During that first month after Allison's death, friends continued to stop by. There were times I didn't need to cry, but my comforters did, and that was okay. I would hold them and let them cry for me. That act itself brought some measure of peace, but a baby picture in a magazine or crying child in the grocery store still caused my heart a sudden free fall into my belly.
One day a friend went with me back to the hospital. I needed to stand at window of the new born unit and watch the babies kick and cry and sleep the sweet sleep of life. I touched my fingertips to the glass and breathed a wistful breath. I might not have a child to hold in my arms, but others did. Life continued. Mine. Theirs. The world kept turning. We walked back to the car in silence, but I knew I would go on. Keep living. Keep breathing. Keep hoping.
Then a friend who had been pregnant with me delivered a curly-haired, ruddy-faced, healthy baby boy. His name was Ray. When she came home from the hospital, I went over and spent a day with her. I held that sweet little boy in my arms, rocked him, and changed his diapers with the strange sensation that this was someone else's child, not the one I should have been holding. But this was the way it would have felt. Sort of a weird deja vu that I allowed myself to feel.
Sometime toward the middle of February, Cliff and I attended a church-related conference in Macon. I walked into the hotel meeting room the first night and encountered a group of young mothers in the back corner. Two ladies were pregnant, two had infants, and one held a tiny baby boy about seven weeks old. Allison would have been six weeks at the time. With a bit of fear and trembling, I joined their circle and greeted the mother with the youngest child. We had a mutual friend who had told her about my loss.
We talked some about my journey to this point and I asked if I could hold her son. As she was holding him out to me, another woman walked up and reached for him. "Oh, let me see this sweet boy!" she cooed.
Okay, I thought. Not time yet. One step at a time.