Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lave a mano

...she said, mimicking handwashing the sweater. We were standing on the corner of Broadway and 8th, it was sunny but too cold for a toddler, and the hand knit sweater was Jesse's size. And wool. Bright blue, darker than the sky. On the chest was an applique merry go round with little cloth dolls sewn onto the horses. The kind of thing I would have loved at two, myself. Expensive for me back then, $25. It had probably made its way up to New York from somewhere in South America, but I don't remember any more and now, anyway the tag is too faded to read.

It was seldom cold enough for him to need it, so it never saw much wear. It still looked new when I opened a box today, marked baby clothes. The worst though, was the little stuffed-tiger headed slippers I'd wrapped in a plastic bag -- long forgotten that I'd done it, kids size 5-6; I nearly doubled over. I sat down and dumped the whole box out onto the bed, wanting to get it all over with at once, like ripping off an enormous bandaid.

Time goes by for all of us. Everything changes. The baby is gone, no matter what happens to the man. I buttoned together a little onesie, and realized I will never do this for my own child again. I'm fifty. That part of my life is over. How do I let go of it? Long before anything had happened to Jesse, just after my new husband told me that he'd changed his mind, and didn't want to have a child with me (despite what he'd said repeatedly when we were dating, when I asked, when I told him that's what I wanted)I told him, if I lose one of them, I'm going to have another. I must have had some idea. Maybe just knew that I don't get to go through life unscathed. No Hail Mary pass gets me safely to the future. That's never been the life I had.

If I were to write a play about this, act two of my life with Jesse would have begun with the phone ringing on June 10, 2004. "Mom, don't freak out.... I have leukemia."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Whom can I tell?

About riding down 5th avenue with you on the bus, when you were only 3 or so and no little brother, a winter morning and we're going early to your little program you loved so much, and the sun is just breaking over the street and you say, "Mommy, what's that yellow stuff on the street" and I say, "It's the sun honey" and you make a disgusted face and say, "I don't like it."

Or when you were 2 almost 3 and we're walking away from the library toward the park and it's early spring and you point up at the gingkos and say, "Mommy, what's that green stuff all over the tree" and I say, those are baby leaves and you say "I don't like it." And I laugh, but not too loud and tell you that it means the weather will get warmer and you say, "oh, ok."

Whom can I tell these little stories of your childhood that tell me so much about the person you would become. Mothers need their children to grow up just for this reason, but not you. You leave me again. I don't know how I will ever find you in this vast dark universe.