I didn’t want to be on earth any longer. We had received the devastating news that after doing the cooling cap therapy, nothing had changed. “I’m so sorry,” Dr. Tannenbaum’s words repeated “There’s no brain activity”. Lofty hopes, prayers, and wishes had been replaced with the hard and heavy reality that you were going to die. I wanted it to be me, instead.
J took me to the Berkeley Marina that day in her car. I couldn’t sit with myself in the hospital or in our apartment any longer. I probably requested to be taken there, although I don’t remember. What I do remember is feeling the uncomfortable weight of my body against the worn leather interior of her old green Volvo station wagon. My post-partum body still looked very pregnant with you. After all, it had only been a week since I birthed you. I crouched into my soft empty belly, sobbing. Wishing that you were still in it, where you had been kept safe. Knowing that you weren’t even on that NICU hospital bed anymore, but just floating. Preparing to be free completely. Your father and I would have to decide when and where. Soon.
“Do you want to get out and get some air?,” J asked. I shook my head, no, still crouched. “Do you want me to open a window?”. I continued to shake my head. I heard her opening the moonroof and looked up to see blue sky with pillowy clouds moving by. I decided to let my weight come down into the seat by pressing the button to lower it. I lay on my back, extended, looking up at the sky that I hadn’t looked at in quite some time. My focus had been singularly directed on you on that NICU bed, on you getting better. Now, I lay flat, surrendering to that sky, crying still but looking up. As I let go, a flapping green kite flew by my small rooftop screen. It hovered there, came down, almost touching the glass, as though it wanted to come inside with me. I stared at it, my tears turning to laughter, until the winds picked it up and brought it higher once more.
Angelisa Russo lives in Sherwood, OR with her husband, Mimmo, and their two small children, Sofia (4) and Gabriele (2). In between running their Italian restaurant, Da Mimmo, and raising the kids, she tries to find time to write. She is working on a memoir about her firstborn son, Salvatore, who lived for 10 days and touched their lives forevermore. Pictured here is her daughter, Sofia, at age 2, flying her first kite at the Berkeley Marina.