My mother didn’t cry anymore; she hadn’t since the first night I saw them in the rocking chair.
“Benjamin,” she told me, “That’s his name.”
“How wonderful,” I thought.
How can you provide for a child when you’re hurt? When you’re empty, so empty, you feel all that you’ve lost?
You cry. Cry for the missed birthdays, farmhouse dinners, and white pickup trucks. Like a baby.
When my brother came into the world, the Smoky Mountains sang out his name. The trees swayed, black bears roared, and the coal within the mountains burned with his potential. But down in the valley where my great grandparents lived, my grandfather’s ashes drifted through the same misty creek bed our feet would soon plod on. We slipped, purple bruises coloring our skin just as his ripened with old age.
Months apart, my mother had held her grandfather in her arms as he died, and in those same arms, my baby brother.
I only hope to be as strong as her someday.