New Death

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There’s nothing worse in this world than a dead baby.

It’s beyond description. Unless you’ve been through it, there’s no way to express the pain that sticks in your heart.

My cousin once had a high-risk birth because her son’s intestines developed outside his body. The mortality rate was high for those type of births. The odds were slim.

But for two weeks, he made it. He defied the odds and managed to hang on in the NICU. We visited him regularly and watched him through his plastic cocoon. Like any baby, he was a beautiful life. Everything about him was life-affirming. I remember watching his stomach fill up with air as he inhaled and exhaled.

I had hope for him.

But a week later, he got an infection and after a long battle, he died. I remember holding his mother as she cried.

Something you never forget. An impetus in your life. There was your life before the baby’s death and your life after.

Three days later we had to bury him. That was another trauma unto itself. With another cousin, I helped carry his miniscule coffin to his equally miniscule grave. It just didn’t feel real. The worst memory of it all was holding the coffin and feeling that there was nothing inside of it. I’ve been a pallbearer at a handful of funerals and I know the weight that comes with the dead.

But there was no heaviness with the baby. I only felt a profoundly light box.

And the weight of that box continues to live with me today.

His name was Heath.

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