The bleeding came back six months after I had lived in New York City. I had surgery. The surgeon removed benign cysts from each ovary. The bleeding ceased, and within a year, I was pregnant with Tom. I carried Tom for six months and he was perfect, but he was too small to live for more than 23 hours and 41 minutes on this Earth. He weighed only 2 pounds and 4 ounces, but he had made his impact in this world – in my heart, in my first husband’s heart, in my father’s and mother’s hearts, and in the hearts of all who have known and loved us.
I saw Tom right after he was born. To this day, I am grateful to the wise, older doctor who aroused me immediately after his birth so that I could look at him. She had tried valiantly to keep him in my body for just two more weeks. It did not take. But her wisdom in arousing me allowed me to see my son’s beautiful, small face. His image remains sealed in my mind forever. I would not be able to see Tom again because I was bleeding too much, but my first husband stayed watching him through the window of the hospital nursery all that day and into the night. The nurses told Tom’s father that they had never seen a baby with more will to live than his.
Tom died at 1:40 a.m. I knew the second he died even though he was not with me. I woke from a deep sleep, as if someone had splashed cold water on my face. The room had a dead, coldness about it. I knew for certain that my son had died. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was 1:40 a.m. I could not bear to call the nurse and hear the words that he had died, so I went back to sleep. The next morning my first husband and the priest told me Tom had died during the night. I asked the time. They told me that Tom had died at 1:40 a.m.
Later, I told my father the story. He said that I awoke exactly at the time of Tom’s death because his little spirit had wanted to tell me “goodbye.” Tom’s spirit may have told me “goodbye” in the realm of consciousness where we live, but I do not believe that his spirit has ever fully left me. I feel that his spirit remains here, waiting for me, so that on that day that I too die, we shall leave together.
Forty-two years later, in June, 2007, I held Tom’s little casket in my arms.
But that is another story, for another day.