on the sunny side of the street

The mountain forests of British Columbia are like cathedrals, sacred and ancient. Thousand year-old hallways and altars and grand columns that rise from rich, deep moss-velvet. You walk in this place humbled, a guest of the gods. The place that became us is so vastly foreign to the place that birthed us.

Full circle in Nova Scotia, land of pirates and rum-runners and a meat grinder sea. The woods here are a shag carpet of stunted and unassuming gnarliness. Legions of black spruce stand like matchsticks in comparison, more hardy and honest than show-stoppingly glorious.

We drove home today from the hospital, from one boy to another, and I rested my head against the car window, stared out at this land-borne ocean of brackish green. And suddenly there he was: Liam, the blur whizzing past him, full of amazement.

During that long night as we lay through spells of breathing, and spells of not, I told him: Rest now but come back whenever you like, love. Come back and pour yourself into my ear, and sit down cross-legged in front of my eyeballs. I’ll move my head back and forth and show you the most wonderful things.

A wall of threadbare jacks, weed trees thick in a bog. But look, baby! How straight they stand, all bare and spindly but proud of their prickly tuft. Stubborn through the winter and up to mischief with the crows. Aren’t they just perfect.

There’s another of Liam’s gifts. His soul is inside me again, the way he started. And so I’ll take note of the world for him. Beauty and nourishment, through my eyes and all my senses. How you would have loved all this.


Evan watches me as I pump, eyes fixed on the drip- drip- drip. "Mama make a-boobie milk," he declares. "Aaahhh… (as if deciding) …a dis one for Ben, a dis one for Leee-am."

I decide it may as well be now. "Evan sweetie, Liam doesn’t need mama’s milk anymore. He’s a star now, watching over you, strong and brave. He’s okay, he’s a happy baby now."

He scrunches his forehead. "No mama, dis one’s for Leee-am. Dat one’s for Ben. Dis one for Leee-am. Leee-am! Ahhh… Thomas. James. Skarloey. Misser Toppem Hat. Twubblesome twucks. GORDON!"

He huffs off to arrange his trains into lines of orderly submission and my throat swells up at the loss he can’t yet grasp. An almost gravitational force pulls me into sorrow for what Liam should have been. But instead, thanks to his big brother, I smile at how rich we are. As rich as Rockefeller.