The Second Death


Miranda on the beach, looking towards a waning sunset in California
Miranda on the beach in California (Synch Media)

She was probably the most innocent person in the room. And that’s funny, I guess, because she was so incredibly book smart.

She studied voraciously and made so many plans. She kept checklists and spreadsheets. She was teacher’s pet in a class that kept no grades.

She believed in the power of hope, but she felt that real change came from will. When she saw those blue lines on her very first try, she thought about statistics, and maybe about luck, but mostly, her future seemed inevitable.

She had done all the reading. She spent her first appointment nodding her head. (She probably does that too much, but it’s habit.)

She became impatient when nurses quoted old wives’ tales. (It’s not actually true that a fetus will leach calcium from its mothers teeth.)

It’s possible that at some point she stopped listening.

I’ve only recently begun to exist. Most days I just observe. She was active. She was excited. She had a reservation for daycare she didn’t need for another year. I discovered before work last week that I’d forgotten to do laundry.

She felt a constant need for control. She paid $300 for child birth classes. She had coaches scheduled and backup plans. She had printed maps in case the GPS was down. She planned for what she thought was everything.

I woke up one morning last month and decided not to get out of bed. I thought about who I might be disappointing. I decided not to care.

She drove to the hospital every week of her ninth month. Every week they asked if she was ready to be induced. She scoffed. She was definitely the most innocent person in the room.

I think that I must know more stories of tragedy than those with happy endings. I would rather see Hamlet than A Midsummer Nights Dream. I am unapologetic in finding comfort in someone else’s heartache.

She stroked her belly and talked to her son. She tried to convince him life was better outside. Each night she sang, and patiently waited. This was part of her control; it was important that her child come in his own time.

She woke up one morning and something was off. I still have flashbacks of that day. I remember the screaming, when it became real. I remember the moment she died.

She went to the hospital exactly as scheduled. She walked into the testing room, already planning for the following day. She was a planner. She was naïve. She didn’t know that babies could die.

I’ve only recently begun to exist. I don’t know who I am, though I wear her face.

She was the smartest, most innocent person in the room. I’m just here, learning to breathe.

Miranda Hernandez is a writer and mother to two children: Adrian James, who was stillborn at term, and his living sister, “Peanut”. Miranda writes about stillbirth and normalization of grief at