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February 2012
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April 2012

She is also required to wear at least panties to the dinner table. Because we are fancy.

When Sophia turned out to be a girl, one of the things I was looking forward to about having a daughter was the clothes. After 22 years (combined) of sweater vests and overalls, I was ready for girl clothes. Bring on the ruffle butts and patent leather shoes! 

And dressing her HAS been fun. But the subject, naturally, is larger than that. Sophia has a complicated relationship with clothes.

Some mornings she submits to my clothing choices for her with nothing more than an eye-roll and a route plea just to stay in jammies. Other mornings she is offended - OFFENDED! - that I should presume to pick her outfit and she flounces off to her room where she tries on everything she owns and flings it all to the floor in disgust.

Also, no matter what she wears, there inevitably seems to come a moment in the day when she decides she is done wearing it, and strips it off. Usually this happens at home. Yesterday it was at the airport, which was deeply amusing to a whole slew of people waiting to catch a flight to Milwakee. She so often turns up naked around the house that we have had to establish a whole new house rule: you may not answer the door unless you are wearing pants.  

But best of all are the days when she cobbles together an outfit on her own, and then loves it beyond all reason. Not only because she is so delighted with herself, but because she is right. She looks AWESOME.

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The other day she found a whole bunch of hair ribbons I made for her a couple of years ago when she finally had hair, but I had not yet had my will to put ribbons in it quite so beaten down. She thought the ribbons were brilliant, and this was the resulting outfit:Feb - march 12 021

And this was her idea of a joke, because I asked her to smile:

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We went to the library right after this picture was taken, and as we walked in, Raphael asked under his breath, "Don't you think you should...tell people that it's HER idea to look like this?"

"Oh, don't worry, honey," I said, "when people see her, they will either know right away it was her idea, or it would take too long to explain." He shook his head, at both her extravagance and my lack of concern.

But I'm pretty sure it's immediately clear when you meet Sophia...

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...she's got her own plans.








Also, today I turned 41. I cannot think of anything that matters less.

Sorry for the long silence. I don't know what else to say about that, except thank you for all your kindness and concern. I am okay, except when I'm not. So it goes.

We named the baby Eva, and we buried her February 20. Eva was my great grandmother's name, and I've always wanted to name a daughter Eva (that's "EH-vah", not "EE-vah"). Somehow, though, it wasn't Sophia's name. I guess I was saving it. It means "life," and I love it, because the most important thing about my Eva is not that she died, but that she lived.

Some people raise an eyebrow at having a funeral for such a tiny pre-born baby, but I am so grateful we did. I absolutely hated everything about planning it, but the service itself was beautiful, and it gave me two things. 

First, I have a place to go, where I can sit next to her. I can't even tell you how much that means to me. And secondly - well, that day we found out she had died, when we left the doctor's office, we wandered blindly out the door. I sat down on a cold metal chair, my hands shoved deep in my coat pockets, folded over at the waist, and sobbed. Clay rubbed my back helplessly, and I gasped to him, "I just want it not to be true. Why can't it not be true?" In the days that followed, I said that so many times that Clay started answering me with slight desperation, "I'm sorry, but it is. It is true."

And after the service, when I watched them lower that tiny tiny, white tufted casket into the ground, and I stood there and thought for a panicky moment that I should lie down with her, just wrap my body around her, because who leaves a baby alone in such cold? - well, after I somehow survived that moment, I walked away knowing it was true. 

That may not sound like a mercy, but trust me, it is.

Today it was one month since the funeral, and I went out to visit her. I took a dozen roses. Two for Jennie. Two for Tre. Two for Max. Two for Raphael. Two for Sophia. And two for Eva. I sat next to her grave and prayed and cried and cried and cried until I was a red-faced, snotty mess. Again, this may not seem like a mercy, but it is. I told her how much I miss her. I told her about her siblings, and the struggles they are facing right now, and asked her to pray for them. I told her how weary and sad I am, and that I was doing my best, even though it seems awfully feeble. I told her I loved her. And I cried.

Then I left her two roses and took the rest home with me, where the rest of my life was waiting, with all its noise and problems. My husband, who holds me and tells me the truth. My squabbling, difficult, broken and beautiful children, whom I have the privilege of watching grow and unfurl in ways breathtaking and terrible.  

A beautiful bouquet, and so incomplete.

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No. Incomplete, and yet so beautiful.