Petals in the Wind
The sun was beginning to
rise as we approached the small park near our house. Hannah, finally fully
awake, asked if she could swing on the swing set.
ďNo, honey, remember, itís
Zacharyís day,Ē I said. Only three-years-old, she didnít fully understand,
but she felt my serious mood and followed me to the small glade of
wildflowers. The grass was damp with morning dew, but I sat down anyway,
wanting to be closer to nature.
I placed the small box I
had carefully carried with me in my lap. Hannah nestled up next to me,
satisfied and quiet for the moment.
And I remembered.
* * *
The pain had kept on and
on. I guess they were contractions, but at four months into my long-awaited
pregnancy, I didnít expect to have contractions. Tom kept hoping the pain
would stop. After a while, we felt it was an emergency. Our doctor
confirmed it when he told us he would meet us at the hospital immediately.
We had tried for three years to get pregnant and although we were worried,
we told ourselves this was normal and that if I lay quiet, the pains would
After we arrived at the
emergency room, everything seemed to happen in fast motion. Ultrasound
showed the baby was not doing well. My cervix was dilating and I was in the
middle of a miscarriage. I kept pleading with God to let our baby live, but
I was filled with a deep sense of despair.
With my very encouraging
husband, and capable and understanding doctor, I delivered our son. People
asked me how I could call this fetus a child, a son. After all, he was only
four months along. I couldnít tell them how I held our dead child on my
chest and how we had a beautiful, perfectly formed little boy. Everything
we saw was formed. Little hands, little feet, a mouth, eyes.
He was just a smaller version of what he would have been later on had I
been able to carry him five more months.
It was very strange, being
in a hospital, holding our premature, dead child. A child we had so much
hope for. When he was born, I was in a lot of pain and grief. Iíll admit
that I was less than grateful that the nurse not only insisted we hold the
child, but also that we have pictures taken. But
now I thank that nurse often in my thoughts.
A sort of numbness set in
as they took my baby away. Our doctor wanted some testing done immediately
to determine why the early birth happened. Hopefully, we could prevent it
in any future pregnancies.
Before they took the baby,
hospital officials asked us if we wanted to have a funeral. Did we want the
baby cremated? It was hard enough focusing on what had just happened, much
less making decisions for the future. By way of an answer, we told them to
cremate the baby, adding that we did not know if we would have a funeral or
Finally, I fell into a
deep sleep, while Tom slept in the chair next to me. The next day as Tom
and I talked about our child through tears, we decided to bury him. It
would allow us to acknowledge that we had given birth to a baby boy and
would give us a tangible memory when we visited the gravesite.
Unfortunately, we learned
that the baby had been cremated during the night. Knowing that I had said
to do that, I asked if I could at least have the remains in an urn. The
response was that with a child so young there were not enough minerals in
the bones to leave remains. If I had told them, they could have wrapped the
child in a baby blanket so there would be some residue. Admittedly the
residue was from the blanket, but it was something. We started grieving afresh.
The next few weeks were
difficult. The nursery, already set up with family antiques, seemed more
than empty. After a few months, I started taking Clomid
again; the doctor was optimistic since we had been able to get pregnant.
passed. In an antique store one day, I saw a small lacquered box decorated
with dozens of tiny cherubs. For a moment, I imagined my little boy, up in
heaven, among those cherubs. Then it struck me that it was one year ago
that day that I had delivered my baby.
Iím sure the clerk
wondered why my face was full of tears as I purchased that box. When I got
home, I was surprised to find a dozen roses on the dining room table with a
small card from Tom saying, ďI didnít forget.Ē
That evening, as Tom held
me and promised me that I would be pregnant soon, I told him that I didnít
even know our babyís name. He said that was ok, because God and we would
always remember him. Later that evening, we named him Zachary.
After a few days, I
carefully took each petal from the roses Tom had given me and placed them
and some desiccant in the lacquered box. The cherubs on the lid appeared to
be smiling as I did so.
Our lives went on. Over
time, most everyone forgot how I had miscarried, especially once I became
pregnant with Hannah. Zachary, by the necessity of life and time, became a
footnote to our everyday living. But once a year, Tom gives me a dozen
roses and I always put the petals in my special box. And once a year, now,
I come to this park and remember.
* * *
The wind has picked up as
it has every year for the past six years. I awaken Hannah, who had fallen
asleep at my side.
ďAre you ready?Ē I ask.
I open my little box of
cherubs and toss the rose petals high into the air. The wind picks them up
and carries them along its currents. Hannah giggles and chases after them.
I silently tell the petals
to find Zachary. Tell him I remember. My baby has gone where the dew goes
when the sun shines. Heís where the wind is on a calm day. I tell the
petals that they can find him there.
And tell him I will never
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