The Ghost of Lucy, Who May Never Be

Most days, I don’t think about it anymore.

In fact, I didn’t intend to write about it here at all, ever. I meant to leave it in the past, and focus on the present and future.

But some days, for whatever reason, it grabs hold of me and won’t let go. On these days, it sits in my stomach like a lump of lead, and tightens my chest so it’s hard to breathe, and clouds my vision with tears, and I have to actively work to unclench my muscles. It’s half grief over opportunites lost and half panic that they may never come again.

I do the math on those days. Days like today.

Lucy would have turned 5 this year if she had ever been more than just a dream.

Of course, even if I had been able to follow that path, if my world hadn’t come crashing down around me before I even had a chance to try, I had no way of knowing whether I would have conceived a boy or a girl. Or even if I would have conceived at all. But it was always a little girl I saw when I imagined it, back when the path seemed so clear and I felt so sure it would work out. It’s possible that, now, that’s what hurts the most: how sure I was. It’s definitely why I have felt ever since, on some level, like the way things actually happened was some kind of punishment, either for my hubris and sanguinity that what I wanted would happen, or for some crime I don’t remember committing.

It’s a little odd to me, still, that I pictured a girl back then, because before that summer, I had always been sure for some reason that my first child would be a boy, and, for that matter, sure of the idea that I would have a first child. But once I made the decision to try to get pregnant, Lucy was all I could see.

Lucy had my blue eyes, in my mind, and hair a few shades lighter brown than mine. She had curls, but they were loose baby curls, sure to fall out and start growing in straight after her first haircut. I saw us dancing in my living room, heard her giggling as we spun around and I sang along to the music to her. I felt her in my lap; the weight of her head against my shoulder as we read stories together on the couch. I saw us at the park together on sunny days, heard her delighted squeals as I pushed her in the swing.

I’ve done these things with my nieces, but it’s not the same.

The darkest part of these days is that I actually envy those who have miscarried, just a little bit. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to people who have gone through that loss. It’s not because it’s a loss I ever want to experience, obviously – in fact, it’s one of my greatest fears that if I ever do get pregnant, I won’t be able to carry it to term – but because they have something tangible to mourn. Their children existed. They were real.

All I have is the ghost of a dream that never was and might never be. It is formless and vast. Despair in limbo.

The dream’s name was Lucy, and she would have turned 5 this year.