I know I just blogged about Gracie. But bear with me. I had more emotions to sort through and air out and writing is the best way I know how. Although I get letters and pictures, and although she sent me a package and talked to me on the phone, nothing compares with seeing her in person. I haven’t seen her for about six years. Her and I have both changed so much since then and seeing her as a tall blonde girl that is nearing an adolescent who will become a woman is a lot to process.
It’s amazing it took ten years to think of Gracie not as a kid, but rather as a future adult. Nona and I talked about how we both remember ten. I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed by other kids my age. I remember what I read and how I felt. I remember some of my journal entries and my outrage when family members read them. When I was ten, we got a dog I loved unconditionally. When I was ten, I cared about what I wore (although that didn’t make my wardrobe less pathetic).
I gave Gracie a journal, remembering that it was about age ten that I began writing as a hobby. I told her that in writing, you’re able to preserve the moment the way you felt it at the time. If you don’t write it down, you never feel it the same way, with the same intensity. In time we forget details and emotions and see past events through this hazy film created by the many years we’ve lived since then.
Before I even made it home from seeing Gracie, I nearly reached for my phone out of impulse, to call Steve and tell him I wanted to have another baby. But deep down, I knew that wasn’t it. Humans seem to have this need to always replace a loss as a defense from feeling a void. Recovering alcoholics turn to cigarettes, recovering smokers turn to caffeine, recovering over-eaters turn to exercise.
Whenever Steve and I do discuss having more children, he says, “when does it end? If you want three then you’ll want four and then five,” and I laugh it off as preposterous, but I understand what he means. He means that I am chasing a cure for my emptiness, a cure that doesn’t exist. I am looking to replace something that is irreplaceable.
Sometimes I wonder if I continue to feel my loss so intensely because I have written about it and preserved those thoughts. My emotions crop up again, clones of previous ones I actually remember because of my preserving. But I do not regret my preserving, even the pain. I let myself feel fully. On Monday, after the boys were finally asleep, I drove to Dairy Queen, and in my first moment of solitude, I wept. I had waited the day out, got through all my mom duties, but at last I let myself feel completely because I’m afraid of what would happen if I didn’t.
There. That is what I had to say. That is what was in me these last couple days, inching out of my mind slowly, unraveling a thought at a time in no sequential order. I have sat here at the computer for the last hour and forced myself to write what I’m feeling, and in so, I have felt. I don’t know whether it heals me or reopens the wound or does neither, but in feeling it, I have allowed myself to be.
I would have done this same thing at age ten, and here I am at thirty-two, not so changed from myself as time has tried. I think about Gracie becoming an adult and think of who she already is and that makes me smile, knowing she will be a strong woman because she is already a strong girl. We find ourselves through aging, or we find our way back after losing ourselves. When I was pregnant with Gracie, I was lost, but throughout this past decade, I have found myself again. A little damaged, yes, but still decent enough, I hope.