Claire Harmon with Eloise Harmon

Find Claire Harmon’s display at Solinika, 133 Sixth Street.

“Two things coincided quickly: losing my mother and having my daughter. She died March 26th and I had Eloise April 13th. I lost my mother and became a mother.”

Two things coincided quickly: losing my mother and having my daughter. She died March 26th and I had Eloise April 13th. I lost my mother and became a mother.

Mom’s name was Betty. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer January 25, 2015. My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer before I was born, and so it was one of those things that always hung over. My husband and I got married October 2012 and started trying to get pregnant a year and a half later. I had to do IVF to get pregnant. If I had gotten pregnant when we first tried, my mother would have met my daughter. I got a phone call and I immediately called my mom and I told her that I was pregnant. It was exciting! But she was sick. Eight months into her illness. I sent her pink roses saying, “It’s a girl,” and she was confused. She was so sick it didn’t make sense.

I told my mom we were going to give the baby the middle name “Eugenia” like hers, and she started crying. I said, “Mom, I didn’t tell you that to make you sad.” She said, “I’m so afraid that I will be forgotten.” What I wanted to say is, “Did you forget your mom?” What a silly thought!

I was scared to ask Mom questions because she was obviously scared. Trying to figure out what life would look like without her was hard. I wish I had asked about her own mother. I never heard about her and there were never pictures of her. I only know her name and how she died. As a child, you don’t know to ask or be curious. So, Eloise has a picture of my mom. It’s her high school senior picture. I hope that Eloise feels comfortable asking me about her. My mother was my best friend. I want her to understand that it makes me sad, but it’s okay to talk about her and not fear that something’s going to happen to me because of our maternal heritage. Fearlessness is a hard trait to communicate to children.

I wasn’t there when she died. It was the Easter Saturday that she died and I was nearly 39 weeks pregnant. Now I have Eloise. She saved me because I was so anticipating her. I didn’t have a minute to grieve. I don’t know that I needed to be in a sad place as a new mother. Eloise wasn’t a distraction. She was a fulfillment.

Always Made New