I think I knew, deep down, that Mary Rose was back the first time I saw her bear, lying in the corner of my bedroom.

Of course, I didn't come to that conclusion right away, of the most illogical and fantastical explanation possible. Never mind that the last I had seen it, Mary Rose's bear had been in her bedroom, behind a closed door that I had not opened, in a room I had not entered, in the past month and a half. Never mind that no one had been in my home for over a week, that I was aware of, and there had been no signs of any intruders today that I had taken notice of. Never mind that the bear, although supposedly no one had touched it for a month, and it was lying in a seldom dusted corner, looked strangely free of any dust or cobwebs. Never mind that I would not have touched it of my own free will, or even crossed the entranceway of the room where it had been stored, and yet, it had somehow managed to end up exactly where it should not be.

I knew all this, of course, and I knew very well that none of it made sense. I had no memory of even opening Mary Rose's door, let alone going into her room, picking up her bear, and setting it in a corner. I had no reason to do such a thing and certainly should have remembered a thing like entering my deceased daughter's bedroom for the first time since her death, when I had actively avoided doing so even while she was still alive. I knew this.

But the human mind seeks to explain away the unexplainable, to comfort itself with pretending understanding of what cannot possibly be comprehended. Whatever has happened over the years, and whatever I've had to deal with, I've always prided myself on thinking that I'm still a logical, reasonable person, even at times I felt my sanity being chipped away at, day by day, by circumstances that felt themselves to be outside my control. Teresa Damien, I've told myself repeatedly, over the past six years of my life, is not someone who gives in or gives up, and she is not someone who lets hysteria or panic take over what she knows must be right or true. Teresa Damien is never going to let anything break her down into nothing, not even her own life, her own choices, or her own mistakes- even those that cannot be rid of. Even those that continue past the event of death.

And so I told myself that what must have happened, was I had been sleepwalking. I sleepwalked into Mary Rose's room, took her bear, perhaps in some strange, unconscious effort to feel closer to her, by taking what she had once felt closest to. Mary Rose had never been one to attach well to people, no matter how persistent they were in showing their attention or affection towards her, and I could not remember a time she had ever told me that she loved me. It had been her toys, and above all her bear that she showed affection and need towards, at least until she was in her destructive mode and blinding striking out at whatever happened to be in her reach. I reasoned with myself that I had taken Mary Rose's bear, which she had loved, because it was almost like having a piece of Mary Rose again.

I told myself this and it almost made sense. Except that I had never sleepwalked in my 38 years of existence, not once, and Mary Rose's bedroom door had been locked, the key still located in the inner zipper of my purse exactly where I had left it before. Except that when I went to pick up the bear, not to return it to her room, but to shove it into the back of the hall closet as far as it would go, just touching it, remembering that the last hands that had held it had been the small, sticky hands of my daughter, was enough to make me shudder, a shiver of genuine repulsion running down my spine. I could barely get rid of it fast enough, and I could not imagine how I had managed to touch it without waking up.

I could tell myself something almost logical and I could almost believe. But thinking back to this, it seems clear to me in hindsight that even then, before I could even begin to consider the truth, I really did know.

Mary Rose had never been one to obey or follow rules when she was alive. What made me truly believe she could stay quiet and follow the usual procedures of death?

I never wanted Mary Rose. And when I think back now to her birth and her life, not to mention her death, what seems the logical conclusion to me is that it would have been better if I never had her at all.

It's a shocking thing for a mother to say about her daughter, I know. Maybe it's a terrible thing to say, and maybe it makes me a bad person. Certainly it makes me a bad mother. But I've known all my life that I've always tried to do right by Mary Rose, regardless of how it turned out, and what I'm tired of now, what I can't hold back any longer, is the dishonesty that made up my existence in everything regarding her from the moment of her conception all the way to her death, and even now, in its aftermath almost two months later. All her life I've lied to others and even to myself about what Mary Rose was and is to me, and I'm tired, so tired of trying to play a role that never really fit, a role I shouldn't have saddled myself with at all. Sometimes I think that Mary Rose must have known this, that maybe it was my fault that she was what she was, that she could sense in me even in the womb that she was not planned for or cherished like a baby should be and she chose to lash out in retaliation as a result. I was not the mother I should have been to her, as much as I tried, but then, she was not the daughter I was expecting. I know I was a bad mother, but what is taboo to say or acknowledge is that she was a bad daughter.

I know what anyone would think, if I ever said this, especially now, only weeks after her death. They would think I was a cold-hearted bitch, that no normal, loving person would be able to say such a thing about a six-year-old child, especially one who had recently died the way that Mary Rose did. But they don't know, they don't understand. I tried to love her, I really did try to feel towards her the way that I knew I was supposed to, regardless of what she might do. But every time I pushed myself to love her, every time I tried to excuse her for any number of the things she did every day to drive me past the point of distraction and to the point of rage and despair, she would make it clear all over again that my approval was something she had no interest whatsoever in obtaining. Mary Rose did as Mary Rose wanted, exactly how and when she wanted it, and I had no affect or impact on her whatsoever. Even her death shows that much; so easily preventable, if only she had been listening and not defiant, if only she were any other child but Mary Rose.

I know I can't assign her full blame for the situation or how she came to be; it was my own carelessness that conceived her, and my own decision to go through with bringing her into the world, whatever reservations I had against it. I still am not sure what exactly it was that lead me to have her, except maybe loneliness, some displaced sense of duty, or even self-punishment for my mistake. But if I was intending to punish, I had had no idea of what a grueling sentence I was really assigning myself.

I was almost 32 when I discovered I was pregnant with her.

Old enough that I should have known better, that I should have been able to watch the timing of my periods and avoid making careless mistakes. Old enough that I should have known not to have on last go of desperate sex with my husband, knowing the whole fifteen minutes of it that it would change nothing, that both of us were going through the motions, just waiting for it to be over so we could roll off each other, turn our backs, and try to sleep through the night without so much as brushing out feet beneath the blanket again. Old enough that when our divorce procedures went through anyway and we went our separate ways, I should have known, as soon as I realized that I was pregnant, that it was the worst possible timing and circumstances to even think I was capable of having a child.

I didn't want Mary Rose, not from the start. I have never really liked children as it is. Whenever relatives or acquaintances would show off their babies in my presence, as others oohed and ahed and bubbled enthusiasm over how precious and sweet they were, I would smile politely, but keep my distance, speaking only the words I knew were required of me, and holding the baby only if its parents insisted. I have always secretly thought that babies were more strange-looking than adorable, that children are more of a hassle than a joy, and the thought of having to tie myself down to a child, especially one from Drew, was hardly an appealing one. If anything, it was something to avoid at all costs.

The timing could not have been any worse for a pregnancy. My divorce with Drew was coming to a close, and I was old, at least in my mind, to be having a child, already set in myself and my ways. I had taken a pay cut at my job as a medical secretary, and I had been planning to go back to school and get a bachelor's to try to increase my pay, maybe even to find another job while doing it. My already strained relationship with my father and stepfather had worsened in the course of the divorce, as they were very traditionalist and didn't believe in divorce as a solution to "little problems in the marriage," as my stepmother referred to my and Drew's complete inability to get along for even a day without a fight that would become a cold war of silent treatment and which generally resulted in Drew's seeking "warmth" in the bed of another woman. I've never been someone who had many close friends, and I wouldn't feel comfortable even if I did to seek them out for support or comfort, at least not openly. The stress in my life was high, and the aspect of pregnancy and eventually a child was completely unneeded.

To this day I'm not entirely sure why I chose to go through with birthing, then keeping Mary Rose. It's not that I'm against abortion. I'm not religious, despite my father and stepmother's efforts in my upbringing, and I don't believe in heaven, hell, or anything along that dimension of existence. I don't believe that a fetus is the same thing as a breathing human being, and I didn't think it would be morally wrong to end its "life." I knew I didn't want a child, that I don't like children, and that having a child would further complicate and even completely derail the plan for my life I had set. The sensible thing to do would be to have an abortion and never look back, breathing easy over my close shave.

But every time I thought I had made the decision, I would think about my mother. She had died when I was fourteen, two years before my stepmother and all her rigidity entered my life, and my memories of her were strong and undiluted by time. My mother had not been religious, but I knew, even as a snotty teenager, that she had loved me with all her heart and soul, that she would have killed or died for me without a second thought, even though the majority of the time she was gentle, even reserved. I knew my mother had cherished me and my life and my place in hers for as far back as I could remember, and every time I thought about getting rid of the baby, my thoughts would go back to her.

What would my mother think about me aborting her potential grandchild? What would she think about me not loving my child anywhere near as much as I'd always known she loved me?

The thought of it made me anxious and edgy with guilt and the realization that she would be disappointed, maybe even angry with me, for throwing away what had been stolen from her- the chance to watch her child grow up. Maybe it was sentimental of me; certainly it was stupid, even foolish. But I think that the main reason that I had Mary Rose was just because I knew that my mother had loved me, and maybe, with no one left in my own life to care for, I had some distant hope that I could love her in return.

I didn't tell Drew that I was pregnant, either before or after the divorce finishings. I knew it would get me child support, which would have been very useful, but it also would have tied me to him for the rest of our lives, and that was something I had no interest in at all. It was better to raise the child on my own, no matter how hard it was or how much I would struggle financially, I reasoned, than to continue to depend on him for anything. I didn't want or need him, and I certainly didn't want or need his money. If I was having this child, I told myself, I would have her entirely on my own, without anyone or anything helping me. I was a strong, independent woman and always had been. How hard could it be to raise a baby when millions of other women could and did every day?

And so I finished out the pregnancy, and when Mary Rose was born, I named her after my mother, Rosemary, because she was the reason that Mary Rose was here at all. My intentions were that every time I looked at her or thought about her, every time I called my new daughter's name, I would remember my mother and the impact she had made on my life, I would remember how much I had loved her and how much she had loved me. Remembering my mother through my daughter, I thought, would make it that much easier to love and be patient with her as my mother had been with me.

That was the theory, but it didn't quite work out like that. The older my daughter grew and the more frequently her name was shouted out, the more I began to resent what I began to see as her infringement on the name, the spiteful irony of my mother's memory in any way connected to the child that was my daughter. I had never wanted Mary Rose, and the more time passed and the more clear it became what sort of child she really was, the more I hated to use her name at all, because it was clear to me she didn't deserve its honor. The only name that seemed really fitting for her by the time she was five or six years old was Terror.

I loved Mary Rose, I did, but I could not love her as I had told myself I would. And there was not a day that went by that I didn't know with full, heart-sinking understanding that it would have been better for us both if she'd never been born at all.