Epilogue : Breathe

 

 I sit in my living room. The one I thought I would lose, in the house where I never belonged. I am still.

  It’s cold and I should probably put the heating on. On the wall to my left are pictures of our wedding day. My little boy is sat just in front of me, eating his chocolate porridge and fruit. Paddington Bear is on the television. It’s dark outside and I can see the reflection of a table-lamp in the bay window. My wife is upstairs in bed; having a miscarriage.

  I look at the screen, see the hands and the feet, waving, walking. The tiny human shape does a handstand and then a backflip, all in the should-be safe confines of Jane’s body. We are both a little worried. Maybe things will be better this time, easier.  

 “I’ve been betrayed,” Jane says, hands somehow encompassing her whole being. Hands encompassing more than I or anyone else will ever be able to see; there is an absence now, more than the emptiness that was there before. 

 It’s been hard. Tiring. Testing. It seems like an eternity. Too many trips to places of worry. Too much worry carried to places of memory. Jane doesn’t trust her body anymore. I’m not quite sure I do. 

 I cried a little this morning, and I shouted a little last night. I didn’t shout at anyone, just at the world for remaining so cruel. I am still cold, my little boy is still happy, I still need to put the heating on; my wife is still having a miscarriage. Henry’s mum is still having a miscarriage. Jane is still having a miscarriage. It is not nice. I can do nothing other than tell her it is ok, that everything will be ok. I believe that now. I have to. I’m calm and I’m waiting. Today is Friday, we have a scan on Monday, but I think we will know what has happened by then.

 She can’t breathe, can’t get up. Presents pile high under the tree, unopened. Red and green and yellow lights wrap around our life while blue lights and masked uniforms take Jane away, leaving Henry with me, alone. We have each other now, a bond forged in suffering. I see my reason in his smiling face; I think he sees love in mine. Unconditional and separate to everything else.

 I can see the waves hitting her. No, I can see them drowning her, and I know how terrible it is. But they are waves, and there are gaps, as I know there will be. I wait for them, patiently. I can put something there before the waves take over again. 

 I drink too much. I’m not ready to come back, so I drink some more. There’s no real desire to be gone forever, just a need to be numb for a short while. I pay my dues in vomit and sweat, and for the last time my grief wretches free. I realise in this goodbye I’m done with bottles of false freedom and momentary lies. Their price is an expense I’m not willing to meet anymore. Life has a value now.

 We go to the hospital, knowing there will be no miracle this time. It looks smaller now, bland. Before it was a gateway, a place I needed to travel through, taking me where I needed to go. Now it is only bricks and cement. It has finally become what I had been told it was, four walls and a door.  Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. I have changed

 I am stronger than I thought. I’ve learned to let go of the guilt. Still, I drag through memories, wondering if there was anything I could have done differently. If I am honest, the answer is probably yes.

 We don’t get a scan; we don’t need one. We have seen our daughter already, just before we flushed her away. Some mucus and some blood. Jane’s body is hers again, reclaimed too soon. We give her a name: Evie. No one told us she was a girl; it was too early for that. But we both know. There is a candle on our mantlepiece now, printed with a large ‘E’.  We light it once a year. One day it will be gone, burned to nothing. But not yet. Not for a good while.

 The cocktail cabinet is always unlocked these days, but I will find no solace in there. I don’t even look any more. I’ve learned you can’t drown the sea. It’s a raft I search for, and I find it in my little boy’s face as he gives me a chocolate grin. It is still hard to live sometimes, but now I offer my bare soul, unfortified, to the battering winds, and I sway with the tide until it calms once more. 

 “We have two babies now,” Jane says. I agree with her.

  The candle burns tonight, the room is warm as its glow echoes off the walls. It feels like there should be a coldness between us, a metaphor in the shadows chased away by the flickering light. But there isn’t; peace holds its place while our world takes a breath. Tomorrow it will change.

 We walk past green paper people, are given a quiet room. There’s no blood on the floor, even the phantom memories are kept at bay. I sit myself on a wooden chair, in the corner and out of the way. A midwife stands at the door. A shake of the head, a tremor in the voice. But, this time, it’s not for us. Someone else’s sorrow lives in those little gestures today. 

 In his cot Arthur cries. He cries for the false comfort of his mother’s womb. I think he cries for Evie, who should have already been here. Maybe he cries, just a little, for a future not yet written. I pick him up, I hold him close, and we are quiet and still. This is my gift to him. All of I am in the moment. It is enough; it has to be.

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