the valley of the shadow of death

It’s June. It is twenty days away from the anniversary of a fixed point in time. It is two years ago and it is twenty years ago.

The grief pulls at me and I feel like I am heavily pregnant again, waiting and waiting and waiting for the birth so that I don’t have to hurt like this any more. I had back labor in the week before he was born and I cried because I couldn’t stop myself crying from the pain.

When he was born it took a few days for him to look familiar to me. He was always comforted by my nearness.

When his father left, he had no memories to hide away in his heart for later. I think that this was best; if there was a better time to leave us it was probably then, when we were all still so new.

The earth rotates around the sun unceasingly, turning the years inexorably. There is not enough time, there was not enough of me, I could not help him. You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped.

He left us almost nineteen years after his father did. There was nothing I could do. You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped.

I knew this was coming, years ago. I knew there was a hurricane destroying its way to us, and I ran and I ran and I ran with him and one day I could not outrun it. You cannot run from someone else’s destiny.

He is not dead but my heart hurts as if death took him that day almost two years ago. I dwell in the shadow of that day and I will mourn while the echoes of labor pains grip me. With the strength of my body I brought him to his first breath. That room was so quiet and my memory of it is colored in shades of grey.

Everyone but me was upset when they learned I was pregnant with him. I was always the one who wanted him. I was always there, always steadfast, always standing between him and the oncoming storm, until I couldn’t any more. Each must be free to choose.

I love him, I loved him. You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped.

I will mourn you. I will cry as if you are dead. I will not stop wishing that everything had been different. And I will live, even though there is pain that lives in me.

Nix Kelley
Co-parent to multiple kids. Writer. Death doula. Member of the Order of the Good Death. Seeker on the Path of Light. Queer, non-binary, & trans.


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