The (often) inconsequential things that occupy Rick's mind...
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06/23/07 17:11:16 - 2007-06-06
It’s almost 11:30 AM, and I’m sitting next to MaryBeth, who is (hopefully) just a couple of hours away from delivering our third child and second daughter, Tatiana Claire Harper.
I find myself feeling pretty conflicted, though. From the moment MaryBeth told me she was pregnant – or even earlier, when she told me she wanted another baby – I haven’t been as excited as I was for Aren and Lily. I have always known that I would love this baby, and would care for her, but I never really got excited when thinking about her.
MaryBeth noticed, of course, and I’m sure that she has worried about me and how I would deal with the baby. But last night, I think I finally realized what my problem is.
I think it all goes back to Lily. Lily was the biggest “daddy’s girl” I’ve ever seen. As soon as I would walk into the room, she would light up and say “Look, it’s DADDY!” in her tiny, slightly scratchy voice. She (along with MaryBeth and Aren) never failed to meet me outside when I came home from work, and you could always tell when she had finally accepted you, because she would introduce you to me. Many a doctor or nurse knew that they had finally arrived because she would look at them, point to me and say, “That’s my daddy”.
Even on her deathbed, she seemed to look forward to being with me. I had gone home to stay with Aren and help him through the impending loss of his sister, while MaryBeth stayed with Lily. About 12 hours before she died, I got a call from MaryBeth, who told me that Lily was on her way out; all her vital signs were crashing. I jumped in the car to get there, but I was still about 90 minutes away. MaryBeth, meanwhile, finally had to leave the room for a minute. She leaned over Lily (who was completely unconscious), and whispered, “Lily, don’t you go anywhere. Daddy’s coming.” When she came back 2 minutes later, Lily’s vitals were much better, and by the time I got there, her stats were almost normal. I stayed there for a few more hours, her vitals remained normal. We joked that Lily would refuse to die as long as I was there, because she was such a daddy’s girl. I left at about 10:00 to go back to Aren, and sure enough, she was gone less than 6 hours later.
If Lily was a daddy’s girl, I probably could have been described as a “daughter’s dad”. I did everything I possibly could for her and with her. Almost every Sunday, I’d bring her into the shower with me. She would just sit on my arm, rest her head on my shoulder, and enjoy the hot water on her back. When she was clean (or when my arm was tired, whichever came first), we would call for MaryBeth to come get her; her voice was so small that MaryBeth wouldn’t be able to hear Lily’s “Mooooommmyyy” until she was actually in the bathroom. I would give her food, everything from pears to pizza. While MaryBeth usually bought all of her cute clothes, I did more than my share of “oohing” and aahhing”. We spent so much time together, that when she died, she left gaping holes in my life. Suddenly, we had dozens of cans of pears that nobody would get around to eating. Suddenly, I had the shower all to myself. Suddenly the toddlers’ shoe section at Target could reduce me to tears.
Then I started “healing”, if you can call it that. I broke down less and less often, until crying sessions were six months or more apart. But then, the reality of another daughter became real, and I’m reverting to old habits. I can’t say how many times I’ve almost called the nursery “Lily’s room”, or referred to an especially cute piece of clothing as a “Lily dress”. And I’ve started to notice her absence even more, to realize that she would be starting kindergarten in two months.
So now, I find myself wondering. Maybe I’m more distant because I can’t stand the idea that this little girl could ever take Lily’s place. Maybe subconsciously, I worry that allowing myself to love this new baby as much as I do Lily would be somehow disloyal. Maybe I worry that Tatiana will somehow resent me or her older sister because she will somehow sense that she’s always being compared to her. Maybe I’m trying to defend myself against more pain, should Tatiana turn out to be sick, too. And now that I’ve said all that, I’m starting to think that maybe this is just one more stage in mourning Lily. Or, maybe I just needed to write all of this in order to open up to Tatiana. But I feel better, now.
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