The news that you were leaving was news I took well, I thought.
I prided myself on not crying over your too-small body, your too-slow heart.
I laughed when the ultrasound tech told me there was still hope.
I turned away when she offered me a tissue. I left it there, mocking me, bouqueted and white.
It wasn't until I was trying to form the words "hot chocolate" at the McDonald's drive-thru line that I realized I had actually forgotten how to say them. I called your father and he couldn't understand me. I thought I was having a stroke. He drove home.
I told him I was sorry for letting him down again.
He told me I was being silly.
I told him I loved him.
It's a cold, dry-bones type of winter day. You are still making me sick, and I wonder if your heart has stopped beating yet.
My arms curl around your sister as the tears curl themselves down my cheeks. She says, "Mama, what's that wet?" "Sad," I tell her.
Questions abated, she snuggles into me and drifts off into the kind of sleep that belongs only to babies and old men.
Your dad gives me space and doesn't question the tears; feigned ignorance is his most endearing quality. He knows exactly when to employ it, and I could kiss him to pieces for it.
Your brother wonders when Handy Manny will be on.
Some day it will be me, the aunt who went through 10 years of hell to get her miracle child, consoling the niece who cannot see through her tears.
Some day, it will be me on the receiving end of emails with no subject field that read,
and I will know exactly what to say, and how to say it.
Like those who have felt this pain before me, there is a knowledge that any email sent out to the sad one must include the words "alcohol" and "chocolate", and the phrase, "I don't know why, either."
It's knowledge born of experience, knowledge that can be born no other way.
I wish things weren't this way. I wish the world could find peace and that navel oranges would go for a lower price. I wish that leaves wouldn't fall so quickly right after they've been raked, and that the Rwandan orphans would all find good, solid two-parent homes, with guardians who don't have any gun permits.
In that annoying selfish way that humans have, though, my biggest wish today would be this:
That it wasn't your heart, about to stop.