The morning of Ethan’s funeral I awoke a little before five o’clock. The world outside was cold and without color. Alone in the den with the lights off, I sipped coffee that wouldn’t warm me or wake me. It had been three days since we had lost Ethan and I drifted into thoughts of my son rising on the third day as Christ had. It was an unintentional prayer. I had not prayed at all since we had left the hospital.
You took my son, God. You took him from me and I’ve got this emptiness, this hole, inside me. Please fill this hole, God.
“Daddy, what are you doing?”
Somehow Tory had managed to walk in without making a sound. I turned my face from her and wiped away my tears.
“Tory, it’s only 5:30, Sweetie. What are you doing up so early?”
She shrugged her shoulders and asked me again, “What are you doing, Daddy?”
“I’m praying, Sweetie,” I said.
“What are you praying for, Daddy? Are you praying that Ethan didn’t die?”
“No, I’m just praying for something to make me feel better.”
She cocked her head and her eyebrows furrowed. She put a hand on my shoulder and asked, “Daddy, don’t I make you feel better?”
I pulled her into me and stroked her long brown hair. “Yes you do, Sweetie. You sure do.”
I tucked Tory back into bed and started to get ready for the day. By 7 a.m. I had already showered and put on my suit. I was at the kitchen table drinking my fourth cup of coffee when Tammy walked in and stood next me. She wore an expression I did not recognize, her face some sort of pale, deathy mask. I attempted a smile, reached out and touched her. Her hand was as cold and lifeless as Ethan’s had been at the funeral home the day before. She squeezed back once, let go, and left me.
When I went to check on her a little while later, she was sitting on the edge of our bed quietly sobbing. I sat down beside her and put my arm around her.
“Look at me,” she said lifting her eyes to mine and turning her palms up.
Her black top was soaked through with breast milk. Her body doing what was natural at a time that was anything but.
“Look at me,” she said again. “What am I supposed to do?”
What am I supposed to do?