"I was doing OK until the burial." She said with broken voice, "I just couldn't watch them put him in the ground. They don't understand. That is a part of me that they put in the ground. A part of my body is in the ground." I pictured his tiny body growing in her belly. I pictured the babies that have grown in my belly. They are a part of me.
She told me again about the moment he died, only this time with a smile. "He had been so scared, and his face looked so bad, and then when they took out the breathing tube and he passed away... he had this look, this happy, sweet look come over his face. He changed. It was like all the pain was gone and he knew..." She looked at me and giggled, "I hate to say I told you so to anyone, but I kind of enjoyed it. I leaned down to his ear and whispered, "You see? I told you so. I told you it would be beautiful."
We talked for hours. She bashfully showed me her "doodles", beautiful, elaborate, bright, joyful drawings. Embellished hand prints of her children's hands, with flourishes and splashes of vivid colors filling the fingers and spilling out to the background. Moons, hearts, roses, stars, clouds, and birds covering them like the delicate, ancient images on a Persian rug. I was awestruck at the innocence in them that in all of my years as an artist, I had never been able to achieve. She showed me Seth's hand prints, his 3 fingers and modified thumbs, long and slender. She stroked them, and then patted them the way she had patted his hands that last day as he lay still.
I asked her to please trace my hand, too. I felt so humbled when she said yes.
Photo of Elllie's hand in my handprint that was made when I was 5 by my mother. Other handprints are those of my brothers and sisters.