Wednesday, May 16, 2007

remembering eden

For the last day or two I have been surprised by tears. Not gut wrenching sobbing, and not casades of tears down my face, as when I was a child so tender and unshielded I would cry at just about anything--a hard look, a hurt animal, the way the light touched the trees. But tears. The catch at my throat, the prickling in the eyes. I pause a moment, put myself back into my more socially acceptable mode and go on.

I know grief very well, but this grief always surprises me. I am missing a child who would be 13 today, or yesterday, or possibly tomorrow--or, given due dates and the imperious certainty of babies who chose, I think, their moment--anytime in May. I forget about her a great deal, until the anniversary dates come near, and then...the tears catch me.

Her name was Eden.

I have three living children, and I had a number of miscarriages besides. In some cases the miscarriages were timed so that one of the children who lived would not have been born, and sometimes I pretend that perhaps...well, perhaps my daughter is in fact the same soul, the same gentle being who lived within me a little while and then no more. That was a springtime miscarriage, preceded by a poignant dream in which a little child in a nightgown--how predicable, how cliche--rushed to me through my empty cabin and gravely hugged me and said "I'm so sorry, I can't stay with you this time", a dream from which I woke sobbing, a day before the torrents of blood started. I conceived my living daughter in early July that year, and clung to that pregnancy with fierceness.

Eden was not planned, and indeed, her conception shocked my life. All three of my living children were with me by then, the youngest, Gabriel, would be five in the spring when this new child arrived. The chances of yet another child with Down Syndrome had increased by some geometric jump. My life had just begun to get some space in it--the two older children were pretty self sufficient, and even Gabriel had at last achieved skill in walking, and need not be carried everywhere. I had writing I needed to do. I had plans.

And then, I was suddenly pregnant. It was a hard time with my partner--indeed, at that time I was dealing with the temptations of love of another person, and the shattering effect that might have on a number of innocent lives.

And let me add--yeah, I'm pro choice; the first political actions I ever got involved in were for women's reproductive rights, marching in the streets of Washington DC with a huge crowd of women of all ages, shapes, colors, feeling such a sense of power and determination...I was..ah, I was the age my daughter is now, 22.

But I accepted the new possibilities. So the kid could be another Down Syndrome child? Well, maybe that would be good, Gabriel might have a great companion. My daughter and her best friend were delighted with the prospect--they would be 9 that spring, an age at which babies possess the charm of kittens and puppies. My eldest was thoroughly disgusted; he was 16, and he sardonically said "and they talk to teens about birth control!"

Summer gave way to fall. It was a gentle fall that year, warm, sweet. The hills were golden with the turn of the big-leafed maples. The dogwoods changed to the strange gray-rose shade they turn some years. The rains were late in coming. I had dreams of the child: she was a little delicate, she had quizical eyes, hazel in my dreams, the color of the spring ponds reflecting the light.

I made plans, I tried to get my life into some shape that made sense, that had grace.

It was a warm day when the blood started. Only a trace. I was working, I called my doctor, he was unconcerned. I took my daughter and her dear friend, daughter of my heart, to the movies that night. It was a silly comedy, and for years whenever it came on TV or reference was made to it I would feel a stabbing pain, my body's memory of that time.

The next day I stayed in my woods and walked my garden and cried.

She was wrapped in a perfect birth sac when she left my body. I was kneeling by the clambering white roses and the quince, neither in bloom. I held her in my hands and cried and cried.
But I also marveled at this--how amazing to see, this tiny creature in the palm of my hand, in her opal sac. Hands, feet, tiny alien face.

Yes, I thanked her--in a way she gave me my life back. She's buried under another rosebush. I think I am now the only one who remembers her, who recalls that she was to be called Eden, and that she would have been loved, scolded, fed. My heart never let go of her, and each spring, sometime in May, the tears grab hold of me again.

It doesn't make much sense, I know. But sometimes I hope that somewhere she is dancing, in some other life or some other realm. I hope that she laughs, and that she realized she was loved, if only for a little while.

an addition: Marly has suggested I link to a post in my other blog, which relates to this.


Blogger Nyx said...

ah, jarvenpa... you make me cry too. But it's good, clensing tears. Always remember that hardships often are the greatest gifts.

12:34 AM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Sweet nyx; you are so right; the hard things often bring a strange sweetness with them, and sometimes strength.

11:21 AM, May 19, 2007  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

yeah. That is all we have in hand after all :-) it is scarey to think of death but without it life won't mean much!
Sorry for the delay on the post you asked me to do. I will try my best to get at it. I am very short of internet access.

8:55 AM, May 20, 2007  
Anonymous Dick Jones said...

With the Madeleine kidnap very much in mind as well, to this father of three aged between 1 & 4, your moving post is all too easy to identify with.

6:04 AM, May 21, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Oh, that is lovely, jarvenpa--the little opal sac, the Eden garden, the dream.

3:54 PM, May 22, 2007  
Blogger David said...

Jarvenpa, this was such a touching story! You brought tears to my eyes also. I am at a loss for words.

10:49 PM, May 22, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Now your readers need to go to jarvenpa's notebooks and read the poem! Put in a link!

8:42 AM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Marly, I read and obey.
dear dr. o2, I do hope your life is going well.
thanks for stopping by, dick--I checked out your interesting blog; I think I was in England when your band was getting going.
and thanks david, and always marly...

1:03 PM, May 24, 2007  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

You speak of so many things with such beauty. I often wonder if this is something particular to you (that always has been) or is it something that happened slowly over time? With this post, although I sense loss, there is an unmistakable sense of gratitude - toward Eden.

9:20 PM, May 24, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

Hmm. Read and obey? What an interesting concept. Perhaps that would work of selling books?

8:30 AM, May 25, 2007  
Anonymous marly the self-corrector said...


Never be in a hurry.

"Perhaps that would work in selling books?"

8:31 AM, May 25, 2007  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi how'u doin'??? I hope ur okay and well I read ur comment and yes, long time.... My cats are fine I hope yours too see ya!

6:22 PM, June 01, 2007  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Caroline, delighted to hear from you (and I zipped over to your blog and saw the new cat picture, very cute).
Marly...gee, I don't know about this "read and obey" stuff ultimately...Of course, if I were putting precisely the correct book in the correct hands...might be powerful. But even without commands, the right book is.
Livewire--I, spent time with your 80's band the other day--the one you linked on your site. I was (and am) so out of the music field I hadn't heard them ever.

9:51 PM, June 01, 2007  
Anonymous Clare said...

Hello Jarvenpa, I've just been reading this - it's so moving. Like Marly says - I too was struck by the beautiful way you described the details...and the way that a silly comedy can later cause stabs of pain - such a maelstrom of emotions and images.

1:02 AM, June 13, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home