Nick and I sat at the dinner table, just having finished our anniversary dinner and now enjoying our dessert of strawberries, chocolate, and cos turine red wine. As he reached for the last strawberry I sheepishly asked him a question that had been on my mind all week and unfortunately resulting in sleepless nights.
"Are you mad at me for not going to the hospital that night, when I noticed she wasn't moving as much?"
Nick's gaze met mine as he retracted his reach for the strawberry. With a somber tone he replied with a gentle but honest "No."
I looked away from his eyes as I built up the courage to continue. "But, what if I would have listened to my worry as I normally do? What if I would have woke you up and insisted that we should go to the hospital instead of going downstairs to get a sugary snack which resulted in a tiny movement that foolishly calmed my fears?"
"What time was that?" He responded. He was with me now. I had his full attention.
"It was 9 at night."
He sat back and took a moment to collect his thoughts before he replied, "I don't think it would have made a difference. Even if we would have gone in then, you probably would not have had an emergency C-section until midnight. She was gone by 3 in the morning when the doctors told us she didn't have a heart beat. We don't know when she died. Besides you remember what the doctor said."
"I know, that even if she was born alive she probably wouldn't of made it." I replied referring to the severity of her infection in the autopsy report. I wasn't satisfied with that answer so I continued, "I know. That is the one thing that helps me deal with the guilt. But, Nick, I feel like I should have known. And I second guess myself."
"You can't do that." He said as he rose from the table and put his dirty dish in the kitchen sink as I momentarily sat quietly to reflect on the conversation.
Then I stood and moved towards the speakers the iPod was attached to and changed the song that was playing.
Nick turned as he heard the music change to the familiar lyrics from two years before on this day. When we held each other close and danced to these same notes on the evening after exchanging our life long vows.
Walking towards him, I silently took his hand in mine as a soft smile bloomed across his face. We embraced and slowly swayed back and forth holding each other as we danced in the kitchen.
With a whisper in his ear I softly said, "I'm sorry she's not here on your birthday."
"I know." He said. "Me too."
And as I laid my head on my favorite resting place, his shoulder, he held me tighter. With a deep sigh the guilt of the "If Only's and What if's" faded into the distance. For another place. For a different time.
While the burdens of my heart released and my forgiven soul rested on his shoulder.