John Allison | She kept what she thought would hurt the most

She told me about you for the first time today
How it wasn’t her fault
How you would have been eighteen this year
How it was a natural pregnancy
(as far as such a roller coaster ride ever can
be called natural)
But it just happened
And you were gone.
She told me about when she first felt
she was going to make it
when she could finally push the cart
always with the one crazy wheel
down the baby food aisle
without crying when passing the strained peaches.
She angrily understood when friends stopped
talking to her
because they knew the pain was so great
there was no soothing to offset
the agony of the topic.
But to not ask how she was would be as cruel.
So, unable to find words, they chose to treat her
as if she had leprosy.
She would have preferred talking through
the desolation.
She was determined that you would not be a sad thing
like a cancer tumor
but a family member
so she named you Paul, because it means little one,
and because you had earned the right to an identity.
She wrestled with the question
of what to do with the shower gifts.
She would wait until the next
pregnant woman came along, and do the right thing.
She did,
but she kept one box, in a lower bureau drawer
three tiny white t-shirts, pure white
folded just right
tied in a fine silk ribbon
created to be
a painful package, to be constantly
so she wouldn’t forget.
(As if she needed such a thing to help her remember.)
She thought aloud
if you had lived
what would you be like?
I think the answer is simple.
Those days when she learned you were not
destined to enter this living world,
She felt painful loneliness
trying to make sense of it.
You went through the same thing.
In your short life, you shared with your mother
the pain
the confusion
about what was happening
not understanding why
fighting, doing your best
but not strong enough to make life go your way.
At the moment you each felt alone
You were not alone
She was not alone
You shared those last moments
as strong people to the end.
Your last moments
weren’t as bad for you
because you were within
the perfect love and warmth
of her.
She thought aloud
if you had lived
what would you be like?
I think the answer is simple
considering what you’ve both been through.
You’d be like her.
She hopes you know
that you will never be less
than your brothers and sisters
and will always be a loved family member,
that you are real,


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