As August 1st gets closer and closer, I seem to feel Gracie's presence more and more. Not to say that her presence has been absent, but suddenly I feel like she is here...in my face. Perhaps hormones play a role, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have not been quite as busy as I was during the first 9 months after she died and my mind has more opportunity to process other thoughts. Whatever it is, it seems to be stirring things up.
Over the last week I have been out and about to peddle my summer P.T. services to about 2/3 of the kids that I see during the regular school year. I showed up early in the week for a home visit with one of my preschoolers, only to find that her mother had forgotten that I was coming. While I waited in the living room, she hastily gathered her daughter, who is a very small 3 1/2 year old, and brought her out for her session. Because the weather here was in triple digits, she was dressed only in a onesie and a diaper; prior to this I had never really seen her without clothing. This little girl is severely disabled and has essentially no motor control at all (literally, she has about 1-2% of normal overall motor control) - but it was not until that visit that my brain absorbed exactly how 'floppy' she really is. As her mother carried into the living room, her arms and legs just hung there and flopped around without a trace of active muscle tone or activity. Her arms and legs are so skinny that her skin is loose and just kind of hangs there, especially around the big joints. It hit me in an instant and that is all it took...all at once I flashed back to the very early morning hours of August 1st.
At that particular moment, sitting on their living room floor, I could see only arms and legs...no face. At that particular moment, her arms and legs flopped around as if they were completely lifeless. At that particular moment I was back in my hospital room watching them carry my daughter's lifeless body from the foot of my bed to the warming table. It all looked the same. I actually had a physical reaction to what I was seeing, which is something that I don't often experience. I started to sweat profusely; my palms got all clammy; I got a bitter, almost copper-like taste in my mouth and my jaw muscles started to sting and burn; my stomach started to turn. There must have also been a visible change, because once they were settled on the floor Mom looked at me, pointed at my belly and asked if I was okay. I went with that and played it off as a momentary pregnancy thing, but I was not okay. I wanted to get up, walk out the door, run to my car and leave. These people do not know about Gracie, and that was not the time for me to go there. I certainly was not going to tell her that on that particular day, everything about her daughter reminded me of my dead baby. The next 35-40 minutes were some of the most treacherous that I have pushed myself through since September...as we worked, I just kept looking at this little girl's arms and legs and seeing Gracie's lifeless little arms and legs.
That moment is gone, that P.T. session is over. But the connection will undoubtedly remain active in my brain for weeks and months to come.