It hits in the weeks after we’re home. All is well. I’ve adjusted to the mayhem of my school-age kids and their endless requests. My milk has come back in, and Jordan continually gains two ounces a day, twice what is expected.
He’s doing great, acts like it never happened. And I’m lulled sweetly into the peace of amnesia that protects me from my past reality.
One morning, I’m walking with him to the changing table, like I’ve done several times a day since that awful night. I lay him down, and he smiles. The changing table is always a fun time. Cooing, chatting, silly little games, and lots of big stretches. Life is grand.
His diaper his full, a good sign that he’s flourishing. I peel it back to reveal his scar, and there it is – all of it hits me in a rush of pain. Once again I’m doubled over, sobbing so hard I make no sound. A group of strangers has wheeled my baby into a cold, sterile room. I may never see his smile again. He may never rest his forehead against mine, giving and receiving comfort and connection.
This baby I never wanted may never have the opportunity to realize how much I needed him, how much I cherish him. For three hours I didn’t know.
I didn’t know if my whispered admonition to “come back to me, Baby; come back to me,” would be heeded. I didn’t know if five weeks of love and connection would be enough to hold him here. I didn’t know if my prayers would be answered.
I didn’t know.
I couldn’t contain my fear. It leaked out my eyes and came gasping out my mouth in silent sobs. My loved ones stood by in silence. What could anyone say?
None of us knew that a month later he’d be gazing at me, his eyes crinkled in anticipation, waiting for the next silly thing I would do to entertain him.
None of us knew that the weight of that moment would lift completely for weeks at a time.
None of us knew that it would all be just a haunting memory after three endless hours.
None of us knew.
When have you felt the full weight of grief over a loss?
Written by: Angela Magnotti Andrews
Instructions: Attempt to capture the moment when the full weight of your grief over a loss or perceived loss fell upon you. Focus on a time when you weren’t surrounded by your loved ones, a time when it just suddenly hit you when you least expected it.
Writing Exercise Source: Crafting the Personal Essay, by Dinty W. Moore (Writer’s Digest Books, 2010)