Helen was the first person we told about the Bean. The day after I did the pregnancy test, we went to the cemetery. It was warm, and we touched her stone, and we told her that she would have a niece or nephew, weeks before we told anyone else. Sometimes we have a daydream that Helen picked out the Bean for us, that Helen has met her already (for she is a she! More on that later). Silly, maybe, but I don’t care.
These days I find myself overcome with tears for Helen more often than usual.I was expecting to miss her more, of course, when I was pregnant and when we became parents. I knew that it would be a bittersweet time. And it is, but not in the way I was expecting. I thought I would mourn the fact that the baby wouldn’t have her dazzling Auntie in her life, and that Helen wouldn’t get to be that Auntie.
But what hurts more is that I can’t imagine Helen in The Bean’s life, because it feels so, so long since Helen was here. She and the baby feel so far apart. I don’t know who Helen would be now, what she would be doing, or even what she’d be wearing or how she’d do her hair. So I don’t know this 21 year old Auntie Helen. I only know that dear 16 year old little sister Helen. The Bean will be born and grow up not knowing what she’s missing; she won’t have a gap in her life like we do, at least not one that she’s aware of, and for that I am grateful, but also terribly sad. And Helen. She is missing out on meeting her niece, but it’s just one on a list of a million things she has missed out on, and will miss out on, and I cry for each of those things.
And more often I cry simply for Helen, because I still long for her and I still rail against the unfairness of her life ending before she had a chance to spread her wings. I just wish she was still here, baby or no baby. I just miss her.
It’s true that I’m skipping over the moon daily thinking about the Bean, and it’s true that this baby will bring sunshine into all of our lives, where Helen’s loss left such darkness. But the darkness of Helen’s absence will still be present. And the truth is, I want them both. It’s not much to ask for- my child and my sister- and yet it’s more than I can ever have.