I resent spring.
The new buds of leaves. The greening. Bright flowers opening everywhere, bursts of azaleas, yards splashed with buttercups. The cakes of oak pollen that clutter the streets.
Seasons are changing and time is moving on and it’s leaving me behind. No, time is taking me with it, and we are leaving Joseph behind.
It is my birthday again. I am turning 32, and this is the first year since I was a child that I don’t want to turn a year older. Not because I have any stereotypical panic about aging—I’m not the type to turn 30 every year for the rest of my life—but because I don’t want to turn 32 without our baby. I don’t want to be a year older than when he was in our lives. I don’t want to be yet another year older when we finally, hopefully, have a living child that we have spent years preparing for.
This is the first birthday, too, where I feel old. Not old with excitement like when I turned 13 or 18 or 21. But old like I have aged years in the past four months. I have aged years. Every day since Joseph died inscribes the line between before and after more deeply, separates more clearly that younger, innocent self from who I am now.
I look at myself in the mirror and see how much I have aged. I see what my mother meant when she told me, some twenty years ago holding her hand against mine, how young and beautiful my skin was. Now I have her skin. Now I have her slow speckling of silver hairs shining stronger against my dark hair.
April 25th, my birthday, is four months since Joseph died. April 27th is four months since he was born. April 26th is one year since my last period before I conceived him, that date he was measured from as he grew.
A year ago, springtime, I was going to the doctor for an ovary check. A year ago, springtime, I was filling my prescription for Clomid, swallowing the first of 5 pills, nervous for how it might affect my already edgy mood. A year ago we were sending the sperm bank our request for release of vials, and I was being lectured by the horrible woman who runs it about getting the request in on time, as if conception conforms to their FedEx schedule. I was charting like crazy, peeing on two different kinds of OPKs to be sure, really sure, of ovulation. We were awaiting the arrival of the mushroom-shaped shipping container, taking photos of every step, every little frozen vial that steamed when it hit the air. The expensive OPK smiled at me one morning, and then we were inseminating; I was calling in late to work, giddy. We were calling the doctor, scheduling an IUI, calling out sick to work, hauling our heavy liquid nitrogen canister, lying back on the exam table trying to relax. You did everything right, the doctor told us, a year ago, springtime.
Joseph was conceived on May 10th. I knew I was pregnant within a few days, though I doubted so hard I convinced myself I didn’t know. But we knew. We knew our baby was there and celebrated him every single day of his life.
I have always loved spring.
The bright chartreuse popping out on the branches. The slow wave of buds opening, daffodils, forsythia, tulip trees, then dogwoods, redbuds, cherry trees. Propping the doors and windows, bare feet leaving prints in the dry dusting of pollen that coats the hardwood floors.
Maple seeds swell and samaras helicopter down. New trees sprout out of every hole the squirrels have dug in our pine straw, some hickories, a stray holly, dozens of bird cherries, the persistent mulberries.
Blossoms fade, turn brown and slough to the ground, hiding in last year’s leaves.
This is just the muck for planting new seeds, my mother has told me at every difficult time in my life.
Mud, darkness, dormancy, hope.
It is springtime.
* * *
Also remembering my friend’s baby Finn today, who shares my birthday, and holding them in the Light.
© Burning Eye