End of the year/Beginning of the year

January 3, 2012

Another random collection of thoughts to start off the new year, which, I guess, is appropriate, since I seem to think rather randomly these days.

I want snow. I long for snow, yearn for snow, crave it like Rapunzel’s mother craved rapunzel. It is gray and brown and muddy, bare and drizzly here, and I want winter to come and blanket us in white, to hide the mud and muck and soggy leaves and turn the world into magic again.

We visited my parents in Montana for Christmas. A good time was had by all, but I discovered that while you can go home again, it’s much harder if you take a significant other and/or child. Dot had a stomach bug and N was worn out by end-of-term grading and driving over the mountains and spent a lot of time napping. My parents are early-riser, get-to-doing sorts, so I found myself braced to defend N’s napping even though I didn’t need to. It was good, but I was constantly thinking about N and Dot and trying to make them comfortable, so it was not the relaxing change of pace I’d envisioned; nor did I get any time for myself unless Dot was sleeping and because of the tummy bug she slept rather poorly. I took a shower on Christmas Day, and N brought Dot to see me in the shower, thereby shortening my shower rather effectively – I’m not sure that this is legal, but it probably shouldn’t be.

I am facing down the fact that, while Teddy would have only been three and not-quite-a-half right now, this is the fourth new year I’ve begun without him. I’m having difficulty making my peace with that bit of math – I don’t know why it so surprises me, but there it is. A new bit of puzzlement to add to a life complicated by grief, I guess. Like the fact that three years is a long time and yet no time at all, or that Dot is my second child, though she’s the first I’ve ever watched grow into a crazy-daisy chatterbox of a brave, adventurous, highly opinionated little person. Puzzles I’ll never sort out on the math and measurements front.

And don’t get me started on grammar – I have a son (except I don’t really have him) or, I had a son (which seems to relegate Teddy firmly to the past, and feels a bit like abandonment). Dot has a brother, or had a brother – though she wasn’t around when he was born, so neither, grammatically speaking, is correct. Dot would have had a brother if he had lived. If he had lived and we’d then decided to have had Dot. Too sad, too wistful, too reliant on too many factors I can’t wrap my head around. I reject you, you would have had; even if you are the most appropriate and truthful tense, I don’t like you much. I need better words and tenses, better tools for grappling with the uneven territory of grief.

N and I stayed up past midnight watching The Lady Eve (Oh, Barbara Stanwyck, how I adore you!) and sipping prosecco. As ways of welcoming a new year go, this one was pretty wonderful. I recommend it.

The trailer is decidedly dated and rather awful, but the movie transcends it.

Wishing a kind and generous 2012 to all of you.



  1. Sorry that your holiday was not as relaxing as you had envisaged. Hope that Dot is feeling better now and that N has had a chance to catch up on some rest. Glad that my husband is not the only one who has no qualms about bringing children to his wife in the shower! It should not be allowed.

    I had a similar tangle with that three years old but four Christmases / New Years issue. My husband and I had to count them out and then I was upset that it was four and upset that I didn’t know how many it was without having to figure it out.

    My attempts at grammar are clumsy, I’ve often found myself resorting to would have been, she would have been a twin, she was a twin, might have been a twin. Almost. Was a twin for three days and then stopped? Argh. I agree with you, I want better tools.

  2. “I have a son (except I don’t really have him)”. Yeah. Kathleen likes to tell me this sometimes: We don’t have Henry. This hits me very differently than it hits her.

    It’s bad when you can’t even have time to yourself in the shower. Hoping you get some down time and everyone feels better and the snow comes to make things look and feel nicer.

    Wishing you a good 2012, whatever shape that may take for you.

  3. I laughed about how N brought Dot and interrupted your shower. There should be a law about that.

    This post really touched me. I hope you have a good 2012, and I love the way you brought in the New Year.

  4. I remember saying early on that grief happens in the conditional tense – and I didn’t like it at all. So, I totally understand your rejection of “should / would / could” – and I, also, struggled to comprehend 4 years … how?

    Wishing you a good 2012.

  5. Very late to this, but I was nodding along. How can we have surveyed four Christmases without them. I thought Christmas 2008 would destroy me, for sure.

  6. I get so tripped up by the semantics, too. Had, have, would have had, don’t have, is, isn’t, aren’t. It makes my head spin and leaves me nauseated.

    I hope you’ve fully recovered from your family trip–sometimes it’s just plain mean to call certain trips a vacation 🙂

    We are on the edge of Calla’s second birthday, and I can’t quite understand it at all.

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