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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Three Years, and Where's the Hair?

Not sure if anyone still reads this, but here we go:

Sean is nearly five months old. A couple of days ago, I gave him my traditional morning greeting: scooped him up and french-kissed the folds of his neck. Kind of obnoxious to do to someone first thing in the morning, but it makes him smile so hard I can hear his cheeks crackling - so I do it anyway. Then without warning - in the midst of my snarfling his neck - I suddenly got a dull stomach-knot feeling.

I haven't had a stomach-knot in a while, so this one caught me a wee bit off guard. It was there all morning, just a vague unsettledness. A mild one, mind you; not enough to shut myself in the bathroom and bawl into the sink with the water running, but enough to feel myself grinding my molars together. It was an unusually cloudy day, too; kind of chilly and Englandy-feeling, perfect fuel for brooding thoughts.

It took a few hours and several glances at Sean's hair, of all things, to finally pinpoint the source of the knot: Zachary's three-year dirthday. It was, I'm pretty sure, the day he was delivered, the day that Kevin and I held our child wrapped in a blanket and wondered how and why we got dealt this particular bad hand.

First, I should say that I stare at Sean's hair a lot. Not just his hair, but his fingers and toes, his tummy, shoulder blades, nutsack, everything. Sean's aliveness amazes me constantly, and I melt into a smitten schoolgirl gazing at the new cute boy in the front row of class. I can't stop staring. An old story, I know: parents being amazed by their children (good thing it works that way, or our entire species would die out). It transcends words, this feeling, and it's really why I can't bring myself to write a new blog about motherhood, or even discuss it much with my friends.

I mean, gawd. Not to sound biased in any way, but isn't he delicious, even with a droodle coming from his mouth? Don't you want to just slurp it right up? This deliciousness means I can't sit around and think about the past all day, not when the present is so...alive (who would snarfle Sean's neckfolds if I were too busy pondering the past? Well, his daddy-o and grandparents certainly would/do, but I'd like to think that mommy-snarfles are the best kind). And not thinking about the past means that the hurtful things - including of course the biggest, baddest hurt - get tucked waaaayyyyy deep into the hidden folds of my heart.

But they resurface sometimes, as in the case of the hair.

Sean's hair is light and fuzzy, the color of straw (aside from the darker tuft of mullet-action at the nape of his neck). And his hair happens to be one of the only daily reminders I have that Sean is, in fact, not Zachary. Zachary's was, after all, superdark brown and thick. So it was the sight of Sean's hair that reminded me, again, that I've got this past, and that there was once another different and separate child. Which accounted, I'm pretty sure, for the dirthday-stomach-knot.

Death doesn't ever die, it turns out, even when awesomely amazing life pours in and eclipses most gloomy things. As I looked at Sean's hair, it felt briefly like the wind was knocked out of me, and I swallowed hard. Right then I really, really, really, really wanted to see Zachary's hair again, just to... I dunno. Hold it in my hand? Rub it between my fingers? Hold it up to the light and examine its follicles? Hold it next to Sean's hair to see how different they really are? Set it on the kitchen counter and think deep thoughts about it?

Didn't matter. I just wanted it. So I set Sean down on his play-mat-thing, and began digging my way into our wreck of a bedroom closet. It took several minutes of groveling around on my hands and knees, yanking out shoeboxes of old CDs and dusty books and other random junk that gets tossed into that dark and scary space, but I finally found a light blue, satin-covered box that ties shut with a ribbon. Zachary's box of Zachary-stuff.

Sean was, at this point, crossing over into grumpyland for whatever reason. But I let him lie there and squawk for a couple of minutes while I untied that box and peeked inside. There were some odds and ends, Zach's "cremation identification tag" (so they wouldn't mix up his ashes with that random dead lady who happened to be there at the same time, I guess). His footprints in ink on a piece of parchment paper. My hospital ID band. But the ONE THING that I really wanted, the most real piece of his body that still exists on this planet, I couldn't find: his locks of very, very, very dark brown hair in a zip-lock bag.

I still can't find it. Fucker. We probably accidentally filed it with our tax returns, or it fell behind the refrigerator, or got used as a bookmark and is now stuck inside that trashy romance novel from last summer. Either way, Kevin's been right all along: "good lord, this house needs to be cleaned!" Maybe now is the time to bust out the Windex and Pledge duster and give this small wooden home a good scrub-down. Time to get organized. Re-file stuff. Clean out that bedroom closet.

Maybe next week. :)