This entry is for Angie's annual Right Where I Am project where she asks baby loss bloggers to describe where they are in their grief. Thanks, Angie, for both facilitating this project and the prompt -- I know it certainly helped me and took me to an unexpected place.
Today we are packing up our apartment in Jerusalem into boxes that will be put into storage for a year. In about 2 weeks, we will move to Toronto for Y to complete his fellowship. Y's parents are in town and they are helping us pack. Both of them (and Y) are much better at packing than I am. They are doing us a big favor by spending their vacation time in Israel helping us to pack, especially because I am so spatially challenged, easily distracted, and also inefficient.
Y's mom really wants me to acknowledge what a good job she is doing and how much she has helped us. But my stubborn 5-year-old version of myself is at war -- I will not thank her or acknowledge her help. Instead I will mope aimlessly in the corner. Both of my feet are planted firmly on the ground and I push hard against Y, against his parents who are helping to facilitate this move. Enablers. Co-conspirators.
I offer Y's mom a slice of leftover pizza, ask her if she'd like me to heat it up. She'll have it cold, she says. Like her son, she is ok with eating pizza cold. I marvel over how this is done, I tell her. Personally, I think cold, congealed pizza is disgusting. "I eat pizza cold because I am a mother," she tells me. Is this lady for real? Of course the only appropriate response is "Oh, well, mothers of dead babies like their pizza warm."
But instead I just bite my lip and stutter "I really don't think that has anything at all to do with being a mom." I hate myself for not saying what I want to say, but I'd hate myself for saying it, too. I hate myself for all that is left unsaid between us -- for the dirty feeling I get each time I realize that she doesn't consider my children real babies nor me a mother, not even a sort of in-between half-mother. One day I will tell her everything that she does not want to know.
I will tell her the truth, that these were her grandchildren, too. That Aminadav had Y's big head and that Naava was born alive. That they were not some sort of sad, macerated, bloody miscarriage mess. In fact, there was nothing sad about them except for their death. That these were real babies. Real, beautiful babies. Perfectly formed, just too small.
But for today I will not thank her for packing up my apartment and I do not budge. I do not want to budge. I don't kick or scream or make noise, I just give in to inertia and refuse to move. Actually, it is less of a refusal, more of a giving in. I am paralyzed, my feet planted firmly into the floor, through the floor, into the ground. Doesn't anyone understand? I have roots here.
Roots -- isn't that what I sought in this land, this scorching dry holy land that sucks you in until you belong to it more than it belongs to you? I came here, to Israel, as a new immigrant 6 years ago, seeking out the metaphorical roots. But now I belong to the land -- rooted.
These are the strongest, most real roots; so solid I could not extricate myself from them with any amount of effort or denial. Because here comes the simple truth: my babies are in the ground here. They are part of it and belong to it and I am part of them and so we all belong to this land.
Leaving this place, packing these boxes with our books and pots and pans, is leaving my children behind. So on this day, 2 months and 3 weeks since Aminadav and Naava came and went and returned to the land, my land, I hope you can understand why I can't interrupt my moping to thank anyone for enabling me to leave this place.
When they were gone it was so easy to go back to the life we had before. Except for their absence everything about our lives was identical -- a perfect replica of everything we had left behind. I went back to the lab, to a life of pipetting and aliquoting and enumerating. Y went back to the operating room, to the familiar routines of cutting and splicing and suturing back up. We both found a lot of comfort in the oldness and predictability of our lives from before. I returned to work full-time within a week of their deaths.
But here's the thing: I never imagined the future without the twins. I never imagined Toronto without the twins. While it was easy to slip back into the past without the twins, when it comes to the future I am still stuck on the future of my parallel universe -- our future with arms more than full. In the last few weeks, I have been preoccupied by the thought of how if they were to come now they would most likely be here safe and healthy.
I still wonder what it is like to have arms that are more than full.
Until now, until our living room was filled with bubble wrap and packing tape and IV boxes full of kitchen utensils I conveniently blocked out the part when everything changes and the twins aren't here, the moment when the future arrives and the twins aren't coming with us. This is right where I am: 2 months and 3 weeks later.