consignment

The sky has been scrubbed clean by thunderstorm. It's one of those diamonds-on- black-velvet nights, stars so thick you’d have to brush them away from your face if you went outside.

I curl up in bed staring out the window, enclosing Ben. And I feel so blessed, so robbed. And as I do at least once a day I coo to Liam in the dark, wish him free.

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They were our mentors, our guardians, our advocates, our teachers, the nurses and doctors of the NICU. Yet when it came time to part company, we bolted without looking back.

They’re on my mind every day. How I should have thanked them, written to them, hijacked the local television station to tell the world how incredible they are, how gentle they were with our babies and with us. But I haven’t, emotionally plugged. I run through each of their faces in my mind, conversations, milestones, long hauls. There’s the one who was there when they were born… the one who rallied for the first tandem skin-to-skin… the one who took him away. These faces are almost too loaded now, painfully evocative despite the kindness we always found there.

I don’t know if I could ever find the words to thank them — especially not within the confines of a hallmark card. But the radio silence seems unfitting, too. Someday I’ll collect myself enough to reach out, close off that chapter with the same consideration they gave to us.

In the meantime I hope a couple of them check in here to see how their charge is coming along, and pass it on.

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We were lucky, when Liam died, that there wasn’t much we had to return. It’s not as though we had a baby blue ‘li’l sluggers’ nursery ready with two matching cribs and two carseats and two of everything else. I figured I had two boobs, and at least for the immediate future, that would be enough.

But this morning I went to a local secondhand shop to drop off our extra Jolly Jumper, the one indispensable thing we had to duplicate along with fetuses. I cried all the way there remembering the day we bought it, a couple of weeks before it went wrong. I had been just starting to get past the holyshitness of twins, just starting to anticipate these two little people, imagining who they would be. Imagining them jumping side-by-side, giggling, with Evan in hysterics, egging them on.

So this morning the extra one became Liam’s, no longer needed. And as I blearily drove I couldn’t stop the he’ll never jump and he never heard music and he never breathed the air outside and tears dripped off my chin and then from the backseat Ben farted, one of those rich, healthy farts, and he mewed contentedly, and the spell was broken.

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In high school I nurtured the fantasy as everyone did, replayed again and again what I thought were emotional pellets dispensed by various objects of unwarranted affection. It was a painful, humiliating reflection, the kind I relished and resented all at the same time, that of an unrequited sort. The time I spend with Liam is that kind of melancholy. It’s all I have, so I hold it close.

I don’t mean for every post to be Liam This, and Liam That, and Woe, Woe, Woe. If you saw me you’d think I was alright, not shuffling any more or less than anyone gladly beholden to the all-night whim of a newborn’s appetite. I’m not drowning the way I was. And so much of that is thanks to crud-skimming, the release of getting these words out to you. After that there is light to see, and plenty of love.