a few days of grief

Friday is Joseph’s due date. I am surprised to find myself thinking, He would have been a year old.

Most days, Joseph is always only a baby. An infant. I do not track him against his friends-that-would-have-been. I do not think, and now he would have smiled, and now he would have laughed, and now he would have walked. He is my little one, my little boy; he is Baby Joseph.

He was not born alive. He never turned a day, a week, a month old. His due date was not.

But today I think, He should have been a year old.

I am caught in a dark swell of grief that I wasn’t expecting.

*            *            *

Thursday my mother tells me I’ve done everything right, complimenting me for my mourning. I squirm under her gaze, under her implicit judgment. She thinks I’m special—that’s her job, she’s my mother. She’s prone to cheesy idioms and exaggerated adulation. You’re just the bee’s knees.

She says I’ve done good work this year.

She doesn’t know how close under the surface the tears are this week. It’s not her fault—I haven’t told her.

“I’m still doing it,” I say.

*            *

Wednesday I am the first one to arrive at yoga. The teacher asks me, “How are you?” and I hesitate—actually pause mid-step—realizing.

“I’m okay,” I lie.

I spend the whole class wishing I were at home so I could let go and cry and cry and cry.

I think at the time that this is the start of this wave, but looking back later I can tell it had already started to build quietly against the ocean floor. The 25th, maybe. The 27th. Thirteen months.

I think at the time that this is the end of this wave, but still it washes over me. I tread water still. I cannot yet touch bottom.

*            *            *

Monday talking on the phone to my sister, my not-quite-four niece S asks to “see me.” We switch over to FaceTime and she peers into the tiny screen and chatters in the way not-quite-four-year-olds do. She hugs my sister around her neck and says, “I love you, Mommy.” They have a philosophical conversation about being lovey-dovey and being mean, and how when we’re tired or hungry we get grumpy and say things we don’t mean.

Then S looks back into the phone and says to me, “We’re going to light Baby Joseph’s candle tonight. We’re going to make a wish for him.”

My sister gives her daughter a teary look. I haven’t heard S talk about my son since he died, since those first confusing weeks when she kept asking where the baby was.

“We’re going to wish that he was alive,” S continues. “And we’re going to wish that we could have Christmas with him.”

“That’s a really nice wish,” I say.

What else is there to say?


© Burning Eye



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