I hate that even now, a year later, I am still struck dumb by the “last times.” In the beginning it was expected that there would be lots of them. “The last time I drove was the day I took her to the hospital.” “The last time I was at this friend’s house for dinner I was holding her.” “The last time I sat at our dining room table I was nursing her.” “The last time I slept in this bed, she was sleeping next to me.”
It happened less as time went on, as each one of them was realized, cried over, and recovered from. They would still creep up occasionally, less frequent and less expected. “The last time I watched this movie we were in the hospital and I was watching a stupid movie instead of holding her.” “The last time I talked to this person, I was still pregnant with her, and now I have to explain to someone else how drastically things can change in just a few months.”
Even now, it still happens once in a while. Today I decided to order from a company I used to do business with. I went back through my old invoices to jog my memory about what I might want to get. Then it hit me. The last time I did an order was just a couple months after Eliana died-during that time I was walking around like a zombie half the time and crying hysterically the other half.
It seems strange to me now that I was doing something so mundane as ordering food. I don’t remember eating. I guess this is proof that I fed my kids at least. I can’t even begin to imagine how I pulled it together enough to either make a decision about what food to buy or to actually purchase it. I certainly did not feel very functional or even okay. Did I look like I was functional or doing okay?
Going back a few orders I found the ones I placed right before she was born. I bought all that stuff in preparation for having a new baby. I stocked up on essentials so I wouldn’t need to go to the store for a while afterward. I made ready for life with a baby that I wasn’t going to get to keep. I have a whole trail of sadness, neatly disguised as food orders.
And then this whole line of thinking leads me to the really important stuff. The last time I held her. The last time I saw her smile. The last time, the last time. Most people record their baby’s firsts. I can only recite the lasts. The last time she took a breath, and the last time I was able to hope for miracles. The last time my baby looked into my eyes, the last time I saw her face, and the last time I looked at the world unclouded by grief.
I think most of all I yearn for the last time that both she and I were whole, and for the time when we both will be again. Someday, hopefully a long time from now, it will be a relief to know that I’ve cried for the last time over missing my Eliana.