I asked my husband the other day if he felt like he was losing Peyton. He nodded. I admitted that I felt it, too.
Peyton hasn't been replaced. She hasn't been overlooked, or intentionally forgotten, or fallen in any way down the rungs of love in our heart, and yet my husband and I, two parents who think of her multiple times a day, have felt our memories of her slipping further out of reach.
We started talking about the memories that we hadn't lost. The sweet, minty smell of her. How she let out a little kitten-like sigh when she would lift her head to readjust against my chest. I mentioned her hands, how they were exactly like my mother's but on a tiny scale, and how her entire life there was goo on her knuckles and a bruise on the back of her hand from that very first IV.
We talked about the emotions that follow us along certain drives--the drives down the roads away from our house on the way to and from the hospital. I remember in crisp detail what life was like the day before the fungal infection was discovered. How full of hope we felt. I remember conversations about the Fall, and stopping at Dunkin Donuts on our way to see her that first time. If I close my eyes, I can probably replay every moment of Peyton's short life in my mind.
My husband shared his memories, too. He said he didn't think that his were as crisp as mine--something he attributes to the fact that he didn't see Peyton's death coming. I saw it coming. I didn't want to, and wouldn't have admitted it even to myself at the time, but I did. In my heart of hearts, I knew she wouldn't survive and I am disgusted by that.
I started to say that I thought the reason we felt like we were losing the details of our daughter, Peyton, was a self-preservation thing--because to stay there, in that dark, early, abyss of grief would be so crushing we couldn't possibly survive. I do think to some degree that that's true, but as I was saying it to him, it hit me. My memories of Peyton aren't numbing or disappearing, so how can I say that I am losing her when every detail, every-single-detail of her tiny life, is burned into my brain?
No, it's not that I am losing her. It's that now that I have had other children, healthy children, growing and changing and doing-by-the-day children - the magnitude of just how brief, just how robbed, just how un-lived a life my first child had-- it's overwhelming. I only have so many memories of Peyton, because there only are so many memories of Peyton. Twenty-eight days of life is not enough.