Monday, October 24, 2005

When a good coffee experience goes bad

The other day I was visiting my "friend" Gloria (me and Gloria Jean, we're on first name basis) and my mind started to wander as I waited for my coffee.

It had been a perfectly normal morning, took the pup to "school", came home, did some pottering in the garden, chatted with Steve, all the usual stuff. A typical weekend day. My mood was good, chipper.

I'm setting the scene for you like this to try and convey what it's like, when it strikes, out of the blue. That instant nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I see a thousand prams go past me, a hundred pregnant women. I catch the eye of countless children. And it really IS ok, mostly, for me these days. As was the case waiting in line as my mind wandered.

There was nothing in particular that triggered the thought process I had, standing there. It was as quick as a flash, actually, remembering how I'd been standing there that day in January this year. Ella's birthday, the 13th. Steve had taken the day off work. We had both been going to scatter her ashes at the park where we held her memorial the week after she died, last February. And as I opened the front door that morning, Steve had frozen, the cold hard cliche funeral parlour bag complete with stork taking flight against a misty background, the canister containing our daughter's remains inside. He stood stock still and uttered simply, "I can't do it. She's too little! I can't..." We had agreed in the weeks leading up to her birthday that this is what we'd do. I alternately felt a pang of fear, frustration and agreeance - I was torn again. It had felt like the right decision to me, but now that I heard Steve say it out loud.... yes, how could we let her go?! Forever?

We stood at the front door in mid step, big hot tears rolling slowly down our cheeks. I can still feel them. I can still remember the indecision, the discussion that no parents should have to have with each other. At any rate, I mentioned, I wanted her put to rest by the end of her birthday so we had til midnight that night. I felt very strongly that another year could not pass with my daughter inside a plastic container in my buffet in the dining room. Holy fuck.

So we decided to go to our local shopping centre, to a very favourite shop of mine (Beacon Cove, if you know it) which I love to browse occasionally. It's full of very lovely dark wood furnishings, oriental-themed decor, artificial blossom on sticks, you know the usual... I look around in there but never really look carefully at every item, I think I just like going in there to imagine myself with the money to decorate my home with all their things. I think I've made about 3 purchases there in as many years - their prices are a tad exy.

As soon as we walked in, we gravitated to a shelf. Neither of us really knew what we were looking for, but Steve saw it first. It was a rectangular-shaped cube, with three sides with spaces for a photo and a hinged lid, also with an inset for a photo. Inside, a beautiful set of lift-out photo sleeves, each with their own wooden spine, allowed for 120 photos in total. It was like its very own complete little filing system. And we thought it was breathtaking for our purpose. There was enough clearance beneath the photo sleeves to create a false bottom, into which we planned to spread Ella's ashes.

And it all turned out perfectly. On the day when we should have had our little cherub with us, balloons, streamers, high-fives for each other on surviving the first year of parenthood, a cake... instead we were purchasing the monument in which we were going to entomb our little one. Joy!

Around the corner from Beacon Cove is Gloria Jean's. Steve hates coffee, can't even walk past the place without getting an instant headache. But he insisted on that day that I should "go visit your friend" for a comfort beverage. The girl behind the counter, on seeing my glassy eyes, gave me an extra free stamp on my loyalty card.... a simple gesture that rendered me blubbering at her kindness. "You look like you need a double free one", she said. Funny the things that set me off crying these days. I really am quite hopeless.

So. Back to the present. Standing again in the same shop, buying the same old fave (skinny mocha truffle, in case you're shouting me next time *wink*), my thoughts had turned to wondering what Steve and I would do for Ella's "second" birthday. I can't believe it's coming up. Again, now, as I type, I feel the familiar stomach-churning nausea and the pounding heart in my chest at the sheer unfairness of it all, that hopefully, maybe, this year my tummy will be growing with a new bub (as it should have been on her first birthday, had we not had to stop the pregnancy that would have been well into the second trimester as we remembered Ella earlier this year). I thought, amidst the noise of the coffee machines and the loud chatter of the patrons, 'I suppose Steve will make a ritual of taking the day of work on the 13th of January each year, how could he not' and I wondered what we, as a couple and until we welcome new little people into it, would do to commemorate the day together.

And then, as I was pondering all this, I surprised myself by feeling the familiar hot sting of tears. They filled my eyes until gravity forced them down my face. I'm very used to crying in public now and think nothing of it. There is no way to control showing the emotion, not when it cuts so deeply into your daily thoughts so suddenly and unexpectedly. Right there, 20+ months on, here I was uncontrollably having a 'moment' close to the memory of my girl. It happens so rarely now, I allow myself to be consumed by it wherever I am. Usually it's at home. But when I'm out, pah, so be it.

And then I heard it. Faintly at first, so faint I thought I was just imagining it up for good effect. But straining my hearing a bit more, I distinctly caught the tune and heard the words. They were playing our song. Ella's and my song. I sang it to her every day when she was still in my womb and it was the only thing that settled her in those times when she was restless in the NICU. It was Dream A Little Dream. How ironic the words seemed to me after I had met her, the tune I'd been happily singing because I loved the song... and now I was comforting her with them and they seemed so goddamn fitting it tore (still tears) my heart out to hear them. But still I sang. I sang and sang and sang it to her because I could see, the nurses and Steve could see too, that it settled her beautifully.

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you"
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

Say "Night-ie night" and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me
While I'm alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me

Stars fading but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger till dawn, dear
Just saying this

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

I know it was coincidence, even though this particular Gloria's outlet normally played some sort of modern rubbish (ooh showing my age) that was indiscernible and certainly not familiar; I know it must have been coincidence that the strains of this particular song came filtering through all the loud noise around me right at that very moment when I was thinking of Ellanor and felt so close to her and the time we spent together.

It must have been, mustn't it? Do you believe?


Related Posts with Thumbnails