Goodbye Abraham

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Daniel Friedman

More than six thousand years--I told Mara--she can personally reach back, touch, with mind, spirit, hand.
Thousands of years, mother-to-mother, gene-to-gene, cell-to-cell, idea-to-idea,heart-to-heart.
Tradition. Wisdom. Strength.
Power she can draw on.
A birth six thousand years ago and unbroken to this moment.
Mara new link in solid chain, head first, blue, silent,
so silent she was, I trembled, dead.
But she was alive, healthy, so quiet that we poked her gently to see her stir.

At thirteen years old, Mara stares into my face,
her hazel eyes soft and wide, as I explain
about the six thousand years,
about the six million,
about the chain.
Standing on the maroon carpet,
in front of The Law,
she listens.

After Abraham
we need that chain more than any child can be called to bear.

Abraham. Tiny. Fluttering. Butterfly of movement. Laura felt him first.
In her womb--after years of hope, trying, trying. Finally! Abe!
He grew. Kicking. Sucking perfect thumb, he performed for us by sonogram.

We dreamed, planned, talked, and watched him grow in Laura's belly.
In both our hearts.
We didn't know it was Abe. Just "baby."
No name yet.
"Abe" was later.

Laura now large, nearly to term.
We laughed as "baby" made rippling bulges, poking belly side to side.
Now we both felt him moving.
Felt life.
Six thousand years.
Parents whose kids are thirteen
forget the nine months of anticipation, dreams, and conversations with the in-utero.
We read and sang to him of life.


We were together in bed.
The three of us.
Abe was wild.
Twisting, turning, bulging,
what was he trying to tell us?
Was he talking to us?


The fluttering grew gentle.
Then it was a twitch.
Then he was still.
Totally still.

Laura grew anxious.
He's so quiet!
Sleeping, I offer.
But we both knew.
Too sick with dread to believe.
We pretended he was just sleeping.
For just a little while longer.

Doctor's office.

Utter stillness.

Laura sobs terrible, awesome cries.

Numb, we drive to the hospital.

This birth was not a birth.
Laura spoke later about going through the pain of labor.
Women are drawn ever forward, through pain, by the hot joy of the prize which is coming.
Screaming, kicking, healthy life.
Big prize.

Not this time.
Knowing it--that this baby was dead,
strangled on his umbilical cord--she, we,
went through labor and delivery.
No prize.

They brought him back to us.
That was when we knew it was Abraham.
Name of my great grandfather.
And of Abram, who became
Abraham, who founded a people.


I held him in my hands.
We unwrapped his blanket.
Looked at him as every parent does.
Count toes. Fingers. Tiny penis.
A boy!
He was perfect--except
he was dead.
We wrapped him again.

Then we spoke, Abraham and I, silently, to one another.
One of my tears fell on Abe's face.
Shaking, holding him between us,
we watched the teardrop clean a slow shiny streak across his cheek.
More tears.
Laura's mixed with mine.
We bathed Abraham. With tears.

Softly--you might not have heard unless you were as close as he--
I told Abraham
about the six thousand years.
About the six million.
About the chain.
We had to tell Abraham goodbye.

Abe did not answer.
No sound.
No look.
No tiny smile.

In Mara, for Mara, I do not fail to keep as treasure, every moment.
And with her older sister, Michelle too.
In Abraham, these moments stopped.
We know, exactly, the second.

My heart has endless tears for Abe,
and for Laura who felt him struggle
and die inside her body.
And there are tears for the six million,
and for this lost link in our chain of life--chai.

We cannot speak of these tears, Laura and I.
Five years later, Laura and I separate.
We are broken.
In pain and anger Laura says
"You were probably glad, in a way, that Abraham died.
You never wanted a child."

Daniel Friedman First Serial Rights


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