I stood with Henry.

I sat up straight and smiled at the dermatologist walking in the room. She smiled back, sat down, and explained my diagnosis.

“Julie, you have a hair loss condition called Telogen Effluvium. Your body went into shock immediately after the loss of your nephew and almost losing your sister. Three months ago, those two events were enough to shut your body down momentarily. Your fingernails stopped growing too. Your body seems to have corrected the shock. I see where your fingernails grew again. Your hair will do the same but because hair grows in a cycle, it will take about a year or maybe longer for your hair to grow back. It’s a rare condition but a temporary one. I’m so sorry for the loss of your nephew.”

The divots in my fingernails are almost grown out now. My hair loss slowed down and I have new hairs sprouting around my scalp. I don’t cry when I wring my hair in the shower anymore. Yet, I still avoid brushing it or pulling it back in a ponytail because it is much thinner than it used to be.

I stood six feet from my nephew today.

I knew Henry wouldn’t hear my voice. He wouldn’t feel my feet above him. Or smell the lotion I put on this morning. I stood anyway. I stood six feet from my nephew for the first time since I held his sweet face 200 days ago.

IMG_1764.jpg

Just Henry and me, under a giant tree.

He slept and my chest felt heavy.

I looked around. I was surrounded by babies. Quiet, sleeping babies. I saw a bundle of yellow flowers against the fence, next to the giant tree with branches over my head. I walked over. I didn’t see any headstones. The flowers must have blown with the leaves and stopped at the fence. I picked up the flowers and placed them on Henry’s headstone.

IMG_1765.jpg

I whispered the only words in my head.

“There you go, Henry. Aunt Jules will hook you up.”

I got in my car. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to wake the sleeping babies.

I started my car and drove towards the entrance. I got lost. I drove past Henry and his yellow flowers three times – and one time in reverse – before I figured out how to get out. And when I finally made the right turn out of the cemetery, the heaviness on my chest lifted. It shocked me. The weight on my chest was real.

My shoulders lifted too. I didn’t know my shoulders had bricks on them. The air filled my lungs. I didn’t know my lungs needed the air. My body lifted up.

My hair tingled.

I stood with Henry.

______________

Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

pepper2017

 

 

I had another blog post for today.

I had another blog post for today.

I can’t post it because I’m not in the mood to laugh with others. It would be a fake laugh. I started a blog post last night. It was about Scott quitting the school PTA.

That’s when Scott got the call.

Scott: WHAT!

I stopped typing. My stomach dropped. Something bad happened. I could hear the shock and sadness in Scott’s voice. I stared at Scott. Scott caught the questions in my eyes.

Scott: Chris Mentzel passed away suddenly. Maybe heart attack.

Me: WHAT!

Scott hung up the phone.

Me: What? We just hung out with him. No, he didn’t.

Scott: That’s all Matt said. Oh wow. I just want to text Chris…ask if this…if this is for real.

Me: We just saw him at happy hour last week. He sat across from us. I can still hear his voice. There’s no way. He was here. Here. In front of me. I can touch him.

Scott: This doesn’t make any sense.

Me: He was so fit! He played hockey. No, this isn’t right. What is he, like, 32 or something?

Scott: But there’s nothing on his Facebook.

Me: I’m looking too. His Facebook looks normal? There’s no way.

We scrolled through his pictures. Hockey photos. Weddings with suits and beer. Happy hours. Work events. The pictures showed Chris talking and laughing. He smiled for selfies. His laugh pierced the air. His voice deep.

It hit us.

Scott teared up. We were flipping through photos of a complete life. 

Me: I don’t understand…

Scott: I texted him a few days ago. He was fine. I don’t get it. 

Me: Chris joked with Hunter about Emma’s height when we bowled with him. He said she’s going to be taller than him. And Kate wouldn’t say hi to him so he just laughed and waved. He was just here in front of us.

I shut my eyes. I put myself back in the bowling alley. There he was.

Me: I stood up and hugged him goodbye. He left the bowling alley before we did, remember?

I hugged Chris Mentzel goodbye.

He left before we did.