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Lions Roar : September 2019
AURELIO, THE YOUNG MAN behind the counter, greeted me cheerfully. Throughout my pregnancy he’d been scooping me up mountains of pasta salad, piles of orzo, buckets of teriyaki chicken wings, never commenting on my voracious appetite and ever-changing cravings. He glanced down at my now-flat belly, then at the empty top basket of my shop- ping cart. “How’s your baby?” he asked with a big grin. I stared at him. This was the first time I’d gotten this question, which I would get countless times again. I couldn’t think of anything polite to say. “She’s dead.” We stared at each other for a moment. “She died,” I said again, and burst into tears. I walked away, leaving the cart where it was, the groceries still in it. I drove home, crying. My husband ordered Chinese takeout for dinner. Two days later, I went back to the store. I went to the counter. Aurelio eyed me warily. “I’m so sorry for walking away like that,” I told him. “It was just too much for me.” “I know.” He looked at me over the glass case. “It happened to my wife too. Just a year ago. Our baby died when she was a week old.” “Oh—I’m so sorry.” “My wife didn’t get out of bed for a month. She didn’t leave the house for three months. I know exactly how you feel. It’s the worst thing in the world.” “I’m so sorry,” I said again. Then, “What was your baby’s name?” His eyes lit up. “Angelo.” I could tell how good it felt to say the name, to have his son alive in the space between us, just for a moment. “Angelo,” I repeated. “It’s a beauti- ful name. I’m sure he was a beautiful baby.” “Yes.” He looked down at the deli case. “What can I get you today?” HOT OFF THE PRESS PHOTOBYGISPATE/SHUTTERSTOCK ANNE CUSHMAN is the author of the novel Enlightenment for Idiots and the mindful yoga guide Mov ing Into Meditation. A Love Not Bound by Time or Space Bereaved mother ANNE CUSHMAN discovers that the value of a life has nothing to do with how long it lasts. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 77