We were never really close friends and I only saw the kid twice. I’m still haunted by it though, what she must have gone through. Her poor, dead baby, before she even turned twenty.
In the summer before I started high school, I was playing Life with another friend ad then this friend of hers came round and we all played together. I think I got triplet girls and she got twin boys. That seems kind of ironic now.
High school started and I was so grateful to know someone else at the beginning. We moved through the years, we were never besties, we swung in different groups but we always had time to say hi.
From gawky twelve-year-olds to silly fifteen-year-olds to arty, practically grown up seventeen-year-olds.
We entered our last year of school, we had not spoken for a while, you know the way it gets. I heard people saying she’d suddenly gone from a virgin to a girl who do anything with anyone. I shrugged.
One day I was walking down through the History corridor and she was standing there.
She was twitchy and evasive. I don’t know how but I guessed, I felt it. Probably because Juno had just come out. I was about to ask if she was knocked up when she came out with it.
‘I’m... I am with child.’ That old fashioned, shamefaced way she put it threw me. I hugged her. I had no freaking idea of what to say. She mentioned her mum was supposed to be flying overseas on her due date. So she was keeping it. Wow, she was brave.
Not everyone thought so. She put up with the names and the looks you get. The father was a bastard and bailed. He soon got a new girlfriend. She stayed positive. She held her head up and kept smiling. She became excited.
She was still a kid though. She went skiing pregnant. She had the odd drink.
I went to her eighteenth birthday party. She was six and a half months. She was dressed in this floral dress that looked like it might belong to a seven year old – apart from the fact her belly was protruding. Sneakers too, geeky looking sneakers because her feet needed the support.
You’re supposed to wear six inch heels and a twelve inch dress to your eighteenth birthday party. It wasn’t fair.
She didn’t seem to realise or care. She made jokes about how we couldn’t hug properly, with that thing blocking her.
Someone jumped out suddenly and she faked going into labour.
A couple of months passed. She had a baby shower. It was summery and warm, we ate outside. Bubbles of talk burst all around. She was ready to be a mother.
Over a week later I woke up to a text message.
I’m am pleased to announce that last night Trystan was delivered safely. Mother and child are sleeping soundly.
I dropped by with a gift and flowers. A shirt big enough to fit a six-month old child bearing the slogan ‘Lock up your daughters!’ We both thought it was genius, even if he’d have to wait a while to wear it.
She brought him out. He was tiny, although she kept insisting he had huge feet for a newborn. I didn’t quite believe her.
In all honesty, he wasn’t an attractive baby. He had the cute softness all babies do but a little old man’s face. Which was what his grandmother said at the funeral, actually.
I had a hold of him, didn’t quite know what to make of it. We talked as she breastfed him, a girl I’d sat next in classes with, a few months younger than myself.
I went home.
One day, I was working at my bookshop and turned into an aisle to see her standing there with a pram covered with a white blanket.
We took a sneaky peek at the dozing child and I hunted down a few books on her list.
I got another text a few days later saying Trystan had his first laugh today J
I was busy and didn’t reply for ages.
More time passed. I forgot one of my school friends wasn’t studying or travelling. She was raising a kid.
The last text. I am heartbroken to inform everyone that last night, Trystan passed away.
There was more but I can’t remember it. I was in the kitchen and I had to lean on a chair. I felt winded. And I barely knew the baby, and let’s face it, his mother too.
Two weeks passed and I got an invite to the funeral via facebook. I didn’t know what to say or think or feel. My heart was broken for her.
Another friend of mine, a Muslim, called for advice on what to wear to a Western funeral. I had no clue. I went to my grandfather’s when I was three and can’t remember a thing.
I had no fucking clue. ‘Something black,’ was all I could tell her.
We ended up driving together and we discussed cremation. Before this happened, I personally wanted to be cremated. Now that thought sickens me. Burning that tiny little boy’s body into nothing.
The furneral was not what I expected. I had thought it would be an anguished cry for the potential that he was, the little life that came to nothing. I learnt that it was a true, full-grown mourning for the life that he had led, short as it was, he had been a proper person, with likes and dislikes. We lit candles and blew bubbles that used to amuse him and cried. They played a song from Lord of the Rings because he would never develop a favourite style of music or like any particular band.
For the very first time I heard the words ‘Rest in Peace’ spoken in earnest. I was shaken to the core.
She was So. Strong. She is an unbelievable woman. I overheard her say to the father, ‘I’m glad you at least met him once.’ I pretended I hadn’t heard.
She’s doing okay. Considering.
She is the bravest, strongest person I know, my love and respect for her pour over the brim, but I ask myself, why. She had to drop out of school, she got a little over five months with her son and now faces the rest of her life without him and she did it all never betraying fear or doubt, or anything other than determination and resolve to raise a good child.
Her story killed my belief in God and I am sorry for that.
I sometimes wonder if he wore that shirt I gave her, and what she did with it once he never would.
For Trystan and his mother.