Coming out in September!
Beatrice was 9 months old when the key turned for Virginia. The summer leaves were just beginning to dry, preparing themselves for yet another fall and heavy winter in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the little babe Virginia had finally managed to bring into this world was gone.
No real cause. No real solution. But crib death was like that. "Don't turn her on her belly." "Don't put stuffed animals in her bed." "Don't smoke."
Well, she hadn't done any of those things and the baby girl that she'd waited for, for so long, was under the cold, frozen earth, never again to reach out her tiny little hands.
God was cruel.
No, that was the wrong thing to say.
She didn't know what God was. And she didn't know if she'd truly ever believe him again.
Richard was smart. He went to work. Struggled with the doughnuts and cupcakes that she still made for the tiny shop they'd finally managed to purchase away from the grocery store. He was smart because he kept himself busy, like a tall elf in Santa's shop, doing the busy stuff so the doughnuts could be delivered on time to the smiles of every heavy, needy customer.
All of her thoughts were negative now. The size of the customers, the way the air blew through the bottom of the front door in a sort of chilled whirr, the remembrance of icicles that would soon be dangling from the rooftop of their tiny home; like sharp knives penetrating her heart.
It would soon be Christmas.
And it wasn't fair. With all that she knew about God, all that he'd taught her, all that he'd shown her in the birth of their baby Beatrice, he had taken her daughter home. With so many children already, probably catering to his every need, he had taken her baby home. He had taken her home!
She sat, as she did most days since Beatrice's death two months past, but she hadn't put away any of the baby things, or taken down the crib. She couldn't touch the crib. And now? She was lonely, sad and angry. And she didn't know what to do with her pain, except cry.
Beatrice. What a beautiful little girl she'd been. She liked music and when Richard danced with her, she'd smile, her first tooth protruding through her gums like a tiny jack-o-lantern with a light inside.
It wasn't like her to cry. More likely, that she'd smile and giggle and drool.
She wore pink, of course. And Virginia had put her in fluffy dresses with pink bows and matching booties. She'd read her stories about princesses and queens and handsome strangers. Nights were filled with feedings and cuddling, and playing "This Little Piggy..." but that night...
Tears spilled down Virginia's cheeks. They'd replaced the couch that had sported the hole from the rock of trust. But now, even though their newfangled red couch was perfect in form and stability, she needed that hole; yes, somehow that hole would have soothed her soul.
But she had the stones, had kept the stones for these few years since she'd first walked with God. And they were still with her, even now, as she sat on the couch and looked up at them on the mantel. Listening...trust...optimism...tenacity...constancy... So close and yet so far away.
She couldn't even think, let alone stand to take the first one in her hands and listen to God. She wondered what he would say...
"I needed her..." "She's a sweet girl..." "You'll have another child..."
But she couldn't think about having another child, and she couldn't think about herself, and she couldn't think about Richard. Or God.