A Tale of Two Cities
Guest post by Natalie
If you were to ask me what parenting a child like is after the loss of another, the best analogy I can come up with is Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Specifically, the first line, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” really captures what these last nine months have been like. Much of the time I feel like I have a split personality, and that I reside in two places. The city of joy, and the city of grief.
Parenting my living child since Clare’s death, has been wonderful, and despite the terrible two’s reputation, I think that this is a really magical age. Perhaps it’s because I have a newfound appreciation for every moment that you have with your child, but really, I have always loved this age. It’s the time where they are constantly learning new words, concepts, and verbalizing their own thoughts and ideas. It’s exciting to hear what they think. This is also the time though, when she still really loves me, and looks up to me, and thinks I can do no wrong. Even when she is mad at me for not giving her x, y, and z, the thing that makes her feel better is a hug from mommy. This unconditional and unwavering love cannot be beat. When I am with my daughter, I feel joy. I am happy. I laugh and smile, and I feel at peace. I wouldn’t trade or erase a moment’s time with her. The last nine months have been the best of times.
Then after she goes to bed at night, or when I am driving in the car to work after dropping her off at childcare, I make my very short commute over to the city of grief, and I become a person I don’t love. The city of grief is lonely, it’s angry, and it’s sad. It’s the time that I think about how much I miss her baby sister, how mad I am at the injustice of it all, and how large of a void I feel without her. Sometimes the sadness is so oppressive, I feel as though I will choke on it. My eyelids become swollen from all of the tears shed, and I feel so much despair. What would Clare be like today? What kind of person would she be becoming? Would she be brave and outgoing, or shy and curious? I am angry that Clare was robbed of the opportunity to show the world who she is, and I am sad that her family, who anxiously and excitedly awaited her arrival, missed that opportunity as well. I want to hug and kiss my baby. I want to read her stories and rock her to sleep, and check on her a million times a night to make sure she is okay. Living without Clare for the last nine months has been the worst of times.
The city of grief would not exist for me right now if my daughter had not died, but neither would the city of joy. For it is because of her, that I appreciate every moment with her sister. That I can recognize the gift I have in being able to parent a living child. That I can feel peace in a kiss or a hug. And that is really the greatest gift that anyone could ever receive.