It was the second heartbeat that put my limbs into paralysis. I had already expected the first heartbeat. It was the reason I was in the doctor’s office in the first place. I was just there to confirm what I already knew. Earlier that week, I had purchased a test at the grocery store, and the whole way home, the only thing I could feel was anger that the pregnancy test cost $17 dollars. That price was so outrageously unjust. I channeled all my anger towards the manufacturers, as if they were to blame. I would never get those $17 dollars back. I would never get them back.
It was on your birthday, the day I found out about them. Did I tell you that? I didn’t. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I’m sorry about all of it. We gripped each other’s hands beneath the stars and shared every secret. And I’m sorry for the way I fell into you– the same way rain falls as it collides with the pavement. The way it disperses; helplessly and hopelessly and in entirety, the whole of myself crashing down and becoming lost.
I remember the first time you told me you loved me over the phone. I was holding a rose, in the most fragile shade of pink, that I had picked from my garden. It was in full bloom, and as you were talking, I clutched it so tightly that when I opened my palm all the petals fell off and fell to my feet- in a big, silent, bang- as if they had once held the universe together and then were sent hurling into space creating galaxies and stars.
I lost them on a Sunday. I didn’t tell you that part either. Have you ever heard something disappear before? We listened to each, faint, heartbeat get further and further apart, until they were so far apart that we stopped listening for anything at all. At this point, I had already lost the first tiny baby and the nurses didn’t sound very optimistic that the second one would survive. My mom held my hand and looked at me. I’ve seen this expression on her face once before– when I was little, about 5– I found an injured young bird on my lawn. I wanted so much to save it. I wrapped it in a blanket and ran inside to show my mother so she could fix it. She knew how to do that– make things better. She would have to make it better. She put her arms around me and told me that there wasn’t anything to be done. The little bird was dying.
They told me that I shouldn’t hope to see a little body. But a while later, there it was, with so much blood, and the size of my thumb. Part you, part me. On a sterile blue cloth.
I began shaking violently, and was sent home with some sedatives and everything that I have ever hoped for in my life, in a tiny wooden box.
My mother drove me from the hospital to a hidden meadow in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains. It was almost dawn. It was so unspectacular. There was no ceremony. No one to mourn over them, or care for them except the cold earth below and the bright stars above their tiny angel heads. I knelt down and dug my hands into the dirt as if I could, in that moment, actually move the mountains. I tried briefly. I tried… I actually tried to move them, or maybe I was trying to bury myself. But they didn’t move. My hands were too small to move them. So, my mother took my shoulders and led me to the car.
It’s funny what images sear themselves into your memory. The dirt under my nails as we drove home. The roses in my hand that golden afternoon in June. I wonder if in time, I will still remember what the dirt looked like underneath my fingernails, and if that will always remind me of that fragile shade of pink.