Friday, May 29, 2015

Cottage Weekend

We are pretty fortunate that my parents own a cottage on the shores of Lake Huron in Canada, a few minutes from where they grew up and most of our family still lives, and where my sister and I were born.  We spend a lot of time there in the summer.  I love the place.

Last summer, with my Lydie belly, I'd remind both myself and Justin that we'd have a six-month-old with us next summer.  I pictured her crawling around on the deck, eating sand on the beach, splashing in the water, and of course, giggling.

This time, pulling open the cottage door, and let's be honest, rushing to the bathroom, I couldn't help thinking that last time I was there, Lydie was with me.  It was Labor Day weekend.  I was 24 weeks pregnant.  And I was happy.  Life was busy, but simple in a way I don't think it will ever be again.

I was excited for this weekend, but apprehensive too.  I don't socialize very well these days, though I do okay with my close-knit family.   But as I've mentioned, it's tough to watch the cousins run around together and know one is missing.  It's tough to watch my sister and her older brother, younger sister kids.  It's tough to watch my niece on my dad's knee.  It's tough to watch everyone else imbibing in their drinks, when I'm pregnant and should instead be sitting with a six-month-old on my knee.  It's tough to always feel sad, even when I'm feeling happy.

Life's a lot more complicated than it used to be.

It was a good weekend, overall.

But the tough moments were really tough.  Like, when we visited my Oma at the nursing home.  She has Alzheimer's Disease, which my Opa also had.  And I thought about how cruel the universe is, that this perfect baby, ready to live in the world, never got to take her first breath.  And the 87-year-old hardworking immigrant can still remember every word to "You are my Sunshine" but doesn't recognize her own daughter, much less her grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

And then the moment that my sister went to take a photo with her daughter, her mother, and her grandmother.  Holy, trigger alert.  I lost my shit.  I just totally exploded, and I walked away, sobbing, hearing Benji cry "Mama!  Mama!" after me.  I couldn't even get out of the nursing home, because you had to punch a code in the door, and I couldn't stop hyperventilating long enough to do so.

If my nephew or my brother had been in that photo, it wouldn't have hit me the same way.  But 4 generations of women?  Trigger.  Trigger.  Trigger.  My 4th generation is dead, long before she should be, while the 1st generation is holding on, with no quality of life whatsoever.

Seriously, the universe is fucked up.

But back to the good weekend.

Benjamin had so much fun on the beach with his cousins, playing rescue trucks, splashing in the water, digging lakes, kayaking, and going for walks.  It made my heart happy to see him love it so much.  And meanwhile, I got to park my butt on a beach chair and do some reading, talk to my brother and sister watching the sunset, sit around the campfire with my family, and snuggle up for early bedtimes with my husband.

And I felt Lydie.

I struggle with that usually.  Feeling her with me, finding the signs, believing in them when they do appear.

We like the stars.  I like to think of her up there in the stars.  And Friday night, after a beautiful sunset over the lake, out popped one bright star.  Part of me wants to wish upon that star that she could come back to me.  The other part looks up at that star and tells my daughter hello.

I'm clearly no Carly Marie.
And then there's the things we do to feel her with us.  Taking a moment of quiet before eating dinner, lighting her candle, and saying, "We love you, Lydie."  I appreciate that my family has embraced that also, that we make sure there's a candle on the table for every meal, that we're all gathered around when we light it, that my dad, who is a man of few words, is always the first to say, "Love you, Lydie."

There was even a moment were my dad accidentally called my niece Lane "Lydie."  It took my breath away and then I wanted to laugh.  Considering I accidentally call my kid the dog's name sometimes, it seems right that Lydie's name is in the pile that grandparents and parents mix up.

There's the red heart "Lydie stone" that Justin carries in his pocket.  I have to admit that I was skeptical when he started carrying it around in his pocket, after wrapping it up for Lydie, placing it under the Christmas tree, and unwrapping it himself.  I thought about all the holes that stone would wear in his Dockers.  Now?  It is a tangible way to show she is always with us.  I love that Benjamin kisses that stone and Justin cherishes that stone.  I love that when we go to take a family picture, we can bring that out to represent our little girl.  It makes that family photo not so painful. 
When Lydie first died, Justin and I made a big point of saying "Our two kids, our two kids."  We had to acknowledge her.  Now, we are trying to shift to "our three kids."  Our family of five.

(Which is why, I have decided that when I am no longer pregnant, I am finally getting that tattoo.  I never wanted a tattoo but always figured that my dad would kill me.  I have a feeling that he'd let this one go.)

We write her name in the sand.  When we go on walks, we look for stones she might like, and I tell my nephew that he can pick one out and I will take it home and put it with her things.  Justin chooses one to place in her garden at home, bringing her a bit of the cottage.  We talk about her.  We miss her out loud.

I will always wish we had more.

And then there's Bowie, who as of yesterday's ultrasound, is still stretching and growing inside me.  With Benjamin, we took a weekly bump photo.  And with Lydia, I kept it up.  I'm the second middle child, and I never wanted her to feel overlooked.  So I kept up those weekly bump photos.  And now, I'm so glad we did, even though they are very painful to look at.

So we're continuing the tradition with Bowie.  And just like his or her sister (I'm guessing his) at 16 weeks, Bowie got a beautiful view last week.

Side note: I look huge.  I'd like to think it's the way I'm leaning.

With Lydia at 16 weeks.
With Lydia's little brother or sister at 17 weeks.

We haven't mentioned this pregnancy to Ben yet.  I'm waiting for him to ask about my growing belly, and I'm a little surprised he hasn't yet.  My therapist asked me what we are waiting for, and I instantly started crying, as I explained to her, "I can't tell my son that another baby died."  But looking at this photo, I'm wondering if he already knows more than I realize.  Two-year-old's are surprisingly perceptive.

Sometimes I realize that we're moving forward.  Moving forward, but not moving on.

Even a storm rolling in, bringing in the cooler air, makes me feel closer to my girl.


  1. I really get all of this. The cabin (cottage) life, the expectations of having Lydie there this summer, the cousin angst, the generational photo meltdown, the wanting/hoping to really feel their presence and wondering how much is just make believe, the trying to celebrate each baby as they grow...I've been there, I'm still there, I get it.
    I love that your family includes Lydie in rituals.

  2. That's absolutely beautiful that your dad says that before mealtimes. I'm kind of (sickly) jealous over that silly, but incredible gesture.

    Your husband carries a Lydie stone in his pocket? Melt my heart.

    About Ben and your belly. Because Lydie was growing in there when he was so young, he was very used to that growing belly and likely considered mom to just always look like that. I honestly think he is just living with the (growing) assumption that mom's belly grows often. It's been that way most of his life. I don't know that he's differentiated that Lydie was in your belly before and this is a new baby. Or that any of these are babies because he hasn't spent time with baby on the outside, you know?

    My Benjamin at three doesn't even understand (to my knowledge) the whole "baby growing in the belly" thing.

    Sending all the love for this baby and your heart. The four generations picture? holy. HOLY. I'd have lost it!

  3. Ugh at the generations pic. And I totally remember doing things the next year when Hayes was supposed to have been with us... So hard. Kellan is clueless about my belly and I've tried to explain it. Sloane also seems oblivious to my size even tho she understands the baby in belly thing.


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