My daughter, Zoe, would have been nine years old today. I imagine that she would have looked a little bit like me, with brown hair and green eyes. I am sure that she would have been beautiful, like all children are beautiful, with that singular spark of life that makes them glow from the inside. Zoe would have been spoiled rotten by her grandparents and the apple of her daddy's eye.
Zoe would have been attending school, and while I don't know if she would have been a good student, I am sure that she would have loved reading as much as I do. I had many dreams of sharing books sitting in a comfy chair by the window. She would have adored her little brother. Zoe would probably have bossed him around. Zane would have bossed her right back, little scrapper that he is.
Except Zoe isn't here to be nine years old today. She died before she was even born, because of pre eclampsia. It's a common condition that I knew nothing about. Nobody has pre eclampsia at 19 weeks, my doctor said. I almost died, I was told. People tell me that there wasn't anything that I could have done to prevent what happened, but I had a hard time believing them. I still hear that little evil voice telling me that it was all my fault.
I held Zoe in my arms the day after her lifeless body was pulled from mine, and a despair settled deep within the marrow of my bones. Thoughts of my daughter colored everything around me, reminding me that she wasn't there. She should have been there; the Universe was flawed without her presence. I even had fantasies that there had been a mix up at the hospital, that she was still living. There wasn't really anyone for me to talk to at the time, the people I did speak to told me to "get over it". Every pregnant woman around me just drove a dagger through my belly. I didn't want to die, but I didn't really want to live, either. To
live was to feel the pain of my grief, my rage, and I wanted to be numb.
But that's not how it works. Life moves on, even when you want it to stay in one place. I would sometimes go outside in the back yard and look up into the night
sky, looking for the star registered in her name. The distance between
my daughter and me was the distance between the earth and that star, I realized, and that distance could not be bridged, no matter how much I willed it. Time passed, and one day I noticed that I hadn't thought of Zoe in a few days. I felt guilty, but relieved, too, because the weight of my depression was lifted, for a bit. Soon the days when I thought of my daughter, and my grief, were few. I even found myself smiling on occasion. I had to let go of my daughter's memory to make room for the reality of my son. That is how it is supposed to be, I suppose.
Except for today. Today I remember, and I think about what might have been.