Kate of my dreaming
Unruly spirals of strawberry silk
Eyes as blue as his
Your chubby hand touches my face
and I am awake.
Today she would have been three. I would have given her birthday cake for breakfast and let her dress herself. She would have jumped into her daddy’s arms and he would have lifted her high and said, “There’s my birthday girl!”
Every March 13, I imagine her birthday. Every Christmas, I imagine her Christmas morning half-awake look of wonder. Every Father’s Day, I imagine her waking Gregg with kisses. She would have been his world. His only child.
She would have had my fire and his patience . She would have loved like me and lived like him. She would have dreamed and planned. She would have been the very best of both of us. If souls do continue into the universe, hers is surely making it a better universe.
The day she was lost to us is still clear in my mind. “I see the baby,” said the doctor, looking not at me, but at the ultrasound screen, “but what I don’t see is a heartbeat.” The list of things I wanted to ask him fell from my hand and drifted to the floor. Down, down, it fluttered, down, questions that no longer mattered.
The rest of that day is a blur. The rest of that month is a blur. Pain wrapped in sadness and buried under a mountain of guilt. I had two children of my own. I had lost Gregg’s only child, and even though the circumstances were rare and unavoidable, I still felt that I had taken from him the greatest gift he had ever received.
I cried for a year. He suffered in silence, mostly, but when his silence broke, I broke again, too. We grieved in waves. The grief comes less frequently now, but it is palpable today, the anniversary of the day she would have been born to us.
Last year, there were robin’s eggs in a nest outside my window. I watched Mama Bird sit on her nest each day and I even spoke to her. I was touched by her dedication, sitting through wind and rain. One morning after the little birds had hatched, Mama left them briefly. I returned to the window later to find the nest had fallen and the babies had died. I sobbed uncontrollably. “She was a good mother,” I repeated as Gregg held me. I didn’t want Mama Bird to feel any more guilt.
The moments of my sadness are fewer than the moments of my gratitude to my daughter. Because of her, Gregg and I faced our fears of remarriage and became husband and wife. For the gift of her soul and for the love she brought us, we are eternally grateful. I guess we’re the ones with the birthday gift.
Happy Birthday, Katie Hope Cory. We love who you would have been.