The last week.

This isn’t how I thought it would end.

I didn’t think the end would begin with a deep soreness, tiny stabs of pain, highlighted by stinging tears; the added torture of me trying to hold all this in and stay strong for you, to avoid the chance you’d feel unwhole, to acknowledge your instinctual longing, to turn away in the hope you wouldn’t see me holding back, and cry yourself to sleep.

I just didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know that’s how it would go.

Day by day for this last week, I held back while you went ahead. How each day, you could start a little more fresh, a little more optimistic; how you could then end each day a little more fulfilled, a bit brighter, that much more ready.

Without me.

You were slowly moving on, and I wasn’t seeing it. My time was occupied waiting for us to reunite.

Day by day, you managed; surpassed; moved on.

One week later, you are the happiest I’ve ever seen you.

Running ahead, a vision of fresh opportunity, arms open, drawn to people who are not me, people who have not nourished you with love and comfort for the last year and a half. At the other end of these last few days, you haven’t run to me in desperation, clinging to the crutch I nurtured. Now you see me and smile while you hang back, greet me brightly from a distance. Even Ruth, she said to me today – one week later – “you know, she’s just so happy. I can’t even explain why. She’s just been happy – changed.”

It’s been a week. And I never thought once in this time that this is how it ends. You, reborn. Me, at a loss.

I didn’t want to hurt you, I absorbed all the pain. And I didn’t see it coming.

And here we are. The physical pain has passed – it’s been a whole day without the break in my chest, the throbbing, the feeling of being shattered, burst open, bruised. That’s subsided and now I look up from this dark week and the tears are receding with the tide, the cracks are filled, the sores are healed; but the pain in my heart is encased in a crust that is raw and fresh and choking.

And you – you’re happy. And tonight, I hold you in my arms, your tiny head resting against my shoulder, the slow, mellow motion of your breathing against my upper chest… as I hold you like this, in the dark room, quiet and at peace… as I hold you I know you are happy. And I know I am, somehow, too. And I know this pain is about my loss and my failure to never consider it could end like this, but knowing – somewhere, between the tender bruising that is both reminder and revelation – somewhere, deep inside my chest, right behind my deflated, soft, healing breasts – baby girl, this is for the best.