All of the hurt I've felt—even laid end-to-end—does not come close to spanning the pain of losing a child.
It's like a piece of your heart has been torn away, so that you'll never be whole again.
Sometimes, when I close my eyes (in this silent, silent house), I can hear a remnant sliver of sweet music haunt the air. When I glance at the piano with a tiny swelling of hope in my heart, its bench is cold and empty.
Carlisle is still at work, caring for people who can't afford to pay him. The grey dust of the Depression sifts down like bleak rain all around us. Carlisle knows that he cannot mend the hollow eyes of a proud man reduced to begging on a street corner for work (any work, honest work, just to feed his family), but he tries. That is his nature—he is a saviour. Of shy teenagers who are too old to climb trees, of broken women.
I sit at the piano and touch a fingertip to a key. There is no harmony in the sound.
Come home, I whisper fervently. If you came home now, even with blood on your lips and crimson in your eyes, I would forgive you…
The white-hot sear of the Change dulls so many memories.
I don't remember how fragile Robert felt in my arms, or what his cooling skin felt like against my wet cheek, or how it felt to have my heart break so badly that I could not bear to have it beat a moment longer.
But there are echoes of that infinite sadness that reflect back, make me double over with pain, when I hear the door click closed. When he leaves.
My child is not dead this time, but my heart is broken, still.
I stare past my reflection into the night, and I will time to bring the gilded pinking of dawn.
Many hours later, the sun shimmers off my skin in a pearlescent glow. I hear his key slide into the lock, and I realise that I lost myself in the silent hours, like a stone statue.
I glance up, and Carlisle stands in the doorway, so beautiful and golden that I have to love him in parts (because he's always been larger than life).
His perfect brow furrows, and although he's been outside in the winter, his hand is warm against my shoulder; his lips are hot against mine when he bends to kiss me hello.
"Did you sit in the dark all night again?" he asks, and I can hear the offer in his voice again: "I'll stay home with you, Es… I don't have to see my patients." But I know that he does need to heal, just like I need to love.
He drops his medical bag to the floor, and he slides onto the bench next to me. "He might be too far away to hear," he says quietly, and he takes my hand.
After so many years living with Edward, sometimes you forget that he can hear your thoughts from hundreds of miles away.
His smile is wide and dazzling like the sun when I walk through the door one day.
"Thank you for my birthday present," he says, and he hugs me and swings me around wildly, round and round, until we crash into an antique table, leaving it listing badly to one side, buckled, with a broken leg.
I want to scold him, but all I can do is laugh.
I restore furniture, give pieces which have been abandoned a home. I have not touched that little table. I will not touch it until Edward comes home, when we can both fix it, together.
I turn my face towards Carlisle, and I shake my head. "He'll hear when he wants to, and I want him to know that we're waiting for him when he does."
"It has only been a couple of weeks, Es," he says softly.
It feels like a lifetime already, I think.
I remember waking after the Change.
Edward sits next to me, my hand in his. I must be delirious, thirsty and confused. The world is tinged red, but he still looks like an angel.
"Robert?" I murmur, convinced I am in Heaven with my child, and that he is grown and whole here, like he should have been, once.
"This is Edward, Esme," Carlisle says, and he stands behind Edward with his hand on the boy's shoulder.
I smile, although it hurts. I recognise the golden man; he has been in my dreams for years. Waiting for me. And now I have been born again. I have been born into a family.
I have a son.
I know that Carlisle thinks I'm grieving too keenly. But when your child is gone, how can you do anything else but mourn with your entire heart?