Three months ago, the conversation would have gone like this:

Danny: “Did you see that homeless lady carrying the doll?”

Me: “Yeah. Crazy, right?”

Today, it goes like this:

Danny: “Did you see that homeless lady carrying the doll?”

Me: “Yeah.” Pause, “Maybe she lost her baby.”

Danny: “I know.”


Looking over at her across the playground, she’s sitting on the park bench and has wrapped the baby doll she was carrying on her hip in a soft, pink baby blanket. She is gently rocking it and looking at it as she smokes her cigarette. From this distance, she could be cradling a real baby, except that the crook of her elbow crosses the back of the doll’s shoulders, instead of the nape of it’s neck. It’s head sticks straight out from her embrace. I noticed a similar absent-minded hold as she walked passed us a few minutes ago. She held the baby on her hip but instead of her arm underneath the doll’s bottom to support it, she held it across the middle of it’s back. It’s limbs and head unnaturally spread in this position, like a starfish.

But it’s all of the other ways that she is with the doll that make the incorrect holding seem awkward and surreal. She loves this baby: covers it with the blanket, cradles it close and looks right into it’s eyes. Cigarette in between her fingers, she runs her hand across it’s bald head, the plastic likely indented and colored slightly brown to represent wispy infant hair. As she sways her legs where the doll lays, she looks up and stares into space, the blurred gaze of an exhausted new mother.

I understand her, just as I came to understood the crow. This shit can break you. Pardon. This shit breaks you. I think, “Right on, sister. Whatever gets you through the day.” Whatever fills this gaping hole. Hold that baby. Rock it, feed it, sing it to sleep, carry it with you. We carry our dead babies in our hearts, in our bodies, in our cells like an inexplicable weight, a hemorrhaging wound, an inescapable emptiness. We carry them on the inside, so carry it on the outside. Let the world see, let the world know: Your baby was here. Mine was, too.

What’s the difference between she and I? I have a computer and a community who will listen and I can write this horror out of me. I have money to pay for a therapist and a car to drive to a support group with. I have a daughter I have to stay sane for, I cannot break all the way no matter how close I come. I have a family who loves me and friends to support me and, and, and, and . . .

What’s the difference between she and I? Nothing.

Carry that baby, sister. Whatever gets you through the day.

2 thoughts on “Crazy.

  1. It is SO EASY to judge others from our own perspective. We do it all the time. Casually, carelessly, rarely thinking to question, never mind ask.

    Yet, asking will open up amazing windows into the vast expanse of human experience. And allow us to learn, open our minds and enter into other’s experiences,

    1) “Why does she keep that grungy, ragged pillow?? Just throw it out when she is not looking!”

    Instead: “Why do you value that pillow?”

    “Because my sister made it for me with scraps from our great-grandmother’s and great-great grandmothers’s quilts, made from scraps of their worn-out clothing.”

    2) “What an overprotective mother? Why doesn’t she just relax, let her son play & enjoy the game?”

    Instead “Why do you get so anxious when your son is playing soccer?”

    “Oh… he has asthma and was born with hip dysplasia. I want so much for him to live as normal a life as possible, but I can’t help but worry.

    3) “Her son hasn’t talked to her in years, but she claims she is not angry. That’s unhealthy denial.”

    Instead “Why DON’T you feel angry at your estranged son?”

    “He is angry at me because I violated his confidence. I did it only to prevent likely disaster. I am grateful he is not talking to me by choice, rather than because he is dead.”

    Imagine what the world would be like if we had these conversations with each other … and even with perfect strangers in the park??

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