On the train a week ago a man sat across from me and we began chatting. Ainsleigh was keyed up after our adventure into the city to see Elmo Live so she chattered at him as well. I explained that it was my first time going to see Elmo Live, even though I was not with my first child.
"Oh, really?" he said. "How many do you have?"
Without thinking I replied, "three."
He nodded. "I have four! Your other two must be boys then."
I shook my head. "No. I have a four-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. 2, 4, 6. It's a bit much," I laughed.
"But you love it," he said.
"Of course," I responded. "Of course."
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT CAME OVER ME!
I lied to a complete stranger about my kids and then the conversation took an awkward turn, because I couldn't keep up with my lie. It was the strangest thing. When B was little I would say I had two sometimes because I couldn't bear not to. But most of the time I have both kids with me so I can't do that anymore. I like to pretend I have a living six-year-old, but if B heard me do it he would call me out quicker than quick and I would look really crazy.
"So," he continued the conversation, "your oldest girl doesn't like Elmo?"
"Ahhh, um, nope. She never was into Elmo. No."
We stopped at two stations then he asked about schooling.
"We love the private school at our church, but we pull our kids out after kindergarten and teach first grade on at home. So we'll do that this year. I mean, we love the school, but we've only ever been through the preschool program. And, well, kinder. Hmmm."
I attended to Ainsleigh for a moment and hoped the loud rattle of the train would disguise my inability to keep track of my own story.
The man congratulated me on my educational efforts and our conversation wandered on from there.
I can't believe I pretended Charlotte was alive for twenty minutes on a train carrying me away from the city and back to my everyday life. Maybe I did it because I was so outside of my normal routine, and if that train could somehow transport me to the life I crave it would be one where all my children are living, and two were waiting at home for me with their father.
Yesterday I was crying about I don't even know what. It was a hard day, I read a really sad book, and tears came crashing out at the end of the day. And in the middle of the storm I asked myself, "why am I so sad?" and the answer that floated to the surface was, "Charlotte. She's gone."
Since she died her absence has been at the base of every tear and sad emotion, even when it seems as if she should have nothing to do with it. She is my catalyst; a constant thread of sorrow in a beautiful life. Sometimes I need to pretend she is with me because it hurts too much to remember she is gone.
I have three children. I birthed three children. One couldn't stay. Two did. Sometimes that's too much sorrow to share with a stranger.