Only 24 hours after the doctor called to confirm my miscarriage, Ellis crawled over to me, patted my stomach and said, “Hi, baby.”
I started crying. I also started muttering swearwords under my breath. Because seriously, Ellis? Babies are such douche bags.
In all fairness to my child, she thinks everyone is pregnant. Her babysitter is seven months pregnant and almost all of her little friends have a little brother or sister. So, it makes sense that she things every pound of chubby flesh is with child. She patted Dave’s shoulder and said, “Hi, baby.” She also frequently pats her own stomach to say “hi” to the baby in there. I’m now teaching her to say, “Hi, food baby.” Just because I’m educational like that.
It always happens like this. When my sisters were in a devastating car accident, our insurance company chose that week to send us an instructional DVD about the dangers of driving, complete with cheesy, dramatic footage of people in hospitals and tombstones that turned me into a quivering ball of melting mascara.
The week before my wedding, Oprah aired an episode about women who were almost murdered by their really nice, quiet, blonde Midwestern husbands who just one day snapped and came after them with a saw. When I called Dave to ask him if he was a secret sociopath, he told me to stop watching Oprah and to remember, “The serial killer rarely murders his wife.”
In these past two weeks, every article I click on references a dead child or a lost loved one. Last Wednesday I turned on the television to queue up Netflix, and in those small seconds I caught a glimpse of a soap opera where a woman was lying in a hospital bed weeping for her lost child.
I thought about it again, after a dear friend of mine moved into her home in New Jersey. The home was a foreclosure and she and her husband had been fighting for months for a closing date and they got it, just two weeks before the hurricane. She is doing well and so is the house.
But isn’t that always the way? Our biggest triumphs are shadowed by our greatest fears. This month, I launched my blog on the Huffington Post and starting blogging for Mom.me. Two huge things. Things that I should be celebrating. But instead, all I can think of is what I don’t have, what is missing.
But I’m not so different from anyone really. We are all a little haunted aren’t we? And that play between darkness and light, that’s the chiaroscuro on the canvas of our lives.
I once heard a writer give a lecture on that interplay between dark and light. She showed us pictures of an Edward Hopper house, carvernous windows, looming doors. And then she showed us a Thomas Kincaid house, treacly lampposts and kitschy hearths. The difference between the two paintings, between art and kitsch? Shadows.
To be an Edward Hopper, she told us, you must have shadows. To make your light lighter you must have darkness. To make your darkness deeper you must have light.
So, when Ellis comes up to me, pats my flub and says, “Hi, baby,” I laugh and cry and laugh and cry and want to strangle her, but hug her instead.