It began with a tiny pink lollipop, really no bigger than the tip of my finger.
I saw it sitting quietly on the counter as I stood there in the kitchen, seething; a drinking glass clutched in my hand, poised to throw at the wall, the blood pounding in my ears, drowning out all other noise.
The rage had come from nowhere it seemed, and in an instant, as I looked at that tiny pink lollipop, part of the My Little Pony advent calendar I’d bought my daughter (apparently boys are the only ones who should be taught to rob banks at Christmas), it evaporated. What came next was a sorrow so deep that it shook me to my bones, and I nearly fell to my knees as the sobs wracked my body. I wept, consumed with the kind of feral cry that reminds us that we’re not really that far removed from our animal ancestors.
In that instant, I was transported back to that room. The room where no pink balloons floated. No baskets of flowers were delivered. No visitors came to offer their congratulations. There were no happy phone calls made or cheerful cards read. The room was a barren hospital room overlooking an ice-covered roof and had two – not three – occupants. Both sat on the bed, weeping. Later, it was only one.
I think about that room a lot. I spend a lot of time with my ghosts, roaming those halls and reliving those uncertain days after my daughter was born.
But it is that room that haunts me most.
I want so badly to go back to that room and take that weeping, fractured, shattered woman into my arms and say to her, “Your daughter will live. She will live. She will go on to do amazing things with her life and so will you. Amelia will do much good for so many people. You will take all of these broken pieces and you will rebuild into someone else. Someone better. You will take all of this pain and you will use it to fortify you; to guide you; to help you find yourself. Please know that you are so loved.”
Because I will never forget how alone I felt. Maybe that is where that chasm of rage came from. That secret place, that land of tears and sorrow, that is ours to face alone. It was in that room, where no balloons bobbed and swayed, where no one celebrated Amelia’s life, that I sat alone in my own land of sorrow.
Seeing that lollipop on the kitchen counter brought it all back. It took me back to that room, the most uncertain, horrifying time in my life, and it reminded me of the days when no one celebrated her birth. The memories left me gasping.
I’d wanted so badly to celebrate her first birthday. To throw an ebullient celebration of Amelia’s life, a Fuck You to the Universe. I even had a CandyLand theme picked out. But I was so stuck in that land of tears that I simply couldn’t. It broke my heart.
Amelia will be two on January 28 and I have not planned a party for her. I want to. But it’s hard. This particular party is hard for me. It dredges up memories of some of the worst days of my life.
But I think that is what I need to do; throw her a birthday party, a REAL birthday party, the kind of party she deserved when she entered the world and defied all odds. I’m struggling, battling my demons, my dragons all rearing their heads as I work to slay them.
I will do it. I must do it.
I may never be able to go back in time to reach those two people in the room where no one celebrated her birth, but I can show Amelia how many people celebrate her life.
I will fill the rooms with balloons and shout to the world from the rooftops that this, this was the day that my daughter, Amelia Grace, the Warrior Princess of the Bells, she arrived.
And nothing, not one damn thing, has been the same.
Then I will sit back and watch my daughter giggle and snort and dash about, her curls bouncing merrily as she chases her balloons; her life finally, at long last, celebrated.