Two tiny feet. Tiniest feet I’ve ever seen. But they were big for her, big compared to the rest of her.

Two tiny feet from a seed started 7 years prior, when I first met her mother and started down this path. A seed that grew a little bit more 4 years prior when we were married, and grew even more when we bought our first house 3 1/2 years prior. That seed built little by little, with every home project, every investment; every action of our lives made these two tiny feet closer to being in the world.

Two tiny feet kicking inside since November. Restless and soft within the womb. Getting ready to walk, to run, to kick a ball and wear shoes or be barefoot in the garden. Toes getting ready to stretch and be compared to ours and get stubbed or to curl with love someday.

Two tiny feet connected to a heart that stopped beating far too early.

Two tiny feet that met the air and the light, lifeless and covered in blood and whisked away to be stamped on paper and remembered sadly.

Swaddled in gentle cloth, returned to their mother to be held and touched but to feel none of it, still and cold and calm like any other dead thing. A hat knit by an empathetic donor donning her head, presumably to keep her warm despite not needing to be.

Held by a mother who did everything right, who didn’t deserve this, who sacrificed her body for just 6 weeks less than other mothers, who endured the same pain that goes away when you hear your baby cry for the first time but never got to hear that cry. A mother who cannot put Paige Madeline softly down on the linens her mother made, in the room she created for her, because the seed started 7 years prior had been struck down on a sunny day.

I couldn’t hold her.

I could barely even look at her.

6/21/2021 is the day we discovered that Paige Madeline was no more. 6/22/2021 is the day we uprooted the seed that had almost bloomed, leaving the earth beneath it torn and bleeding and confused.

Those two tiny feet will never do anything that our feet do. How the hell could they? Our feet move and kick and spring to life because we are alive. We exist right now; she does not. Her two tiny feet will be examined by doctors and then turned to dust, like all of us will eventually.

Just far too soon.

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