Benjamin came home today. What’s left of his tiny body is held in a small white box with his name, date of death, city, date of cremation and the name of the funeral home. The box came wrapped in a big soft forest green bag. Appropriately somber but not black. Rich looking. Like moss on a forest floor.
My mom held the little box against her chest and cried.
I simply ached as I remembered the weight of 1 pound, 1 ounce on my heart, his tiny perfect fingers and toes, his arms and legs too thin, his skin purple, his eyes closed with no lashes yet, his nose – more like mine than Steve’s, his little penis, so shockingly well-formed. My son. My perfect, dead son.
I wonder when his heart stopped beating. I try to remember the last time I felt him move. I think it was in the hospital that night but I’m not sure. They couldn’t find his heart beat but I believe it was beating in time to mine. Slowing down. Then they took the monitor off and all I could do was love him and let him go.
Just before they put the needle in my spine, the doctor opened the door. He was still in his street clothes after being on the phone with the perinatologist. I think he was asking if there was any reason the specialist might think that Benjamin was big enough to survive. He looked at me and told me that NICU wouldn’t get involved at 23 weeks unless the mother told them to do everything they could to save the baby. I shook my head and said something, calmly, sadly. I didn’t want them involved. He closed the door. It didn’t matter anyway, the decision wasn’t mine to make.
Some day soon, we’ll decide what we want to do with the little white box. For now it sits quietly on a shelf, a reminder of hope lost and dreams that will no longer come true.