It has taken me this long to write about this, but I feel ready now. People sometimes think that as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I readily write about my life and personal issues. But I actually withhold much more than I reveal, and choose very carefully what I write about. But something happened a couple of weeks ago that really undid me, and though I knew I would share it here, I had to kind of get over it before I could write it down. In some ways, of course, I won't get over it. So maybe better to say I had to calm down about it before I could write it.
I was going about my own business at home when my husband called me into his study where he was busily converting our family movies from VHS to DVD. I knew he was working on the one of Sam in his first play ever, Oliver!, because he'd shown me a scene of our darling little blonde boy as one of the orphans. When he called to me, I thought it would be another scene of Sam, maybe in Fagin's gang this time. Instead, there was our Grace filling the screen,introducing the video. I have not heard her voice since she looked at me in the hospital and said, Mama. Almost eleven years ago.
My whole body started to shake. How could I have forgotten how husky her voice was? How sophisticated her mannerisms and tone? Not forgotten really, but tucked away to ease my pain. She was so intelligent, so quirky, her eyes so serious behind her wire rimmed glasses. And yes, dear ones, I came undone. I had to hold on to the chair so as not to fall. Part of me wanted to run away; part of me wanted to pull out every moment of her on those tapes and sit down and watch. But I don't have the strength for that, not even a decade later. Oh! My girl!
For days, I was not myself. That old broken hearted feeling came back to me fully. I found myself crying at odd moments. I couldn't sleep. I ached. For Gracie. For all she should have been and all she was.
And eventually I did what we all do, we parents who have known this pain. I put one foot in front of the other. I keep going.