Monday, September 24th 2007
It has been angry, grey, wet and rainy all week. It’s the perfect weather for sitting inside sipping tea in my pyjamas crying all day. I took the whole week off work, even though by Thursday I felt better physically than I have for a month. I phoned work on Friday and Megan answered. I told her that I’ll be in on Monday and she sounded relieved. She said that Essa has been signing my name constantly. I should have known that Essa would worry about me. She’s my little shadow at work. Right now there are 8 residents at The Manor, (the elegant name of the group home that I work at). Essa is unique because she’s non verbal. Everyone has different gifts and challenges, but I can’t help but love Essa the very best. We’re about the same age – and especially since I lost Tuesday – her silence has been about the best friendship a person could ask for. I haven’t told her I lost a baby. I didn’t even tell her I was pregnant. Megan says that Essa lacks the capacity to understand my situation. She told me to just leave it alone – but when Essa looks at me with that disquiet in her eyes, I can’t help but acknowledge that it seems deceitful to keep it from her. I had kind of decided before I went to work this morning that if the right opportunity arose, I’d tell her today.
I got to work - to the familiar din of the breakfast dishes being cleared. I was working the 7-3 shift – getting off just in time to get to my first writing class. When I took off my coat and turned around, I found myself wrapped in the warmth of Essa’s little arms. Essa has Down Syndrome and physically, she’s really tiny. She understands every word I speak – and it seems, even more of what I don’t speak. She has brown hair cut in the sweetest little bob, with perfectly straight bangs framing her gentle face. I noticed that her fingernails were pink and chipped when she took my hand and led me to the couch.
She looked at me with those almond eyes – and I wished for the millionth time that she could speak. I read in her file that she used to have some limited speech, but that she had quit speaking after her last stint in foster care before coming permanently to the Manor. It makes me ache for her to know that someone, or something - circumstances I’ll never know or understand, took that away from her.
We sat on the couch – friends – and she laid her brown head on my shoulder and put her hand on my stomach. I was so surprised I didn’t move. She started rocking – and making crooning, weeping noises as she pressed her tiny self against me. Suddenly, I was too hot. I was overcome with the sadness I had been carrying. My chest started heaving, and my little friend became like a mother to me. She soothed my distress and eased the anguish of my loss – her low moan, a lament as she held me in her capable arms. When finally I pulled myself from her, she smiled her impish smile and stood to leave.
Then Megan came around the corner and told me that breakfast was cleared up and she was finished her shift and ready to go home.
When we were done talking, Essa had already slipped away to another corner of the house where she was working on some baskets for the farmer’s market, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to her – or thank her – for grieving with me.