I smiled

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I smiled less than an hour
after being wheeled out of the hospital
without her in my arms
where she had nestled just hours before
lifeless, breathless, slowly fading into a bluish color,
when only yesterday
she was tucked away safely in my womb.

I smiled less than an hour
after giving her to the nurses
with the assurance
she would not be left alone,
that the funeral director
would come get her soon
and he was a very nice man.

I smiled less than an hour
after I kissed her cold nose
and dabbed off the watery blood
leaking from the corners of her closed eyes
(I’ve never seen eyelids so heavy, so gentle, so soft).

I smiled less than an hour
after holding her small face up next to mine
trying to will some breath of air to find its way
up through her chest and out of her mouth.

I smiled less than an hour
after the most brutal goodbye of my life
so close to her death I could touch it,
because life was waiting for me.Because “Mommy, look at my train track! See, see!?”
greeted me when I came home
stumbling through the door
into an eerily unfamiliar, familiar place.I smiled
Because “Come on Mommy, go faster, go faster!”
hollered at me as I hobbled up our stairs
sore from being split in two
before my body was ready
to let her go.
I smiled
because my little boys don’t know what death looks like
and they couldn’t see it on my face.I smiled
because my little boys had missed me
while I was offering their sister to God.I smiled
Because I was about to tell them something sad,
something they would not understand.I smiled
Because my older son tried to comfort me.
“Maybe she’s still in there Mommy,” he said quietly,
patting my tummy with his tiny, kind hands.I smiled
Because after two minutes of agonizing solemnness
my younger son started giggling at Curious George
and it distracted him from my weeping

I smile now
Because my little boys know
that death is not the end

that sometimes tomorrow does not come
but love,
always love,

arrives in time.

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