Liam was a two-sided revelation for me. I was, upon his birth, introduced to the previously unknown and fathomless expansive love of a mother, his mother. I bore my son into the world, stroked his head, cradled his still-warm body and succumbed to tides and swells of love flooding me.
At the same time, as I held my lifeless newborn in my arms, the world fell away, like a cardboard set, leaving a vast and dark emptiness filled with unconsolable anguish and despair. I was starting to realize what I had been given while at the same time realizing what was being taken away.
I delivered Liam, he was buried, Mike returned to work and the world kept audaciously turning as it always does no matter the degree of one's loss.
Mike was forcing me to do things: go places, get dressed, eat, visit people. I found myself being shuffled to one such meeting. I was being taken to lunch by one of his co-workers, an amazing and special woman, Kathy. We went to Panera and she bought me lunch and we talked.
Everywhere I went for a while I was searching, but not in a way that exactly made sense. I was searching for someone else this had happened to. I was searching for reasons why. I was searching for a way to go back in time. I was searching for Liam.
We talked about what had happened to me. We talked about things she had gone through in her life and we just quietly chatted. It was a temporary poultice for my inflamed soul, and I was grateful.
Then it was time to go. She put the top down on her convertible as we settled ourselves into her car-- it was a beautiful early October afternoon. Kathy turned right to take us past the Jewish cemetery on the way back to the Mount. It was a prettier and less direct route than the way I normally took.
The well-manicured lawns were letting go of the last of the summer blossoms and the hardy mums were standing guard on the porches. The pumpkins weren't yet carved for Halloween and people still weren't finished cutting the grass for the season. You could still hear the mower engines humming from distant yards.
I turned my face up to the sun letting it warm all of my head and closed my eyes as the sharp shadows from the overhead trees punctuated the bright light like some sort of Morse code.
I said to her, "Kathy, I'm just so sad, and it hurts so much. I love him so much. But sometimes, like now, I feel so... Well, not exactly happiness, it's much more than that."
Kathy said, "Joy. It's joy."
And I let it wash over me.