I seen you standing there.
Close enough to watch your children,
…..but far enough away from the rest of the world.
You were grumpy…..distant.
I sat on the bench while our children’s attentions turned from the playhouse, to the swings, to the sandbox.
I may have been the first to judge……to wonder what could have been so wrong for you to be present, but not be really there. How you could give such sharp remarks to your children so publicly, or how you could not care that all eyes were on you as you shouted across the playground.
I was jealous in some ways. That you could be so real. I felt like I could sense there was something…….
Then I seen it.
You turned around for just a moment and there on your back, a little to the left…were two teeny tiny footprints and two dates.
Two dates that did indeed signify a birth, but it was the second that caused my stomach to scrunch up tightly in my body. The date that your precious little one took their last breath. The year of 2016.
…and I got it.
You weren’t here yet.
You couldn’t be.
Because I had a hidden mark on my inner wrist that said the same thing.
Because I had been there only a couple years prior.
I knew you didn’t want to be there….neither had I. That inside it killed you to place your completely broken self right in the middle of a populated play area where you struggled between feelings of guilt and whether anyone knew you were even broken at all.
I got that your quick snaps were not of anger, but of survival. That it was easier to yell then as to physically move your body. That just being there was exhausting enough when your newly emerged in grief self could barely find the strength to get out of bed each morning.
I knew that you missed your sweet baby. That as you watched your girls play in the sandbox your thoughts were reminding you that there should have been another hand with a shovel….that as you watched my baby eating tiny handfuls of sand you envied me because you wanted yours…that as you tried so hard to take a picture that in your mind it was and would always now be incomplete because someone was missing.
Truth was, you were branded by death long before that tattoo. I could tell from your movements…from the “dead” look in your eyes. You were branded the moment your precious baby took their last breath on this earth. So was I.
All we ever exchanged was a half smile while we rounded up our sandy children from the swings and slides.
But I knew you.
I wish I could have told you I had been there. That I was still there just a little further ahead on the road. I didn’t need to know your name to know that your heart was broken in to more pieces than you could ever imagine. That your entire world had been shaken to the core. I didn’t need to have a conversation with you to understand that you were in the middle of a storm that seems like it will never end.
……because it doesn’t.
It gets “easier”, it fades and clears off at times…..but its always there lurking ready to show its self at the most random of moments.
You are going to get it through it.
If you can just hold on, next year you may just be sitting next to me on that bench.
Able to smile at those precious life savers of yours playing next to you….maybe even to help build a sandcastle. Maybe even ready to speak to the Mama next to you.
Until then I will remember you…..remember the brief encounter that placed my feet back on to the ground and allowed me to feel those raw, first year feelings.
Until then….you will remain in my prayers.
You and those small set of footprints that changed this Mamas heart more than you will ever know.