Mo and I took a break in the afternoon yesterday to visit our neighborhood park.  We rolled over there in his little car, swung on the swing and then played on a blanket in the grass.  We were giggling and playing with grass when I heard a little girl call another little girl's name.  The name was unique and familiar.  I looked over at the family and realized - I know them.  They had been sitting in the grass with their mother and a couple of other moms and their children for the whole time that Mo and I were there.  These little girls played with Max.  I just didn't recognize them because they have aged since the last time I saw them.  The oldest is practically a pre-teen now.  The youngest, who was then 3, must be 5 now.  She looks the same, only less like a baby.  The middle one is in an awkward but cute phase.  My heart stopped.  I felt instantly sick.  I must have looked like a crazy person - I could not stop staring.  Did the mom even recognize me?  I can't imagine that the little girls did.  I didn't really know any of them.  But, Max did.  I wondered if they ever think about him.  I wonder if anyone who knew him ever does. 

A few weeks ago, Ted ran into someone from the Max days.  He was in Ikea with his mother shopping for Mo's high chair.  It took him a minute to recognize this person but when he did, he said hello.  She ignored him.  He came home visibly upset and remained that way throughout the day.  It really shook him up.  I'm not sure why she couldn't have said hello to him.  She is angry at us.  Angry at us!  She can be angry at me all she wants (though, I should really be the angry one), but I can't understand why anyone would be angry at Ted.  He doesn't write my blog.  All he is guilty of is losing his son.  LOSING HIS SON!  This woman doesn't get it.  It's all about her.

I zig zag around my neighborhood trying to avoid these ghosts.  There is one who works in the produce section of our local market.  His wife was pregnant while I was pregnant with Max.  He and I would compare notes about how she and I were feeling throughout the pregnancies and then after the babies were born, he told me how his wife was suffering from postpartum depression.  I felt guilty that I wasn't.  I have only had one face to face with him in two years and I ran away quick, before he could ask me how my baby was.  I avoid the store because I don't want to run into him.  When I have been in there at the same time as him, I make sure that we don't bump into each other.  I really don't want to all.

We used to eat at the same restaurant every Friday night.  We were very friendly with the owner.  I had planned on posting some flyers for my daycare in the restaurant - I wanted her business to be successful.  I had spoken the week before Maxie stopped breathing to the owner about it and he said it would be fine.  We haven't been back there since.  I only started walking past it again recently because it is on our way to the park.  I avoided that whole stretch from the restaurant to the daycare for more than a year.  Now I worry that I might run into the restaurant owner....I'm not even sure why.  I just don't want to have to talk to him about what happened to Max at the daycare that I wanted to advertise in his restaurant.  I don't want to have to pretend like its no big deal to make him comfortable.  I get tired of acting like everything worked out for the best since at least we have Mo now.

Since Maxie left our worlds - there are a lot of places we avoid and others I know we may never go back to again - for a long time, I thought I'd never go back to Costa Rica since my most recent memories are from being there with Max.  I am sure we will probably never go back to Catalina - Ted has already told me that he never wants to go back.  I worry about what will happen when one of us needs to visit an emergency room - the ER where Maxie was taken is blocks away.  How can I ever go to the place where I first understood that my baby might (and did) die?  HONESTLY - How can I go there?

For a long, long, long time, I couldn't go in Maxie's room.  Now it is Mo's room - I am in it every day.  I thought the spell was broken but a couple of nights ago, I felt deep deep deep sorrow and pain coming from the room.  I had to shut the door.  Oh my lord!  I miss my child so much!!!!

There are ghosts EVERYWHERE - some are people, some are places.  It's like the whole world is haunted and we live in the epicenter of the haunting.  I used to hate leaving my house for fear of who I'd run into.  Now, I don't worry about it so much.  All of those "friends" who disappeared are now ghosts to me.  If I ran into them, I feel like I'd walk right through them.  They don't live in the same physical realm that I do.  They live in a fluffy la la world where you just dump people when things get hard.  Most of the ghosts I know have just been floating around since Maxie died - light on their feet.

Come to think of it - I bet the woman in the park didn't even notice me.  I am sure that Maxie's death was nothing more than a shocking day for her in the grand scheme of things.  I'd be surprised if she has given it any more thought in the past year and 10 months.  She was likely just enjoying an afternoon at the park with her friends and their children and maybe (though probably not), wondering why the sad looking woman with the cute baby was staring at her.


jessica said...

Oh Abs, I'm so sorry that you live in this world of ghosts. I am so very sorry that you guys are surrounded all the time by the ghosts and awful memories. I am sorry that people ignore you and act like losing Maxie is no big deal and that it shouldn't be because "at least" you have Mo. It is a big deal. It's the biggest deal that there is. Mo is such an amazing boy and such a blessing but his being here does not mean that Maxie wasn't - it doesn't make Maxie dying better. Losing Maxie is the absolute worst thing that could have happened to you and Teddy. I am so sorry. I'm sorry that Maxie is gone, I'm sorry that you guys have to survive the worst pain in the world, I'm sorry that you have to live among the ghosts and relive the horrible reality of losing your son every time you go to a store or a restaurant or on a walk. More than anything, I am sorry that beautiful, sweet Maxie is not here with his family. It is heart breaking and so incredibly unfair. I have thought of your boy every day for the last year and 10 months and I will think of him every day for the rest of my life. He is remembered and he is loved. I love all 4 of you very, very much. xoxo

Em said...

oh wow. I totally get this ghosts post. Although I find that as time goes on some of the ghosts are friendly.

The hospital and city where Eva spent most of her sickness is 5 hours away from our town but whenever I am there I feel closer to her. Maybe it's because I don't have to deal with it all the time but I find a certain bittersweet joy in being in some of those places where our Eva was.

Tamar said...

You do such an amazing job of describing your experience, Abs. I hear you and it all makes sense...Jessica pretty much summed it up, but I will say that I'm so sorry that Maxie isn't here with us and I also think of him every single day and will continue to do so. Lots of love to all of you.