Two days before Harvey was born and three before he died, I posted a picture to Facebook of three and half year old Vesta in her new blue shoes. I captioned it with lyrics from my favorite Paolo Nutini song: “hey, I got my new shoes on and everything’s going to be alright.”
Yesterday, Vesta was playing dress up in my closet. Pulling dresses from hangers, she came to me holding the dress I wore to Harvey’s funeral. “Look at this one, mama! So beautiful!”. That day as I fumbled around trying to find something that fit my postpartum body, complete with a uterus that had finally coagulated it’s leaking blood, I pulled that dress on. I tried to put myself together. I stepped outside into the rare May sunshine and hear and Vesta said “oooo Mommy! You look beautiful! Spin around”. And so I spun. I remember buying that dress. I was so excited to receive it. I wore it to Vesta’s baby shower. And then her brother’s funeral. It struck me yesterday as I tied it around her neck and she spun, that without any foreknowledge, many years ago, I was so excited to receive the dress I would wear to my dead baby’s memorial service. Sureal and odd. And still worn. Still spun in.
We walked in the door the other day and Vesta wondered if a package recently delivered from UPS was a gift for her. I jokingly said I gave her life and that’s gift enough. Without skipping a beat she said, “why didn’t you give Harvey life?”. “I tried”, I said laughing and noticing that it didn’t sting, her innocent, true words. But they haunt me. Why didn’t I give Harvey life? Why did one child receive the gift of life and two die, one inside and one out. Why will there be no other lives to give?