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I bought you an outfit. It’s a hat shaped like a fox head with bottoms that have a little crocheted fox tail. It’s the cutest thing. I got mad at myself yesterday because I keep forgetting to give it to your mom.

I know it’s on the table next to my desk right now but I cannot bear to look at it

I was about to find out this week if you were my nephew or my niece. I thought nephew. No…I knew.

I bet you didn’t know this but you helped me get through a memorial. Your parents came just when I needed them.

We compared your little developing body to fruit and inanimate objects. You were an apricot. You were a lemon. A toy solider. A tiny red macaroon.

Your parents told me all your potential names. I made fun of some. But really, they were good. You would have had the perfect name.

I laughed with your mother. Put my hand on her belly when I was sad. And again when I was happy.

I told your mom that I might have had pancakes with my future husband earlier that day. I have never seen anyone so happy for me. She planned the wedding in her head. I know she did. I laughed. Your father laughed at both of us for being so ridiculous. It felt good.

For a moment, I imagined what it would be like if my own fruit were not too far behind. Wouldn’t it be great if you played together? You could have taught my lime how to tie its little green shoes.

I hope you know it wasn’t just me that you helped that night. The other people suffering the loss of a brother, a son, a friend— you helped all of them, too. Even the strangers. They looked at your mother’s beautiful belly and they mused in silence about the circle of life. They thought isn’t it funny how death and new life can be side by side. You brought them some peace without even trying.

But it wasn’t you, apricot. It was the idea of you. See, you were already gone by then. Your tiny heart wasn’t beating but you still gave us all life that night.

I love you, nephew. Or niece. No, nephew.

My heart breaks with all the stories I’ll never get to tell you about your parents. I have all the best ones; I’ll keep collecting them for you.

Published inEssays

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