Today is Mark’s birthday. He would have been 20…he is 20. I guess. (Do you get to age in heaven, if you want? Or just pick the age you like?)
I’m in the basement, as the clock ticks down to half past one, in the wee hours, in the dark. I’m a complete and utter wreck. The last 2 weeks leading up to today have been pretty stinking awful. I’m going to do some writing in order to expel some of this…grief.
I am intensely recalling that surreal feeling of child birth, of experiencing something momentous, a massive life change — that the world barely recognized. Outside the doors of that little room where I labored, gripping Steve’s hand, life continued on, not stopping even for a second as – at 1:30am – Mark Alexander Slough finally slid into the light.
I was so delighted when someone – obstetrician? nurse? – laid him on my belly. Sarah’s birth had been harder, they’d whisked her away, leaving me anxious and panicky (I was like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona. “Steve! You go git me that baby!” ). This time, we laughed.
“Oh – a boy! Wow! A brother for Sarah. Look at that dark hair!”
Mark turned his head, squinting.
Oh, hello you.
Eight and a half pounds. Healthy. Beautiful. Great lungs. Wow! He’s got a good latch, Mom! How amazing — minutes after birth, he already knows he needs this…this thing only I can give.
My heart melts. I had been so afraid that my love wouldn’t stretch. Sarah and I – we had a thing, we had our twosome; I’d felt guilty, in a way. I knew it wouldn’t be the same, that we would have to adjust, and it would be hard. She was just 2 1/2. My deep little well of profundity.
When Mark died, at 12:10pm, on a gorgeously sunny, October day, the world didn’t stop then either. Our hearts all but tried to, but they keep going. I still wish, at times, mine would just stop. Quit. Rest. That has nothing to do with Steve, or Sarah, or anyone else I love. It has to do with pain, with escaping this wrenching pain.
Tonight we will meet up with about 60-70 of his friends and ours, at the neighborhood pool where he (sometimes grudgingly) swam on the team. We will have pizza and just be together. No speeches. Just together.