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.