Bitter Moon

On Christmas Eve, I whispered to Jeff that it didn’t seem fair that I should have my period and Christmas at the same time. Christmas is an emotionally charged, stressful time for most people anyway, but this is our first without Jasmine, and so it feels like a double whammy.

I can’t help but keep thinking recently that this time last year was the beginning of the end. I know logically that Jasmine was having rejection issues before we left on our vacation; I know she might have contracted whatever infection ultimately killed her prior to leaving for Arizona, but I still can’t get it out of my heart that coming here somehow was the catalyst — that somewhere along the line, this is where it started.

I don’t mean in the sense of actually coming into contact with whatever virus caused her lungs to harden and stop functioning — I mean in the sense that this is when it started. She got sick. We had one of the happiest holidays of our lives and then, towards the end, she began to fail. We knew it; we considered leaving early to take her to the hospital in St. Louis. But we wanted to stay and we ignored some of the warning signs. We made an appointment to get her in to the doctor as soon as we landed in St. Louis, and that’s where it took off.

After our holiday in the Southwest, Jasmine was home for about four or five days, most of the time sleeping. The rest of her last weeks were spent in the hospital, mostly in ICU. There were new toys she hardly touched and new clothes she never wore. New bedding that she got to see, but didn’t ever sleep in.

So I can’t help but remember, in the midst of all the fun times with our friends and family, that this time will be stained by that for some years to come, that in about six weeks, we will be staring at the first year anniversary of Jasmine’s death. It doesn’t seem real, and while the feeling that someone will call and say this was all a huge misunderstanding and Jasmine is waiting for us in some hospital room somewhere has faded, it’s still there. I dream about it sometimes, then wake up and remember.

This is my catharsis — for most of the week, I have been upbeat and haven’t allowed myself time to really stop and think about what’s missing — who’s missing. I have laughed with friends and family, I have played with my children, I have done whatever it takes to keep myself from stopping to reflect. With the possible exception of Jeff, I don’t know if anyone else is aware of what’s beneath the surface. I like to think I’m a pretty good actress, but maybe I’m not fooling anyone.

Last night we had a great dinner together with Thalia’s family — roast beast and ham with trimmings and I made cranberry-apple pie and New York cheesecake for dessert. We sat around the fire awhile and then Thalia & Co. gave into the sleep deprivation that seems to be part and parcel of the night before Christmas and left us to rest. We’re going out again tonight and I will have another opportunity to laugh and forget, for a time, the feeling of my heart exploding in my chest.

When everyone leaves, and it’s all over (which is coming up tomorrow), I wonder what will happen. I have kept a candle burning for Jasmine since last night, will continue to burn a candle for her until February 14. I don’t know what else to do — I miss her so much. Last night we had a dinner conversation about her — because as much as we fought over her eating, Jasmine loved a family gathering with food — and were reminiscing about how alike Jasmine and I were, and how alike Gab and Jeff are. I haven’t written about it much, because it feels a little like favoritism, but it’s true — part of what I miss is the little person I most related to. We would have been such great friends when the Mom Time was over. I mourn that lost opportunity.

I miss my dragonfly. I hold in my heart those images of the dragonflies I’ve seen in the past year — because today of all days this year, I need to believe that those dragonflies were sent by her. There are two encounters I especially hold dear — the first was from the trip we made when we decided to move out here — of a short interlude in a river cove, hunkered down in the cool water, eye to eye (eyes?) with a brilliant blue dragonfly that was perched on a piece of river grass. The second was a field full of dragonflies at Samhain camp — they floated in the air like dandelion fluff, hundreds of them, saying farewell. I haven’t seen a live one since.

Anyway… that’s what the holiday has been for me these past few days. This year was great, but I can never have the one thing I most want — Jasmine back, intact and whole.

Jasmine, I send my love to you on the flame of this candle and always, always, in the flame of my heart.

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