Thursday, February 28, 2019

The flashbacks still take me by surprise

Doing the dishes the other night, I stared at the vase of pink alstroemeria on our kitchen table. I buy the flowers occasionally from Trader Joe's; they're just $3.99 a bunch and they last close to two weeks. I wondered about the sunny vase—I couldn't recall where it had come from. The stripes reminded me of another smaller vase, a blue striped one. Where had that one gone?


Dave and I have just parked the car outside our front door. It is our first time home from the hospital since we had Max. He is in the NICU, unconscious and hooked up to tubes. We are still in shock and devastated. What's happened to Max is a nightmare come true, and it feels even more painfully real now because we have arrived home without our newborn. We don't know exactly what the future holds for Max, but the NICU doctors have told us the worst. It is hard for us to believe that the perfectly pink, pudgy baby in the incubator has extensive brain damage. 

I walk up to the front porch. There is a pan with aluminum foil on it—a neighbor has left a lasagna. There are a couple of packages, too, and a pretty little blue striped vase with flowers from a colleague at work. Everything sitting out there looks sad to me on that gray December day, yet more evidence of what Dave and I have been through.  

I walk into the house. The silence is oppressive. Then I walk upstairs to Max's room, painted Kelly green because we didn't know whether we were having a boy or girl. The color I chose because I thought it looked so happy and cheerful. I pull the door shut, fast. I know that I will not be able to bear to keep walking by and seeing the empty room. 

And that's all that I remember of that day. The flashback ebbs away, along with the hurt, and once again I am focused on the dishes and considering whether I'm going to catch up on The Walking Dead when I'm done or finish the book I'm reading, A Man Called Ové.

The sad memories don't materialize very often. When they do, though, I feel them to my core, as sharp in my mind as if they had happened the other week. And I am surprised that they keep coming, sixteen years later. They are such a disconnect from the life Dave and I enjoy with our three children, and how lucky we feel to have them all.

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