It’s Coming on Christmas

Lyrics from a song that played
in my head that night
Have wept themselves into my soul

“It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
and singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on…”

The words tickle the back of my mind.
I try and swat them away
as I hug your blanket
and clutch the last bits of your smell
that linger from the hospital.

An unfriendly and spiteful Father Time laughs at me
from the chair I would have rocked you in.
He invades the single present moments
you and I had together

No one ever taught me
how to endure this kind of beating
(because it cannot be endured – it does not have an ending point).

I simply have to carry it.
Carry it through missing you
through birthdays and due dates and
one season after another.

Carry it through the nights
that drown in gray before morning comes

when I imagine your head
on my shoulder
and I sigh in steady rhythm
with the soft up and down of your chest.

It is the closest I come these days
to something filling my bones
with more than marrow
to something filling my heart
with more than blood.

I’ve coded on this nightstand
of un-ending, mocking grief
too many times to count.

The tug from sticky little fingers
brings me back to life –
there are reassurances to give
and bandaids to hand out
as life tiptoes and rages forward.

There is no river for me to skate away on.

Just a silent army of mothers
who gather behind me
in certainty and stillness

as I take shaky steps
out into this unknown world

carrying you with me, with me, with me
as I go.

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