I want to talk about Wylie. Perhaps the hard part is, I am adamant about no one mentioning her in front of Ethan. It is one of those painful burdens I must bear for the sake of my son, for the sake of his life being normal while he needs it to at his age. One day he and I can talk about her. One day he and I can talk about how it's almost as if we feel her with us when we cannot see her on all of our daily adventures. However, that time is not at age two. At age two, I want everyone to focus on him and not bring up our loss, his loss, in front of him and let the naivety of his innocent mind keep him safe from hurt. But when he isn't around, when he's out of ear shot, I want to talk about her. I want to remember everything about her so vividly that every detail remains fresh always. I want people to realize that mourning isn't shameful, that while nothing can cancel out the hurt of losing my daughter, the acknowledgement that she is and always will be my daughter can help.
I wanted to talk about her name, Wylie Meadow. I had penned an entry about Ethan's name back when he was tiny, an admission that he was named after Ethan Embry who was my dreamboat of choice back when I was knee deep in the '90's grunge scene. At the time, I hadn't heard of another Ethan besides him and the name always felt right to us despite the fact our Ethan's conception came a whole lot later than Ethan Embry's time in the (sort of) spotlight. It only makes sense that Wylie's name was also inspired by the '90's cult film scene. We had been watching Dazed & Confused when I remembered how much I loved Mitch Kramer -- or, in real life, Wiley Wiggins -- and there it was. Wiley. Ethan was a newborn when I decided that for a future daughter the name felt right, the perfect mix of obscure and sexually ambiguous that I had wanted. It was coincidence that a few days later in the Starbucks line I met the mother of a teenage girl named Wylie who so happened to be in my sister's class, a face in the yearbook for me to identify and realize how right it felt. Wylie. And so it was. Meadow came to us on a night when I was yelling out every earthy suggestion that my mind could churn out only for my husband to shoot them down. Until I said Meadow. Until it just felt right.
I want to be able to smile or even laugh upon the realization that both of my children are named after '90's cult film actors who no one likely remembers on a regular basis other than myself. Because it's funny. Because my thirteen year old self would be beaming with pride that I have two children -- one named after Ethan Embry and another named after Mitch Kramer. I want to remember the way her skin felt when we kissed her goodbye. I want to remember her curls, just like her father's. I want to remember the shape of her face that was identical to Ethan's. I want to remember how perfect she was, how perfect she is, how her heart is no longer broken. I want to think of the way I would sneak out each morning and inhale a bowl of Captain Crunch -- contraband that I would never allow in our house regularly -- before Ethan could see me. It was a guilty pleasure that Wylie and I both enjoyed together in the early mornings before the chaos of the day began. I want to remember it all. I didn't have much time with her, but I always want to remember the time that I did have.
I'm not entirely sure if anyone other than myself remembers Friends With Money but in the film, Frances McDormand's character copes by refusing to wash her hair. Years ago when the movie came out I had smiled because that's always been how I've grieved: by refusing to wash my hair. I hadn't washed my hair since May 12th, the day we found out Wylie was sick. I struggled with my hope. I lost it, I found it, I watched it fall again out of reach -- and I stopped washing my hair. Tonight, I washed my hair for the first time since May 12th.
Maybe it was the realization that my hope isn't gone forever, that it's here as much as the memory of my daughter always will be. That it's okay to smile sometimes, to laugh, to think of our time with Wylie however short it was because it mattered. Because I would want her to know I wouldn't take our time together back for the world, no matter how much the outcome has broken pieces of my own heart forever. Because I would want her and Ethan to know one thing: never lose hope and, at some point, I need to realize it's okay to try to pick up the pieces and find my own hope. For her sake. For Ethan's sake. Because it takes hope to keep Wylie's memory alive and while nothing in the past has made me run away and hide my head in the sand quite like a challenge, this is one I'm willing to take.