Something wonderful happened today.

Anna was out, a bit unexpectedly. She wanted her baby. I hadn’t realized she was involved in her pregnancy. I hadn’t realized she was the one heartbroken over it.

“Charlie did everything else,” she said. “But I gave birth.” To the fetus, she means. She doesn’t mean it lived. “A miscarriage is like a funeral,” she says too. And it was, because the fetus was already dead when it happened. It usually is.

She says she wants to try something, and she makes up a bag of rice that’s about newborn kitten-sized, that’s about the size of the baby that didn’t make it. And she holds it for a while.

Things often happen too fast, she has realized. You don’t get a chance to take anything in. After Nata died, Ann didn’t get to hold her long enough to take in the fact of her death. She didn’t get to hold the fetus long enough either.

She knows it is buried. She knows it is dead and buried under the peach tree. But there wasn’t time to take in all of that. There were bloody sheets to attend to, there was not wanting anyone to need anything from her, to look for her and see what she was doing.

So the washing of the body, the burial, the whole homemade kind of “funeral” was hurried, and there was no time to take it in properly. There was no time to let the grief come out.

Now she makes up a little kitten-sized sack of rice and holds that, not because she thinks the baby is the sack of rice, but because it brings back that moment of holding the fetus in the bathroom, where she cleaned it off in the sink, and it extends that moment long enough to be taken in. It gives her time to take in the fact of its death, the little sliver of the life it had inside her. It gives her a chance to take in that it died, that it was buried, that prayers were said over it, that it died and the right things were done for it.

She could not do them—she was too much in shock—but Charlie did them. Charlie took care of both of them, because that is what he does. He takes care. That is his role. It is always really just me but, in spite of the trauma, I have found ways to take care of the people I love and ways to take care of myself. Charlie has been one of them. And so even after the shock of my miscarriage when I was 13 years old, that I had to conceal from everyone in the house, I took care of my baby. I took care of my own need to mark the death of my baby appropriately.

This makes everything better.

Not just because the right things were done, or because it allows her to string the whole sequence of events in her head instead of being stuck at the one she could not take time to register, although those things are important. but because it’s a sack of rice.

Because it’s a simple solution. When she feels this incredible grief for the loss of the baby that never properly became a baby, she can hold a sack of rice, and she can remember that she did hold it, that there was a moment in which she could acknowledge the fact of its life and of its death. It did happen. The moment was not long enough, but it happened. It means she is no longer stuck at that moment of unresolvable grief, buried in it. She can do something about it. She has found a way to relieve it.

Not that she isn’t sad, but she no longer feels crushed by the grief. And so all of a sudden, there is hope. This can get better.

I get up after that and make blini. They are heaven.

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