On Wednesday morning, I learn that an acquaintance's sister has just experienced a stillbirth at 39 weeks - sudden, unexpected, and unexplained. I read the e-mail over and over, and I keep thinking of this baby's nursery, neat and ready, its emptiness no longer one of sweet anticipation, now a painful reminder of bitter loss. I think of our own nursery, of the newborn clothes folded into tidy rows in the drawers.
Later, I meet some friends at the playground. The other moms all have two children, a baby and a toddler each, and then there are Ellie and I and my very pregnant stomach. It's a clear fall day, sun filtered through falling leaves, and the mom chatter flows freely, addressing toddler tantrums, infant sleep, and how to fill the long days.
I have things to say about all of these topics, but today I do not want to talk. Ellie wanders to a remote corner of the park, and I follow her, happy for some distance from the others. She climbs up an aging piece of playground apparatus, and I spot her, making sure she does not slip or fall.
Tears spill down my cheeks, and I do not know why exactly. I wipe them with my sweatshirt sleeve while Ellie happily spins a steering wheel and slides her way across a swinging bridge.
I know I am sad for this woman I do not know, for her loss that is deeper than any I have experienced. At first, I think I must be afraid for the baby inside me, and it is true. I am. The seven weeks I have left suddenly feel very long.
But I know somehow, that there is more, that these tears are for Avaleen too. I am reminded today of the horror of death and of the little girl that might be here with us, toddling her way through the leaves and eating mulch.
I drive Ellie home and let the tears flow. Sometimes, there is nothing else to do.