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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hallmarkings

Dear Josie,
 
It's funny how I search you all the time.  In silence and in thunderstorms, in white treasure chests that hold the only clothes ever to grace your skin.  I open chestnut dressers holding sandy ashes and I breathe deeply, willing you into me.  Desperate to feel you.  I get nothing.
 
Today I was jogging through the card aisle of my friendly, neighborhood Target.  In and out, I kept telling myself.  After all, your brother wasn't there to slow me down this time!
 
There is an entire, separate section for Father's Day cards.  I imagine to someone with a dead father, this aisle must feel like the formula aisle for someone with a dead baby.  Everything shrinks in around you.  It gets quiet, hard to breathe.  It's like the world is stopping just to point at you in that moment.  Hold on...she's looking at them.  What will she do next.
 
There was a woman there, a little older than me.  She was holding a card, and she was crying.  Not the soul-wrenching, guttural crying, but the silent kind of crying you do when you don't want anyone to see.  Hands on her heart, shoulders hunched, softly bobbing up and down. 
 
It would have been easy not to notice, several didn't.   It would have been easy to pretend not to notice, as I would have done before.  Before you.
 
But now I get these pulls.  I can't ignore them when they happen.  I wanted her to know that I could see. 
 
So I took the four steps in my gray sweatpants with five holes, and I stood just beside her for a moment and I waited.  When she started to cry harder I didn't back away.  The pull, my darling, wouldn't allow it.
 
I hugged her.  I hugged her for what must have been three minutes but it felt like three hundred.  I felt the weight of each tear as it hit me, let it show me what was lost.  When she relented I looked at her.  "I'm sorry."  I said.  "I'm so sorry."
 
I didn't offer my sob story.  I didn't tell her about you, that my baby girl died one morning abruptly and unexpectedly. That I had to deliver her dead body in a hospital room with warm incubators, waiting with pink and blue striped hats and spa-like bathtubs.  I didn't say that I knew what she must be feeling, as so many have told me.  More importantly, I didn't say nothing.  Hadn't ignored the hole inside her.  Hadn't pretended it wasn't there. I like to think you taught me that, allowed me to give this complete stranger the only thing I have left to give to anyone.  A little compassion and two empty arms.
 
She thanked me, and I walked away with nothing but a damp patch on my right sleeve.

The very best way to walk away.

Love,
Mom

3 comments:

  1. Amazing story. So glad you hugged her. Your kindness made me smile and cry at the same time. You're strong mama. Josie would be proud and I'm sure she was smiling.

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  2. sian herrera-delgadoJune 12, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    You truly are amazing and I'm so privileged to know you even if only via the internet at the moment. I bet that one act of kindness, that one act of compassion and love from your beautiful heart will have a long lasting impact on that lady. Xxx

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  3. You are so sweet to have done that. I had a talk with my pastor (whose son has passed away) one day and we talked about how losing a child changes you, sometimes for the better. It leaves you more open to things you wouldn't have understood before, and it makes you available to people in a way that you would not have been had you not gone through this tremendous loss. I always say that I want my boys' legacies not to be grief, but to be love. You are doing that for your little one - leaving a legacy of love.

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