In the early afternoon sun a little girl appeared from nowhere at the front of my stall. She had pale porcelain like skin with long auburn hair in soft curls. She didn’t say anything for a while until I said ‘Hello, how are you?’ she carried on looking at me and also said ‘hello’ in a very confident voice. She was studying me and then she took me by surprise by saying, ‘You look like me’ and I had to agree that I did.
I said yes, we do look alike we have the same colour hair and mine is curly too. I told her that my hair looked just like hers when I was her age though not as long. She neither smiled nor saddened in fact she didn’t change her expression at all. I was surprised no-one was with her and she stayed for a while longer looking at my kits and cushions until, eventually, a harassed mum came purposely over to the stall and caught up the little girls hand. After a mixture of anxiety and anger was expressed she looked a little embarrassed at me and then went to walk away. The little girl turned as she was being pulled and smiled and I said goodbye…
This isn’t the first time I’ve met my daughter Hubbie and I were in a local café that’s very popular with all ages. It’s a busy noisy place but one you can snuggle in the corner with a decafe tea and a book and stay as long as you like. They don’t know your name but do know your face and the smile I get as I walk in always makes me feel welcome. Hubbie and I had just enjoyed a deliciously naughty child free lunch together where we actually got to have a conversation, finish a hot meal and, most importantly of all, look into each other’s eyes again. His eyes are gorgeous though different from when we first met as I can now see our son’s eyes as I look into them a change that adds and doesn’t detract. We were queuing to pay for our meal and debating with the owner the merits of teapig teas; Hubbie likes awful smelling and (in my opinion) equally awfully tasting teas. The fouler the better it seems. A tea called ‘Yerba Mate’ was settled on due to it supposed weight loss properties and as the owner made another joke we both looked at the young girl standing on front of us. I looked at her gorgeous leather satchel, her fitted woollen coat with a handmade flower brooch but what really caught my attention and Hubbie’s was her hair, long, curly and auburn. Hubbie was the first to whisper ‘She looks just like you’ As the final change was given to the note handed over I thought that too and she did look like me but many years younger. She turned, smiled at us and left and I know I will never see her again.
I lost a baby at 14 weeks and I’ve always said that was my daughter. Of course I’ll never really know but to me I lost my daughter. She would have been a late Spring/early summer baby being born in May and would have had a brother waiting for her already. As it was the brother didn’t get the sister but 2 further brothers and nothing was ever really said about the missing one of us. That’s the thing with lost babies, no-one really talks about them after the initial loss. I understand they don’t want to upset but I still remember.
My daughter would have been the one that looked like me I’m sure. My sons have aspects of both Hubbie and I but I feel they most look like Hubbie at times. My daughter would have had my pale skin, my short size and, most of all, my auburn hair that would glint gold in the early summer’s sun on a late afternoon village fair. I know her name but I never got to whisper it to her as she slept in her cot.
I know I’ll meet her again though I don’t know when. Maybe I’ll see her as an older woman, older than me now but I know I’ll recognise her and I know she will me. Her hair may not be auburn but her eyes will be bright and by seeing her again I know that wherever she is she really is fine but just waiting for the time that she and I will meet after the final journey that awaits us all. I will take her in my arms and whisper her name and know that she is lost no more as eternity stretches out before us. Lost babies find their way home to open mothers’ arms that I am certain about.
I love my sons. I love them fiercely and passionately but I’ve always felt that one of us is missing. When I call them in from the garden ‘Ollie, Henny, Tobes, …..’ in that sing song way all parents call their children I feel the space of where our missing one should be. I’m torn between feeling we should have a number 4 but then think am I just missing the one that should have been? How do I ever work this one out? Some questions in life I suppose you just have to accept that there isn’t an answer.
I think I’ll see my daughter again but this time if I find her in the afternoon’s light of a summer’s day I’ll look at her, smile and just before she turns to walk away I’ll whisper…
But I need to mean it this time.
Picture found on