I'd said my goodbyes, and walked out the front gate towards the overflow carpark, hoping to beat the rain. But then I was running. My legs had decided before I'd even formed the thought. Back across the rain-slick road, through the back gate and down the dirt road to the bush chapel and Z's spot. I slowed only as the path wound me back to a sacred pace, stopping momentarily to touch a palm to the old man banksia tree, and to the granite memorial rock.
You have a cousin. I knelt in the sandy dirt. You have a cousin, my love - your Auntie E had her baby on Thursday. She came early, and she's tiny, but she's doing well. I did the maths - she's two thirds of the weight you were when you were born. Except she's breathing.
In the weeks after the accident, my brain had worked and worried over the numbers of Z's gestational age, her weight. When I heard of babies smaller or earlier than Z who lived, it shot a pang of irrational mathematical injustice through me. How is it that they are here, while she is not? But then my nephew (my best friend's son) was born at exactly Z's birth weight and lived, and I felt only gratitude and love - for his aliveness, and for the small numerical connection between our babies.
When my sister was admitted on Thursday to have the baby, I sat in the surgical admissions waiting room. Everyone else there was in a hospital gown, save two women accompanying an elderly Italian gentleman who'd fallen asleep. We knew the baby would be small - it was her size and concerns about cord blood flow that had led to the early c-section. I'd brought my laptop, in case surgery was delayed and I needed to get on with some work. But I also brought it with me as the modern-day equivalent of the electronic maths game which I'd had with me in 1983, where as a seven-year-old I sat in the B Community Hospital waiting room, while my mum was giving birth to my sister. It took four hours, and when Dad called me in the first thing I said when I saw my new little sister was, 'what's that white stuff on her face?'
(Something super-geeky like this. Image from here: http://www.computerworlduk.com/slideshow/infrastructure/3291946/kids-computers-through-the-ages/7/)
The timing for a c-section is much more predictable though, so when I hadn't heard anything from my brother-in-law after forty-five minutes, I became convinced that something terrible had happened. Just as I started shaking with sobs, my phone vibrated - a message from my brother in law, with a photo - baby was on E's chest and clearly well enough not to need immediate assistance with breathing. Suddenly I was grinning through the tears, and madly passing the good news on to family members. I looked up and caught they eye of the two hospital gown ladies sitting near me. "My sister had her baby - both well". Smiles broke out, and one woman said, "yes, I thought that was a happy cry".
A bull-ant makes its way across the sand near Z's spot. It considers the pussy-willow stems and moves on. The small pussy willow heads shake a little. The rain is setting in. I can't believe that it has been more than five years since we dug a little hole here, knelt and tipped her ashes in. I think of the picture from my brother's baby album - me at nearly five, holding newborn J on my lap. Oh little Z. The stories you would have told this baby. You and Ali, in cahoots to make her giggle. But these are just pictures in my head. Meanwhile, the bull-ant marches purposefully. Kiss her for me, dear bull-ant.