four years, almost

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I stared at the new baby, shocked. Ten pounds! Wheee-oof. Somehow I thought he'd be shaped more like a linebacker or a large appliance. But he was so little, so unfocused. Shocked himself.

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Today was Ben's party in advance of Thursday, the real birthday. Instead of cake we stacked chocolate waffles smeared with caramel dulce de leche, a tower, and made sundaes with star sprinkles and rainbow sprinkles and sanding sugar and licorice and whoppers and smarties and butterscotch chips and strawberries and fudge sauce, my mom's fudge sauce. And I was spooning fudge sauce on somebody's top while a short but pushy lineup jostled with edible bowls and it struck me two days late, drizzling: that new baby is five times the size of Ben when he was born.

It can't be. But it is. Ben was five times tinier than tiny.

New baby was ten pounds the day he was born. The kind of pounds that make people smile and go "Wow!" and "Oh my goodness!" and "Wheee-oof!" But to look at him, all you see is tiny.

Ben was two pounds the day he was born. Ben was two decks of cards stacked end-to-end. Two-and-a-half maybe, if he stretched. Ben was a hairless kitten. Ben's diaper was three inches across, maybe, if you stretched.

Time does something to tiny.

I AM NOT A BABY.

But you'll always be my baby. Always. Even when you're a big man with a big truck, you'll still be my baby. I'll pick you up and I'll cuddle you and I'll stick my hands on your belly because you'll always have a warm belly, even when you're a big man with a big truck. I'll stick my hands on your belly because you're mine mine mine, my teeny tiny baby.

I AM A BOY.

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I'd like to say that four years later, I am myself again. But I'm not. I'm something else. A team of people in scrubs ran down the hall to the O.R., pushing me on a stretcher. I stared straight up, the only way. Fluorescent lights, a blinking blur. I'm so sorry. We can only pick up one heartbeat, and it's very weak. Shoes slapping the floor, doors thrust open, yells ahead.

It wasn't just their death and their birth. It was mine too. Nothing is what it was. Somehow, it's almost okay.

Time does something to big.