It’ll All Be Okay.

A year ago I completed the last assignment of the last class of my masters program. For our final assignment we had to write about whatever we wanted in whatever form we wanted. Of course, I immediately knew that I would write about Clementine.  I wrote my first draft frantically, pouring out the details, bleeding all over the page, tears running down my face.  When I finished I felt lighter and extremely nervous. I shared my story with my group the next day and they suggested I turn it into a poem. That night I sat back down and began deleting anything that wasn’t essential. I tore it apart, turning three single spaced pages into 15 lines. Once more I felt a lump in my throat and tears running down my cheeks. It was completely different and yet exactly the same.  It told our story beautifully and accurately. The next day, when I shared it with my group, my teacher listened in.  When I finished reading it she remarked, “What is it called?” I’ve always been pretty terrible with titles and hesitantly responded: “Clementine?” My teacher shook her head and said, “It’s not about her. It’s about him. Were you there for him like he was there for you?”

I thought about what she said on my ride home, I stayed awake all night thinking about it, and I was still thinking about it the next day. I read my poem again, and realized that when I pared down my story, when I removed anything extraneous, it WAS about Joel. It had always been about him. It was about the strength of our relationship and our love for each other. It was about something amazing and terrible and beautiful and horrifying, and how the months leading up to, surrounding, and following the birth of our daughter, left us stronger and more in love than ever. It was about the birth of our first and then second son. It was about how 10.5 years ago, when I opened my heart to him, I was making the best decision of my life.

As I watch my husband laugh with our two boys, I am reminded that my life is exactly as it is supposed to be. If Clementine hadn’t left us, this life that I know and love would not exist. I wouldn’t have my sweet, inquisitive, generous Wyatt, who told me the other day, “Mommy, I’m going to go to heaven to say goodbye to Clementine, but then I’ll come back to you.” I wouldn’t have my carefree Calvin who smiles endlessly and is the light of my life.

Wyatt&Cal

And so, even though I wish, wish, wish I could hug my baby girl and smother her in kisses, and hear her sweet voice, I know that I can’t. Even though I’d give anything to hear my daughter say something that makes her two little brothers break out in giggles, to hear her regale us with her kindergarten achievements and woes, to see what my darling girl looks like as a five year old, I know instead I must thank her for giving me this blessed life. I must tell her that I am eternally grateful that she is my daughter and that she has helped us shape these two beautiful boys. I miss my sweet, darling girl every moment of every day, and I know that some day I’ll get to do all the things listed above. But, today, on her 5th birthday, I must instead be grateful. I love you baby girl. Thank you for giving me so much.

My ode to the beautiful, tragic, perfect life I have been given:

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

Let’s have a baby he said to me. I agreed.

I’m going to love being a daddy he said to me. I smiled.

I can’t wait to meet this baby he said to me. I cried.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

Go to the hospital the doctor said to us. We hurried.

Something’s wrong with the baby the doctor said to us. We feared.

We need to deliver the baby now the doctor said to us. We hugged.

Your baby is ill the doctor said to us. We worried.

Your baby is dying the doctor said to us. We sobbed.

Our daughter is beautiful he said to me. I smiled.

Let’s name her Clementine he said to me. I nodded.

It’s over now he said to me. I mourned.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I wondered.

We should try again he said to me. I stared.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

It’s time he said to me. I grinned.

It’s a boy he said to me. I laughed.

Our son is beautiful he said to me. I smiled.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

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