TITLE: Grief 2/12/14
By Amelia Brown
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A couple of hours earlier, we were sitting at our dining room table enjoying mango chicken, brown rice, and roasted asparagus in between laughter and small talk.
“Let me grab dessert.” Smiling she continued, “Guess what it is.”
“I’m hoping apple peanut butter cookies.”
Pushing her chair back, Eraetulla got up and headed for the kitchen—then froze. She suddenly turned to me, our eyes locked.
“Honey, I think my water broke.”
Tossing the napkin in the air, I sprang to my feet, knocking over my chair in the process. “O-o-K, let’s not panic here. I’ll get the bags. Don’t worry, stay calm.”
“Sweetie, I think you’re the one who needs to calm down.”
My wife was always the composed and level-headed one. She had a way of keeping things under control; knowing just what to say to defuse any situation or bring encouragement. She kept me sane.
Another contraction hit, drawing more groans from Eraetulla as she lay on the delivery bed. My groans were inaudible only because I bit my lips when she violently squeezed my hand. Beads of sweat formed an army on her forehead; threatening to wage war with her eyes. I wiped them away with my free hand and replaced them with a kiss.
I felt helpless watching her writhe in pain. I wanted desperately to bring her comfort, but every attempt failed. The sun slowly invaded the room, reminding us that our anguish had rolled over into a new day. But it also brought with it a sense of hope that nudged me to be positive. After all, our painful ordeal would end in joy when our baby boy graced us with his presence. My reverie ceased when the doctor walked in.
“Mr. and Mrs. Beckham, how’re you holding up?”
“Not good Doc, she’s in a lotta pain.”
“How’s my baby?” Eraetulla’s voice trembled, revealing the trepidation she was trying to hide.
“I got the results from the preliminary examination I conducted earlier. Sadly, your baby is facing serious complications. We’re going to perform an emergency cesarean.”
“Are you sure that’s the best thing?” I was now pacing the floor.
“That’s why he’s in the white coat, Ludlow. I’m sure that’s what’s best for the baby.”
They literally had to haul me out of the operating room when I got frantic after discovering that my wife was losing blood profusely and was falling in a coma. Several hours later, the doctor walked into the waiting room where I was still pacing.
“Doc, talk to me.”
“Mr. Beckham, we tried our best. But it was a posthumous birth…which means that your wife died…before your son. I’m so sorry for your loss."
No man should have to hear that his wife and newborn are dead. Probably that’s why I didn't hear a word the doctor said after spewing out the second sentence like hot lava. I sank to my knees and wept like the baby I would never have. My world had ended.
Weeks turned into months as I continued to deteriorate.
I didn't bother going back to work. I refused visits from family and friends. Healthy meals were replaced with occasional snacks.
I tried to recover…really, I tried. But my despair convinced me there could be no progress.
Showering isn't a priority since lately; it has been days since my last. Today, the pelting cold water is like a defibrillator to my drain body. I grab a towel and walk into the bedroom. My heart sinks when I open the closet door and see my wife’s clothes. When I look down and see the unused cradle, my heart shatters.
The next day, I give all their things away thinking it will help. Instead, I feel worse. Then on my way home, gloom enshrouds me when a lady walks by, leaving behind a waft of Chance-Eau-Tendre; Eratulla’s favorite fragrance.
I get in my car and cry.
They say that grieving takes on the personality of its owner, which means no two individuals, grieve the same. One may take two months, another—a year, and still another perhaps ten years to find a way past lost. Maybe one day I’ll find an exit out of this pit of grief. Today is just not that day.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a work of fiction.
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