11 months

It’s the 23rd of the month again, 11 months since you were born. A year ago you were safe inside me, I was heavily pregnant, incredibly uncomfortable, sweating more than I knew was humanly possible, guzzling water to stave off contractions that might lead to an early delivery and threaten your precious life, more aware than I’d ever been of the location and condition of every nearby public restroom wherever I went. My heart is stuck there, but at the same time I’m imprisoned on the light rail train of time that is flashing forward into the future without you, and I am nauseous from the speed with which this almost-year has passed. This cannot be. And yet it is. How do I stop this? How do I buy more time? I am powerless to reach you, and my new reality is throat-clawing anxiety every moment. Cognitive dissonance like no other. Lack of motivation to do so many things because, what’s the point? Will any of it bring you back? I am conditioned to press forward and so I do, believing that it will somehow be better for your brothers, but there is no hope in me for a full, satisfying life for myself. Only for survival of the next however many years I’ll be here.

Your due date was 9/11. Not an insignificant coincidence, for I have my own personal Ground Zero now. When that national tragedy happened, I was living in New Jersey and witnessed the gaping scar in that magical city firsthand. I saw life as so many people knew it stop, saw grief open up like the gaping wound that was left at the scene. Temporary platforms were set up so people could walk by and look at the place where two buildings once stood and so many lives had ended. The scene was raw, the wound fresh, scaffolding still hung off of nearby buildings, and I remember being struck by how deep the footprint was. Discussion of a memorial began but the decision was made not to rush into a plan. This was such a significant violation, such a monstrous loss, that time needed to be given for us all to just be stunned, for several waves of aftershocks to pass, for the magnitude of the horror to be recognized, for the many lives taken to be mourned. A museum was built that showcased so many items found at Ground Zero, personal items that spoke of an individual lost life, warped metal that revealed the strength of the blow.

I visited New York this past spring for the first time since 2002, and somehow the place has been transformed. I do not know the details of the decisions and planning or process, but I know that even though those square city blocks have been physically transformed, I still had a sick, hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach when we drove by. How did all of those families learn to live with the gaping hole? How did they piece their lives back together? How have they survived the past almost 16 years with the knowledge that horrible violation and loss can happen at any moment, out of the clear blue? Will my gaping wound heal or will I just be forced to build on top of it, because that’s what the world demands, that’s what our culture wants to see: resilience, progress, forward motion regardless of the cost?

One more month until the twin anniversaries of your birth and death, and I am not remotely prepared.

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