Sometimes my mind goes walking around in rooms that do not belong to me.
I find myself wandering in a life we never had, wondering what it would be like for all of us now if Willa were still alive. She would be three and a half; she would be going to school. I see someone putting her on a bus. I see her in classrooms playing with scraps of felt. Sometimes she has Costello Syndrome and sometimes she doesn’t. Because when you start walking in impossible rooms, impossible scenarios are explored.
What if Willa had been born without Costello Syndrome? What would our life be like then? The mind enters one room that leads to another and another and another. Suddenly it races from cancer and death to living and normal, and deep investigations into what that could possibly mean because I really have no idea. Other people’s rooms wherein Willa has friends and they play with dolls, wherein I have slept, where we go on vacations as a family and Willa talks and walks and eats and sleeps and cancer is an impossible word with no meaning or application. It feels so foreign that the doors to these places close very quickly. Not my room. Not my life. It is almost as if these visions were not meant for me and so my mind catches a glimpse but will leave them behind.
Then my rooms come into focus, the rooms wherein the memories live. I see my girl, as she was, as she will forever be: smiling, in her red scooter powering across the kitchen floor, in her bouncy seat laughing. I can still feel her hair under the palm of my hand. I can smell her. I can hear her say mama. I feel her all around me.
But my mind closes the door on these rooms quickly too. They hurt so much to visit. Because they are not real. They are memory only and it is still too soon to be comforted by them. But I know the day will come. I look forward to when I can walk freely in the rooms that are mine, amongst the memories that will give me strength.
For now I find comfort in the fact that the life glimpsed in other people's rooms, the life wherein Willa does not have Costello, means so very little to me. It does not make me sad. It does not hold my attention very long. It's a digression without lasting effect. This was not always so, but I learned to give up that which I could never change. Willa's death is different. Of course. I wonder if it is a an unchangeable thing a parent can ever learn to accept. I don't really think so. But again, perhaps you learn to incorporate it. To sew it into your folds. To let it live in your heart as a certainty that gives you a different power. We'll see.