· Even before I got pregnant and while working with teenagers in a day treatment center, I would look at my teenage clients and imagine what my child might be like when he or she grew up. I provided family therapy to families with teenagers and could see the unconditional love, coupled with frustration, excitement, fear, and pride in the parents’ faces as we would travel through the therapy process and think to myself, “I want to experience that kind of love”. I would see in the teens’ parents I worked with, the joy of what it might be like to have my own child one day.
While pregnant, I would envision Nora playing with neighbor girls when I saw them playing hopscotch on the side walk in front of our house or ice skating on the pond down the road. In my mind it was 10 years from now, and Nora was friends with those little girls. I saw her in them. I could see her laughing, playing, and enjoying herself.
The strange part now, is that after Nora died, I didn’t just see her in little children or teenagers anymore, and it didn’t bother me to watch them either. Also, I never saw her in other babies. I found myself looking at young adult women and seeing my daughter there. In these women I saw who my daughter might have been, women who were only 5 – 10 years younger than me, my peers.
One afternoon three days after returning to work after my 6 week maternity leave, I sat across the table from a co-worker who was 23 years-old, right out of college, and juggling the stress of navigating the career world for the first time and getting married in 2 months. My co-worker was pouring her worries and fears out to me, crying over her tomato basil soup, and as she did this, I saw my daughter. I saw Nora.
I wondered what it would have been like 23 years from now, having this intimate conversation with my own daughter. I imagined, what would I have said to my daughter or what would I want my daughter to be saying about me? Would she get married one day? Would she have a job at 23 years-old? Would she be happy? Would we have the kind of relationship where she could share these personal details with me?
There was another instance, in the first two weeks after her death where my husband and I were watching the movie Friends with Benefits with Mila Kunis. When I watched Mila, I imagined I was watching Nora as a young lady. I saw in Mila features that I wished Nora would grow up to look like. Nora was born with dark brown hair and big luscious lips with a round, beautiful face, which looks nothing like me, but in my mind, I guess looks like Mila Kunis.
I saw Nora in the character she played, a young woman in her late 20’s struggling with relationship issues and the complications of love and vulnerability. Then there was a scene when this young woman and her mom are lying on their backs next to each other, in a park and having a conversation about adult love and the reality of adult relationships. That’s when I lost it. Tears swelled in my eyes. It hit me then, that I would never have a moment like that with my daughter. There would be no brushing of her hair, spying on her as she plays with her dolls, watching her play hopscotch with the other neighbor girls, or guiding her through the heartbreaking realities of romantic relationships as she grew older.
There would be none of these things…but I still see my daughter in the places I never would have imagined, like watching the beautiful young lady walking down the street.