“You’re in my prenatal yoga class. I know you!” She greets me warmly, talking my right hand in both of hers, smiling with her eyes, her mouth.
“Yes,” I say, “Hello. I am.” I smile back, uncertain if my eyes betray me. Even now, I cannot recall her name, but I see her face and feel her warmth which surprises me still.
I wonder how long this will go on. Will she say more? Will I be forced to tell her? I continue to smile, hoping my smile will silence us both, will stop time, and I will not have to tell her what has happened since I saw her last in that golden studio with the beautiful floors – half moon, said the yoga teacher, bring your baby up to your belly. Breathe now.
I continue smiling at her, dimly, when I hear my son call and I run away, gladly, to follow him around the edge of the slide. I know, as I turn away, that our mutual friend who knows my secret will turn to her and she will know.
I both want and don’t want this to happen.
A few minutes later, when I return to where she is standing, the warmth is gone. She barely looks at me. And then she says, “I’ve got to go. Remember?” but she does not say this to me, though I am standing there. She says this to the air between us, mostly in the direction of our mutual friend.
And I feel sadness and relief. How else could she respond? Could she really take my face in her hands, and with that warmth, hold my face while my tears fall, telling me how sad she is, and then embrace me, her arms firm and warm? But no, how silly; I barely know her. We’ve only been in yoga together a few times. And besides, how could she bear to come near me? I am the woman who lost her baby. And she is the same number of weeks as I had been, would be if my baby were still in my belly.
So, she doesn’t ask me how I am doing. She says nothing, but turns away. I understand and I do not understand. Mostly, I wanted that warmth. I am so cold now my baby has left the center of my body, his heat radiating promise, serenity and hope.