Last week I took Daphne into the city for a clinic appointment (everything is fine, uneventful). We got stuck in traffic and our usual 30-minute drive to the hospital took almost two hours, which meant the parking lot was packed. We drove all the way up to the roof and ended up parking at the same spot where my mom and I had parked almost five years ago, the morning I was admitted for observation with the twins. I cannot swear it was the very same spot, but it was close. Something about the frigid morning, blustery winds, and that walk to the elevator with my chin tucked into my scarf took me right back. My memories of that day are as sharp and jagged as the city’s skyline against the winter blue sky. The wilted asparagus on my hospital tray. The blood on my gown from the steroid shot. Mostly, I remember how I felt, relieved to have the two babies on monitors, finally.

This is where my mind likes to take a little journey. This is how it goes: it goes back to that morning and the hope that I would be in the hospital for a month, and deliver the twins safely. The next stop is: this outcome is not what I wanted. This is wrong. Then, the mind takes a sharp turn and races in the opposite direction: another possible outcome would have been to lose both children, and we have Daphne. We came so close to the horrible outcome, so many times. Next stop: horrible guilt, immediately followed by an urge to grab Daphne and squeeze her tight, protect her from all the horrible things life can throw at her. This process takes maybe 10 seconds, and I know it is a natural result of the trauma we experienced. I don’t even try to stop it anymore. I just acknowledge it and move on.

This particular morning last week, Daphne happened to be standing right next to me as my mind took its little journey. I gripped her little rainbow-mitten hand, kissed the top of her Hello Kitty hat. She was blissfully unaware of the storm inside my head, and gave me grief about shutting off the car engine while a song she really liked was playing on the radio.

Daphne will be five in a month, and being her mom has been my life-defining experience. Losing Leah, keeping Daphne, fighting like mad to keep her healthy, make her strong. The duality of this experience colors everything in my life, like the darkest pigment. You can mix it, you can water it down, but it’s always there.

I know that awful things can happen, I expect them to happen. I also know that life goes on no matter what gets dumped on your head, and wonderful things keep happening too.


9 responses to “Mindbending

  1. I know these feelings all too well. And it was five years for me this week from losing Bridget. Hard to believe.

    Thank you for expressing so well & sharing these complicated feelings.

    Miss you!

    • Wow – this week? I remember it was the day we found out Daphne had a heart defect. Hugs to you. I hope we can see you before the new little lady makes an appearance.

  2. I have similar experiences, where I get stabbed with the pain of losing Ella, but knowing Gavin would not exist had she lived. I can’t ever seem to reconcile that. It hits me at the oddest times and all of a sudden I am gasping for air in my car, or my eyes well up during a random conversation with a random person, and it’s been TEN years. Where does the time go?

    • I think it’s impossible to reconcile. I’ve learned that when I try to mute these thoughts, they keep coming back louder and louder. So I let it happen, tell myself it’s OK and move on. Hugs to you. I miss you.

  3. Wow, Mel, this is really powerful. The mind works in mysterious ways and I’m fascinated by the way this one parking spot catapulted you back five years in time, through a web of memories. Thank you for sharing your story with us. xo

    • It is interesting how the mind works. It’s not like it was my first time going back to the parking lot in five years (I wish!!) but somehow the combination of the place, temperature, wind, took me right back. Go figure. I am glad that I had Daphne’s very mundane demands to bring me back to earth. xo

  4. Great post Mel – you’re so very eloquent. I’d rather not have flashbacks but at least I know I’m on good company.

    • Thank you. I think they are inevitable, but they can be very rude and assault you in the least convenient times. I don’t get them quite so often anymore but March is a rough month for me.

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