Today is the fourth anniversary of the day we found out my daughter had died. It’s also four days after the first anniversary of my father’s death. It’s been a somber week.
Both anniversaries feel a little bit lonely — nobody has remarked on either (though I did get a handwritten card from the funeral home about my dad). I understand why. I’ve had a couple of wonderful friends who remembered some of the important dates around my daughter’s death and have checked in with me on those days, which I so appreciate. Four years later, while I still mark this day as a private day of grieving, I don’t feel as much need for the support, so it’s OK with me that my friends have stopped reaching out. It feels natural and fine that they’ve played an important part in my healing process and the support has faded as I’ve needed it less — it’s not as though I’d expect them to remember and get in touch on this day for the rest of our lives.
As for my dad, well… I think that’s different because everyone close to me knows that I didn’t get along with him and was not close to him. They know that his death raised complicated emotions for me. So, probably they’ve either not thought about following up, or assumed it wasn’t important to me, or they have thought of it but have been too daunted by not knowing what to say. And while it’s true to some extent that it’s not hugely important to me that anyone reach out, I admit that I would have welcomed some acknowledgment of the complicated feelings, or just someone to say that they were remembering him or thinking of me in some way. I have been grieving, in my own way. The death of a parent is always a little earth-shattering, even if you’re not close with your parent. It’s not really something you can just emotionally skate over, even if I don’t have to deal with the deep feelings of loss and absence that I assume someone close to their parent would have to deal with. I did a lot of my grieving for our relationship long before he died, but there’s still something so horrifyingly final about his absence from the planet. No chance to revisit our relationship, no chance that he might be a better grandfather than he ever was a father. And of course, a reminder of my own mortality, and the sadness that comes with seeing how easily his existence seems to have been forgotten. He led a fairly sad and lonely life, and feeling like I’m the only one remembering the anniversary of his death just drives home the sadness of his empty life even more.
So, that’s where I am this week — not as melancholy as I sound, I promise! But it’s a big week for memories and contemplation.
One hopeful project I started this week is that I’m knitting matching hats for my son, S, and his little brother. When I was pregnant with S, I was too nervous to do any sort of nesting projects before he was born. I thought several times about knitting something for him, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it, because it was too depressing to imagine having it lying around if S died too. We reluctantly got some furniture in the room around this time in my pregnancy with S (or maybe even later?), and I remember sitting in the rocking chair in his room and crying every night for a long time (weeks?) before he was born, wondering if I’d ever be lucky enough to meet him. This time around, I have been able to relax and hope a little bit more, which feels good.
This weekend we went to a craft store to pick out some fabric for the window seat bench we are making for the new baby’s room (it’s an Ikea hack that we’ve been happy with in S’s room — we’re basically redoing everything we did in S’s room, furniture-wise, just with different colors and patterns), and while we were there I wandered over to the yarn section with S, who helped me pick out some yarn to make a hat: “One for S and one for S’s baby,” as S insisted. S’s favorite colors are “light green,” orange, and purple right now. There was no orange yarn in the baby section, so S picked out one skein of a lovely lavender and one of a lurid yellow-green. I eventually convinced him that the skein he picked out was closer to yellow than green, and was able to suggest a softer leaf-green color instead, but there was really no negotiating beyond that! So I started making this hat, with lavender and leaf-green cotton yarn. It is a cute gender-neutral baby combination, and I love that S is so excited about me making matching hats for him and his baby brother that I don’t really care if the colors are a little weird (and will totally clash with S’s maroon winter coat). 🙂 It felt so nice (and a little bit ridiculous) last night after S was in bed to just sink into the stereotype of the nesting pregnant lady, resting my knitting needles on my 7-months-pregnant belly between rows. This project is, for me, an act of hope, and an act of love and connection between me and S and the new baby. I know that whatever happens, I’ll treasure the memories that these hats will bring.