A child’s laughter, loud and joyful, comes from the phone in my lap. I sit and watch videos of my child playing, screaming, laughing, running away from the camera, then running back to wrap her little arms around my legs in a hug. She runs away again, screaming, laughing, giggling, and daring me to chase her.
She loved to be chased.
I sit in the stall, the volume on my phone turned to the maximum it can possibly go. I don’t care if people can hear; I don’t care what they think, I need the noise and it needs to be loud. It needs to be able to cover the sounds of the sobs that I try to hold back but am incapable of doing. They wrack my body, causing it to jerk while I rock back and forth while my eyes remain fixated on the phone in my lap. My eyes are fixated on her face lit up with joy and laughter, fixated on her eyes that are alive with fun and happiness while she plays with me, fixated on that last perfect moment.
I feel sick, but I can’t stop. When the video ends I replay it over, and over, and over. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be sitting in a pale pink stall at work. I should be at home with my baby, my little girl. I should be at home with the joy of my life, but I cannot be because she is not there anymore. She has a new home, a smaller home, where her body rests. I cannot visit her, I cannot hold her, I cannot touch her for she is out of my reach.
A man who loses a wife is a widower, a woman who loses a husband is a widow, and children who lose their parents are orphans, but there is no term for a parent who loses a child. There is no term that can encompass that kind of intensity, that kind of pain, that kind of heartbreak. It cannot be imagined, it can only be endured by those that struggle to find meaning for their life after that loss, a reason to go on, while in their hearts they long to hold their child again, even if it means that they, themselves, have to go into the ground as well.