What should have been, would have been rolls around in my head like a marble in a tin can.
dink. dink. dink.
She should have lived longer. She would have taken care of Grandma, and Grandma would have spent her last days surrounded by a love as encompassing as the sun. She would have been so happy.
It should not take an act of God for a healthy woman to get pregnant. She would have rubbed my back during labor. She would have cooed into my baby’s ear. She would have been so happy.
She should have had a sixtieth birthday, a seventieth, an eightieth. A retirement party. She should have traveled with John to Europe, Asia, British Columbia. Bisbee. They would have sent me postcards from beyond, taken couple photos kissing at a vista wearing matching cargo shorts. She would have been so happy.
dink. dink. dink.
There is no would haves or should haves. There is only the now, and the now echoes with her absence. Grandma has dementia, and will need to be placed in a care facility soon. My stepfather is lonely and distraught. I have no baby. Our hands are empty and searching.
I become sad. I become angry. I long for a future that can never be; I rage at a world that brings beautiful things into existence only to tear them apart.
Moments of reprieve come in glimmers, where the tin can rattle stops for a second, a minute or an hour. I walk. I run. I feel the earth so sure beneath me, as though pressing upward to meet my feet. I feel the air slip between my fingertips, travel down my throat and out my nose. I lay in bed and feel my blood warm the tips of my toes, pushed forward with every squeeze of my relentless heart. My fingers meet my harp strings and I feel comfort in a meaning that exists beyond words.
I don’t have what I want, what I thought I would get. But my grief opens me to the gifts of the present:
The breath, the heartbeat, the shuddering of trees in a rainstorm, the beat of a wing against a yellow sky.
The clouds build up. The sun lights them in a show of fiery splendor. Then darkness comes, and they disappear as silently as they were created.