Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Two.
I don’t remember much at all about Abby’s first year of life. And if I’m honest, there are large swaths of time missing thereafter, too. I remember small things, bright shining moments- I remember holding her newborn self, new baby smell intoxicating my sleep-addled brain. I remember someone else changing her and spreading baby lotion on her perfect skin, and erasing that new smell, and crying for hours afterwards. I remember the sense of loss, knowing deep in my soul that she was the last baby I would have, even though I wanted more so badly.
I don’t remember her first birthday at all. I don’t remember her first steps. I don’t remember her first words, but I know she was silent for a long time, and talked late. Everything from those years is warped and distorted by the lens of addiction and pain and loss and fear. When her age was counted still in weeks, her father floated away from us on a tide of prescription narcotics, and that wave swamped the whole family until my memory returns about three years later. I wonder at the trauma that is erased, I wonder what happened between the puddles of light memory. I know I cared for them, protected them, survived. We survived.
Not all of us survived. Their father is dead.
I don’t remember what it’s like to live in that kind of fear now. Those memories have been carried away, mercifully, on the waves as they went back out to sea after the destruction. I don’t remember the countless hands that reached out and down to help us up, but I have the profound sense of their reality, of their carrying, abiding presence, as I made my way over the jagged rocks with my three babies strapped to my aching body.
Maybe it’s enough that that’s all I remember.