I try to remember her face, how impossibly soft and cool the skin of her cheek always was… Her eyes. Did they look like mine? What color were they? Her hair, short and curly and wild, springing off in every direction with absolutely no direction. I try to remember the way she felt, the way she made me feel.
I try but can’t recall her voice anymore, not really. When I listen hard enough there is an echo from deep, deep down inside of me that is not the sound but the feeling of her words. I can’t remember. For the longest time I could summon the sound of her saying certain things; “Be careful,” “Dream of angels,” “Love you, baby.” Now all that’s left is an ache. No sound anymore- instead her voice is replaced with an imitation sounded out in my own, a murmur that rolls around inside my brain trying to convince me that it’s really her. It’s never really her.
I try not to picture her when sick and drawn, her always-flushed skin turned the palest shade of pain. I think I’ve mostly blocked that out, mostly managed to force myself into forgetting those months where she just became smaller, smaller, smaller until we could count the ribs jutting from the skin beneath her shirt with only a glance from across the room… Mostly, but not entirely, I’ve forgotten how her voice went from a strong, deep, resonating thing to a soft, fragile ghost of her words. The terror of these details hangs on somewhere inside, waiting for an unguarded moment to slide back into the rotation of reasons for tears in the night. But mostly, I’ve tried to forget…
I try, instead, to remember her standing in the kitchen with one dwarf-like foot on top of the other, a hip braced against the counter, arms uncrossing occasionally to gesture grandly as she spoke. I try to see her from the passenger seat of her truck, her face always framed by the fields blurring past in the window on her other side. I try to remember the smells of stale coffee, menthol cigarettes, lilacs, orange slice candies. I try to remember the way she’d insist on hugs- big, full bodied hugs, and how when her arms were around us she would dance, sometimes singing a song about a big, blue frog. I try to remember…
I try not to think about the fact that this baby won’t know her. I try not to remember the baby I was pregnant with while we were losing her, the one that bled away after she died. I try not to think about the milestones, holidays, occasions, every-days that we will never have with her. I try not to miss her so much that it fills me, branching out like breaking glass from the farthest, deepest parts of myself.
I try to do what other people do. Move on, shoulder through, mold myself into a walking, talking, coping cliché.
I try so hard, and it only gets harder. When we lost her people drifted closer, farther, stroking arms and backs and hair and whispering the things they thought we needed to hear… It will get easier, the pain will fade, you’ll move on. They made themselves into liars without realizing what they were doing, only trying to sooth their own loss and our own and losing the credibility entitled by love in the process.
Still, I try. WE try. We go forward because we must, learning to move through the world in a different way, a way that is less full than it seemed Before. We make new lives, new memories, hold on to new hopes, only now our grip has been made weaker by the knowledge that hope cannot always carry us through. Hope, sometimes, is cruel. Luckily, however, life is beautiful and occasionally kind, and there are always new chances. And so we try. We breathe. We live.