This is a box. Make 49 percent of it as nice as you want. (You will be lucky to have children there
And luckier still if you can survive what happens when they go)
try not to dwell on the made-up
Or how untenable it might be to try to keep all you hold dear
In a box.
You can forget that a baby had been born. Forget that your knees were never good. Forget that you had already started foraging for man-made bodies of water despite being so close to the sea.
Forget the pain that was to come
Just remember the anniversary, the series of tragic anniversaries
I think about all the things I would tell the boy about his own part in my story, the bloodbath of both the Cross and matrimony, who is and is not good enough, but content myself with vacuuming
In relative silence.
I see you, late morning perhaps, wandering in, sitting next to this quintessential Ordinary Guy. He looks sideways at you. Pushes your favorite mug of hot something to the edge of the table he made himself. So long ago it hurts. A permanent scars kind of hurt.
And all he says is with his eyes-
You got distracted cleaning the kitchen. I thought about telling you to hurry up. Realized it was already all too fast–you were already growing up too fast,
I should will time to slow down, distract it with something
To keep us here together
Just a little longer
Ulysses fights through unspecified traffic, roads clogged with people trying to make their way home. He texts–
Proof love is
When my children have their birthdays everyone tells them their story–how the delivery went, first memories of the child, what we ate in celebration.
Your mom told me about your birthday. She was in the hospital for a some time before you were delivered because you were a multiple birth. She was so excited about you. You all were delivered (most likely c-section) around 33 weeks old.
You were each tiny and perfect from the beginning.
She was overjoyed by your birth. They told her she would need help since all of you would spend three weeks in the NICU before leaving with three identical apnea monitors. They said they asked your grandmother to help out but she said no.
So they call us. I was young and stupid. The other foster mothers were older women. One had fostered and adopted many children, the other had only your sister and her own grown daughters. They made up lullabies for her.
When we left the hospital together people mistook me for the mother and them for my supporting family. We explained this was not the case.
I did not get to know your mom until they told me they were taking you away. She fought for her parental rights, but the system was well rigged against her.
Sometimes she would call me. She told the most interesting stories. It is these stories I wish I had written down, recorded, preserved for you, best would have been recorded, in her own beautiful voice.
So you could hear them now. So close to her birthday.
Since I lost you I have developed a small bag of tricks to cope with grief. The best of them is prayer, others include running, swimming, mixed martial arts, and writing stuff down. I did not begin to write about grief until I lost the others as well….mostly because others had written about us.
At the time I wrote to judges, elected representatives, functionaries, dignitaries, and Hillary Clinton, and I still lost you.
The other tricks included comfort eating or not eating and pretending that all the cheesy break-up songs in the world were for you and me (because for some strange reason there are none for grieving foster moms, per se)
This is a part one-of-two letter, dearest Little One. Don’t make my mistake, start writing now. It will help a little now and a great deal later.
You have a story, beautiful Rapunzel.
Trying to escape the lie that there was another day that could’ve been–something with more walking, running, skipping perhaps, less pain, which you and I measure in numbers, whole or in pieces, because how could you measure it otherwise? The way you might
Measure a life in years, decades, fractions of things. We are all just fractions of things.
Only from great heights.
All day it has been set–the lovely flowers, the pristine linens, silver service, aroma of a meal wafting from bone china, but I do not know how to do this–how to sit to this table, how to make a banquet out of sorrow.
—Psalm 23, of course.