Heads up: if you have lost a child, particularly in pregnancy, you may want to consider whether or not you want to read this before starting as it is about that.
It would be so much easier if there had been a “why” to go with a “what” but I suppose there are some questions that don’t have answers. It was a small but brutal jest that left me alone on that bathroom floor every night, pulling up my shirt and looking down at exposed ribs, following them down to a scarred stomach and pelvis. The worst part was there were scars but no you. My body had proof you’d been there, proof you’d existed, but my arms were and remain empty. Somewhere inside I knew it. But the world showed no record of you. You weren’t there in my apartment,waking me up in the middle of the night wailing like some sort of siren. You weren’t there. Instead I just had this scary, unaffected, silence in your place. I knew you were there somewhere, had been there somewhere. My body knew it. My scars proved it. But as far as the world was concerned you were just a pocket of silence, a blank silence that had never really been there.
I lay on that bathroom floor every night until midnight for a month, just trying to remember the honey brown locks that I’d never comb, the first words that would never be spoken, the kindergarten graduation I’d never attend, the milk that would never be spilled. Then I settled on the truth that hearts are broken every day and mine isn’t the only one chained to the bathroom floor, swaddled in a pink baby blanket where perhaps somebody else ought to be. So that thirty-first night, I got up and went into the bedroom and turned on Letterman. You had been in there somewhere once, tucked securely beneath my heart. I had the scars to prove it. Maybe the world forgets the lost too easily in its eagerness to pick up latenight talkshows and turn the channel to afternoon sitcoms. But all the same you can only swim against the stream for so long before your body fails and it sweeps you along with it. Wherever you’d gone I couldn’t follow and you can’t hold on to a hand that isn’t there. It wasn’t time to let you go. There is never a time or place for that sort of thing. But either way, at some point I had to do it. At some point I had to get lost in the television and let somebody else do the talking.
This is something I wrote at nineteen that has always stuck in the back of my mind. I’d never been pregnant and still haven’t so I forget exactly what led to me writing this. I think I was listening to “You were meant for me” by Jewel and thinking about an alternative meaning for it.