I Couldn’t Touch You

I look at her and I think of you.  Sometimes the thought creeps up from behind me, crawling over my skin, running its hands up the back of my neck, boring its cold, dead fingers into my brain.  Other times the thought hits me, knocking me down with anger, hurt, rejection.  Whenever it comes, it leaves an icy chill, except the fingers never leave, they wait, holding my brain; patient; for the next time.  

You weren’t even a person, not medically anyway.  A bundle of cells.  But when I saw you, you were a grey sack, that chewed up piece of flesh, stringy and gristly and rough.  I couldn’t bring myself to touch you. I caught you in some paper, I was expecting you.  But I couldn’t touch you.  I’ve always imagined you inside that sack, holding on. Except you weren’t. Six weeks: no heartbeat.  Nine weeks: delivered.  

Slithered. Not delivered. Like a snake. You slipped out of me stealthily, trying not to cause anymore pain. It was as if you knew that three weeks of pain was enough and you had to help.  For that I love you.  I never saw your face; I’m told you never had a face, I always imagined one.  I never saw your face, but I love you anyway.  I love you for the potential you had: you could have been anything, been anyone.  But you chose not to.  You were chosen for something else.  I loathe you for the potential you had, a potential you chose not to use.  I loathe you for leaving me, for not wanting to stay inside; you rejected my body as much as my body rejected you.

We were away from home when the pain started.  A screaming, writhing pain.  It tore me up at dawn and I knew. I knew you would be leaving soon. Blood on the bathroom floor signalled the finality of the decision. I could feel you clamouring, trying to empty me.  Except the clamouring was inside my brain, not my womb, the clamouring was desperation, trying to will you to hold on for one more week.  And I imagined you did. In that clamouring inside my head, you held on. One last prayer, one last hope.  Except you weren’t destined for me at all.  Which is why I couldn’t touch you: you weren’t mine. I couldn’t touch you because you weren’t mine and you horrified and disgusted me. 

I have Rahma in my life now, another bundle of cells, a bundle of mercy.  She was chosen to stay. It was decreed this way and I was happy with that decree.  Now I have her, she forces me to touch her, even when I can’t bring myself to. She makes me forget, but you remind me. You creep up into my brain, your icy fingers probing my grey matter, picking at scabs I didn’t know were there. 

Sometimes I’m happy.  I’m happy because I have her. She’s mine. But I still think of you; you weren’t mine: I couldn’t touch you.   

– The Prophet Muhammad  (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
“… the miscarried foetus will drag his mother by his umbilical cord to Paradise, if she (was patient and) sought reward (for her loss).” 


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