We visited the city she was born last weekend. I never have a problem with the city itself, but there are so many memories that float to the surface when I know we are near the hospital.
Last weekend, we visited the mall that was the last place I visited before the hospital. The nurse had called and told me our room was ready, hours ahead of schedule, and I panicked, asking for just a few more hours. I needed to find something for her to wear. A completely ridiculous task, in retrospect, since she never wore the little yellow dress we bought for her. They don't make dresses for babies that small, for babies who don't live. But still, I had to buy her something, for whatever reason.
We ate lunch at a table overlooking the ice rink. I remember that last meal with my rounded belly in the outside world so clearly. Below us, a tiny little girl in a tutu clung to her mother as they slid around and around the ice. It was one of so many hundreds of things I hoped to do with my baby girl, and I remember sitting there, chewing, in this numb disbelief that it would never be, not with this baby.
When we were there last weekend, this tiny little memory that I hadn't thought of for years came rushing back. And Orrin was cranky and throwing a fit and I was so tired and I just couldn't shake the sadness. I felt a little crazy, but I just couldn't stop thinking of that old me, sitting there eating lunch, about to do the hardest thing I have ever done.
It's still making me cry, to be honest, and I'm not even sure why. The things that stir up the grief these days take me by surprise. Little moments that have been tucked away to make room for the larger ones that have become commonplace in my consciousness.
There is one other moment that I always think of in Portland.
We left the hospital and I was a complete mess. I remember sitting in the car, zombie-like, feeling every inch of distance stretching between me and that brown brick building where I had left my baby. And then, as we merged onto 405, Jesse and I started singing.
Misguided by the 405 'cause it lead me to an alcoholic summer. I missed the exit to you parents' house hours ago. Red wine and the cigarettes: hide your bad habits underneath the patio, patio. (obviously the lyrics were not relevant, but it was a song that has been in our lives from the very beginning)
I think it was that moment that I knew we would survive.