Mid-morning, I asked the principal if I could take leave and I came home sick. Actually, I am not sick. I think I went into shock. But I guess that’s a kind of sickness, and it’s easier just to say that I am non-specifically unwell.

I didn’t expect this. I completely didn’t. Things seemed to be skating along more or less, not easily, but moving forward. Then I was standing while they had a special program at school and I felt like vomiting and was cold and I began to shiver. I stood there as long as I could, and then miraculously the connection to the speakers broke and they couldn’t continue and I fled into the staffroom.

It’s because of daughters it happened.

In the morning, I gave C a letter asking her to be my adopted daughter. But it didn’t just say that. It was a love letter. A rather long one. I mean, it was a full page. It was a love letter completely unlike a romantic love letter. I told her I wish I had been there to see her take her first steps. I said a lot of stuff. I told her she makes me happy every single day just because she is alive and I get the chance to know her. I said she is a miracle to me.

I made her read it while I stood with her. I wanted to know she really understood. Mid-way through somewhere, she started to smile. And after she finished, she just looked at me and said, “Okay, ma’am.” She was still smiling.

I walked down with her to the gate—she was late for her junk food checking duty, and I had made her more late. I ran into one of the English teachers on the way there, and we made conversation a bit. C went down without me, not saying goodbye or anything, just leaving. She was thinking of being late.

But I have an adopted daughter now here in Country X. I am not really sure what this means or what it might lead to. I have only the very vaguest of ideas about it.

The last time I think I really thought about daughters was when I was 13 years old and miscarried mine. At that point, Natashka was dead. I couldn’t see any of the friends I loved. It was really, really the last and final unbearable loss for me, and it’s as though the lights completely went off.

I think that’s what I was remembering. I didn’t feel the pain of the miscarriage, but as I stood looking out at the students on the assembly ground, I had bits of memory float through my head while I felt cold and shaky and vomity and I think my body remembered being in shock and did it again automatically.

The thing is the lights are little bit on now. A lot of things still hurt. I mean, really, really hurt. I was mopping the floors yesterday and something about kneeling down set something off in me—it wasn’t precisely clear what, but it was something that hurt—and I realized the intensity of it was absolutely physical. It was a physical pain I felt and not just an imagined one. Sadness physically hurts. But the grinding hopelessness is not there anymore, or at least not there all the time.

I think having the lights come on again in my heart—not just because of the daughter thing, but really because of the honesty of it, because I am living authentically—reminded me of the lights going out.

It makes me think happiness doesn’t really take much. I thought it would be so complicated, but it isn’t. All it takes is a few fluffy clouds, one person who matters to me, and the hardest, sharpest parts getting worn off the edges my grief.

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