THANK YOU, ALICE
Love, Your Adoring Mother
Alice was a trip.
And I would say that, and anything else I am about to say, if she were still here begging to go “OUTsiiiiide! OUTsiiiiide! OUTsiiiiide!” as was her custom.
Due to some structural issues that were discovered when I failed to dilate during Grace’s birth, Alice’s birth was a planned C-section, but we were going to try a VBAC if she happened to be early and/or small. I felt uncomfortable about choosing someone’s birthday, but never fear, Alice assuaged any fears I may have had by sending me into full-blown labor the night before my scheduled delivery. I showed up with giant contractions (and not one centimeter dilated), but she was coming that morning, whether it was scheduled or not. Thanks for the reassurance, Alice.
Alice sang. All the time. Even as a newborn infant. People would look at us with a look of amazement-tinged-with-horror, and stammer, “Ummmmmmmm, the infant is singing……really singing. Is that normal?” No, I don’t believe it was normal, but it was fun to watch her freak out the people. Thank you, Alice.
The blankie. The ubiquitous blankie. She was like Linus with that blankie. Blankies, rather, for I had to maintain an arsenal of them due to her penchant for dragging one around all day, then when sleepy, sticking the corner of said blankie DIRECTLY ON HER EYEBALL as she stared off into space. I observed this behavior and foresaw a lot of pinkeye in my future, so I kept a stack of 16 blankies that I changed out throughout the day, in the hopes that clean reinforcements would reduce inevitable eye infections. This behavior of hers I am sure was not normal. Nor, does it feel that swell. (I know, because I tried it.) Nevertheless, she clearly felt comfort from this bizarre behavior because I observed her dabbing her dollies’ eyeballs, and she would offer me the same treatment at bedtime. No thanks, Alice.
But I do thank you for only getting pinkeye once, which I am certain is some sort of miracle.
She loved her “aga,” aka, her binky. I am mad as hell that I will never now know why she called that thing an “aga.” Or why she stuck muslin blankets on her eyeball. She was thisclose (sic) to being verbal enough to tell me. She could say “aqua” when appropriate, but the binky was clearly and deliberately missing the “wa” sound. Did she choose this “aga” sound because it denoted something you suck on, but no WAter (sic) pours forth? That is my best guess, and that’s all I’ve got now. Some things about Alice will remain a beautiful mystery. Thank you, Alice.
Alice had recently added the word “MY” to her vocabulary, much to the dismay of her older sister. You aren’t supposed to call little girls “bossy,” so let’s just say Grace exhibits “exemplary leadership skills.” She was not at all amused by Alice’s newest language acquisition, and this was not lost on Alice. She had JUST started doing things with the clear, and sole, intention of pissing off her sister. I know you aren’t supposed to admit stuff like this, but I was proud of her newfound sense of mischief, her first departure from complete innocence. I really wanted someone around to challenge Grace on a daily basis. To f@*k her stuff up. To knock her blocks down. You know, get her used to the idea that some (most) people aren’t going to just fall in line. At 44, I am sad that Grace will likely be an only child now. But, Alice, thank you for messing with Grace just a little bit before you left us. Grace will be a better person for it. Also, it was fun to watch, so thanks for that too, Alice.
Alice was a daredevil, unlike her sister who plots out her every move with military accuracy. Of all the ways I thought Alice might meet the pearly gates before her time, asleep in the crib she from which she could escape was not one of them. She had no respect for gravity whatsoever. She was sure she could swim alone. She was sure it wouldn’t hurt to slam her head purposefully into the marble vanity. After splitting her lip open she would look at me quizzically, point to her lip and calmly say “Ow. Boo boo.” Thank you, Alice, for demonstrating bravery in the face of self-inflicted pain.
Grace was close to three before she ever dared the big tornado slide at the park. And even then, it only happened after she completed what were basically differential calculus equations, ordering me to “stand next to that curve, and Papa near that curve, and then you move to the bottom after I finish that curve.” This is my kind of kid. I will never have to worry about Grace doing crazy, stupid, shit just for kicks. To borrow from Tina Fey, one day Grace will most definitely pass on the crystal meth, and Stick to Beer. Grace does not take ten years off my life every time we’re at the playground or pool. But Alice did. And she did so with a joy that was undeniable, unforgettable, and contagious. Thank you Alice, for sharing your joy of the unpredictable, and the unknown, with us.
Alice was highly social, and would say “hiiiiiiiiiiiii!” to everyone we saw. We called her “The Mayor of Smallsville” or “The Mayor” for short. If someone did not hear her cheery greeting, she would bend over to her side, face parallel to the ground, and try again. Finally acknowledged, she would happily plod off with a smile on her face. But do not get all up in her grill; “Hi!” did not mean you were going to get a hug. She preferred a fist bump, but you had to do both hands or she’d look at you like you were daft. She swaggered into preschool like a little rock star, happily saying “Hi!” to each and every kid, but backing away when approached for hugs. “You can look but don’t touch,” her attitude seemed to say. Thank you, Alice, for being kind to everyone, while being confident enough to know you didn’t have to hug everyone that asked.
Alice was in a serious “Mama” phase just before the time of her death. She did not want me to be even one inch away from her. At her birthday party, just days prior, she was actually trying to shove her head back in from whence she came. “She wants back in because she is finally old enough to understand that there is a financial crisis, and no one cares,” I quipped. Alice laughed, though she could not have possibly understood this joke. Thank you, Alice, for always laughing at Mama’s bad jokes. I was happy to return the favor.
Alice didn’t want to go to bed in the 2-3 weeks prior to her death, which was truly unprecedented, and which compounds the guilt I feel about her death. My baby, who put herself to sleep all her little life long, was suddenly not just crying for me, but shrieking for me, every night for two or three weeks before she died. Some nights, I would eventually have to let her cry it out, but as she rarely fussed, this pained me more than I can say. So, more nights than not during this time period, I went to her, held her, rocked her, and sang her beloved “Twinkle, Twinkle” song. Over and over and over and over. I remember sitting there with her, exhausted, but enjoying it, reminding myself that one day she wouldn’t want me to hug her like this anymore, that she wouldn’t be little forever. Little did I know. When my back began to tire of holding her, I’d sit on the toy bench to hold her and sing. Then we’d move to Grace’s bed, at Alice’s direction. Two nights prior to her death, this new routine went on so long, I actually fell asleep standing. This scared me, so I went out to the sofa bed, made her a little nest, and tried to sleep next to her. She didn’t fall asleep for a couple of hours, but she did lie there quietly staring at the ceiling. The next morning, she woke me up with a silent, kind, tap on the shoulder—a far cry from the usual “MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! PAPA????” that usually served as our family’s ungodly early alarm clock. I don’t know what caused my independent little Alice to suddenly become so Mama-centric. I don’t know why she suddenly didn’t want to go to sleep. Maybe she knew the angels were coming for her. In any event, I thank you Alice — from the bottom of my heart — for granting me, for directing me toward, all of those stolen moments with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Alice.
Alice was central in effortlessly healing many relationships in her short time here. In order to respect the privacy of others, I will not elaborate, but suffice it to say, she achieved what no other had achieved in decades. Alice, thank you, for this priceless gift.
Some folks have said, “God does not give you more than you can handle.” If that is true, then I have to say God just might be over-estimating me, and I wish that s/he would return to thinking I was a loser that cannot handle even a parking ticket. Sorry, God. Sorry, Alice.
I could list all of the things I will miss about Alice; all of the things I regret I will never get to experience with Alice; all of the things I regret doing, or not doing, while she was with us. But this list would never end, because Alice displayed the sort of joie de vivre that will make it impossible for me to ever do anything again in my life without imagining what Alice would do/say/think. She will indeed always be with me, but I’d be lying if I said that was a comfort. I want her ACTUALLY with me. I’m selfish. Sorry again, Alice.
Alice brought us great joy in her two years and 10.5 days on this planet. Years that were otherwise pretty damn challenging. She was pure sweetness, kindness, contentment and joy, wrapped in a pretty little package. I will miss her every single minute of my life, and I will spend the rest of my life attempting to live up to the woman Alice thought I was. I will spend the rest of my life trying to be as pure as Alice was. I will spend the rest of my life honoring her memory and creating her legacy. Because Alice was truly a gift, and she has taught me that the best gifts live on forever, in ways you never expect. I look forward to finding all of the gifts she has in store for her family; I know there will be many. I love you always, my sweet girl.
Mostly, thank you, Alice, for allowing me the honor of being your mother, forever.
Thank you, Melissa. Keep writing. Alice’s memory will forever be etched in my brain.
Thank you so very much, Allison.
Blessings to you and your family Melissa.
Thank you so very much.
Melissa, The grace with which you are carrying yourself through this process is an inspiration. Truly, it is making a difference in the lives of people who you are probably unaware of and who never knew Alice. Clearly it is her legacy to this world that she continues to spread love through you. I wish you peace and many moments of touching deeply the love which is being sent your way.
Wow. Thank you so much, Nina.
This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. XO
Thank you for sharing your sweet story! I lost my 10 week old son a couple months ago. It is the most heartbreaking experience and I know I will never be “normal” again. If you ever need anyone to listen, I’m here. Praying for you and your family.
I am so very sorry for your loss. I wish you all the love and peace in the world.
That was so honest, raw, and beautiful. I am sure Alice is smiling in heaven and also grateful she has you as a mother. I don’t know why this happened as it will never make sense. We just can’t know these things I guess. I do know that you are a wonderful person and have no doubt an amazing mother who she just adored. I think about you and your family a lot. May peace and love be with you.
Oh Melissa, I am so sorry for the pain you feel every minute. I am blown away by the line about living your life to uphold her vision of you. You too, are a gift. Thinking of you so much and sending you lots of love… Deanna
Melissa, thank you for sharing your story of Alice. I cannot imagine the grief you are feeling. I wish so badly I could say something to take your pain away. I came across a prayer that I will be praying for you and your family.
For those who suffer & those who cry this night. Give them repose, lord; a pause in their burdens. Let there be minutes where they experience peace, not of man-but of angels. Love them lord, when others cannot. Hold them, when we fail with human arms. Hear their prayers & give them the ability to hear you back in whatever language they best understand.
praying for ur family
You are quite wonderful…xo
I’ve been reading your story and am possibly dehydrated from crying. I am probably the least articulate person in the world, but I wanted to thank you for telling your story and for telling us about Alice. I wish I could say something here that you’d read and feel a little lifted by, but despite my desperate wish to make you feel supported, it’s not going well. Please be okay.
Thank you so very much to all of you. Your support is invaluable to me. Lots of love.
How beautiful. What a lovely memorial for a very special child. My heart breaks for you. I babysat Colin and Duff as youngsters
.They were the most wonderful kids I sat for, they were clever, funny, well behaved, I can only imagine that Duffs children are totally remarkable as well. The Fergusons were important in my life, I sang for Kitty, Yale was one of my adult heroes, my parents were good friends with them. I’m so sad to read about dear Alice. I will remember her……
Hello Elizabeth, it is so nice to meet you, and thank you for your incredibly kind words.
Yes, I honor the requests of others with regards to who is/is not mentioned in my writing.
I thank you for reading, and taking the time to introduce yourself. It means so much to me.
Your story mesmerizes me. My heart is broken for your loss. I know Duff and his family, sad not to read much of them here. I imagine that was their choice. Please heal…..it was not your fault.
I have a beautiful and smart son who became a heron addict. He is not dead, but he is just as gone from my life. Guilt? Yes, was I watching? Yes, would anything I did change his outcome? No. Parents Suffer . It is part of parenting. Once you create a part of your heart and let it loose in the world you will be vulnerable to suffering you could never imagine. I hope Grace is a blessing for you. I hope you are healing. I hope Duff is healing.
Your writing is beautiful. I hope it heals.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I am healing, and Grace is indeed a blessing, and there are beautiful people in this world, like yourself. Thank you.
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