My computer was down for a few days so this post has been rolling around in my head for several days now. And a doozy to boot.
We went to Edmonton last week. Edmonton is always an emotional mixed-bag for me. On the one hand Eva is so close to me there and on the other hand it is so painfully plain that she is NOT with me. The pain is more intense in Edmonton than it is at home, even. The places she was with me and the places she is so obviously not anymore.
Mike had meetings on Monday all day so I had the day to myself all day, alone. That is so rare it's worth a post all on its own. I started the day with breakfast, in silence, alone.
Next I planned to head down to South Edmonton Commons but on the way there I stopped in at Ronald McDonald House. I just couldn't resist going in and seeing the place that was home to me and my Eva. The place where the few people who still know me there see me as Eva's mom. A name that is quickly filing into obscurity. Does anyone still think of me as Eva's mom or am I now just Samuel, Vincent, Theodore and maybe little J's mom? Hope or Nathan's mom? But I am still Eva's mom too. Always Eva's mom. Always. But a name nobody calls me by.
So I rang the doorbell and the house manager opened the door. She was warm and welcoming. As is her personality. She is a strong woman with a soft heart. She does her job with compassion and strength. And it is a hard job. I sat at her desk for a while and we chatted. She asked me if I was all ready for this baby. No, not really. She laughed as if I had said something funny. And maybe I did. But then the tears came and I said that I was not ready because Eva's crib was still full of Eva's things. Then she asked if I was getting counselling. And that is when I laughed because, yes, I am getting counselling. But that's not what struck me. What struck me is that this woman who is so close to death so often. Who herself has a child who has survived cancer does not get it. Until your child dies you just cannot get it. You can be as close to it as you want. But you can retreat. There is no getting it. No getting that it's not abnormal that Eva's crib still has Eva's stuff in it (by the way I've since emptied it out but that is more for another post). Although some of the uninitiated to this world might think it's a shrine, it's not. It's just so hard to box up her stuff when we're not getting out the 2 year old stuff. It's so hard to realize that the stuff and memories is all we'll ever have of our girl. And there will be no more memories. No more pictures. No more stuff. No more little girl laughter.
And then Elaine came downstairs. Unfortunately, Elaine knows where I'm coming from. Elaine and her husband Brian gave us love beyond measure when we stayed at RMH. And it continues today. Elaine sat down with me and had coffee. Elaine's daughter, Sherri, died of cancer when she was 7 years old, over 30 years ago. Elaine knows, first hand, the road I am walking and there is immeasurable, sad comfort in that fact. It's amazing how many people are in the dead kid boat when you climb in yourself. But it's so, so big and lonely sometimes too. The aloneness of the dead kid boat is isolating and overwhelming because, no matter how many people are in the boat with you. You travel alone.
And I left RMH again, alone. Without Eva.
I continued my voyage southwards to the Roots store, Oshkosh, Education Station and Ikea. Last time I was in the Roots store Vincent was pushing Eva around in her stroller. He rammed into an unhappy lady. This time I was inoffensive, alone. The same as last time I was in there I bought a pair of shades. But I left by myself, and felt like I was forgetting someone in there.
I went to the Oshkosh store and bought some jeans for Samuel. They're a really good price but my memory travelled backwards in time to shopping there with Mike's cousin. She bought Eva a little shirt and shorts outfit that day. Super cute pink and orange. Eva wore it alot and it is actually the outfit she died in and the one that I have zipped into a ziploc and smell my girl again sometimes. And I remember the pink sleeper with hearts all over it that I bought for Eva. It had snaps instead of zippers and was convenient to let all the tubes and wires out. I remember feeling discouraged then that I bought a sleeper with snaps when I prefer zippers, just so the wires could come out. How I wish now that I could buy sleeper after sleeper with snaps instead of zippers. I'll never look at sleepers with snaps in the same way again. As I left the store a little doll caught my eye. Brown hair with little hearts all over it. I really wanted to buy it. But it won't bring Eva back. And I have enough stuff. God, how I miss my girl.
Next stop. Education Station. There I bought a few things for homeschooling. A birthday present for the son of my awesome friend. And a baby room for the dollhouse Theodore and Little J share. A crib, stroller and change table. They were so excited to get a baby room for their dollhouse. But I wish the dollhouse belonged to Eva too. I wish she was in there like a dirty shirt, fighting over who got to be 'mommy' or 'baby' or whatever. I wish my life was so different, but it is what it is and it's wonderful and it sucks. Make sense to anyone else out there?
Last stop. Ikea. I didn't spend too much time there but I did have lunch upstairs and spent some moments going back in time again reliving moments spent there with Eva in July 2011. With her holter monitor on I had to be careful it didn't catch on anything or pull on her skin. That reading from July 2011 would send her back to the hospital for a week but she pulled through as she did over and over again that summer, but ultimately didn't. And my heart aches to go back in time to the happiness I knew.
Never realizing then that it was the happiest time of my life. The happiest time of my life when I did not know severe grief. The happiest time of my life when I had all my children here on earth with me.