell me I am lucky because I have three healthy children?
I don’t know, but I was not ready for a conversation then. But trust me, I have thought a lot about what it means to be lucky.
When people realize that “the baby” is a girl, the reaction is almost always, “Wow, three girls!” or – “Three girls, huh?!”
I am not sure what to make of those either. Are they impressed? Or are they thinking- sheese, she must really be trying to have a boy!
Very often, when they say “Three girls!” I mentally add to that in my head- “AND a boy.” But I no longer say it out loud. No longer. No more to strangers. In the early days of Ferdinand’s death, the urge was to take everyone by their shoulders and shake them violently and telling them, “My son died! My son died! I have a baby son, and he died. And his name is Ferdinand. Do you understand? Can you understand?!”
But, no more. No longer is that urge there.
Because I do not want to limit his existence to a mention of his name, followed by “But he died.” I do not want to bring him up and let people feel shock, pity and that inevitable awkwardness where they just do not know what to say, or where they put their foot into their mouths saying something that supposedly is to comfort, but end up making me feel worse. These days I prefer to cradle him in my heart, where I know him most intimately. There, where my tears run; where the edges of my smile curl up, sometimes.
Not a good analogy, but:
Of late I think grief is kind of like the sediment of life. At times it gets all stirred up in the cross-currents and it seems to be all over the place and all-consuming.
And then it settles down. Being heavy it sinks to the bottom and if the body of water above manages to remain calm, it is not stirred up. I have had some moments when I almost have amnesia of what happened, when I am not crippled by my grief.
But of course, life is not a vacuum, and it is never still.
The sediment gets aroused ever so often.
I suppose it is just like this. It just has to be like this.