two and a half (the loss of you)

Walking through the house claiming rooms. Touching this, touching that. Standing on tiptoes to see over. Crouching down to peer under.

Your chubby legs, in shorts for the summer, lengthening. Able to climb onto the sofa without a stool, then onto the bed. Sitting at the table sometimes instead of your high chair.

Your babbles. Your first words. Complete sentences.

Coming around the corner into the room where I stand, calling my name.

Singing songs with vague words, rushing the parts you don’t quite know. Wonderbwidges falling down, f-a-l-l-i-n-g d-o-w-n. Patting your head, clapping your hands, stomping your feet.

Building cities of blocks and Duplos. Towers, houses, cars. Engineering bridges, airports and train stations, roads to and from. Refusing to clean up so your city stays sprawled on the living room rug for weeks.

Jumping on the bed. Throwing yourself backwards, flopping, rolling. Tickle fights. Hearing you laugh. Your giggle.

Resting your head on my shoulder when you are sleepy, or hurt, or sad. Your hair against my nose. Head hot and sweaty.

The weight of you in my arms, heavy.

*            *            *

Joseph was two and a half yesterday.

Joseph never would have been two and a half yesterday.

I still get caught in these subtleties of tense and mood. Are we speaking hypothetically? I ask myself. Possible? or probable?

This grief gets lighter, I think, but more specific.

*            *            *

There are still a handful of people, outside of the family, who remember. Someone remembers to acknowledge my first pregnancy. Joseph’s name spoken here and there. A friend who texts me now and then. I know Joseph is held in the hearts of other babylost friends, even if they don’t say it. Because I am this way, too. Remembering, quietly.

© Burning Eye

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heavy, hollow

Most of the time, I do not think of you in specifics. I do not actively grieve or miss you. You are just there–not there–in the world around me. Your candle on the dining table. Your altar in our bedroom. Your portrait on M’s bureau. Your existence–that you do not exist–is infused into my waking and sleeping, in my veins, pumped eighty times a minute through my heart.

But sometimes, your absence hits me like a punch in the gut, and I feel you, heavy and hollow beneath my ribs, my ghost belly. I want to curve around you protectively and weep and weep for all that we have lost.

on the night you were born

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“On the night you were born,

the moon smiled with such wonder

that the stars peeked in to see you

and the night wind whispered,

‘Life will never be the same.’

Because there had never been anyone like you…

ever in the world.

So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain

that they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.

The sound of your name is a magical one.

Let’s say it out loud before we go on.”

Joseph

“It sailed through the farmland

high on the breeze…

Over the ocean…

And through the trees…

Until everyone heard it

and everyone knew

of the one and only ever you.”

–Nancy Tillman

he might have liked trains

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“He might have liked trains,” she said.

And we both teared up, staring at the toy on the bottom shelf.

He might have…

Dear Little One, sweet Joseph, this would have been your birthday present. Two years old.

Instead, this will be your second stillbirthday present, bound for the pediatrics ward at the hospital, for other children to play with.

© Burning Eye

quiet

Friday afternoon.

I look up and realize the building is quiet. Lights are off, doors are closed. So familiar we are with each other that we no longer say goodbye, have a nice weekend, see you Monday.

Just, suddenly, I am one of the only ones left.

It is this way with the babylost community, it seems. Blogs go down, mothers stop updating. A baby is born, the announcement a final post. Time passes and grief’s screams quiet to whispers, the occasional sob. The words trickle away.

It is not quite two years since Joseph died and those who have walked this timeline with me have fallen away.

I have fallen away.

I remember when Joseph first died I read hungrily. I went back over and over and over to the same writers who helped me find my way through grief, and I was so angry when they stopped writing. Because I needed them, I didn’t understand that they no longer needed those like me. The lost. The babylost.

I rarely visit the community anymore. It is too hard to read the new stories of loss. I scroll through blogrolls and comments and I don’t recognize the names anymore. My cohort has come and gone. Most without saying goodbye.

It’s not intentional, this quiet. It just is.

Sometimes, when I have a moment, I indulge the sadness. I take a walk. I sit at the computer on a rare solitary evening and open my heart, check the tender places, whisper Joseph’s name.

And Finn. And Little Sun. And Peregrine, and Anja, and others.

I remember.

© Burning Eye

I remember this body

I remember this body.

 

The sudden softness of belly skin,

a tender curling inwards

over fresh emptiness.

 

A disbelief.

 

The rib cage spread wide,

trying to remember how to

settle

and close.

 

A lightness.

 

I remember this freckle,

hidden for months

under my roundness.

And the slight brown curve of the linea nigra.

 

These breasts, heavy with milk.

 

In labor I cried.

I want both my babies.

I want to birth both my babies.

 

But I had already birthed you.

 

Mothered my emptiness.

 

This body—

stretched,

worn,

but strong—

has birthed both our babies.

 

The linea nigra fades.

I have new scars now,

red stria

clawing the soft curve of my belly.

 

This body,

once hollowed by death,

These arms,

aching with your absence,

These breasts,

heavy with milk

 

nourish a new life.

 

 

© Burning Eye