Leaning against the car window, I scan the side of the road ahead for deer. I don’t know why I can’t trust John with that task. After all, he’s driving. I start to turn around to check on the children and freeze.
For a moment, I forget. For a moment, I fully expect to see Tiggy asleep in his car seat, hands behind his head, as I had seen him so many times before. For a moment. And the next moment I can’t bear to not see him, so I lean back against the window, staring down the road.
John flips on the radio.
“I think I’m going to Katmandu,
That’s really, really where I’m going to. . . “
He changes the channel.
For a moment, I can still see Tiggy in his car seat. And then it is empty. My mind drifts back to the hospital. Where I last held him in my arms. Felt his cold little hand. Kissed his cold forehead as firmly as I had wanted to before he went into surgery but didn’t for fear of hurting him. I promised to write down all his little stories and tried to figure out how to say goodbye.
“K-K-K-K-Katmandu. . .”
“That has to be the stupidest song ever written,” he comments.
He changes the station again.
I think about that long, impossible walk toward the exit. With every step, the door shrank away from me until we were suddenly there. Nurses stood at the door, offering condolences, hugging me, asking me if I needed a wheelchair. I remember being mildly irritated at the suggestion. But as soon as I stepped out, I collapsed. My husband and two nurses caught me and carried me back inside, placing me in the wheelchair I had refused. Everyone was talking, trying to figure out who was going to ride where. A nurse suggested no one move the car seat. So it sat there empty for over a week.
“If I ever get out of here,
I’m going to Katmandu.”
John’s beginning to get annoyed.
“Seriously, I may as well sing about going to Narre Warren.”
The car seat had to come out for this trip. That didn’t really bother me as much as I was afraid it might. Slowly, everything that was his is being taken away. The last of his milk was drunk. The last of his clothes were folded and put away. His playpen was taken down. Soon, we’ll have to take his clothes out of his drawer to make room for the baby’s. Taking the car seat out didn’t bother me until I went out and found it lying upside down on the driveway.
I picked it up, dusted it off and carried it into the garage. But once there, I didn’t know quite what to do with it. So I set it on the floor and just stared at it. I had the strange urge to curl up in a little ball and sit in it, but there’s no way I would have fit. So I just continued to stare at it until John came in and moved it to the top of a storage tub where it was out of the way.
“There has to be an end to this song.”
And he hits the search button again, but without an antenna, the radio is only pulling one station.
I feel dead inside. These times are the worst. The fog is lifted and I feel just how deep the hurt runs. It’s heavy. It sits on my chest making it difficult to breathe. It threatens to consume me. But before it does, the fog settles as the numbness returns. I think for a moment perhaps this numbness I so often find myself fighting against is a gift from a merciful God who promises us no more than we can handle.
And the memory of him playing peek-a-boo in that car seat doesn’t quite make me smile, but at least I can breathe again.