Monday, January 5, 2009
We took a trip. Ten days in southern France in a little village with no computer and no work, just wine, walks, reading, and food. I took a couple of books of poetry, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. I also brought my pink journal, the one with butterflies that I use for writing about Caitlin. And as each day passed, I became aware that I couldn't seem to conjure a sense of connection with Caitlin there. I wasn't surprised. It made perfect sense, though I was hoping to bring her with me as it were. I've had, thus far in my grief journey, a sense that I was a conduit and that what I saw and experienced Caitlin would see and hear as well, and that through me we could do things together. France was different and I felt her absence, again, unable to find a portal. Again, I found what is not, cannot, and will not be.
In my journal I wrote, "I've been trying to find Caitlin here in France. she is in my heart, but I have not yet been successful in bringing her here to where I am." That day, I managed to squeeze in a walk in the village by myself. I was determined to bring some of this crippling absence to a resolution. Grief and I walked and I searched for a place to write her name. When your child is gone, her name is what remains. I sat on a bench overlooking the village and looked around, there was no sand or dirt to write, so I picked up some stones from the cobblestone circle and wrote her name. I stepped back to study what I had written and discovered that her name blended into the stone, not the clear sculpted name that I trace each time I visit the cemetery where she is buried. I sat by her name and could think of nothing. Absence, again. This was a new life place for us and another experience that I must accept on this journey.
I didn't have time to continue my journey and find a more suitable place to write her name. Instead, I took some pictures and hurried back to meet with my husband and our kind hosts with a smile and "sure, I'm ready to go." I didn't have time to make meaning. Now that I'm home and able to reflect on the pictures, I find it fitting that her name blended in with the stone bench and that one had to truly look and study to find her. I have become stronger in carrying my grief, more productive in my work, and more able to answer questions of "Do you have an children?" with "Yes, a daughter who lives in heaven." Acute grief has subsided and is not easily visible on my face and in my voice to most of the people I encounter. You wouldn't know I was a bereaved mother unless you took the time to study closely my face and the words I choose carefully in our conversations.
"I miss you baby girl. I wish we could have stayed home with you, reading you stories about France instead of traveling there without you."