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Your 5th Birthday

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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On your third birthday I got a tattoo on my collar bone. The Roman numeral three, three for your third and three for the three days that matter: the day you were born, the day you died, the day I’ll see you again.

The farther away I get from the day you left us, the better. I’d blot out the whole month of November. The more time between that day and now, the closer to hope of seeing you, the better.

The day you were born I remember waking up in labor, so excited, showering and straitening my hair. Driving to the hospital in the middle of the night, just as we hoped it would happen, like leaving for a road trip when it’s still dark.

I remember my forehead pressed against the cool window as the sun rose, having a contraction and watching the headlights of cars driving down 70th. Cheerful and abstract, the world starting another day.

Oh my God Lucy, the moment I scooped you out of the water to my chest–we didn’t know if you were a girl or boy, and I forgot to look.

There is only one time. The pink wrinkly skin of brand new new life, the clenched delicate fingers and tiny nails, the temperature of your skin on mine.

Only one time you see a daddy behold his tiny daughter. So perfect, you in his arms swaddled and he held you kind of like a question, becoming a stronger version of himself. Everyone thought I’d died in labor because he cried so hard announcing you’d arrived.

Only one time your family walks though delivery room doors to see such a perfect treasure. First grand baby, first niece, first everything; dark-haired, so beautiful to every sense.

Your birthday, Lucy, I want to feel. I sneak out to my car at work and cry. I cry in yoga; I cry in a second. I plan a party for you. Doing my best to part with everything I flirt with, to go directly to the soft place underneath the compulsion to escape this pain. Your birthday is a good day.

I remember waiting for you to come during this lovely season change, this season that feels like waiting even if you’re not waiting for anything in particular. It’s always pricked my soul with a touch of melancholy and I wonder if it’s always held a secret.

You’d be 5. I’d be different if you were here. I’m so different than I was when I first held you. I love you, Lucy Garland.

“A new soul—I imagined a little flame, burning bright and given to me for a time.

 The miracle of it.” 

Above, from Lucy’s birth story written five years ago | Pic, my sister Talia’s farmer’s market flowers for Lu