Susanna spoke in full sentences at an early age. Sometimes I would scan things on the internet about speech development, but they did not make sense to me because she pretty much started in strings of words rather than separate ones. I sometimes wonder how much of her knew that her time here would be brief, because I think our souls know. Maybe she needed to get in as many words as possible.
One day, when my girl was sitting in her high chair eating, I started to sing.
She said, “No singing.”
I answered, “Why not?”
“No singing and no dancings. I’m eating.” So little, so funny. I still savor that moment.
The last couple of days, after what happened in Paris, I am remembering September 11, 2001. I was living in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I remember the beautiful weather, and people beginning to climb onto their brownstone rooftops and watch. I remember the bits of ash in the air. The looming clouds over the Towers, which I could see for days from the kitchen window of my fourth floor walk- up apartment across the river. Susanna was not here for that.
She was here when we had a flood in our home during Superstorm Sandy. At some point soon after, her brother overheard the story of a woman in Staten Island who lost her two children, washed from her arms in the water. This upset him greatly, so I took great care to keep the news turned off a couple of months later when all of the children were murdered in Newtown. I was grateful when he seemed not to have heard about that. Plenty of time to deal with tragedy after kindergarten. I wish what was coming our way could have been blocked so easily.
With every ounce of me, I want her to be here. To outgrow her shoes, to fight with her brother, to tell me about all of the friends she made at school. She would have had many, she was like that. Sometimes though, on a chilly and quiet morning like this, I wonder if those on the other side can have their hearts broken by the world. From what most of us hear and know, things do not hurt so much there. I am hoping there is an enlightened perspective there which we are missing. I do understand that facing death in some ways proves we have nothing to fear, since I have become one of the many who has lost a piece of my heart and resides in two worlds. My stomach is churning with emotions and stress in my life, but there is more to life than this. My daughter, here for only five years. She brought eternity with her. We do not really die. Love never dies.
Something from my book in progress. One of its themes is freezing time, this part is about an apartment. And about loving life.
The silky polyester wrap bathrobes from thrift stores hung on a little metal “J” shaped hook on the faux fireplace. One white with butterflies (Monarchs in gold), one red with blue and white flowers and a mismatched sash. The third was silver grey with a sprawling Asian tiger on the back, way too short for me. There were two bookshelves where the fire would be, a hearth tiled with small shiny squares. The beautiful expanse of floor was stained dark, a Tibetan paper shade covered the light fixture on the high ceiling. On one side of the room was the commercial garment rack I had pulled home off of the street one night and awoken my roommate to help carry up all of the stairs. All of this beauty, not to mention the bathtub. Vintage claw foot with a spray arm, no shower. In heaven I want a deep bath in there again, deep enough for a tall person, with lavender or lemon verbena. I have frozen not a moment but a place. Five years of loving a home that was not mine, rented from a renter, who rented her other half to another (who subleted an apartment shared with a sharer). Five years of a Brooklyn love affair, the love of my being alone in New York. This is a wonder of my mind that I can travel to my past for a soothing bath and sleep. This was a time before I knew there would be a Brother and a Sunshine. This was when I began searching for Papi in earnest, I am sure. So far nearly ten spans of my life this length have passed, ten to Sunshine’s single one. I hope it was lovely, my baby. I hope your stay was lovely like you.