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did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

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She holds her grief in the crook of her shoulder, where it meets the base of her neck. It pulsates into a knot that twinges when she hears her girls talking about William. That sort of mystery man, full of wonder who was here one day, and gone the next.

Her grief kind of tweaks and stretches out when she's able to disappear into the backyard. Just her, her quilt and the postcard she tucks into her underwear drawer whenever Randall wants to make the bed.

Somethings you don't press. Somethings you just don't question.





She carries her grief low in her belly. Low like a sapling taking root that will grow into real grief one day. Where she won't hate him for those months on chemo he didn't really want. Those moments of slowing her world to molasses so she didn't miss a moment. The pills and the minutes that went by like days watching him take careful calculated sips of soda.

"I'm goin' Beth, let me have this" he would cough laugh. Even fading she could see Randall in his eyes, always pressed the glass into his hands and pretend to sigh as he chuckled. "You're a good woman. A good good woman"

One day she won't hate him for those very moments that make her heart ache to the point she can feel it break. One day her grief won't twist in her belly like a kicking baby.




She won't carry her grief in the lines around her eyes. She's not sure if anyone else can see them. She sees them in the others. Randall looks tired, holds that book of poetry like a lifeline, like he used to hold her. It won't be forever, but it'll never disappear.

The wound will fade to a scar, a faint faded line of memory not so bright, deep and bloody on the surface. But there. Kate has these shadows under her eyes, she's not without Toby's hand on her shoulder, on her back. It's Kate's story to tell, not hers.

No matter she has it memorized her tongue can spell out the letters to the word no one speaks. She looks at the calendar, tries to keep track of how long it'll be before they can't even mutter the c-word.




She carries her grief in her babies. Her babies who talk freely about Heaven. About their grandfathers having coffee talking about them, how they've grown. Their skin colors aren't a concern, they're bonded by four shining brown eyes. Whose love doesn't know restrains.

If anything can reach Jack and William in heaven, it'll be the strength of their prayers. She carries her grief in how easy they talk about death, how easy they grasped the concept of William being here in spirit. "Like our love for you" Randall had explained "even when you're at a slumber party, or at school, you know me and your mom love you"

And that had been enough.