I've been thinking of memory's trap doors recently. Yesterday I was at Trader Joe's, with four-month-old Matilda in the Baby Bjorn. I was staring at some slightly smashed raspberries when something crashed behind us, and I turned to see a shopping cart upended, with a now-screaming toddler beneath it: he'd been sitting in the kid seat at the front. His mother could not instantly figure out how to pull him free, couldn't see if he'd been hurt; a bunch of people, including employees, rushed to help her. In seconds he was in her arms, and then she was hugging her other child tight, too. "But why were you angry with me," she was asking the sobbing older child, who was probably four. As far as I could tell, he's the one who pulled the cart over. It was upsetting and dramatic as such things can be, but for me, no more than that.
Then I remembered another day in another store, about two years ago. Edward and I were at Ikea. I was pregnant enough with Gus that we were looking at cribs though not so cocky we'd seriously consider buying one. A young couple had wedged the bucket part of a car seat in that kid seat in front, and then, while I was watching--but while the mother wasn't--the seat somehow flipped over and dumped the baby--a little girl, about one, gold earrings in her little ears--into the big basket behind it. Silence, and then screaming, and suddenly I was suffused with panic, and sadness, and 1,000 grades of emotion I have no words for. Suffused? Infused? Soaking wet with it, anyhow. It hadn't been a year since my first child had died: I was still thinking, every day, "A year ago I was dumb and happy." The baby at Ikea was fine, though her parents weren't, and I wasn't.
And here's the thing: at Trader Joe's, I was no longer remembering the day in Ikea. It wasn't that I was reminded of how I felt. I felt it. I was there. We had to leave, my sweet third baby and me.
When I told Edward about it, I described the Trader Joe's incident, and then I said, "And it reminded me of Ikea--" and I didn't have to say anything else.
All of which is to say: the third anniversary of my first child's death is coming up. I've been pregnant the past two, and we haven't done anything to mark it except remember it. So if anybody is reading this who has advice, I'd love to hear it.