She cradles the small body against her own, marveling its perfection. Drowsy blue eyes and rosy, sleep-warmed skin. A cap of reddish-gold fuzz, soft as a new chick, and ten perfectly formed fingers with tiny petal-pink nails. His eyes flutter shut and the rhythmic tug at her breast falters, then stills, yet one chubby hand continues to clutch her nightgown with the possessiveness of a jealous lover.
He fits into her arms perfectly, like the missing piece to a beautiful, terrible puzzle. Her mother calls him a miraculous gift from God; she counts him due compensation for all God has taken from her. Some losses are not to be borne; some wounds never completely heal.
Solemn blue eyes and ivory-pale skin. She cradles a fragile body burning with fever, wracked with pain. Eyes flutter shut and the ragged gasps for air falter, then cease, yet one small hand continues to clutch her blouse like a mute plea for salvation.
She will never forget.