Can you see her? She’s there. Right there, always.
My daughter died seven years ago, next month. She was four. The concept of time plays with me on all things related to her. How is it possible that she has been gone so much longer than she was here? How is it possible that I haven’t smelled her or stroked her soft cheek in as many years as her brother has lived? How on earth have I managed things like groceries and laundry and vacuuming under the crushing presence of grief, a cruel master that never leaves you alone?
I walk through my days with my daughter by my side. She is invisible to you, but not to me. I can’t hold her or smell her or nag her to eat her vegetables and drink her milk, but she is there, always. She is there when I talk to you on the playground. She is there when I press the brake at the red light. She is there as I stand in line to buy pajamas for her two younger brothers. You can’t see her, but I can feel her.
It’s not enough, of course. I wish she were here in a way that children are supposed to be with their parents.
My invisible daughter would be eleven years old now. I have no freaking idea how to parent a tween girl. I imagine, often, that it is very different than the parenting I do know how to do — the kind that seven and three year old boys need.
I have no glitter in my home. No hair bows or Nickelodeon tween comedies. There isn’t a lot of purple or animal prints. Sleepovers are not yet much of a thing and I will never drop a dime at PINK. Training bras are something in my distant past, not an actual item in my laundry basket. Do eleven year olds go trick-or-treating? I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out in a few more years.
These are the things I think about without sharing with others. I haven’t figured out how to discuss my dead daughter in polite conversation. Dead kids are kind of a buzz kill.
I miss her, my invisible daughter. On days like this, when the light changes and pumpkins start to appear, my thoughts wander to not only the girl that was, but to the girl that never was, too. Would she like math or history better? Would mean girls have entered her orbit yet? What would eleven year old rebellion look like? Would she have started her period yet? What kind of things would make her laugh?
My daughter is invisible, but she is here. Always. With me, in my thoughts and in my heart and in my mother’s memory. You can’t see her and I can’t see her, but she is there in my tears and in my sad smiles. Science tells me that her DNA still exists deep within me on a cellular level, so, you know, there’s that, too. It’s not the same, of course. Not nearly.
My daughter is invisible. I miss her. I wish we could see her.