I cuddle my babies as often as they will let me. Which lately has been a lot. They’re young but intuitive enough to be kind to a sad mother. I scoop them up and relish their warmth, inhale their scent. I hold them close enough to feel their little hearts beating.
Forty nights ago I lay my head on my sister’s chest and begged God to let me hear a heartbeat. I wept against the silence. She was beautiful even in death.
I now know what it means, to become undone. But there were forms to sign. Decisions to be made. A hysterical mother to comfort and a father who had aged ten years in the blink of an eye.
Twelve hours later I was washing her body. Tears streaming down my face the entire time. I recited prayers and told her not to be scared like she could hear me.
I know she could hear me.
In the car, the little one asked for her over and over again. He saw every relative but not his favorite.
Where is Khalamoni?
Where is Khalamoni?
Where. Is. KHALAMONI!?
The growing urgency of his innocent voice ripped me open. She wasn’t here. This wasn’t happening. I was spiritually spent and wanted so much to fall asleep and wake up to everything being perfect again.
When they lowered her into the Earth my knees buckled and I forgot who I was.
How life changes in 24 hours.
I want to wrap them in bubble wrap and guard them against the world. They are in pieces. I can’t fathom their pain, nor do I ever want to. They don’t look like themselves anymore. I wrap them in love and treat them kindly.
Is Khalamoni going to be ok? The older one worries about her. He feels her absence and gives me random hugs and kisses. I miss her. I wish I could see her again, he tells me. We read books about heaven together.
Is Khalamoni still dead? The younger one is still waiting for her to come back.
My parents and my children have found solace in each other. I bring them together as often as I can because although they had a special bond before, it’s different now. Before it was joy, now it’s comfort. With each hug, my children are piecing my parents back together.
I carefully walk along the edge of the crater in my heart. I get through an hour. And then the day.
Some days I stumble and fall apart right into its depths. The Earth still turns. My parents and children have one another.
And I have only stillness.