Time travel

August 2, 2010

August is my season of time travel.

I’m sitting at my desk working away, and all of a sudden I find myself in the rental car, driving to Portland, hoping that my water doesn’t break on the way, scared that the end of my journey with Teddy is almost here, worrying about the amnio that is scheduled for that afternoon.  Then I find myself in the ultrasound room with the technician who performs the ultrasound and another to do the amnio, and Teddy punches the amnio needle (to our surprise) and I think, he’s so strong and wiggly.  He has to be okay.  He’s so strong. And, something about that thought propels me back to where I am.  Here.  More than two years later.  At my desk, trying to work with tears leaking down my face in a pathetic dribble.

Vigor doesn’t get you very far if you can’t breathe.  I hate that fact with every particle of my being, but hating it doesn’t make it less true.

Now I’ve got the tissues out and I’m blowing my nose as discreetly as possible, and this sends me back to that damned recovery room, where I sat in the hospital bed exhausted and still semi-drugged with the hospital tissue box on the bed tray and I couldn’t call friends and family to tell them what happened because as soon as the words started coming out of my mouth it was all real again and the crying made it impossible to speak.  My poor N had to make most of the calls, and my mom made some for me as well.  I don’t know how many of those little tissue boxes I went through, but it was more than two.

My email alert pops up and throws me back into the present, and there are things to be done and figured out.  There are meetings, and I have to pump for Dot, and I’m so suddenly and overwhelmingly grateful for Dot that I want to run home now and hug her and not let her go.  Which she’d never go for, since she’s now army-crawling and being held is fine when she’s tired but when she’s not she likes to go, go, go.  Now that she’s a little older, though, she’ll rest her head on my shoulder when she’s tired.  Every time she does this I have to remind myself not to hold my breath at the sweetness of it.

And now I’m back in that dim and precious little room in the NICU, with Teddy in my arms, his face so perfect and stubborn.  I stare and stare at his face, trying to sear it into my memory, trying to make sure that I never forget the way his eyebrows were barely there at all, or the way his so-soft cheek was dotted with small white spots, like stars, or the fact that he had six blond eyelashes on his right eyelid, or that his nose was just like mine.  N’s hand is on my hand and we look at each other for just a minute and wonder if this can really be us, here, about to let go of the most important thing in the universe.

We did let go.  I don’t know, sometimes, how we found the strength to do it.  I know I haven’t done it completely.  The wail still rises up in my throat, I want you back.

We met with Dot’s teacher, the person who oversees her care at the child care center she’ll be attending at the end of this month, this morning.  We talked about napping and feeding and diaper creme and sunscreen, about what to bring and what to expect.  At the end of our conversation, the teacher mentioned that she has a little boy, and N asked after him.  He’s a September 2008 baby, almost two.

Suddenly I see them together, my blond and tousled Teddy, running around with another almost-two-year old, and we watch indulgently as they laugh with each other, and we help negotiate the sharing of toys.  My brain says, we could have had play dates, and I almost tell this woman I’ve just met, “we could have had play dates,” but I stop the words before they leave my mouth.  I’ll probably tell her, in time, about Dot’s older brother, but not this way, not now, not just because it’s August and I’m jet-lagged from time travel.

Maybe it’s not jet-lag so much as a realization and re-realization that I have to keep moving forward in time, forward without Teddy.  I hate the idea that I’m moving farther away from him.  If I didn’t have a life to live, I’d try to stay in the past.  It’s painful, but it’s as close as I can get to my little guy.  But I do have a life, a life I’m grateful for, a life full of people I love.  I have to let go of some things in order to move on, to be the person who can move in this world with reasonable competence.  I need to let go so I can be the person I need to be for my family, to be a person who can find and take up happiness without feeling guilt or self-recrimination and let them know that my missing Teddy doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong or lacking with them.  Releasing my grip on the past is something I want to do, and something I really hate the idea of doing.

I wish I could give up the time-traveling and instead just split myself in two.  One of me could move forward and adjust to this life, and I could leave one of me there, holding him, frozen in time and never letting go.



  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. Two years is really a turning point – the grief is not so fresh, the loss not so recent, but it is still sooo painful.

    Your last two paragraphs are so eloquent and true.

    Hugs this month. Wish you didn’t need to be split in two – that Teddy was here with you instead.

  2. Erica, I don’t know how any of us lets go. Even after it has been done it feels impossible. Thinking of you and your Teddy in your time-travel month.

  3. oh, Erica, such a moving and beautiful post… I wish I can give you a big, bug ((hugs)) right now. The past paragraph took my breath away.
    Walking silently along with you… xo

  4. Oh yes, to the last paragraph. How perfect.

  5. Oh Erica.

    Sending love my friend.

    Wishing for that parallel timeline too. x

  6. Scott M | 7 November 1996…

    I found your entry interesting so I’ve added a Trackback to it on my Journal…

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