Tears in Heaven

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wrote this shortly after a good friend of mine suffered a miscarriage, when she was seven months pregnant.

Submitted: March 21, 2007

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Submitted: March 21, 2007

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Tears in Heaven

Her name was Natalie Rose. They didn't choose the name until her funeral. Such a beautiful name for someone who never had a chance to leave her footprints on the world.  

Her parents are nothing special, just a couple of kids themselves, only a few years out of high school, who hadn't even thought about children until the test was positive. It shouldn't have happened. But the fact is it did happen, at the worst possible time. He was going to a NASCAR tech school in South Carolina, and she moved with him. He was attending school on a full scholarship; they had high hopes for his career as a racecar builder, or possibly a shop technician. They had been there less than a year before it happened. The patch failed, the condom broke. What are the odds? He spent fourteen hours a day in class so he could graduate before the baby was born and move back home for the financial and emotional support. She worked to save money for a house. There was talk of marriage.

He graduated on schedule and they moved back to northern Minnesota to live with his mother until they found a house they were interested in. They found a place and were making the final arrangements, signing the final papers. They began making plans for a wedding, picking out the dress and the flowers and the location and the bridesmaids and the best man.

The baby just stopped moving. Her mother was seven and a half months pregnant. She'd done everything she'd been instructed to by her obstetrician. There had been no complications before then, no warning signs, nothing unusual.

The autopsy showed nothing. The baby was perfectly healthy. Three pounds, seven ounces. Natalie Rose's body showed no signs of physical or mental damage. The doctors still don't know what happened. All they can do is guess. Her parents can do that just as well.

The funeral was on a rainy Friday afternoon. I showed up late; the service started early. "Tears in Heaven" was playing when I walked in, red-faced with embarrassment for disturbing the mourners. I cried with everyone else around me, but the front pew was eerily silent. How could Natalie Rose's parents just sit there in the front pew and listen to that song when their baby's life ended before it truly began? They didn't even cry, not then, and I didn't understand at first. But their tears fell later, at the cemetery, when the service was finished.

I'd never seen a pallbearer jump down into the hole for the casket before. But I guess, when the casket is barely two feet long, it makes more sense than hauling out the heavy machinery to lower it into the ground. As the family dropped rose petals on the tiny box holding Natalie Rose's body, the sobbing began. What a horrible sound. But there was one sound that was worse: the hollow thud as relatives tossed down handfuls of dirt. I had to leave.

The luncheon followed. It's supposed to be a time to reminisce, to comfort, to sympathize. What do you say to a couple who just lost their first child, whom they did not plan but did want with all their hearts, whom they changed their entire life plans for? Even though they are family, I had nothing to say. I still don't.

I've always believed that death, and the pain it causes, is the hardest thing to deal with in life. But somehow that pain is worse when there are no memories to use for comfort. It's worse when you can only speak of "why" and "what could have been."


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