That’s what June fourth will be this year. Three years, four months, and one day since Miss Elliott died. Which also marks one more day than she was alive on earth. She will now, and forevermore have been gone longer than she ever was here.
It’s hard for me to stomach. Hard to accept as a mother that my child is gone from this life forever. The more time passes the more surreal it becomes. Sometimes I conjure up memories of our life with her and they seem like they should belong to someone else. Being in the throws of her life, consumed with the medical fragility of her tiny body and the severity of her condition was life as we knew it, but now, having been so far removed from that life for so long that in many ways, although it still feels like yesterday, in others I can’t recognize it at all.
And the nightmares I have because of her death still haunt me today. For some reason my brain has decided to manifest completely unnecessary and inaccurate guilt associated with her life, and my care for her as a mother. I dream repeatedly of her existing somewhere in the background of our lives and I have forgotten about her. Forgotten to feed her. She is starving. She is sad. She is lonely. She is silent. And she can’t do anything about any of it. I fail her over and over in these dreams.
The truth is that in her lifetime I was never without her. She lived cradled in my arms. I fed her five times a day. I massaged her arms and legs to help her circulation. I bent and stretched them to keep her muscles fluid. I bathed and dressed her every day complete with a matching bow in her hair. I sang to her. I took her everywhere with me. I loved her fully, and unconditionally until the day she died. And I love her still.
I think these dreams come to me as a symptom of my guilt over her death. As powerless as I was to stop Tay-Sachs Disease from ravaging her body, and as certain as her future was, I still, as a mother, could not accept that my child would die. Of course, logically, I did understand it and knew it would happen. But in my heart, the acceptance of this hard-fast fact has never come to be.
When we wrong our children, when we fail them we’re usually given the chance to explain or make it right at a later date. With Miss Elliott gone, I do not and will not ever have the opportunity to do so. So many times my worry takes over and leads to the entrapment of guilt. Guilt that what if I didn’t feed her enough, hold her enough, massage and stimulate her muscles enough? Was she hot when I was putting a blanket on her? Cold when I was taking one off? I will never have these answers. Only wonder and only worry. I’ll never have an opportunity to right my wrongs or do better for her.
The day before Miss Elliott was born I looked at Skylar and said “It will never be just you and me again after tomorrow”. How I hate the thought of the false security of this statement now.
When I look back on the memories of the years she was with us sometimes I don’t recognize those people. They seem so foreign. And it saddens me until I remember all that who we are today is because of who she was. She was a little girl with a perfect soul and a big message about the beauty and importance of every life, no matter how short, no matter how small. I will be forever grateful to have been her mother for the three short years she was here.