Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Handprints

*Sensitive trigger warning: pregnancy loss briefly mentioned*

One day I was exhausted. Or is that every day? I was cleaning the big mirror in my living room, grunting with the sweeping motions, my body complaining, my mind wandering. Handprints, handprints everywhere! Why? They could touch every part of the room, but it has to be here! I'm tired of cleaning the same things every day! Finished, glass gleaming, I moved to the next section.

That's when I heard a giggle and the sound of pattering feet. I turned to see my toddler run over to the mirror and happily smack down two chubby hands. Pleased with himself he backed up and smiled into the mirror.

Nooooo. No, what are you doing? Why? I just cleaned that! Hey, get away from there! Go play with your millions of toys! I said to leave the mirror alone! In that instance, the mix of factors from a long day and fatigue and frustration swirled together, turning me away from a path of love and celebration. I was angry. I wanted to roar.

I stomped into the bathroom to give myself a break. Closing the door, I slumped down, angry but now ashamed at my reaction. But still angry! I sat there for a few minutes, contemplating all the things I would tell DH if he answered his phone at work.

The kids had already forgotten my foray into temporary insanity. But my frustration over the mirror was still simmering and so I ignored the new handprints to go about my day. That evening, my phone rang. Oh, delight! A fun mama friend was calling! Nothing like a little chat to brighten up a long day.

I answered, calling out a cheerful hello. Nothing on the other side. Hello? Choppy reception? I heard a hiccuping, gulping sound. Hey, what's up? Are you eating something? LOLZ.

In an odd voice that sounded too far away and dull, as if it was coming out of a dark hole, my friend told me, "The doctors couldn't find a heartbeat. It's over." And just like that, her baby was gone from this world.

I stood there in the same spot long after the phone call ended. As I slowly shook myself out of the shock, my eyes focused on something in front of me. That mirror. Those handprints. The emotions gripped me. I sunk to the ground and cried. Tears of grief for my friend, tears of shame for my earlier reaction, for not seeing the beauty in front of me.

Two perfect, little handprints were in my life. 

They were placed right there for me every day. A gift for me, a reminder that my children arrived earth side, that their feet make that light pattering sound every day, that their breaths puff on my neck at night, that their smiles light up my heart, that their little spirits show me the world in different ways every moment I'm with them.

The handprints. An interruption to my life? A burden? A sign that I'm not a good housecleaner? A symptom of bad parenting? Or my child's delighted, carefree way of leaving me a note each day?

It's been two weeks and those handprints still adorn my mirror. I think sometimes about washing them away but can't bring myself to do it. Maybe if they get smeared, or maybe when we move. For now I keep them there as a reminder to myself that those pattering feet and chubby hands will soon fade away to memories.

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