She would have been 30 years old today.
On Thanksgiving evening grief flooded my being as the day of her arrival/departure emerged into my consciousness. I pulled out the tattered folder I have treasured all these years. A folder full of condolences, handmade cards from children, a few photos, and multiple drafts of a piece I wrote three decades ago while attending a writing class at Teachers College in NYC. A catharsis for me.
It’s time to share today’s version of that narrative.
The doors open to a stark block-letter reality.
A lump swells in my throat.
My limbs weaken.
My blood vessels throb.
My vision pulsates with the rhythm of my heart.
Wait here, while I get her.
Upstairs mothers wait to feed their babies.
This mother waits to grieve hers.
Images of the past 24 hours occupy my mind’s eye
from awakening to severe cramps
to the harsh brightness of a crisp morning
piercing my being
punctuating my fear
to the solitary room
sounds of monitors beeping
muffled voices just outside the door
to a crowd of shadowy figures shouting commands
to the faint cry, hands reaching in to whisk away its source
to awakening in a lonely room.
A crescendo of footsteps.
She enters with a small bundle.
There was nothing physically wrong with your baby. She’s perfectly formed. Would you like to hold her?
My mind hesitates but my arms are ready.
I am left alone to hold her and rock her.
To fill the cold institutional space
with anguish and primal sobs…
Empty of the promise of new life.
Empty of dreams.
Empty of tears.
My attention shifts.
I want to know this being that arrived before its time.
To examine her thoroughly
from head to toe
abundant dark hair
hands the size of my thumbnail
and fingernails, too!
noticeable calf muscles
and ink on the sole
(on the soul?)
Even down to the soiled diaper.
for the chill
that permeates the wrapping
(a signal as blatant
as the block-letter reality)
reminding me that this is a
complete with ID tag
dangling from one toe.
She must have read my mind.