Some may have noticed a few sad poems among the OctPoWriMo push this month. September and October have been hard months for the last five years, harder for me than even I realize sometimes, until I allow myself to be struck by just how much I miss my daughter. People around me probably notice a change in my demeanor, even if they don’t say anything about. Most of them know. They were beside me when it happened.
I’m not talking about my little Mack. My three-year-old is happy, healthy, and full of herself on a regular basis. She is often mistaken for an older child because of her vocabulary and her wisdom. And it was Mack that made me realize how, despite the passing of the years, losing my first daughter still impacts my life. For being three, Mack has an incredible grasp on the fact that she had a sister, her name was Sydney, and she is dead. As far as I know, three-year-olds shouldn’t really understand any of this.
We keep pictures of Sydney around the house, as well as a few mementos for her short life of six weeks. There are casts of her hands and feet in the curio cabinet, along side a soft, flat bear named Sugarbear. There are dried flowers, a memory book filled in by the nurses at the hospital, and a pink blanket that says “In Memory of Sydney Love,” a smaller version of the crib blankets donated to the ICN by Cooper’s Cause Foundation. It’s the photo collages upstairs that draw Mack’s attention most of the time, collections of images of visitors, footprints, and a name sign from Sydney’s hospital pod. Mack is quite proud to say, “I have a sister. Sydney is my sister.” And then she questions, “Why is Sydney dead?” The Why stage is strong with this one. She doesn’t ask me easy Whys, such as Why is the sky blue? or Why do bird fly? No. She asks me why her sister isn’t with us any more and why can’t her sister come back.
October 22 is the anniversary of Sydney’s last day.
So I have decided to dedicate NaNoWriMo 2014 to writing the story of Sydney. I started the process years ago, keeping journals of my thoughts, keeping the cards and letters, making notes. It’s been a tough story to even think about writing. Now that five years have passed, maybe I’m ready to get through it. Maybe November will be a month of catharsis.
Crows perch in the dead tree
Cawing in the wind of October
Crowds gather at the church
Companions in grief
Common words are said
Consolation for one lost at the wrong time
Can’t I go back in time
Could we change the past
Create a different future
Contain the tragic beginnings
Continue we must, forever forward