I remember you—in your hospital gown—with your rounded belly, as you walked the halls.
You had coppery, curly hair and your husband looked tired.
I didn't want to look at you, as we both laboured in the full maternity ward. I let my husband stay in that strange 'common room' where the drone of the television made a comforting white noise over the staccato static of our grief and shock. I went and lay in my bed, waiting for the contractions to start.
I think I forgot about you for awhile, as you walked the halls and I stayed in my room…with the door shut, planets and stars seemingly orbiting the small womb that held my dead baby.
But we met again, you pale and surprised, me screaming and crying for help when my baby came sooner than expected. With my husband gone, looking for the supper I had no appetite for, I found myself alone.
You ran and got help even as your own labour continued…
And at the time, I thought only of myself, in my selfish grief, as I stared at that tiny lifeless form lying between my legs. But that moment—where our eyes locked and I saw your sympathy wash over my wild grief—became tattooed forever in the tomb that held my soul, and I have never forgotten you.
Last night I thought of you, of your baby. How long after my tiny son’s birth, did your own body bring forth a tender wailing child?
I don't even know if you had a son or a daughter on that chilly September afternoon in 1997. Maybe by now, your beautiful coppery hair has a few greys. Your son or daughter just celebrated their 13th birthday.
I wonder if you remember me, and my tiny son, from that maternity ward all those years ago…and maybe when you tuck in your lanky teenager…
you feel gratitude,
like a gentle,