Tuesday, 6 November 2012
A November Rose
Last week, I was beaten down by a combination of illness (nasty gastrointestinal flu), kids' illnesses (same), holiday overload (a rainy, solo-parent Hallowe'en) and my own middle age (attempted to play hockey for the first time and ended up with a full-on migraine and two pulled neck muscles). Not a stellar seven days.
Consequently, I woke up yesterday feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Mondays are daycare days, which means that after I help D load 'em up, I'm kid-free until 4:30. I try to save Mondays for householdy-type chores, so after going back to bed for twenty minutes with a heating pad on my neck, I ran some errands, went to the doctor and chiropractor, picked up groceries, ran a few loads of laundry. And then I was seized by a strong urge to get a coffee, go to the cottage and walk on the beach.
Beach walks are not your typical November activity. It was a shivery day, still and somber-skied. We had our first taste of snow last week, and it won't be long before the sand freezes and the lake begins to turn sluggish with chunks of slushy ice. Even now the beach is a rugged, forlorn place. The cottages are all boarded up, snow fences - those spiky, unwelcoming-looking things - have been erected and there's not a soul to be seen. It was a weird place for me to end up, when I could have been slumped in front of the fireplace with an Advil and my heating pad.
But as soon as I trudged down the slope from the cottage to the shore, I knew why I had come. Because Rose was there, and she took my hand and led me off down the beach to pick stones and watch birds.
I've spoken of this phenomenon before, and I don't know if it's real, or just grief mixed with wistfulness after the hangover of a bad week. Honestly, I don't care. I felt my daughter there with me, and who am I to question the validity of a feeling?
Sometimes when I feel her presence, she has tousled brown curls, the same as her father's. Other times, she has perfect blonde hair that looks like silk...nothing like Jade and Dylan's wild, honey-coloured mops that defy brushing and seem to grow an inch a week. But in my mind's eye, Rose shares their flash-quick smiles, and that brand of energy that makes them skip and jump instead of walk.
We never talk, Rose and me; I'm just content to know she is beside me, and imagine the feel of her fingers clinging to mine. A few times, I swore I could feel the weight of her arm in the crook of my elbow, as though she'd become a teenager in the course of three steps. She is good company.
I stooped and picked up the stones that caught my eye, watched a loon dive and resurface, took great gulps of chilly November air, and basked in the presence of my daughter. I thanked God for life, for family, for writing, for birth and death. For once in my chaotic life, I was thankful for just that moment.
I know it's probably weird to write about this here, instead of keeping it safe in my heart. I just...wanted to. Rose has her place in this foolish little diary of mine, along with all my other snippets of daily life, of sickness and health, of milestones reached and howls of laughter, of costumes and candy and rainy nights and fevers. She is with me every day, even when I don't remember she's there. And so she belongs on these pages, with the rest of my life's story.