Today is Jocelyn’s 27th birthday. Twenty seven years, a lifetime ago. She was fresh and uninjured then, unbelievably fragile in her tiny pajamas, a doe eyed, perfect angel with olive-pink skin who nursed and slept and thrived on closeness. I was a very lost and overconfident first time mother, barely twenty one years old, lost and aimless, looking for any stronghold in my chaotic life, knowing deep down I was wrong about everything except for loving her.
Mostly I was amazed by how healthy and beautiful she was, how easy she was to care for. Out of nowhere, this little person from my dreams was real.
Jocelyn has always been easy to love, easy to be in love with. Her nature has always made bonding easy and strong. She is a magnet for love and passion, and she herself is a Life Force. Despite it all, maybe because of it all, she is just so powerful.
In years past I have known what I wanted to say, how I wanted to frame my thoughts and celebrate her birthday from a distance, but this year I do not.
How I wish I could plan something fun and meaningful for her, prepare her favorite foods and wrap gifts. Take her to that Mexican restaurant on 50th and let the mariachi band sing to her. Enjoy her giggling! I would love to see her and Bridget arrive at the gate, ready to put a saddle of Chanta, ignoring his old man objections, or slide atop Dusty, no saddle at all. I would love to watch her cook daal and listen to a fresh round of new music from her phone. I would love to hike with her in Colorado and take a road trip together, talk about everything without stopping.
I have been having nightmares again. Last night I was in a string of stories about Jocelyn at different ages, and as I gradually realized it was a dream, I panicked and begged to stay in it, struggled against waking up, because at least in my dream, however sad it was, I could look into her eyes and talk to her. Beg her to understand we had good intentions, that I understand what she is going through and want to help. See that she was breathing, touch her cheeks, help her untangle her long thick hair. Lock fingers with her.
We have friends who have lost their children forever. By accident, by suicide, by illness. All these years apart from my children have been long and hard, but death is a kind of forever I can scarcely approach in my heart, so being with these friends in their pain is always scary and bizarre for me. I have no idea what to say, and yet part of me wants to cry out, I miss my babies too.
Indulging in my own sadness of missing her so profoundly, it feels weak and short sighted. Because we have hope of being with her again in this lifetime, We can hope and choose to believe that she is okay.
But then fear settles in, because I don’t know for sure. I do not know what she eats day to day, who is with her and are they safe, how is her physical health, especially her back. How is she coping with her Dad’s suicide, today? This month? How is she managing these insane food prices and gas prices, can I bring her something to make it easier? Does she want to take college classes to chase a dream, can I help her with that, with anything? Is she in love? Are her friends good to her, do they understand her story? Or do they take advantage of her good heart and lead her down destructive paths? What are her strongest memories? What are her hopes this year? Does she have nightmares, like me, like Jess? Does she know we meant to help in Colorado, meant to save her? Does she know I have cut ties with Laurie forever and understand better than ever, the abuse they endured?
None of it turns off because she is absent. There is so much unsaid, so much unhealed and unaddressed. But Love it strong. Just as in all those bullying, violent years that Richard and Laurie and the grandparents kept them away and soaked the girls in lies and hatred, Love never fades or stops flowing. I just manage the pain and find places for Love to go.
Except, she is my baby, my first baby, and sometimes I cannot bring myself to share this special love with anyone else. I hoard it for her. I hope she comes home today and accepts it all. Recognizes it. Despite the lessons learned about setting deadlines and schedules for miracles, I see this precious date on the calendar, September Eighth, and hope that this is the year she feels homesick enough to call me again, to find me again, to let me try and make everything right, once and for all.
She has broken free and found me before. She has survived chaos and trauma and abuse, all kinds of dangerous situations and mistakes, and found safety and love before. So have I. We have learned, gradually, how to alchemize some terrible circumstances and grow beautiful little lives. So I hope for more of that. I am relying on these promises, that it will happen.
Maybe today. Maye not. But I trust that at the right time, we will have an even better reunion than before, and this time no one will overshadow us. There is no one left to fear.
Baby, I hope that however you are celebrating your birthday, you feel wildly loved. You get cake and ice cream and your favorite meal. You are surprised with gifts and flowers, some good news, and lots of time in nature. Come home if you can. Call me if you can. But if you’re not ready, please still know that I love you so much, I can hardly breathe when I think of you. You are in my dreams. You are in my conversations. You are in this house and all over this farm, everywhere I look. You are in my favorite memories and my darkest fears, but also my brightest hopes for tomorrow. You will always be my perfect, terrifying, beautiful little baby girl.
Happy Birthday Joc