I want to tell you about a moment, gone before I was able to gather a thread of thought. But once you know, its presence never leaves. It winds around you as mist, a wind that swirls, unseen but always felt. It only comes to you after losing someone you deeply love. We lost our little boy, Joshua MacKenzie. A nurse told me she liked the way his name looked on a piece of paper. I have been staring at it carved in granite for ten thousand days.

The night Joshua died, I left this place. I went with him, carrying him into the universe myself. When I returned, pieces of my exploded heart lay all over the hospital floor. I tried to gather them up but couldn’t. My breast milk dripped down the drain of a public washroom sink because my baby didn’t need it any more. My body cried for me.

This is falling over the edge of the earth.

No mother should ever know what it feels like to leave her baby in the rain.

In school we learned that when ancient Hawaiians grieved for the people they loved, they climbed the sea cliffs and smashed their teeth against the rocks. They poked their eyes out with sticks. I used to wonder why someone would do such a thing.

They do it to let the pain out.

I wanted to be with Joshua. It would have been so much easier to die. The only reason I didn’t was a four-year-old boy who said he would grow up to be Superman and save his brother.

Somehow we lived through that long lonely winter. Spring came and then summer. Early one morning, Paul wanted to be with his baby. We went to the cemetery and sat on the grass beside Joshua’s grave. The sky was a beautiful clear blue, with glorious white clouds that rose so high they looked endless.

Paul was content. He sat on my lap and we listened to the brook dancing its way to the ocean. Birds and chipmunks greeted us as they always did. We saw butterflies and bugs, ants and even a grasshopper. The two huge fir trees on either side of Joshua’s stone gave us shade from the bright sun.

I felt a flutter, as soft as silk. My girl let me know she was there too. I looked up between those towering trees and the sky split open. I had an unborn child, a living child and a dead child. And they were all with me. Whether or not I could hold him, whether or not I could see her. They would stay with me in this world, the world before and the world after.

I didn’t lose Joshua. He lives with me every day, as surely as his brother and sister. Paul and Sarah are held in the circle of my arms. Joshua lies in his garden, in the circle of the earth, under a canopy of stars.

About Lesley Crewe

Lesley writes: "Although born and raised in Montreal a hundred years ago, I live in Cape Breton with my retired husband, two warring cats and a murder of crows. Our kids flew the coop long ago. I got into writing as a way to avoid housework and I've been on a diet for over fifty years with no success. I like to walk, read and collect old children's books. It is my mission in life to hug as many animals as possible."

3 thoughts on “Forever

  1. Roxanne Talbot

    I have just discovered you with the reading of “The Spoon Stealer”. I am in love with your comforting and engaging story telling, and writing style. Thank you also for the Introduction of your Son Joshua. Your telling of both Pain and Joy I find comforting. Reading your writing makes me want to be young again, and curled up with a favourite blanket listening to you tell me your stories as the hours pass.
    I am 57 and from Nova Scotia, now living in Toronto after a transfer in 2006 for my husbands job. My heart is still living in Nova Scotia and I long to move back at some point. Especially after recently finding out through that the Father I never knew of was from Arichat Cape Breton. He (nor my 2 half siblings) wish to acknowledge or meet me, but I want to return and visit the area. Maybe I will meet some ancestors that will whisper to my soul. I just wanted to say Hello, and let you know how much your writing touched and moved my heart.

  2. Lesley Crewe

    Oh my gosh, Roxanne,
    Thank you for the lovely email. I wasn’t sure what I was reading at first. I haven’t seen this in years. But goodness me, the sentiment is exactly the same now as it was thirty-four years ago. Life is just one moment after another.
    I’m sure you’ll get back here some day for your own sake. It doesn’t matter if no one wants to see you. You want to see you.
    Thank you for saying you enjoy my writing. That makes me happy.
    Please take care of yourself. You were very kind to get in touch.
    Lesley xo

  3. Sherri

    My sister finds treasure books to share with me and this year she shared Nosey Parker. Our little
    local library just brought in Amazing Grace for me. Lesley, your characters are so REAL, so not just two-dimensional on the page. For some people, I wonder if it would be hard to read your books because you do write about experiences they’ve had. Although I haven’t seen me in your writing (yet!), when I read I get lost in the story and I feel like your characters are my friends – I love Auntie Mae and Auntie Pearl! I love the Weiners and Mrs. Papadopoulos! People who take care of others.
    Thank-you for sharing your stories.
    I’m a western Canadian, but I love the East Coast and the two days we spent on Cape Breton in 2015 were not enough.


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