Eight days before you died, a dear friend and co-worker approached me.During hall duty that morning, he explained how he had seen you in a dream. I was eight months pregnant at the time.
In this dream I had shown up to work, my stomach transparent. Everyone could see you, all tucked away and safe. In the dream they had counted all your toes and fingers. They had marveled at your dark hair and all your tiny features, only they couldn't see your eyes. You hadn't opened them.
I remember smiling at him. “I’ll let you know soon enough what color they are!” with a chuckle, and then I walked away.
How could I have known I’d never see them? That I would only learn they were blue weeks later, while reading an autopsy report.
As I held you that morning I thought of this dream, how telling it had been. The misinterpretation as I had sipped my morning decaf, happily wrangling teenagers from tardy bells.I had been so confident that I’d have you, so clear on my controls. All of the precautions that would surely see you to me. All the mercury-laden seafood I’d declined, skipping holiday cocktails and migraine medication. How cruel the world becomes after losing such control, how harsh the realization that it never truly existed.
That night, nearly one year ago I knew you had gone. You had only been still a matter of hours, but I knew.I have never wanted to be so wrong in my life. My eyes pleading with every nurse on staff, every fiber in every bone screaming, begging for the correction I would never receive.
Since your death I have lived a thousand tragedies.I see five car pile-ups when your father is ten minutes late. Kidnappings on playgrounds as children linger in tunnels.
I plan funerals on a daily basis, hymns and readings and casket colors. Walking pneumonia is most likely a death sentence. Growing pains are probably cancer.Mothers and brothers and friends are gone in an instant, a solace stolen in the night as quickly as it had once soothed.
I don’t sleep anymore, waking multiple times to check them all. Your father and your brother and this baby and the dog. I float down carpeted stairs at one and four a.m., quite confident one of them has left me. In the dark, cold gels atop my abdomen as I listen for the absence of that most beautiful sound. It is never a hunch anymore, it is a certainty. A conclusion I continually draw from experience. Death. Loss. Perpetually a moment from my realization.
I am always searching it. And I am always surprised, a legitimate shock when it eludes me. Feel their breath on my cheeks and I don’t believe it.Last fall I saw this baby for the first time. I have had several ultrasounds since, but the first one was significant.
Your father met me at the hospital. The very hospital he had driven to eight months before as I had waited in that bed, a lone heartbeat ringing in my ears.
On this day I was six weeks along, quite carefully prepared for the news I was bound to receive. How bravely I had entered that room, approached the inevitable. I remember the immediate understanding when the technician made a face. The acceptance enveloping me as she cringed at the screen.
“There’s no heartbeat, right?” Coldly. Calmly, I had said it so that she didn’t have to. Your father reached for my hand.
There was a shock in her eyes then, a shock that would quickly shift to mine. A welcomed sensation I have felt hundreds of times since.
"Oh God!” she exclaimed with a nervous laughter. “I’m so sorry. I thought I was going to sneeze.”She tilted the screen, and I felt the relief that only being mistaken can provide. The all-consuming, throbbing potential when one allows life to prove them wrong.
“There,” she said, pointing, smiling.“There’s your heartbeat.”